Meet the Family
Ehris Urban, owner of Grounded Holistic Wellness, believes, “if you’re grounded, you can navigate even the bumpiest roads in peace.” She grew up in a family passionate about holistic medicine. Ehris is a green witch, herbalist, holistic nutritionist, and graduate of the New England School of Homeopathy. Additionally, Ehris is a Flower Essence Therapy practitioner. She became interested in Reiki as a teenager and attained Reiki Master certification at age 17. Ehris is also a certified Ingham Method reflexologist. A graduate of Western Connecticut State University with a B.A. in Anthropology/Sociology, she is also a certified ESL teacher. Ehris enjoys beekeeping, tending her organic vegetable and herb gardens, and working in her apothecary.
Velya Jancz-Urban lives her life by the adage, “there is no growth without change.” Zany and gregarious, she is a teacher, author, former Brazilian dairy farm owner, proponent of medical freedom, and herstory unsanitized expert. Moving into a 1770 Connecticut farmhouse ignited Velya’s obsession with the colonial era, and led to her entertainingly-informative presentation, The Not-So-Good Life of the Colonial Goodwife. She has been married to Jim for 40 years and is the mother of two grown children. Velya is happiest with a fresh stack of library books, loves thrift shops and cluttery antique stores, and is passionate about alternative medicine.
Jim Urban's approach to both his work and personal life has always been, "Anything is possible, and all mistakes can be fixed." Jim began his career in the corporate world with Pepperidge Farm and Remington Shavers. His primary focus was in Distribution/Operations. For 13 years, he owned his own construction company, Urban Crossroads, Inc., and then returned to the corporate world. In his final U.S. position, he was Senior National Director of Operations for Stone Source. There is no project he's afraid to tackle, and he excels at creative problem solving. He's been married to Velya for 40 years and is excited to take on his next role as Yucatecan rancher/farmer.
Today, Ehris, Velya, and Jim live in a 1910 casona in Mérida, Mexico.
Ehris and Velya are published authors, enthusiastic lifelong learners, have presented programs to hundreds of thousands of people - and quickly pivoted when lockdown shattered their public speaking career.
Jim is thrilled to no longer drive 184 daily roundtrip miles to his job in New Jersey! While he may grumble about it, restoring antique homes to their original splendor gives him great pride. He can now add 1770 farmhouse and 1910 Mexican casona to his achievement list. Next up, a Yucatecan ranch!
But life wasn’t always so rosy…
Twelve years ago, Ehris, Velya, and Jim achieved a long-planned goal and bought a 375-acre fazenda in rural Ponte Nova, Brazil. They planned to open a dairy farm and English school, and experience living in a new country.
Only weeks after arriving, they discovered their dreams had been hijacked.
They had been betrayed and swindled by a dear family friend.
Ehris, Velya, and Jim lost everything.
Then, they experienced a family betrayal - the second part of the double-whammy.
Betrayal makes you feel dead inside.
Betrayal gets stuck in your throat and makes it hard to swallow.
Betrayal makes you question everything about yourself.
Betrayal changes everything.
Ehris, Velya, and Jim no longer had any hopes, dreams, goals, or money.
Things happen – things you can’t even imagine – and in a minute, the world is changed.
After that, you’re the person on the other side of that minute.
You have two options.
You can be destroyed -
or you can grow, and learn that it’s not what happens to you - it’s how you deal with what happens to you.
Needing a place to heal, Ehris, Velya, and Jim discovered a foreclosed farmhouse in Woodbury, Connecticut that had been vacant for five years.
When Jim pulled down their soggy sheetrock kitchen ceiling, they were amazed to discover a hand-hewn log beam ceiling.
Velya’s research at the town hall revealed that the house had been built in 1770.
Months later, after removing over three tons of fieldstone, cement, brick, and paneling, they uncovered a colonial beehive oven and walk-in fireplace. In retrospect, the house helped heal each member of the family individually: Jim wound up with ten years of projects, Ehris became an herbalist, and Velya became fascinated with the lives of colonial women. Grounded Goodwife was born in the 1770 farmhouse.
What does happen to a dream deferred?
Life's too short to live in fear.
That pull you feel, nagging at you every day, is real.
Your path probably won't make sense to your family or friends, who may weigh in with negative comments.
What had happened to Ehris, Velya, and Jim hadn't destroyed them individually, or as a whole. They had met defeat, but were willing to try again.
In 2021, for a variety of reasons, Velya, Ehris, and Jim made the bittersweet decision to sell the Woodbury, Connecticut farmhouse in order to start the next chapter of their lives. On August 20, 2021, they packed up everything (including their cat, Gloria, and their Great Dane, Viola) and moved to the Yucatán in Mexico.
For over two months, Velya, Ehris, and Jim were in survival mode. Everything was urgent, everything was a reaction, there was no joy, they were never one step ahead. You forget how much you take knowing how to do everyday tasks for granted. In your native country, you just know things – how to pay an electric bill, what your oven settings are, how to open a bank account…
The plan was to buy a Yucatecan ranch with lots of land and eventual horses, but the ranches and farms were all extremely remote. At one ranch, just the driveway required a 40 minute drive before you even got to the house!
Back in March of 2021, just after they'd received their temporary residence visas from the Mexican Consulate in New York City, Velya and Ehris had been house-hunting online and found a listing for a boutique hotel in Merida, Mexico. It was an unusual old mansion with garish sponge painted walls, and it appeared to need a triple dose of TLC. On December 20, exactly four months after they left the United States, Velya, Ehris, and Jim bought and moved into that 1910 mansion!
And if it turns out to be a mistake...so what?
Despite their setbacks,
Ehris, Velya, and Jim still firmly believe that there is no growth without change, and that picking up the pieces of a shattered dream is better than having no pieces to pick up at all.