Jan Smith: a patchwork of different jobs

Originally published in Taos News

Jan Smith wears many hats. She is a licensed social worker, a strategic attraction coach, an administrator, the curator for SOMOS, a gym employee, a pet sitter, a Tarot reader and a Reiki Master.

As it often happens with entrepreneurs who manage multiple businesses, Smith is always busy, but she still finds time to devote to her true passion—writing. She is also starting to make a living out of it.

Multi-employment is a common practice in Taos, where having two or even three part-time jobs is not unusual. Smith is a good example of how to balance several businesses at the same time and not getting burned out in the process.

Healing and teaching

“I started working as an elementary school teacher,” she said. “I come from a very conservative family where women were supposed to be teachers or nurses, so that was the first career I had.”

She later became a licensed social worker. As a psychotherapist, she was the clinical director of a treatment facility for fourteen years in the East Coast. In the meantime, she started studying Reiki.

“Reiki is a thousand year-old discipline that used to be called hands-on healing,” she said. “I found it useful because there is no talking and no diagnosis. You don’t try to ‘fix’ the problem, but allow the body to heal itself.”

Smith took her level-one training in 1990 and finished with a Master training in 1993. She has been teaching and practicing Reiki ever since.

“Even when I was a psychotherapist, my colleagues would refer their patients to me and I combined traditional methods with Reiki treatments,” she said. “Many diseases are caused by stress and lack of internal balance and Reiki helps people regain that balance by directing the universal energy to the proper meridians in the body. It’s like acupuncture, but without the needles.”

Eventually she became a full-time Reiki practitioner.

“It is a profitable business,” she said. “I gave treatments, taught classes privately and in hospitals and colleges, and used it for trades. I traded Reiki sessions for massages, training sessions at the gym, and food. Once, someone made all the drapes in my house in exchange for Reiki treatments.”

Children can also benefit from Reiki.

“They tend to be more open to energy work than adults,” she said, “and respond to the treatments quickly. They are more trusting than adults, too, and have less ‘baggage.’”

Reiki is extremely effective in animals as well.

“I have given Reiki treatments to dogs, cats, horses…they all respond to energy,” Smith said. “Even plants do. You can send healing energy to rivers, rocks and the entire Planet Earth.”

From Reiki to writing

When Smith moved to Taos in 2008 she gave up most of her practice in the East Coast, though she still does long-distance healing for some of her clients there.

But she never stopped doing Reiki on herself and soon noticed that it changed her attitude toward “her first love,” writing, which she had never attempted to pursue.

“All my life I had been more in contact with my left brain, the practical, secure, work-eight-to-five side of myself,” she said. “But Reiki helped me go back to my right brain, the artistic part of me that I had not developed for a long time. And consequently, it led me back to writing and to a new career that is flourishing now.”

While her right brain side worked on a manuscript, her left, practical side guided Smith to get a job as a curator at SOMOS, the literary society of Taos. She now organizes the Summer and Winter Writing Series and works part-time at the office.

“Reiki also gave me the confidence to apply to a creative writing program,” she said. “Though I didn’t write any creative fiction until I was 56, I am now an MFA candidate at GoddardCollege and have had short stories and poems published in Howl, Chokecherries and The Pitkin Review.”

Smith was the scholarship recipient for the 2013 Taos Resident Award at the Taos Summer Writers Conference. Her short story “Breasts” was a winner at the Southwest Writers Contest in 2012.

“I now earn money teaching a six-week class at SOMOS about writing life stories and creating memoirs,” she said. “I plan to start a critique group soon, the first Thursday of every month. This will be part of my writing business too.”

And Reiki?

“I still practice it,” Smith says. “All the time. I offer treatments and classes in my house. I am rebuilding my practice and plan to do more with it once I finish graduate school.”

When asked for advice to multitaskers like herself, she said,

“It benefits you to have many skills and a variety of interests. If I had to make a living of my writing only, or Reiki only, that would be difficult, but I combine them with my love of animals and my natural intuition and I do well.”

Letting go of traditional ways of thinking about work helps, too.

“Embrace the idea of putting together a beautiful patchwork of different jobs,” she said. “Besides the financial advantages of having several sources of income, you will never get bored.”

To contact Smith, call her at (575) 770-9057

Or visit her Facebook page http://facebook.com/jmsreiki