Best-selling author Denise Schaad has lived in Calaveras County for most of her life, though she has traveled the world and even lived in India for a while with her husband, Rick.
Schaad's second published book, “Spirit Speaks,” chronicles her time in India and other parts of her spiritual journey of healing from trauma, sexual abuse, and addiction.
“Spirit Speaks” was released April 12 and climbed quickly to the number one spot on the Bestseller List in the “domestic partner abuse” category, according to Schaad. Now, nearly a month later, it’s still on the charts. The self-published memoir has also been trending in the “shaman” and “abuse self-help” categories on Amazon.com.
Schaad is a self-described “spiritual guide” who facilitates healing through her work as an intuitive teacher. The author’s mentoring program has three parts: Discover, Activate, and Illuminate. Her website, yourenergyawakening.com, says these programs “show you how to reconnect with your true self, revel in everything you have and make a greater impact in the world.”
Schaad, who lives on a road of the same name in Wilseyville, says there are “portals” or energetic spots on her ranch where people are healed with help from the “spirit of the land.”
“I've always known this is a special place,” Schaad told the Enterprise in an interview at her home. She compares the land her home sits on, near the Middle Fork of the Mokelumne River, to the holy temples of India where she studied yoga and meditation under a guru, as well as the great pyramids of Egypt where she had “profound visions” and a “womblike” slot canyon in Escalante, Utah, where she “began to heal an old wound” around sexual abuse she had experienced as a child.
Like her travels all over the planet, Schaad says she has “walked these hills” (sometimes several hours each day) and the land “has healed (her) in so many ways.”
Schaad came to this healing after decades of substance abuse, which began when she left home at 11 years old. She didn’t stop until she was 36 years old and realized she had broken a promise she had made to herself.
“I told myself I’d quit if I ever lied about my drinking to someone I loved,” said Schaad. That day came, and when she told her husband she was an alcoholic and drug addict, he admitted he “could stand to quit drinking, too.”
Together, the two got sober, with Schaad going to Alcoholics Anonymous and treatment, and then soul-searching in India for six months. While hiking in the mountains in India, and practicing a strict regimen that kept her in “worship mode” from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day, Schaad says she sought to know herself.
From hiking mountains in India to walking the wooded hills in Wilseyville for hours at a time, Schaad found the answers she was looking for. That’s why she takes her clients to special spots on her land, where she says healing takes place.
“They feel nurtured, they feel supported,” she said of the experiences her clients have had on the ranch. Schaad says she has to be outside, where she can connect to her spirituality.
“Nature is the most honest definition of spirit, of God. You cannot deny it,” explained Schaad while gazing out her large picture windows at a young pine tree that once sparked a spiritual awakening of sorts.
Schaad believes happiness is “our natural state,” and says she helps others get back to that state by releasing blocks caused by our mind and ego. The author explains in her book how she found “freedom” from the pain of her past life by overcoming her ego and embracing her spirituality. Schaad told the Enterprise, “Freedom is to have permission to be happy. The only thing keeping us from it is the mind.”
While Schaad works mostly one-on-one with her clients, she occasionally hosts Vision Quest Retreats with a small group of people on her ranch. During these retreats, she guides her clients to “connect soul and spirit” and “expand to a higher level.” Her clients are entrepreneurs who live all over the world, in various positions of power and influence, but all have “done a lot of soul healing”’ and are “already on a spiritual path,” according to Schaad.
In addition to spiritual teaching and mentorship, Schaad offers intuitive services. She offers “energy healing,” something she says she had done in her former profession as a physical trainer, though she didn’t realize it then.
Schaad “reads” clients’ energy, then guides them to remove “energetic blocks” and heal as a result.
Schaad wasn’t always an intuitive guide. After returning from India, newly sober, Schaad reevaluated her life and found her career as a personal trainer, and her ritzy lifestyle wasn’t making her happy. That’s when she began to use her intuitive gifts.
Schaad’s first book, titled “Illuminate,” is a book of poetry that is based on her intuitive art. It started with what she calls “scribbles.” Schaad would “scribble” out a drawing, then interpret what she had drawn. She used her intuitive skills to write a poem based on the energy of the drawing.
While writing her second book, “Spirit Speaks,” Schaad began making intuitive paintings, as a “way of telling myself where I was at on my spiritual journey,” said Schaad. “When I look at my paintings, they show me my own consciousness.”
While Schaad’s new book tells the story of her spiritual journey, she offers Soul Energy Portrait commissions to tell others’.
“A Soul Energy portrait is an illustration depicting where the soul is on its journey of evolution. Each portrait is unique to the individual and their soul's journey. Your portrait will portray the evolution of the depth of your soul and the character of your being,” reads the description on deniseschaadart.com.
Schaad’s book may have started as a way to help herself, but she also sees it as a way to reach others who need to hear its message.
“In the end, that book will change someone’s life, and I’d love to meet that person,” said Schaad.