About the Practitioner: Holly Stratton Schmitt
Schmitt is married with two children, and lives in Washington, Missouri. She has been providing counseling for 28 years through private practice and agency work. Her parents are both psychotherapists and her only sibling is an artist.
Travel & Interest in Cultures:
Outside of the United States
Growing up, Schmitt’s family took vacations every summer. They often adventured to places with different cultures, including Mexico, Europe and Canada. The variety of languages, foods and customs fascinated her. She decided it would be wonderful to learn all the languages of the world so she could talk to all the different people. (So far she has only learned Spanish, some French and a tad of German…but there is still time….)
In grade school Schmitt gained a life long friend from India who shared stories, her language and special foods with the practitioner. Years later Schmitt represented India in a mock United Nations for the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Her friend’s mom taught Schmitt how to wear a traditional Sari for the occasion.
In High School Schmitt lived in Arequipa, Peru for a year as a foreign exchange student through the American Field Service program. There she was immersed in the culture; living with local families, attending school and participating in a folkloric dance troop. She has maintained close connections with the wonderful people with whom she grew close, and has returned there 3 more times. Some high points during those return visits for Schmitt included 4 days of backpacking on the Inca Trail to MacchuPicchu to participate in the Harmonic Convergence; traveling up the Amazon from Puculpa to trade with the Shipebo peoples and participate in ceremony with a native Shaman; and attending her 25th High School reunion in Arequipa.
The practitioner started off her college education with a class called The History of Paris. This course was offered in Paris so she had the opportunity to learn in situ. Later in college Schmitt spent a year studying philology (the study of languages) at the University of Seville, Spain. Living with Spanish students in apartments and in their homes offered her an inside experience of the rich Spanish culture. During these two sojourns in Europe Schmitt took advantage of extensive travel opportunities.
She spent a month in Morocco where she was bedazzled by the exquisite bazaars, clothing, architecture & food. She bartered with local merchants and tried to blend in as best she could by keeping her hair covered. Schmitt fell in love with the land and people of Portugal where she returned whenever a school break permitted. Greece was also one of the traveler’s favorites as the beaches and natural beauty is spectacular.
Schmitt backpacked through Ireland with her close friend from Switzerland, rode a bicycle around in Holland (where the bike paths are like regular roads for cars-complete with lanes, stop lights etc), hiked in the Swiss Alps to join in an international gathering of boy scouts, experienced the assertive attentions of men on the streets of Italy and visited family and friends in France and Germany.
As a young adult Schmitt traveled to Southeast Asia with a Chinese friend from Malaysia. They visited friends in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia, and then stayed with his family in Kuala Lumpor. While there Schmitt was taken to consult with the family Buddhist fortune teller. The ceremonial style of the teller impressed the young woman. From there Schmitt went on to travel in Thailand. This was the first occasion for the young traveler when she understood neither an oral, nor written language. Thai has its own alphabet. Schmitt visited the amazing Buddhist temples, received special massage by women done using their feet rather than hands, hiked though rice fields, rode an elephant, traded with the mountain people, and ate very interesting foods, including some grubs. From Thailand she traveled to Sumatra, Indonesia to see the orangutans, inner tube down lovely rivers in lush jungles, and experience the work of local herbal healers when she broke out in a rash. Her Asia trip ended in Bali where she stayed with a Hindu woman who introduced her to the Balinese spiritual traditions and culture.
Within the United States
At home Schmitt has studied our rich cultural heritage and participated in numerous ceremonies, including this sampling:
*St. Louis, MO
-raised and baptized Lutheran
-participant in sweat lodge community led by Lakota Chief
-facilitated coming of age ceremonies & ½ century honorings
-assisted in Hindu wedding
-participant in Chanukah & Rosh Hashanah
-co-created a drumming group focused on ecology and spiritual growth
-participated in Harmonic convergence ceremony
-Vision Quested on a vortex at Red Rocks
-participant in ceremonial drum & dance circle focused on healing
- trained in Buddhist meditation & philosophy at Naropa
Due to Schmitt’s intense interest in languages and cultures she earned a bachelors degree in both Anthropology and Spanish. Her Master’s Degree in Social Work provided Schmitt a way to support others in their healing and growth. Now, in helping people create personalized ceremonies to mark their own meaningful transitions, Schmitt blends all her life’s passions for the sacred, ceremonial, creative and life enriching.