Learning herbalism made me dig deep and not just in the soil


Don’t have enough time or energy to study herbalism?

I hear ya.

Here’s how I did it.

Taking a year-long intensive Master Herbalism Program (MHP) seemed manageable considering I had some of the requirements finished by taking beginner and intermediate sessions with the instructor. I had loads of self-study experience so I felt I had a head start of the 1700-1900 hours needed.

Here’s what else I was doing during that time:

  • Working 40 hours a week
  • Helping to take care of a household with a 1-and-a-half-year-old and a five-year-old, 2 cats, a vegetable and flower garden to boot.
  • Picked a side job to pay the course
  • And just all other life-in-general “stuff”

About 6 months in all my life duties and coursework were sucking the f-u-n out of everything. To be honest, I was exhausted – mentally, physically, spiritually. Everything became a to-do list.

 To continue in the MHP I had to find a way to put the f-u-n back into the learning process and re-connect with the LOVE for herbalism and plants.

I didn’t want to quit. I couldn’t. This was my dream. My “if you could do anything right now, what would it be?” dream. I asked for an extension from my instructor, “I just need 3-6 months extra to finish.” She asked me a crucial question, “Will the things keeping you from finishing be gone in 3-6 months?” Nope. Everything would still be there. Her compassionate voice continued, “If those things are still there then what makes you think 3-6 months will help you?” She was right.


I asked myself the hard question – What is holding me back? Is anything holding me back? I didn’t THINK my way to the answer. I tuned into my body and FELT my way to the answer.

  • I don’t have enough time or energy.
  • Lack of sleep is causing my anxiety to flare up and suck the energy out of me. I’m too anxious!!
  • My house will get to messy if I ignore the tasks at hand.
  • Me and my family’s healthy diet will suffer if I stop spending so much time preparing healthy meals and snacks
  • My work will suffer and my place of employment and I’ll get fired.
  • I’m a bad Mom for working so much.
  • I’m not a good herbalist anyway.
  • I’ll never recoup my financial cost of the course fees, books, and supplies I’m buying.
  • Do herbs really work??? Ack! This one was hard for me to admit.

Here’s what I did.

I EMBRACED different thoughts by changing my feelings. I closed my eyes and imagined what  f-u-n  would FEEL like. I held onto that feeling and imagined what it would LOOK like in my life.


I looked back at my experience as a first-generation, low-income college student earning a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree.  When I felt exhausted from wrestling my negative self-talk, working 1-2 jobs, full-time course work, research, presenting at conferences, paying bills, relationship woes, etc., etc. I asked myself, “How did I get through that? I had the same thoughts and feelings then. What did I do to get myself through it?”

I’d always go back to the things that gave me the most joy and feeling of connection. I focused what I LOVE by focusing on the FEELING. Then I hold that feeling as I think of solutions. Beautiful, magical things happen when I use the process. I get creative, new solutions I’ve never thought of before. And another key ingredient gets activated – I get the courage to implement those ideas.  


This very blog post you are reading is an example of this process. I asked myself in a whiny voice, “How can I get people to understand my ecourse? How can I get them to buy it?” I held on to the feeling of seeing people’s face light up when they understand a new concept or learn a new plant.

The answer surfaced – “Move beyond the “selling” mentality. That’s not the main purpose anyway. Compensation is good, yes, but your main goal is to help other people move beyond the self-defeating thoughts and behaviors that come up when learning herbalism. You want them to FEEL empowered to learn the re-connection to the plants. Your process can help them FEEL connection to plants and self-esteem and momentum during that process.”


What is the feeling you get when you work with herbs?

What sensations do you get when you create an herbal remedy?

What feeling do you get when you think about being an herbalist?


The next thing I did was create outlines, study cards, and worksheets anything I could think of that made my work easier. I set myself up for success. It helped. I finished my MHP on-time. Now I want to help others achieve their dream to explore herbalism.


I made a template for plant profiles  that had boxes so I had to focus my content in a certain amount of space. If I went over then I knew I needed to move onto another plant. When all my 100+ plant profiles were made then I could go back and be more in-depth.


I found a very affordable person to clean my house once a week (never thought that would happen!). I stopped couponing, watching TV every night, took days off from work, reduced my standards of a clean house, bought more packaged (and healthy = bonus!) foods. I stopped writing a book about every herb and brought my plant profiles down to the basics (much to my instructors delight!)


Even after the MHP I felt a bit scattered. Where’s that one recipe? What does that term mean again? So I created more templates and worksheets for myself to bring it all together.


What every your goals are with herbalism – bring more herbs into your diet, help others as an herbalist, or just learn to learn – it’s possible. It may not be on your timeline or look exactly the way you envision it, but it’s possible.



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