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Johanna Alper: 73-Year-Old Living Her Purpose

Johanna Alper on Sprinting To Success Podcast
Johanna talks about her challenges and her involvement in the anti-war movement. She helps others learn to receive and give their gift. Please listen to this wise lady.
 Bio
Johanna Alper on Sprinting To Success Podcast
Johanna Alper on Sprinting To Success Podcast with Esmie Lawrence
Having had a successful acupuncture and teaching business since 1981, Johanna Alper now coaches healers, therapists, and heart-centered entrepreneurs to attract more clients and prosper. Her forthcoming book is- The 5 ElementsAdvantage Chinese Medicine Secrets for Holistic Business Success.
 
“I dance. I live in beautiful Boulder, Colorado. We have foothills and mountains right on the edge of the city so I can hike in good weather. I have very good friends. I dance at dance classes, yoga, and I’m living my purpose. And that is something incredible. And, also as I mentioned, classical acupuncture, which works with helping us be well before symptoms and diseases find us. It’s a very different paradigm of medicine. You don’t just go once you feel sick, you do it preventatively to stay well. So all those things combined together have helped me really stay vital honestly.”- Johanna Alper
 
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Show notes: Johanna Apler: Thank you so much Esmie. It is such an honor and a pleasure to be speaking with you today from, for me, Boulder, Colorado. [crosstalk 00:00:09] We’ve been getting lots of snow lately. Esmie Lawrence: Oh, awesome. I live in Calgary, so there’s a lot of snow too. Johanna Apler: Oh yeah. Esmie Lawrence: So Johanna tell me about your childhood. Johanna Apler: Well, in some ways I had a very privileged childhood. My parents were very loving, basically decent people. We grew up in the suburbs outside Boston. My family was Jewish, but not religious at all, but we learned very early about the Holocaust in World War II. I’m 73 I was born in 1946. Esmie Lawrence: You’re are a young 73. Johanna Apler: Oh, thank you so much. I feel really good. I think it’s Chinese medicine and meditation and dance because I feel really great. Esmie Lawrence: Awesome.

Johanna Apler: But anyway, I grew up in the suburbs. We were given a lot of opportunities, but at the same time we were taught very early about a lot of horrors in the world and not just what happened in the Holocaust in World War II, but that so many people have been unjustly treated. We learned very early about having a much broader, more humanistic view so we could connect to people of very different backgrounds and understand how many institutions have caused just tremendous suffering in the world. So we were taught very early to be compassionate, to learn compassionate, and to be very educated so we could help others.

Esmie Lawrence: Oh, that is so nice. So what did they teach you about the Holocaust? Johanna Apler: Well I remember being eight and learned about what had happened in Europe to, not just Jews, but progressive working people in Germany who wanted to have progressive values, gypsy people. We were taught very early about the gas chambers and things like that, which as a child was kind of the end of innocence for me. And in another way it opened me up to knowing that so many, we learned so many people have suffered terribly because of the Wars and injustices in the world. So that’s something I’ve carried with me through childhood. And at the same time I’ve had a lot of joy. So I tried to balance helping others and being compassionate and being a teacher and a healer and now a coach with also really enjoying my life. So I don’t burn out too much. Esmie Lawrence: That is awesome. Johanna Apler: Thank you. Esmie Lawrence: So what are some of the struggles you had as an adult? Johanna Apler: As an adult? Esmie Lawrence: Yes. Johanna Apler: Well, I’ll just tell you the truth here. I started college, it was 1964 and you’re very young, so I don’t know if you know much about the 60s but that was a great upwelling of people and wanting to see a lot of changes in the world. I was very involved with antiwar movements and living in communes. Esmie Lawrence: Interesting.

Johanna Apler: I was  a wild one. Esmie Lawrence: Tell me about the commune. Tell me about that story. Johanna Apler: Well, in those days we didn’t have the most conventional of ideas about how to live our lives. We were really questioning a lot of boundaries. And there was the war in Vietnam going on in the United States and I was part of radical movements to try and end the war. Living in communes there was a lot of fun. Esmie Lawrence: So you still have friends from back in the day? Johanna Apler: I do have friends. I’ve been a person who’s been very blessed and very lucky to have many friends over the years, many of whom I’m still connected with 50, 60 years later. It’s really wonderful and a lot of the ideas I had about how to change the world and how to make things more just and more fun and things like that. Well, I truthfully was very ungrounded. So after college and as the 70s came in and after really working outside army bases against the war in Vietnam and doing a lot of other, some outrageous things, which we don’t have to go into here, but privately I could tell you sometime. Esmie Lawrence: Okay. Johanna Apler: I started to meditate in 1971 and that was phenomenal to help me settle down. Instead of just storming in the streets, protesting the war and other injustices, civil rights and other things, I started to work with my own mind and I started to grow up because of meditation.

Johanna Apler: I started to see that it’s not like just bad people out there and we are all the good people with the great values. I started to grow up and saw that I needed to work on my own mind too and become a person of benefit. So it took a while. I started nursing school after college. I didn’t like that. I knew I wanted to study acupuncture and I was ridiculed a lot because it was a very new thing. When I first became interested in studying it. It was about 72 or three I didn’t go to acupuncture school then. I didn’t go till 1980 but my family was, I got very ridiculed and because it was new. I was dismissed and I’ve always been a person truthfully before then and now, who looks for wonderful solutions that are “quote unquote” outside the box. And so that took a lot to keep going forward, to really choose what my heart wanted, which was to study Oriental medicine and be one of the pioneers to bring it through in the United States. I actually went to England to study, but… Esmie Lawrence: Oh, that’s awesome. You come with a lot of experience, but I want to go back. I want our listeners to learn some your struggles and how you overcame some of those struggles in your life.

Johanna Apler: Well, I think the biggest struggle, some of the biggest struggles were to have… Truthfully, I believed in tolerance and peace and justice, but I wasn’t always acting in the most upright way truthfully. I didn’t tolerate people with other opinions. I thought they were lower than mine if they didn’t have certain types of humanistic values. I didn’t have enough basic respect for a lot of people who maybe didn’t see things the same way I did but were being upright in their own ways. So though I received ridicule for being a pioneer, that changed a lot over the past decades because I actually started earning a very good living and was very respected and appreciated. Esmie Lawrence: Right. So then how did you learn to become more tolerant of others? Especially with your background with maybe, I don’t know, did you have any relative in the Holocaust that suffered? Johanna Apler: Well, yes. My grandmother’s family all perished in Europe. Esmie Lawrence: Right. Yeah, and so that’s sad, and that’s hate coming at your family. So when you come and you say you didn’t have maybe tolerance for other people, so how did you overcome that? Johanna Apler: Truthfully the main thing was meditation. I started to see that I had a shadow too. Esmie Lawrence: Right.

Johanna Apler: Truthfully… I’m not Hitler. I wasn’t some terrible general who were in Wars that hurt people or whatever. But I started to see that I have a shadow too, that I’m carrying a lot of light and I aspire to carry a lot of light, but I also have my own neurosis and my own shadow. Learning to become an adult finally. Move beyond the black and white adolescent thinking that I had. Esmie Lawrence: You know what, we all have shadows. I love that word. You said you have shadows and we all have challenges and in our lives. And then to find ways and you find meditation. So tell me about like how, do you meditate on a daily basis? Johanna Apler: I do meditate on a daily basis and when I was just beginning, and now it’s like almost 49 years ago, 48 49 years ago, I meditated a lot. We didn’t have internet, we didn’t have cell phones. Of course there were TVs, but I really, I was suffering a lot in myself and suffering a lot because my mind was telling me things are supposed to be otherwise and yet I was suffering. So truthfully, I did a lot of solitary meditation retreats in cabins for one, two, four weeks at a time in meditation centers in Vermont and in Colorado. And I learned to really, really deeply make friends with myself. And that is, I feel what meditation and compassion meditation is about. We have to start with ourselves and then we can help ourselves and the overflow and help others with wisdom and compassion. Esmie Lawrence: Right. So on your website you talk about conventional fears and limiting beliefs. Now how did you overcome that?

Johanna Apler: Okay, so if you were looking on my website about fears and limiting beliefs, I believe you would probably looking in the area around money mindset where I was helping healers and other mission driven, heart inspired entrepreneurs to get over old beliefs, about old limiting beliefs about our own value, our own ability to earn money, especially as women and as healers and as people who are inspired to bring good things into the world. Very often we have a mentality of feeling like servants. Well we’re here to serve so we don’t have to maybe get so much money back. Johanna Apler: And what I have now understood much more is that when we lift ourselves up and receive a lot of value, not just give a lot, we actually inspire others to lift themselves up. In Chinese language money is a verb. It’s actually not a noun I’ve been told. Although I don’t speak Chinese, I do Chinese medicine, but I don’t speak Chinese. But money is about flow. And if we’re blocking flow to ourselves, because as women and as healers and many of us who are wanting to give so much, we block receiving it ourselves and that cuts off the energy. We need to receive and give, receive and give. It’s like breathing. We need to breathe in, we need to breathe out.

Esmie Lawrence: Right. Johanna Apler: Cutting that off, which I need to help coach people on that very often because there’s this, I mean, maybe that’s not so for you as me, but I have worked with many healers who are cutting off receiving their own money and it cuts our power as healers we have such important gifts to give to the world at this time. There’s so many crises, not just ecological and racism and huge disparities of income. More so maybe in the United States than in Canada, but there’s just gigantic disparities of income. United States is very a very rich country and we have like 40 million people living in really terrible poverty. Esmie Lawrence: Oh, that is really sad. Johanna Apler: It’s really sad. In Canada, I think there may be more safety nets for it, Healthcare and education and other things. But in the United States, it’s a widening gap, and it’s tragic and it’s leading people to have to hurt and struggle. There’s tens of millions of children in poverty in this country. It’s crazy. We are so wealthy. Esmie Lawrence: That is sad because America is a wealthy, powerful country. Johanna Apler: Of course. Esmie Lawrence: And to have so many children, especially living in poverty, something must be done about that. Johanna Apler: Absolutely.

Esmie Lawrence: It’s really sad to see it but what can each of us do to help that situation? Johanna Apler: Okay. That is a really wonderful question and an important question. And of course it depends on every single individual person to choose what are their best gifts and what best way that they can serve. And not everybody’s going to want to be a healer or a doctor or whatever. And many people with just ordinary jobs, living ordinary lives or working in corporations or doing whatever can still make terrific contributions to help the people around them both in their heart and spirit. It starts with ourselves. We have to uplift ourselves. Esmie Lawrence: [crosstalk 00:14:55] You know, someone’s once say, you have to make sure that you fill your cup first before you can give. Johanna Apler: Right and that’s incredibly important. I’ve known, as I said, I work with many healers and I’ve known many who kind of put down money because they’ve seen money being unjustly used for a lot of unkind things. And so they kind of throw the baby out with the bath water, but we need to receive money and then our charity can be much more generous and we need to earn money and stand in our power. I’m delighted to see many of the people that I’ve worked with be very successful in being able to do that. So then their cups are filled more and then they can give in ways that they’re inspired to do

Esmie Lawrence: So the people that you work with them now you’ve taught them how to respect money, make money your friend. Johanna Apler: Yeah. Esmie Lawrence: So they can come to you, right? Johanna Apler: Yes. Esmie Lawrence: You don’t, you don’t want money running away from you. Johanna Apler: Exactly. We need to be magnetizing, attracting money. Especially healers, because most healers go in, therapists and spirit inspired people, go into their work to make a contribution to make impact. But we also, the money, we will make more impact if we make more money. It’s one of the way, it’s not the only way to make impact and help the world. But I feel healers, we have such an important play today. And entrepreneurial sisters, yes. Esmie Lawrence: Yes definitely. Johanna Apler: It’s a time where women can really help. It was just starting when I was young. It’s really growing now in women in business. We have such a great role to play because there’s so much goodness that can come out of this is my feeling. Esmie Lawrence: Oh definitely. Especially when we work together. Johanna Apler: Yes. Esmie Lawrence: We can go further ahead. Johanna Apler: Yes. Esmie Lawrence: So I want to ask you, so what is classical acupuncture like? What is that?

Johanna Apler: Well, classical acupuncture is a very ancient system. It’s somewhere between three and 5,000 years old that’s been passed down over the ages, first in China and then to other areas of the far East. And then to Europe and the United States and it’s a kind of energetic medicine that sees the underlying energy pathways, the needing to be balanced before our anatomy and physiology and spirits and hearts and minds come into being. There’s an energetic template that was discovered by great healers thousands of years ago and passed down through the Orient and now to here. When that energetic template or blueprint is balanced, we can heal much more easily like nature intended. Like for instance, you know children if they get a little cut, you look a couple of days later and it’s practically all healed up. But as adults we don’t heal so fast. So ancient classical acupuncture is about balancing all the energetic pathways connected to our organs so that we can heal very quickly and nature and come through us and heal us because acupuncturist don’t heal. Johanna Apler: Nature heals us, but acupuncture helps to open the pathways so the healing energies can flow. Esmie Lawrence: I see. Johanna Apler: I’m sure it’s happening a lot in Canada. It’s happening more and more in this country, and even veterans are now getting benefits to be able to receive acupuncture because it’s proven to be so helpful. It’s gonna to be coming into our Medicare system within a year or two. It’s of tremendous benefit against the horrible opioid epidemic that’s happening in this country. I don’t know if it is in Canada, but it’s just horrific. Esmie Lawrence: It’s happening everywhere. Johanna Apler: Yeah. Esmie Lawrence: Which is really sad. Johanna Apler: Yeah, and I truly credit the fact that being 73 not having pain, not needing medications, being able to dance in dance classes with people a third my age. I’m sure it’s because of acupuncture.

Esmie Lawrence: That is awesome. Johanna Apler: It’s true. Meditation, acupuncture, dancing and also living my purpose. These really help. Johanna Apler: So Chinese medicine is very amazing and in the close to 40 years that I’ve been doing it, practicing it and teaching it, I’m surprised the degree that it has started to come into our culture. I didn’t think it would actually make the inroads it has; it would still be a kind of tiny hidden thing, but it’s been my life’s passion and work. But now I coach too, which I love. I do both. Esmie Lawrence: So what is the success principles of Chinese medicine, but what exactly is that? Johanna Apler: Okay, so the ancient Chinese system works with nature. In nature there’s the fire element which has to do with our hearts The earth element which has to do with the great mother, who serves us all, has to do with nourishment and blood sugar. The metal element to do with lungs receiving energy from the heavens. The water element is our kidneys. The wood element’s connected to liver. Those are the medicines for our health. How to get all the organs to be balanced and strong and the energy is flowing. Johanna Apler: But also what I discovered as I started to coach healers and students from the acupuncture school where I had taught, because they graduated and I saw they weren’t getting their practices going very well. So I started to teach to coach and learn coaching. I found that our businesses are also living systems that have all the energies of nature, just like our bodies and minds and spirits do. For instance, the system which I now work with the fire is our heart’s brand. How we share our brand and become visible in the marketplace because people don’t choose acupuncture or therapy or whatever. They choose an acupuncturist or a therapist or a coach, a person, and we need to be visible with our own spirit, our own passion, our own heart. Johanna Apler: So that’s the fire element. The earth element in a business is just like the great mothers serves everyone here, the earth element is about our niche, how we serve, who our ideal clients, what offerings and services we provide. The metal element has to do with prosperous money flow and letting go of old blocks and old limiting beliefs that, Oh, if I just stay safe and kind of hidden a little I’ll be okay. No, standing in our power, inviting money, being a powerful leader, and not shying away from also receiving, just like our lungs receive from the heavens. Esmie Lawrence: Right. Johanna Apler: I could keep going. But is this like too much of a acupuncture school so fast? Esmie Lawrence: Well, let’s go back to you with your students. How do you teach them to step into their power?

Johanna Apler: Well, I teach it in pieces, I mean in, in steps. First of all, the students that I taught at the acupuncture school, they had to go through school for years. But upon graduating as excellent healers, I wasn’t seeing them getting their businesses going very well to say the least. They’re very upset and frustrated. So just like anything, you can get from a workshop or a book, a lot of insights quickly. Esmie Lawrence: Right. Johanna Apler: But that’s not the same as transformation. And today there’s tremendous amounts of information out there. So I work with people over time because we need to do the outer steps to learn how to have a strong brand and a powerful niche and other things. We do the outer steps to attract and enroll clients and we do the inner work to dissolve our own blocks. Johanna Apler: That isn’t just taught in that quick seminar, although I do seminars for people to help and many people do well with a workshop or seminar and then take the work and go out and implement it on their own. Many people need a coach or a teacher, a mentor, and in order to really develop well and totally transform.

Esmie Lawrence: Right. Johanna Apler: So it’s a process. Esmie Lawrence: It is a process. It take some time to work with you and then, and for them to build their business. Johanna Apler: Yes. Yes. Esmie Lawrence: Okay. So I love the fact that you said you’re 73 years old and you look so young. How do you maintain vitality at that age? What do you do? Johanna Apler: Okay, so I mentioned I meditate and that’s a way to be quiet and still because we have such a busy, busy culture and we’re always on our cell phones and screens. Esmie Lawrence: Oh yes. Johanna Apler: So I take time for deep stillness and contemplation every day pretty much. Esmie Lawrence: Okay. And what else do you do? Johanna Apler: I dance. I live in beautiful Boulder, Colorado. We have foothills and mountains right on the edge of the city so I can hike in good weather. I have very good friends. I dance at dance classes, yoga, and I’m living my purpose. And that is something incredible. And, also as I mentioned, classical acupuncture, which works with helping us be well before symptoms and diseases find us. It’s a very different paradigm of medicine. You don’t just go once you feel sick, you do it preventatively to stay well. So all those things combined together have helped me really stay vital honestly. Esmie Lawrence: The thing is you haven’t retired. Johanna Apler: Well, no and I thought I would just continue with acupuncture and teaching and I didn’t know this whole new area of coaching would come in, but in my late sixties it kind of called me. Esmie Lawrence: That’s nice. So is that your passion? Coaching now? Johanna Apler: Well, I also love to work with individuals with healing. I think I’ll always do that, but it’s down to maybe 12, 15 hours a week. But coaching is really a way that I am very called now. I didn’t have a lot of clarity around how to use the internet. I was used to people coming in my office and helping them here. So now I’m learning to leverage because I feel like I have a lot to teach at this age. Esmie Lawrence: Yes you do. Johanna Apler: We don’t get to live that long to be able to. And I didn’t know this five element system for coaching and for businesses would find me exactly. I didn’t have it all thought out. I’m kind of learning it as I go and sharing it. So I’m very inspired to be a wise old lady 


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