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esnellingHerbs have always been a part of my life. As a kid, I idolized our family herbalist and would transcribe herbals word-for-word, trying to remember every morsel of information. I dreamed of one day being able to work with the human energy field and be a healer. But somehow, as I got older, this love of plants and natural healing got swept under the rug.

I majored in comparative literature in university, after which some grant writing led into a career in the nonprofit sector. For most of my career, I worked in social services for homeless and very low income people in Oakland and San Francisco, CA, and was unusually fortunate to have many world-class mentors.

Unfortunately, the more I accomplished professionally, the more depressed I became --perhaps because my success was fueled by workaholism, ridiculous hours, and massive amounts of caffeine, cigarettes, and sugar. This unsustainable lifestyle finally caught up to me. I had to take a leave of absence.

My saving grace was my garden. The process of transforming it from weed patch to native plant oasis completely transformed me from the inside out. I gradually lost interest in my professional and social ambitions. I started using TCM, which helped me to quit smoking. I started eating according to Ayurvedic principles. And I found that my mind was finally quiet enough to meditate. Eventually, I found the courage to quit my job and follow my heart out of the city and back to nature.

I lived for a little while at an ashram, and settled in Northern California's Sierra foothills, eventually taking on the role of director of an animal welfare organization that was in crisis. I balanced the work stress with spiritual practice, gardening, and hiking in the forest. I was also initiated into Reiki healing, fulfilling a childhood dream. Those years of living in the forest were truly like paradise for me.

Then I fell head-over-heels in love with a wonderful man, and uprooted to Eastern Nevada. Life in the high desert proved to be an unending series of challenges--chief among them being mold poisoning. We ended up moving five times in under two years, but wound up in North Vancouver, BC -- a forested place that I have totally fallen in love with.

It was my quest to heal poisoning-related health problems that led me to enroll in the East-West Course about two years ago. Little did I know it would change the course of my life! I've now enrolled in acupuncture training and look forward to combining my nonprofit management experience with TCM and Planetary Herbalism, bringing these powerful tools to people who would otherwise have no access to them. I'm particularly interested in mental health and stress management, given the central role that these play in helping people move out of poverty.

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