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What's Holding You Back?

Updated: Mar 29, 2022

Don Guido Rimachi

I'd like to share the origin story of Athena Heals LLC and how Plant Medicine and Shamanism changed my life. It all started with this beautiful beaming face! Just look at him! This Peruvian Shaman, Don Guido Rimachi, has the wisdom of a 500-year-old man and the joy and innocence of a 5-year-old boy. My dear friend Robin Ward had gone to the Amazon Jungle for an aya healing retreat with Guido. She intended to stay for 2 weeks, but the universe seemed to have a different plan. It was March 2020, COVID had just officially taken over the entire world, and my friend was on lockdown in the Amazon!

At the time that Robin was meeting Guido and Aya, I was an Emergency Room PA working fulltime in a makeshift COVID unit, bracing myself for the worst. I was so concerned that my job might kill me that I wrote out a medical living will that specified what to do with me if I ended up on life support. To be honest, my real fear was that I might become a burden to my family or, worse, that I might bring this death home to them.

I wasn’t that worried about myself because, well… I had already felt dead inside. I periodically had the sense that I was just waiting for my body to catch up and die, too. At 50-something, I likely had a long dreary time to wait for the decay. I wasn’t suicidal and I did a really good job of hiding my despair, even from myself. I didn’t feel sad, per se, more like numb and bored with life.

It wasn’t always this bad. I had a difficult, but fairly happy childhood and my 20’s were great, for the most part. After my 30’s got going, though, things started to crash. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this was the same time that I lost my connection to spirituality. I mentioned on my “About” page that I had explored many different spiritual practices. While on a particular path, I was ecstatic! Inspired! Life was precious and I was grateful. But I always seemed to end up disappointed with the structures and politics that inevitably get built up around Spirit. As soon as humans get involved, seems they always gotta try to control it, put rules on it, and push others to agree in order to bury their fear of uncertainty.

I gave up trying to find The Truth and just focused on finding a career. I loved medicine, always did. When I discovered Physician Assistants, I had found my dream career. I was thrilled to be back in school and on a Path that would allow me to do good in the world. But, eventually, I discovered that the Spirit of Healing in western medicine had been long lost to human politics, and I was back to being disillusioned once more. I wanted out but couldn’t see the way. People suggested I go into private practice, but that was impossible for me. I had absolutely no aptitude for business and would never be able to afford the expense.

This was my state when I got an email from Robin telling me she was in the jungle doing aya. We had a video call (modern technology can be an amazing gift sometimes) and the first thing I noticed about her was a serene glow. She was happier than I had ever seen her, but she was talking nonsense. Plants were speaking to her, giving her instructions and visions of the future (that were coming true), and showing her places on people’s bodies that needed healing (and were later confirmed to be true). Craziness. And she had a message from aya for me. She said I would be leaving the ER and following a true healing path before the year was out. I laughed. I told her there was no way I’d be ready financially to leave this job for at least a couple more years, but I appreciated the idea of something to look forward to.

One night, I was looking at Guido’s site and listening to a recording of him singing icaros (songs that the plants teach shamans to use to heal people). I found myself staring at a photo, mesmerized by both the strange beauty of the song and the striking joyful grin of a beautiful man, when I suddenly realized the man I was looking at was Guido, the same person singing the icaro. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a mystical experience. It doesn’t always make sense why they happen, but this simple juxtaposition slammed me hard into my wall of resistance, cracked it right open, and I was flooded with emotion. I started sobbing uncontrollably with joy and gratitude. Years of ego-induced isolation instantaneously melted away and I felt my connection with Spirit again! I could also feel my connection with others return. I felt Guido’s power and I swear I could feel Robin’s spirit sitting next to me. Maybe Robin wasn’t so crazy after all.

But that was just the beginning. Once my heart was opened, I started noticing more and more coincidences in my life that seemed to be whispering to me that I was on the right track. Even my ER job shifted. I started trusting my instincts more, bringing up alternative healing options, when it seemed appropriate, and my patients loved this. A few months after this shift, I noticed that Virginia had changed the laws to allow PAs to certify patients for medical cards. It hit me like a lightening bolt! I KNEW this was my path. It was the perfect way to transition from traditional medicine to plant medicine. Out of nowhere a laser focus set in and, exactly 1 month later, I was a registered medical card practitioner with my own business and self-built website. By February 2021, less than a year after Robin delivered her message, I transitioned from working fulltime at the ER to working fulltime in my own business. I was so busy at the time, that I had forgotten Robin’s prediction. I was shocked when I remembered - it had actually come true! All of the negative self-talk, the absolute certainty that I was not capable of running my own business or breaking free from traditional medicine, was so deeply wrong and holding me back in ways I couldn’t comprehend at the time.

And what about you? Do you have dreams that are simply impossible? Are you holding yourself back, too? If you’ve been reading my other blogs, you know that I’ve been visiting Guido and his brother Lucho in the jungle, learning more about this strange world of healing. Robin and I want to share the gifts Guido and Lucho have to offer with the rest of the world and we’re starting with some workshops called Ask-A-Shaman. Consider joining me, Robin, and my shaman friends to learn how to open yourself up to new ways of seeing your world and the possibilities within it. The first workshops are centered around using the "other" hemp plant in a shamanic way to get deeper healing and insight into your own path towards greater fulfillment. Read more about them here. The first workshop is January 30th.

I hope I see you there!

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How beautiful. What an amazing story! Thanks for being so open and sharing yourself with us. You're doing amazing things! *hugs* I can't wait to see where this new path takes you. 💚

Athena Baldwin
Athena Baldwin
Jan 22, 2022
Replying to

Thank you dear 💚 I’m excited to see where it takes us all 😁


Athena Baldwin
Athena Baldwin
Jan 20, 2022

Thank you guys for your loving support💚 It’s definitely a bit uncomfortable putting myself out there like this. But I don’t think it’s fair to ask you all to trust me if I can’t trust you in return 💚💚💚


Thank you for sharing this amazing part of your journey, very nice and quite amazing achievements! We look forward to attending your class to meeting your Shaman Friends, and to enjoying this beautiful invitation!❤️


Mika Berryman
Mika Berryman
Jan 19, 2022

What a powerful story. All in my feelings over it. Thank you for such a candid sharing.



Thank you so much for sharing your incredibly moving and inspiring story, Athena.


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