Tell us about a time, period or event that sparked significant personal or professional growth.
In November, I spent a week in the Alta Verapaz region of Guatemala with an incredible group of dōTERRA Wellness Advocates, at a very special center called Sika'abe, a local trade school. The trip was a unique opportunity to get an up-close look at the full cycle of Cardamom sourcing, meet, learn from, and work alongside the team on the ground, and give back to a community that's given us so much. It was the beautiful collaborative effort of dōTERRA Essential Oils and Choice Humanitarian. I've studied (and taught others about) essential oils for years, but to be able to see and experience it all first-hand was both personally and professionally transformative. We showed up to learn and to serve. We dug trenches and mixed cement to help build a workshop. We offered a "clinic" day, with therapeutic touch, essential oils, and expert assessments and adjustments. We even got to visit a local village, where we played games with the children, presented graduation certificates (an unexpected and emotional surprise), and offered reproductive health education (and reusable menstrual supplies) to women and girls through a program called Days for Girls. But to stand in the Cardamom groves and see, smell, and touch the trees. To learn the how, the why, and the when from the experts. To walk the miles the growers walk to tend to their crops and understand the effort required to then carry them out on their backs. To bear witness to their powerful stories. To laugh and to cry together. To share meals. To dance. To play soccer. To breathe in the aroma of freshly dried and distilled Cardamom. And to tell them what their Cardamom is doing in the world. To say thank you. THAT is what is was all about.
What is the biggest lesson you learned through this experience?
So many lessons! One of the biggest was, simply and profoundly, the importance of telling one's story. One afternoon, before jumping into trench-digging and cement-mixing, we sat in a circle in the new workshop, mid-construction. One by one, the team stepped forward to share their stories: How they'd come to Sika'abe, what their lives had been like before Sika'abe, and how coming there had changed their lives for the better. It was an incredibly emotional, courageous, vulnerable, and (I believe) empowering moment, and it was a total privilege to witness. Our stories matter, and an invitation to share them helps us to feel seen, heard, worthy, and valued. It also bridges the divide between seemingly very different people and reminds us that, at our core, we are so very much the same.
How did this experience change the course of your life, your career or your outlook?
This was a powerful first-hand look at dōTERRA beyond the bottle. Every single oils class I teach now includes stories from this trip, stories of the people who make it all possible. How can I not share them? I want to help people understand that that bottle of oil they're buying is rippling out so many more waves of goodness than they realize, from it's inherent (and most obvious) therapeutic benefits to the lives, families, and communities who are positively impacted by the work of everything that comes between seed and bottle.
If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Trust the timing of your life and allow the answers to come as you go. I have been a teacher, an ER nurse, a health and culinary nutrition coach, and now a dōTERRA Wellness Advocate and business owner. You don't have to have it all figured out, (life makes the most sense in reverse, when we look back and see the connections) but it is in fact possible to do work you love, that aligns with your values, and that's good for both the people and the planet. If you continue to look for it, eventually you will find (or create!) it.
What are some words of wisdom that you would offer students exploring the possibility of an immersive experience?
Say yes! Do it scared, do it messy. Embrace the adventure. Tell your story, and ask people to tell you theirs! Look for the shared humanity. Ask how you can help. And be prepared to walk away changed, forever, for the better.
What is your favorite travel quote (or general life quote)?
General Life Quote:
They sang don't waste your hate / Rather gather and create / Be of service, be a sensible person / Use your words and don't be nervous / You can do this, you've got purpose / Find your medicine and use it // Nahko And Medicine For The People, Manifesto
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime. // Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad / Roughing It
What's next? How do you plan to remain dedicated to growth in your job or personal life in 2019?
More of the same! Things are just deeper and richer and more powerful now with an experience like the one I had in Guatemala behind me. I'll keep teaching and sharing my (and their!) stories, and I'll continue to say yes to any opportunity I can to see beyond the bottle again.
Katie Hussong is a Baltimore-based dōTERRA Wellness Advocate with a background in education, nursing, health coaching, and culinary nutrition. She's also your soon-to-be essential oils BFF and the biggest supporter of your happiest, healthiest, most thriving life!