What's My Lane?
A Letter to My Community
Can Chamomile cure racism? Of course not. Can exercise support people who live in fear of their very existence being taken for a crime and a reason to be murdered? Obviously not.
So what’s an herbalist and exercise person doing wading into this? Shouldn’t I stay in my lane?
Well, here’s another question for you- if humanity isn’t ALL our lanes, what are we even doing on this planet?
This morning Kris and Tammi of Heartstone Center read these words: “To feel keenly is our necessary privilege.” (from The Book of Awakening. Watch their IGTV.) Feeling uncomfortable is necessary. Doing this dismantling work is necessary. Saying "I don't want to, it has nothing to do with me" is toxic privilege.
Learn. Talk. Write. Post. Donate. Read. Share. Help.
Don’t know where to start? Get educated. Put some effort into other humans. Open your heart, and examine what’s really in there.
Things to watch out for:
👉Just because someone has a social media account that calls out and educates on racism isn’t a reason for you to hop on the comments and ask for personal recommendations. I guarantee that’s already been covered, so do a little scrolling. Or better yet, check their links to see how you can PAY them to teach you.
👉Buy books from your local bookstore, or someone else’s local bookstore if you don’t have one. Redistribute your money into communities.
👉“Not being racist” isn’t enough. Active anti-racism is needed. The only people who can change this world are the ones who made it this way.
👉But you’re only here for your business? @marciegoldman put it SO. WELL. “You’re not a Wellness Advocate if you’re defending white supremacy.” Get on board with humanity.
👉Thinking “But I’ve faced difficulties too” doesn’t excuse you. Others are also living those same challenges- financial, emotional, health, pain, grief, loss, all of them- PLUS fearing for their lives because their very existence makes them a target. Your life and experiences are valid, but they aren’t as hard as they could be
Go ahead and drink your Chamomile to calm nerves, then sign the petitions call the phone numbers and buy the resources and have the conversations. Learn how to find and keep a neutral pelvis, so there’s more comfort walking in protests and running errands to help someone who needs it and carrying the weight of our collective involvement. We have to care for ourselves, and each other, while we work hard to heal this. It's not going away on its own.
I'm not an expert here. I'm learning and coming to terms with my involvement too. But I'll link to as many of those resources as I can, and I ask you to add yours too. This state of the world is upsetting, it should upset everyone. Silence is complicity.
How would you describe the fundamentals of your health?
✔Like the structure of a house, the load bearing walls and ceiling joists, aka your bones?
✔Like the basement walls that hold everything up, aka your feet?
✔Is it it your ability to take in fresh and get rid of waste, like plumbing, aka lymph and circulation and respiration?
✔Is it the ability for your body to electrically communicate all its needs and responses, aka the nervous system?
✔Or is it ALL of these?
If you’re focused on any one of these systems, I’d say you’re massively missing out. The real key to a strong foundation isn’t specializing and microfocusing on one aspect, it’s being a good General Contractor and overseeing the coordination of all of your foundations.
We are holistic, complex beings. Look at those words-
✔Holistic means all of you, at the same time, intermingled
✔Complex means like the difference between a lean-to and a house
✔Beings, as in NOT machines. Not logically or rationally organized, but organically and naturally
Herbalist Tammi Sweet has shared (I’m paraphrasing here) that a researcher at a conference she attended dismissed plant medicines as “messy and chaotic”. Yep, she teaches, just like us.
Herbalist David Winston put it this way when I heard him speak in June 2019: “Show me a standardized human and I’ll consider giving them a standardized remedy.”
THIS is why there’s no such thing as a Magic Pill. THIS is why there are so, so, so many types of practitioners- physical, herbal, etc- since there’s no one, single, perfect solution for what you need at this moment.
If you tried something and didn’t get the results you wanted, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. That means it wasn’t the right answer for you right now. It wasn’t your Goldilocks answer, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work for you at another time.
My answer to this uncertainty is to have a holistic approach to your holistic self. I don’t believe there is one single foundation; I believe they’re all important. They’re interconnected, intertwined, and interdependent.
How you move, and how you hold still, directly causes (or prevents) circulation, drainage, and communication in your body. Calming your nervous system only helps so much if your ribs or a hip joint is putting a major nerve in danger. Adjusting your posture won’t last long if gut inflammation tightens muscles that tilt your pelvis. Stretching your neck will only last till your next 45 minute trip into an internet rabbit hole.
So we look at all of it. How you move your skeleton changes how your organs move and function. How your internal systems operate impacts how your bones and muscles hold you upright.
Notice I said we “Look at it”. Not “We change everything in the first session”.
For one thing, we’re people still living our lives, with responsibilities like jobs and families and everything else. We don’t have the extra capacity to go in and change absolutely everything about how we are moving and living. That’s not sustainable, and in fact that would be a recipe for frustration and failure.
For another thing, big huge changes aren’t usually the most effective anyway. Chiropractor and movement specialist Dr Perry Nickelston put it this way, “Complex systems are non-linear, meaning their behavior is irregular. That means little tiny actions can produce tremendous transformations.” In other words, our culture’s emphasis on MOREBIGGERFASTER can actually be counterproductive!
This is my whole rationale, my philosophy. Changing how your outsides work (with movement) and how your insides work (with herbs) is truly holistic healing. And focusing on our foundations means I can help you build up strength and healthy patterns inside of your currently normal life.
Yes, ultimately we want to build a new normal, one that’s got things like good sleep and manageable stress and strong hips and deep breathing. But when you first learned to ride a bike, or write, or even walk, you were pretty terrible at that for a while, too. This will also take practice.
But as you practice foundational work, you'll find the most amazing things. Tiny things, that you didn't even notice you'd lost, will transform. I've heard all sorts of things:
That'll put a bounce in your step and a sparkle in your eye for sure!
Yes yes Paula, but how?? How do I learn this stuff, to practice it?
Never fear, dear reader! You can start right now, for free, with the Relieve Your Aches & Pains Online Workshop. You've got 2 ways to access it:
Meet Your Herbs: Chamomile
Chamomile has a quite personality, and it's the quiet ones you need to watch out for.
She's gentle but inexorable, quieting our inner whine, easing tension you didn't know you had and some you did- she's particularly helpful with the lower abdomen, and I've used Chamomile tea to great effect when I had pelvic floor area cramping twice (NOT a pain I'd wish on most people!)
Chamomile people have a frozenness to them. Emotionally this can look like petulance- I don't KNOW what I want but it's NOT THIS😤 or physically it can be really stuck muscles that don't give and won't let anyone in to help.
Chamomile also changes her ways when you give her time- a sweet, fragrant tea becomes deep and bitter, encouraging movement in the digestive system. Plants, like people, aren't just one thing.
Chamomile remedies made gently, like a short-steeped tea, preserve the aromatics and work with more surface-level complaints like muscle tension or mental blocks (particularly around transitions.)
Deeper remedies like a long-steeped tea work deeper, easing transitions in that lower abdomen. You'll need to get to know your plants to know when and how to capture their moods!
Near Living Experiences
Are you Just Getting By?
Are you missing out on Near Living Experiences, in favor of taking care of another dumpster fire again?
When will enough be enough?
I think many of us are regularly having “Near Living Experiences,” nearly living as fully as we can but not quite. We're ignoring these experiences in the face of our busy lives, letting them pass us by, and instead accepting Just Getting By (JGB) as good enough.
Near Living Experiences are the chances, opportunities, and openings for us to make the big and the small changes that would wildly improve our quality and appreciation of our lives- but the steps involved usually prove too much:
The route from step 1 to Step 6 is, actually, huge. These are legitimately HARD steps.
It’s no wonder we can’t take advantage of our Near Living Experiences, what with all the rest of Life™ going on, and that JGB is the habitual order of things.
And it’s also no wonder that a LOT of people come to the realization that they MUST make some kind of change at a crisis point in their life, when JGB has stopped being a viable option.
At that point, you realize that any amount of work required between step 1 and step 6 is reasonable, since you simply must get to step 6 to ever feel better.
But this JGB habit, it’s not really a comfortable one, is it? It’s like the frog in the pot metaphor- if you put a frog in hot water, it’ll jump out. But if you put a frog in a pot of cold water then put it on low heat, the frog will sit there with its world getting gradually hotter, until it IS the soup.
(I have no idea if this story is true. But it illustrates the point!)
We tend to accept small injuries, small adaptations, small shifts in our patterns as just one more thing that we’re too overwhelmed to deal with. In the buffet of dumpster fires before us, what’s a sore ankle?
Over time, though, that sore ankle causes a limp, that changes your gait and your hip function. This impacts your psoas, which tightens up and tilts your pelvis, impinging circulation in your abdomen. Slow, heavy, uncomfortable periods become the norm, and digestion stagnates too, leading to bloating and pain since lymph can’t drain away. Now your energy is low, because you’re not digesting well to support it, nor are you eating well because you feel like crap and that’s a hard place to make healthy choices from.
While you’ve been focusing on the dumpster fires, your own building is burning.
Now, it’s time to make your own fires a priority
In the Foot to Forehead Fix, we use a 3-pronged approach:
Those that attended my Aches and Pains workshop got a free Stick Figures of Demonstration fun sheet, to help them learn and practice aligning their pelvis. (You can too, it’s inside my free Resources Hub www.paulasherbals.com/login)
These fun sheets are one kind of learning medium we use. There’s also the private and the group learning sessions that are held weekly. And we have a private online community, where I share the replays of our group classes and hold discussions. There’s all kinds of good stuff, really.
I invite you to take a look inside the Foot to Forehead Fix today, because this IS A NEAR LIVING EXPERIENCE. You're nearly living to the fullest extent you can- let's get you there.
Fun Fact: I'm an herbalist and a movement coach. Not a doctor, or a pharmacist, and not pretending to be one on TV.
This is a public space, so my writing reflects my experiences and I try to stay general enough so it might relate to you. This does not constitute medical advice, and I encourage you to discuss concerns with your doctor. Remember, however, that the final say in your wellness decisions are always yours- you have the power to choose, you are the boss of you.
And, some of my posts may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through them I'll earn a few cents. Thank you for supporting my work.
This website is provided for educational and informational purposes only and is not medical, mental health or healthcare advice. The information presented here is not intended to diagnose, treat, heal, cure or prevent any illness, medical condition or mental or emotional condition. Working with us is not a guarantee of any results. Paula Billig owns all copyrights to the materials presented here unless otherwise noted.