My healing journey and giving thanks!
Giving Thanks is a way of life. It is a prayer. It connects us with everything in gratitude. So I am thankful for all of my students, clients, friends, teachers, parents and ancestors who helped me learn and grow along the way.
Most of my family has had a long history of having flourishing green thumbs. I never considered having a green thumb to be a particular strength of mine. I was always better with people. It took me years to be able to connect with plants.
My Mother was interested in herbs long before it was fashionable or on my radar of interest. She hobnobbed with the local herbalists and medicine men and women in our rural Berks county area, hunting for mushrooms and brewing up tea. Goldenseal, purslane, garlic, lambs quarters, colt’s foot, ginseng were some of her kitchen medicine cabinet staples. Many of these plants grew locally on our little farmette. She consulted with the local Pow Wow medicine man when my brother had a wart on his toe. After following the medicine man’s advice, something about “planting a potato peel under the rain
spout during the full moon”, my Mother did it and it worked, fast ! I heard these things growing up but it never occurred to me that I would be practicing some kind of plant medicine or energy medicine.
My father created beautiful terraced gardens and landscapes on the Berks County farm house property that we moved to during the "back to the land” movement of the ‘60s. It had spring fed gravity flowing water to the kitchen but no bathroom when we moved in in 1969. It was a cold long winter before we got in door plumbing. We had chickens, goats, horses, dogs and cats and 15 acres to roam wild.
Story has it my Grandfather had planted an apple orchard in Germany before he and my Grandmother came to America in 1927. In his retirement years he planted a citrus orchard at their home in Florida. We always had seasonal citrus fruits, mangoes and avocados from their little property on the St. Lucy River.
At some point my Grandmother smuggled in black current roots into the U.S. from Germany. She grew those bushes bountifully. At her house we always enjoyed the delicious potent black currant jelly and juice, as well as juice and jellies made from Concord grape vines that covered their barn and hung from the archway leading to their front door and back porch.
My Mother and brother in law worked for Rodale Press, the original publishers of Organic Gardening and Prevention Magazine. Back then our local community was focused around organic gardening, natural living, sustainability, self reliance and counter culture creativity. The community was a mix of hippies, artists and artisans and locals. People from all over the world managed to converge there. It was a unique place in time like you hear about during Paris in the ‘20s, Laurel Canyon in the ‘60s and ‘70s and New York City in the ’80s. I was just a kid but I knew I would do something to help the Earth.
My original interest was environmental protection. In college I had internships doing investigative research at the New York State Attorney General’s Office in the Bureau of Environmental Protection, in the World Trade Center. I did research for the Center of the Biology of Natural Systems lead by Barry Commoner and briefly worked for the Jacques Cousteau Society. These were great credentials for any aspiring environmentalist.
But I changed course to a focus on more personal ecology when my health took a turn for the worse. I fainted several times on the streets of SoHo. I was overweight, phlegmy, pale and feeling like I was getting old too soon. I began studying Macrobiotics, which was my introduction to Oriental Medicine. I changed my diet and cleaned up my health. I learned how to cook for people with specific health conditions and we all got better.
Food was my first medicine. It still is the first medicine of choice for my clients. Herbal medicine should come after recommending a healing, balanced diet for the patient. The power of herbal medicine is that even if you don’t change your diet you can still benefit by taking herbs.
After receiving an accurate “diagnosis” from a Macrobiotic counselor who just looked at my face, I was curious. I wanted to know how that worked and how to do it. I began studying oriental diagnosis and alternative medicine theories and practices. I went on to study shiatsu and learned about the subtly of touch, meridians and Oriental diagnosis.
In my 30’s, I had three whiplashes. After two years of physical therapy, massage and chiropractic, with imperfect results, I tried acupuncture. After three sessions, my neck pain was gone. Not long after that, I went back to school to study acupuncture and herbal medicine. I began my licensed healing practice in Acupuncture & Oriental medicine.
And here I am! Giving thanks for the journey!
I come from a long line of farmers, naturalists, cooks, artists, artisans and free thinkers. It takes a kind of stubbornness to pursue these things as a career. For me there was no other way. It just unfolded. Everyday I give thanks for the beautiful medicine that works and helps many people, including myself, in these challenging times!