I am often asked, "What got you into all of this?", and I often respond "I have a strong passion for it." This is true, but the full story goes a little deeper.
I will never forget leaving the St. Vincent's Women's Health center during a summer home from college. I had scheduled an OBGYN appointment at the beginning of summer break and was looking forward to having time with my family and my hometown friends. As I entered what I thought would be a quick-in-and-out appointment, I texted my friends telling them I'd meet them at the pool after my appointment. Everything after that feels like a huge blur. I remember sitting on the table hearing the words "abnormal cells", "cancer", "HPV", "why didn't you get the vaccine?!" and "surgery". I didn't understand what any of it meant. I had so many questions and felt as though I was left in the room to get dressed and be on my way. My doctor had briefly described to me that they found abnormal cells in my cervix, and had identified them as the increasingly common Human Papillomavirus. So, I might have CANCER? Why are there no symptoms? How "abnormal" is "abnormal"? What's HPV?! I felt confused, scared, and like I might die of cancer but wasn't sure why.
I cried for the next week straight, wondering if I was contagious, if I had cancer, and shamed for not getting this "highly recommended" vaccine. My mom was my greatest support especially that week. She left work that day and met me in the nearest parking lot so I could crawl into her car and cry. She told me that we decided a few years back not to get the Vaccine because it was so new: it only protected against a few strands of HPV, and there had been multiple stories of women suffering greatly from faulty effects of the vaccine.
When I returned a few weeks later for a follow-up appointment, my doctor quickly went over my options. I could wait a year and let it clear on its own, or I could have the walls of my cervix scraped away with a laser and potentially never be able to have children. She highly recommended the surgical procedure. This seemed like absolute nonsense to me...pay thousands of dollars for an invasive surgery to get rid of abnormal cells, orrrrrr let it go away on its own. What?!
This was when I truly awoke. Normally, I would have blindly followed any doctor's recommendation...because they went to school for this stuff, right? I would have put my full trust in her and accepted my "diagnosis". However, something felt wrong about all of it. I went home and spent hours researching online (mostly to find the same articles copied and pasted into various WebMD-like sites)... until I found the book "HPV & Cervical Dysplasia" by Jane Semple, MA, ND. It was a small booklet, and only available on one website for $120. (This was before Amazon...now it's $12, shipped tomorrow). My longtime friend, Alicia, was in medical school at the time, so I asked if her university library carried the book...they did not, so she went above and beyond to have it transferred from another medical school for her to rent, and for me to borrow.
As soon as the book arrived, I sat on my bed and read it word for word, from front to back, jaw dropping, crying, and asking WHY over and over in my head. WHY didn't my doctor tell me that by changing my diet and vitamin intake, HPV could be treated within 6 months? WHY didn't I know that the strand of HPV I contracted was not one of the cancer-causing strands? WHY did my doctor not ask me about my diet or health habits? WHY didn't I know that a plethora of plants were available to heal women's reproductive organs? I became really upset...upset at my doctor for not telling me all of this. Upset that this information was so hard to access. Upset that this wasn't mainstream information. And upset that I was a week away from spending thousands of dollars on an invasive surgery when all I had to do was change my diet and vitamin intake.
I started to become obsessed with this new way of being healthy. I wanted to know which plants would prevent my dad from becoming a diabetic. I wanted to know what essential oil I could give my friend to help her migraines. The more I read, the more I realized that there truly was a plant for EVERYTHING. Later that year, I went to California to learn more. I wanted to help people discover this amazing, empowering, and fun way of healing themselves. I took a course in Ayurveda, a very ancient healing practice, also known as "the science of life". During that course, I was lucky enough to listen to Dr. Andrew Weil give a lecture on healthcare. He pointed out that the nutrition course at most medical schools is a one-time blowoff class. He talked about how food is medicine, how our diet so directly affects our health. He talked about stress relief, yoga, meditation, breathing, sleeping...how all of it is connected. How the human body requires so much more than a pill or surgery to feel vibrant and healthy. This made sense. This felt true, honest, and real.
I came home from that trip feeling like I had just discovered the meaning of life...like I was holding the most precious gold in my hands and in my heart. I could not keep it to myself. I started making all kinds of remedies and sharing them with people. I was constantly reading, testing things out on myself, ordering more books, keeping notes, spending more time outside to meet new plants...I wanted to make this information more available to everyone. And as if out of nowhere, FLO was born.
FLO continues to evolve everyday, and most of the time I look at it all and think "Who made all of this?!" There is most definitely a greater force working through me, the gentle spirit of plants showing me the way. Sometimes when pairing plants I ask them if they could be friends with each other...most of the time they say yes:) Logic seems to fall by the wayside as I listen intuitively to what needs to be created next; what plant wisdom and healing our world needs next.
I find myself more and more curiously fascinated every single day by how nature works. How there truly is a plant for everything. How nature provides anything a human could ever need. How it speaks to us. And how stunningly, synchronistically, & magically it all works together. This planet is really special. It's time to remember how to treat ourselves, and each other, with the same reverence Earth provides for us. It's time to treat the Earth with that same reverence back. It's time to revel in her beauty...to make the most of the time we have to enjoy the Mother of Nature.
A favorite guided meditation to bring more love to our planet: