January 25, 2013 @ 7:05 AM

New Year Resolutions for Herbalists


Follow me this month while I try to clear out my own chaos and get a few tips on how to get your herb cabinet and/or business back in order! January is a perfect time for reflection and planning, but also, we have time for getting things done since the rush of garden season is still a few months away, the snow keeps us at home a bit more....as does the promise of a warm house and hot cup of tea. Each day, I am going to tackle something that needs constant care or attention, but that is often left to become dysfunctional as the year goes on. Will this be the year, I actually keep on top of things? Who knows...but if not, I will repost next year!

January 25 ~

Avoid Newbieitis

Seeing new students sharing their "herb news" from class to class, so eager to learn everything, so enthusiastic in the gardens........that's what every herb teacher loves to watch. By the 4th class or so, however, a sort of anxiety begins to settle in as they become aware that the whole world does not share their enthusiasm.....or want to hear all their tales of cool plant lore or how to make tinctures. They find that many peope could care less......and they must come to grips with the dreaded--doubtful and dismissive family member(s). A sure case of Newbieitis  has taken hold. I am not sure it is entirely avoidable, but it can be managed.

I do warn students to not be overly aggressive in insisting that people try their newly learned remedies--and that those who love you most, may be the most skeptical and derisive..."You can't be a prophet in your own land". I tell them to not suddenly change their family diet, or give everyone tons of herbal products as holiday gifts, or to talk about it constantly and make unsolicited health suggestions. Clearly, there is an adjustment period between the excitement of finding a passion and the realities of being responsible and understanding of other people's right to be uninterested.

My advice to all budding herbalists is this: Soak it all in, revel in your passion, learn all you can, share all you can with the like minded , practice all your new knowledge on yourself (and unsuspecting pets or husbands......halfway kidding here!). In an appropriate time period, you will go from being a student, to being an herbalist. You will reflect your knowledge in your own health and behavior...and THEN, many of the naysayers will come around. Be patient.

After a lifetime of exposure to herbal healing and 34 years of practicing professionally, I still get frustrated at what I consider to be really routine and easily resolved health issues, continue in friends or family members. Often, they ask what herbs or foods they could use....I tell them and then they do not see it through. But, I have learned not to take any of it personally. It really is no different from kids not listening to parents.......or an herbalist ignoring the plea of a relative who may be a doctor to take a harsh drug. Familiarity is often not a great mix with healing except for the most basic of illnesses.

I still get really excited to learn a new herb or healing approach, so I can often still feel like a Newbie, but no longer act like one.