Jennie Joan Ferrare was on her way to a blackout when a most unusual thing happened: she saw herself drink, as if duplicated by magic, and understood with absolute certainty what would happen next.
The exact circumstances might vary. She might wake up in a hotel room. She might come to with a new tattoo. She might even ﬁnd herself in a foreign country. But there was a pretty good chance she would endure some form of sexual harassment including, potentially, a full-on assault. “I said, well, I can’t control the drinking, but if I gave up drinking, I wouldn’t be in these situations anymore.”
That moment of clarity led to many more and now Ferrare, 29, is one of the youngest business owners in the Old Port. A yoga teacher by training, she runs Arcana, whose holistic healing services range from yoga to polarity therapy, from Ayurveda to Reiki, and whose lightly scented storefront caters to over 50 customers on a busy day. “We have 10 employees and maybe 25 contractors and then we have consignment artists in the shop…it’s a lot,” she says with a smile.
Built with the funds and energy of people in recovery, Arcana has become a magnet for those in recovery, many of whom feel a need to supplement 12-step work with the healing services Ferrare provides. Ferrare is busy as general manager, but she runs the yoga school, too, certifying instructors to whom she can offer partial and full scholarships thanks to local fundraising efforts.
The teacher trainings are to her the most rewarding part of her venture, now in its third year. The studio in which Ferrare teaches – a softly lit room with the Portland skyline painted in deep violets and indigos on the wall -- was built single-handedly in a single week by a heroin addict who volunteered his skills and charged her nothing for them. “I had no money,” says Ferrare, tears welling in her eyes, “He did it all for free and a few months later he died of an overdose. I tried to trade him stuff, I said you can come and do yoga, you can get Reiki for free, and he said, “I don’t want anything.’ People who are not in recovery don’t understand the power of what happens. And the heartbreak. He just gave and gave and gave and he couldn’t stay clean. But the energy of him is always in the space to me.”
Ferrare, who was born in the Bangor area, is coming up on ﬁve years sober. Her ﬁrst four years were ones of exceptional turbulence. She got divorced from her original business partner, acquired sole ownership, met a man who was also in recovery, had baby Leo and has operated on little or no sleep for six months now, grabbing a meal here and there whenever she can ﬁnd a minute to sit down. She has stayed sober through it all.