You may have noticed (unless you’ve been living under a very remote rock) that the entire world is abuzz over the recent outbreak of COVID-19 – a new strain of coronavirus. Maybe even reading the title of this blog post has your heart fluttering. While viruses are a concern worth taking seriously, we want to put your mind at ease. There currently aren’t any medications on the market for this virus, but herbal and home remedies can bring relief.

Being sick is the worst. Whether it’s a little cold or food poisoning, it all feels terrible. Don’t worry, we have herbs for that!

While this particular coronavirus hasn’t been around long enough for drug or herb studies, we can still treat the ailment because we know how to use herbs to balance the body. So far, we know that the coronavirus is presenting as a dry cough with a fever. Most accounts say the symptoms aren’t very severe, but they can be life-threatening for some people. If you find yourself with these symptoms, please quarantine yourself to protect other people.

Below is our general tea formula for treating a virus presenting with a dry cough and fever. You can make your own or purchase the prepared dry tea in our Emporium. The goal of this formula is to 1) support the fever since it’s playing an important part in your body’s healing 2) relax the lungs to reduce unproductive coughing and 3) relax the body so you can get some sleep.

Herbal Tea for Dry Cough & Fever:

Mullein– this is our chief herb for lung soothing, relaxing, moistening, and cooling. Mullein is also effective for soothing pain and modulating inflammation.

Spearmint- Like peppermint, spearmint is great for opening up and relaxing the lungs. Paired with mullein, it makes a nice pain reliever. If you don’t like the taste of spearmint, we can substitute peppermint.

Boneset- this powerful influenza remedy will support the fever and gently stimulate the immune system. Boneset is a bitter and cooling herb. It doesn’t taste great, but don’t worry, we only use a little. There is some worry that COVID-19 can damage the lungs (with dryness and coughing) enough to lead to pneumonia. Boneset and mullein together will help keep the lungs clear without over-drying.

Licorice- This root is a powerhouse for its antiviral and antimicrobial properties. It’s also moistening to the mucous membranes- perfect for soothing a dry cough. The moistening properties also make it an expectorant, which will help you cough up any phlegm that may settle deep in the lungs.

Method: Use 1 tablespoon of dried herbs per cup of water. Boil for 5 minutes, then simmer for at least 10 minutes. You can make a big ol’ pot and keep it simmering all day. Drink a cup every few hours, or a couple of large gulps every hour.

Add Elecampane if you’re experiencing phlegm that’s difficult to cough up. This will help keep the lungs clear. It does have a strong medicinal flavor, but we’re not here for the flavor.

Add marshmallow root to moisten the tea up even more. Marshmallow is also a nice, gentle expectorant.

So that’s our general formula! There are so many other herbs we could include or switch out. Some that come to mind are lobelia, yarrow, marshmallow root, elecampane, and plantain. Lemon balm, passionflower, or tulsi could help relax your mind and body and induce sleep. Culinary herbs have a place here too. Thyme, basil, rosemary, garlic, ginger, and honey could all be helpful.

This formula can be tweaked for those experiencing a virus with a heavy, wet cough. For that, we might use mullein, peppermint, boneset, yarrow, and a wee bit of lobelia or elecampane. For the sniffles and bronchial spasms, we’ve had great success with mullein, peppermint, and wood betony. Holistic herbalism is about treating each person as an individual and addressing any ailments as they present.

Helpful tips for staying healthy:

Get lots of sleep! Even more than usual. You body does its best healing while you’re asleep, so catch up.

Eat healthy food. Now is not the time for junk food, friends. However, drastically changing your diet can put a lot of stress on your body. A stressed immune is an open invitation for viruses. Listen to your body and eat what feels good.

Get some sunshine. Going for a short walk in the sun can boost your vitamin D levels, which may improve your immune function. Plus, it’ll lift your mood.

Try an herbal steam. Pour boiling water into a large bowl. Add a handful of thyme and/or rosemary, basil, oregano. Lean your head over the steam and place a towel over your head so that it tents over your head and the bowl, keeping the steam in your tent. Breathe deeply through your mouth and nose so that you fill your respiratory system with the medicinal oils of the herbs. This is a good practice for when you return home from a day of interacting with the public.

Use a net pot. Daily use can clear out the sinuses wash away anything nefarious that may be lingering. Be sure to use a high quality salt, and if you’re using tap water, you’ll need to boil it for 5 minutes and let it cool before using.

Lend a helping hand. If you know someone who is sick or has a compromised immune system, reach out and ask if they need anything. Making a grocery run for a friend doesn’t take much time, but could really help them out if they can’t leave their house.

Above all- keep your chin up, buttercup. Live your life as usual, just make sure to wash your hands and use proper precautions. Panicking won’t help- not only does stress have potential to lower your immune system, panic is contagious. Watch funny movies, spend time with your friends and family via webchat and telephone, read good books. Spring is right around the corner and there are brighter days ahead.

Come see us!

If you would like to pick up some tea from our shop but are experiencing viral symptoms, please email Charley.LMT@gmail.com to coordinate online payment and pickup. Charley will ask about your specific symptoms and make a tea just for you.

If you have an ailment that is not contagious, you can schedule an herbal consultation with Charley.

Thanks for reading, friends. Stay well!

Disclaimer: We are not medical doctors and the content of this post is meant for education purposes only. Always do your own research and consult a physician before taking any herbal supplements.

Hey friends, Breanna Kinman here. As massage therapists, we hear from people who want massage all the time, but say they’re too self-conscious. Here’s my rebuttal to the most common body anxieties:

I have stretch marks/ scars/ acne/ body hair /ugly feet

So does everyone. No, really. It’s honestly so unusual to work on someone who doesn’t have any of these perceived “flaws” that I’m more surprised to see someone who doesn’t. To your massage therapist, these don’t register as flaws- it’s just what you look like. We don’t have the emotional energy to judge everyone for having scars or hairy backs or weird feet. We’ve got other, more important things to think about- for instance, solving the puzzle that is your body. And to everyone who is worried about their feet specifically: all feet are weird. Dust the sock lint off your toes and chill. 


This person seems happy and free- hairy legs and all. Assuming we can guess their emotional state just from their feet, of course.

This person seems happy and free- hairy legs and all. Assuming we can guess their emotional state just from their feet, of course.

I’m too fat

You’re probably not. My table has a weight limit of 500lbs, and while some people may surpass that, most will not. Body fat is usually soft and easy to work through. Weight problems used to be seen as a sign of laziness or overindulgence, but we know now that most weight gain is caused by hormonal imbalances, thyroid disorders, incorrect nutritional education, depression, stress, or just gosh darn genetics. None of these things are reasons you can’t enjoy a massage. Massage can actually aid in weight loss, if that’s your goal, as it boosts happy hormones, reduces stress, and helps reconnect people with their bodies. And, as stated earlier, we don’t have the energy or inclination to be judging people. 

I have acne on my body and it’s embarrassing

So do most people. Even many of my clients with no facial acne have acne on their backs, and some people have a bit of acne all over. You’re probably in the minority if you don’t have some acne on your booty. If you tend to have cystic acne (large, painful blemishes) you may want to wait until it calms down to get a massage, or tell your therapist where the more painful bumps are so they can avoid them. 

I have hair growing out of my hair follicles

That is quite a shame. Just kidding, we’re mammals! I only notice that my clients have stubble after they apologize for it, which boggles my mind a little. Your hairs are your hairs- shave them, wax them, grow them out, braid them- it’s up to you and there is no need to explain yourself. Yes, even if you’re unusually hairy, even if you have dark hair, blah blah blah. Commercials for razors and Nair may say otherwise, but you’re a valid human no matter what.

I can’t be naked in front of someone, even if I’m under a sheet

Some of my clients leave their underwear on during massages while other clients remove them. Some people are uncomfortable or modest and prefer to wear some clothing. If this has been keeping you away, you can always change into a comfy, easy to work around outfit, like gym shorts and a tank top. I have had plenty of clients who have a certain outfit they liked to wear to feel comfortable. And don’t worry, we would never have you lying totally naked. You’ll be covered completely by a sheet, undraped only in the area being worked on. I would never want you to feel uncomfortable during your massage, so whatever level of disrobing is comfy for you in fine with me.

I don’t like being touched

This can be a problem, but it’s actually easier to work around than you might think. Some people are more uncomfortable with unannounced touch, such as random hugs from coworkers, and have an easier time with massage because it’s planned and on straightforward terms. Some people never really get comfy with touch, but need bodywork to feel better and undo the physical stress of their jobs. For these clients, I am happy to offer half hour sessions, working only on the area that needs it the most. You may become more comfortable as time goes on, or you might be happiest with shorter, targeted massages. 

I have a rare skin problem or health problem

This requires a little thought, as some health problems will not be helped by massage. If your doctor says you aren’t contagious and that massage is safe for you, just explain any issues to your massage therapist, such as if you need lighter pressure or certain areas avoided. Kentucky licensed massage therapist have studied pathology and are prepared to work with a number of health concerns. If you struggle with something uncommon, we may not know all about it, but we’re equipped to learn.

I don’t know what I’m supposed to talk about/ I’m uncomfortable with silence

We take our cues from you, so if you want to zone out and be quiet, that is totally fine, and if you need to vent about your day to decompress, thats fine too. Probably about half of my clients like to talk and half doze off, while other clients are chatty one session and quiet the next. It’s your time, so you can decide if you want to talk or not. 

So to sum things up- If you are feeling uncomfortable in your body for any reason, take that as a reason to get a massage, not to avoid it. If you’ve struggled with feelings of shame about your body, massage can be a great way to reconnect and see your body for what it is: your oldest and most important friend.


This could be you. Getting a massage. Feeling better. Come on now, make that appointment.

This could be you. Getting a massage. Feeling better. Come on now, make that appointment.

Winter Solstice, the shortest and darkest day of the year, is on December 21st. On this dark day, observed by people all over the world, we celebrate light. We remind ourselves that, in times of darkness, we can be the light in our lives.

How can you invite light into your life?

For thousands of years, Midwinter has been a time for jovial celebration; people have been getting together, sharing feasts, singing songs, exchanging gifts, and, yes, probably drinking too much alcohol. Now-a-days, people pretty much celebrate in the same way. We light candles, sing carols, and decorate trees, all while setting goals for the new year.

The only difference between now and then is intention. As a whole, our society is not very intentional or ceremonial. Because of the daily hustle and bustle, we don’t often make time to check in with ourselves.

Setting intentions doesn’t have to be a big to-do; you can start by changing your internal dialogue. For example, before attending holiday engagements, you might try using a mantra (AKA a phrase said over and over- silently is fine) to help set the tone. “I invite laughter and joy into my life.”

Instead of attending an office Christmas party that feels more like an obligation than your idea of fun, you can attend that same party, but change your feelings about it. Make it a goal to connect with your coworkers, do some networking, and invite new energy into your career. Try this mantra: This event is opening doors to great opportunities. When you chose a mantra, be sure to use positive words and the present tense.

The point here is that YOU can change your own mind. Otherwise, if possible, forego the event altogether. It’s important to honor your own boundaries and, let’s be honest, no one wants to host a Grinch. (See our previous blog post about setting healthy boundaries during the holidays).

Have you had troubles with sticking to New Year resolutions? Here’s what you can do this year…

There are a TON of tips out there about how you can stick to your New Year resolutions and there are a lot of ways to set your intentions. We find that checking in with your goals every month makes you more likely to stay focused, on track, and realistic (remember, we’re all human). When you do your monthly check-ins, ask yourself what’s working and what’s not. You can even get creative with your resolutions and create a dream board that you walk by every day. Being able to see your goals on a daily basis helps you stay on track as well!

Set your intentions with a New Moon Ceremony

Have you ever heard of New Moon rituals? If you’re picturing a group of scantily clad women dancing around a fire under the light of a full moon, that does sound like our idea of a party, but, that’s not what we’re talking about here. The New Moon, also called the Dark Moon, is traditionally seen as a time to set intentions and plan for the month to come. You can even spark energy into your intentions with fire! This can be done in a couple of different ways, but when it comes to working with the moon, it’s always best to use your intuition and do what feels right.

How to set Intentions...

  1. On the night of the New Moon (happening January 5th), make a fire outside. Take a seat by the fire and start writing your goals on a piece of paper. You can speak your intentions aloud, then toss your list into the fire, sending your prayers up to the heavens.
  2. You can use candles similarly. Prayer candles come in a variety of colors, each symbolizing a different idea. For example, use a pink candle to invite more love into you life. Use a green candle for physical healing or emotional growth. Some people like to anoint the candles with herbs and oils for an extra kick. Ultimately, the key here is intention. The more time and effort you spend, the more powerful your prayers will be. Rather than burning your goal list like you would with a fire ceremony, you can fold the paper and place it under the candle.

Being Grateful: a Full Moon Ceremony Tip

A big part of realizing your goals is being thankful for your gifts and achievements. After all, you wouldn’t accept a gift from a loved one without showing your appreciation, would you? The Full Moon is not a time to ask for what you want, but to show gratitude for what you have. Mark your gratitude calendar: the next Full Moon comes to us on December 22nd! How do you show your gratitude? You might consider giving back to the earth, to the critters who live outside, or to any person in need. If your New Moon prayers were about paying all of your bills on time, during the Full Moon cycle, you might say a prayer of gratitude for the money and comforts that you do have, and give back by paying it forward, even if it’s just a couple of dollars or some cans of food/blankets.

The Law of Attraction

The Law of Attraction tells us that our words are very important. Not only the ones we say aloud- even our thoughts set the tone for how our life plays out. When you express your gratitude and share your intentions, always use positive and present-tense words. For example, if you don’t want to catch the cold that’s going around, rather than saying “Please don’t let me get sick” you might say “I’m thankful for my health and my strong immune system.” Trust us… your body is listening!

We’d love to hear from you! What are some intentions you’d like to set for the New Year? Leave a comment below!

New Moon | Full Moon | Law of Attraction | Intentions | Fire Ceremony | Winter Solstice | Gratitude | 2019 | New Year Resolution

 

Hello, my name is Breanna, and I am a recovering sugar addict.

Alright, there are no AA-like meetings for sugar addicts as far as I know, but I was definitely quite addicted. I was so addicted that I would get a giant headache if I didn’t have any candy by the afternoon. I ate a bowl of ice cream every single evening. 

I had tried to cut out sugar several times in the past, but I would always cave when the headaches got too bad and the sugar looked too tasty. After doing some research, I believe part of the reason for my addiction was candida overgrowth.  

Candida is a fungus that lives in everyone’s bodies. If your candida levels get too high, you might notice obvious symptoms, such as a yeast infection, toenail fungus, or thrush. Your candida can also be too high, but cause subtler symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, and cravings, to name a few. Candida eats sugar. Starve candida, and it dies off, causing gnarly “die off” headaches and general feelings of bleh. This is the part that I could never get past. 

Finally, I stumbled across an article that talked about how great radishes are at annihilating candida. If you kill off candida BEFORE completely cutting out sugar, maybe sugar will be easier to get over. The only problem is that radishes are gross. (Sorry if you like radishes. Actually I’m not sorry, I’m jealous that you’re fortunate enough to already enjoy such a healthy food.) But don’t worry, I’ve written below a perfectly palatable way to get your vitamin radish. And it’s not juicing them raw. Trust me, don’t do that. 

 

Roasted Radishes and Other Veggies


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Roasted? Radishes? Most people have only had them raw. Some people like the spicy dirt flavor white lots of other people do not like spicy dirt. When you cook radishes, that spicy quality, and most of the flavor, is lost. That means whatever spices and veggies you cook them with will be all you can taste. Here’s what I did:

Preheat oven to 375.

Cut the radishes in half. Chop up other veggies for roasting. Suggested: Broccoli florets, bell pepper strips, mushroom halves, green beans, brullels sprouts, anything that will stand up to about 30 minutes in the oven.

Place the veggies in a single layer on a baking pan.

Pour some olive or avocado oil over the veggies. I’ve never measured how much, whatever you feel like.

Season with salt and pepper, and whichever spices you’d like. I used garlic every time, because its tasty and has candida killing properties.  I also liked thyme and paprika, but old bay seasoning was also good. If you’re into curry, that would probably be good too. Cooking time will vary. Roast for about 30 minutes, but check on them and give them a stir halfway through, and keep an eye on them towards the end. 

Eat them up and give yourself a high five- you’ve just eaten veggies without your mom making you. 

 

I ate radishes once or twice a day for a week until I was able to cut my sugar eating down to one fruit leather per day. I can’t in any way promise that you’ll have similar results, and I certainly can’t tell you how to live your life after you become one of those weirdos who talks about how fresh fruit makes a delectable dessert. I’m just saying that radishes might be worth a shot. 

As massage therapists, we’re always looking to improve our craft and add new tools to our bodywork tool belts. We’re always looking for new and interesting ways to help you feel better in your body.  Last month our crew traveled to Asheville, North Carolina for some education and exploration. What did we learn? What did we find? Fire cupping, gua sha, and healing crystals!

Both fire cupping and gua sha are methods from Chinese Medicine, but have been practiced by many cultures all over the world for thousands of years. The goal, basically, is to relieve pain, restriction, and stagnation in the body. 


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What is fire cupping? We use round glass cups, pictured above, to create a suction on the skin. The suction creates a pull on the muscles while at the same time releasing restriction in the fascia and increasing circulation. Unlike massage, typically a pushing motion, the suction from the cups creates a pulling up motion on the muscles. It’s an interesting sensation that’s quite relieving and relaxing. This technique is used for muscle tension and pain and works great for old injuries. If you have deep restriction in your body, but can’t handle deep tissue massage, this modality is for you! 

What is gua sha? We use a ceramic tool to create friction on an area of the body where there is pain and shortening of the muscles or tendons. This has a similar effect to the cupping, but can be used in harder to suction areas, like hands and feet, tendons, or other areas that aren’t flat and broad. This technique is great for treating plantar fasciitis or any area that feels stuck. 

Besides taking the class, we were also able to do some shopping for crystals in Asheville. We were in a GIANT room full of thousands of colorful, glittery, healing crystals. It was an amazing experience! If you’re into rocks, we have new specimens  available in the Emporium.

Have you ever been to Asheville? If not, we recommend it. The scenery is gorgeous- foggy mountains, lush greenery, and woodland creatures (bears!) running about. Downtown Asheville is full of interesting shops and tasty restaurants. We’re hoping to go back again soon! 

Check out a video of our trip: 


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Hey y’all! My name is Nate and I’m a traditional astrologer and spiritual director here in Lexington, and I’m also the organizer of the Bluegrass Astrology Meetup. Charley has invited to me to share a little about what it is that I do, as it intersects with White Willow’s vision of bringing balance and restoration to each individual’s mind, body, and spirit.

I’m sure most folks have some familiarity with their sun sign and, perhaps, even read their newspaper horoscope every now and then for kicks. It’s like a fortune cookie, right? You can take it or leave it; something might strike a resonant chord in your soul on a given day, but more often than not, these little quips fall flat.

Did you know that, far aside from the pulp astrology we get in our newspapers and magazines, there’s a rich and vibrant tradition behind the practice of astrology? All it takes is to go outside on a clear night under a dark country sky and look up in order to understand why our ancestors thought heaven was up there. Ever since people have been able to crane their necks skyward and watch as wandering stars moved across the black expanse of the night sky, we’ve been using the motions of the heavens as a way into telling stories about ourselves, our roots, and our futures.

Astrology is far more than a precursor to modern personality theories, though that is certainly part of its heritage too. The traditional forms of astrology that emerged in the Mediterranean Basin were handed down and refined over centuries, and today astrologers utilize both complicated mathematics and studies in myth and history to connect the meaning of symbols like the Sun, the Moon, and the planets and fixed stars to the underlying meaning of the trials and triumphs of life that make us who we are.

While it’s very easy to get into heady territory when we start to explore all the language and symbolism of stellar myths, what I hope to convey is that this language of significant coincidences, wherein we read the heavens like a clock, is a powerful tool for understanding the motions of our interior cosmos and the unique path we have been given to chart through this life. Your birth chart (that is, the unique arrangement of planets and the heavens in relation to your exact time and location of birth) is a roadmap for the growth of your soul.

Part of my intention with creating the Bluegrass Astrology Meetup has been to invite folks who have perhaps some inkling of “something more” beyond just their newspaper horoscope to encounter some of the juicier bits of astrology and to whet their appetite. I try to introduce concepts like the Moon sign and phase to describe one’s emotional story, the ascendant to give insight into a person’s physical vitality, or the Venus cycle to explore a person’s relationship quirks and habits, all while creating a space where people of all backgrounds and experience levels can join together in a nurturing environment to learn more about our common sky and its mythos.

There’s no aspect of life that we can’t explore with an astrological chart, and the ability to lead people into this encounter with the cosmos brings me a tremendous amount of joy. That joy flows over into the work I do in my astrological practice, which focuses on using an individual’s birth chart to help them discern their vocation or respond to challenges. In particular, I specialize in a form of astrology called “horary astrology” that invites seekers to ask focused and intentional questions, whose answer I then interpret from a chart.

I’m grateful to have been able to connect with Charley and Brandon through the meetup, and I’m excited to connect with more folks in the Lexington area who want to explore our common sky together! You can learn more about me at my website: soulfriendastrology.com.

Whether you’re a gardener, an herbalist, interested in making your own tonics, self care products, or simply just to strengthen your spiritual connection with plants, this circle will provide you with lots of information and time to connect on a much deeper level. Not only will you connect with 10 different plants in depth, but also with the people you will be in circle with for 11 months.  

 


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2018 is the first year this circle will be offered and I’m so excited! This has been something I dreamt up many years ago, waiting for the perfect time to begin. After years of studying plants on my own, I was introduced to evolutionary herbalism. Taking those classes, I realized it was exactly what I wanted to teach- but in a more in-depth and advanced way. That’s when I knew the universe was making space for me to begin sharing this work. 

We are all energy. As they say, we are spiritual beings having a physical experience. Plant beings are the same! They too are here to learn, teach, experience, and provide their original medicine to be productive and assist in the turning of the sacred hoop of life. Lucky for us, they are less trapped in the egotistical ways of humans; they’re more giving and understanding of the ebb and flow of life, death, and rebirth. By working with them, we too can come closer to this natural pattern. This is why we call these meetings a circle; the information, connections, and experiences we acquire together are none linear and never ending. 

In this circle, we will focus on bringing our consciousness and perceptions out of our heads and in to our hearts. Each day we meet, we will experience a plant with all of our senses, as well as connect with each plant on a spiritual level and discover the many teachings they may have to offer. We will explore traditional wisdoms and modern discoveries, practice preservation technique, and journal our personal experiences with these plants to create a binder filled with lots of information. These are spiritual teachings, so we will begin and end our circles in a good and respectful way. We will learn about meditation, constituents, constitutions, energetics, doshas, and various ways to connect. We will even go on field trips!

The binder, papers, class herbs, and any infusion, tincture, oil, salve, or other class projects will be included in the monthly $30 donations, which can also be paid in full. Each project is dependent upon the teachings of the previous circle, so it is intended that you attend all 11 meetings. Besides our daily projects, there will also be simple homework assignments as well as a final project that will be shared with the group. The circle starts on March 18th, here at White Willow, and will meet every 3rd Sunday for one year, excluding busy busy December, ending in February of 2019. 

Again, I’m so excited for this circle! Please feel free to tell anyone who may be interested or searching for these teachings. We’ve got a great year ahead of us! 

Please email Brandon at 7generationscommunity@gmail.com to sign up for the circle. 



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Seven Generations Community seeks to restore balance and promote health for ourselves, the Earth, and all our relations through service, education, and innovation on behalf of the future generations

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We are so happy to announce the arrival of our new team member, Brandon Caudill. Brandon is a licensed massage therapist and also practices energy work and leads guided meditations. He attended Lexington Healing Arts Academy for his training in massage therapy and has been immersed in Hopi and Lakota traditions for several years. 

Get to know Brandon: 

  • When is your birthday?

    • January 31st 

  • Where are you from? 
    • I’ve lived in Lexington most of my life, but originally I’m from some far off land, deep in the woods of Kentucky. 
  • What is your favorite massage modality to practice?
    • Mostly Swedish massage mixed with deep tissue. I like to assist in healing the body while making clients feel comfortable and relaxed at the same time.  
  • What CEU class are you looking forward to next? 
    • I’m excited to learn Thai massage and to learn more assisted stretches.  
  • What is your favorite movie? 
    • I love the amazing Miyazaki- Spirited Away holds a special place in my heart. I also really love the movie Hero. It is so beautiful. 
  • What is your favorite color? 
    • I could never pick. I really love all the colors and try to incorporate color in to my meditations (and life) as often as possible. 
  • What is your favorite food? 
    • As a chef of 10 years, I have a very diverse palette and enjoy trying new things. If someone likes it, I’ll most likely try it. So, just like color, I haven’t a favorite. But my go-to foods are Chinese hot pot, Vietnamese pho, and I love Korean banchan! I’ll pick a whole grilled fish or squid over a steak any day. 
  • If you could have one superpower, what would it be? 
    • I would love to fly! My favorite dreams are flying dreams.  
  • What’s the best part about your job? 
    • Being in a positive and healing environment and helping people. 
  • What’s the worst part about your job? 
    • This is my dream job 😛 
Brandon helped us out at Playthink this year. We're so happy to have him join us at White Willow! 

Brandon helped us out at Playthink this year. We’re so happy to have him join us at White Willow! 


Do you ever look at a cheetah and think, “Man, I hope that little guy doesn’t hurt himself, running without the proper shoes.” Of course you don’t, because you’re not insane. Cheetahs are meant to run, and already have everything in their little feet that they need to run quickly and efficiently. But frequently when people begin running, they set out on a quest to find the perfect running shoe for them, the one that will keep their knees safe and stave off plantar fasciitis- the ultimate shoe. Why is that? Human beings are naturally gifted runners, with early man often literally running after their prey until the animal died from exhaustion. There are even a few tribes in the world that still utilize this method.

Today, few people can outrun a house cat without making their knees ache or their heels hurt. Even very experienced runners have frequent trouble with their ligaments, tendons, and joints. How did the human race have survive in a time running was necessary to live, when most people can’t run more than a mile without a professional trainer and specialized shoes?

Chris McDougall, author of Born to Run, has done a lot of research into the matter. You can read his whole argument here, or you can read my summary and get on with your life much sooner.

Basically, it comes down to money. Mild mannered citizens began running in the 70s for fun -tracking prey now unnecessary- and people wanted some specific running shoes so they wouldn’t scuff up their nice work ones. Nike started by making shoes that were basically comfortable foot coverings, but people love technology. Soon the market was filled with highly advanced, heavily cushioned, feather light, arch-supporting future shoes. They sold themselves. And the longer we let our feet relax in these luxury recliners of shoes, the more they became like anyone who spends all day in a luxury recliner: weak and lazy.

I urge not just runners, but every person with feet to read McDougalls reports, and I have a few things to add as a bodyworker as well. I can tell when someone wears barefoot style shoes or spends a lot of time barefoot. They have muscles in their feet. I work barefoot and walk everyday (on concrete sidewalks) in flat, thin soled shoes. I do arch exercises. I never have foot pain. I feel the foot musculature of all sorts of people, and the one thing that people with muscular feet have in common is that they never mention them. Foot pain is rare for these people, yet rampant among the masses. 

If there is one thing I want you to know, it’s that weakness leads to pain. Weak back muscles lead to slumped shoulders leads to back and neck pain, etc. Most shoe companies would like you to believe that you need to spend $200 to have comfortable feet, but perhaps you could instead spend 10 minutes a day exercising, as you would for any other pain caused by weakness. Everyone’s situation and every body is different, but hopefully you will consider increasing the function of your feet before you increase the padding in your shoes.

So you’ve made it through Thanksgiving. For an introvert, no easy feat. It was loud. It was messy. It was sensory overload! Aunt Gertrude told the same story for the millionth time and you laughed like it was the first time you’d ever heard it. Your sister, who seems to be immune to the sound of banshees wailing, let her three darling children run amok while you pretended not to notice. You deserve a pat on the back. Well done, you! 

But wait. There’s more. That’s right, winter is coming, and it’s bringing the whole family.

Whether you consider yourself an introvert, an empath, or just a sensitive person, the holidays can be tough, if not downright miserable. Fear not, quiet-loving friends, we’ve got just the remedy. 

1. Make the emergency grocery runs. If you realize you’re suddenly out of butter, offer to go to the grocery to pick it up. The store may be hectic, but the trip to and fro in your quiet car could be enough of a reprise to get you back on your feet. 

2. Offer to do the dishes. Kick all of the aunties out of the kitchen and tell them you’d like to take over with the cleaning. They can take their coffee and chitchat to the other room and you can get some much-needed alone time. Plus, once you get in the groove, washing dishes can be meditative. As you rinse the dishes, imagine that you, too, are getting rinsed of excess energy and negativity. Let it trickle down the drain. 

3. Take a break. If your get-together spans several days, plan to take a few mini breaks throughout the holiday. Take a long bath. Go see a movie. Go to bed early and curl up with a good book. It’s not selfish to take good care of yourself. 

4. Take the trash out, and while you’re at it, go for a little stroll. No one will notice that you’re gone for the amount of time it takes you to walk around the block. With each breath, imagine you’re blowing out your frustrations and anxieties. With each step, imagine that you’re drawing grounding energy up from the earth.

5. If you mean “no”, say “no”. You don’t have to host dinner if you don’t want to. You don’t have to travel if you don’t want to. “No.” is a complete sentence all on its own. You don’t owe any explanations. 

6. Plan a reward for yourself after the holidays are over- something decadent to look forward to. We recommend a massage! 

To any extroverts reading, we don’t mean to leave you out. This is your time to shine! We appreciate the vibration that you bring. We thank you for being the social glue that keeps us all united. Pass the eggnog, social butterfly. 

No matter what your holiday plans, we hope you have a good one. Remember that this is a season of light. Our wish for you is that every shimmering light on your path will fill your heart, even in the darkest of crevices, with joy. Happy holidays!