December 13, 2012

Change is in the Air...Leaving My Practice For A Year (I Will Be Back)

Following a Heartfelt Path of Plant Medicine

Spring Seasons Color Collage from recent post on color.

 I have long had a desire to learn how to actually make plant medicine on a much deeper level than I already know. Most of what I know is the clinical applications, my own spiritual connections, observations, and experience. I have spent many years in training with teachers in herbalism, aromatherapy, and bodywork, yet, I have devoted little time to crafting herbal medicine from the earth. Most of all, my heart lay with the plant world and I am finally ready to deepen that connection. For this, I am taking a temporary leave from my everyday life so I can return to school and further my studies in botanical medicine during the year of 2013.


To me, a true herbalist identifies plant medicine from the land, knows the most efficient way to prepare it (or not to prepare it) given any time of year. They develop a close relationship with the plants and through this, they discover which plants work best for which individuals. This involves tasting, listening, and spending time with the plants. I think the plant world is as complex and unique in their makeup as we are and I can't wait to strengthen my relationship with these little green friends that sprout from the earth.

Field study with 7Song, herbalist and director of  North
Eastern School of Botanical Medicine. NC, 2010.

Through my work in woodland restoration, working with native plants in greenhouses, a landscaping job I had from the age of 13-20, herbal field trips, an herbal apprenticeship, and self study, I cultivated a surface knowledge of plant identification. 

I feel like I have not focused on this as deeply and as hands on as I would like, and for years I have known that I would eventually go back to school. I say eventually go back, but, truly and honestly, no more than a few months passed in the past five years that I had not been enrolled in some form of  learning program.

My herbal path began with self studies that lead to an apprenticeship in an herb and health clinic in Louisville, KY in 2005. I recently took the time to finally type out  some of those memories... At least some memories from the earlier days when being accepted to help at the clinic.

From that point on, my heart and mind held a craving for hands on, practical experience in the woods. I sought this through jobs with a woodland conservancy, greenhouses, and my last outdoor job at an Arboretum.

I have enjoyed a few herbal field trips, but, my wild crafting knowledge is still not what I feel it should be!

After many years of debating, I finally made my  decision to take my chances and apply to the Northeastern School of Botanical Medicine in the spring of 2011. The program I applied for is an apprenticeship,. It is located in my home state of New York, which was a big plus. And, it would allow me to expand my knowledge in clinical herbalism, botany, and most importantly, making medicine from the wild!

 After visiting the school, and meeting with 7Song, the director and teacher of the school, I was accepted to be an apprentice in 2013! He was taking off for 2012, and kindly offered to begin my apprenticeship from afar during that time. Thankfully, this past year allowed me the time I have needed to prepare for my journey ahead.

I Plan to Return to My Private Practice at Nourish Next Year

I will be returning to Nourish on Walton Avenue in November of 2013.  I think I would miss it too much not to! I plan to resume my practice of bodywork, herbal consultations, and aromatherapy.

 While I am away, I will be offering clinical and spiritual aromatherapy consultations, as well as holistic health consultations via Google Chat or Skype. I look forward to keeping in touch be through this blog, my Facebook page, and my newsletter. And, as always, you are welcome to send me an email anytime.

If you are a client and would like help finding another massage therapist while I am away, please visit my Local Resources page, where I have listed many names of people that I suggest to try, have visited with personally, and whom I  trust. I think keeping up with self-care is highly important... I hope that that list encourages you to do so.

It has been an interesting transition that is moving very fast. I have been working longer hours than normal, and as of today, I am completely booked until I go, it is hard to believe the time is here. The upcoming week will be wildly packed as I bring things to a close with Nourish, say farewell to friends, and get ready to pack up my belongings for a year. How do you do that anyhow? I am so open to your advice!

Returning to The First Place I Ever Called Home

I look forward to revisiting the woods of my home state, New York, as they were the first woodlands I ever fell in love with as a young child. I had a neighbor in our apartment building who was my age named Phillip. We would play stick guns and we run through the woods. My oldest friend, Lauren, had a trail that was miles long behind her house...all up hill!

 We would hike it barefoot among the rocks, and the mud. Once we reached the top, we could enjoy a view as far as New York City. It was a magical time in my life. Though it has been seventeen years since I was a resident, but, I still feel a connection to that land in my heart. It makes my herbal studies in New York all the more special to me. I can't wait to be among the scents of evergreens.

About the School I Will Attend

I first found the Northeastern School of Botanical Medicine during an online search for plant photos in 2006. I was typing away in the back room of Weeds of Eden when I came across the amazingly organized collection of them on 7Song's website. That lead me to read about the school program; a focus on Ayurveda, herbal first aid, botany, and a chance to work in an integrative clinic among other health care practitioners. Not to forget to mention a fair amount of time in the field identifying and collecting plants from the wild to make medicine! In my heart I wanted to go, but, at the time it seemed so far away.

After my move to Lexington two long years later, I discovered that 7Song was teaching in North Carolina. Here, I took my first weekend field trip and class on practicing as a clinical herbalist with him. I wanted to visit a class of his. Only at the time, making a trip up to New York seemed too frivolous. So, I was thrilled that he would teach so close to my home in Kentucky. Thrilled and really surprised!

Bittersweet in Darkness and in Light

A view from land not far from our apartment in
Lexington, Kentucky
 Though it was a difficult decision to make, I look forward to my temporary move and new studies.

I also know I will miss my practice, my friends, my cat, Francis, my partner, Marty, and, my little bird-house-like sanctuary of a home.

I am a home body, yet, I don't even know where I will live when I get there! My move is less than a month away as I write about taking a leap of faith. This is quite a bit more of an adventure than I am used to.

 In the past I would have felt super nervous and about most of my decisions. But, for this, I know it is a part of my path and I am ready to sit with the pieces as they work themselves out one way or another. In my heart I know it's all good!

I imagine it may be a long, cold, and dark winter in least for a resident of the upper Southeast.  But, I will look forward to my journey into the darkness if it comes... Inevitably it will be welcomed by the lightness and color of spring. I plan to do a lot of writing and editing of some of my old herb and aromatherapy essays. I have wanted to put on my blog for years now, and finally I will have the time to do so!

A Big Thank You to My Clients For The Love and Support

Viola. Photo taken in Vermont, 2008. C. Nishaan Sandhu
I began to tell my clients and colleagues last month which truly marked this shift as real. I had no clue how they would respond. But, their support and encouragement has been incredibly heart warming. I am so thankful.

Since telling my community, I have developed a sensation...something of an internal stirring. It is like a vibration, and at times, I can feel my eye twitch. Yes, I am that girl with a nervous tick with stress!

Only, this move does not feel terribly unnerving, and I do not feel terribly stressed doesn't even feel just feels like the next logical thing.

This deep inner trembling I have been feeling for the past few weeks conjures up an image of plants underground. They quietly quake beneath the earth in the winter time...trembling with energy in one small space...just waiting for their time to spring up, out of the earth, and into bloom.

I began writing this post last Friday, and I am only just now finishing it days later. It started as one post, and turned into three...there is too much to be said about the past, present, and future! Too much to place it in one blog post...

 I am looking forward to returning home, I am thankful for my past experiences, wand excited about the journey ahead. Most of all, I am thankful for today. For the positive outlook in a time of uncertainty, for the willingness to allow the shedding of old skin, and for all the love and kindness I have been gifted over the past few years.

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