Stephanie Burns has had many careers in her life, beginning with a degree in computer science and including being the CEO of Destiny Entertainment, Destiny Marketing Group and the Business of Our Arts. She is an educator, spiritual practitioner and medium, not to mention she is in the process of getting her PhD. Although her list of experiences is long, the one consistent thread through her journey of careers has been her commitment to spiritual practices and helping others, which has blossomed since her move to New Orleans more than three decades ago.
Stephanie remembers being a very spiritual child and attributes her move to New Orleans to her medium abilities. With a history rooted in music, religion and voodoo, it is no surprise that Stephanie felt drawn to this magical city. “When the spirit of New Orleans calls you here, you answer. There’s a reason you come here. Some people are just passing through, some people are coming to go to school or because of Mardi Gras and they are only going to be here short term,” Stephanie said at a sit down interview on March 17th.
Right in my dining room with the sun coming through the windows, I had the chance to sit down with Stephanie Burns and hear about her spiritual path to helping people with her medium abilities and why New Orleans is her one and only home, despite not moving here until graduate school. Stephanie too thought she was only going to be here short term, but there was something deeper, calling her to stay.
Stephanie has dealt with her fair share of hardships, not the least of which includes having ninety percent of her house and belongings lost in Katrina. However, being the strong woman she is, she used her gift and her heart to help those around her find their purpose in life after such a devastating disaster. “Post Katrina was about what ways can I support people. How can I best support them when I too am going through the same thing,” Stephanie said.
So when the students she taught came back to school, she decided to be a listening ear. “We would always spend the first twenty minutes of class allowing them to talk about what was happening with them that day because they didn’t have an outlet, they didn’t have somewhere they could say, ‘I have ten people sleeping in a one bedroom apartment.’”
Stephanie also opened her home to people she knew. She only had an empty apartment to begin with but eventually she started adding to her place. Her holistic doctor came with her table so she could treat patients and when she finally got a sofa, people came and slept there. However, it wasn’t all bad, even though they were living in pretty dire circumstances. She created a community for people to gather for Thanksgiving and Christmas that was extremely inclusive. Stephanie recalled, “We are here and let’s just have this space. I didn’t feel that it was much but there was no way I could just do nothing so I’m like what do I have the capacity to do?”
Additionally, her commitment to music and helping the local artists has been part of her spiritual and social justice commitment to New Orleans. Stephanie explained that “Music is life. There is a video of me as a child, humming, creating songs in my head like so as long as I can remember, I have always been drawn to music. Music is vibration, energy, frequency. It can put you in an amazing mood, it can put you in a sad mood. It can shift the energy when you hear music. It can make you love again, it can make you cry, it can make you go through a range of emotions. Music is an energy shifter and a shaper and I’ve always always been drawn to it.”
And after Katrina, focus on local artists was not the priority of the city so Stephanie knew she had dedicated her time and energy to helping get them back on their feet. She started attending the Bring Back New Orleans Forum so she could try to understand how they were going to bring back New Orleans local artists. What she didn’t want was that they flood the city with all of the well known musicians who were doing very well for themselves and ignore the local artists. Stephanie pointed out that this is their livelihood and so they need to be supported. She advocated for them as much as possible.
Another reason Stephanie feels connected to New Orleans is its proximity to the Mississippi river. She says that “it is the number one place I go and it doesn’t matter what part of the Mississippi river I go to. I could be out in Kenner, I could be uptown, I could be downtown, it doesn’t matter where I catch it. The river is where I go to get my Clarity.”
When I asked her about what she does there, she opened up to me about how she gets her clarity. She gives offerings. She speak messages into the water and she says a lot of blessings. “Sometimes I speak things to my future self because if the water holds memory, then when I go back out to the river, then it can tell me sometimes what I put in right which is often needed like through the great today. I want to put all those great vibrations out there so the days I’m not feeling great, it comes back” Stephanie said.
Stephanie also talked about the unbelievably spiritual experiences she has had in nature and at the river. “I went out and the water had receded so there was this land you could walk to and I was just giving and offering and i think it was an orange maybe, some flowers, and just all of a sudden, the sun was already out beautiful, gorgeous and I looked up and I see this rainbow. And then these seagulls came and lined up right in front of me. And then these egrets just came and flew in a v-shape over me and then the pelicans showed up. Its was like in a ten, fifteen, twenty minute span, the most beautiful, amazing sightings of animals and birds and rainbows and it was like reflecting back to me, how I need to show up in this world,” Stephanie said with a serene smile on her face.
Finally at the end of our forty-seven minute interview, I got to ask her what her plans for the future are. With a tranquil and steady tone she said, “I’m just following the path of the water. When you are following the right path, it flows naturally versus trying to go places where it doesn’t flow naturally. Right away if you try something and there’s this amazing resistance, maybe that’s not where I’m supposed to go. So I’m trusting, I’m believing and I’m flowing.” And that’s what Stephanie wants for us all. She just wants us to find our path and trust in the process because it’s the right path and it’s ours.