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.
I've been going around and around deciding how to tell you about my online program- why I'm offering it, who it helps, why you should care.
Finally, I just sat down and wrote you a letter. Since I don't have your snail mail address, here it is.
I know you’ve always been active, in motion. Keeping everyone and everything around you going, flowing, clean and tidy, engaged and entertained. And I know you’re worried about aging, gracefully or otherwise. And I know you’re BUSY! Life doesn’t slow down just because you have a few more aches and pains.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could just make your physical history go away? If you could wave a magic wand and you could feel as nimble as you used to?
So many of us have accumulated Living Pains that have eroded our confidence, our trust in our own bodies. I want you to level up your experience of your own “normal”. I want you to feel your confidence again, your self-assurance, your mojo, your strength- literally and figuratively.
(Whaaa..? Well, we hear that mind/body/spirit are one, we see the word “holistic” bandied about, but our culture still divides them and our ingrained understanding is of separations between what we think and what we do.
So I talk about connections. You can have muscular AND personality strength. You deserve both! You can have spatial AND systemic balance. They work together! It takes some practice to understand the world as a Whole, so just roll with me on this for now.
OK, let’s continue.)
Back to that “life doesn’t slow down” idea. What I’m suggesting is, yes, a little bit extra. Some online classes, a few private meetings with me. And I know you’re busy. But what’s that old saying? Oh yeah-
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. (A favorite Ben Franklin-ism)
I also like this one:
I don’t believe in luck, I believe in preparation. (By the great Bobby Knight)
Can you handle just one more?
Confidence is preparation. Everything else is beyond your control. (Thank you Richard Kline)
In all the years (allllllll the years!) I’ve been teaching people like you about functional, whole body movements (in those reformer pilates classes) and about integrating plant medicine into your lives to stay healthy and sane in the first place (Stress? Sleep? Anybody? Boy, that’s a lot of hands waving. Alright, everybody!), I keep seeing the same 2 things over and over and over:
EverySingleOneOfUs needs to go back to basics just a little
Everyone feels AMAZING when they suddenly, finally get it. You feel strong, self-assured, confident, balanced, and lively. Imagine that.
The preparation plan that I’m offering you is made of foundational, small movement practices. They’re designed to fit easily into your life, in natural pauses and positions you already have. And of simple food medicine to heal our most common complaints, like around chronic stress, inflammation, poor digestion or elimination.
This program doesn’t ask you to stop anything you’re already doing. In fact, it encourages you to get more in! It’s not a replacement for your workouts, your walks, your memberships and your favorite sports. What is does do is create a solid, stable foundation for you to move and live from, so that everything you do is improving your physical infrastructure.
What if taking a walk improved your hips, pelvis, and core? What if gardening or washing dishes improved your posture and endurance? What if you learned not just to breathe, but HOW to breathe, and it improved your reflux?
Imagine having a sense of adventure again- do you want to climb the Rocky steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (72 steps)? Or maybe climb to the top of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome (551 steps!)?
I’ve heard these stories and more from amazing, normal clients who finally decided to go for their bucket lists, stories about hiking volcanoes, and zip lining in rainforests, and biking across beautiful countries.
I’ve also heard about getting on the floor to play with the grandkids, and doing home-improvement projects by hand, and taking up a favorite game again, and managing an over-full shopping basket with ease.
The bigger story here is what it took to get from sitting too much, hurting too much, limping and creaking and groaning too much, to these successes. Surprise- it doesn’t take that much.
So if you’re ready to start at the beginning, just a little bit, and learn how to literally and figuratively reposition yourself for living healthy and active again, let’s chat. Our next class starts soon.
With Hugs and Chamomile,
Have you ever asked your friends to praise you? An outright, blatant, shameless request to tell you what your best, strongest qualities are? Last Spring, an online course I was taking asked me to reach out to people close to me and ask them what they think my superpowers are. It felt SO. WRONG. Asking others to do this is humbling, terrifying, and rewarding.
I sent out an email in a surge of positivity. I just said “You all are my friends. What do you think my superpowers are?” I didn’t apologize, didn’t hedge. As I waited for my friends to answer my email, my positivity positively fled. I felt embarrassed. I felt flustered. I felt unworthy, and even a little ashamed for asking in the first place. And my friends proved me wrong.
I’m here to tell you, this is a GREAT exercise. Think about it- wouldn’t you be happy to tell your friends about the wonderful things you see in them? Wouldn’t it be fun to heap them with praise knowing they’d have to listen, because they ASKED for it?! Wouldn’t it be great to point out those things that makes your friends unique and special? They enjoyed doing this, many of them even thanked me for asking, and asked me to let them know the outcome of the exercise!
I hereby CHALLENGE you to ask your friends what they think YOUR superpowers are!! And please, let us know what they say #mysuperpowers
And in the vein of doing things that make me uncomfortable, I’ll toot my own horn here and share what my friends told me. It means the world to me that this is what they see, because these are important qualities that I’m not sure I always manage to bring. Doubting ourselves is human! Supporting each other is human, too. And learning what others see you bringing to the world is divine.
"Dear Friends. What do you think my superpowers are?”
Aw shucks, guys.
And yes, there are some herbs that can help you through this!
Tulsi springs immediately to mind- she can help calm the stress of doing this asking in the first place, and you may find she helps you transition into a person who believes what your friends are saying.
Rose is also a powerful friend in terms of opening your heart to receive the love your friends offer.
Chamomile can help you turn off the inner-child who is afraid and uncertain, and Calamus might help you digest everything you are told.
What other herbs would you work with? And I was serious- go ahead and ask your friends about your superpowers. You can thank me later ;)
There's lots of pressure each December to spendspendspend your way into others hearts or good graces or respect. I don't want to add to that. Besides, I don't really make or sell anything that's packageable in a gift-giving fashion anyway, so why add to the noise?
But I do want to showcase some of my favorite people who are making a difference in the world, so if you do decide you need a perfect gift for someone, maybe you'll find it here. Or just give them a hug. That always works for me.
In not much order, I present to you my favorites.
I've probably forgotten some people and places. And I'll probably update this list as I remember them. I'd love to hear about your favorites too, in the comments!
“Maximize Your World”
No matter how many creams and balms you pour onto your skin, an overloaded liver will keep pushing toxins out from under the skin as breakouts. No matter how much you reduce your diet variety, inflammation will continue to cause food sensitivities and systemic inflammation. No matter how much you rest, weak muscles will cause low back pain and reduce your quality of life.
Addressing problems, not just moving on from them, takes time, determination, practice, and quite often a guide. As an Herbalist, that's something I offer- guidance as you do your healing work.
Prevention Really is the Best Medicine
It’s really, really tough to be experiencing symptoms and to also step back for perspective, to try and find the roots when the branches are on fire. Doing preventive work when you are doing OK goes a long way here, to reduce or eliminate problems before they can even occur. And a skilled practitioner is trained to lead you through the acute symptoms now, so you can work on the chronic cause later.
So how do you go about finding the help you might need? Set up your health care team now before you have troubles, or more troubles. Get recommendations, try introductory appointments, interview professionals, attend events like health fairs. Vet everyone on your team, including your GP, OB/GYN, Dermatologist, Therapist, Chiropractor, Massage Therapist, Herbalist, Nutritionist, Acupuncturist, Fitness Trainers, and whoever else helps you feel better. You should always feel supported and empowered by our team.
And visit your teammates on a regular basis, at least for check ins. Make sure your wellness is going according to plan, and that no one sees a red flag you’ve missed. Self care isn’t selfish! We don’t tend to have the communities around us anymore that might have pointed out important things, like scary looking moles or an odd gait, so we need to assemble a team to help us with these things. As Terry Pratchett put it in A Hat Full of Sky, “And what you might need them for was to tell you, as a friend, that you were beginning to cackle.” I don’t want you out there by yourself, cackling.
What is Herbalism?
At the start of my journey, I experienced Herbalism as just an alternative way to treat conditions that my friends went to their doctors for- colds, earache, constipation, anxiety, and the like. Take this herb, instead of that pill, and then go on with your day.
Today, I see Herbalism as one branch of a lifestyle that has plants as wellness partners, instead of pills (or alongside them when necessary), and views western medicine as the outsider- it’s good for lots of big problems, but not very good at improving our day-to-day existence. Plants are everywhere, and they’re much cheaper than drugs, so I also think of Herbalism as an equal-opportunity system. Herbalism is people’s medicine. As Dr Nicole LePera (@the.holistic.psychologist) says, “In the old paradigm, we relied on 'experts' to tell us about ourselves and our bodies. In the new paradigm, we take accountability and advocate for our own healing. If we choose to have someone guide us, it’s a part of a large puzzle.” We get to be responsible for ourselves, if we choose.
Just make, and keep, one promise to yourself everyday. One little promise, one little moment of showing up for yourself.
This was the post I saw from @the.holistic.psychologist, just when I was feeling overwhelmed and undeserving and defeated. She’d said it before, but that day I needed it. OK, I thought, I will.
Now I encourage (Urge! Demand!) you do the same. We ALL need to remind ourselves that we’re there for ourselves; it builds such resilience and resolve!
In keeping with my spirit, I made 2 promises. In keeping with Dr. LaPera’s advice, I made them tiny.
I’ve also been having trouble falling asleep, so the last few nights I’ve taken an herbal sleep tablet by Garden of Life (a sample from Expo East!) with a powdered Magnesium and Sleep drink (love this stuff), and doing a Deepak Chopra meditation after lights-out.
It’s amazing what a few nights of good sleep, and a few days of clear and ordered tasks, can accomplish.
This morning’s journaling- from last night’s meditation prompts- showed me that lately I’ve been most in my “flow” when I’m writing about my passions, like developing the DIY program, or writing blog posts. Yet I don’t write creatively that often, putting it off in favor of other “more important” tasks.
Since I don’t have any morning appointments today, I decided to have a sauna (we have a Relax FIR sauna tent in the bedroom, you can try one at Holly Hill, my local health food store), a quick stretch and shower, and sit down to write a bit. No guilt, no judgement, I just opened a few docs I had been working on recently but had put aside. I'm really looking forward to this!
Before I turn back to them, I really want to know: What’s ONE promise you can make to yourself every day? Comment below!
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Do you choose a Word of the Year? Do you actually work towards it?
I've had variable success doing this. Last year was mostly a "not so much" year, but in 2017 I was pretty good at remembering and reviewing and adjusting towards my WotY.
In that spirit, my 2019 WotY is: CONSISTENCY.
There's lots of ideas and half-formed plans and unexecuted proposals banging around in my head. Recently I was listening to an audiobook when a passage struck me:
Beauvoir was reminded of his grandmother... When Jean Guy had visited they'd collect little new peas together and shell them, sitting on the porch. He now knew his grandmother must have been very busy, but she never gave that impression, just as these monks now gave the impression of working steadily. Working hard even, but working at their own pace. (The Beautiful Mystery, Louise Penny)
Working hard even, but working at their own pace. That captures my goal for the year. Instead of throwing myself headlong into a project and getting distracted by every other thing life needs before I'm finished and never completing anything, Slow and Steady and Consistent are to be my mantra this year.
A WotY is a pretty good way to motivate myself towards a common theme or a long-term vision. I have to make it visible, writing it on a notecard for my bulletin board, on my journal cover, in my daily vision imaging.
How do you keep yourself on track?
This week I was invited to give a presentation at the Tamanend Herb Club in Southampton PA. We made Echinacea Tinctures and Immune Boosting Pastilles (aka cookie dough balls). It was SO MUCH FUN! The club was super engaged, asked lots of great questions, really had fun getting their hands dirty (so to speak) making the tincture and sampling the pastilles. A great time was had by all. If you live up that way you should check them out!
This week handed my butt to me on a platter. Just served it right up. It was a great week, busy and exciting, but I ended up not writing any posts like I promised I would.
I started to get all in a twist about it, then I stepped back. Some days I just don't have words in me to write, only to speak. And I speak to LOTS of people in a week! Some days I do have writing words, like today, and I'll get them out.
I apologize for the dead air this week. But I also encourage you to practice self-forgiveness when you encounter your own dead air. It's OK to take a shower or get 30 extra minutes of sleep or make a hot meal or even get a hair cut, instead of doing something else you ought to. It'll be there when you get back.
Also today, a spring time picture! I spy with my little eye...
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.