My personal journey began…
as a teenager and continued into adulthood where I spent most of my time indulging in activities that were at odds with my health, both mentally and physically. This behaviour left me in a weak and toxic state. I had hit bottom. From there, I began to see that life could be so much more.
It would happen in Hawaii on a family vacation at age 25. Having spent the first few days more interested in beer than the beauty surrounding me, I came to a realization. My lifestyle was not serving me. Here I was in paradise and It didn't matter. All I cared about was the mindless indulgence of food and drink. Something wasn't sitting right and It was here I experienced my first intuition about changing direction.
This insight changed my trip for the better. The following day, instead of indulging in destructive behaviours, I joined a local wilderness guide on a plant walk through the beautiful diamond head mountain range just outside of Waikiki. I was so impressed with his knowledge of plants that the experience really affected with me.
Like an ember, it would smoulder away undetected in the back of my mind.
Years would pass; the constant ebb and flow between positive insights and old patterns would continue to play out in my life. Many lessons followed, only now I had a reference point and could redirect my focus when life got off track. Having glimpsed the possibility of a better life, I found myself working toward an undefined goal; one that would free me from this cyclical pattern of suffering. Life needn’t fluctuate between extremes. There is a middle way.
A middle path.
"A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its former dimensions." -Oliver Wendell Jones, Jr.
A decade later, I was off to South America. Making my way from Chilé to Columbia, I encountered people who knew the cultural significance and medicinal use of the local plants. Once again, I found myself inspired and the desire to learn about plant medicines grew stronger. When I arrived home, I searched for a place to study herbal medicine. That's when I found Pacific Rim College.
The College was offering an introductory course on Community Herbalism. While discussing my interest in the course with everyone, a family member reminded me of the plant walk a decade prior and how I'd come full circle. I couldn't believe it! I had completely forgotten about this inspiring event in my life. Herbal medicine held the promise of endless learning which I found endlessly attractive. The plants had reached out and gently nudged me in the right direction.
It was a sign, a reminder, I was on the right track.
Just two weeks home and I was off again! This time to Vancouver Island, where I would live and study herbal medicine for the next 3 years. I was in good hands. Pacific Rim College attracts people who share the common desire to help others. Learning herbal medicine was soul satisfying, nurturing, sacred; I knew I wanted to help spread this incredible knowledge.
Herbs bring people together in such beautiful ways!
Two years after graduating, I joined the staff as a dispensary supervisor. The following year, I became a faculty member at Pacific Rim College; teaching observation, supervised & independent clinic, Professional Writing Development, Toxicity of Foods, Materia Medica of Mushrooms and workshops in the permaculture, nutrition, and community herbalist programs. It's an amazing place to work and an honor to work along side such talented healers and teachers.
In 2015, I opened Woodward Phytotherapy- a small clinic located on the peninsula, nestled between the ocean and the rain forest in beautiful Brentwood Bay. The office is a separate building on our property, created specifically for my herbal medicine practice, with easy access via the side-driveway. In 2018, I began providing consultations online via Skype and Facetime, working with people recovering from opiate addiction. A service now open to the public as well.
Herbal medicine calls its practitioners with a request: to heal oneself. In healing ourselves we discover the process and nuances of healing. This process helps us develop our intuitive senses and personal body/sense awareness. Then, as we move out into the world to heal others, there is a sense that our learning is ever present and our work is always evolving.
We are healers, we are teachers, we are advocates for health.
This is my path and I’m very excited to share my knowledge and understanding with my patients.