Local psychic and part-time Destin resident, Sonia Mitchell, spent numerous childhood summers here before she first set up shop 20 years ago.
"When I was a little girl, my spirit told me I'd always live here," said Sonia.
Sonia and her husband, Paul, were childhood sweethearts. They often visited Destin in the 1970s, where Paul's grandparent's had their own psychic reading business.
"Back then Destin was just a village, it's didn't have much," Sonia said. "You could go fishing and get your palm read."
After Sonia and Paul got married as young teenagers, they moved from Key West to Destin. They now spend half of the year in Destin and the other half in Oklahoma, where they spend time with children and grandchildren, and so Sonia can be available to her Midwest clientele. No matter what state she's in, Sonia stays readily available to her clients by phone.
"I have an obligation to my clients when they need advice," she said.
Sonia's Psychic Studio has always been located in the downtown area of Destin. Last month, the studio settled in to a new prime location on Hwy. 98 at 627 Harbor Blvd, next to the Donut Hole. Currently, Sonia and Paul are busy moving things around and putting up finishing touches in the space.
"We like the charm of the 'Old Destin,' " Paul said of the location. "There's not much left."
Even after 36 years as a business owner, Sonia doesn't feel like one. Since Paul acts as manager, handling the paperwork, licensing and etc., Sonia is free to just focus on her clients and their future.
"It's not really a job, it's more of a passion," she said.
Sonia said she doesn't hand out lucky numbers, but strives to help people through palm, tarot cards and astrology readings as well as chakra aura balancing.
"Like a psychic life coach," she said.
She treads lightly on certain topics and asks her clients before readings how honest they would like her to be.
"I'm here to enlighten, not make them feel bad," Sonia said.
She discovered her gift as a child. Like Paul, her grandmother gave readings, too.
"Everyone is a psychic," she said. "How strong or how developed the gift is depends on the person."
A strong psychic ability is not something that can be learned, Sonia said. It's habitual.
"The same way a child learns to walk and talk is the same way I developed my gift," she said.
Sonia's local clientele includes residents and tourists and a broad range of ages although Sonia does not do readings for anyone under the age of 18 without an adult present.
"My clients in Destin are friendly, very open great people," she said. "They have an understanding of the gift and abilities and have a lot of good energy."
It is that energy that brings Sonia back each summer season until the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
"The energy just wasn't there for me," she explained.
When Sonia decided to come back this summer, it was a good sign for the city of Destin.
"What that tells me is that the energy is high enough, the atmosphere is balanced," she said. "Destin is going to make up for lost time."
"It's moving forward and fast," Paul added.
Whenever Sonia and Paul make their pilgrimage back to Oklahoma, they always take a piece of Destin with them literally.
"When we leave Destin we always crave seafood," Paul said with a laugh. "We even have seafood shipped from Sexton's. We were raised on this; we don't know any different."
"Destin was a great place to raise my children, the schools were great and the kids got to grow up on the beach," Sonia said. "And I enjoy helping the people in this area. We're Destin strong."
WANT TO GO?
Back in Destin after a three-year hiatus, Sonia's Psychic Studio is now open, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week. For more information, call 217-6699 or visit destinpsychic.com.