Plays in the Dirt… Calls it Gardening

I have always been a “tomboy”, much to my mother’s dismay.  As a child I rescued injured animals.  It didn’t matter what they were… birds, rabbits… snakes.  I was a natural empath.  I could somehow feel the suffering of other creatures and I felt the need to mend it somehow.  My passion for animals had me begging my parents for a horse.

From the time I was nine, I began riding the neighbors thoroughbred racehorses, running my own horses through the trails, building tree forts, getting muddy, and generally enjoying my freedom in the outdoors.

My first introduction to the world of useful plants was my Uncle Milton, a life-long hunter, camper, and survivalist.

Uncle Milt took me outside on one of his visits when I was 8 or 9 years old.  We sat on the hillside where I was making daisy chains for a crown and he taught me how to make whistles with blades of grass sandwiched between my thumbs, and how to suck the nectar from red clover blossoms.

When I was 14, my sister came home from cosmetology school with 6 or 7 recipes for skin-care products you could make from common kitchen ingredients.

Cucumber Face Mask… Almond Scrub… Vinegar Skin Toner…

I was enchanted!

I immediately turned my mother’s kitchen into a lab and made every recipe.  That was not enough, however, so I went on the hunt for all the recipes I could find.  I scoured health food stores, herb shops, and bookstores for any recipe I could find.

I quickly snatched up the only copy of  “A Woman’s Book of Natural Beauty” by Anita Guyton at our local bookstore.

This book was amazing!  It was not only chock-full of recipes for all sorts of cosmetics, it also had a list of ingredients and their cosmetic properties.

With my parents help and support I began collecting other books–mostly herbals–books filled with not only herb identification, but also tons of wisdom on how to use them.

I made every cosmetic I could find the ingredients for.  Everything else I had to learn to grow myself.

Sooo… I became a gardener.  At least I think I did.

I grew mint, calendulas, lemon balm, chives, thyme, lavender, parsley… and roses.

Oh the roses!  Heirloom roses that would perfume an entire room with one bloom!

They were heavenly… but unfortunately not suited to our soil, so they didn’t last long.  I soon gained a new-found respect for professional gardeners and grew both herb and vegetable gardens wherever we lived.  I eventually spent a year in college studying landscape architecture.

My mother soon brought me an old book on soap-making she had kept over the years.

It contained instructions on making homemade soap from wood ashes and animal fat.  It was awesome!

I started experimenting with soap-making and got quite good at it.  I didn’t make mine out of wood ashes, though (but I could if I had to).  I made mine out of lard and lye.  Sometimes it would turn out fantastic, and sometimes not, but I was in love with soap-making.

As soon as I learned I could make it entirely out of plant oils, I abandoned the lard.  I loved animals too much.

I started packaging soap, lip balm and salves and selling them to family and friends.  The first store I sold my products to was a small local boutique bookstore nestled under a large tree near a bend in the road.

It was a quaint little shop with a full wall of windows and the charm of a beekeeper’s cottage.  The owner’s home that sat behind it was an ecclectic mix of add-ons to the old settler’s log cabin that had been standing there for more than 100 years.

I fell in love with their home… the terra cotta tile floors, breakfast nook surrounded by windows that over looked the garden, and the enormous wooden farmhouse table in her studio.

One day the owner, a woman named Louise, asked me if I would help her recover the overgrown herb garden she had inherited with the property.  I was flattered and delighted to help.

We spent the next few Saturdays weeding, identifying the plants, and sharing tea and sandwiches in her kitchen.

One day over cocoa, Louise announced that she had cured herself of cervical cancer by changing her diet.

I was wide-eyed with shock.  I had been raised with the general idea that cancer was incurable.

Louise explained that the doctor’s only options for her was a $45k partial hysterectomy, followed by a $45k full hysterectomy if the cancer came back.  He admitted in the end, that if the cancer continued to come back after that, there was nothing they could really do.  She told me she kept her $90k and started looking for other answers.

She eventually found a dietary program that was primarily a plant-based diet that utilized the Oriental principles of Yin/Yang and the energy of food.  She was so afraid of the cancer, she adhered to it strictly for two years without breaking even for one piece of candy.

Two years later she was cancer free.

This was an enormous awakening for me.  I had thought all the information I read about the medicinal properties of food and herbs in my studies were just folk tales… myths.

I was incredulous to realize that so-called “incurable” diseases were in fact curable.  That nutrition could have a profound effect on the mind and its abilities, and that just by eating right I could not only normalize my weight naturally, but also eliminate so many of the commonplace issues we take for granted… like bad breath and body odor.

I couldn’t understand how the medical profession didn’t know this… why everyone didn’t know this.  All I could think about was the amount of suffering that could be alleviated with this knowledge.

Louise spent the next several days and weeks teaching me about the methods she had used.  I taught her how to make soap.

I began searching immediately for a way to educate myself in nutrition and herbal medicine.  I found several schools, but they all included astrology and other spiritual classes I wasn’t interested in.  I wanted a school that taught me what to take, what chemicals were contained in it, and what they did to the body–a simple straightforward approach backed by science.

I searched for six years while working on a business management career.  My father was the CEO of an international telecommunications corporation, a corporate CPA and a computer programmer.  In fact, he programmed the first PC in the Pacific Northwest for NCR corporation.  I have been punching the keys of a computer since a very early age.  In the process, my father was also a serial entrepreneur and he always had a business or two running out of our basement at home.  Lucky for us kids, we got to help him run them.  I remember spending weekends digging through file cabinets for invoices to photocopy and re-send to customers who hadn’t paid, and doing data entry for invoicing.  Going into business management as a career was a “no-brainer.”

Hospitality management wouldn’t come until a few years later.

That’s what happens when your parents buy a farm with a Bed & Breakfast on it.  You’re suddenly in business without a clue what you’re doing… and you learn really fast.

The thing is, I absolutely loved it.  I loved greeting the guests and chatting with them on the front porch in the evenings… helping them plan their tourist itineraries for the following day to make sure they get the most out of their trip.  Then the stories they came back to tell us after their day, and their delight that our suggestions made their visit so wonderful, brought immense joy to my heart.  I loved hearing about where everyone came from and what life was like for them at home, and I loved sharing our little piece of heaven with them.

I grew a huge herb and vegetable garden on that farm… and I never forgot about my passion for nutrition and herbal medicine.

At the age of 24, I walked into a health food store in Omaha, Nebraska.  At a display of books written by Dr. John R. Christopher, where I was flipping through his book “Regenerative Diet”, a woman came up behind me and asked me who Dr. Christopher was. Before I could think about it, I blurted out, “He’s God’s gift to Herbal Medicine.”

I don’t know how those words came out of me, but as soon as I said it, I felt it was true.  I remember thinking “Where did THAT come from?”  I had never read any of his works.  I looked again at the book in my hands and then at the clerk.  “I’ll take this one!”

While reading Dr. Christopher’s book, I had many “Aha” moments.  My passion for herbs and nutrition was rekindled and I enrolled in his School of Natural Healing, eventually being invited to go work for the school.  Within three years, I graduated with my certificate as a Master Herbalist.  Since then I have gone on to receive my Diploma and License in Massage Therapy and Bodywork along with numerous other modalities.

Upon graduation, I began consulting with clients and educating them in natural forms of healing.

I worked with friends and family and saw miraculous results.  I even helped use my knowledge to improve the health of the horses and other animals on our farm, and enjoyed several long-distance horse treks where I was able to use my skills to help both the individuals and the horses under extreme physical conditions.  It was a wonderful learning and growing time for me.

I enrolled in the University of Nevada-Las Vegas’s Hospitality Administration program to get my bachelor’s degree.

The last eighteen years has pushed me to search.  I craved information and solutions for anything that would ease the suffering of others, and my search has given me a passion for natural healing, gardening, horses, herbal medicine, nutrition, energy work, wellness, and of course, my first love… natural skin care.  Combined with now years of experience in business management in not only hospitality, wellness and the spa industry, I’m on a quest again.. there’s more to learn, and more to do.

Life is a never-ending moment of discovery, and when you’re doing what you’ve always loved, it’s even better.

It’s interesting to see how life keeps bringing us back around to the things we loved as children.  How much easier would life be if we never left those things behind?