Melissa Schaff is a force to be reckoned with. The banker-turned-Reiki practitioner holds little back when she’s sharing her life story (and you can read all about it in her memoir, “One Plus One Makes Three”), and she’ll do it with so much energy and honesty that you can’t help but want to talk with her for hours.

Her brutal honesty and vivacious personality are likely what draw people to her as a Reiki practitioner, empath, and medium because she’s willing to just say what’s in her mind, and more often than not, it’s exactly what people need to hear.

Getting to this place of peace and contentment has been a long road for Melissa, a journey she describes with frankness in her memoir. She doesn’t hold back about how she decided to ask for a divorce from her “starter husband” when she realized his alcoholism and abusive ways weren’t going to change. She shares how just days after she finally summoned the courage to ask for a divorce, her job at the bank she’d worked at for 21 years had been eliminated. And she lays out all the details of how, at age 36, she received a devastating diagnosis of stage four cervical precancer. A friend urged her to reach out to a Reiki practitioner they both knew, so Melissa did. Three months later, her doctor was gobsmacked when Melissa’s precancer was undetectable.

As Melissa re-evaluated what she wanted out of her life, she realized that going back to a corporate job wasn’t the best path, but she wasn’t exactly keen on becoming a small business owner either. But she realized that her gifts of being a counselor, actor and nurse could be combined into one as a Reiki practitioner, so she opened her own practice, Inner Focus Reiki, 16 years ago. She credits the technique with not only healing her precancer, but also allowing her energy to lead her to her “forever husband”, Trinity. Falling in love with him allowed her to dream again about having a child of her own, but that process was complicated by myriad factors, not the least of which was her age. Melissa was 45 when she finally got pregnant and 46 when she gave birth to their daughter, Ceta.

“The odds were super against me,” she says emphatically. Medical issues arose that prompted a change in her birth plan, but Melissa realized quickly those issues were all a part of a grander plan to ensure her baby arrived safely. That little baby is now 9 years old, and Melissa describes her daughter as a “fireball” who is “impassioned and small but mighty.”

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Melissa dedicated her book to her daughter, so that she may “understand the miracle” she is; Melissa had always thought about writing a book but had never put pen to paper. Four years ago she was hosting a class on intuitive learning when a student walked into the room and mentioned she was picking up on energy related to a book, but didn’t know why.

Melissa and her husband Trinity have a 9-year-old daughter named Ceta. Photo courtesy of English Photography
Melissa and her husband Trinity have a 9-year-old daughter named Ceta. Photo courtesy of English Photography

“ ‘That’s for me’ ” Melissa responded to her. So she wrote the book, self-published it, and can’t wait to write a second one, possibly about the struggles of marriage and what she’s learned. For now, she’s enjoying helping people through her practice, being a mom and wife, and maybe inspiring a person or two along the way.

Check out more of what Melissa had to say below:

You have such a fun and playful personality - where does that come from?

I’m unique, that’s for sure. And I wake up like this; no alcohol or caffeine needed. And trust me, you do NOT wanna see me caffeinated.

What three words best describe you?

Sassy, classy, and a bit bad ass-y.

What are some things people don’t know about you?

My eyes change color.

I bite my fingernails.

I was professionally voiceover trained.

The smell of fish/crustacean/seafood makes me nauseous. Yes, really.

You have voiceover training? Tell me more about that!

Years ago, after my banking career was eliminated, I decided I wanted to do voice-overs for local television and radio. Over the course of two years, I received training and when my instructor deemed I was ready, he sent me on my way. He also asked me to be in a movie he wrote, directed and filmed, something I loved doing since I adore being in the limelight. While the voice-over thing never panned out, I did learn how to craft a public-speaking and “phone” voice which have been very helpful through the years.

What’s your best marriage advice?

I’ve earned my stripes here, that’s for sure. I’ll offer what has worked for me: The first thing is to get rid of resentment; it’s a killer of relationships. Find something you love about that person and focus on that.

Secondly, you’ve got to have tough, scary-as-all-hell, tinkle-in-your-pants vulnerable conversations with your mate.

Thirdly (but not last), commitment. Marriage can be a safe place to heal old wounds so some of what you go through may be deeply painful emotionally. Decide if you can – or want – to work through the conflict. If you do, face the problem. Then, if the hurtful behavior stops, your marriage (and you) will have grown to become even more resilient.

Side note: I can be a teensy bit of an avoider when it comes to unpleasant stuff like this. However, I’ve learned that if you ignore a problem, not only will it return (in this or another relationship), but it will multiply and be more difficult to resolve. Ouch.

What are two or three things you must have if stranded on a deserted island?

Easy! Burt’s Bee’s lip balm and an eyebrow (uhhh chin hair) tweezer.

Can you teach people to be intuitive?

Yes! Absolutely! The short answer is to ask the Universe to help you. Then, get out of your way. The Universe/angels want to communicate and will move mountains in response. Watch for repeating numbers or songs; angels love to communicate through them.

How do you help people understand the power of the Reiki practice?

Reiki (pronounced ray-key) isn’t voodoo or hocus pocus; it’s simply energy work that benefits everyone, regardless of religion, condition, or beliefs. Reiki is used in hospitals around the world, including Fargo. I’ve found that when I combine my validating intuitive information with the unconditional love that is Reiki, it’s a powerful one-two healing punch.

My story, how and why I discovered Reiki, is a bona fide miracle and something I’ve written blogs – and a bestselling novel – about. Those that find me often share their personal stories with others, as well. If you’d like to know more about Reiki, my book, or me, visit www.innerfocusreiki.com.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned during parenthood?

That I’m forever and this (whatever we are going through) is temporary.

Give me a proud - and not-so-proud - Mom moment.

Proud: This is a case of when the student is ready the teacher will appear – Mini-me and I were looking through a coloring book when I remarked that her artwork was beautiful. She turned to me, touched my face gently, and with a look and voice full of sincerity said, “Mommy, you’re beautiful.” In that moment, as tears filled my eyes and my breath caught, I decided that I was going to see myself as she does.

Not so proud: My daughter, then seven, was throwing another notorious maditude when I lost my (beep). Throwing a full bucket of Legos on her bedroom floor, I snapped, “THERE!”, stomped out of the room, and theatrically slammed the door. The good that came from this is that once I calmed down, I apologized and let her know that even us moms make some not-so-good decisions. Oof.

What is a benefit of having your daughter later in life?

Despite what I wrote for my “not so proud Mom Moment,” I have more patience and am moderately less controlling (I’m a work in progress!). Based on her strong personality, I’m not sure either of us would have survived if she’d come earlier.

Tell me about your book, “One Plus One Makes Three”.

Writing a book was a pipe dream until souls, both astral and human, began nudging, pushing, and finally shoving me. I wanted to leave a legacy for our daughter, something tangible that she could learn from. I wanted her to understand all that went into her coming to us. I also wanted people to know they can’t fight fate – and to give them hope – by sharing a portion of my love, loss, and spiritual growth story.

What is the most important lesson you want readers to learn from your book?

Beauty follows pain. Always.

How do you relax and unwind?

While I have an outgoing personality, I’m really an introvert who quickly exhausts being out in the world. Sometimes I need oodles of snort-filled belly laughs. Other times – most times – I need quiet and to be alone. And if I get a coveted nap, all the better.