Today is Canada Day. In fact, It’s our countries 150th birthday.
We have been told to celebrate with a sense of pride for our countries achievements. Our government, as well as many larger businesses in Canada have infused massive amounts of money and energy into marketing this day as special. We have parades, fireworks, all sorts of celebratory events, lots of Canada day paraphernalia and big sales at many businesses. 150 years is a big marker, a special thing and we should be proud of it, right?
So why did I wake up today with a deep sense of morning, loss, guilt and a tinge of resentment?
Well, I’ll tell you…
A little over a week ago I watched a video on FB about why some Indigenous people were calling out Canada for its 150th celebration. It brought together many feeling I was already experiencing, and really got me searching myself for some level of healing to this situation…
If you would like to watch this video, here’s the link but please stay with me for a few more moments to explore this feeling a little deeper.
Basically it boils down to the fact that at a base level, what we are celebrating today is the methodic eradication of the many cultures of people that lived on this land before us.
And, Canada was one of the most aggressively dominated colonizations of the western world. Taking away every aspect of culture we could and enslaving generations of youth in boarding schools, in order to straight up steal one of the largest pieces of land on the planet.
When put in that light, you can see how this can make one feel a real sense of loss on this day.
Within a few generations, 1000’s of years of indigenous wisdoms of working with this land were mostly eradicated.
Yes, there were a few people that were able to keep some of these traditions alive, but in reality it is only in the last generation where many have been scrambling to re-claim this knowledge, and doing so with little success.
Heres a personal example of the loss of culture I have seen..
In 2015 we had a Herb Gathering here on the Island with the theme, of “Honouring our Herbal Elders”. We brought herbal Elders from all across the country together to celebrate their service to keeping herbalism alive and strong. Despite our efforts, my father and I were unable to get a herbal elder from the Komox First Nations (where we live) to come to the event. We tried on several occasions to ask at the reserve and in our community, if anyone knew of a First Nations herbal elders we could contact, and sadly, no one could help us, no mater who we asked. This is the reality everywhere in this country…
There are very few who can teach and share these oral traditional wisdoms that took 1000 of years to evolve…
So, today I morn this loss…
but I also have to look at a deeper level of grief, guilt and responsibility that is eating away at me on many levels.
What’s that you may ask?
Well, it’s myself, my family, my culture, and my genetic heritage that are responsible for these crimes against humanity. These crimes of Genocide, and the brutal acts of mental and spiritual enslavement against all those who were in our way.
I have to live with the fact that my ancestors straight up stole this land.
So how do we sit with these types of feelings?
The only way I know how to step out of this sense of suffering, is to do something to bring awareness to it. To really own and acknowledge it and yet become bigger than it.
So I can use the energy of pain, loss or guilt as fuel for creating the changes I want to see in the world.
Today I write this with that intention…
I am sorry… I am guilty… and I am ask for forgiveness…
I live a life of luxury off the backs of an unpaid debt to the land I inhabit and the people who lived here before me.
These are my crimes to own, and they are likely yours as well…
From this place National Pride is no longer an option. It is a false sense of security and happiness.
Yet, because this is what the mass consciousness is focusing on today, I can use this heightened sense of psychic energy to really touch into a deeper level of awareness in myself, with others, and with the land I inhabit.
Today I will go for a walk in the wild lands and ask for forgiveness…
I make a vow to share awareness of this injustice, as it is not only here, it has happened in every corner of this planet.
I share this message, and dedicate much of my efforts to teaching and learning deeper ways of showing up that are more in tune with the world we live in.
I dedicate myself to learning ways that are in flow with nature and the planet as one consciousness, ways that have been shared with us by indigenous cultures from around the world for thousands of years..
In respect for all those who have suffered from these crimes, I once again, ask for your forgiveness on this day and every day moving forward.
In the modern world we are challenged not to take ourselves or our situations too personally or seriously so we can be available to the opportunities that each moment presents.
We are called to the challenge to be flexible and adaptable in a world filled with uncertainty. To do this we must let go of the safety blanket of routine, structure and habit that are reinforced by our fears, concerns and uncertainties. Most of the time they don’t really serve us or end up stifling our ability to thrive and adapt.
In meeting lifes challenges we will stumble, we will fall, but in short order we will also pick ourselves up and find a deepened connection to our own truth and value systems that are our internal governing barometers. The more we fall the more we get really clear on what does and does not serve us. This process builds strength and confidence in ourselves and our ability to adapt. Pretty soon, through our choices, we learn to access the best of what life has to offer, and leave what no longer serves us alone…
Creating value systems for navigating life’s diverse terrain has always been important. At the same time we need to learn how to step outside of our perceived value systems once in a while to help create new experiences. When we “challenge our beliefs” and get “fun-comfortable” sometimes, we can open up to the possibility of finding our most treasured experiences which stretch us, grow us, and sometimes heal us at the deepest levels.
I like to think that all life is conspiring to see us achieve great things. It is up to us to learn when to get out of our own way and allow ourselves to get a little lost. Most of the time when we do, things work out better than if we try to control it all with too many rules and restrictions. This is why learning to utilize the powers of the flexitarian and opportunivore are in our best interest if we are to create lasting health, happiness and balance on all levels.
Of course, all life is about balance, and it is up to our internal barometer to help guide us not to stretch to much or too fast if we are to be successful in challenging our personal status quo’s.
First off, the Flexitarian is often talked about as a dietary approach. In this sense of the word it is considered a diet of not dieting or limiting too many food choices. It can be done well or done poorly. If you go with the general rule of 80% awesome upgrade and 20% not so awesome, you are bound to succeed at creating great lasting health and have lots of fun doing it. This ideology is a call to stop limiting yourself and start living your life to its fullest.
At 80% awesome upgrade we are adhering to a generally healthy lifestyle and looking to find the best choices in the moment, yet not beating ourself up if 20% of our food, our choices, and the circumstances we find ourself in fall outside of our healthy ideals.
The Flexitarian stays subtle to the flow and avoids creating too much rigidity or seriousness to their choices. They live in alignment with the basic rhythms of life, yet mix it up by going against the grain at times. They know that optimal health is created by letting go of fundamentalism, fanaticism or idealism.
Far too often people try to overachieve good health, and end up creating more negative affirmations than positive ones. I can’t choose that, I shouldn’t eat this, I’m not as healthy as I want to be, but I will be when “x” happens…. This becomes a disempowering practice rather then an empowering one.
What if we changed the story… I can choose that, I could eat this, I’m good to go and will always make the best choice in the moment. This is an easy attitude switch to make if we change our ideals around what health is.
Real and lasting health starts with feeling good about what we do emotionally and mentally first, then our physical will start to follow this alignment. When we start our health path by limiting our diet and forcing ourselves to exercise, we are likely to stumble and fail more often than succeed.
What if we chose instead to seek the upgrade, but be flexible and not feel guilty if we don’t always take it. Slowly we would start to see and feel the benefits that the upgrade gives us without the pressure, limitations and guilty of failing. In this mood of thinking, it isn’t long before we start to exercise and choose better foods because they make us feel good on all levels.
Every person alive desires one thing in common, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, or why you want it. At some level we all are looking for the same thing, and that is to “feel better”…
Feeling better is not about making right choices or choosing right action, it is always about being in the flow, creating positive movement and enjoying each moment to its fullest. If we can learn to laugh at ourselves, make mistakes, and let go of the pressure of achieve something we are not quite yet, then we are winning the inner battle. This inner shift will directly start to reflect in our outer health.
The challenge the flexitarian faces is to be ok with the dark side, taboo or downgraded choices in their lives. Yet, not allowing these to raise above the 20% threshold where they can start to erode at our core values. The Flexitarian starts to get in trouble when they slide to a 60/40 mix. At this place they are letting go of their resolve to seek the upgrade and achieve vibrant health. Pretty soon they start slipping into more and more “shades of grey” and states of health imbalance.
In the modern world, there are many low vibrational food and lifestyle choices available. It is tempting to let false pleasure and easy habits take over. After all they give immediate gratification. These quick pleasure hits are never lasting and often leave us more depleted in the end. If we kept to the 80% awesome upgrade and 20% less than ideal, then it’s all good, we can enjoy each experience to its fullest without inhibition. The upgraded choices we’ve committed to will more than make up for our less than ideal ones. In essence, we can still have our cake and eat it too.
When we allow ourselves to be available for whatever life brings, we create space for opportunity and new experience to come our way. At times we most definitely will have to say “no” to opportunity, and will always be faced with challenges to overcome. Every time we go with an opportunity and it doesn’t work out, we get clearer on what we actually want and closer to understanding how to make the best choices that align with our highest potential.
In essence the intentional opportunivore path is a fast track to upgrading our health, happiness and lifestyle design. We learn to awaken our internal warrior instincts, activating and engaging our moments with their fullest potential.
A good opportunivore doesn’t put restrictions on their choices, they use discernment to find the best choice in the moment. Often the diet and lifestyle will change dramatically through the seasons, tuning into the ideal choices available for their current situation. For example, in winter, we often crave more fats to help feed and protect our bodies during the dark and cold season; sensing this, a good opportunivore will seek out the best quality fats they can find to insure optimal nourishment, rather than attempt to convince themselves that fats are not optimal and restrict themselves. This same opportunivore will likely notice the desire for more fresh greens when they become available in the spring and use these to tone and cleanse their winter build up.
Opportunivores often have a unique collection of foods, herbs and spice in their lives and enjoy a variety of ethnic or fusion meals and beverages. They usually seek to create an experience around meals, rather then just eating food as a form of sustenance. This may mean visiting farmers markets, delis and specialty food shops to find those ideal ingredients to work with. Or it could show up as stretching one’s cooking abilities with new recipes, tools or other resources they seek out. Often opportunivores enjoy exploring unique dining experiences, and experimenting with foods they have never tried.
My personal favourite opportunivore experiences have been traveling to different cultural centres, either internationally or just within any large city I find myself in. I seek out the most unique traditional or fusion foods available, preferably fermented or prepared in an intentional way that requires time, and energy. These types of foods are more likely to be prepared for their health benefits and are often rich in story, cultural significance and or flavour. It can be a hit or miss, most of the time a new food pilgrimage will be something I cherish and want to try again, though in other times, a few bites in something is way wrong and I’m unable to finish my meal.
If we are to choose to follow this lifestyle and dietary path it is important to be strategic, discerning and have well laid out intention, otherwise the opportunivore is likely to get the best of us. Opportunities are everywhere and so are bad opportunivores. It’s all too easy to take too many shortcuts and become a convineince-avore, or fastfood-atarian.
To be an good opportunivore is to seek out new and exciting opportunities, to stretch ourselves, learn new skills, and create the best diet and lifestyle that is seasonally tuned and situationally maximized.
Both the Flexitarian and the opportunivore have a place in a bigger wholistic lifestyle design. In essence we can never control the out come of our experience, we are always given free will to choose our part in co-creating each moment. These choices will dramatically effect the way our life unfolds, as well as our happiness, health and success. Being flexible and brave enough to seize opportunities as they come, will always out maneuver the complainers, the fearful, and the dis-empowered attitudes others may have. Pretty soon we start to see that those around us will be also be taking on the yes I can attitude or they will start to move out of our lives as more flexible opportunities come our way.
“Play it safe, or challenge yourself to find the best in who you are, regardless of if it works out or not….”
When it comes to our wellness it’s not uncommon for people to feel that summer is the glory days of good health. The weather is warm, the plants are out, there are less colds and flus and overall people seem happier. It’s the season for picnics, camping, vacations, festivals and all sorts of outdoor activities. Getting out in nature is one of the easiest and most effective ways of helping one feel better. In fact, the concept of “forest bathing” (going for a gentle walk in the woods) has been proven to show significant health benefits, including lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and correcting other cardiovascular imbalances. Regular walking in Nature has also shown to calm anxiety, stress, nervous tension, and improve immune function. One way the health industry sees the effects of this, is that all around the northern hemisphere, the sales in supplements drop dramatically during summer months. Only to pick right back up again in the fall when the weather shifts and flu and cold season starts up again.
What if we were able to use the energy we can feel and tap into during the summer months as a way of supporting our bodies health needs throughout the rest of the year?
This is not such a hard thing to achive, in fact we are intuitively guided to do this, as it is how our ancestors have utilized the power of summer manifestation for thousands of generations. They would make the most of the summer season and store its energy in the from of ferments, preserves, canning, drying and other means of making it last and be accessed throughout winter months.
If we are to maximize the benefits that can be found in summer months, we are best to come into seasonal alignment and live in accordance with the energetics that govern the world around us. Our connection to the abundance available in summers manifestations will then help support our health during this season and beyond.
So as we travel down this road of Summer Health Alignment, I would first like to introduce you to the 4 basic Energies of Seasonal Alignments:
When looking at working with the seasons, it is also important for us to have a basic sense of the Fourfold landscape of Holistic Health, which it Physical, Mental, Emotional and Spiritual.
Each of these are aspect of who we are and as so, require a different type of nourishment in order to properly maintain our health and vitality.
By looking at wellness through the lens of Holistic health, we realize that it is a dynamic layering of many interactive parts.
On one hand we have seasonal alignment as mentioned above. Where finding the right mix of ingredients to take in from our outside environment is the filter for choosing our path.
On another hand we have this fourfold landscape of our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual selves.
Our choices therefore should ideally be rooted in an understanding of how they affect each aspect of oneself. By using these filters to help guide us, we naturally gravitate to the right tools and practices for generating a long and fulfilling life.
So lets take a deeper look at these four aspects of ourselves and how they can be nourished by aligning with the power of Summer Manifestation.
Summer is the season in which we can maximize our efforts physically. The days are longer and warmer, which brings our energy levels up and can allow us to be more physically active. What we see in many cultures in hot countries is that they ideally work in 2 cycles; a morning and an early evening shift. This is because the days are too hot and the body too fatigued for strong work in the afternoon. I believe this is an ideal way to really benefit from the manifestation power on summer. With long days we can often get two shorter working days out of one. So it’s time to take on those projects you want to do and make the changes to your physical world you want to see. One of the best ways to use this extra time is to get out and grow a garden, harvest more foods and medicines from your environment, and process, preserve, ferment, or store some of this abundance for use later on. With this direct connection to the food and medicine you are able to save money in the summer, and it gives you much more healing benefits than store bought food when it is consumed at a later date.
As the weather becomes warmer, it is important to remember that the bodies ecology and energetics need time and some effort to adapt to this changes. So be careful of internal imbalances related to heat that may come up in the summer. Specifically inflammation, irritation, heat rashes, brain fog and summer fevers. Also if you are from a northern ancestry, it is likely that your body was not as adapted to heat, and so these people can have a harder time with it. Drink lots of water, practice more exercise, and sweat out those toxins and that heat as it builds up in the body. This can also be worked with by introducing cooling and bitter foods, as well as diaphoretic/diuretic plants. Favourite plant medicines for summer at our house are Elderflower cordial (video link), Digestive Bitters, Hibiscus, Gynostemma, Peppermint or Atmospheri-tea, and Green Smoothies. Some cooling foods we can add to our diets are local fruits and their juice, fresh leafy greens, avocados, cucumber, coconut, sea vegetables, and fish.
Our mental health can often become exhausted in the “dog days” of summer. Heat rises and guess what’s at the top of your body… your head! It’s common for people to feel more mentally lethargic during the summer season. Often this is coupled by the fact that because it’s nice outside we are continually distracted by wanting to get out and enjoy it. Especially when we see others around us planning their own extra curricular activities. The fact is that most of us are much less mentally productive in the summer. This is not a bad thing, it can actually be a much deserved break from the constant mental work that the modern world often demands of us. Instead, summer should be a time for action, and a time to create all of your ideas and plans that came from mentally active times of the year, such as the winter months. So if strenuous mental activity is not working for you in the summer months, don’t bang your head against the wall. Get out and do things! Be active and use that energy to build happiness and accomplishments that you can be proud of when you think back on them from slower times of the year spent indoors.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is believed that the summer is ruled by the heart, which governs the emotions of joy and has the voice of laughter. So enjoy yourself, have fun, connect with others, do things that bring more joy into your life. This is a time for merriment, a time for celebration, a time to take in all the magnificent colours and fragrance of the natural world. Get out and nourish these aspects of your life. Vibrant living starts from creating the time in our lives to enjoy ourselves. Spend time building your connections with plants, animals, people and all the life around you. There is no person or thing that will be wearing a sign on them that says friend of _____, will make you laugh and experience joy if you spend time with me. It is up to you to go out and create those relationships if you want to have them in your life.
Similar to Emotional, the spiritual aspects of summer are those of connection, community and celebration. Find your spiritual fulfillment in the world you build relationships with. Part of why we get less sick and generally feel happier in the summer is because we have more opportunity to build nourishing relationships. This may be with a garden and the plants you grow, it may be with the plants and animals you see in the natural world, or it may be with the people that inspire you and bring more enjoyment and purpose into your life. Take the time to allow these aspects of connection to nourish your spiritual needs.
Taking a vacation is as much about spending time with those we love and doing things that make us happy, as it is about releasing ourself from the burdens of stress and commitments that we so readily take on. Committing to less in the summer months can make us more available for joy and good flow in our lives.
For this reason I am a big fan of the “stay-cation”. Which to me means coming home early from work, or taking time off just to putz around the yard or laying in a hammock and reading a good book. Be good to yourself in the summer and the rest of your year will be rewarded with more productivity and value.
My hope for you this summer is to get out and really make the most of its powers of Manifestation, enjoy yourself, laugh a lot, and connect with like minded individuals. May you carry the energy of abundance that summer offers with you into the rest of the year to come..
The choice is yours… it always has been, and it always will be… in every moment.
Play it safe and stay inside the box, or challenge yourself with a leap of faith into the unknown path when opportunities are more likely to come your way.
Regardless of if it works out or not, you will never know something unless you try it.
In the modern world we are asked to become more nimble and responsive to the situations we find ourselves in. The world has never been so interconnected as it is today. With this all bets are off, all rule books are out. All we have is our intuition and collected wisdom to guide us through the chaos of an ever expanding paradigm that seems constantly on the verge of collapse and self destruction.
Remember.. If plan “A” doesn’t work out, don’t worry too much the alphabet has 25 more letters.. stay flexible there’s always another opportunity.
Welcome to my website.
A place where a passion for the natural world and a life lived vibrantly mingle and dance as they are caressed by my personal filters and explored by my mind…
But before I get too carried away, I’d like to take a moment in this opening blog to share a little about myself..
My journey as a Herbalist started when I was young, as a few years before I was birthed into this world my parents, created a Herbal School called Wild Rose College of Natural Healing .
As a youth I was submerged into the world of plant medicine. My early years we rich with everything herbal, from plant walks, to sweat lodge journeys, to trips deep into the wild lands. Spending many hours outside, learning the basics of life’s lessons all the while alongside my plant friends, our family even lived in a tipi for some time.
As my school years came, I was fortunate enough to spend my formative years in a waldorf education system. Designed by Rudolf Steiner the father of Bio-dynamic farming and many other natural world aligned philosophical practices. These years, formed a strong awareness and understanding in me around flow, rhythm, art, and community.
Unfortunately the Waldorf School I was in didn’t continue on through highschool, so I moved in to the public system… This was a truly mind altering experience.. I mean, for starters, they take marks off if you hand in assignments in pencil crayon!!
After a few rebellious of wising up to the world I was now submerged in as a young man/teenager, I became hyper award that there was something deeply wrong with the way we treat ourselves, our community and our planet.
Where’s the full circle connection to our actions?
Why do we hurt each other to make ourselves feel better?
Why are we competing with others rather than improving ourselves and each other?
Not knowing what to do with my confusion and growing disillusionment with society I committed to deepening my connection with plants and choose to enroll in the 4 year Clinical Herbalist diploma program offered by my fathers school.
This education was a powerful experience, bringing me much more in touch with the intricacies of the body and our relationship to plants as medicine and allies. During these years I also met my life partner Angela Watt (Willard), who was also studying to be a clinical herbalist.
Upon completion of our herbal programs Angie and I moved to the Comox Valley to learn more directly from the plants and start our clinical practices. After a few years of apprenticeship and wild land connects, it became clear to us that what people really needed most, was not another practitioner, it was a place to have better access to high quality botanicals for their own use.
This lead us to start The Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary, a company who’s mission is to be a medicine bridge, where people can find over 300 organic and wildcrafted herbs from farms, and wild lands all around the world.
Fast forwarding 8 years later to now, I find myself in a place where the mission of deepening our collective connection to the natural world and plant medicine is in full bloom. I spend much time in the wilds working with and learning directly from the plants and the environment. I teach workshops all over Canada and into the United States, as well as have published a variety of herbal blogs, article and over 120 free herbal education videos on our Harmonic Arts Youtube Channel.
If there is one thing that I hope for in all the work I do, it is that more people become inspired to bring a deeper connection to plants and the natural world into their lives.
So enjoy this website my hope is that it is a place that you can come to for new and innovative ways of connecting with nature and health…
© 2017 Yarrow Willard