Solstice has come and gone. Here in the northeastern US, summer is setting in and it’s traditionally about time for humidity, sandy toes, sunburn, mosquitos, and garden-fresh tomatoes. This year, of course, there’s extra concerns about avoiding people, breathing through a mask, and doing more to stay well on our own.
Walking has become MANY people's activity of choice since our shutdowns, and now that it's summer here the weather can really get in the way. My coach Racheal Cook described her "Thrive List" this week- it's a list of the the things you need in your life to really thrive, and in looking at mine I realized I really do feel better when I move.
At the same time, though, I wilt like a piece of spring mix in the heat, so I also made a list of workarounds to stop my objections before they start!
These are my goals for daily walking in a Philly summer:
This is totally possible. Totally. Sigh.
No really, it’ll be OK if we stick to a couple preparations and plans. Here’s what I'll do, in reverse order:
Skip Crowded Areas
Obvs, this is a given. I have 2 solutions, one expected and one maybe not.
First, go really early. Like, dawn. I’ve taken to sleeping with my curtains open so I wake up then anyway, and it really is a magical time. It’s cool and quiet, except for the birds- SO many birds! And then later, after I’ve gotten my day pretty much accomplished, and it’s the hot part of the afternoon and I start wilting (yes I have AC, doesn’t matter!) I can take a lovely nap, maybe even in the hammock. Perfect. .
Second, get off the path. My local park has lovely trails in the woods, and for whatever reason people just don’t use them as much. But there’s shade and it’s cool and I love trees, so the whole thing is a win for me.
Maximize My Effort
Again, early. Again, wooded paths. But also, cool herbal teas… so good! Lots of herbs are packed with minerals and other nutrients and they act like electrolyte drinks without the weird dyes and overpowering flavors and ridiculous sweetness. I like things like Nettle and Red Raspberry Leaf mixed with Hibiscus and Lemon Balm and Tulsi (aka Holy Basil). It’s like that old “zingy” tea by that big company that everyone’s had, but so much better.
I have a few gallon glass jars (ask at a deli or restaurant if they have an empty glass pickle jar you can rescue) so I drop in 10-12 tea bags total, or 1-2 handfuls of loose herbs each. I fill it with hot water after dinner and put it in my back porch overnight (no sense heating my kitchen more!) Next 2-4 days, depending, I have a fabulous, tart, mineral-rich iced tea ready to sip all day long.
Now it’s your turn. What are your fair-weather goals? What are your tips to meet them?
Here we have Nettle, flowered and going to seed, and if you look closely👀 you can also see the little spikes that sting you! I might not have gotten the focus quite right, but there's quite a bit going on in this pic.
We talk about exotic superfoods like they must come from far flung regions to be useful, when we ignore, poison, cut down, and don't even recognize the ones that are right under our noses!
As a food medicine, the all-around amazingness of Nettle is hard to match, let alone beat.
Nettle draws out the superhero in all of us too, by nourishing us to our max.
Who's a Nettle person? We could all be Nettle people. Do you have a Nettle patch?
Meet all the Herbs I've covered so far in my free Resources Hub
It's awkward to talk about selling my services. On the one hand, I want to keep reading and learning and digging into this anti-racism work since I'm late to the party. On the other hand, if I do make sales I have income that I can use for donation-based and purchasing-education support as well.
So I decided I'm not selling the Chronic Stress Recovery program, instead I'm donating it to those who need it most, and I will be selling the Foot to Forehead Fix again soon. More on that later.
First though, one thing I hear consistently from anti-racism educators is how exhausting it is to simply live in this system. This might be something I can help with.
From my Chronic Stress Recovery page:
Hopefully this service helps ease some of the physical consequences and complications that come from chronically trying to survive in high stress environments. If you are BIPOC or LGBTQ+ and are interested in this free coaching program, read more and schedule a clarity call with me here.
When I'm outside and a breeze washes over me carrying a sweet, heavy, delicious scent and I know the neighbors don't have Roses, it still takes me a minute to remember Valerian.
The very same plant with it's 'dirty gym socks' roots has the most spectacularly smelling flowers!
Lots of people try Valerian root because "it's for sleep problems." People, listen to me:
Plants Were Not Invented For Our Illnesses!
Ya gotta understand who Valerian is, not think of her like a drug.
Valerian helps relax our muscles by warming them up, like an internal hot water bottle. This is NOT good if you already run hot!
Sure, the relaxing effect can help promote sleep. But the heat can also keep you up all night.
Match the plant to the person, not the disease.
Meet all the Herbs I've covered so far in my free Resources Hub
Inequality is rampant, and I'm finally doing my part to help.
Anyone who has benefited from this system (spoiler alert, that’s everyone who’s not a person of color) needs to be doing the work to dismantle internal and systemic bias, not just overt and blatant racism.
This is truly a “for us or against us” issue. Retreating into a familiar position of life as usual, relying on your very ability to not deal with anything uncomfortable to shield you from the daily reality of others lives, is rubbing a “too bad for you” attitude in the faces of those who can’t turn away, who live on the receiving end of racism.
This is systemic. This is serious. And it takes listening to and learning from the very people who have been oppressed, whose voices have been suppressed, to learn to do better. Being actively anti-racist means acknowledging my own complicity and places I’ve benefited, at the expense of others.
Don’t come to me to learn how to do this. I'll always be a student of anti-racism, because I can never speak or teach from the position of someone who has always known injustice from racism. But you can come to me to find out where I'm learning, and to learn alongside me. The rest of this post is a list of what I'm learning and working on right now. You can work on these too.
Don’t come here for a performance, either. I’m not going to tell you stories about what a good job I'm doing or wave my receipts around to show what a good person I am. I’m doing public anti-racism work on my platform and I’m doing private anti-racism work to change my inherent biases and habits, and I’m sharing some of that here so that you, if you’ve also benefited from this system, have a lead to follow to help take it apart.
Here is some of what I'm doing, and what you fellow white people can do to:
Steps Every White Person Should Take With Me
Set up regular monthly donations to support this work, and set aside extra cash for extra donations
Here’s how I do it, since my income is inconsistent:
Read. Watch speakers on their own sites, on YouTube, on TedTalks, on streaming sites in documentaries. Listen to podcasts, follow educators on social media.
And pay educators for their work. Maybe that’s a regular donation, or a quick Venmo when you’ve taken in something they shared. Maybe you pay for a training, or a coach. Buy their books, definitely don’t pirate them.
Actively change the social media algorithm that follows you around by seeking out others in your professional communities that you didn’t know about, since those algorithms reinforce our biases. Reach out, and develop new relationships in your industry.
There are SO. MANY. resources and lists of resources out there. Here is just one of those, by Waste Free Marie.
I've invested in books and group learning experiences in anti-racism practices for both personal and professional development. I've found new social justice, herbal, and movement accounts online, and I'm making a commitment to not simply follow them but to reach out, interact, and learn from more of these teachers.
Elevate Black voices
How can you share your platform (the people who see you online, at work, at home, anywhere really) with the voices, experience, teaching and wisdom that have been ignored, excluded, and suppressed in your communities?
Here's one specific example shared by my business coach:
Are you asked to speak or participate in events because you’re an expert at something? Ask who else is invited, and if all the experts look like you, turn them down and specifically suggest Black or other POC experts who would also be good fits, but weren't invited.
I am committed to learning from and sharing the words of new teachers who are not only not white, but are not working in the traditional Western/European Herbalism model I am already familiar with. I'm doing this on my social media and in my in person classes.
Audit your own team- this means everyone you pay money to, including all those monthly subscriptions and fees. As a business owner I have a bunch of these, from my email system and my web hosting to my online meeting software and even that budgeting app I mentioned before. One by one, check out their boards and employees. How many Black, POC, and for that matter women are in major roles? Let this guide where you spend your money.
I have added this step to my weekly CEO Date, and will work my way through all my vendors and subscriptions in the coming weeks.
Additional Steps I Can Take Myself
I will elevate the work of non-white herbalists in my DIY Herbalism course and workshops beyond mere mentions of the fact that much more than the white, European history we’re usually taught exists.
I will seek out education by Black and POC herbalists and healers, and encourage my community to share in those opportunities.
I will work on a method of providing my personal Foot to Forehead Fix program to Black and POC students at reduced rates- perhaps through sliding scales or scholarships or another means.
I am also offering my Chronic Stress Recovery online program for free to BIPOC and LGBTQ+ people right now
These Are First Steps
Taking apart the system I'm part of, that I'm so familiar with, will take a long time, a lot of practice, and many many mistakes. This is just my first draft of a "manifesto to do better" and it will evolve over time as I learn and grow with this work.
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.