Adam William Boettger
Founder of Sacred Sojourn
Author l Entrepreneur l Facilitator l Visionary
As a deaf and queer man, I strive to show up differently as an emerging thought leader in today’s world.
My mission is to create sacred spaces that help others feel safe to shine and prosper. As we learn to practice self-love and acceptance, we transform our lives and ourselves at a deeper, cellular level. I have endured so much loss and sadness throughout my life, yet I have been able to continually discover the wisdom within these wounds. My direct experience has only guided me to a path of passion and purpose, which has ultimately led me here, allowing me to touch the lives of so many today.
It is an honor to be in this beautiful space with you and for that, I am eternally grateful.
To proceed forward, we must first go back.
I was born with a severe hearing loss in both ears. When I was two, I was diagnosed and my parents immediately had a decision to make. From a very young age, I have walked the path of overcoming. I imagine how painful and confusing this time was for me and my parents. Overnight, their lives completely changed; meanwhile, it felt like I was waiting for mine to start. While these lived experiences of disconnection and isolation didn’t exist in my mind, as I was far too young, they formed a significant memory in my body.
We initially persevered as a family, I received hearing aids and all began improving. However, this would only be for a brief period, before all would come crashing down around me. Again for reasons unknown to my parents, doctors and specialists — at the age of five, I lost all hearing in both ears. My parents had yet another life-changing decision to make, forcing us each to say goodbye to the world we once knew.
While my dad formed his business and I attended sign language school, my mother researched and eventually discovered the cochlear implant. In 1998, I was entered into the University of Michigan’s clinical trial, where I eventually became one of their top-performing cochlear implant users.
Nowadays, cochlear implant surgeries are more common and much shorter. My operation took several hours and followed with an overnight stay in the hospital. I woke up with a violent scream and a post-operation complication involving facial twitching. To make matters more complicated, I suffered an intense reaction from the anesthesia, causing me to be sick for several hours. This was one of the hardest, most challenging days of my life.
The story of losing my initial hearing is mostly colored by my parents' narrative (their journey, actions, choices and struggles). Unfortunately, I too was a child having an individual experience that no one else could explain to me. I was too young to remember most of it, to make a choice and have a voice, or to understand. I began having episodes of rage and experiencing feelings far beyond my control, as I could not hear, nor properly express my thoughts and emotions.
After the surgery, my grandmother died and my parents made the painful decision to separate. Being the only child of a tumultuous divorce was very hard for me, plus it only became more challenging to talk about as I grew older. Suddenly, my reality became even more fragmented and my family felt broken. Nothing can prepare a person, especially a child, for this kind of loss.
Between seeing my father less, consistent bullying at school, the medications I was placed on for hyperactivity, with countless hours of speech therapy after school — my hopes and dreams of a “normal” childhood felt impossible and unreachable at every turn. By the young age of seven, it became clear I was inhabiting a life full of trauma.
There were of course moments of love and magic that surrounded me. In many ways, I was quite fortunate and lucky too. I grew up in a nice neighborhood that allowed me to safely run around and explore. We had a big, beautiful backyard where I could joyously express my freedom and play. My father was always dedicated to providing shelter and food for all of us, while my mother fiercely devoted herself to my wellness journey and creating a life full of opportunities for me.
I have been a lover of movement and music since I was a child. There were many late nights in front of our television endlessly dancing and singing to songs, channeling my inner pop star. During the afternoons and weekends, I would often seek refuge in nature. It was there you could find me playing in creeks, catching frogs, swimming in lakes, running through forests, climbing trees, and riding my bike. Exploring the great outdoors is where I felt most alive yet peaceful, which is something I have thankfully carried with me into adulthood.
My queerness has become such a beautiful part of my journey and helped me discover a deeper comfort within myself, that I may have potentially never found as a heterosexual person. However, it was extremely difficult for a long time. When I began noticing an attraction toward the same sex at a young age, I immediately struggled and heavily suppressed it. I was an adolescent growing up in a heteronormative world that rejects this way of being - all while navigating puberty, my sexuality, hearing loss and the public school system. Unfortunately, no one had told me it’s okay to be queer, and so I fought it with every fiber of my being.
When I was sixteen years old, I had a sexual trauma that would shape the next near-decade of my life. The shadows of my past, compounded with the harsh realities of that encounter, led me to fall apart even more. I privately began experiencing erectile dysfunction, body dysmorphia, depression, anxiety, compulsions and unsteady thoughts - all as a part of my daily routine. I remember this chapter of my life mostly as a dark cloud. While I wasn’t giving a convincing portrayal of someone who was happy, I refused to let others know just how much I was slipping through the cracks.
I forced myself to overcome once again, but was motivated by the wrong reasons. After yearning to fit in, aching to be someone else and mostly wanting to forget — I was determined to become who I thought I was always meant to be, no matter the costs. Without consciously knowing it, being deaf gave me masterful observational skills; I learned how to become a better performer. Little did I know, denying my pain would only bring more isolation. The mask I worked so hard for all to see, would eventually lead to my inevitable path of self-destruction.
The interesting thing is my plan initially worked. With years of speech therapy, I developed a clear and excellent speaking voice. No one knew I was deaf unless I told them, which was exactly how I wanted that to be. In high school, I was happy to grow out of my “awkward phase” and began experimenting with women, in hopes I would feel something different. Unfortunately, I became the perfect chameleon. The issue was that I was in complete denial… not facing the shadows of my past or present.
When I enrolled into college, everyone said my life was only beginning. I was masquerading as a straight man, pursuing a degree in a promising field, with two jobs and a large social group of friends. All was going according to plan and for the first time, I believed this was genuine belonging. Tragically, the person underneath (the one who seemingly had it all) was crumbling bit by bit, but it would be three more years until I hit my breaking point.
June 28, 2014.
I wandered through a dark forest in the late hours of the night, where I spiraled into many unsettling realizations. On this powerful night, I experienced a spiritual awakening that would act as a complete catalyst. I noticed how unsafe I felt within my own mind and body, when this could be the safest place for me to exist. Then, I told myself that no one would miss me, because no one (myself included) knew who I authentically was. A lifetime of trauma finally caught up with me.
As the evening continued, I was eventually ready to take my own life. I was only twenty-one years old.
Tears poured down my face as I brought my hands to my heart and begged for a solution or glimmer of hope. I closed my eyes and began to genuinely pray for the first time ever. Suddenly, the seconds became minutes and the minutes became hours. When I opened my eyes again, it was the next morning and to my complete surprise, I had miraculously prayed all through the night. I was desperate to save myself and survive. This would mean moving forward, but how? The only solution would be building a life I absolutely knew would be worth living. I felt there was nothing left to do but completely start over.
The very next day, I made the brave decision to drop out of college. I said goodbye to my housemates, my friends, my career and the entire reality that I constructed. I wish I could tell you my initial awakening was light-hearted or easy. It was certainly divine and mysterious. However, it also felt abrupt, devastating and mostly unfair.
Over time, I grew to see that night as my greatest blessing, the life-saving event that changed the course of my life forever, full of genuine moments with Great Spirit. My journey became a beautiful dedication to everything I never got to do or allowed myself to do.
In 2015, I wrote the auto-biographical story, I Love: A Story of Consciousness. Facing tremendous odds as a self-publisher, I successfully sold over 100 copies, which is a triumph for only 10% of self-publishers. I had my public speaking debut when I hosted my first event with TED Talk Presenter & Visionary Violinist, Dixon’s Violin.
In 2016, I formed my first business, a videography company named Anahata Productions. I began filming local weddings and projects that focused on spirituality and wellness. It was my initial love of film that would eventually lead me to my great love of retreats. Later that year, I received a spiritual call to travel alone to the Amazon jungle. It was there I sat and studied with indigenous Shipibo shamans in several plant medicine ceremonies.
In 2017, I began studying yoga with Donna and Brad Heiple at Good Karma Yoga Studio located in Hartland, Michigan. This was a powerful experience that quickly expanded my experience and knowledge in spirituality and wellness. After completing my 200-hour certification, I was invited to present and teach at multiple events and studios. The very next year, I completed a 20-hour Yin Yoga teacher training with Bethany Perry. Then, I was hired to live in Guatemala and Peru at multiple retreat centers as a film recruit. I truly believe this unique and special time helped pave the path to my future, as it was here that I truly began to witness the profound art of retreat.
In 2019, I made the bold choice to hang up my camera and close my videography business. I was a man on a mission — in complete pursuit of a new purpose. I put my education, skills, talents, wisdom and wits to the ultimate test when I facilitated my very first retreat in Hawai’i. Nine people attended and had a beautiful journey. After this, I began planning more events and officially formed my second company, which would come to be known as Sacred Sojourn. In 2020, I began a six-month coaching course and certification with Whole Life Healing, which I was unable to fully complete due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nearly forced into bankruptcy as a result of the global pandemic,
Sacred Sojourn worked hard to stay open and on the map.
Today, I live openly and happily as a proud gay man, continuously tapping into my limitless potential. I am a voice of empowerment within my community and online. I run Sacred Sojourn full-time, where I continue to teach workshops and host transformational retreats worldwide. I primarily create events that concentrate on mindfulness, as well as the art and soul of sacred living. Sacred Sojourn is a five-star, blossoming international events company on the rise — with more events being launched every year. My work has rippled across the lives of hundreds of people across the world through my classes, workshops, and retreats.
My main goal is to acquire land and build a state-of-the-art retreat center and community. This is intended to be a safe space where I can host events year-round and invite other educators, facilitators, and practitioners from all backgrounds to share their gifts as well.
If I convinced you I figured out all the answers, that I'm whole and healed, and my life is absolute perfection now. This was never my intention and please do not let me fool you.
There are many days when I still feel confused and overwhelmed by life's obstacles. Navigating this world, especially as a deaf and queer person, is a journey that requires consistent adaptability and awareness. This is not a tale with a perfect ending, but a story about an imperfect human on the path of becoming. I’ve crawled, walked, cried, screamed, fought, danced, loved and celebrated my way to the person I am — a person I’ve grown to embrace and love. That is why I confidently know I can guide others today. If my journey can do one thing… let it inspire. I have dedicated my life to all who dare to dream. When we trust and believe in the power of possibility, we can overcome incredible odds and experience endless miracles.
All we can do is just keep swimming.