Michele Schuchman is a free spirit who marches to her own drumbeat, as many people in and around the Upper Delaware River Valley can tell you. Perhaps you’ve seen her in full costume, marching in a parade, or at a local event somewhere, or engaging an audience of children in conversation with her ever-present puppets. She is perhaps better known only as “Grandma Michele,” someone that (if you were writing a novel) would be a somewhat odd character who provides “local color.” Grandma Michele definitely provides color.
Schuchman’s blog (allaboutgrandmamichele.com) identifies her as an intuitive life coach and a psychic healer who helps people learn to use their own innate power and energy to address their problems.
Drawing attention to herself as a colorful local character is no accident. Having been a businesswoman since age 19—she has owned hair salons, a restaurant, and a successful gourmet sauce-making company—Grandma Michele and the wigs and costumes she wears are her “brand.” These days, her business is spreading happiness and harmony, love and laughter; because what Grandma Michele believes in is trying to help people heal their emotional pain to become happy. (Not a bad job, if you think about it.) Her method is not a mystery; she provides a friendly ear for people to tell her their stories, and then she gently shares the insights she’s heard by telling a new story back to them.
Sometimes she encourages people to tell her their stories by using the fantasy tale she wrote in her self-published book, called “Grandma Michele: The Story Teller and Listener.” It’s about an alien planet where “there is no disease, no famine, no crime, no fear, and no hatred. It is rich with love and harmony.”
Sometimes she relies on her ever-present puppets to get people to open up. Sometimes she uses “past regression therapy,” which she learned at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY with Dr. Brian Weiss and Carole Weiss, and sometimes she does healing “energy work” learned from David Feinstein and Donna Eden also at Omega Institute. “I don’t understand why,” she said, “but sometimes I’ve been able to pull pain from people. I have done it with homeless people; I teach them how to use their own natural [healing] energy.” (It is perhaps worth noting that at one point as a young adult, Schuchman herself was homeless for two months in New York City, working three jobs to get herself back on her feet.)
Among the people she likes to help locally are veterans returning from service in Iraq and Afghanistan. She is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 531 in Honesdale, PA and has taken her alter ego Grandma Michele to visit, entertain and talk to vets in VA facilities.
Recently, Grandma Michele decided to leave her own comfort zone—her home in Damascus, PA and stomping grounds on both sides of the river—to take her “show” on the road. On April 30 she boarded a bus in Binghamton, NY (yes, in full regalia), and set off for Washington, DC. Her mission: to meet and talk to ordinary people. “Washington, DC is so fear-based,” she explained. “I just felt like they needed some cheer there. You know, everyone is so fearful, but if we live in fear, then fear wins and we don’t get to enjoy our day. We don’t get to enjoy a child laughing, or listening to a bird, or seeing a flower, or seeing anything but fear. And then we have nightmares and we torture ourselves. We’re not here to be tortured,” she concluded.
Some people, of course, see only that she is a bit odd, and looking no further, dismiss her. But that doesn’t bother her. Recently, a man at a party told her, “People think you’re off the wall the way you dress—sparkly, hats, carrying your puppets. They talk about you.”
“I told him, ‘Well, that’s good. Keep talking about me—good or bad. It keeps me alive. I’m not dead yet.’
“[Besides] if you buy into the story some person is telling about you, then that gives them power over you. Why would I give anybody my power? As long as I can look in the mirror and know what I do every day, then that’s what really counts.”
How is her Grandma Michele persona different from Michele Schuchman? “They’re really not different,” she replied to the question. “They’re really the same.”
Little wonder then that both espouse the same message—that love is the answer and that “the more kindness you can share with another, [it] creates a better world for all of us.”