Day by day, minute by minute


Agathe Fredette

Sarah Calautti

Sarah Calautti is a sophomore at Johnson State College and founder of Women of the Wild, a JSC club for women to bond together and empower each other while appreciating nature. She is majoring in interdisciplinary studies, which includes studying wellness and alternative medicine, outdoor education and psychology to craft her own major focused on wilderness therapy. Basement Medicine sat down with Calautti to talk about her roots and how she ended up in Vermont, her love of nature and live music, and how she hopes to help people through wilderness therapy.



Where did you grow up?
I was born in Manchester, N.H., and lived in Salem, N.H., for the first five years of my life, but after that I grew up in Methuen, Mass. I consider that home, I guess, even though it sucks.



What was your childhood like?
It wasn’t the best. I had a small group of friends. I was a total tomboy. We grew up in the last agricultural zone, the last farmland in Methuen, so our house was surrounded by fields and woods. So I spent a lot of time outdoors playing cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, all these crazy games with the kids on my street. It was very loud, because we were basically in the middle of a city. Methuen is a small city, but it is a city none the less And I was bullied a lot growing up. But I had my niche of friends.



What did you dream of becoming when you were little?
The first thing that I solidly wanted to be was an archaeologist. I remember in fifth grade we had spirit day where you dressed up as what you wanted to be when you grew up. I remember dressing up in khakis and a white button-up shirt and I went outside and rubbed in the dirt to make it look dirty. My mom is a physical therapist so she had these fake bones she used for demonstrations, so I brought all these fake bones to school and I wore an Indiana Jones hat, and smeared dirt on my face. It was great.



How did you end up in Vermont?
I was originally gonna be an art student, but that didn’t work out because of a very mean teacher and I kind of lost hope in myself as an artist, so I started looking for the next best thing. I really wanted to be a health and wellness coach at first, but there were no schools around here that offered that as a degree. I was already Reiki certified, becoming certified in 2014, and so I was gonna get my yoga teacher and massage therapy training and hopefully open my own practice eventually. But before I committed to that, I did one last Internet search and instead of searching “holistic health degree,” I searched “alternative medicine degree,” and that’s when Johnson came up. I fell in love with it instantly and I applied that same night without knowing anything else about the school. And now I’m here.



What do you love most about Vermont?
I love how slow-paced life is here. I love how it’s really simple, it’s really quiet, it’s really slow, it’s really mindful. And it’s beautiful. It’s so beautiful here, I can’t believe it. I can’t believe how gorgeous it is.

What is wilderness therapy?
A form of transpersonal counseling, which is a form of clinical psychology where you can teach and persuade your client to learn how to heal themselves, rather than sitting in a psychiatrist’s office and just talking. Wilderness therapy patients include children with behavioral problems, addicts, people who were abused and people who have PTSD or anger issues, and taking them out into a backcountry setting where they kind of have to make decisions that will enhance their life and will keep them alive. It sort of rewires their brain to make decisions that will be beneficial to them, rather than go do drugs or something else harmful. Simple choices, such as putting a jacket on when it’s cold out or crawling on their hands and knees to ascend a steep mountain and make sure they don’t fall. These simple day-by-day choices increases a person’s ability to live in a way that’s not harmful to them.



Where have you traveled recently?
Over the summer, I went to Acadia National Park in Maine and Roosevelt Campobello, an international park in Canada on Campobello Island. Campobello was absolutely beautiful and was the spot that made me realize that if I wanted to live anywhere besides Vermont, it would be up in the New Brunswick and Nova Scotia area, because you have everything. You have these tiny seaside towns with these harbors full of big fishing boats. You have bogs, pine and birch forests, rivers, lakes, mountains, cliffs overlooking the ocean. It was absolutely beautiful. If there is one place I want to go next it would be Newfoundland.



Tell me about your polymer necklace making. What is polymer?
Polymer is a man-made clay. It is oil based, so it’s waterproof and it is a really hard clay to mold. It molds best with heat, so sometimes I like to put a hairdryer on the piece I’m making so I can shape it more easily. It’s a huge hand workout because of how hard the clay is. I love it. I make these necklaces and add stones or gems and I don’t ever have an idea in mind of where it’s gonna go. I let the stones speak to me and I kind of just go with random placement of them and the necklaces turn out beautiful.



What other kinds of art do you do?
When I was an art student I did a lot of film photography and wire sculpture that was combined with natural materials. I love to do illustrations and drawing, making stencils, patches for jackets, and pieces of clothing, such as patterned bleached clothing. I’m an Aries so usually I can’t keep with one thing. So I’ll learn how to do something like knitting or crocheting, stenciling or jewelry making, but I won’t master it because I get bored with it. But I know I can always go back to it.



What is your one true passion?
I would have to say women’s issues. When it comes to woman empowerment, I could talk about it for hours, especially when it comes to women’s sexuality. I think a lot of women are afraid to take control of their sexual life and that makes me upset because every woman should be able to do that. If a woman comes to me and is afraid to talk about what she likes and who she is, I’ll sit down and talk with her. Or when a woman comes to me and is like, “I don’t know how my vagina works!” I’m like an old woman like, “Honey, sit down, I have some stories for you.” So I make an impact on a small scale, which I think is more effective than trying to preach to the masses. If you’re sitting with someone you can directly communicate with them to let them know that this is how it is, this is what you should do, it’s okay to have these desires, it’s okay to do this, it’s okay to do that. I think that they listen, understand better and absorb it more.



What are some of your other hobbies?
Live music is number one. If I don’t see live music for a week I start to have withdrawal. It’s really amazing to me to be able to watch musicians, especially in a jam-band sense when they’re deep into the music, to see them communicate with each other with their eyes, and it’s so crazy to watch it. Flames will be shooting out of the guitar and the drummer and the keyboardist look at each other, and the guitarist sees it out of their peripheral vision and they just suddenly all change key. It’s just so absurd to see this instant that they communicate so subtly and it all suddenly changes.



What is the best live music performance you’ve been to recently?
I went to six music festivals this summer, including Strange Creek and Friendly Gathering, so it’s hard to say. But Vermont had such an awesome and diverse music scene. So when I got back to Vermont, the first show I went to was Binger at Nectar’s in Burlington. It was my first time seeing them, and it was such a good show, I had such a good time. They did a bunch of Phish covers and some Vulpeck. I had been waiting all summer to be back in Vermont and I just love it here, so I would say, for all around vibes, Binger was the best.



What is on the top of your bucket list currently?
I really want another tattoo. But I think it’s really just survive right now. I’m still getting back into the groove of being in school. I’m really not rushing into anything in the future right now. I’m just taking things day by day, minute by minute. And just feel good. Try to feel good.



Where do you see yourself at 80 years old?
I see myself rocking the fuck out. I’ll be retired, hopefully I’ll still be healthy. I’ll probably have grandkids, but I don’t know. I really want to be traveling. I really don’t want to be immobile when I’m older, I definitely want to live the end of my life doing stuff, especially if I don’t get to do them when I’m younger. I want to see the world. So when I retire, I’ll probably sell my house, buy an RV and travel until I no longer can.



How do you want to be remembered?
I don’t know if I do. If I want to be remembered, I want to be remembered in not a bad way. I want people to think of me and be like, “Oh yeah, that girl was pretty nice.” I don’t want to be remembered because it’s important to me. Those who will remember me will remember me because I was an important aspect in their life, and that’s what I care about. I want my friends to remember me as being their friend and helping them if they need it. I want to help people. I want to make people happy. That’s about it.