I am so pleased to introduce myself to you and to contribute again to a learning community that has so deeply impacted my development as a healer and a human being. I am a clinical herbalist and health educator in Central Vermont. Emphasizing whole-person healing, my “medicine bag” includes Western herbal medicine, healing foods and functional nutrition, the biological sciences, Traditional Chinese Medicine, bodywork therapies, and mind-body techniques (meditation, breathing exercises, journaling, drawing, mindful eating). My clinical work stresses our innate tendency towards health and the profound impact of synchronizing our lives with the rhythms of our local ecologies. In addition to my practice, I am a research specialist for the International Centre for Phytotherapy’s EXTRACT database, collecting and analyzing evidence-based data relevant to the therapeutic use of plants. As well, I write a quarterly, clinically-oriented article for UnifiedEnergetics, a journal dedicated to preserving and exploring consciousness in health and medicine. I co-direct a local school/clinic called the Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism.
I serve as guest faculty in the Southeast Center for Herbal Healing’s three-year clinical training program in Asheville, North Carolina, and staff summer herb camps for kids, sponsored by Food Works at the Two Rivers Center for Sustainability. I am also a volunteer practitioner at the Sage Mountain Herbal Free Clinic which operates out of the People’s Health and Wellness Clinic in Barre, VT. As a graduate of the country’s first accredited Master of Science degree in Herbal Medicine, I have been blessed with exposure to an amazing breadth and depth of information, studying both evidence-based and traditionally supported clinical applications of herbs in Western, Chinese and Ayurvedic traditions. I am well-versed in the life sciences of anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, phytochemistry, botany, and phytopharmacy, while remaining grounded in traditional ways of knowing and seeing – energetic assessment, skilled intuition, and direct communication with the plants. Through the study and practice of Zen Shiatsu, my interest in Traditional Chinese Medicine was piqued and, after further exploration, I incorporated Five Element theory as it relates to emotional and psychological health into my practice. I am currently investigating the integration of clinical aromatherapy with this Five Element approach to psychospiritual wellbeing. A life-long vegetarian, I have explored a variety of eating and cooking philosophies, including macrobiotics, veganism, and paleo-diet and strongly believe that food is our first and best medicine. Inseparable from my interest in food is an understanding of the politics of food availability and the impact of commercial food production on human and environmental health. In the past, I have farmed organically and biodynamically and have a basic knowledge of the practices of permaculture. I have also lived in intentional communities, which focused on sustainable food production and consumption, conservative and alternative resource use, consensus-based, non-hierarchical social structure, and personal transformation. In tandem with my interest in food and agriculture is my profound concern for our relationship with wilderness and the planet as Gaia. The foundation of my work in this area is my relationship with the land itself and the inspiration gained through our direct communication. Here, my studies of ecology, psychology, feminist/gender/queer studies, and Buddhist philosophy intersect, birthing a sense of urgency about our ecological and spiritual separation from the land. With that urgency comes a call to inspire others toward practices that affirm interdependence and acknowledge the indwelling spirit of nature. In addition to the breadth of my experience and interests, I hope to offer students guidance in creating a viable career path in the health arts and sciences. As the healthcare climate is continually evolving, graduates of this program will serve as bridges between the current failing system and an emerging system of wellness. I have first-hand knowledge of seeking education in a budding and unlicensed field, one that straddles worlds both ancient and modern, intuitive and scientific. Though I will certainly share resources and guide around pitfalls, more essential is my desire and ability to nurture in each student the personal inspiration that calls them to healing work. Through deep listening, honest reflection, and joyful collaboration, I aspire to cooperatively cultivate a powerful and effective expression of each student’s personal source of authority. This authority will become their navigator in uncharted waters. I approach my role as a faculty member with the same spirit and objective with which I approach healing work: I serve as a dedicated partner in transformation. I believe education can be viewed as a dual process of acquisition and evolution. While acquisition involves gathering information and resources, which enhance and refine the learner’s chosen path, evolution gradually reveals innate gifts and wisdom. Common to both processes is the act of transformation. In this way, the whole person is educated through a cyclical process of expanding and honing, shedding and unfolding on all levels of being. As a mentor during the acquisition process, I see my role as that of an instigator ~ one who incites curiosity, voracious experimentation, far-flung theorizing, and steadfast focus. As a partner in the process of personal evolution, I can offer various practices that foster personal reflection, right-brained engagement, and interaction with the natural world to promote the process of self-discovery. I will urge definition of the core values driving the students’ life and work. With awareness of what informs their actions and how their lives are already flourishing, students can then craft a vision that incorporates their inherent strengths, their value-oriented goals, and their evolving sense of place in the world. Through this transformative model, individuals are empowered to reveal and engage their deep passion for life in service of the whole. The possibilities for global change latent in education that engages the whole person are what draw me to this work. To sit with individuals in healing partnership is a profound honor, yet to be able to participate in the metamorphosis of a wider population through education is an equally humbling privilege. I offer myself as an instrument of transformation, guided by my own personal vision of sacred, juicy, vibrant living. Additional Training: Mind-Body Skills, Center for Mind-Body Medicine, Washington, DC; Foundations of Nutrition, Rooted Wisdom Center for Wholistic Living, VT; Traditional Herbal Diagnosis, Matthew Wood /Sunnyfield Herb Farm, MN; Avena Institute Herbal Studies Internship, Deb Soule, ME; Swedish/Esalen Massage Technician, Heartwood Institute, CA; Zen Shiatsu Acupressure & Whole Foods Nutrition, Heartwood Institute, CA