Podcast 106: Real Life Resolutions

What do you want to bring into the new year with you? Our first piece of advice is to be specific with your intention – envision how this change will happen in your own real day-to-day life, in detail. This helps you make sure it really happens!

Intention is key also in transforming our relationship to Stuff. Many people feel like their Stuff owns them instead of the other way around, and being intentional about how and what you consume can go a long way toward changing that. Fostering (or giving the gift of) experiences and skills is one key way to change that dynamic.

You need to pick your battles, though! It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the long list of troubles in the world, and to feel like you need to change them all yourself. Selecting one or two things to focus on is more effective, but also feels better inside. Plus, it’s a way you can find or create community, which is so critical to sustaining these things long-term.

Finally, we conclude with a discussion of a few herbs which help strengthen resolve.

Herbs discussed include: hawthorn, tulsi, goldenrod, jiaogulan, cedar, hemlock, & pine.

Mentioned in this episode:

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Our theme music is “Wings” by Nicolai Heidlas.


Episode Transcript

Katja (00:00:01):
Hi, I’m Katja.

Ryn (00:00:15):
And I’m Ryn.

Katja (00:00:15):
We’re here at the Commonwealth Center for Holistic Herbalism in Boston, Massachusetts.

Ryn (00:00:19):
and on the internet everywhere thanks to power of the podcast. For a bunch of years now. Two years.

Katja (00:00:25):
Two years. A little more than two.

Ryn (00:00:27):
Two isn’t quite a bunch, but it’s getting there. Yeah. In another year.

Katja (00:00:31):
Well that’s a good start.

Ryn (00:00:33):
Yeah, we’re doing pretty good. It is the end of the year and that’s resolution season. Time to lose 15 pounds and go to the gym. Oh, time to eat healthier. Well, I mean, good resolution.

Katja (00:00:49):
If you resolve to listen to more of the holistic herbalism podcast, I suppose that’s a good resolution.

Ryn (00:00:53):
That is a pretty good one. Yeah. But you know these resolutions of I’m going to look good in my bikini.

Katja (00:01:00):
You already look good in a bikini.

Ryn (00:01:04):
I know.

Katja (00:01:06):
No, I mean, all of you, everybody already looks good in a bikini. You’re fine. Yes, yes. Alright. Like for me the whole resolution thing is loaded, right? Like, we’re supposed to have concrete goals and say that, well, I’m going to lose 15 pounds. Then it’s a concrete goal that’s tangible and we can see if we’re making progress. I guess that makes…

Ryn (00:01:31):
Numbers are the ultimate truth of reality.

Katja (00:01:32):
Yes. That’s the way that we gauge progress. I mean that sort of a thing makes sense if you have a large task and you need to break it down, but I don’t think that sort of thing makes as much sense for like personal growth.

Ryn (00:01:45):
It’s a good distinction, you know, like in your, the business mentorship course where you’re helping people to go from, I might like to be an herbalist into, I’m actually an herbalist.

Katja (00:01:56):
Yeah. I have a business and it’s real and it’s tangible, right? .

Ryn (00:02:00):
Right. With that, so much of the work you do is actually getting people from, this is my idea, to all right, now let’s have that idea, but with a million specifics and then let’s say, how are we actually going to get there and what are all the steps that are going to be required? And I love the part where you get them to write down how long each step takes because then they are shocked and horrified.

Katja (00:02:20):
Yeah. We can be a lot more reasonable about how much we think we can get done in a year. . But yeah, it’s not…

Aligning with Your Ideals

Ryn (00:02:27):
That’s a different kind of a project then I would like to embody my principles. I would like to live more aligned with my ideals. I’d like to be the change that I hope to see in the world. It’s a different kind of a project.

Katja (00:02:45):
Yeah. Incidentally, none of those things are, I would like to look pretty in a bathing suit.

Ryn (00:02:49):
They are different.

Katja (00:02:50):
They are different. It’s true. They are different. I think if we could all just accept that every single one of us already looks pretty in a bathing suit or no bathing suit or jeans and a tee shirt, you already just look pretty whatever you’re wearing or a five piece suit. . Do they have that many people or blanket, whatever. Thinking more about exactly like you said, aligning with our beliefs. I think when we think about I want to be thinner or I want to eat better, that we are imagining that as aligning with our beliefs. I like to think about this from the belief forward instead of from the like end result that may or may not actually embody that belief. I like to think about what do I want to bring into the new year with me? What do I want to be intentionally building in my life and in my community? When I think about things I want to build in my life that is not necessarily self-judgment about what my body looks like, even if what I want to build in my life is strength or a habit of movement, right? Then what I am focusing on is my intention for building a specific thing. Not well, how come I weighed 20 pounds more than I think I should or then society tells me I should or why do I have to buy extra large, whatever.

Ryn (00:04:15):
There’s a lot of focus on the process as well as the goal. When you focus exclusively on the goal, then you can fall into a human problem. Something like, what’s the fastest way for me to lose these 15 pounds in the shortest amount of time as possible. I mean, you can lose weight in lots of ways and not all of them are good. Right? You know, there was a news item a little bit while ago, I saw on my feed, one of my feeds somewhere and it was like, this story is horrifying because the headline was like this actress that most people have forgotten about lost 60 pounds in a month and you’ll never believe her secret. The secret literally was cancer. That is not a great way to lose any amount of pounds in any amount of time. All right.

Katja (00:05:03):
If that is a news item, then shouldn’t we be saying, yay, she beat cancer or something else? This was a struggle from cancer

Ryn (00:05:15):
I know. Crazy times. You know, it’s this an obviously a crazy extreme, but like there’s lots of that tendency in all of us and we need to identify it. So that’s kind of what we’re going to be talking about this week on our podcast.

Katja (00:05:30):
Yeah. Be the change you want to see in the world.

Ryn (00:05:35):
I don’t know, but I don’t think anyone will be surprised if we remind you that we’re not doctors that were herbalists were holistic health educators.

Katja (00:05:43):
That the ideas discussed in this podcast do not constitute medical advice. No state or federal authority licenses, herbalists in the U S a so these discussions are for educational purposes only. Everybody’s body is different. So the things that talking about may or may not apply directly to you, but we hope that they’ll give you some good information to think about and research further.

Ryn (00:06:03):
Yeah. You know, we say that every week everybody’s body is different. Everybody’s context is different. Everybody’s expression is different.

Katja (00:06:12):
Different from its own self at different times in the process. Right. What worked for you like two years ago might not be what works for you today. Yeah.

Ryn (00:06:24):
But you know, what remains the same, two years ago, and today, is that good health is your own personal responsibility. That’s the final decision when you’re considering any course of therapy. If it’s discussed by your friendly neighborhood, holistic herbalists on the internet or prescribed by your hopefully friendly neighborhood physician, that’s still actually your decision. So, yeah, let’s stick with that.

Katja (00:06:45):
Maybe resolve to embrace that responsibility and right, there we go a little bit more this year.

Ryn (00:06:53):
That kind of a resolution, that can mean a lot of different things and I think that’s helpful because sometimes if you have a resolution that only means one thing and is super objective like that, then yeah, you can know if you met it, but you can also know all year long how you didn’t quite meet it and then it can be more of a weight than anything else.

Specifying & Integrating Intentions

Katja (00:07:11):
I really like to think about this as like intentions or guiding principles that then as I move through my day, my week, my month, my year, I can always be asking myself are the things that I’m doing right now in line with my intentions. Hopefully the answer is yes. The other cool thing is that every time that you stop and ask yourself that, that is an opportunity for realignment. It isn’t like I ate a cookie, I’m a terrible person cause I’m trying to lose weight. It’s my intention to whatever, to eat more vegetables this year. On any given day with the cookie in your hand you could say, how am I in line with my intentions? You can still eat the cookie and then you can make sure that you have a big serving of vegetables. It’s a very positive way of looking at it instead of like a punitive way of looking at it.

Ryn (00:08:16):
Yeah, super helpful. And look, this all matters in large part because it’s going to shape how well you actually adhere to this resolution. It’s also going to shape how you feel about it in January and for the rest of the year too, whenever you are reminded of your resolve throughout the rest of the year. That makes a huge difference on what actually happens in your life. So, you know, when we say this, it’s not just like, Oh, this will make you feel better about yourself. It’s not that that matters in terms of what you actually ended up doing with your body, you know? So, yeah. All right. So a large part of this again is about being specific with your intentions.

Katja (00:08:52):
Yeah. So an example here is that when we talk to people, like people who we are working with clinically or even our students or even you, awesome podcast listener, when we talk to people about drinking tea, we don’t just say, okay, well I think that nettles and tulsi are going to be a great blend for you. See you later. Like we’re really specific about that intention and we make sure to figure out with them exactly how they’re going to do it exactly what that looks like. I guess we were just saying that it’s better to have fuzzy things then tangible goals, but you take that intention, Oh my goodness. I have to just stop everything right now and be distracted by the amazing moon that I can see out the window as the sun is setting. There’s just the sliver of moon in this, like Periwinkle blue sky with all the gradations down to the sunset at the bottom. I think I am literally going to explode.

Ryn (00:10:00):
It’s true. You guys, she was describing this accurately. I can see it.

Katja (00:10:04):
I’m going to explode. Oh my God. Okay. Anyway, sorry. So a lot of times once you’ve decided this intention, having an idea about an intention of I want to eat more vegetables, can be a little vague and can be something that you look at every day and say, did I, am I aligned with that intention? You also can be really specific. So in this case where we want to look at how do we fit these things into a regular day? How do you translate your intention into your daily life? So let’s say that it’s your intention to drink a long infusion of nettles, , every day, which would be a really noble resolution or really noble intention. That can be part of a larger intention to like, do nice things for your body or focus on nutrition and nourishment or whatever. So I want to talk about, I think one of the most convenient ways to make a long infusion is to let it sit overnight. It might be different for each person, but I’m going to talk to each person about that. Very frequently sitting overnight is, so you figure, you put the kettle on to boil and then you’d go brush your teeth. You’re going to brush your teeth at night anyway, right? So you’re just going to put the kettle on before you go. And then when you’re done, the kettle is ready and you pour it into a Mason jar with the nettles. So basically all you did was add on one more step to brushing your teeth. Then in the morning you strain it right into your water bottle and you just drink it all day. So you’ve really only added a few minutes to the evening and a few minutes to the morning, and that’s how it’s going to fit into your specific life. Right? So, this is in terms of like thinking about how am I going to build something? How am I going to bring my life more in alignment? And then also looking at like, okay, well here’s how it will actually fit in my day. If you have to drive half an hour out of your way to go do whatever and you expect to fit that into every day, that’s not really very reasonable to expect from yourself because you’re busy and you have a lot to do. Working something into your lifestyle that only takes an extra couple of minutes here and there, but has a really big impact. That’s something that’s probably going to be pretty achievable.

Ryn (00:12:44):
Yeah. And, you know, I don’t think this is actually in conflict with the idea of having intentions or resolve that’s different from, let me hit this weight loss goal or let me hit that number of days in the gym per week goal or whatever else. This is more about saying, okay, having any goal is a necessary step, but the goal itself isn’t enough for you. It’s not the whole of the preparatory work to actually make that happen or it to bring about that shift in your life that we need a little more. Right. The thing that seems to make the biggest differences, like you say, if you can actually integrate it into your daily life. So taking a moment to think about how that’s going to happen, what that’s going to look like and how that’s going to work for you specifically is going to make a really big difference in your adherence down the line.

Katja (00:13:42):
You said something that I wanted to jump on real quick. So I’m just totally interrupting you, but you were saying, what’s it going to look like? I was thinking about how when you make your intention and then throughout the whole year you could say, well is the action or the decision that I’m taking right now in line with that intention. That’s a good way to do it. Then also what does it look like? Like to have that intention and then spend some time meditating. What does a person with that intention look like? Like how does that play out? Yeah. How does it play out in my life?

Ryn (00:14:19):
Because these are all about change and so your life’s going to be different in some way. When this is your new habits or when this is your new way of being. So what is that way? What, what does that seem like? Sometimes that can be revealing like, Oh actually those are things that I don’t really want to do. So is there some other way that I could achieve my goal that would actually be appealing to me. Right? We run into this a lot with food, you know, we get a lot of people who want to eat healthier. Great. That’s a good goal. And there are a million ways to do, and you could keep that as your intention through the year as your resolution, and you could experiment with a new way every month. Right.

Katja (00:14:57):
Well that would even be reasonable because if you succeed for a month with one way of doing it, after a while it’s going to become a habit. And then you’re like, Oh, well, okay did that. So the next month you, if your goal was still to just eat better or eat healthier, then that gives you room for growth as you, as you build habits.

Ryn (00:15:19):
Yeah. And you can start with something super concrete and you know, very, very easy to observe. Like, I’m going to literally eat an Apple every day. Right? Yeah. It can go a long way. Right. You know? There’s all kinds of good stuff in apples. There’s soluble fibers, there’s pectin, there’s prebiotic stuff, there’s antioxidants galore, you know, there’s all kinds of good.

Katja (00:15:42):
Apples really actually are super amazing and we think about like, no, it has to be this like obscure Berry from the wherever, away place. Apples are really amazing actually.

Ryn (00:15:56):
Yeah. There’s a ton going on in there and something like that it sounds small, but it’s a seed. This is January, right? This is like seed time. This is not the time to take a Bush or like a seedling, like a little halfway grown herbs from the market or from the herb shop or whatever and like go outside and plant it in the ground. No, it’s not time for that. It’s time for seeds. So, it can be good to start small actually with some of these changes and to say, all right, I’m just going to eat an Apple every day. That might sound like a small thing, but it will become larger over time. Right? Yeah. When you’re eating your Apple, you’ll be thinking about, okay, well what else am I going to have today? This is actually good for me and I built this as a habit. What else can I change?

Katja (00:16:41):
How does that feel for me as I start to do that on a regular basis? Yeah. What do I notice that I’m not actually eating anymore because I’m eating this Apple instead. There’s only so much you’re going to eat in a day. So something didn’t happen. . What was that?

Ryn (00:16:57):
Sometimes this can be more sustainable than I’m going to completely overhaul my entire diet from top to bottom. I’m going to clear out all of my cupboards and start over.

Katja (00:17:05):
Also fine if you’re that kind of person, but you don’t have to be that kind of person.

Ryn (00:17:09):
Yeah. If that’s the kind of thing that excites you, that’s great. If you can afford to do that, you know, like there are barriers for many people, but I would just say consider both of these ways of going about it and see which one appeals to you more. It makes more sense for you is actually going to be sustainable for you. Similarly, if you’re like, I want to work out more, okay, that’s good, but what’s that actually going to look like? So is that, I’m going to go to this class that’s twice a week. It’s at this particular studio or gym or CrossFit box or whatever, and I’m going to go with this workout buddy. Right? Now you’ve got a bunch of things lined up, you have a schedule and you can put that in your calendar, set alarms for yourself and make it really happen. You’ve got somebody to go with. That makes a huge difference for really all kinds of resolutions. If you’re thinking about doing a food change resolution, then I would say get other people in the house involved in that. Definitely with movement and exercise, you’re always way more motivated to show up if you know a friend of yours is there waiting for you, you can support each other that way.

Katja (00:18:12):
Plus like the original intention was to move around more. So after a while of succeeding at a particular class twice a week, you may also find that like, Oh, I also feel the desire, we say like I need to, but like I feel the desire to, I feel the itch to go for a lock on the off days or whatever because my body is starting to want that. Then you can continue to ask yourself as you move through, well, is this particular thing in line with my goal to move my body more? If it isn’t, that doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t do it, but it might be a place where you then start making decisions where you have two options and you’re like, which option am I going to take? Oh, well this option also is in line with my desire to move my body more. So I guess I’ll go with that one.

Ryn (00:19:06):
Yeah, right. Well, one last example, if you are going to try and get more sleep in the new year, then that’s a good goal. A better one is I’m going to set a bedtime alarm for 10 o’clock every night. I’m going to have a bedtime tincture mix that I put together. I’m going to start taking it when my bedtime alarm goes off and stop taking it right before I lay down about an hour later. I’m going to get this meditation app on my phone and queue up one of the sleep ones. Even if I don’t really want to go to bed or I think I won’t fall asleep or whatever, I’ll just listen to that and not worry too much about it and see what happens. If I have to get up, that’s fine. But I’ll set up these things. I’ll give my body these signals. I’ll set my environment to be conducive to good sleep and let that be the intention, rather than I will get this much sleep or I will sleep better. Right? Let it be, these are the things I’m going to do rather than this is the thing I want to have happened at some point.

Katja (00:20:02):
Yeah. That’s like, I’m going to prioritize sleep. The thing in that is if you say I’m going to prioritize sleep, that’s an intention that you can be aligned with even on a day that is extraordinary and your own, there is in fact only six hours to sleep. Still prioritizing sleep in that situation it means that, okay, you know, you only have this amount of time to sleep, which means you are going to prioritize that and you’re not going to like do rail yourself with Twitter before bed or whatever.

Ryn (00:20:40):
Let other things get in the way.

Katja (00:20:41):
Yeah. So having that intention of prioritizing sleep gives you more flexibility because sometimes the reality is that you don’t have time for X, whatever your goal is, but it also gives you that space to be intentional about what sorts of behaviors look like prioritizing sleep for you.

Ryn (00:21:05):
Nice. So yeah, there’s so much here around this idea of intention and setting it and returning to it and checking in frequently with your intention. We find it helpful a lot of, a lot of times to, you know, write out our intentions or resolutions or whatever we call them, put them somewhere where we’re going to see them consistently and have that as like a reminder. You know, we do need to remind ourselves as things, that’s just the way we go.

Our 2020 Intentions

Katja (00:21:30):
Well, Hey, in that regard, we thought that we would share some of our own ideas and intentions for the new year for 2020 with you.

Ryn (00:21:43):
Some of these are kind of evergreen. Like you don’t do it once and then you’re done. You learn about an idea, you start to think about it. You start to put it into practice and then suddenly a whole Vista opens up for you of all the million ways in which you could continue to explore that. That’s definitely been true for us around issues of consumption. Here we are consumers in a consumptive society that is rapidly consuming everything in the world.

Katja (00:22:09):
You know, consumption used to be a diagnosis for death.

Ryn (00:22:14):
Yes. It was tuberculosis.

Katja (00:22:17):
Yeah. People died of consumption. So now you’re not a good citizen if you are not doing the consumption.

Ryn (00:22:27):
yeah, I mean there’s so much bound up in this, but it’s, it is literally true that the way our society is structured, our primary role, most of us is as consumers. There’s just so much bound up in that. And of course a big piece of this is environmental impacts.

Katja (00:22:42):
I really want to be talking about that more. I’m talking about that more like in my own life and talking about that more in terms of my life as an herbalist. I want to be thinking more about how we can practically implement ideas that are bigger than just put on a sweater or turn out the lights or get a low flow shower head. I really want to be talking more about what it looks like to consume less and what kinds of choices we can make about the way that we consume things and specific ways that we can actually do that. Even, what are my ideas around my expectations of consumption and also the ideas of my family and my friends and my community. I’m thinking specifically of a chat I was having with my mother-in-law this morning who was saying that there’s a party she needs to go to and it’s expected that she’ll bring a gift and it’s fine to bring a gift that’s always fine. he was saying that what she really wants to bring is something small and something consumable, special and delicious instead of like some kind of a thing in a box because that feels more aligned for her. So I’m thinking not just about like my own behaviors, but also the expectations that I live in community with. I’m just looking up at the sliver of the moon again and thinking like, literally my heart is going to burst by looking at its beauty and is that something that I can share with people instead of something in a box? There’s the star right beside it and it’s just literally like a postcard. Like how can we create relationships that value sharing that experience over sharing something that came in a plastic bubble, like those packages that are impossible to open, you know?

Ryn (00:24:50):
Yeah. And I think a lot of people are thinking about that and trying to say, what can I give to another person that, that has more of me in it? And that includes your time and it includes, this was something that I did and I enjoyed and I want to share it with you, whether that’s, let’s go to the ropes course in the tree tops or let’s go to a concert together or whatever it might be. I do see more people thinking about those kinds of things.

Katja (00:25:16):
More meaningful…

Ryn (00:25:17):
Handmade stuff.

Katja (00:25:20):
Not that a pair of wool socks isn’t super meaningful because if you love a nice pair of wool socks. Even at that, I honestly would rather be gifted something like a pair of wool socks that I am going to need at some point if I don’t need them right now I can set them aside. Socks wear out. It’s a reality. I really love a really nice, thick, wooly pair of socks. So if you’re going to spend 20 bucks or something, spend it on that. So when I say meaningful, I don’t want there to be like pressure on that to be like something that will move me to tears. That’s has been a thing in my life that there’s been a lot of pressure on me to provide a gift that would create an emotional response of crying in the giver in certain relationships that I’ve had. that’s just not a game that I’m interested in perpetuating at all. So when I say meaningful, just something that’s nice. It literally could be some cookies that you made or a pair of socks. It could be whatever, but something that’s in the relationship that you’re in. Yeah. I’ve seen that the more that people learn about herbalism, the more that people make relationships with the plants in their own lives, the more that their own lives change. They become like more focused on living life in balance. I don’t mean when I say that, the way that we typically hear that word, which is in relation to how much we work and how much time we take off. But I mean more in balance like this discussion of gifts and the discussion of consuming things. In balance in terms of not taking up more than is required, or not using up more than is required. Being a good member of our ecosystem and expanding the idea of do unto others as you would want them to do unto you. Which by the way, is one thing that every single religion shares. If you do a study of all of the religions that I know of, they all have some component of that, treat others the way that you want to be treated. So I think when all religions agree on something and even people who don’t have a religion agree that that something is a good thing, then that’s a good one to focus on.

Ryn (00:28:10):
Yes. I mean you could be Immanuel Kant and you could be describing the categorical imperative here and saying that an axiom must be true in all cases to be true in any case.

Katja (00:28:20):
Okay. Well it maybe doesn’t must be true in all cases, but that an axiom that is true in all cases maybe is worth reflection.

Ryn (00:28:29):
Yeah. But it can be a limiting factor of do unto others as you would have done to yourself because not everybody wants that done to them even if you want it. Right. So like I might enjoy, being picked up and cuddled occasionally. Elsie dog, she doesn’t quite love it as much and sometimes I have to remember that she doesn’t actually want to be held with her belly up in the air even though she looks wicked cute that way.

Katja (00:28:57):
I think though, that there’s room in that Axiom for that to maybe mean something more like do unto others the things that would make them feel like the way that you will feel when people do unto you the way that you would like them to. There we go. Yeah. Nice. My point here is that…

Ryn (00:29:17):
Put that on a Coffee mug.

Katja (00:29:19):
…is that as we deepen in our relationship with plants, I really notice that that idea of do onto others… In that longer form that I am going to put on a coffee mug, starts to move out into all parts of our community, not just the human ones. And so, you know, starting to think more and value more the lives of plants.

Ryn (00:29:49):
Yeah. This becomes necessary when you take seriously the notion that plants have their own existence and things that they need, and even we could say want. When you start to really live by that and see what that means, then this sort of naturally opens your consciousness or your perception of what’s a being, what’s a living organism with agency of some kind?

Katja (00:30:16):
What things am I actually in community with? Like when we think about being a community, we just think about the humans. I mean in mainstream culture.

Ryn (00:30:24):
Yeah. I loved it when you put that in there about being a good member of your ecosystem.

Katja (00:30:29):
Yeah. This is why you guys I don’t use bug spray ever and you don’t have to not use bug spray ever, but we teach classes in the woods and we’re always out with bugs. People are always like, do you want some of my bug spray? And no, I don’t. I just get bit, and I do that on purpose because that is a super tangible reminder that, I don’t live in a food chain. I am not at the top of it, but that we are all an interconnected web of community and we all depend on each other. that part of my place in that community is to provide a meal for mosquitoes so that by the way, they can then go and pollinate blueberries, which I like a lot. So I’m willing to pay for blueberry pollination with my blood in very, very, very small quantities. I definitely didn’t always feel that way, but that is something that the deeper I came into herbalism, the more that I started to realize that, Oh, mosquitoes play a role in this ecosystem. That role is important and maybe I should rethink my feelings about mosquitoes. Now you don’t have to do that. If you are like Katja that is a bridge too far for me. Totally. That’s fine. That kind of a thought process is sort of what I’m thinking about here.

Ryn (00:32:01):
Yeah. Right. So we’re thinking about again, bringing some intentionality to the things that we do consume. and thinking about like, yes, consuming less that that counts. The CFL light bulbs and the, it’s not CFL, LED light bulbs and the low flow shower heads and everything. These are great, right? That’s all good and we should all do that kind of stuff. We also need to keep in mind that those kind of consumer focused interventions have been a big part of the discourse around environmental protection or on changing our habits as a society. I mean, it is a thing that we should all do. It’s also a way for big companies to kind of skate or for big forces, big entities, let’s say, cause it’s not just corporations or whatever, but governments and militaries and other things; that are the much bigger drivers of anthropogenic climate change and global warming and, exhausts, production and everything else. So while we’re thinking about what we can do in our own homes, we also need to say what can we do that’s going to have an impact outside of our own home? Right? So that’s kind of thinking about ways that we can shift our attention, shift our thinking, shift our actions tangibly that are going to have impacts beyond, you know, the four walls of your own house. So thinking about how to make that tangible, has been something that we’ve been considering for a while.

Katja (00:33:46):
Yeah. One of the big things that I’ve been thinking about is to foster skills instead of stuff.

Ryn (00:33:54):
Very much like experiences instead of objects.

Katja (00:33:57):
Yeah. Instead, like at super basic level here give the gift of herbal education, right? Like instead of giving someone a thing, give them an online herbal video course from Commonwealthherbs.com. It doesn’t have to be that. But that is a good example of like …

Ryn (00:34:25):
If you give a person bitters they will have better digestion for this meal. If you teach them how to make their own herbal bitters, they’ll have better digestion forever.

Katja (00:34:32):
Yes. That’s what I’m trying to get at. So that idea of sharing skills with one another is not just a way to consume less stuff, but also it is going to be in line with one of our other big intentions around creating more community. If you get together with friends and bake cookies and then everybody shares the cookies, then it isn’t like you didn’t consume anything, there were ingredients to the cookies, but everybody was together having experience. Maybe somebody in that group can’t make cookies. That would be me. I’m not very good at making cookies unless they are ginger chamomile cookies. Those are good. So, that idea of sharing skills with one another and then working on those skills together is to me like a really fun thing to share.

Ryn (00:35:44):
Yeah, absolutely. And you know, that kind of goes along with buying lesser or better said like buying what you actually need and not necessarily more than that.

Katja (00:35:56):
Yeah. I think that the, Oh God,

Ryn (00:35:59):
It’s just easy to say, and this also extends to even things like wildcrafting, right? It’s easy to look at a stand of plants and say, there’s so much here. This is great. I’m going to have it forever. I’m going to just take all of it. And you know, that’s an impulse we’ve spoken about before on the Pod and how that can lead to a lot of problems when you’re not considering everybody else who may be interested in those herbs; human, animal otherwise. Right. It’s the same with any kind of stuff. It’s the same with any kind of resource that it’s very easy to say, well, a little bit more. Well, just in case, well, what if I need it? Okay.

Katja (00:36:36):
Yeah. I think so much of that comes from this scarcity model and this idea that we think there won’t be enough for us. So one of the things that I really want to be talking about more and be bringing into 2020, is the idea of fostering enough and ways that we can do that as herbalist. We can learn to grow some things and also support the people who grow things like by getting CSA shares or shopping at the farmer’s markets. We can care for plants that are growing in public land. A lot of herbalists go forage and Wildcraft on public lands, but do you also go water those plants in a drought or just in August or July when it’s really dry? Do you just go to get it when you need it? So the idea of fostering the things that you are claiming, really stewarding them and as you do that, as you start to build that kind of a stewardship relationship, I think that becomes its own limiting factor.

Ryn (00:38:03):
Right? And giving back can mean a lot of things, right? Like giving back could mean I gathered some plants from here and then I went back and I put some water, I gave some fertilizer or I did whatever until like actually, you know, support those individuals, plants. It could also be, I gathered some from some public land and now I’m going to take some steps in my community to advocate for better care of public land or different ways of working with public land or expansion of what is done there. Just preservation of public lands that are maybe going to be bought up and turned into condos or whatever. But that feels separate for us maybe, or it feels like, Oh, well it’s not as intimate or not as direct, but it could be, right. Yeah, it could be. It could be extremely important.

Katja (00:38:57):
You know, somebody wrote recently about, Oh, do you teach wildcrafting in your botany course? I was writing back to say, well, it’s kind of problematic because when I teach wildcrafting, the first part of that goes like this. You can’t harvest anything from a piece of land until you have been in active relationship with that land for five years. The actual act of wildcrafting is not hard. If you can operate scissors and a shovel, you can do it. It’s the quelling that human desire to just take, take, take and instead to look at it this way. When you first meet somebody who you’re like, Ooh, I really like this person. I really want to be friends with this person. You do not on the very first time that you meet them, ask them to help you move tomorrow. You don’t do it. You’d be like, Oh no, no, I don’t want to like burden them right off the bat when we’re just starting to build a friendship. You would never do that. I mean, maybe in an emergency situation or something, but that’s not what we do as humans to other humans. So I don’t want to be doing that to other plants like to other beings. Thinking in these ways, if you were like, wait, Katya, you should know a piece of land actively, like actively be in relationship with it for five years before you harvest something that’s completely unreasonable. If that feels unreasonable, then that’s exactly the paradigm shift that I’m talking about. Really meditating on that and what does that mean about the level of relationship we need to be in. By the way, when I first started as an herbalist, I didn’t feel that way. I wasn’t taught that way. I had to learn that and I learned it by making some mistakes and by hurting communities of plants, by over harvesting. I learned it by having my own land and being in relationship with land that I, well in this country we say that we own it, but whatever, that I was a steward of and recognizing my impact because I did see it over time. As I came deeper and deeper into herbalism, those kinds of ideas formed. Now I want to share them, to think about, and maybe not agree with me. That’s okay.

Ryn (00:41:41):
Yeah, no, but a lot of herbalists are thinking about these kind of issues now or speaking about them publicly in various ways. And one thing I’d point y’all to check out is the sustainable herbs project, which has been going on now for a couple of years and has put together some really great material on their website. So we’ll put a link to there in the show notes, but there’s a lot in there about just what are the realities of the herbal supply chains. Like yes, they exist. Like herbalism is many things. One of the things that herbalism is in this country is an industry. So when we think about herbal commerce, we have to think about everything from cut and sifted marshmallow roots all the way up to those questionably herbal adjacent supplements that are going to optimize your testosterone or whatever else, you know. So, some of these are worse offenders than others when it comes to ecological and social justice and equity issues, but none of them are fully exempt. So we need to be as always very thoughtful about where our herbs are coming from, what kind of impacts those harvesting, warehousing, transporting practices, what kind of impacts those are having on the people doing the work on the ground with their hands in the dirt and all the steps along the way there, Also on our society, our culture, our ecology and all of these different factors. That sounds like a lot and it is a lot. That shouldn’t paralyze you but it is something that we need to recognize the complexity of, be thoughtful and intentional about the way that we navigate that. Again, that’s just starts with like understanding the lay of the land. So, again, on the sustainable herbs project website, there’s a lot of good, articles, videos and things about like, how do we get from an herb growing in a field somewhere to a capsule of ginseng extracts that you take. It’s really very enlightening to learn about that journey and all the steps along the way and all the hands that are involved from one end to the other. If nothing else, that can give you an appreciation for the amount of human work, investments and care that goes into that.

Katja (00:44:06):
I’ve really been thinking a lot lately about whether we…hold on I need to sneeze. Pardon me. I’ve been thinking about how wildcrafting has been such an eternal part of herbalism and whether or not it is sustainable for that to remain a part of herbalism as we move forward, as I have watched herbalism literally explode in popularity over the past 20 years. I think that, especially if you’re new to herbalism, it might be hard to see how different it is now than it was 20 years ago or 25 years ago. Of course that’s the extent of my exposure, but you know, going all the way back to the sixties and seventies in this country, and I’m not saying with this, that no one should ever wild harvest anything again, but I do really wonder if it is sustainable for herbalism to continue wildcrafting as part of our tradition. I meditate on that to think about how does that impact my life and the number, like a small number of herbs that I wildcraft. They’re almost all from our own land or that one piece of land by the river where I only take a very small amount of anything, but I wonder if that is what wild harvesting should really become for herbalists. Like something symbolic maybe that we do or ritual, but at any rate, very small scale instead of that being our primary source of herbs now and instead of looking at sustainable herb sourcing and acknowledging that it’s possible that wildcrafting is not sustainable.

Planting in a Post Wild World

Ryn (00:46:07):
Yeah, there’s a fascinating book, that I have not gotten to do more than page through a couple of times. It’s called planting in a Post Wild World.

Katja (00:46:20):
I’m pretty excited about that.

Ryn (00:46:24):
It’s by Thomas Rainer and Claudia West. It’s been out for a little while but it really does talk a lot about this idea that nature has changed fundamentally from the concept that all of us were taught as kids and most kids are still being taught today. Nature as a thing that happens if you go far enough away from the city and you’ll find it out there and it will be in an untouched state. That’s basically not true about anywhere on this planet anymore.

Katja (00:46:52):
Well, and also I think that we need to acknowledge It may not have ever been true or it might’ve been so long ago, but certainly the colonizer myths that we’ve been taught about how white people arrived here and it was just flowing with abundance because it was just naturally that way. That is thoroughly debunked. It was stewarded that way by the indigenous people who stewarded this land before we came and took it. So, I mean there are still some places I’m thinking about far in Alaska, but they want to drill there so are there going to be any more places that are completely whatever it means to be natural? I don’t know.

Ryn (00:47:41):
Yeah, and I think part of the thrust of this book here is that may not be the best way to think about it. For so long Conservation has been focused on this idea of walling off areas and saying, don’t touch, leave it alone or touch it in these particular ways to kill off the invasive species and make it look like it was before 1492 because that’s the turning point in the universe.

Katja (00:48:08):
That is inherent in that myth though, that before 1492, everything was wild in the land we call the United States. Right?

Ryn (00:48:19):
So, a lot of ways that we can shift our perspectives there.

Katja (00:48:23):
The one plant that I depend on wild harvesting is goldenrod because the goldenrod that you get in commerce is mostly leaf. And I prefer mostly flower and on the land that we steward in Royalston is where I harvest goldenrod every year. It is wild harvested because I didn’t put those plants there, but I also have a very active plan for stewarding those plants so that I can have a safe harvest every year. I think that as we think about wildcrafting that’s really what I mean is that we can’t think about it the way that we used to think about it, about like I’ll just wander off in the woods and find some and take it. We need to think about it in terms of like steward harvesting with like hyphenated, that if we are going to harvest something that we did not actively plant, that we are actively stewarding the health of that community and that we are a part of that. That I am actively working to be a part of that goldenrod community.

Ryn (00:49:36):
Yeah. I mean, again, that can look like so many different things. That can look like I’m going to save some seeds here and shake them out into the dirt in a place. I know that this plant likes to grow and it could also mean I’m going to join up with the people who are trying to stop the fracked gas pipeline that’s going to come through this community and make sure that it doesn’t and protect plants for many generations ahead, you know? Yeah. So, you know, and again, we don’t want any of this to feel overwhelming like Holy crap, you guys, there’s about a million different problems that you’ve highlighted in past 20 minutes and I don’t know how to solve all of them and I feel like I have to. So, that leads us to another big thing we would, advocate for as you’re thinking about resolution or intention, which is to pick your battles.

Katja (00:50:20):
Yeah. This year, mental and emotional health, are really, really important to me. These days I feel like it’s just snowballing like issues in emotional health. This year I really want to focus more on creating things in the world that actively support positive emotional health. We’ve been trying to do that already with our social media and with this podcast and our online courses. For 2020, I feel the need to kind of like double down on that intention. To find ways that I can make it more overt and more ways that I can use what we put in the world as a really tangible tool. Like how can I create things that become an emotional lifeline to help people direct their energy and their focus on the positive things that will bring change in their lives and their communities. I don’t mean that in terms of like, just magical positive thinking will make you feel better. But like how can I create positive things that work to help keep people sane and work to give tools to people that will foster more positive things in their lives or foster the antidote to the things that threaten our emotional health.

Ryn (00:51:47):
Yeah. But we can’t each of us fix all of them. Right. So we, it’s good for each of us to kind of pick one or two places to give our focus. That does literally mean to let some things go. Right. To let some things be. You’re not going to say they’re not my problem, but you can’t do everything. So you do need to pick your battles. You need to say, this is what I’m going to focus on. This is what I’m going to think about. This is what I’m going to read about. This is what I’m going to talk about. This is what I’m going to take physical steps with my actual body to make change in the world about. That will be both more productive. Yes. The principle virtue of our society productivity. But it will also well it brings a lot of other things into play for you. it can feel a lot more fulfilling to, to accomplish a narrow goal then to be well-informed and anxious about a million goals.

Katja (00:52:54):
You were saying about how like not my problem. Yeah. And, and then well-informed and anxious about a million goals. Right. I think that it’s fine to be well-informed, but if we recognize that we are a community and that that’s like being a team. So I don’t have to solve every problem because my team, the team of whatever this team is, together we can solve many, many problems. And my part in that, me personally, my part in that is, is through herbalism and through, this kind of work and for somebody else, you know, maybe their part in it is through engineering or maybe somebody else’s partner is through, caring for children. And maybe another piece, like everybody has a role to play and everybody has things that they’re good at and things that are most interesting to them. And it’s okay to focus on those things because you’re part of the team, so you’re not abandoning something. You’re focusing on the best way that you can play your role in the team. Right?

Ryn (00:54:14):
Yeah. As herbalists for instance, we find so many different ways that we can support a community, that we can help an individual, that we can give people the space that they need to go and do their work in the world. Right. Lots and lots of our students are also activists. Lots of our clients are people who are advocating for change, whether that’s within the medical world that they have to navigate or it’s in some other place that they’re able to bring that forward and do that work. They can’t do it if they’re feeling exhausted or if they have diarrhea every day, you know? Right. So you can keep that in mind too. You can say like, I’m interested in learning about herbalism. I’m interested in helping people get healthy. That’s a force multiplier, right? That’s a ripple in the pond, right? those things spread and they have impacts the go a lot further. So, one of the things I find with a lot of herbalists is that we’re, many of us are pretty keyed into these questions around ecological sustainability and social justice and so on and can sometimes feel like, Oh man, I didn’t go to the three marches that happened on the same day last weekend. I only signed 10 petitions today instead of my usual 27. It can feel like you’re not doing enough. And I like to remind people that working with herbs, teaching about herbs, helping people find the writer for them, that work counts for a lot. It goes beyond that one moment.

Katja (00:55:44):
Every person that you help, even if it is just somebody in your office with a headache and you make them a cup of tea, is one more person whose resources are freed up to work on whatever it is that they’re working on as part of this big team effort that feels very impactful to me. Yeah.

Ryn (00:56:13):
So, you know, we can’t tell you what it, the thing you know, should be for you. We think herbalism is pretty great and since you’re listening to this pod, probably do too. So there’s lots of ways to explore that. Maybe there’s something else that’s really going to grab you and I kind of wonder, I can’t tell you what it should be for you, but can I help you know that you found it? Hmm.

Katja (00:56:41):
Or maybe thoughts on how to find it. For me really a big key there is to allow yourself to say no to some things. Again, that is not the same as saying it’s somebody else’s problem. It is acknowledging that we are a team and that you don’t have to do the work of the entire team. That’s neither appropriate nor actually helpful because you’ll burn out really fast. You only have to do the work that is your work. So maybe that is enough to free you up to say I am going to pick the one thing or maybe the two things that interest me the very most because if you are super interested in passionate in something, it will be easier. Like your energy will naturally be moving in that direction. You won’t have to necessarily make yourself do something because your interest is already there. So the desire is there. if you focus on that, it is more comfortable. For some people it’s really hard because there’s a lot of interests. So maybe you let yourself let go of some issues, especially the ones that are already well-represented in your area. Then you can look at what’s left and of the things that are left, you can ask are there any things that other people are already skilled at, but they just need resources to scale up what they’re doing. Maybe that’s something that you don’t need to necessarily be involved in, that you could just contribute resources to. So that would cross another level of things off the list and from what’s left, maybe there’s four things left and maybe at that point you can say, okay, I’m going to pick one this year or two and really focus on those.

The Importance of Community

Ryn (00:58:35):
Yeah. But again, you know, it’s okay that you’re not doing everything. You never will do everything and it’s much more potent to find something and really, really get movement on it and keep your focus on it over a longer period of time. Part of what happens here too is that you’ve been picking your battles, right? And now you’ve chosen one and you’re going out there and doing it and the people who are in that battle with you are going to become a community for you. Right? You are taking steps to join that community through your actions and taking steps to create that community. Right. Yeah. And that kind of brings us to another big, big thing we wanted to talk about in the context of resolution and intention and all that is that community here makes a really big difference, in, in what you can accomplish and in how you’re going to feel about it while you do it.

Katja (00:59:26):
One thing that I’m really focused on for the coming year is to build more ways for people to be supported in community. So in 2019 we focused a lot on creating online community support. I’m still really committed to growing almost like an online Haven for herbal support. A place where you know you have allies, you know that you have people surrounding you who are in this with you. Then for the coming year, I really want to grow that further and take direct actions that will enable people to build groups of real people, like tangible people in their own community working together to learn to care for themselves and the rest of the community. So I want to be creating more tools that allow people to get very local with their herbalism. I want to start building ways for people to study herbalism together with their friends. Even maybe friends who aren’t initially interested in herbalism. You might be surprised how many people actually are and you might not realize that right off the bat. But the more that we can work together to support our own tangible communities, the more that we all come together, that helps us to see the humanity in each one of us. But it helps us to see the places where we have support that maybe we didn’t think we did or places where we have commonality that maybe we didn’t think we did. The thing is that when we can find any common ground, suddenly other walls break down and other barriers break down and we start to realize that actually there’s a lot more common ground than we think. That actually, honestly, almost all people, if they see someone suffering, they are moved by that. Sometimes we just need to remind people like, Hey, you’re moved by that and there’s actions you can take. Like compassion is an option. So that’s something that I want to be focusing on. I feel also that there’s less and less stability in what is, provided to support communities. I feel like it’s more and more clear that we need to support ourselves in our communities. We need to be providing what we need. Maybe it’s always been that way. Like a long time ago, people were like, communities had to be self-sufficient because there wasn’t a red cross or FEMA or whatever to come and help them. Then we realized like, Hey, those would be good things to have and now we’re realizing, Hey, the red cross can’t help everyone because there’s too many hurricanes and whatever, and I guess we’re going to have to help ourselves. So, I don’t know, maybe we’ve always been the ones that we’ve been waiting for. That’s what I’m saying.

Ryn (01:02:59):
It is helpful though to build these kinds of networks for people to care for each other and have compassion with each other. It can be hard. It can be lonely. There’s a lot of people taking care of their parents. There’s a lot of people taking care of kids, lots of people doing both at the same time, you know? That can be a really heavy burden if you’re standing alone. If you’re standing in a community of other people that are going to share that with you, then it can feel really different.

Katja (01:03:30):
Yeah, there’s that feeling of isolation and feeling like I’m the only one to do this work. There’s no one to help me. It is so depressing, but when we are in community, even if the community is long distance but especially if we can make it local, the energy that it takes to create a local community of people who are caring for others, whether that is because you want to do it in a volunteer sort of way or because you are obligated to do it because you’re caring for your elderly parents or you’re caring for young children or whatever. Doing that in groups is more comfortable. It is less draining, it is healthier for everybody involved. So that’s a thing that I really want to provide tools for people to use, like models to build those kinds of local groups, tools to make it easier to create that kind of community in their local space, not just a place they can come online where we will support that. Sometimes you just need somebody to support you. I want to still be there for that, but I also want to be able to say, and here’s a toolkit that has lots of great ideas and lots of methods where you can create tangible support for you in your local space.

Ryn (01:05:14):
Yeah. Great. Feeling less isolation, more connection. Giving people a space where they can focus more on some real skills that are grounding and helpful and are going to be carried on forward from there. It makes things a little more tangible, right. Ways that people who want to be helpful can really find them. Yeah. Some kind of creative outlet for that. So, that all sounds great. You may be wondering, yes, but how, how, how though, how do I do that? I’m in rural Iowa and nobody around here cares about plants and I’m surrounded by corn and I don’t know what to do. How can I actually accomplish this?

Katja (01:05:58):
Well, that’s one of my goals for 2020 is to at least once a month be sharing a really tangible, actionable idea for local community building. So here’s the first one, and it’s actually one of my favorite ones because it not only builds community, but it can also help fund your herbal education, which is appropriate. It is appropriate for your community to fund you learning how to help them, right? That’s fantastic and it can make your education stick better. This is herbal surprise boxes. So I wrote a whole blog about it and you can find it at Commonwealth herbs.com/blog. Oh, it’s right now it’s the second post, but it’s called “how to pay for your herbal education with herbal surprise boxes”. It is really one of my favorite things because surprise boxes are really popular right now. and people enjoy getting a little treat every month. So for a very small amount of money, if you have friends and family who would enjoy getting a treat. They might not even know anything about herbalism. And might not even think that they’re interested in herbalism, but everybody likes to get a treat. So if you create once a month, a little treat box for them, you can be sharing simple things. You can just share a bottle of bitters and your friends might not think they’re delicious, but they certainly will notice that after a week they’re digesting their food better. So it’s a way for you to be sharing things in a really tangible way. A lot of times when we share our enthusiasm about herbalism because it’s outside of other people’s experience, it’s hard for them to relate. But this way, if you make it be part of their experience, then suddenly they, they may not realize that they’re getting interested in herbalism, but they are. So I think that is really, really cool. There’s a whole blog about all the steps to do, to implement this. Of course, you can also ask about it in the live Q and A sessions that we do for all of our online students. It also doesn’t have to be something that you do for money. you know, it’s really cool to do this as a way to crowdsource your education and because every month you’re creating something that you learned that month it’s also is a way to make that education stick more because instead of just reading about it or watching the video or whatever, you actually did it. So that it really internalizes the learning for you. You can do this in a free version too if you have the resources to do that. If there’s a need in your community or even if you just have friends and you just want to make surprise boxes for them, you don’t have to charge them money if you don’t want to. You also could organize a group of people to make things together. So for example, you could make gift bags for people who don’t have homes and they could include things like socks and toiletries. Also fun things like herbal cough syrup or herbal throat lozenges. I’m thinking about like in the herbal medicine making course, we have close up step-by-step videos on making marshmallow throat lozenges that are marshmallow and honey. And I think there’s like just a smidge of ginger in there. But I’m thinking you could also put some maybe cinnamon powder and some Rose hips ground up in there and that way you be providing like sore throat support and also a lot of vitamin C and antioxidants, which is going to be so beneficial for someone who has housing insecurity or food insecurity. That it’s something that is going to soothe their sore throat and also be providing nourishment. So there’s so many ways that you can do this sort of thing to be acting on the stuff that you’re learning and creating local benefit and also local community through it.

Ryn (01:10:34):
There can be lucky ways to do this. You can start with Tea time. You could have a practice of every now and then or a certain day a week, you invite some friends over, you have some tea, have a treat, some nice music, spend a little time being intentionally not overstimulated. Leave your phones in this box kind of thing. Right. Just to be there together, share what’s on your mind, see what other people are thinking about. Give them a chance to teach you something. You know, there’s lots of things that can happen at tea time.

Katja (01:11:06):
Even just a chance to talk about things. We hear so much and have to listen to every podcast about, well, I mean listen to our podcasts cause that’s really good, but I have to listen to all the ones so I know what’s going on and all this stuff. Sometimes we don’t have the opportunity to express. We’re taking a lot in, but we’re maybe not expressing the things that we need to say. Sometimes just having a real conversation is so helpful. Providing the space for that in your group of friends. Intentionally providing a container for people to be able to talk about what they need to talk about that is tremendously, tremendously healing. It could be something as simple as Chamomile Tea. That’s just the mechanism at that point.

Ryn (01:12:07):
All right. Well, like you said, we’ll be sharing some more actionable ideas for local community building throughout this whole year in the newsletter or social media and in the pod. So stay tuned. Yes. One thing I would like to throw in here as a resident, melancholic, night wanderer is that, sometimes alone time is really important and that too is something that we can have intention about and think a little critically about it. I want my isolation time to be high quality. Just like when I’m spending time with somebody, I don’t want to kind of zone out and just stare at my phone the whole time. If I’m going to spend time with myself, with my environments or with a forest, then I want to be there with myself, with my forest, with my environment, whatever it is. So I don’t necessarily want to spend all of my alone time just scrolling through Twitter feed on the infinite loop and feeling upset that I can’t do anything about the terrible stuff happening in China or down the street. Feeling discouraged that things aren’t changing fast enough for my liking and in the right direction as far as I’m concerned. So I’m going to have some downtime. I want it to be with intention, right? With that focus maybe outside in the forest with my dog in awe of the natural beauty of the sunset and the Crescent moon. Right. That would be pretty great. The idea is just that this too is something that we need. Like humans need community. Humans also need some private time and we can be intentional about both sides of that spectrum.

Katja (01:13:53):
Hey, herbs can help.

Ryn (01:13:57):

Herbs to Work with in 2020

Katja (01:13:58):
You know, last year we had, when we did our resolutions episode, we had some herbs to strengthen our resolve. I really like the idea of carrying that forward and thinking about some herbs to bring into 2020 with us.

Ryn (01:14:20):
Yeah. Last year I looked this up before we started, we talked about elecampane, tulsi with Goldenrod, Sage and ginseng. So if you want to hear more on that then go back a year and check out our new year’s episode last time around. I still think those are all pretty great herbs as far as resolve goes and willpower. There are others. So what do you want to start with today?

Katja (01:14:47):
Well in terms of in 2020 and when I’m thinking about what kind of year 2020 is going to be and what kind of needs I am imagining are going to be. You know, just like sort of when we see which plants are super abundant in the growing season, that’s like the old wisdom is, well those are the plants you’re going to need to get through the winter. I’m sort of thinking about, well, what plants are we going to need to get through this year? Three plants that I want to focus on in 2020, one of them is hawthorn because I think that a lot of us are tired already. Especially in thinking about intention, how we want to live and how we want to build community and how we want to bring compassion into the world. Whether that is through how we consume, don’t consume things, how we build community or how we even retreat and spend time for ourselves, There is some heartache because a lot of things are not going in compassionate ways in our world right now. I really want to bring hawthorn in for strengthening the heart and nourishing the parts of our heart space that need to be nourished for the losses that we have experienced so far. but also to make us strong in our intention and in the work that we want to do in the coming years, this year in particular. Actually all of these things are things I want to do forever. This is just the year that I’m going to work on getting really good at them. I am thinking of course, of tulsi, which incidentally we had in there last year too. Tulsi for staying positive and not getting stuck in places that are, and enstucking. Tulsi is one of those herbs that helps you keep moving and helps you to not fall into a place where all you see is the darkness and all you see is your failure to create what you’re trying to build in the world. All you see is the ways that it isn’t going to work, but instead to keep you moving towards, Hey, I had an Apple today. That was great. It doesn’t matter what else happened like I did one movement. I am in that space of movement and of progression. So that is a form of support that I would really like to bring into this year. The last one that I really want to bring into this year is jiaogulan. Partially because jiaogulan is a plant and we’ve talked about it a bunch of times. It’s a plant that really supports endurance and nourishes endurance. So that is I think something that is definitely required for these intentions, but also because jiaogulan is an embodiment of some of the things that we have been talking about. So I like to get jiaogulan from the Kings world project in Thailand and that is a large swath. It’s larger than a piece. It is a large region we’ll say, of land that has been set aside specifically for the farming of jiaogulan as an alternative to the farming of opium poppy. The reason that this project was started was because it’s very dangerous to be a farmer who can’t make a living any other way than by growing opium poppy. Now the people that you have to work with are dangerous for you and your family. This is not just dangerous for the farmers, but especially for their daughters. Well, I mean also for their sons too because they get dragged into the trafficking side of things. It’s very dangerous for the daughters because they often are used to pay debts and sold into marriage or other less, even less appealing things. So by providing organic farm space for jiaogulan and then recognizing that in the United States, and in westernized countries, that are relearning about herbalism there is an emerging market for jiaogulan. They’re providing a profitable crop that improves the lives of farmers. So that is super exciting to me. Normally I like to work with herbs that are local and jiaogulan is local. In fact, I’m sitting here in the living room. We have a big pot with jiaogulan growing right there by the window. It doesn’t love this climate, but it’s doing its best. I feel really excited to support this particular project. I feel like that even though it isn’t local, it really meets my intentions. It’s a reasonable thing to ship because it’s lightweight and you can ship a lot for a little bit of carbon. So that’s, I think, a good trade off. It really does provide that endurance that we’re going to need to do this work.

Ryn (01:20:57):
Nice. Yeah. Wonderful plant. Well my herb to strengthen resolve for this year has got to be the evergreens, cedar, pine, hemlock, all of these trees.

Katja (01:21:08):
Yeah. You just gifted me some Douglas fir from the very last box that Rebecca Altman made. The very last herbal surprise box that she made and it has Douglas fir in it. I’m very excited about. So delicious.

Ryn (01:21:29):
Thank you Kings road apothecary for your years of service. Well, for me, this is kind of twofold. So on the one hand, whenever I do taste these plants, tea or tincture or whatever else. Or we have some incense, with pine resins and others evergreen resins. Just the smell of them I find to be fortifying and stimulating in a way of like, not overstimulation or jitteriness just like, I’m ready, let’s go.

Katja (01:22:01):
Fortified stimulation, you know, like awakening.

Ryn (01:22:05):
Yeah. For me, it’s also because I’ve been spending this past year climbing a lot of trees. If you’ve been with us this whole time, then you might vaguely remember that was one of my resolutions last year was to climb a tree every day. Here we are at the end of the year and I’ve pretty much done it. I missed a few days here and there, but made up for it on the other ones. I think I’m about around that 360 number. I’m pretty close but, it’s been so good for me to get outside at least once a day, every day, find a tree go up. I’d become really attached to Pines and hemlocks because they have just very handy branches. If you can get to the bottom branch, you can get the rest of the way up there, really high. You get up there, you’re up above the other trees and just breathing in the smell coming right off of those leaves. It’s amazing. So that’s been my happy place for a while and certainly because of that relationship with the living plant growing out there in the world and its own environment. Having those sensory experiences with it, feeling the bark on my hands and getting the retinol over every pair of pants I own. It’s just like being out there with them. Then when I do smell the incense or drink the tea, it’s just that much more meaningful to me, you know? So, yeah, a lot to that. I would encourage you to develop your own relationship with these plants, whether it’s in a teacup or out there in the woods, a park or doing a little climbing. It’s really meant a lot to me this year. I think it will mean a lot to you too.

Katja (01:23:45):
Yeah, I think about that even again with regard to stewardship. Eastern hemlock is a plant that is at risk. There are some diseases and some bugs that affect it and that is a larger problem in the Southeast than it is up here in the Northeast, but it’s coming. And the Land in Royalston has a lot of really beautiful Eastern hemlock trees and learning about how we keep them safe and healthy is really important work. Also, sort of like the full circle of being in relationship with that, I was going to say what that plant, it’s a tree but trees are plants. Yeah. Just as a note here, if you’re hearing us say hemlock and you’re thinking, wait, isn’t that poisonous? There are two plants that are referred to as hemlock. One is a tree and one is in the parsley family and that’s actually water hemlock. That is the poisonous one. The tree is not poisonous. I completely forgot to assemble the shout outs into the show notes and there are some out there. So for right now, I will say a huge shout out to every single one of you, even if you’ve never contacted us, you’re not a supporter or even if you are. Even if this is the first time that you’re listening to us, I am so grateful for you and I’m so grateful that you’re thinking about the stuff that we’re saying. You don’t have to agree with at all. That’s totally fine. I’m just grateful to be in this conversation with you and we really do read every email and we try to reply to them, even if occasionally it’s slow. We really do read every comment on social media. We try to reply to those all too, even if it’s slow. We really appreciate you. So I will have all of the actual direct shutouts assembled for the very first podcast episode of 2020, which is our next episode.

Ryn (01:26:04):
Yeah. We’re going to get started next year by talking about herbs that can help you go through a whole 30. Even though sometimes an Apple a day is all the diet change that you need, sometimes you do want to overhaul everything. So, the whole 30 is our favorite way to do that with diets for a whole bunch of reasons. We’ll talk all about them, but we’re going to specifically talk about some herbs that can help you get through a big, comprehensive diet change plan a little more easily, a little more happily…

Katja (01:26:40):
A little more comfortably.

Ryn (01:26:41):
So that’s our plan for next week.

Katja (01:26:43):
Look at us with a topic a whole week ahead of time!

Ryn (01:26:47):
Planning. Yes. All right. So, that’s it for us. That’s it for this year. We’ll be back next week with two more holistic herbalism podcasts and we’ll be here all through 2020 to keep you going.

Katja (01:27:03):
Take a break from the things that are overstimulating you and have a cup of tea with us.

Ryn (01:27:10):
Yeah. So thanks for listening this year and we’ll see you next year. Bye.

Katja (01:27:15):
Bye. Happy new year.


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