Nutshell I'm a lover of wild places, both external to us and inside of us. As a woman, a social scientist, and a nature-lover, I draw on different ways of knowing - the empirical and rational as well as the intuitive. I yearn for more whole societies, where everyone can share their gifts, be valued, and live lightly on Earth in cooperation with each other and the more than human nature we co-inhabit our exquisite planet with. This starts with being more whole ourselves, and living according to our unique blueprint - a radical act in today's world. From my own own journey, I've learned a few things and have much more to learn. I believe wisdom comes from our inner teacher, and from deeply connecting with each other and with the wider natural world we are a part of. All three strands of wisdom are interwoven, and are what I am devoted to facilitating. Through deeper connection, we can collectively create the more beautiful world we long for.
Photo by Geran de Klerk on Unsplash
On and Off the Beaten Track I was firmly on the 'save the world' path in college and subsequently studied international health, going on to work on USAID and UNICEF maternal and reproductive health projects. But I had minored in environmental studies in college, and that beckoned me again; I left public health to pursue doctoral studies in environmental justice, aspiring to do research that would move the needle toward greater racial equality in the environment and ecology domain. Moreover, from a young age, I felt that things were very interconnected and didn't like the idea of a life and livelihood based around silos. So while initially pursuing a somewhat conventional path, I also loved, participated in, and supported cooperatives whenever I could - the ethos of more democratic ways of of working and living really appealed to me (and still does). For a period, I volunteered at WBAI Community Radio in NY, an entirely listener-funded radio station, and the home of Democracy Now, which strongly influenced my understanding of the world.
At some point, I became interested in nature-inspired design thinking, one form of which is known as permaculture, and trained in that (later training others). It was in doing a design around my own life that what emerged was a need to engage more with plants and the natural world; I had always been fascinated by ethnobotany and different traditional health systems. So while doing my postdoctoral work, in my spare time I began to study 'planetary herbology', an approach to herbalism based primarily on Traditional Chinese Medicine, but also drawing on Ayurveda and Western herbalism.
Photo by Noah Rosenfield on Unsplash
Lesson: Standard-ish Healthy Lifestyle Does Not Necessarily Equate to Health While definitely not a Crossfit type exerciser, I considered myself fairly active, having given up a car in my 20s and using my legs to get around. Granted, like nearly everyone else in the West (and increasingly, the rest of the world), much of my adult life has been spent sitting in front of a computer. Still, I have long been eating mostly unprocessed, vegetarian foods and thought I was thus, pretty healthy.
Somewhere along the line, I developed a 'non-worrisome' arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), that was frustrating and sometimes distressing because I could feel it in my chest. The cardiologist had no explanation as to why this was happening or how to resolve it. At any rate, I was already living a healthy lifestyle by most people's standards. I was cycling, eating mostly unprocessed, organic foods most of my life.
During the five years I had the arrhythmia, I tried various things, most for a year - acupuncture; herbs; Ayurvedic treatment; meditation; and weight training. Although undoubtedly these all had various benefits, my arrhythmia remained. At best, I would have a break for a few weeks, with no pattern that I could detect. So I accepted it, was grateful that it wasn't anything serious, and got on with life.
Epiphany: Aligning with Nature's Rhythms Can Sort Out Health Issues In 2017, I was experimenting more with integrating daily habits from Ayurveda purely for general wellness and because of a growing interest in my ancestors' health traditions. I wanted to do what I could to prevent problems later in life and also have more energy and focus now. Although I didn't embark on this with my arrhythmia in mind, over the course of the year I kept noticing that I hadn't had it. When I got through the whole year with a regular heart rhythm, I realized that the seemingly small changes I was making must have brought me back into balance.
Because of the dramatic impact on my own well-being - which transcended just the heart rhythm - I am coaching others in integrating daily habits for vibrant health. I weave together my own experiences and engagement in a variety of areas to help people tuning into their body's intelligence. Having been involved in different social movements, I have come to believe that although there is urgency around challenges such as homelessness, climate change (and other ecological concerns), conflicts, and so on, chronically living out of sync with nature's intelligence and burning out isn't the way to resolve them. Rather more people living in greater integrity - to the extent possible given life circumstances - can unleash more of what the world needs.
I'm an ex-academic with a PhD in Environment and Natural Resources from the University of Michigan, an MHS in international health from Johns Hopkins University, and a BA in Biology & Environmental Studies from Drew University. I continue to teach about regenerative food systems and urban agriculture at the University of Brighton in Brighton, England, where I currently live.
I've trained in herbalism and Eastern-based wellness traditions at the East West School of Planetary Herbology, and learned studied Permaculture Design at the Brighton Permaculture Trust, and lead workshops and walks on wild foods and medicine, nature immersion, and permaculture.