Episode 258 | August 3, 2021

Travel the Road to Forgiveness with Sara Schulting-Kranz

A Personal Note From Orion

We’re often afraid of speaking up, fearing to be judged. But healing starts when you honor your experiences. Share your story and empower others to do the same.

Sara Schulting-Kranz amazes us with her strength to continue thriving despite her traumatic experiences. She encourages people to honor their experiences, practice self-compassion, and use nature as therapy because it’s free.

As a multiple trauma survivor, she shares how she started her journey and how it’s a never-ending process of discovering peace with yourself and nature. She also advocates that recovery doesn’t always have to be difficult. It can be fun as well.

She’s a professional coach, wilderness guide, publish author, TEDx speaker, and executive producer of Walk Through This, a documentary on her journey. On top of all this, she’s a single mom helping individuals through their healing transformations. Tune in today to find out how she does it!

In this Episode

  • [01:18] – Orion introduces Sara Schulting-Kranz, a wilderness guide, published author, TEDx speaker, and Executive Producer of documentary feature, “Walk Through This”. She’s also a multiple trauma survivor and a professional coach helping individuals through their healing and transformation. 
  • [04:49] – Sara shares how she discovered her husband’s betrayal at the age of 40. 
  • [09:59] – Orion praises Sara for stepping up and giving a voice to people who are afraid to talk about their trauma. 
  • [12:50] – Sara shares three words she used in her recovery. 
  • [16:53] – Orion shares her experience at Heroic Public Speaking, where she shared her story in front of 500 people. 
  • [21:17] – Sara shares that immersing herself in nature has allowed her to go out of her comfort zone. 
  • [25:39] – Sara shares why healing is a daily practice and how it can be fun. 
  • [29:07] – Sara’s three top tips for living a Stellar Life: truth, inspiration, and hope.
  • [39:01] – Visit Sara’s website and follow her on Instagram and Facebook. You can also find her Ted Talk and her merchandise on her website.

Jump to Links and Resources

About Today’s Show

Walk Through This by Sara Schulting-Kranz

Hey, Sara. Welcome to Stellar Life Podcast. I am so happy that you’re here. Thank you so much.

Thank you for having me.

Yes. Before we get into all the beautiful things that you can share with us, can you just give me a little bit of your life story and how you got to where you are today?

My life story is pretty intense. I’m a multiple trauma survivor. I have lived through everything from sexual assault when I was 17 and ended up getting pregnant as a result. My trauma started back then when the police refused to press charges. As a society, we’ve seen so much of this in the past as well. I didn’t speak out so much back then, even though I had to get a restraining order and everything. I didn’t really start speaking out about that until during Me Too.

But my second round of trauma happened at the age of 40 when I was married for 17 years. I found out that my husband had been betraying me for 14 of my 17 years of marriage. It was really devastating and brought up a lot of my trauma from when I was 17. It was just a really difficult time in my life when I found out that he literally had been leading a double life for most of our marriage. 

That though, I have to tell you, put me on the trajectory of my deepest healing, finding myself, really believing in myself, and now coaching other people through their own trauma recovery or simply in just finding who they are today. It’s been a beautiful journey of self-exploration. 

Today I lead people on retreats in the Grand Canyon in nature. Nature became my therapy. It became my space through my own trauma recovery. I wrote a book and I’ve just been in the Ted Talk stage talking about the power of forgiveness because it truly has been one of the biggest tools of really healing in my life—nature and forgiveness, two of the biggest things.

It’s been a beautiful journey of self-exploration.

Not easy but very, very important for anyone’s healing. When you had the betrayal by your husband at age 40, what was the betrayal and how did you discover it?

He was literally leading a double life as a gay man. I discovered it on Thanksgiving Eve of 2013. He came home on Thanksgiving Eve. He came home much later than he was supposed to and he was tripping out on drugs. I didn’t even know that he was doing drugs. Everything was truly West Coast-East Coast. We’re currently living on the West Coast and he was doing most of this on the East Coast. Then this particular time, he didn’t. He succumbed to his addictions and came home a different man than he had left.

Over the course of the 5 days, we had 40-something people over for Thanksgiving. It was just really brutal. I look back now on it and I’m like, whoa, how did I do that? The body and the mind when you are traumatized, you will do anything for safety. It’s that fight or flight. Over those five days, I really had to dive into understanding what was happening within our family unit. 

I found out that he had been betraying me with men on and off for 14 of our 17 years. He was also then, because of his own pain, was using drugs and drinking to mask what was happening within his own life outside of the life of our own. It was devastating. It was really devastating to find all of this out. He was my best friend.

We may not know it at the time but the compounding effect of trauma prepares us for what we need to heal. Click To Tweet

Wow. He came all drugged out and then he just spilled the beans and just told you everything?

Well, that night, I knew something was happening clearly. I am not a user of drugs and so I literally was on my phone scrolling through what are the effects of cocaine? What are the effects of meth? Because I didn’t know. I don’t have a clue what was going on with him. I didn’t recognize this man and yet I knew he wasn’t my husband. I was trying to figure out what’s happening here. What he did was literally, over the course of 24–48 hours once he was starting to come out of his trip, he came to me on Friday morning after Thanksgiving.

I was sleeping on the couch upstairs and he walked up and he just said I have to tell you something. That’s when he told me. He said, “I’ve been with men”—well, he didn’t tell me at that point for 14 years. I found out about that through my own research. But he told me that he had been betraying me. He talked about the drugs and that’s how he got into the drugs was because of the betrayals and him not being honest with himself and truthful with himself.

Did you stay married and then broke up?

I got him into rehab. I’m the type of person where I see the human. I saw him still as a human being needing help. Immediately, I started making calls to rehab facilities and where I can take him to get help. This was one of the most, I will say, upsetting things that happened is the fact that I did get him help and the treatment center didn’t help me. They sent me home and said, you got to take care of your kids. This happens to partners all of the time, to family members all of the time. 

I believe hope is one of the most under-utilized emotions, and yet it’s something that we want in our lifetime.

When you get somebody help and then they don’t help the partner, the person who is actually needing as much help if not in some cases more help because they’re also responsible for other people within their family.

That’s pretty amazing then. There is a level of self-sacrifice there where I’m going through all this betrayal but I’m going to take care of him still.

Because he’s also the father of my kids. I knew that he needed to get that, that he needed to get the help that he needed, otherwise there were compounding effects with people not getting the help that they need. I got him into a rehab facility and then I’m sitting here with my children saying, okay, now what do I do? Because I’ve got to take care of my kids. My kids were young at the time. This was seven years ago. I got the help they needed and then, of course, I was like okay, now I can focus on me. What do I need?

There was so much compounding trauma in my own life because of it. Because then it took me back to what happened at 17 and people didn’t believe me at 17. Then it’s like, how did I get into this position? Are people going to believe me again? When you’ve had a town talk about you or people talk about you and then it’s like, okay, I’m going to go back to that space again. Are people going to start talking about me again? I’m actually a pretty private person even though it doesn’t seem like it.

There was so much compounding trauma in my own life because of it.

Now I speak out because I was a very private person and I felt like I was on an island alone and nobody was going to understand what I was going through.

It seems like people being private around their pain is a badge of honor because if I’m going to be private, I’m going to make you feel good about yourself because I’m not going to create any disruption in your life. I’m just going to shut up. 

Then that person is experiencing trauma, she’s keeping it to herself, he’s keeping it to himself, and so on. Then we get a bunch of people that are not experienced in any healing because they don’t speak about what’s going on. Then somebody like you stepped into leadership and you are giving people permission to come out with their pain and feel like they’re not alone. There is somebody out there that’s been through that.

It’s so beautiful, it’s so comforting. It’s something that I feel like more and more people should step into this role and say I’ve been through that, I healed myself, and now I’m going to reach out and help you as well.

Speaking your truth can be a release of your past trauma. It can allow you to become the person you are meant to be. Click To Tweet

Thank you for saying that. There were always three words because when I was 17 and I was going through this, I felt like I was so alone and nobody understood except for my mom, my dad, and my brothers. They were amazing through everything because I chose to keep my son. I talk about it in my book. There was so much stuff that happened from social services that tried to adopt my child without telling me. I mean the compounding effect of trauma that was placed on me back then at 17 prepared me for what I needed to go through or for what I needed to heal at the age of 40.

I look back now and I can see why I also, at the age of 40, just couldn’t speak yet until it was my time. The reason why is because at 17 when I spoke, I was told everything from, well, why were you there? Why didn’t you scream? All the things, and I was questioned when I was also the victim. I was so in a space at 40 where I was like if you’re going to question me again, I don’t know what I’m going to do. 

I had to prepare myself for that because it wasn’t only about me now. It was about my kids. I didn’t want my kids to be then questioned. Because as a mom and a mama bear, and I am. I’m a big mama bear with my boys, it was really about them. But then it was a delicate balance because I also wanted to step into the space of speaking my truth and doing it in a way that was going to help other people, but then was also in a positive way because I wanted them to then be able to see that as leaders, as men in this world. They can step into the space and be the mentors that they need to be as men as they grow up as well. It’s complicated and yet it’s not. There were three words that I used in my recovery.

Always speak your truth.

One was truth, always speak your truth. Inspiration, find moments of inspiration every single day because that is what keeps you going, and always have hope. Hope is one of the most under-utilized, I believe, emotions and yet it’s something that we want in our lifetime. We need it, especially now. We need so much hope. It all comes from within. That’s the beauty of where those three words came from. I believe that they were God-given to me when I was out in nature one day. They’ve literally been, I guess, you could say my mottos of what I’ve used and walked throughout this journey.

Can you imagine what will happen if everyone in this world will speak the truth?

I know. That’s why I do it. That’s exactly why I do it. When you’ve been lied to and it feels really bad on this end, truth is something that I will never not give quite frankly.

People don’t like to have confrontations. They don’t know how to handle it, so they sugarcoat a lot. They don’t say what they feel. My culture is Israeli, which sometimes we come across as rude because we are very blunt. I had to learn how to not sugarcoat but sprinkle a little sugar around what I’m saying, especially living in the US. But I understand what you’re saying about not being able to speak about your trauma.

There is beauty in you coming out as a leader, but I also want to acknowledge people and also a young version of me that went through trauma. It takes time to come to that place of, I can speak about it and I’m ready to share. It is the bravest thing you’re ever going to do and it’s also the most liberating. Sometimes, it will be perceived as more painful than it will be in reality.

We don’t use nature as therapy nearly as much as we should in this world. It’s free, just go outside and allow yourself to watch the clouds.

That’s very true. Because I’m also a nature lover, obviously, my book’s about nature and forgiveness. When I would want to speak a little bit more of my truth, where I was feeling like I could do this. I can put a little bit more out there, I would write in a blog post or I would write it in a post on my social media. I would press send or press post and then I would go up into the mountains and I would just release it.

For me, in speaking my truth, it was a release of my past. It was a release of my trauma. It was somatically healing me. It was allowing me to become the woman that I knew I was meant to be placed on this earth. I would just put it out into the universe, put it to God, put it in somebody else’s hands, put it to faith, and know that whoever’s lives it touched were meant for those ears to listen, to hear them. To be honest with you, very rarely I get comments from people or something that was negative, questioning me, or whatever it is.

I always say that those people that do question or those people that do post negative, say things, or whatever, that’s a projection of their own pain. It’s not mine to hold. I literally am simply the mirror for what you can do. You can overcome and you can heal, that’s it. It’s everybody’s choice to do that or not. But when people would ask me about that, is it scary? Were you ever worried that people are going to say things about you or whatever it is?

You can overcome and you can heal.

When you’ve had that happen at 17 and you prepare yourself along the way, I put a bubble of love around me and just say, I am who I am, accept it or don’t.

One of the most empowering moments in my life was when I was at a seminar called Heroic Public Speaking. I shared my story on stage in front of 500 people. It’s the story of being in an abusive relationship and getting out of it. It’s almost like time froze and I was there in front of the audience. It was me and them. It was just like a sense of oneness, connection, excitement, beauty, and sharing like sharing my pain, sharing my win.

It was very beautiful and very healing for me, very empowering. I was so surprised. After that, people came to me and started sharing their stories, even men. I was like, I didn’t expect that. I guess it’s the most beautiful feeling to be able to come clean with who you are, share it with the world, and empower the people that are listening to you.

It’s so true. I find it to be an incredibly powerful and empowering act to be able to just simply say this is what’s happened to me. Again, it gives permission to other people which is such a beautiful thing. We’re human beings here for one another on this earth, on this planet, at this time to be sharing. That’s my belief.

Nice. Let’s backtrack to before the moment, where you’re like I’m strong and powerful, I’m sharing with the world. What was your healing journey like when you were completely broken? I don’t know if broken is the word that resonates with you, but basically, everything that you know is falling apart. It’s like disconnecting from the matrix and looking at your life and nothing looks the same.

Healing can be a lot of fun. It's an enjoyable experience where we realize that even in our triggers, they're there for us to learn more deeply about who we are. Click To Tweet

Full of a lot of pain is what I was. It’s interesting, I think back to that woman, I believe that there are iterations of ourselves within us. From the little girl who twirled in her dress, to the 10-year-old that sat watching snowflakes, to the 40-year-old that was truly in so much pain, and I just sat there and hugged her. Even today, when I’m hiking trails and stuff, I imagine her as beside me or within me continuing on this journey. I was in so much trauma, I remember driving down the road and I talk about this in my book.

One day, I was driving on the 405 here in Los Angeles and I remember thinking if I just smashed my car against the guard rail, all of this could go away. And then look at me today. My mom and I talked about this. My mom is like, I look at you and I just say thank God, you have done what you’ve done to become who you are today because it was devastating. I mean, it was absolutely devastating. I can’t put into words how devastating it was to find out that this person who I love so deeply was not the person coming home to me every night when I thought he was.

What I did was I went back to remind myself, what did I do at 17? When people were looking at me sideways and when I was so devastated back then, I would spend time in the art room. I became an art teacher later in life and that was my space of creativity and healing. I spent a lot of time in the art room. 

What I did at 40, I wasn’t doing art but I was writing and spending a lot of time in nature. That’s what I did at 17 as well. I would go and draw in nature as an art student and I would connect with something so much larger than myself, so much larger than my pain. I did the same thing at 40. I grabbed my paddleboard, I went into the Pacific Ocean, and I paddled with whales, with dolphins.

Forgiveness is not about pardoning or forgetting. Instead, it means honoring your difficult experiences.

I kept putting myself out of my comfort zone. I would climb mountains. I would go up into the mountains and I would climb the Six-Pack of Peaks here in Southern California. I went and climbed the half dome.

On your own?

No. I always had one or two friends that would go with me. However, in the last couple of years, I have actually started to climb mountains alone at night. It’s the middle of the night, I’ll go up and go and watch the sunrise on the peak. Here’s the thing, I have found that going out into nature has allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and do something that I had never done before. 

Through the act of doing something that I’d never done before and through connecting with the universe, God, nature, something so much larger than me, it really aligns my body, mind, spirit, and soul. It gave me permission but also the power to be able to overcome the most difficult experiences that I was living through, which for me was my trauma.

Every time that I would climb a peak, it was this realization I could climb out of this too. We’re going to be incredible women because of it. We don’t use nature as therapy nearly as much as we should in this world. It’s free. Just going outside and allowing yourself to watch the clouds like you did as a child literally shifts the thoughts and ruminating stories that are in our minds. It drops us into our hearts and allows us to see ourselves outside of the difficulties that we live through. It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Allow yourself to feel the emotions. To heal anything, you have to feel everything that includes the pain. Click To Tweet

There is also the grounding power of nature.

Huge. Just being able to be with the animals, the whales, the dolphins, the sea lions, the jellyfish when I was on the ocean and to be able to connect to these creatures that don’t judge, it’s pretty amazing if you think about it.

Wow. You’re very inspiring.

Thank you.

You’re welcome. You talk a lot about forgiveness. What is forgiveness and what was your journey to finding forgiveness and coming to the point where you are ready to forgive?

I was born and raised Catholic. My definition of forgiveness, I didn’t realize—it’s very interesting. Forgiveness is something that when I was born and raised, it was you forgive other people. You just do. Just forgive and forget. When I was asked to do this Ted Talk, I didn’t realize until I was actually doing that Ted Talk when I was asked, “What’s your definition of forgiveness?” I said, “Well, it’s not to forget. It’s literally honoring your experiences.”

It’s not about saying it didn’t happen.

Then I went and looked it up in the dictionary and it said that to forgive is also the process of forgetting. I was like, whoa, hold up. If this is what society thinks, we have an issue here because how can we honor our experiences in life including these difficult experiences, and learn from them if we’re also told to forget that they happened. My definition of forgiveness is, it’s not about pardoning, it’s not about forgetting, it’s not about saying it didn’t happen. It’s simply saying I’m honoring these difficult experiences. I’ve learned from them.

In the process of self-forgiveness, for example, I choose to do better next time. I’m heading back to the pain while also welcoming peace and freedom into my life. My moments, when I decided to forgive, have all happened when I’ve been out in nature. If it was standing on a summit and saying I am no longer going to hold on to this pain, whatever it is, I’ve chosen along the way to forgive. Because for me, it’s a process of not wanting to also stay attached to these difficult experiences, but more so to learn from them and to move on. It’s beautiful.

It’s a practice. Every day, I choose to step into forgiveness. Some days, it’s all the more difficult than others, I will admit. I have my difficult days too.

Now, when you tell your story and you go back and you look at your ex-husband, now you’re in a new relationship with somebody that’s very sweet, loving, and caring, and you’re very happy. But when you look back at the previous relationships or when you tell your story, do you still feel emotions? Is there still a trigger or some energy around your heart when you think about your ex? Did you completely let him go?

Everything in this world starts with self. So start with self-forgiveness, then move into forgiveness for others, and finally move into forgiveness for the world. Click To Tweet

No. I think that this is different for everybody. I have times where I have fierce self-compassion for him. Then I have other times where I sit with it and I’m just like, how could somebody do something like that. How do I explain this? Emotions are not something that ever goes away. I still have triggers. It would be ridiculous to think that we as humans don’t get triggered later in life, however, many years post whatever difficulties you’ve gone through. Because it doesn’t take much to get re-triggered when you’ve been traumatized so deeply.

That’s why I tell people it’s a practice every day. The depth of what I went through is so much deeper than what I even share out of respect for my kids. It was really, really deep. Because of that, I also know that this is a lifetime of me also healing because healing isn’t just one and done. I remember somebody recently posted to me on a Facebook page or something, “Clearly, you’re healed, I don’t need to follow you anymore,” or something like that. I was like, “Wait, what? That’s ridiculous.”

Every day, I choose to step into forgiveness.

Healing is not something like, I healed, now I can move on. That’s life. I think that if we can approach it like that and realize it’s a choice every day to step into, we also don’t look at it like it’s this difficult thing that we can’t ever do. 

The other thing that I just want to mention is healing can be a lot of fun. We don’t have to make it so hard. I think that that’s a really beautiful piece to it because when we can actually look at it as an enjoyable experience and realize that even in our triggers, they’re there for us so that we can also learn more deeply about who we are. I still get triggered, yes. I have fierce self-compassion and fierce compassion for my ex-husband. I want the best for him. We all deserve the best.

Nice. It’s so beautifully said. If somebody’s wanting to find forgiveness right now, they’re going through something really hard, what’s the first thing you advise them to do?

I always say forgiveness starts with self. Everything in this world starts with self. Start with self-forgiveness and then move into forgiveness for others and then move into forgiveness for the world. Allowing yourself to simply get outside, to find some clarity outside of your situation, and to get out of the ruminating thoughts, that’s a really, really, really big step. See yourself with fierce self-compassion. Ground yourself, meditate. Meditating is one of the most powerful things that we can do. Just allow yourself to feel the emotions. To heal anything, you have to feel everything that includes the pain.

Healing can be a lot of fun.

Really sitting with it while you’re outside, meditating, and just saying, I am worthy of forgiveness for self. I am worthy of stepping into forgiveness for others. I am worthy of seeing the world in forgiveness. It’s a really, really big thing.

Beautiful. What are your three top tips for living a stellar life?

Three top tips, I like this. Number one, always speak your truth. Your truth is so important to be spoken in this world. 

The other stellar top tip, find inspiration. Get outside. If you’re inspired by dancing then dance. Dance as loud and as ridiculous as you choose. It doesn’t matter. Just do what makes you happy, what inspires your heart and your soul. Hope is huge. Have hope for yourself, have hope for your future, and don’t ever, ever, ever, ever, ever give up on yourself because you are needed and wanted in this world, quite frankly. Those are the big stellar tips.

Thank you. Where can people find you and get your awesome book?

I am worthy of forgiveness for myself.

You’re so sweet. You can find me on my website, saraschultingkranz.com. You can find me on Instagram, @saraschultingkranz; Facebook, Sara Schulting-Kranz. My name is really long. You can find my book on Amazon, any bookstore has it. My website’s got a lot of really fun stuff in it from online programs to one-on-one coaching, to my retreats in the Grand Canyon. We’re also doing Alaska now. Alaska this summer is filled up, but we’re doing it for next summer as well.

You can watch my Ted Talk there, follow along on all the speaking stuff. There’s even some really cool apparel on my website. By the way, “Kindness matters” is pretty big with me. There’s a lot of cool stuff in there for that too.

It’s very cool. I think I’m going to get some.

I got to tell you, those hats, the rainbow hats are like blown out. They’re so cool. I love them. I got all of the things that I do in my apparel are all sayings from the trails. You are needed and wanted in this world is something that I said one day in the trial and I was like we need to use that. Kindness matters, that was a big one from the trail one time and so we made it into a hat. I mean, it’s all trail talk. Trail talk that matters.

Beautiful. Thank you, Sara. Thank you so much for sharing so openly, sharing your truths, being inspiring, being so nice and kind, and just a beautiful soul from the inside out. Thank you so much. Thank you, listeners. Remember, speak your truth, find inspiration, have hope, and have a stellar life. This is Orion. Until next time.

Your Checklist of Actions to Take

{✓} Always speak your truth. Honor your experiences by acknowledging they happened. Don’t let society pressure you to forget your trauma. 
{✓} Share your story. You can start healing and release your trauma once you use your voice. Make your journey an inspiration for others. 
{✓} Stay inspired. Life is filled with challenges. Find what keeps you going, and don’t lose sight of it. 
{✓} Always have hope. Learn how to channel it from within and from God. Then, use it to pull yourself out of any difficult situation.
{✓} Practice forgiveness daily. Forgive yourself first before you forgive others. You let go of pain when you choose to pardon. 
{✓} Get in touch with nature. Stepping outside allows you to find clarity within yourself and your situation. Don’t be afraid to explore the peace that Mother Earth has to offer. 
{✓} Practice self-compassion. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Your trauma is not your fault. Be gentle with yourself and give allowances for difficult moments. 
{✓} Learn meditation. Being mindful of your emotions helps you manage them better. Take time each day to listen to your breathing and practice self-awareness. 
{✓} Feel your emotions. Don’t suppress your feelings, especially pain. You allow yourself to heal when you’re brave enough to feel even the negative sensations. 
{✓} Visit Sara Schulting-Kranz’s website, and follow her on Facebook and Instagram. Grab a copy of her book, Walk Through This and join her one-on-one coaching programs to begin your healing and forgiveness journey with nature.

Links and Resources

About Sara Schulting-Kranz

Sara Schulting-Kranz is a Professional Coach, Wilderness Guide, published author, TEDx Speaker, Executive Producer of “Walk Through This”, a documentary feature in production of her healing journey in nature, and a single mom of three amazing sons.

As a multiple trauma survivor, Sara coaches individual men and women through their own life-shifting journeys of healing and transformation. When not working with individual clients, you will find her guiding transformational coaching, hiking, adventure, meditation, and breathwork retreats in the Grand Canyon and mountains of Southern California.

Sara’s book, WALK THROUGH THIS: Harness the Healing Power of Nature and Travel the Road to Forgiveness, was released on November 10th by Harper Horizon. The documentary, WALK THROUGH THIS: A Story of Starting Over, has filmed in Black Earth, WI, Los Angeles, CA, and in the Grand Canyon, with an expected release date of Fall, 2022.

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