ADDRESS: 710 26th Ave S. Seattle, WA 98144
WEBSITE: plantloveandharvesthealth.com (coming soon!)
1) What inspired you to become a healer?
This question is so hard to answer! And after an hour of trying to answer it, I think I've discovered why. When I was inspired to go into medicine, I was not inspired to be a healer. I thought biology was awesome and amazing and I wanted to know EVERYTHING about it (I still suffer from this desire), I was a super ultra perfectionist who was super great at school, and I felt like I could be a pretty cold, hard, unfeeling scientist if I needed to be. It made sense for me to want to be a doctor. Originally I wanted to be veterinarian, but my father eventually convinced me that veterinarians simply don't and never will make enough money, so I compromised with human doctor around freshman year of college (interesting epiphany I just had - this is also around the time I realized that I would never really escape him, I expect that has something to do with my finally giving up on vetmed). I also reeeaallly wanted people to like me. From the beginning of my visions as a DO (never wanted to be an MD, not sure if that is more because of the competition fear or more because I wanted to learn OM) I saw myself as a small-town, rural, isolated family practice doctor. Maybe it was because I was going to be a small-town doctor hero and everyone was going to need me at last! A lot of it was because I was intellectually really into and on board with preventative medicine and I felt like I could have this captive audience for this that I could completely infiltrate in a small town (I envisioned myself teaching classes at the school, the library, everybody would know me and stop me to ask me questions and say thank you - yeah, probably a lot of it is the "people will like me" fantasy). My patients could be like the family and friends that I had never had! I was an only child with one emotionally abusive parent and one enabling, also emotionally abused parent, who then moved from the Mexico border to the Canadian border to a very small, tight-knit town right before entering puberty, so I had, from my perspective, NO friends just as the psychological warfare of teenage girl-dom began. It's been a hard, shameful realization for me that a big driving factor for my entrance into medicine was to be liked and admired by other people, but when I really explore my narrative, I realize that this is probably a totally expected result of my experience.
I am a very, very different person now than the one that decided she wanted to be a doctor. At 8 (the earliest I can confidently say I wanted to go into medicine - as evidenced by my veterinarian costume that I wore to school on What-Do-You-Want-To-Be-When-You-Grow-Up Day), I would have told you that I was fairly cold and unfeeling. A very talented actress, but unattached to any of my own feelings (except for at home, of course, when I was being screamed at and I would cry so hard I would vomit - but that was just normal discipline for me being a so "strong willed" right? "Positive reinforcement didn't work" on me.). Now, I wear all of my emotions on my sleeves, in my body, and in my behavior. By 23 I had experienced IBS (bad! 50 lb unintended weight loss!), chronic pain, frequent infections, essential hypertension, addiction, frequent binge eating, frequent binge drinking, obesity, depression, anxiety, and hypomania. And the self harm and suicide "attempts" that I had as a sad little girl who would pathetically slash at her arms, were now completely lethal in the hands of this very-well-educated adult. My one relapse into self harm since the age of 16, which happened senior year of college, forced me to seek treatment 12 hours later in the form of 2 deep and 12 simple sutures when I couldn't get the bleeding to stop.
So I suppose you could say that my inspiration to become a healer has been very slow and gradual and it has occurred in unison with my stages of declining health and with my stages of healing. I think it goes without saying that I could not go to medical school myself seeing as how I had, by 23, developed the resiliency of a butterfly. For 3 years after undergrad I worked in the ER as a scribe and "tested" myself to see if I could do it - overnights, 18 hour shifts, blood, guts, suffering, screaming... I couldn't. On the surface, I still looked OK. All of the providers that I worked for there would tell you that I was one of the most hard-working, bright, and inquisitive people they had ever met, but a few might have made note of my emotional instability as I had been seen more than once disappearing for 20 minutes to the bathroom, returning with eyes red and swollen from crying. Meanwhile, my experience with seeking treatment from the allopathic world seemed like it made me worse and, working in the emergency department while being given diagnoses like "generalized anxiety disorder" and "IBS" while later that day having to listen to the nurses and physicians I worked for rip these patient's motives and character apart, really began to shift my view and opinion of the field. Eventually, out of fear, anxiety, disappointment, laziness, exhaustion, and a lack of any better ideas, I went to school to become a family nurse practitioner. At the time, it gave me some relief to finally decide on a path because the indecision I was experiencing was VERY severe, like - every other day I would switch between thinking that medical school was the best idea in the world and nursing school was a horrible idea to the exact opposite. (Jeeze, borderline much? I just had this epiphany - can my psych folks support or refute this? I've never been diagnosed with borderline, but I think I've noticed some of the patterns in my thinking. Is this type of thinking like a form of splitting?) Within the first weeks of nursing school, however, the flip-flopping was back and it alternated between total joy and happiness at my decision to become a nurse and total regret. Little did I know that this would be the beginning of a truly incredible, healing journey that has taken me to places I never ever thought I would go. Here now, writing this, being one of them!
I honestly believe that 18 year old me would be beyond disappointed at what 29 year old me has become. I found myself screaming at my father earlier this week as he told me what horrible mistakes and choices I was making - "I don't want any of this! I don't want to start my own clinic! I don't want to be "alternative"! I don't want to study
mind-body medicine! I don't want to abandon our medical system!" But our medical system is f***ed and my mind and body simply cannot handle it and this is what life has given me. I'm overwhelmed by the feeling (and the advice - Kayla's has been one of many voices that have told me this) that sharing what I've learned on my healing journey is the Right Thing To Do, for the next stage of my own healing and the healing of my future patients.
2) Describe your dream clinic/practice/workspace/job/ 3) Describe your dream life:
These are kind of all one in the same for me. I've always had like... a strangely well defined 30-year-out vision of what my life is going to be like at any given time in my life. It always stood out to me that this was an abnormal thing to have as a child and young adult, and it especially stood out to me that I spent soooo much of my time thinking about it, but I've now started to understand it as a sort of refuge that I would travel to - in future when things would be better. But in my adult life it has not been doing me many favors as it draws considerable focus and enjoyment from my present life and makes it so that changes in my present that alter my "future refuge vision" feel much more catastrophic than they should.
With that being said. Having a vision for my future is still very much how my brain works and for the last 4-5 years - it has centered around creating this space and retreat center for healing and community and gathering. Very much inspired by what I have felt like I needed for my own deep healing. 20 or 30 beautiful acres somewhere in the pacific northwest, all WWAMI states included, where my partner and I could run this retreat facility that inspires people to get back in touch with nature and their true selves. In Pamela's workbook I drew a cute Victorian farmhouse where I live, a huge organic garden and orchards, an animal barn and pastures, a lake, boats, a big meeting hall with an industrial kitchen, a woodshop, an art studio, an outdoor performance space/amphitheater, cabins, camping space, a legit treehouse and hobbit-hole (those are just construction projects that I have always wanted to take on) , and my airstream converted into a clinic where I can act as "camp nurse" and consult with people one-on-one.
Every morning I would wake up with the sun and go outside to tend to the animals, perhaps with some home-schooled foster kids in tow (I've wanted to be an adoptive/foster parent since I was like 16). Take some reflective and meditative time walking around the property before everyone disperses to their respective "jobs". My partner is a social worker, teacher, chef, and woodworker, so I always envisioned that he would manage the kitchen and the woodshop, teaching and overseeing whoever was there, while I managed the business side and development side . We're both artists and musicians and we both want to run our own retreats/groups/classes, so that would be scattered throughout things too. I'd love to have little free concerts and gatherings with the community. I'm finding it very difficult to explain, but mostly I see my role as the creator and inspire-er for people to come to this space, heal, and then live out their dreams and share that and inspire others.
4) What book are you most excited about and why?
I'm most excited about the money book because I'm $159,000 in debt to my parents and that s*** it f***ed up and I really don't want to be in debt to my parents anymore.
And I'm going to need some $$$ if I'm ever going to build what I described above.
5) What are you hoping to take away from this course?
Can I just manifest my highest hopes for this course here? I'm hoping for deep healing, support, confidence, resolution of my guilt and shame over my story and who I am, and a framework for how I am going to go through life while being present, centered, and well, while still reaching for and heading towards my dreams.