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Jump In The Boat


I don’t think I can even count the number of times I learned something new, got completely excited about it, jumped in the boat with both feet, wobbled there for a bit, and then fell off. I used to get really frustrated with myself about that, because I took it as testimony to my lack of will power, my poor commitment, my generalized schlemieliness, etc. It was so disheartening to know that I somehow couldn’t manage to stick with things that I knew really mattered.

Over the years, though, I’ve spent some time watching myself and my choices, and this is what I’ve learned: falling off a good boat the first time you try getting in is just part of changing. The reality is, if it really is a good boat, it’ll come around again. You’ll try it again, stay in a little longer, and fall off. Time will pass, it’ll come around again, and eventually you’ll stay in for good! It takes time to incorporate anything, even wonderfully marvelous things, into our lives, our habits, and our routines.

One great boat we jumped into and fell out of for years before sticking with it permanently was essential oils and herbal medicine. When we first learned about essential oils, they sounded like the best thing since sliced bread: all-natural miracle liquids that could do everything from calming your cranky child to stopping life threatening viruses in their tracks. What’s not to like? So, we jumped on with both feet: we bought several great reference guides and about 25 different oils that all sounded amazing. We started using them and had some great experiences: one of the girls got stung by a wasp, we slapped on some lavender oil and, hey presto, down went the swelling and away went the pain; we had a round of colds and eucalyptus radiata did amazing things for stuffy noses; etc. Unfortunately, we only seemed to use a few of the oils and the rest of them languished away, losing their potency as the months passed and my guilt about buying them mounted. We ran into a few sicky bugs that were scary and we ran for the old trusted drugs out of fear. We also started questioning the sustainability of essential oils in general. Being the self-reliant people we are, we got a steam distiller so we could make our own oils and discovered that it takes a whopping lot of plant material to make any measurable quantity of oil. Hmmmm.

As time went on we kept using the oils off and on and the number of our positive experiences with essential oils increased. Cut fingers healed in record time, sick tummies were soothed, etc. Our trust in them grew and our knowledge expanded. We learned about herbs and herbal decoctions, we learned about pine sap for wounds, yarrow for bleeding, and plantain for stings. We taught our children and they began using plants without our pushing it.

Now, I can happily say we haven’t used any standard medicine for many years (with the exception of one allergic reaction that we used some Benadryl for. If anyone knows a really great and effective natural antihistamine I’d love to hear about it). Not that there aren’t moments of fear where we want to run for the drugs, but we know enough and have had enough experiences that we know the herbs and oils will do their job. In fact, last time we were up at Peaceful Valley scouting out barn locations, Maren got a wound on her foot and when she told us about it she’d already bled it clean, washed it off, found some pinesap to seal it up and cushioned it with mullein. Pretty amazing! That was a wonderful in the boat experience. Wahoo!

Our experience with natural medicine gives me confidence that all of the other boats that I’m still in the in-again-fall-off-again relationship with, will sort themselves out in the end. The things that really matter will stick around and the things that don’t will drop away. My job is to give myself a break from self-imposed guilt, be curious about the growth process, and, most importantly, have joy in the journey!

The final take-away? Jump in the boat and start the process of change!

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