An integrative approach to healing ourselves and our world: honoring people, plants, planet

Archive for the ‘Medicinal & Edible Plant Walks’ Category

Looking Backward and Forward

January, the first month of the year, is thought to get its name from the Roman god Janus, “the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, frames, and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces” (Wikipedia). Wikipedia also writes that “Janus presided over the beginning and ending of conflict, and hence war and peace. The gates of a building in Rome named after him (not a temple, as it is often called, but an open enclosure with gates at each end) were opened in time of war, and closed to mark the arrival of peace (which did not happen very often).”

We are at a point this January where we looking backwards and forwards, and we’re also still in this liminal, in-between space of no longer and not yet. The vaccine has arrived, yet the virus is raging worse than ever. There is an end of a presidency and the start of a new one, and currently we’re kind of in a place of both and neither. For the Janus-like looking at beginnings/endings, war/peace, life/death, and transitions, I’m reflecting on 2020 and announcing what is to come in 2021.

2020 Looking Back

“There must … be something great in the mortal soul. For suffering, it seems, is infinite, and our capacity without limit.” 

― C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces  

“Holy places are dark places. It is life and strength, not knowledge and words, that we get in them. Holy wisdom is not clear and thin like water, but thick and dark like blood.” 

― C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces  

“Death opens a door out of a little, dark room (that’s all the life we have known before it) into a great, real place where the true sun shines and we shall meet.” 

― C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces  

Here we are at the beginning of a new year following a year that will always be held with a difference. We’ve all experienced the uncertainty with a full range of emotions while navigating the way, moment-to-moment, of how to respond. So much of what we’ve gone through reminds me of the meaning in C.S. Lewis’ book Till We Have Faces, that we are confronting the delusions we hold in our mind and apply to life, ourselves and others. When 2020 was a new year and decade, people spoke of 2020 vision. We didn’t know it, yet, on January 1, 2020, but we were definitely going to see things more clearly. 

This year has been one of loss for everyone, but for some, it has been an experience of great loss, isolation and tremendous suffering. We have lost loved ones; we have lost years of socialization, which has been so harmful for all of us, but mostly for the youngest and oldest; we have lost milestone events that are rites of passage; we have lost businesses, music venues, restaurants. We have lost the freedom to hug.

I am humbled by the resilience and grace with which many have faced this loss. I am welcoming self-compassion, self-gratitude and acknowledgment for how I have been transformed through this experience. I invite you to join me in taking a deep bow to yourself for coping as well as you did and discovering insights about yourself along the way.

Living and adapting to life through a pandemic hasn’t been all suffering. Many of us uncovered in the stillness, and quiet, a new pace that allowed for us to connect to oneself and others in more satisfying ways. We were made to be and allowed to be alone, which caused loneliness, and also gave us access to parts of ourselves that often evade our grasp when in the company of others. We found permission (thank you, COVID), to be an introvert, to not be the one who always has to travel to Thanksgiving, to say no to gathering with casual associations or to accommodating the people in our life out of guilt, fear and obligation. We found permission to be intentional about with whom we share our breathtime. We found permission to rest, to take long walks with the dogs, kids, and close friends. We gave ourselves permission to get dirty planting a garden and harvesting the goods for canning. We were slowed down enough to enjoy with presence a spring, summer and fall season that to me were each superlative as being exceptionally lovely, which leaves me wondering, were the spring ephemeral flowers more profuse, was the summer temperature more mild, were the fall leaves more stunning, or was I paying more attention, and therefore, more able to experience delight, beauty, awe and wonder? There was space, and permission granted for once, to do something different.

You know, the brain loves novelty. Newness keeps our brains active. Relationships need fresh perspective, flexibility, freedom to show up or not show up out of mutual respect and emotional nurturance. Many of us, though not without pain, have stretched our brains to experience personal growth through the Pandemic. 

Another COVID adjustment that has brought positive insight and growth has been healing from a bad case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Having anxiety about what to do with all the options was eliminated suddenly. In its place grew more intentional awareness of one’s choices and agency of what to do, or not do. Also, many people chose to turn off social media and instead, chose to read, walk, meditate, cook, garden, or be with someone in person or on Zoom or talk on a real phone call. Those with children, though challenging, have found that this time of slowing down, staying home, and not shuttling the kids around to all the things has been a time to be savored. Without all the distractions, noise and busyness of “normal” life, we were able to sustain our attention long enough to focus on what really matters.

Again, I invite each of you to place your hands on your heart and take a deep bow for what you have been through. 

2021  Looking Forward

February 1st, Whole Idea Healing: psychotherapy, mindfulness & herbal medicine will relocate to 513 East Main Street, Chattanooga, TN 37408. (423) 240-4578

For 15 years, I have held the intention of practicing in a space capable of hosting psychotherapy sessions, herbal classes, groups, and meditation sits, while also being able to formulate made-to-order botanical medicine blends and retail some of my popular formulas. All of these things I have offered over the years, but starting February 1st they’ll be able to be consolidated under one roof at the new location on the corner of Main Street and Adams Street. There is parking on Adams Street on the side of the house. If it’s ever full, there is street parking on Main Street on the other side of the street. There is a fenced backyard, so when weather permits, I will offer classes, meditation sits and workshops in the backyard. Stay tuned for events, which will, of course, be mindful of safety. 

I am excited to announce that also in February 2021, I am beginning the two-year Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program led by Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield. I was introduced to mindfulness in the year 2000 through a teacher retreat. In 2003, I began to seriously practice mindfulness meditation. Over the decades, I have deepened my practice and blended it with psychotherapy. My intention is to continue to deepen my own practice, and also to refine my skills as a meditation teacher. It’s a great honor to be able to learn from Tara and Jack. 

Whole Idea Healing, the name I first gave my herbal medicine and therapy practice in 2005, will be revived with a new home and an old/new vision. Whole Idea Healing will be a place for mindfulness, therapy and botanical medicine. 

Also on the horizon in 2021, I will be breathing life back into Forest Bathing, mindful nature walks and backpacking programs. We will need to have fewer COVID cases for backpacking, but I am hopeful that that will happen later this year. 

Questions to ask yourself in this time of looking back and looking forward: 

What is something I see more clearly?

What am I letting go of in order to cross through the next threshold? 

What am I intentionally bringing with me? 

What choices will I make in 2021 based on what I experienced in 2020? 

Until we see each other again, stay healthy. And may you have peace, comfort and wisdom this year. 

whole idea healing     513 East Main Street, Chattanooga, TN 37408

3 Spring Wildflower & Medicinal Plant Walks to show a BIG THANK YOU to Lookout Mountain Conservancy

Lookout Mountain Conservancy purchased from a developer around 60 acres on the side of Lookout Mountain, which included an informal trail to Glenn Falls, and now it’s protected for generations to enjoy and appreciate. Plus, from the perspective of the creatures who have no voice, this purchase protects the habitat for the many spring ephemeral wildflowers on these trails, and the really special spring migratory birds who come through in April and May, and all the other creatures who live there. Not to mention the steep slope protection that will maintain the integrity of the hillsides.

To show my deep gratitude, and to provide a way for others to show how grateful they are to LMC, I’m leading a Spring series of wildflower/medicinal plant ID walks. My hope is that these walks will also help anyone who is interested in learning the plants in their neighborhood to appreciate this great gift even more.

We might be able to make this a Citizen Science, iNaturalist thing, too, with documenting the species we see. Any advice on that is welcome.

Suggested donation is $10-20, or more!, and all of it goes to Lookout Mtn Conservancy. Lookout Mountain Conservancy doesn’t just protect land, they grow people. If you’re not familiar with what the organization does, read about them on their website.

Hope to see you on the trail!

3 Spring Walks, come to one or all:
Sunday, March 22nd at 2pm, meet at Glenn Falls Trailhead
Friday, April 17th at 10am, meet at Guild Trail Lot Trailhead
Sunday, May 10th at 2pm, meet at Glenn Falls Trailhead


Women’s 2020 Nature Retreat: 3-Day Effect in Nature, Disconnect & Reconnect

Spring Renewal Self-Acceptance Retreat for Women, April 6-7, 2019

Self-Acceptance Retreat, April 6-7, Johnson Woods Lodge in McDonald, TN near Cleveland. An overnight, nature-based retreat for women who have survived trauma, led by Holli Richey and Bonnie Cretton. Bonnie is the founder of Woodsong Forest School. Experiences include, Forest Bathing (mindful walk in nature opening senses to nature’s elements to calm and soothe our mind and body), gentle yoga, herbal identification walks, herbal tea blends, meditation. Meals are included. Lodge setting, but must bring linens, yoga mat, comfortable outdoor clothing. Space is limited. Register with Holli by March 25th, 423-240-4578.

Into the Wild: A Wise Woman Herbal Gathering

On top of the beautiful Lookout Mountain in Northwest Georgia, we will be gathering for a wonderful herbal experience this September. I will be teaching a class on Herbs for Stress and leading a Forest Bathing experience to calm our nerves and enliven our senses. I’m excited that herbalists Ila Hatter and Lauren Haynes will be leading herb walks and teaching medicine making. You won’t want to miss this herbal gathering for women.

For more information and to register click here for the Into the Wild Herbal Gathering.


Upcoming Plant walk at The Pocket/Shirley Miller Wildflower Trail with Georgia Herbalist Guild, March 19th, 10am in Parking lot.

Early Spring Ephemerals at The Pocket: Virginia Bluebells, Spicebush, Dutchman’s Breeches, Bloodroot.

Why Wilderness?

Tellico Wild reconnects people with the wilderness.

In August 2015, Tennessee’s Wildside adventured into the Tennessee Citico Wilderness to film naturalists and people seeking a day of reconnecting with their wild side. Bill and Laura Hodge organized the event, sponsored by Wild South and SAWS. I was honored to have Tennessee Wildside come along to film the edible and medicinal plant hike I led to Fall Branch Falls. This is one of my favorite areas in East Tennessee’s Wilderness region. Medicinal plants abound right at the trailhead and throughout the entire hike. In August, it is a cool, moist day in the 70s, a refuge in the southern heat.

It’s winter now as I post this, but at the end of February, the earliest of spring ephemeral wildflowers will soon emerge. Once the days start getting longer after the winter solstice, I’m already dreaming of spring wildflowers. I post this now to remind us of the beauty to come, and urge people to get out and enjoy our precious wilderness areas in 2017. I’ll be leading some edible and medicinal hikes this year. Stay tuned!

And PLEASE! contact TN Congressman Chuck Fleischmann to tell him to sign the Tennessee Wilderness Act. It takes an act of congress to protect Wilderness forever, which is a forever “thank you” to those who made it happen. Wilderness is where you can lose your urban worries, and find the wild heartbeat in your soul. Don’t you think we need that right now?

To watch the 5 minute video on Tellico Wild, including some of my hike, click this link:

I hope you make it out into the wilderness this year. You can be transformed in just one hike.


Cumberland Trail State Park Spring Festival


Join me for an edible & medicinal wildflower walk at North Chick Creek near Ivy Academy, April 16th, 10:30 am. We will caravan from Ivy Academy. $5 per person/$10 per family. For more information go to Cumberland Trail’s Facebook Page and The Friends of the Cumberland Trail website.

Edible and Medicinal Plants Walk in the Cherokee National Forest, Citico Creek Wilderness, TN

Standing at the base of Fall Branch Falls in the Citico Creek Wilderness of the Cherokee National Forest with a young naturalist. Photo by Pat Byington, 2014.

Standing at the base of Fall Branch Falls in the Citico Creek Wilderness of the Cherokee National Forest with a young naturalist. Photo by Pat Byington, 2014.

Looking for some exploration in our big backyard? TN Wild is hosting the Tellico Wild Festival in Tellico Plains, Tennessee, with lots of fun, nature-loving things to do Friday, July 31st – Sunday, August 2nd. I’ll be leading an Edible and Medicinal Plants Walk on Saturday. The Edible/Medicinal Hike is currently full with a waitlist, but there are many great hikes, boating adventures, and learning events going on throughout the weekend. This is the place to cool off in the heat of high summer, while also supporting the coolest regional land conservation group around. TN Wild advocates for the passage of the Tennessee Wilderness Act sponsored by Sen. Lamar Alexander, which increases the Wilderness designation of land already held by the National Forest Service. The Poster for TN Wild’s Tellico Wild event. And detailed list of events each day of Tellico Wild Festival. 

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