in collaboration with connect.faithCourageous Voice
Subscribe to “Everyday Spirituality” where ever you get your podcasts!
Salem Islas Madlo | “Courageous Voice” | connect.faith
“When I finally got on the other side of actually having the courage to let go, I realized, on the other side, was my authentic self.”
Salem Islas Madlo
Get ready to be inspired with Salem Islas Madlo, poet, educator, mom, coach and art therapist, as we chat about the power of the present moment and finding the authentic self on the other side of surrender.
In this episode we talk about:
- Finding power in the fragments
- Writer’s Block
- Healing our inner (and outer) artist
- Mental Health
- The Deep Wild Nature
Today is the day you vow to follow your heart and not your fear. If only it were that easy! The Courageous Voice podcast chronicles international artists, creatives, plus a handful of scientists, and their stories of fear, courageousness and creativity. Hosted by singer, storyteller and self-proclaimed joy spreader, Chanda Rule, The Courageous Voice inspires us to share our voices courageously in spite of our fears through courageous conversation and community.
Chanda: Welcome back to the Courageous Voice Podcast. I hope everyone is doing well and healthy, and again, I hope that you have been enjoying the content. I’m so excited to welcome a friend who is living here in Vienna. Her name is Salem Islas-Madlo.
Salem: Hello Chanda, thank you! I’m excited to be here with you. Thank you for the invitation.
Chanda: All right. So if you don’t know, Salem, Salem is a beautiful soul. And of course she wears many hats like all of the beautiful souls that have been featured on this podcast.
Salem is a poet. She’s a writer. She is an educator. She is a speaker and she is a holistic energy coach. I usually don’t read people’s bios, but I saw this little blurb and I love it so much, so I have to read it. So, "Poet, writer, educator speaker, and holistic energy coach who likes to talk to trees while delving into Zen realms of mindfulness and meditation."
I love that so much. There was no way that I was not gonna say that. I love it so much. Okay, but there’s more, there’s a little bit more: "by day, she works at Deep Wild Coaching. This is her company and organization for holistic healing. So by day she works at Deep Wild Coaching and by night she takes her broom to commune with sun, moon, and stars."
Oh my God. That is amazing. So please Salem, because, you know I ask everyone, who are you bringing today? Are you bringing all of these pieces of yourself?
Salem: It’s funny that you ask it in that way, because it’s such a interesting perspective, but the way I view it, Chanda, is yes, I’m bringing all of me here today, which is all of those fragments that make up myself as the whole. I feel like that’s a powerful way to move through the world because, I know we wear different hats at different times, but I do feel that, and believe that, we carry that wholeness, that energy of all those hats, but also all that makes us, wherever we go with us. And yes, I’m all here, all present with you and your listeners today.
Chanda: Thank you for saying that. And actually, this brings up something. There was a poem that I read of yours. And this was in Ofrenda. Am I saying this magazine correct? Ofrenda Magazine.
Salem: Absolutely. Yeah, actually that was published last year.
Chanda: And this was interesting because, how I interpret this, the article post was called "Power," that this poem was under. And it was talking about being in the present, but I thought it was so interesting how you talked about the present being in so many different places. You are already tying this in to who you’re bringing. Can we please talk about this poem?
Salem: Sure. Go ahead.
Chanda: So talk to me about this. Like being in the present and being in so many different places and times, and how all those things are part of your present. I guess you already talked about all these fragments that we are as human beings. But can we talk about how we can claim our power in the present through being in all these different, beautiful fragments. Or maybe you meant it in a different way. I don’t know, tell me about it.
Salem: No, I meant it actually like that. I suppose that perspective comes from my indigenous roots that I have, and that I feel most identified and connected with. And it also comes from Curanderismo Wisdom, an ancient wisdom of being, which is not too different from what some people call Shamanic Wisdom as well. It’s just a different way of referring to it. There are different types of curandereas; some who work with bones, some who work with plant medicine – what we know as herbalism. Some who work with the element of fire. Some who use their voice for healing.
And so, tying all this into the present moment and the poem that I was writing, one of the things that I’ve always believed is, our bodies are like a living time machine, so to speak, where the past and the future all come to coexist together within the present moment.
And so that poem that I wrote has a lot to do with how we allow our energy and awareness to flow within that. Because actually time is an illusion, right, in the plain sense of it. But, because we as human beings need these definitions to help us go within the 3D realm, that is probably just the most simplistic way I can express that. I hope I’m making sense.
Chanda: Yes. I would love to go more into how we find power through this. Because I do think it’s interesting. I love that – going through all these different realms and bringing this together – specifically, because I think a very simplistic way to look at this is to be overwhelmed with all these different things. And I think that there’s so much "overwhelmed" now. And so the fact that you’re able to create this poem to have these sacred principles behind this, and to find power in it, I think is amazing and so beneficial to so many people right now.
Salem: Yeah, okay. So the power is coming. It’s so easy to get caught up in the "1, 2, 3, here are the top 10 tips for getting back into balance with your life and your work and your personal life or whatever," or "here are the five most popular mindfulness practices that will help you to maintain your equilibrium as you navigate through your daily routine," which are all important.
But at the same time, if we don’t have an understanding of what it means to, to be present with our bodies, with our emotions, with the outer part that we move around in… The present moment is that opportunity to be in our power. And I love to call it the gift of presence because we have a choice that we can make. And I know this sounds almost like it’s oversimplifying, but as human beings, we also love to make things more complicated and complex than it really needs to be.
And so if we can return to that focal point of simplicity and just be like, "okay, I have a choice in this moment to open up the space in my heart, in my emotions, in my mind, with my body, and to be present with what is, with compassion, grace and ease," then we find what it takes to be grounded. We find the power to be present with what has been with what will be and what is now.
It allows us to let go and accept what is in the present moment- what is in the here and now- and to surrender into our power. And to let go of the judgements and all the things that these oppressive systems like to weigh us down with. And that’s a practice. It has to be cultivated. You can’t just, from one moment to the next, be like, "oh yeah, I’m gonna be in my power."
We can, if we’ve done the work, but as adults, we’ve been through the ringer. We have to carry a lot. And unfortunately there’s burdens that we take up every day, as soon as we wake up from bed, whether we are consciously aware of that or not. And it starts to tear us away from the present moment. So, that’s why we have to stay present. That’s the gift that we can give ourselves through our awareness, through the gift of being present.
Being with the stars, being with the cosmos, it’s all about that connection that begins with ourself. And, I know you didn’t ask me the question, but I’m just gonna go ahead and dive into this. With the organization that I’ve established, Deep Wild Coaching, I know you wanted to ask me about what is this deep wildness, this deep, wild nature that you’re talking about.
And for me, it’s very connected with the practice of being present. It’s our core essence, our true self, right? It’s that self that is the heart of our sovereignty, of the earth itself. And that’s why, when people say "you have everything inside of you that you need," it’s true. Because it is; we have that.
That’s why we read poems; like we’re made of star dust and the moon and things like that. These are all the things that I talk about in a poetic way in that poem. It’s the self that remains primordial and wild and untouched by the world; that still remains intact, despite all the outside influences that have impacted our human experience.
It’s like that deepest knowing of our soul. It’s the wisdom that informs and breathes life into our intuition, into our creativity, into our very energy and connection to this Earth, and to the cosmos.
Chanda: I feel like we could stay here for so long. Actually I wanna tell people if they want to read the poem, I’m going to include the link in the show notes, but it’s on Ofrenda Magazine, which is an online magazine. So I do encourage you to read it.
And also when you were talking, you said a lot of things, a lot of interesting things. You talked about surrender, which I wanna get into. To me, it’s just one of the most courageous things one can do, especially when you’re describing adulting and getting up in the morning and feeling any type of burden. And when I think of being in the present… when you were speaking, saying to surrender to that, is a really courageous moment. Because you never know if you’re going to buckle under the weight, if you will survive under the weight of it.
So I would like to get more into surrender a bit. And maybe if there’s a link between surrender and wildness and getting to that deep wild nature.
Salem: Yeah. You were talking about, okay, if we surrender, there might be the chance of buckling. People have, sometimes, a fear of surrender because it’s almost like a fear of losing control.
Chanda: I know I’m a control freak, so yes.
Salem: Like that "everything’s gonna come apart at the seams" type of mindset or worry.
But it doesn’t matter, even if that does happen, because that’s a possibility. If we do choose to surrender the burdens that we’ve been holding onto, or that we’ve been grasping onto most likely it’s probably going to fall apart at the seams.
But the thing is that we have this conditioned fear within us that life is over as soon as that happens. But that’s not true.
Chanda: Can we talk more about this? Because for the people that are not seeing your face on video to watch your face, when you say "yeah, that’s probably going to happen…" the thing is that there’s no fear in your face. There’s a joy that’s telling me that, for you, falling apart is symbolizing something very powerful, and that’s leading to something very blissful. Can you talk more about that?
Salem: Sure. I’ll give you an example. I’ve experienced that, especially at a creative level, when I was trying to heal the artist in me. I’m a writer. I write poetry. I write stories. I write essays. But there was a long time where I was blocked, where my creativity was stuck for years. I’m not just talking about a day or a week, or even a month for that matter. I’m talking about years. And when you cannot express yourself… if you don’t have that flow; that creative flow… and everybody has it. You don’t have to say that you’re an artist or that you’re a writer or whatever. Everybody has it. But when I was blocked, I was paralyzed. I was caught up in these cycles of procrastination, labeling myself as a lazy person, or someone who was incapable of getting things done.
But when I finally got on the other side of actually having that courage to let go, I realized, on the other side, was my authentic self.
I still go through all the normal emotions of fear, and not being able to control and change, and the unknown, and all of that… but I have more faith now that what’s on the other side is a new Salem who’s waiting to greet me, who has so much love and joy to give to the old me who didn’t know that. Who didn’t experience that yet. That’s one way I look at it anyway.
Chanda: Wow. Okay. And does that authentic self have anything to do with the wildness or is that a different concept? The deep wild.
Salem: No, that’s the wildness. Because remember what I said about it earlier- that is the self that has remained intact. That is the self that has been untouched by the world. That is the self that is primordial, that has been infinite in every sense of the word. That existed before time itself was ever anything. It’s that divine within us. It has everything to do with that.
Chanda: This so reminds me of a monk, and she was talking about this. She’s just talking about the present moment and what a gift that is and how much we overlook it. Because that is the essence of us being here, simply because we take a breath in the present moment. And when we forget it, we forget that we’re alive, really. Like you said, it’s such a simple concept that is so easily forgotten. And there is so much metaphysical power, but yet there is just the life force and the essence of who we are. So it’s reminding me so much of that and the importance of meditation. I’m sure you could share more practices with us.
I am getting my health and power from chatting with Salem because I am in quarantine. I have COVID. And it was just so beautiful that before we started, Salem’s like, "okay, we need to drop in; we need to do a meditation." and it was all of these principles. So this is beautiful that you’re not just saying these things, you’re living them, and you’re sharing them. Because you added all these things in meditation of being present, finding compassion for yourself, being grounded in the moment; in this present moment. And so it’s just so beautiful. Thank you. I really appreciate it.
Salem: Thank you.
Chanda: Yeah. You mentioned this writing block that you experienced for years. And I’m wondering, did this lead you to starting Deep Wild Coaching, or is this something that you had already started and it was something that you were already interested in doing?
Salem: I’ve been writing as long as I can remember, Chanda. So, I was writing plays and stories. I’ve been writing for a long time, but when I was blocked with that particular creative block that I mentioned, I was blocked for so long. I guess it was like seven years.
Chanda: Oh my God. Wow.
Salem: It was a long time.
Salem: And I was desperate. I didn’t know what to do. I was living here in Austria. I didn’t have a support system. I was alone. I didn’t have a community to plug into. It was back in the days before Vienna became even more international as it is now.
And I stumbled across this Art Therapy program that was multi medium, which means that you use all different forms of art; voice, theater, writing, painting, dance, all of it. And I was like, this is for me; this is what I wanna do with my life. I wanna become an art therapist. And it was a program that was all in German, but my main goal was to heal my artist. And what got me started on that was a book that I would recommend to any person who wants to heal their creative journey. And I’m sure you’ve even heard of this book. It’s called The Artist’s Way
Salem: by Julia Cameron. And it’s basically like a spiritual path to higher creativity. You read a chapter and then you do some exercises and different practices that she has in there.
And after I finished that, I wanted to go even deeper in that process, so I took the plunge and decided to be an art therapist. To make a long story short, after five years of doing this German program, I was like, okay, my artist is healed, but I still haven’t finished this program and I’m tired of it.
Salem: So I was like I don’t wanna do this German stuff anymore.
But you know what? That’s when I stumbled across this life coaching program- Beautiful You. And it’s an online program. For me, why it stood out more than all the other amazing programs that are out there in life coaching, is because it was connected to the feminine wisdom, more than any other program that I found online. And that is what needed the most healing in me at the time. And that’s also what my creativity needed.
It’s all these layers that make us into who we are. But yeah, so I decided to do that and I finished and got my certification. And that’s when I started working with pro bono clients, as soon as I finished the program. It took me another couple years to get my certification because there was a lot of layers of healing that got unearthed, because you don’t just learn about life coaching. You have to go through practicums and also be coached. You have to look at your own issues. You have to walk the talk yourself. And so that brought out even more healing and going deeper into all the things. So that’s how my business got birthed, with the Deep Wild Coaching. That’s how that came into being.
Chanda: Okay. Now this is interesting that you said that this particular program was different because it tapped into the feminine wisdom. Because I think I was one of your first pro bono clients. I think I got the email and I was like ME! I want a life coach!
One of the things that we touched upon, but not concerning your coaching, is that not only do you incorporate this feminine wisdom, but you also are working with a lot of indigenous wisdom and so many other things. Tell me about this melding, because you’ve done a lot. Tell me about this mixture and how you’re using this in your coaching, at Deep Wild Coaching specifically.
Salem: What I have been doing has been very intuitive, like that inner knowing and that connection to the divine. My relationship with great spirit, and trusting that… which has been a very intensive journey. It’s taught me a lot about how to work intuitively with other people’s energies. And using my gifts, like my psychic gifts that I have. And the more I do that, the more I realize how much more I have and how they expand and how they just blend and work all together.
And so basically it’s just like downloads of information from spirit and I can see into a person’s body and see their energy or feel their energy, or see color sometimes. It’s not always about seeing, it’s also very much about sensing. I sense their vibration somehow, and I’ll sense if there’s an energetic block; sometimes physically, sometimes emotionally. I’ll ask the client. I never assume because that’s the danger of me and the work that I do. If I bring myself into the equation, then it doesn’t have the power; it becomes more of an ego thing. I’ve had to learn how to really trust… almost blindly when spirit is leading me, no matter how wacky or " out there" it seems.
But it’s always a safe space; I have to create a safe space for this to happen. Because that can be really scary for people, especially people who’ve experienced trauma. Yeah. And so I really sense these things intuitively, energetically, and also from my own healing with the creative journey, and how creativity moves through the human body and our emotional and mental personas.
It’s just about that trust of seeing how that comes together as a whole or where it’s fragmented and where that healing needs to happen, or how I can help that person to guide their own journey because in the end effect, that is how I work. I don’t heal people. The people heal themselves.
Chanda: Yeah. This is so interesting. Thank you for sharing that. Because I am hoping, and I’m also seeing that more and more people are sharing their experiences of sharing their intuitive learning. And I totally understand, because when I first started vocal coaching, it felt like crazy.
I don’t know, I just started calling myself an intuitive teacher and then I second guessed it and I was like, okay, no, I need to start getting these trainings. I’m glad that I got the trainings, I’m learning, but there is something so interesting to that of just trusting and allowing information to come through you to help people.
I’m pretty sure that this is a human condition. It’s another sense. Maybe we are accessing it and there’s not enough language around it or we don’t talk about it enough.
Salem: I think we have to be careful about where we think this information is coming from. I like to call it spirit because it just feels like it’s all encompassing. I’m also now doing a mentorship in curanderismo, online with a curandera from Mexico. And so all the practices that bring me back to my roots from Mexico, to the ancient wisdom there, just basically has reinforced the way I’ve been intuitively working. Because it’s all in alignment with what the definitions of everything is. And from a neurological point of view, from a scientific point of view, I’m getting training as a trauma recovery coach right now, which I’m about to complete actually at the end of next month. And hopefully I’ll get my certification a couple months after that.
I’m very passionate about this because, as a person who’s suffered a lot of trauma and who’s struggled with my own mental health, and who and what I see.
There’s so much breakdown of mental health around the United States, but when you look at that, when you look what causes all of this mental health issues, all the things that I’ve been learning and the way that I’ve been working intuitively it’s in alignment.
I’m not trying to put myself up as " superior person who knows all this stuff." If anything, I have way much to learn still, but at the same time it says a lot about trusting our intuition. Trusting our creative wisdom… wow. And trusting what I love calling our deep wild nature, because it goes back to that simple phrase.
We have everything that we need within ourselves. We have all the wisdom, all the knowledge, if we just are brave enough, courageous enough, to surrender to that.
Chanda: Yeah. Yeah. This is beautiful. One more thing because we kept coming back to this deep, wild self, this surrendering and this trust. And I know you were like, "okay, this is not like a ‘top three ways,’" but if there was one practice someone wanted to begin with, just to start, they didn’t know where to start, what would you recommend?
Salem: That could be different for every person. For me, it was about connecting with what inspires me. What inspires me on a daily basis. It could be something as simple as going to the store and getting a strawberry ice cream cone. Just enjoying that strawberry flavor and the way all the senses interact with it. Or it could be something on a much higher level, which I’m passionate about- healing all this trauma and making sure that, there’s an trauma informed process that supports people in a gentle, compassionate way.
But people are passionate about many things. So finding out what inspires you and what gets those passionate fires burning, because guess what? Passion is not a sin. It’s part of our life force energy.
Chanda: Yes. Yes. Amen. Ah, thank you. Thank you so much, Salem. This has been a blessing. I am so lucky. So listen, before we go, please tell everyone where to find you, because there are several places that you are. I know you have a website, but if you can share your website, all your places on socials that we can find you.
Salem: Yeah, I’m happy to do that.
You can find my website, deepwildcoaching.com. And I’m on Facebook under the same name, Deep Wild Coaching. I’m on Instagram, under the same name, Deep Wild Coaching. I’m on Twitter and LinkedIn with Deep Wild Coaching as well. So it’s really simple. I’m on most of the platforms there, and I’m also on clubhouse if anyone wants to find me there.
Thanks for having me today, Chanda, and it’s been a beautiful joy talking with you, and also just being able to connect with your audience in this virtual space.
So thank you to all your listeners out there.
Chanda: Thank you.