From her earliest years, Marta Schwartz was searching for something. Her outer journey took her halfway around the world; her inner journey led her to explore different paths.
Schwartz, owner of WhiteStone Wellness Center, located in Dr. Mikell Adams' office at 1201 Wakarusa Drive, now counsels fellow seekers.
"I was the fifth of eight children in a devout Catholic family in Ohio," she says. "I was told the Catholic way was the only true path to God, but I questioned that. I was torn between the need to conform and be accepted, and my deeper longing to discover who I was inside."
Her desire to push boundaries and be different led to impulsiveness. Most of her family served in the Army or Air Force, so she joined the Navy. She served in Crete, Bermuda, and finally in Norfolk, Virginia.
After discharge she wondered - what next?
"I opened a telephone directory, saw adverts for massage therapists, and knew I could do that." she says.
After some preliminary qualification work, she took off and eventually landed in Arizona, where she remained until her sister called from Omaha asking for support. She moved to Nebraska to be with her.
Then, after a stint in California, she moved back to Virginia and worked with a chiropractor.
"It was a great experience," she says. "It was a balance between doing something different and being part of the mainstream."
Her searching led her to Lawrence 14 years ago, and she became activities director and a nursing aide at Brandon Woods Retirement Community.
"It was a rich learning experience for me, but I became exhausted by inner turmoil and relationship challenges. I just burned out," she recalls.
She eventually found a leaflet for reiki (pronounced ray-key) training at a local store. It claimed the energy healing could be useful for self-healing.
"I needed to try and heal myself, so I signed up. Midway through the three-day training I felt a deep shift. I was totally energized and felt in tune with my inner self," she explains.
She completed training as a reiki master, explored Wicca and Hinduism, and in 2004 took another risk by buying a complementary health business on Sixth Street. She trusted things would work out.
"I renamed it WhiteStone, retained the existing therapists, and I did massage, reiki and taught classes," Schwartz says.
She's now an ordained minister in the Pathways of Light church.
"I feel I've come home to myself and found what I'd been searching for," Schwartz says. "I now use daily practices from my Catholic upbringing - rituals, prayer and Bible reading. My faith is richer. I know where my source is, and I work to help others connect with their inner holy spirit and embark on their own healing journey."