People ask me, how long have I been an herbalist, how did I go from being known as the “weed lady” to this, how did I get here through all of these many lives of 51 years? This always makes me think about how we find our purpose and I know so many people are struggling with that right now or are busting into their purpose with great speed or are simply overwhelmed with daily life and feel like they don’t have time to focus on their purpose, though they really want to.
For one thing, we don’t have one purpose. If we do, it’s to love ourselves and everyone around us; to learn to be grounded and compassionate enough to feel we can carry the world at times. Believe me, that takes a lot of clearing! But I remember as a teenager and in my early twenties, not liking any job I’d had. And I remember the moments over one fall season in the early nineties when I started to feel my purpose. Luckily I was paying attention or I would’ve breezed right by it, or I should say, it would’ve breezed right by me.
Those moments began a winding road through joy and dark days, health and illness, travels and WAY too many moves, wildlife biology, wolf biology, working with plants, and in the end getting so tired of navigating the bureaucracy and toxicity of city and county politics that I had to sit and think and listen to what the universe was trying to tell me.
I suppose I have been an herbalist since I was a child, planting a garden, chewing on grass, and stopping to smell the flowers. But in a more technical sense I have practiced herbalism since my early twenties when I was a walking sinus infection on strong and endless antibiotics! That’s when I discovered plants as medicine. Plants helped me get off the antibiotics, heal my sinuses, and cut the next infection off before it could get started. I was in love. I had also started my second bachelors in wildlife biology. I was driven and determined to do that work - or I would’ve noticed how much I was falling in love with plants! I was particularly influenced by a teacher named Sandy Geffner, who taught us which plants we could eat while roaming the woods, which ones made great medicine, and how to gently walk on the Earth and appreciate all she offers. I began teaching others immediately, everything I was learning, anyone who cared to know. Yup! I should’ve known it then but I was determined to reintroduce some wolves, have some adventures, meet new people, and travel. I did all of that and then some!
Please remember, we can change so much over time. My 30 year old self seems like a different person to me now. Especially as women, we change with our cycles, with the moon, with the seasons of life. Menopause really helped me to slow down enough to see through all the awesome things I’ve done or still desired, to the bottom line of what I needed to do next and cultivate for the rest of my life.
My purpose is much clearer now. And what I can say for those of you searching...quiet and rest are number one. Give yourself that time, to stare down your demons and your darkness. Let it engulf you, see it, and still love yourself. The light that comes after the darkness, as many of you know, is the most brilliant and inspiring light and we cannot see it without the darkness. Quiet yourself, to hear your inner voice or many voices all vying for your time and your soul. Most of them don’t matter and don’t serve you. In quiet, the divine within you can really come forward and be heard.
Life is so busy. And my brain is very busy too. Without times of quiet solitude, I simply cannot ground myself to hear and see the divine; to remember who I am and what I’m here to do. Five minutes can be enough (find my facebook live for a quick grounding session), an hour is better, and a walk alone in the woods, the grass, or the high alpine plateaus is even better. I can stare at a bug crawling around on a rock for a long time and that alone can feed my soul.
Every morning, see the sun rise, give thanks, and remember that the time to live life is now. Every evening, see the sun set, give thanks, review the actions of the day, and make sure this is bringing you happiness - is it for your higher good and in the highest good of those around you?
Here’s another example of finding your purpose. A lot of frustration and anger got me off the train I was on - but as soon as I said to myself, in my head, what I thought I was supposed to be doing (which was FINALLY calling myself an herbalist), a friend said to me, “why aren’t you an herbalist, working with plants out of love? I think this is what you’re supposed to be doing”. Then I thought, how cool it would be to combine plant work with something or someone in Mexico or Central America. Then someone said, “I don’t know what your plan is but you should try to work with plants in maybe Mexico”. I jumped in, I had faith, I went for it. I kept allowing myself to be led and I kept going for it. I had dreams that I couldn’t fully understand but I kept listening for clues. I mentioned this to an acquaintance and while I was saying the vague words (I feel like I’m supposed to go to Mexico or something and do something with plants) having no idea why I was telling her this and figuring she’d roll her eyes any second, she handed me a few books by Rosita Arvigo. Two years later I found myself in Belize, learning the Maya practice of spiritual healing which has changed my life and the lives of others who I’ve been lucky enough to share this knowledge with. Believe me - I had no desire to go to Belize, I didn’t know what the class would entail, or how I would pay for it. But I was being led and I knew in my bones that I was on a path I must continue to follow. It was outside of myself in many ways and I seemed to just be along for the ride! I was enjoying not really being in the drivers seat anymore, over thinking and instead, just allowing.
So now Bitterroot Botanicals is not only a botanical business but an entity dedicated to healthy products, to promoting healthy lifestyle, healthy spirit and emotional well being, growth, education, conservation, and abdominal and reproductive health. It sounds exhausting but I make sure I rest, take breaks, have time to reflect and evaluate, take trainings, find inspiration and drive, and the variety keeps me from getting into a rut! Yes, it’s a lot of variety and maybe one day I’ll narrow the company down but I keep asking and listening and waiting to see what floats to the top to prioritize. All I can say is, it is all needed and when one thing falls away another rises to the top so that all aspects keep taking their turns vying for my attention!
The time to live life is now. If you aren’t already, the time to start asking questions like, does this serve my highest good and is this in the highest good of those around me - is also now. Enjoy!