Making change in our own lives can be hard. As a "type A" person I have to do it all. I am sure many of you overachievers can relate. The house must be clean, the laundry must be folded, the beds must be made, the work must always be caught up, the to-do list is before anything resembling sitting, relaxing, or enjoying. I was realizing last spring that I was working so hard to keep working at 150%, that I was not able to actually do any of the things I enjoy - such as working in my garden, harvesting herbs, distilling hydrosols, making herbal products. I was working. Working. Working. And I was stressing. Panic attacks, heart palpitations, waking up 5 times a night with full on heart pounding sweating shaking panic feelings. That is no way to live. So, over the past few months we have been making change. It takes time to plan, move, wiggle, resign, transition, step away, resignresignresign, just say no, and walk away from so many things. But, it was the right thing to do, and I am feeling better about the future.
When we work only for others, we burn out. It is a guarantee. While I have always rolled my eyes at the whole take care of yourself first idea, as I think we can take care of ourselves AND others at the same time, I was stuck in that rut of always doing and being everything for everyone else, without thinking ever of myself. It was definitely impacting me in being unable to sleep and having panic attacks. I could feel deeply things had to change, and I could not continue. I know many of us steamroll full speed ahead until something happens that forces us to change or stop - cancer, heart attack, injury, illness. But we shouldn't need an excuse to make deep life and systemic changes for our health and wellbeing. We should be able to make these changes JUST BECAUSE WE WANT TO, and not have to justify why we have to prioritize ourselves and our families over...everything else.
This is something we all need to do in some way - to take time to dabble, sit, be, and not feel that we must fill all the gaps with some other measure of success or achievement.
So, as my roles are wrapping up and I have more time, I am slowly working to give myself a break. To bake bread. Pick herbs. Read a book. Sit still. To read something that is not for a business, or a skill, or a function. To give myself permission to not complete or achieve anything if I don't want to. Spend time just hanging out with my teenagers. To focus on the health needs they have with time, attention, and consideration. To focus on my health needs with time, attention, and consideration.
What do you do for yourself? How do you take time to be?
One of our goals this fall and winter, is to start building a YouTube channel with more videos and life. To start, we have been practicing with small video editing, drone footage, music editing, and playing around with Davinci Resolve as our video editor. Gavin has also been creating content for his TikTok and Instagram, and I have been playing with making short videos. I am enjoying the process, and look forward to building more skills at both filming and editing.
August is a hard month. It starts out slow and forever feeling like the heat and sun will never stop, and ends with cool nights, and the hint that the garden is ending in those wilting leaves and fading squash vines. While it is here, I dream of September, when September begins, I wish summer would hold on just a tiny bit longer. I love fall, but I also love that golden light and those amazing sunsets that came with August. Looking forward to fall, with a small peek back at our last month.
I can't believe I haven't posted in a few months again. This year has been an intense year with major life changes for my kids (plus the loss of my mom), and every time I have wanted to write and share, I feel blank. We have had huge losses and huge changes as a family - just like a lot of folks - and a lot of that hit my own system pretty hard. While I was already having stress issues, losing my mom toppled me right over, causing me to start experiencing intense health issues.
So, we as a family did some deep thinking and reflection and decided I need to make some major life changes to allow myself the time to focus and care for the needs of myself, my own health, and, the needs of my kids. Well, more like my family stepped in and said I needed to stop before all of the stress took me out, so I listened.
It is hard to step down, step back, do less, and change our entire schedule and daily life to accommodate the impacts of change, and, to find some kind of balance that allows me to release that stress. I'm so grateful we are so close to our teens, and that they felt comfortable reaching out and asking for what they need, to ask for more time and support from me, and, to support me in my own needs as they saw the impact stress and anxiety was having on my health and wellness.
With that, I have stepped down or am stepping down from everything. This is something I have thought long and hard on with the full support of my family. I think this fall is the perfect time. I will be turning 55, my youngest will be turning 18, my oldest will be starting some amazing life changes that needs my support and time. I feel like the slowing down of fall into winter is a good time to wind down, take some down time, and focus on what is important.
I have resigned as the Chair of the American Herbalists Guild. I have given my 90-day notice and will be stepping down from Executive Director of Herbalists Without Borders as well. I am closing my herbal practice work. I will still volunteer with HWB as the lead donation distribution person for the US network, as I have the entire lower level of my home dedicated to HWB donations and packing/shipping boxes out to free clinics. But, that will not be 40-50-60 hours per week, it will be a few Mondays per month for boxing/shipping, and 2 other days per month for inventory management, cleaning, prepping, organizing the donations that go out throughout the US. So, instead of every waking moment being this work, and 40-60 hours per WEEK being this work, it will be more like 30-40 hours per MONTH of this volunteer work.
As I am working on transitioning out of the roles and reducing my stress and working on improving my own health by stepping back and focusing on wellness, I am feeling a call back to my art - photography, writing, and painting/visual art - and know I will be taking more time for those creative outlets that help me feel who I am and calm my restless and anxious spirit. Having more time for my art, design, writing, photography, permaculture gardens, handwork, kitchen, and home, is just what I need. It is funny, because I was so busy managing and organizing herbalism, that I haven't had any time in over a year (or more?) to actually make herbal support from my own gardens and use the herbs I work so hard to grow (other than simple tea). I want to have time again to make things and ferment and tincture things and cook with things and share what we do.
I have already started supporting G on a new business endeavor that we are working on together to get him started in one of his areas of interest. And, I have started supporting A in some of the life changes that we are focused on over the next few years. Having more time with my kids in these key years as they enter adulthood and find their own paths is SO IMPORTANT. There is nothing I would rather do.
So, I will be here, hopefully more, but it will be different as I make major life changes and transition to a new stage of my life. As I try to look at my stress-related health issues, and return to the calm equilibrium I had for so many years before taking on too much. I look forward to sharing more about life, home, gardens, art, handwork, design, words, and things that make me feel healthy and strong and happy.
Looking forward to the fall.
I am a certified aromatherapist, clinical herbalist, organic gardener, plant conservationist, photographer, writer, designer, artist, nature lover, permaculture designer, health justice activist, whole foods maker, and mother of two unschooled teens in south central Wisconsin.