Emma Schurink is an empowerment coach and founder of Soul Winds Empowerment in Farmington. Submitted photo

Emma Schurink, a 27-year-old visual artist and Brooklyn, New York, native, “fell in love with Maine and decided to move here” a few years ago while visiting a friend. After moving to Farmington in September 2020, Schurink founded Soul Winds Empowerment and became a certified spiritual and life coach (she prefers the term “empowerment coach” because it “suggests that the participant has agency in the process”).

Last year, she began organizing community potlucks to create a “space for people to connect and build local community.” As a way to keep the events low-key and “intimate,” she likes word-of-mouth invitations rather than public advertisements and encourages people to start hosting potlucks in their own communities.

To follow Schurink and to learn more about her empowerment coaching, visit her website at soulwindsempowerment.com or find her on Facebook and Instagram @soulwindsempowerment.

Emma Schurink, a visual artist and founder of Soul Winds Empowerment, moved to Farmington from Minnesota in the fall of 2020. Submitted photo

When and why did you decide to pursue life coaching? I’ve been a certified spiritual and life coach since April 2021, although I choose to refer to myself as an empowerment coach. I decided to pursue this line of work after I realized that a number of friends began transforming their lives because of the way I listened, asked questions, and offered my reflections and insights when they came to me with an issue. . . . I also felt drawn to this line of work because of my own experience. I’ve pulled myself out of dark places by asking myself big questions like “What do I need right now?” and listening to my inner wisdom for answers. As I empower myself, I find less need to numb. I’ve learned helpful strategies to process and release negative emotions, like journaling, going for walks, dancing and confiding in a friend. I want to help others strengthen their self-reflective muscle, identify tools and strategies, and anchor their intuition so they can live authentically and experience meaningful connection.

Pretend I’ve never heard of a life or empowerment coach – how would you explain what you do? As an empowerment coach, I guide people to nurture deeper self-connection so they can embody authenticity, live meaningfully, and connect deeply with themselves, others, and the world. I listen intently, ask open-ended questions, reflect back what I hear and invite them to tune into their intuition so they can discover their own answers. Whether it’s a one-on-one session or a workshop, I help clients and participants move through blocks, fears and limiting beliefs so they can move forward and embody a life that gives them energy and inspiration. This work is not about reaching a final destination or a perfect state of being; it’s about creating a regular practice of noticing, learning, tending, and shifting.

Does living/working in rural Maine affect how you approach your work? I’ve lived in rural North America for almost 10 years now. Having lived an urban life and a rural life, I’ve observed that in both settings, people struggle with insecurities, inauthenticity, shame and disconnection. Wherever we are, many of us face unattainable cultural expectations and societal norms, unresolved trauma and disconnection. But in rural North America, there are less resources and opportunities to learn about emotional well-being and to receive support in healing old wounds. I’ve become aware of the impact of these limitations as I meet people and interact with the local community at large. The term “life coach” is not well known around here, not like it is in more urban areas, so it can be challenging to find the language to convey to locals the value of this work. As I build community through potlucks and other ways, my work is slowly gaining more attention. I see an exciting opportunity to help people who are craving more joy, purpose and connection in their lives.

What sparked the idea of organizing community potlucks? What do you hope to achieve with them? I started hosting potlucks when I lived in Minnesota only a few months before the pandemic started. In an era defined by technology, I wanted to bring people together face-to-face. The pandemic of course put a stop to in-person gatherings — making us even more dependent on virtual connection — but the energy created by those potlucks inspired me to try again in September 2021 in Maine. I only knew about 10 people then, so they started small. Each time, I encourage people to bring a friend, and next thing I know, I’m co-hosting a potluck for the solstice with 50 people.

My intention with these potlucks is to create space for people to connect and build local community. Humans are wired for connection, and I want these gatherings to feed that need. At each potluck, I incorporate an activity that encourages people to share something about themselves, like their intention for the coming month or something they are grateful for. For the next potluck, I am inviting people to bring something from their home or the land they reside on, whether it’s a rock, a book, something handmade, a treasure, a leaf, a poem. Something meaningful to them yet something they can let go of and allow someone else to take home.

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