Driftless Health: Emerging Whole Wellness brings new energy to the Driftless area

By Zach Jensen,

Catherine Meinecke and therapy dog Kenzo pose for a photo in the room where the holistic healer conducts energy and healing sessions at Emerging Whole Wellness in downtown Cresco. (Driftless Multimedia photo by Zach Jensen)

This past December marks one year since Catherine Meinecke connected with Barb Gardner in her shop, Little Birds, in downtown Cresco, and what has been built inside 215 N. Elm Street since then seems like it was always meant to be.

“I walked in on Christmas Eve,” said Meinecke, a 1995 Crestwood graduate and Master’s-level holistic healer. “We were talking, and she had crystals in the shop, and I talked with several customers about them — teaching them and helping them pick out crystals. And, Barb said, ‘If you ever want a place, I have space,’ and that was a year ago.”

Meinecke, a school nurse at Crestwood High School at the time, began constructing part of her dream in the lower level of Little Birds just three months later, and by October, her new holistic health practice was ready for clients. Meinecke’s business, Emerging Whole Wellness, opened on Oct. 6, 2023.

“I have been a nurse since I was 25 years old, and behavioral health is my background, and I found that what people were really needing was a place of connection,” Meinecke said. “The more research they do, the more they’re finding that healing has so much to do with connection and feeling safe in your body — and your nervous system settling enough to heal.”

Meinecke has a small corner of Gardner’s shop, where she sells sage bundles, crystals and flower essences, and downstairs, she and her therapy dog, Kenzo, a Japanese Shiba Inu, offer multiple energy-oriented healing services, including Healing Touch, Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, crystal healing, resiliency skills training, hands-on healing, online sessions, distance healing, sound healing, intuitive guidance and wellness coaching. And, in addition to in-person individual sessions, she also does group education. Meinecke also offers what she’s dubbed “Story Work”. 

“Story Work unravels your present and ancestral DNA, and connection with your ancestors and culture,” her website reads. “This helps you to reconnect to your spirit, through the connection and support heal whatever dis-ease has developed. I provide support for letting go of judgment and embracing the lessons that will bring forth your unique light that will help balance the collective and create universal healing.”

In addition to her healing work, Meinecke said she also offers membership plans for Emerging Whole Wellness, which include a discount on services, a reading nook containing a small library of holistic health books and other benefits.

“Basically, my theory on healing is that you have to empower people to heal themselves,” she said. “And, the only way to do that is to give them the tools.”

Meinecke, who had asthma as a child, was raised on a farm just east of Cresco, and she said it was her mother who first introduced her to holistic health. 

“My mom was always searching for things to help me,” she said. “So, she was learning about essential oils in the early 1990’s, and by the time I was 19 or 20 years old, I discovered energy healing, Reiki.”

Reiki is a Japanese healing technique in which a Reiki master uses their hands to guide the flow of energy through the client’s body — the goal of which is to improve the flow and balance of energy required to support healing, reduce stress and increase energy levels.

“My doctor was like ‘Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it,’ and that was back before alternative medicine was popular in this part of the country.”

Meinecke began practicing Reiki in 1998, and in 1999, she earned her Master status in the Reiki discipline.

“After getting my Reiki Master, I continued practicing and learning more about different types of healing — aroma therapy, animal communication …” she remembered. “You name it, and I dabbled in it at that point.”

In 2001, after Meinecke’s husband, Jeff, lost his job, Catherine decided to go to school to become a nurse.

“I was helping raise three little kids at the time,” she said, “and I knew that nursing was a profession in which I knew that whatever happens, I’ll still have a job.”

Catherine began her nursing studies at Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) in 2002, and she said she was just beginning to fully understand the connection between the mind, body and energy, when tragedy struck. In 2003, just one year after starting her education to become a nurse, she lost her fourth child to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). 

“It was the hardest thing that ever happened to me, it was the worst thing that ever happened to me, but it was the greatest gift the universe ever gave me, because it taught me so much about spirituality, connecting to self, connecting to those that are not necessarily with us — and about forgiveness, love, compassion and gratitude,” she said.

Of course, Catherine didn’t learn all this immediately following her son’s passing. Rather, that tragedy started her on a 12-to-15-year journey through which she had to discover how and why to stay on her path.

“I was shattered, and I had to figure out how to live again,” said Catherine. “So, that, to me, is what the last 20 years has been about. And, in a lot of ways, that is what Emerging Whole Wellness is about.”

Following her son’s death, in the middle of her nursing program at NICC, Catherine mustered the strength and determination to continue on with her educational and vocational goals for the good of her family, and she found that learning more about healing also helped her heal through her grieving. 

In 2005, she became a licensed practical nurse, and in 2006, she graduated from NICC as a Registered Nurse. Catherine then went on to earn her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Winona State University in 2010, but that gain also didn’t come without another tragic loss. 

“We were away on a trip when Dad died, and that kind of shattered my world again, because he was my cheerleader through everything,” Catherine said.

While the loss of both her youngest child and her father were excruciatingly difficult to bear, she said it’s also been a gift.

“It gives me an understanding and empathy,” she said. “It gives me a good way to see things … in Technicolor. You can’t feel absolute joy and contentment without feeling that absolute pain and suffering. And, when you start to look at life that way, that’s when you find gratitude, and that’s when you find the gifts.”

In 2011, Catherine began working for Gundersen Behavioral Health in Decorah, and in 2018, she went back to school at Saint Catherine’s University of St. Paul to continue her holistic health studies. In 2020, Catherine began working as a school nurse in Cresco, and in December 2022, Catherine earned her Master’s of Art in Holistic Health — shortly after which she met Little Birds owner Barb Gardner.

“It continues to be a healing journey,” Catherine said. “I’m trying to introduce something in this part of the country that’s different. And, I’m still finding my way and what, exactly, I bring to the table. Right now, I just want to build a community.”

For more information, call Catherine at 319-240-6330 or visit www.emergingwholewellness.com/ or follow “Emerging Whole Wellness” on Facebook.

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