In 1967, famed Harvard psychologist Timothy Leary stood in front of a crowd of 30,000 counterculture rebels at the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. His message was clear: “Turn on, tune in, and drop out,” Leary said as a pair of flowers fluttered about his ears, adorning each side of his face.
Amidst the backdrop of war and civil unrest, Leary pleaded for those in attendance to reject the constructs of a misguided society and recapture their essence, returning to themselves and the source of creation – the Earth itself.
“That’s radical,” exclaimed Kara D’Antonio when reading Leary’s proclamation. “I dig it.”
The 36-year-old Linthicum native may just be learning of Leary’s impact on the world, but 15 years ago, she unknowingly answered his call.
In 2008, Kara was entering her senior year at Towson University. She was majoring in psychology, holding visions of helping those in need. But her drive and attention waned as she approached the collegiate finish line – losing touch with herself, becoming obese and developing many unhealthy habits.
“I was a fat kid,” the North County High graduate said. “I felt like there was a lot of anger inside of me. I loved to learn, but I didn’t want to move. I knew I was strong and able, but I had to get back to healthier roots and a healthier body.”
During her junior year, Kara had begun experimenting with Cannabis as a means to find joy. Along the way, she found the plant helped her express her authenticity in a more creative way.
The then-22-year-old was scheduled to take summer classes that would expedite the path to graduation. On the first day of summer school, her friends presented her with an opportunity: attend class, or partake in an experience with psychedelic mushrooms. She chose the latter … and forever changed her life.
“Once I took those, I saw the magic of the world,” said Kara, recalling pushing a gram of mushrooms into a peanut-butter sandwich.
“I went outside, laid in the grass and just started looking at the grass blades. I saw so much life there – microorganisms and fungi. I stayed out there until dark, taking in every single hue of the sunset.”
When the experience was over, Kara believed she could integrate the love she felt for the planet into her own self.
“It kind of flipped a switch in terms of my wellbeing,” she said. “I thought, ‘I love myself. I don’t want to see myself hurt anymore. What’s been wrong? Why am I doing this?’”
The experience, coupled with her newfound appreciation for Cannabis, helped kick off a new holistic approach to life. Kara dropped out of college, returned to Anne Arundel County, and began treating herself as the number one priority.
“When I moved home, that was the first time I ever had a supply of Cannabis for myself,” she said. “I’d start my day smoking, go outside, feel the sunshine on my face, and just meditate for 15 to 20 minutes. As I started using Cannabis more often, I started working out, I started eating healthier, and I began to connect to my body in certain ways I hadn’t before.”
In less than two years, a health-conscious Kara trimmed 130 pounds off of a 262-pound figure.
“Before, I had eaten a lot of processed foods – soda, white bread and fast food,” she said. “But then I began to consume more whole grains and more vegetables. I found it easier to digest, and it didn’t have all those calories.”
Kara also expanded her spirituality with Reiki, taking a trio of certification courses to become a Certified Master Practitioner. In 2011, she furthered her schooling, obtaining a bachelor’s degree from the Clayton College of Natural Health with the highest honors.
Kara had fallen in love with herself, and that love was soon mirrored by a companion, Dustin. In 2013, the pair gave birth to a son, Ayden. Now nine years old, Ayden is the light of her life.
“He is my little wild boy,” Kara said. “We get outdoors as often as possible. He wants to be a video game designer though. So we try to strike a balance between the two. It’s a conversation we have every day in some shape or form.”
While she keeps her psychedelic voyages to a minimum via microdosing, Kara says daily Cannabis consumption continues to make her a better person, and a better mother.
She begins each morning ingesting 5-10 milligrams of a 1:1 CBD/THC chewable. She also turns to her bubbler King Kong for a hit of a sativa, saving the indica flower for a nighttime rendezvous with her bong, Godzilla.
“Cannabis helps me get into a creative space where my body just wants to move,” she said. “It gets me dancing, which helps me stretch. And if I have a problem, generally, I find Cannabis to point to a solution.”
From 2017 to 2019, Kara worked in the Cannabis industry, serving as a concierge and a patient care specialist at Remedy in Columbia. She is currently working as a chef. She continues to search for ways to bring all her talents together – holistic nutrition, Reiki master and psychology major – to help people.
“My goal is healing,” she said, insisting she remains a student of life. “It’s about finding a great regimen, making time for activities of wellness, and reconnecting with the Earth.”
While Cannabis is advised, fresh air and sunshine are near the top of her list of necessary mental health components. Turn on your intuition, and tune in to your body, she says.
“I think it comes back to the breath for all of us,” she explained. “We are only breathing because we are connected to the trees and the plants. In that moment, we are all part of one world and there is gratitude in that. Every time you breathe, you are renewing yourself. In those moments, you can choose to exhale what no longer serves you, and make space for a new breath – a new essence of life. And there’s nothing that can get in the way of that.”
“My journey is definitely not the norm,” laughed Kara. “So the truth really is the essential power of it.”