April, 2014


After spending the afternoon harvesting wild thistle, I became very grateful for the ease of eating an artichoke, a thistle cultivated for food purposes.  I expended a lot of effort for very little food, but I can't say the afternoon was a wash - I was inspired and connected to be interacting with my environment.  Did anyone else try to eat any part of the thistle?  I found the stems to be the easiest - just snap in two, and the outer part peels off quite easily.  An easy harvest for what is similar to our celery.  

The Fourth Friday Body Parts, a class I offer to inform those who are interested to appreciate rather than be afraid of their "body parts", will be held on the First Friday of May this month (May 2) 10-12 AM and 7-9 PM due to the fact that I will be out of town. This class will focus on the vagus nerve and the influence it has on almost every part of our body.  It is in constant communication with our outside world via the sounds we hear (the vagus nerve begins in the cranium next to our hearing sense), innervates our face, our throat, our esophagus, and our digestive system as well as our heart, lungs, and (recently discovered) our sexual organs.  It constantly tells the brain what it is picking up (I feel it in my gut, I know it in my heart) and can be considered our inner guardian. We will discuss the anatomy of this important nerve (the longest in our body), and techniques on how to sooth and understand this nerve that has the power to "reset" our nervous system so it can repair and grow.  If you are interested, please email to reserve your spot. $15, limited to 9 people.


On my first day of massage school, I was assigned to read any article in a massage magazine and write a report on it.  Random selection presented me with an article on the Aborigines in Australia for whom touch was a very important part of their community.  When a baby was born, EVERYONE in the tribe came to touch and hold the baby, physically integrating the infant into the community of humans as well as imparting very important ancestral bacteria capable of instructing the newly forming immune system.  The family continued to touch and massage the infant throughout the first years of life, and as the infants became children, they massaged their parents, and as teenagers, their job was to massage their grandparents.  By doing this, these individuals became truly connected to a community, and came to understand each other in a most profound way.  One of the most astounding teachings I learned in massage school was how to touch and to be touched.  I would wish that blessing on everyone.  


For all you new parents, here's an excellent opportunity to learn this skill.  Suzanne Harper is offering a baby bonding class that teaches infant massage on Wednesday, April 30 - 1-2:30 pm at the Women's Center for Healing in Abita Springs.  $25 is the suggested donation. 985-789-9321  From Dr. Frederick Laboyer: “Being touched and caressed, being massaged, is food for the infant. Food as necessary as minerals, vitamins, and proteins.”  I would like to add - for all of us!
On Saturday, April 26, 2014, the South Mississippi Herb Festival will be held at Epley Depot Garden Center, 3920 Hwy 589, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, with presentations by many of our favorite teachers: Betty Sue O'Brian on Iridiology and Herbs for each Body System, Darrell Martin's wondrous herb reveries, and Lynda Baker on flower essences. Sandy King, Joffrion Mitts, and Jan Hernandez will also speak and a vegetarian lunch will be available.  Contact John Osborne, master of ceremonies, at
The vibrant Covington Farmer's Market (  will be having a Wellness Day on Saturday, May 3.  Be sure to check it out to see what your community has to offer.

For an historical perspective on how health and medicine was practiced in New Orleans during the 1800's, visit the Pharmacy Museum in New Orleans.  Located on Chartres Street, this pharmacy, otherwise known as an apothecary, dates back to 1816.  On Thursdays and Fridays at noon there is a wonderful "tour" ($5.00) presented by a lively actor/worker.  

To experience a contemporary apothecary (so different than a Rite Aid or CVS!), visit Maypop Herbs in New Orleans at 1036 Franklin Avenue,  mayppopherbshop@gmail.com504-304-5067  or visit Rosalie Apothecary, located at 3201 Toulouse Street, which will open with live music and refreshments on May 3, 2014, from 1-4. (

Save the date for the Annual Herb Walk and Swim in Artesian Waters at Regeneration Springs on May 25, 2014.

I also want to share with you that there will be two visiting herbalists in the fall: Phyllis D. Light (September 26-28) and Jim McDonald (October 25-26)! 

Phyllis Light is a 4th generation Appalachian Herbalist from Alabama (, and she will be offering workshops on how to generate and maintain a healthy balance of the chemical and hormone messengers in our bodies that help us be happy, interact with our community and bond with each other, as well as a special workshop designed to explore our personal stories in "The Spirituality of Story - How our Stories Influence our Health and Happiness". 

Phyllis will help us to explore how we develop our personal identity through our stories that we create, and how they are influenced by those around us, and how these stories in turn influence how we see ourselves, how others see us, how we view our world, how we find our place in it, and ultimately, our health.

So much a part of my practice is to provide a means for listening to our stories, and understanding how these stories are expressed in our bodies. From Phyllis: "By understanding our stories, we can change them: they are still being written and the ending is mutable." 

Jim McDonald ( will team up with Darrell Martin for a lovely weekend in the woods at Blue Boy Herbs (, Carriere, Mississippi, for an in-depth and sensual exploration of herbs: we will discover their 

energetics: through seeing, smelling, tasting, hearing and appreciating.

If you are interested in any of these events, email and I can make sure you are notified of updates of location and price. 

If you do not wish to be on this newsletter mailing list at all, let me know and I will remove your email address from future mailings.

I am traveling to Albuquerque this week to take another class in nerve release for the upper body - torso, arms and neck!  I look forward to returning home and sharing these new skills.  See you in May!  


Do you recognize this plant?  It is growing all over my yard.  It is called cleavers (Galium aparine) and is a wonderful spring tonic!  You can be sure it is cleavers if it clings to your clothes or your hands as you touch it.  The plant’s sticky nature comes from tiny hooked hairs growing out from the leaves and ridges of the stems, later it will produce tiny greenish white flowers.  

Cleavers has a diuretic action, aiding elimination of wastes, and also acts to enhance the lymphatic system, promoting lymphatic drainage of toxins and wastes so that they can be excreted via the urinary system. Susun Weed reports that it can also be helpful in reducing allergic reactions.  Its bitter properties stimulate liver function and enhance digestion and absorption. A cooling drink made of cleavers was traditionally given every spring to "clear the blood". 
Harvest it now when young and prolific.  It can be added to salads, or cooked in a little water as a leaf vegetable. Cleavers is also a good skin tonic: it will soothe and cool burns, sunburn, inflammatory skin problems such as eczema and acne, and clear skin blemishes.

To make a tea, add 1-2 tsp of chopped cleavers to a cup of boiled water.  To make a tincture, harvest the top two thirds of the plant when it flowers or as it is setting seed and place in 100 proof vodka. To make a facial wash, bring one quart of water to a boil and add to cleavers. Cover and steep for 40 minutes and wash the face and neck. Or steep, then use as a facial steam.  

4th Friday Body Parts Class:  Continues tomorrow, February 28, at 10 AM - 12 NOON and 7 PM - 9 PM. Spaces available.  This month will be a repeat of the respiratory system (last 4th Friday was quite icy as you may recall, and not many were able to make it).  The respiratory is our amazing interface with the outer world.  This is how we connect to the "soup" that we are part of, or how we distance ourselves from it.  It is also an amazing portal to our inner world, sending and receiving  messages about our state of being.  To breath is to be alive.  Come to learn and experience the importance of "taking a deep breath" to feel relief or to take something in deeply.
Which is a nice segue into next 4th Friday Body Parts Class:  When we breathe, we feel.  This class will be on the digestive system, and we will discuss digesting the emotions.  To begin emotional digestion, you must first feel them, and to feel them, you begin with getting in touch through your breath.  This class will be on the 4th Friday of March, March 28, same times.  
Classes limited to 9, so please register by phone or email.

Continuing Studies

The abdominal and thoracic nerve workshop I attended in Los Angeles this month was phenomenal, and I have learned so much about the nerves and how they are like strings of an instrument, picking up the vibrations of our outer world.  I knew that nerves were embedded between the ribs, but I didn't realize that all of these intercostal nerves also were the nerves that feed our digestive system.  If they are not happy, neither is your digestion.  As I work with these nerves, I feel like I am the blind piano tuner I remember from my college days, listening and easing the tension so they can play beautiful music.  

Here are two learning adventures close to home which you can all join me on:  The Louisiana Naturalist Program and the Darrell Martin/Matthew Wood Laid Back Herbal Intensive.  

The Louisiana Master Naturalist spring session is already in full swing, but you can apply for Fall  or Spring programs of 2014-15 if you are interested in educating yourself about the flora and fauna of our environment in which we co-exist with hands on, out in the field education.  This awe inspiring program includes 9 field trips that take place in the varied eco-systems  of our region and are led by the most enthusiastic naturalist, Bob Thomas.  Read about it in the current issue of Country Roads:

The Darrell Martin/Matthew Wood Laid Back Herbal Intensive will be held in Carriere, Mississippi, March 22-23rd, and is a rare opportunity to go on herb walks with two master herbalists, one local and one from afar, and meet the herbs that grow all around us, and are here for our  healing.  Matthew Wood is one of the herbalists I studied with in France a few years back, and this will be his first trip to Mississippi.   Find out more here:

Maypop Community Herbshop in New Orleans will be hosting three herbal workshops: Thomas Easley: Herbal Antibiotics on March 9th, Lindsay Wilson: Liver/Lymph Support with Spring Weeds on March 20th, and Janet Kent: Herbs for Mental Health on March 26th. Find out more at:

And for those of you wishing to participate in a year-long Rosemary Gladstar Herbal Immersion Class  that teaches you how to create your own herbal tinctures, lotions and salves (read here for more info:, there are two courses available locally: 

Sharon Murphy in St. Tammany Parish

Betty Sue O'Brian and Nina Day  in Mississippi 

Enjoy your part in life!

Some of you are new to the idea of uterine and abdominal massage, so I am excited to share with a journalist's story of her journey to heal from painful monthly menstrual cramps.  After trying many routes to ease the pain, she discovered The Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy with fellow practitioner Megan Assaf (originially from Louisiana) and its positive effects on the uterus. 

Abdominal massage is not well known in Louisiana, much less external pelvic/uterine massage, so I thought you might appreciate listening to this 11 minute interview. Here's the link: 

What is particularly interesting to note is the journalist shared her experience of this massage with the director of maternal-fetal medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine, who is also an OB/GYN physcian.  The doctor agreed that the massage would be beneficial to help the uterus to relax and increase blood and lymphatic flow, and although she didn't believe that the uterus could "learn" a new position, the attached ultrasounds of the uterus show a uterus much more centered than before the massage began. Perhaps if we clap hard enough, Tinkerbell will live! 

Think about what our language tells us about our nerves(:

That loud sound is getting on my nerves.

My nerves are frazzled.

I am a bundle of nerves.

She has nerves of steel.

I need to get up enough nerve.

The film touched a raw nerve.

We know we have them, we know they can become stressed, but what is their purpose?Communication!We have billions of cells that carry out specific functions in the body, and each of these cells has thousands of sensory receptors that extract information from our internal and external environment, knowledge which is then relayed to our central nervous system so it can conduct the wonderful orchestra we call "I." From this information, our central nervous system determines appropriate responses and sends out signals to our viscera, muscles and glands, allowing rapid coordination of organ systems to carry out their functions and creating theability to have complex social interactions.

I have just come back from participating in an inspiring workshop in Chicagodeveloped by French osteopaths Jean-Pierre Barral and Alain Croibier where Ilearned techniques on how to release restrictions in the nerves of the pelvic area, which included the nerves of the low back, sacrum, genital area, legs and feet. Just like the viscera, a nerve only functions correctly when it is able to move freely within its surrounding structures. When it can move without restraint, the nerve is insured a rich blood supply and proper drainage, allowing uninterrupted communication.When a nerve becomes fixated, it loses its ability to glide and stretch in length, becoming hard and sensitive, or painful, to the touch, and creates a pressure that interferes with the blood supply and electromagnetic conductivity.OUCH.

The release of these sensitive nerve buds (Barral calls them "witnesses") favorably effects corresponding muscles (which tighten to protect the nerve), joints (which lose their elasticity due to the tightness), fascia, viscera, brain and nerves (our EMOTIONAL centers). Yes, the nervous system is the carrier of our EMOTIONS.We are a great big antennae picking up on the signals of our environment and sending them out as well - let's get in tune!

In February, 2014, I will be able to further enhance my abdominal massage therapy practice when I attend a special class on nerves in the viscera of the abdomen and thorax.

I appreciate all of my clients who have been with me on my journey of learning and enabled me to bring this fascinating knowledge of the human body back to our community and put it into practice.I had no idea when I began how extensive this learning process would continue to be, but I have found that the new paradigms of the body which embrace the body as more than the sum of its mechanical parts has opened a whole new world.We are truly powerful people! I believe that healing is a profound journey that should be unraveled rather than silenced!

Remember, a truly therapeutic treatment plan includestouch, enabling the parasympathetic healing response and freedom of movement and flow within and without;herbs, self care and nutrition, great allies in the healing journey; empoweringeducation; and transformativeemotional releases.

For your empowering EDUCATIONAL experiences:

Enjoy your time here!  It is a gift.