Leena provided the following contact information: Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/leena.bandyPersonal Email address: [email protected]Business Email Address: cathedralofthephoeni[email protected] This is a collaboration with the Pride Connection radio show and podcast sponsored by Blind LGBT Pride International. Pride Connection airs on ACB Media 1 every Tuesday at 10pm EDT and is available soon after wherever you get your podcasts. Tune into ACB Media 1 at https://www.acbmedia.org/home/streams/media1/ Learn more about Blind LGBT Pride International at https://blindlgbtpride.org/ A full text transcript of this episode can be found at https://pennyforward.com/penny-forward-transcript-s2e4-healing-through-healing/ The Penny Forward podcast is about blind people building bright futures one penny at a time. Subscribe by searching for “Penny Forward” using your favorite podcast app, ask your smart speaker to play the podcast, “Penny Forward”, check out the Penny Forward YouTube channel, or listen to all of our past episodes or read transcripts at https://pennyforward.com Continue the conversation in our private Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/819788175135724
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Leena: When I started doing tapping last year, I wanted to do it as a business, but I still had difficulty because I felt like healing should be free. Even though I paid quite a bit for healing sessions. I felt like I should not be charging for it because it was somehow wrong. Or, like spiritually immoral. And it kind of came down to, "Well, I want to do this full time. I want to be someone that's helping people, and in order to do that, I have to get around this spiritually immoral thing about healing, and it's something where I can support myself.
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Male Announcer: You're listening to a collaboration between Penny Forward and Pride Connection.
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Chris: This is the Penny Forward podcast, a show about blind people building bright futures, one penny at a time.
Liz: I'm Liz Botner.
Chris: And I'm Chris Peterson.
Liz: We are blind people, learning what it takes to be successful in our personal, professional, and financial lives.
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Liz: What is the hardest part of starting a business? For Leena Anne Solusar, it was the fear that it was wrong to charge for her services. We wanted to learn how Leena overcame that fear, so we invited her on to tell us how surviving a sexual assault, and coming to terms with her sexual identity, helped her to discover talents that she is now using to help others, while simultaneously helping herself.
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Now, let's get started.
Liz: Hi, Leena. Thanks for being here.
Leena: Thanks for having me.
Liz: So, would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself?
Leena: Sure. So, right now, I'm in Boston, and I am both a braille proofreader and a business owner. I do energy healing work as well as tarot card readings.
Chris: Would you mind telling us a little bit how you were raised and how that informed your views on healing, and sexual identity and mental health and that kind of thing?
Leena: Sure. So, I was raised in a Mormon household, very conservative, and, as a kid, straight was kind of the only option, and, you know, people who weren't were ... It was sort of an "us and them" thing. You know, when I would ... would have feeling for someone, if I had feelings for a female, it was kind of like, "Oh no, that's just a really good friend," and it would just kind of be pushed off to the side, but I was kind of raised in a place where there was a lot of stigmas. So definitely, definitely one around mental health as well. It was a lot of, "Get over it, you shouldn't need medication, you shouldn't really need therapy, and if you do, I'm concerned about your well-being" kind of thing, but it kind of permeated everything. Like when I was growing up, healing was something that ... well it was often talked about, but mainly in the context of blindness. Like my family would, I actually think they still do, some of them, pray every day that I'll get sight. And have this hope that I'll have eye transplants, and, like, just all these different things that influenced my initial beliefs as to what healing was. Although it's kind of interesting, because my mom even took me to see an intuitive healer when I was a kid, because she was determined to find some way to give me sight, and I was fascinated by this person. The way that she would talk to me, the way that she apparently talked to people differently based on her intuition of how people were. And she said that I would be good at it even then. I was a teenager I think. I was fascinated. And that, I don't think I realized, well, no, I didn't realize it at the time. But it kind of opened the door.
Liz: How have your past relationships, be that relationship wise, sexual assault wise, and possibly your experiences, interactions with, you know, mental health and, as you were saying, your family's thoughts on it, how have they shaped your later years?
Leena: So, for starters, when I was 19, I was sexually assaulted, at a school, at a training center. An NFB center. And, that shaped a lot of, I believe, it shaped the kind of relationships that I got into. I mean I was with men for a long time, because again, that was the only option, until I finally realized that what I was feeling was more than attraction. And once I stopped dating men, which, pretty much all of those relationships were TOXIC, all caps, ... (chuckle.) And, I started to date women and kind of was like, "Wow! This is where I'm meant to be. These were more than just feelings all along. I'm ... I'm a lesbian." And it changed everything. And being able to let go of the family stuff changed everything.
Chris: I think that there are some people that grow up knowing from a very early age that they're different, and then there are many of us who have no idea, or come to that realization later in life. Which one of those camps do you fall into do you think, and can you go into some more detail about how that evolved for you?
Leena: Well, ... (Chuckle.) I will say for certain that I fall into the camp of knowing later in life. And, again, I'd say probably 95 percent of that is just that it wasn't a consideration. Like, I had relatives that would campaign against gay marriage where I grew up in California. So I didn't even let myself explore if something was a feeling that I would feel for a woman friend.
Liz: What could you say, if there was any one thing that was the most helpful for you initially that kind of helped you figure things out?
Leena: So for me, the first thing that happened was, when I had feelings for someone, my LGBTQ community around me going, "Yeah. You're having feelings for this person. That's what this is. And, that's okay." And being able to talk to those people. To find people who've been there. Right, like, to find a safe space, to find mentors, and almost immediately, what I did was at college, they had a queer leadership program. And my friend recommended and said "You would be great for this. And you could learn a lot from this." And I joined it. Best thing I ever did. It was a semester of, you know, learning about identities, from people who identified as those things, and we had a ... You know, it was a student group, but then we had a staff panel, which I had the honor to moderate, actually, where staff members talked about things like coming out. Or not coming out. Or how they identified. And whether they identified early on or later in life. Kind of like this. So just like listening to people's stories and being able to talk to them and ask questions was probably the most helpful thing for me that I found.
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Chris: I wonder if you could expand a little bit more on how you started to recognize your attractions to women, and what that looked like? Because there must have been a lot more to it than just the, "I realized I was attracted to women and then I got married to one."
Leena: Fair enough. It was hard, because the first person that I was really attracted to, and actually kind of cuddled with, and like decided to do that, I couldn't really talk to about it because she was in another relationship. So, it was a matter of, like, "This is how I feel about this person," people telling me, like, "Yeah. That sounds like what you would say if you had feelings for a guy." Like, "Well, it's not really the same, it's stronger." But even after doing things like going to queer leadership, I put that on the back burner 'cause I ended up dating a guy, and like I said, it was like, "All right, I'm taking a pass." And then it kind of c ... to ... this woman that I dated long distance. And it was kind of one of those things where it was like, "I feel awkward talking to you because I care about you, and I want to know that we're on the same page," because I felt this powerful sense of wanting to be around this person, and the concept of butterflies, the kind of cliche, I guess, some of that sense of love that I realized that I had only felt slightly when I was dating men and that faded quickly, and kind of realizing over time that it wasn't fading. That it was actually growing stronger. And that it was a very different feeling for me of, "No, this is what I've always thought falling in love was. Getting close to someone, being able to trust them, being ... Having that desire to be with them. And the desire to connect on the deepest levels. And, I guess a lot of it came from my realizing too that I wasn't attracted to men more than it was I realized I was attracted to women I guess. Because I looked at things like, "Why did my relationships go wrong?" And a big part of it was my disinterest, if I can be totally open here, my disinterest in sexual activities with men. Was another tip off.
Liz: Along your journey, were there, in figuring out for yourself that, as you say, you were more attracted to women and less to men, and having that be perfectly okay, were there any situations or spaces that you found in coming to that realization that weren't helpful for you?
Leena: Well, my family was honestly probably one of the biggest. Because it was something you didn't talk about. It's still something you don't talk about. You know, like I have a relative, when I went to visit California this year, even, and I've been out for a year or so. Like completely. So, but I went to California in June, and got my hair cut, and one of my relatives said, "Oh, you're gonna be attracting all the boys now."
Chris: Let's tackle some of the opposite of that question. What were some of the safest or the best spaces that you found while you were coming out that were the most helpful?
Leena: So, first and foremost was the Queer leadership program at Sacramento State. That was huge. They were there to help us. It was where I learned about pronouns, it was where I understood what a lot of the identities that people have are. Because there was a lot I just didn't understand. Because, you know, it was basically straight or gay. And that's all I really knew. Up until that point. Which I think other safe spaces really were Facebook groups. And my circle of friends that I ... Well, I went to school with, and some that I didn't. And then, I have what I refer to as chosen family as opposed to bio family. There's a group of ... well, including my fiance, there's a group of five of us that are very close.
Liz: Switching gears slightly I guess, a little bit here, but how did you discover energy healing?
Leena: So I did talk about the ... the intuitive healer when I was a kid. That was kind of the tip of the iceberg. When I really started to discover things was 2009. I was sitting around a fire with a group at a personal development seminar, and one of the members of the group had a quartz crystal wand, so basically, it's a quartz crystal, but it's shaped like ... Kind of like a wand. You use it to direct energy with. And he passed it around the circle and one of the members of the circle pointed it at me. And, you know, it was unintentional because she'd never used it before and it was totally understandable, but I felt the energy coming from it. And I said something, and the man I was ... who owned the crystal said something, and then suggested that I do Pronic healing. Well, I attempted to do Pronic healing, and quickly found that Pronic healing teachers didn't want to teach me because I was blind and they didn't know how. So, I went in search of other modes and found Reiki, which is a Japanese style of energy healing that was brought to the States. And in 2011, I learned how to do that, and became a master. I got my master certification so that I could practice and teach. I discovered tapping last year 'cause I was attempting to support a friend's business, 'cause the pandemic just ... made things difficult. And she was offering tapping to people, and I was like, "Oh, let me try this, 'cause I have a lot that needs healing." (Laugh.) And I had a lot of breakthroughs and I realized that I wanted to give that back to people too, so I also learned how to do that.
Chris: I think we'll get into what some of those things are in more detail a little later, but can you relate some of that back to some of the things you've talked about already? how did that help with you personally?
Leena: Well, tapping especially really helped specifically with the sexual assault trauma. It also was something I did to bring down some of the fears related to coming out to my family. As far as Reiki goes, it's been kind of the thing to remind me that I do have abilities and strengths that are there that I can channel into. It's kind of a reminder. Like, "Yeah. You're a Reiki master. You can channel into this source energy and use it. And you're good at it." It helped me to feel like ... It was an extra self esteem boost I guess. Feel like I had something worth giving to people.
Liz: How did you decide, or what was maybe the one thing that made you decide, to turn your passion for energy healing, just doing it on your own, into an actual business?
Leena: So, this is where Tionne's death comes into play. Because when ... When I started doing tapping last year, I wanted to do it as a business, but I still had difficulty because I felt like healing should be free. Even though I paid quite a bit for healing sessions. I felt like I should not be charging for it because it was somehow wrong. Or, like spiritually immoral. And ... (Sigh.) This year, Tionne passed away, very suddenly, and it was the absolute lowest point of my life. I lost the person that I would have ... that I believed, you know, was the love of my life, that I was going to be with for a long time. I mean we're thirty-three and thirty-five, I realize it wasn't guaranteed, but it definitely felt like we had a long time to grow old together, and so all of it at the same time just crushed me for a while, and I felt like my soul was shattered. And then, I realized that something in me, as well as Vema, who was at the time a dear friend and constant support, and who basically ended up staying with me, and taking care of me and to keep me on the side of life, ... Between her, and something in me, something clicked, and I decided that somehow, I wanted to live, and that I wanted to help other people that were going through hard times and that needed healing. (Sigh.) And it kind of came down to, "Well, I want to do this full time. I want to be a healer. I like proofreading braille, I like reading books, but I want to heal full time. I want to be someone that's helping people, and in order to do that, I have to get around this spiritually immoral thing about healing. And it's something that I will want to turn into something where I can support myself."
Chris: What was one of the most exciting things that happened as a result of that, or what was one of the most exciting things about that?
Leena: This for one. (Laugh.) Being here and doing this interview was like ... was kind of huge. One of the coolest things about it was when I decided to start this, all the mentors and the great teachers that I've been wanting to find and wanting to work with came out of the woodwork and were like, "Yeah! We'll work with you. We'll help you." And equally exciting is the way that clients react to what I'm doing.
Liz: What were some things that maybe were scary for you?
Leena: So, the scariest thing, I've got to say, (Laugh.) Is just this feeling that I don't know what I'm doing. And, you know, because I've always had a 9 to 5. Always had a 9 to 5. Since I was ... Twenty years old. It's always been some kind of full time, eight-hour job, and most of it's been in the blindness field.
Chris: What are your plans for getting your business off the ground now that you've made the decision?
Leena: First of all, I found a bookkeeper that I intend to work with, so she's also going to help me get the license going. I intend to move to Texas to be closer to my sisters, and, as of February 28, to get this really going off full time. cause that is my dream, to be healing full time. And I'm working with a web designer, and right now, most of my promoting has been through Facebook posts and messages, and word of mouth. Which has been awesome, because I'm still growing, which is exciting, and I still have a lot of places I can go.
Liz: What exactly is energy healing, and how does it work?
Leena: I do two different types of healing, so I'm gonna kind of, if that's okay, go into each one. The first one I learned is Reiki, and that's a Japanese style of energy healing where energy is channeled through the hands of the practitioner. The other form that I use is emotional freedom techniques, which is also known as tapping. You tap on meridian points, which are points in the body that have sensitivity, and when you do this, it helps to calm the brain, and what you do is, you tap on these points, and the practitioner guides you through phrases. So, if it's something like, ... I don't know, a craving for chocolate, I might start off with something like, "Even though I have this craving for chocolate, I deeply and completely love and accept myself." While tapping the side of the hand, and it starts to kind of set up the idea that this is what we're working on. And then we move around to different points, and use phrases related to this craving, so that it calms the brain, and you don't feel that craving nearly as intensely anymore.
Chris: Where do you do this? I think you said that this can be done remotely. Can it also be done in person?
Leena: It doesn't matter. I've done Reiki in person several times, but Reiki can be sent over distance. That's one of the things you learn in one of the Reiki levels. Tapping can be done either way because the practitioner is guiding the client to tap on the points. So that can be done either on the phone or in person.
Liz: Who are your clients, and where have you, or where do you find them?
Leena: My clients are people who need healing, from just about anything. Like, physical pain, cravings, trauma, and then I also have clients who are interested in the idea of Tarot readings. That's kind of a different situation. That's more of a "I'm curious about my future, or perspective on a present situation, and I want to know more about that."
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Chris: What advice do you have for people who feel like they can relate to some part of the story that you've told?
Leena: As far as starting a business, I would say just, ... I know it sounds totally cliche in my head, but just do it. (Chuckle.) Don't think you need all this special knowledge, like knowledge is helpful. Knowledge is power. Absolutely, I believe that one hundred percent. And, that also applies to the knowledge of, "Who knows how to do this already and can help me without me reinventing the wheel?" So, that's one piece for sure. You know, if there's aspects like, if you can relate to the trauma situation, if it helps you to find a therapist, do that. If it doesn't, there's always places like Rain, or hotlines, or healers if that helps you, I definitely work with that, considering that was my first foray into things like tapping, was my own trauma. As I've said before, as far as things like coming out, find people that you know who are out that can help you find ... I think, honestly, the best advice I can give for all of this, now that I think about it, seems to be finding a mentor. Finding support. Leaning on people who can help you through, and asking them and letting them support and be on the journey with you. I think the best piece of advice is "don't go it alone."
Liz: Is there anything else that we should know about you or your story that you would like to share that we have not asked?
Leena: What I want people to know is that what I do is positive. What I do helps people. It's ... It's very special to me, and that it's neither religious nor anti-religion.
Chris: If people would like to contact you, either to talk about their own experiences with you or to become a client, where can they find you?
Leena: My Facebook is Lena Anne Solusar, and my email is
Either of those places is a great way to get in touch with me. I check both very regularly.
Liz: Thank you, Leena, for sharing your passion, your story, and yourself with us. We really, really appreciate it.
Leena: Thank you so much for having me. I really enjoyed it.
Chris: If you enjoy the Penny Forward podcast, please rate, review, and share it with your friends. We're supported by your donations. Please help us to continue producing Penny Forward by following the tip jar link in the show notes, or by visiting
Liz: The Penny forward Podcast is produced by Liz Botner and Chris Peterson. Audio editing and postproduction is provided by Byron Lee, and transcription is provided by Anne Verduin. Music was composed and performed by Andre Loui, and web hosting is provided by Taylor's Accessibility Services.
Chris: Penny Forward is a community of blind people building bright futures, one penny at a time. Visit
to learn more about who we are, and what we do. Until next time, for all of us in the Penny Forward community, I'm Chris Peterson.
Liz: And I'm Liz Botner. Thanks for listening, and have a great week.