Meet our September student of the month: Meret Giacomini!
I spent most of my childhood in a mimosa tree day dreaming and imagining that the pink fiber optic tutu-like flowers were twirling ballerinas. Instant Nutcracker Suite heaven! Little did I know I was sitting in the middle of a great big "happiness tree" (albizzia), the bark of which I would one day be recommending to my clients to lift their mood.
When I finally climbed down from the mimosa tree and got my "higher" education, I studied (and good Lord, later got a degree in) psychology. However, looking back, I realize the only academic class I really ever looked forward to was a plant taxonomy class (no, I wasn't learning to stuff plants). The class was taught by William Neiring, a kind of "Julia Child of the Wild," a botanist and teacher at Connecticut College in New London, CT. He later authored the Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers: Eastern Region. From January to June we were out in the Connecticut woods noticing how dogwood twigs telescope, and how sweet a sweet birch twig tastes, and later tiptoeing into muddy neverlands to see skunk cabbage declaring the end of winter.
I spent the last two years of college attending as many dance classes as I could possibly fit into my schedule and squeezing in some academics here and there. Dancing has been a lifelong love. If there are any genius bones in my body, they are in my feet! And I must say, if I thought I could heal people by dancing, I would do it. Just when I thought dancing was everything, I had a baby girl. Full-time Mom-ing became my favorite pastime.
In 1985, my daughter and I moved from Oklahoma to Fairfield, IA, to be part of a community of 3,000 meditators. Sarah was 5 and ready to waltz into kindergarten and I waltzed into the world of Ayurveda. At that time, Ayurveda was just being introduced to our little community. There were Indian vaidyas (doctors) coming to town and a clinic opening up. Ayurveda went right into my heart and up and down my spine. I had one of those moments of absolute clarity that this was my new direction. I verbally tackled one of the vaidyas saying "Hey, this is what I want to do!" Judging by the look in his eyes he was probably thinking, "Uh, hmm, you go meditate some more. Don't call us, we'll call you."
Soon after, the Ayurvedic clinic was opened here and I went to visit it. I walked in the door and the receptionist/nurse looked at me and said, "You would make a good Ayurvedic technician. Would you like to interview?" I walked out with a job. I steeped myself in Ayurvedic "teching" for six years, administering abhyanga, shirodhara, swedena, pizzichili, udvartana, pindasweda and, of course, bastis (herbalized oil enemas) to over 2,000 patients. At the end of six years I felt both a saturation in Ayurveda (and sesame oil!) and a yearning for more. My job as a "tech," though priceless, did not allow me to have the full knowledge I was seeking, only enough to perform the treatments I was doing. My desire for more knowledge was never fulfilled in this situation. What a great relief it was (years later) to find East West School of Herbology with its doors of knowledge wide open to its students.
I enrolled in East West school about three years ago after some considerable soul-searching about what would be the best way to contribute something good to this world. I thought about my fascination with the use of herbs as medicine. I read Jethro Kloss' Back to Eden and John Lust's The Herb Book (like every good back-to-naturish person did back in the '60s). I was constantly recommending some herb to someone or taking one myself, but without the great traditional knowledge of herbal energetics I was only partially satisfied. I heard that feverfew was good for migraines and it worked for me. Some things were less successful and I understand now why.
So, in my soul searching, I came to some conclusions: I had spent a lot of my life recommending and trying herbal remedies; I wanted to know what I was doing; I wanted to be able to go as deep as I wanted to go; and that one-size-fits-all herbalism wasn't for me. So I checked out every school I could find online and East West stood out like a shining star!
As far as my aspirations, I want to help people and I want to see where this new phase of learning leads. I plan to finish my professional herbalist studies by the next spring seminar, complete the certification process, apply to the American Herbalists Guild, and then hang out a shingle and see who shows up.