When Jane Williams was 16, her 13-year-old brother began using drugs and stealing money from the household.
“For four years,” she says, “we lived with a lot of trauma. When my brother was 25, he was heavily involved in drugs and alcohol. He was on the phone with me when he committed suicide. I heard the gunshot. I thought at the time that it was nothing but cruel and horrible, but a therapist once told me that when someone knows they’re going to die, they often contact the people around them who will care. That made it easier for me to handle.”
Williams also has twin sisters, nine years younger. Their mother and father both had master’s degrees in education.
“My mom was a junior-high-school history teacher,” she says, “and she taught me to be strong, to be independent, and to learn to think for and care for myself. I didn’t always live up to that.
“My dad, now deceased, was an elementary-school principal. My parents were always working, so I didn’t spend that much time with them. He didn’t talk to me all that much. I do remember sometimes sitting with my father and just being—just being there with him. Before he died, he did tell me he was sorry and apologized for not supporting me, with all we had been through.”
Williams, now 61, was born in Sweetwater, Texas, but her parents relocated to the Imperial Valley when she was 4 years old.
“I had been a sick child, and my parents were told I’d benefit from the desert climate,” she says. “They had friends who lived in Brawley, so we moved, and I lived in Imperial Valley until 1978.”
After graduating from Imperial High School, Williams attended Imperial Valley College, and then earned her degree in criminal-justice administration from San Diego State.
“I moved to the Coachella Valley in 1978 with my first marriage,” she says, seemingly embarrassed to admit she’s been married twice—until I mention I’ve been married four times, which she responds to with a hearty laugh.
“I have two sons, 39 and 37. My youngest lives in Bermuda Dunes and is married with two children. He has a master’s in social work and is a licensed marriage and family therapist, and also with ABC Recovery Center. My older son lives in Fresno, and after 13 years with the Air Force, he now works for the Department of Defense.”
Williams worked as a probation officer with Riverside County, and as a parole agent with the California Department of Corrections. She retired in 2001.
“I was always proud to be working with my clients, and also with their families,” Williams says. “When someone has been in the system, especially with drug and alcohol problems, it’s gratifying to help them get their lives back on track. They need to learn what they are capable of doing. Having lived the life I’ve lived gives me the opportunity to help them understand they aren’t alone in their journey. I’m still in contact with some of them.”
In 1999, Williams was in an accident on Interstate 10, hitting two cars that had stopped on the freeway—and then getting hit from behind.
“Why I lived, I have no clue,” she says. “The angels were with me. The message that came was, ‘You have more to live in your life. We’re not finished with you.’ … Over time, my body started to atrophy, and I suffered PTSD, which took about three years to get diagnosed.
“Two months after the accident, I started drinking … a lot. Over the time, from the accident until I retired, my body was falling apart physically. I became someone who was angry, isolated, even suicidal. I’ve now been in recovery and sober for six years, and I found a chiropractor who started stretching me and gave me the ability to walk again. I had to redefine myself, and there are relationships within my family that have still not been healed.”
Williams decided to study to become an esthetician and a massage therapist.
“I went to work at a dude ranch in Wyoming for two years, and came back to the desert and bought a home in Indio in 2009,” she says.
But Williams is now doing what she considers her “calling”: She’s a shaman. A shaman is generally thought to be a healer who can bridge the material and spiritual worlds.
“When I was 16,” Williams says, “I had a vision of seeing my best friend in a car accident. That same day, she had three separate accidents. In 2016, I went on what’s known as a ‘guided journey,’ where I felt I had entered a fourth dimension. On that journey, I saw a man pass over, and then three days later, my dad had his stroke and died.
“I knew I had a gift, but I needed to study so that I could share that gift. I did some research, found ‘Be Heaven on Earth’ in Santa Cruz, and went to school there for three years.
“What I’ve learned is that we tend to put our traumas in a box and store them away, but we have to bring them out in order to heal ourselves. I work with people to help them heal. On several occasions, when someone has been ready to pass over—to die—I’ve found I can help them, and their loved ones, through that process. I’ve actually seen their souls going toward that open space where the light is.
“We’re all connected to the earth, and everything in and on it. It’s our energy source—all interrelated, all interconnected. We just need to learn how to live within that reality. It can be truly beautiful.”
Anita Rufus is also known as “The Lovable Liberal.” Her show The Lovable Liberal airs from 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays on IHubRadio. Email her at Anita@LovableLiberal.com. Know Your Neighbors appears every other Wednesday.