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Life & Work with Chyna Grace Wu of Sedona

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chyna Grace Wu.

Hi Chyna, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I came to the United State in 1995 from Hong Kong. I have been switching few careers since. When I first came to the US, I was a professional fashion model. Modeling took me to many different countries but NYC was my final destination. I have always been doing hair/makeup even when I was full time modeling. In 1999, I decided to stop modeling and gone back to school, since then, I started to fall back to my hair and make up work and when school is done, I switched my career once again. My very first career as a hair and make up artist can traced back to as early years as 1985, when I was 14 years old. When I was 17, I discovered by the very first international fashion magazine in Asia, the “Elle Magazine”; as a fashion model. Because of my unique look, I had a short and blonde hair; immediately I was put on as an Elle cover girl in 1988.

My passion of being a hair dresser inspired by my Mom’s hair stylist, whom often do house call then, and I got to watched how he cuts and perm hair. I even gave up high school and worked in a hair salon when I was 14 years old. The first hair salon I worked for was owned by an European man from Austria. Along side of the hair salon also a hair cutting school. Most of the hair stylists were trained by the Vidal Sassoon and I was trained by them. I have to say, the English and the Japanese were the very best hair stylists among the world then. Working in an international hair salon gave me the opportunity to explore the international world outside of Hong Kong. That was the reason I got connected to Elle Magazine. These two jobs merged perfectly and both are creative and possessed strong sense of freedom of expression.

I got to learn and speak in English, exposed to the 80’s music and fashion. The 80’s was filled with exciting things and all those celebrated fashion designers like: Jean Paul Gartier, Giorgio Armani, Comme des Garcons, Kenzo, Issey Miyake and the 80’s music, MTV and movies; before the computer, cell phone and the internet era. Each decade things changed, life changed, I changed and society changed, so do my career choices. School has shifted my creative and free life style into more a disciplinary life. However; we never know what life will take us and yet, unexpected circumstances occur and it may alter our view about life forever; so do our dreams and values. Now, my question is, what is my priority in life and what makes me happy and what worth my time and what do I want to do with my knowledge, versus of just having a job to pay my bills and rents.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
My life journey and career choice has made a big switched by two major incidents in my life. First, the death of my parents within three months apart in 1994. Second, my returned back to school and my new founding knowledge. Although, during that time those two incidents were not clear to me that the underlying motivation was to heal myself. I thought I was drawing into the study of the Thanatology (Death, Dying and Bereavement) study was led by my Tibetan Buddhism study in 2003, which Tibetan Buddhism often emphasize “life is impermanent”. I graduated with my BA in 2005, in 2006 I took a big trip to Tibet and when I return, I decided to go straight back to school and to get my Master degree in Thanatology. Not until the very first class I took, which is called, “Bereavement”; I have never heard or encountered this word Bereavement before, I also learned for the first time of what is “Broken Heart Syndrome”.

These new knowledge hit me like a thunderstorm; indeed, I was suffered from the “Broken Heart Syndrome” two months after my Father’s death in October 1994. I was experiencing severe chest pain and difficult breathing that I couldn’t walk or do anything and I ended up hospitalized for four days, and those symptoms lasted for couple months. Therefore, the transition of making a career change was facing difficulty started earlier on from school. During my program, my grief symptoms surfaced and hit me very hard as I did not know I was suffered from multiple losses . My whole world was turned upside down furthermore when I lost my Father’s Mom whom I loved dearly, my uncle who was living with her was gone missing, and I decided to ended my marriage engagement in 2005.

However, the 2.5 years program was a blessing in the sky that not only I learned about the complexity of grief, but I also learn to understand my own grieves and difficult emotions at times that, I was not able to pinpoint otherwise. The journey of my career change has huge relationship with my own personal growth and yet, it has a surprise outcome and a blessed one.

Unfortunately, I was not accepted to work as a grief support in the traditional hospice setting, which rely on Social Workers or Chaplains to do the bereavement work. My whole MA degree that was devoted to Death, Dying and Bereavement courses means nothing to the hospices system. What it left for me was doing something I really has no interest to part take, which is the PR marketing or be more straight forward, recruiting the dying person . Although I am a big advocate in hospice care, but when coming to work with the current hospices industry, all they care is about the numbers and unfortunately is heavily monetized. Hospices patients often do not received enough hours of visitation from the nurses or assistant they need. What is left for me is, I got to create my own program. Many are still afraid to talk about death and dying and many are still dying in fear and unjust situations because the lack of education and the failing of our medical system we are facing today. The challenge of my work right now is, where to draw the fine line of what is self-autonomy and our right to make medical decision? How can we best assist the person who is dying and their family, what do they really need vs on what the system tell them what they can and cannot do.

During this unprecedented situation as we all under the attack of the unknown virus, along side with limited data and heavily censorship of different medical journals. We are no longer able to make our own health care decision based on accurate information, but being force feed of false data and narratives that used to strip away our self-autonomy. Not only we lost our rights to receive different information, now, we have corporations part takes in our health care decision on rather or not who deserve to obtain the basic service as buying grocery or going to a football game. The challenge and struggle fall on each one of us, I don’t think we are living in a world that common sense is the basic guideline but insanity. And yet, this is my recent struggle on part taking within the medical system and my decision to leave that area of work.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Because of the recent lock down situation, I no longer work in hospice setting. I was once again switching my focus on helping individual and children who have difficulty dealing with grief and the loss of many things that once was normal. Because of the lock down, parents has reach out to me for their children’s behavior problem and because of this reason, I started to help children to understand their emotions and anger, most, but not all are related to losses. However; grief and bereavement not only experience from the death of a loved one, but also can be induced by being deprived of what once was precious to you and is being taking away. Such as: your community, friends, family members, losing a job, losing a marriage, losing relationships, losing health, trust and faith etc.

I started to use arts as the medium to help individual to release emotional stress and pain. I also use sound healing (Tibetan Singing Bowl) methods along with talking circle to help those who feel stuck. In my observation of grief work, negative, stressful and sad emotions are stuck and heavy energy that trap in our body, mind and spirit. The Tibetan Singing Bowl can help move the stuck energy, which allow individuals to feel lighter and be able to gain energy and clarity again. It works as cleaning a house, when the house is filled with things and dirt; one cannot possibly move freely or motivate to do things.

I know for helping people to shift their grief into new energy where they can find new interest to reinvest into life again. I also known to incorporate non-traditional methods as past-life regression therapy, I also study about out of body experience and near death experience, therefore many of my clients can feel free to discuss their unusual experience with me, which I can related to. I feel great when I see my clients stepping out of their grieves and are able to find joy in life again.

My work is different from others because I included science and spirituality within my grief work. I help clients to explore their view of life and to find that “what” lift their souls and help them to experience that magnificent of human spirit we all possess and the power of nature along the beauty of arts to incorporate into their new life. Mostly, I love to help people to explore the unseen potential of life and help them to get back to their core of self-esteem.

We love surprises, fun facts and unexpected stories. Is there something you can share that might surprise us?
Two weeks after I submitted this Q& A, one of my dreams has comes true. Well, I just purchased a small piece of land in North Arizona where I can create private healing retreats at an off grid setting.  I hope I could build this site into a living space and a camp site where my clients can come for weekends retreat. I will be posting my progress of building the land on my website or a You-tube channel and I can’t wait to share this land with others.

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