Tag: gardening

health check puzzle piece

Home Medicine Course Teaches Skills You Can Use To Heal Yourself

Marjory Wildcraft is famous in the permaculture/gardening/prepper niches for her no-nonsense way of approaching just about everything. She’s put together a Home Medicine video class series I want to share with you. I took the course last year. Even though I’m a nurse practitioner and natural medicine expert, there were still things I learned for the first time and a bunch that I was reminded I already knew but had forgotten.

Many of us with chronic illness rely on doctors to know what is wrong. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work. If you find yourself in a situation where doctors dismiss your complaints as anxiety or some other psychological cause, you need to take this course.

woman standing next to hoop house
Marjory Wildcraft standing next to the hoop house she used for shade cover at her Texas farm.


Our bodies have a wonderful way of healing themselves if we don’t muck it up too bad. I’m not saying someone with chronic pain can think their way out of it, or that MS is not a real illness. What I am saying is that we need to take control of our health. The best way is to listen to your body. The second best way is to take the Home Medicine 101 course.

Here’s a post that Marjory wrote.

My teenage son coughed and spoke in a hoarse voice “Mom, have you got something for my cold?”

I felt a rush of happiness at his question. I know that seems strange – and I was deeply concerned by all the mucus and congestion – but what made me happy was his faith in my remedies.

He knew the medicines I had were ones I had either made myself…something that I pulled from the pantry…or possibly it would be something I had grown in the garden.

Over the years he had seen me heal the various troubles that come up in every family. He didn’t know the specifics himself, but he knew that I had good medicine and there wouldn’t a trace of those chemicals mentioned in such tiny print you can’t even read it on the bottle.

It didn’t used to be this way.

Like a lot of people, I had a fast-paced, high-stress life with an investment company I had created.

herbs, garlic, oil
Many medicines have ingredients found in the kitchen

When any of us got sick – and it seemed to happen often – my husband, David, or I simply ran to the nearest drugstore, picked up two or three of the various brands of syrup or capsules, and hoped for the best.

We didn’t really know any better.

My son was a small toddler when I first decided to become my family’s primary caregiver. I’ll never forget the day I was on the phone with an attorney – in a fight with a shoddy building contractor – and I saw my son crawling around and playing with his toys on the floor of our home office.

I realized that if I didn’t start changing how I lived I would miss all the joys of really being with my kids. Here I was on the phone with a lawyer, and there was my son playing without me. I would miss everything that I had signed up for when I became a parent.

Including taking care of them when they were sick

Changing my life took many steps. I wound down my financial services company and left Austin, Texas for the small rural community of Red Rock. David and I began cultivating the land and growing our own food. Over time, I became a happier, healthier individual. The good food and the daily exercise made me feel young again.

But even before that, one of the first, simple steps I took toward escaping the clutches of the system was to learn about home medicine and quit depending on pharmacy drugs.

health check puzzle piece
Using home medicine to treat yourself is best.

Fortunately, I had an excellent herbalist teacher who guided me through all the most common ailments for a family; fevers, coughs, colds, bites, stings, wounds, stomach aches, and more. She showed me how to take care of my family with simple materials and techniques; most of which I already had on hand. Through the years I’ve used all I’ve learned and kept my family healthy and happy. 

And now my grown son comes to me when he needs help.These days my family is astonishingly healthy, and this cold is a bit of a rarity. But I am so grateful that his first thoughts are to ask his family for help – and not some big pharmaceutical company.

I believe that 90% of a family’s medical needs can be taken care of at home with herbal remedies. These techniques have been used and handed down for generations because they are effective.

The Home Medicine 101 Certification is an e-course that teaches natural first aid remedies for common afflictions.


✔  Live Q&A Webinar with Herbal Medicine Master Educator, Dr. Patrick Jones.February 28th, at 8pm CST

✔  Edible Flowers: Their Culinary and Medicinal Uses by Kami McBride (a digital video)

✔  Apocalypse Apothecary,by Dr. Patrick Jones (a digital video)

Here’s a link to a site that will explain all that is waiting for you in the videos.



A few New Year reflections on chronic illness

Instead of New Year resolutions, I reflect on the past year, aim to do better this year, and focus my time and energy to that goal. This is, in a way, a resolution but it’s more amorphous than “I will not lose my temper with X.” Every year I’ve done this, the time involved keeps expanding while the energy part seems to be remaining the same.

New Year’s resolutions are just not me. Sure, I tried them when I was still in high school and promptly forgot to do them.  Periodically I’d try again as an adult. But like most of us, I stopped keeping it/them by February. Nowadays there’s enough failure in the lives of people with a chronic illness without adding to it with resolutions that won’t be kept.

Instead of resolutions for 2018, I reflect on the past year and use those thoughts to focus my life in the new year. For example, much of my spring, summer, and fall are consumed with gardening.

tomatoes in straw bale garden
Tomato, kale, and pepper plants from my straw bale garden. I put old carpet down between the rows.

In 2016 I had a large straw bale garden. Reflecting on this in 2017, I saw that while I had an outstanding harvest the previous year, I didn’t save much money over buying my produce at the many farmers’ markets in the area. So my focus was going to be expanding the garden to grow in soil and canning tomatoes.

I found an online 4′ x 8′ raised cedar garden bed and aimed to grow beets, summer squash, carrots, lettuce/mesclun, a few marigolds for insect control, stevia and bush beans. I also planted tomatoes in a 13′ row, runner beans, daikon radish, watermelon, muskmelon, winter squash, and two rows of potatoes. (A generous young man answered my ad for gardening help two years ago when he was a senior in college. Shawn stays on, even though he moved an hour away, and does the digging, some more difficult transplantings, and raking.)

Reflecting on the garden

This year, my reflections are still focussed on the garden and “putting food by” as my grandmother called it. Expanding the garden to three 13′ rows–tomato, potato, and daikon–while also trying square foot gardening in the raised bed took a lot of work initially and throughout last summer and fall. I also planted peas and beans on separate trellises. I would work for an hour or four, depending on my spoons, and then sit and swing on the porch with a refreshing beverage and my Kindle.

My reflections on the growing season in 2018? Potatoes are off the list for the upcoming season…or at least not 26 feet of potatoes.  Since I’m low carb, it will take hubby years to finish the ones harvested last October. Plus, I can buy organic fingerlings at the farmers’ market for about 50 cents/serving. Same with beets and carrots, which did not do well in the raised bed.

Seed catalogs began arriving before Christmas and now I get at least two with every mail delivery. I save seeds from packets purchased earlier and also from my own growing efforts. It’s likely I won’t need to buy any seeds this year. It’s a good thing I have this blog to occupy my time or I would be planning a huge garden with exotic plants (exotic for Zone 4a, at least) to tuck into microclimates.

What are your garden favorites? Do you have enough spoons for an outdoor garden in soil or do you, as I did for years, use containers on a porch or steps?

You may also be interested in these:

What have we done to the earth

10 things successfully healthy people do daily

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Why me?

So why should you want to stick around with me?  

I’m disabled, retired and living in gardening zone 4a in northwestern Wisconsin, about 90 minutes south of Lake Superior and 90 minutes east of the Twin Cities. I have a chronic disease, ME/CFS, a chronic illness, fibromyalgia, and several chronic conditions, such as neuropathic pain. My active diagnoses also include other things most people my age suffer from, like osteoarthritis and hypertension. I’m going to lump all my diagnoses together for the sake of clarity and call it chronic conditions.

On my back porch
On my back porch

I have a long-suffering husband (50 years together in 2020), a daughter doing public affairs for the Army, two smart and sassy granddaughters and a wonderful son-in-law who graciously puts up with being the only male Army spouse in the room. And, there is my constant companion, a German Shepherd service dog, The Divine Miss Em. (Apologies and homage to Bette Midler.)

My chronic conditions meant I spent years in bed, sometimes sleeping for 50 hours or more with only bathroom breaks. I once had a Mensa-quality brain, but sometimes I couldn’t do simple math or recall my thoughts or memories. Often, I couldn’t retain what I read or find the word I wanted to describe something. I dragged myself around on bone-tired legs with painful muscles and joints for years and years, trying this treatment or those supplements. I scoured blogs and medical research publications for anything that could improve my significantly constrained and admittedly lousy existence. The whole time I was attempting to act as “normal” as I could.

My chronic disease is ME

My disability is a neuro-immune disease called myalgic encephalomyelitis, ME for short. It still is known in the US as chronic fatigue syndrome. (PwME) people with ME are slowly, and (im)patiently, working to educate that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)and ME are different entities. However, you will still often see it referred to as ME/CFS. The major symptoms of ME are:

  • profound, zombie-like, down-in-your bones-fatigue that worsens with physical or mental exertion
  • joint and muscle pain
  • unrefreshing sleep
  • relapse lasting days, weeks or even months after exertion

This last bullet point is what separates ME from CFS. 

How I healed my chronic disease

This chronic disease forced me to learn how to make myself healthier. After years of simply existing with no hope of a cure, contemplating suicide at times, I realized my entire lifestyle would have to change if I wanted to see any real, long-lasting improvement in my disease. 

Research was the first step. I quickly understood how food could both be a cause of my poor health and a help in returning to homeostasis, a neutral balance point. I learned how to be a successful organic gardener, as well as traditional ways of preparing and cooking that improved nutrition, digestion and assimilation. My sourdough starter originally came with settlers on the Oregon Trail. I mastered how to culture and make cheese, garlic pickles, sauerkraut, kefir and kombucha. I returned to a regular yoga session, even if it was limited to one pose a day, and stretching my muscles in bed. I was a Buddhist before becoming chronically ill, but I rededicated myself to a regular meditation practice.

Formal nursing education

Think it’s strange a nurse practitioner had to learn about becoming healthy only after getting a chronic disease and being too sick to work? My BSN nursing program incorporated disease prevention, but NPs are primary care providers. We learn how to treat disease and trauma. I worked primarily with chronic disease, chronic illness and chronic conditions in a geriatric and disabled population living in nursing homes, hospices and patients’ homes. Before returning to school in my mid-40s to get a nursing degree, I was an account group supervisor at marketing communications agencies responsible for designing public relations and advertising campaigns for Fortune 500 companies. My career prior to that was a reporter and my first job out of college was show dog kennel manager and trainer.

I quit working near the end of 2008 when mental exhaustion became dangerous to my patients. With the horrendous drop in the markets during The Great Recession, I lost about two-thirds of my nest egg and ended up underwater on the fixer-upper house I’d recently bought. Almost all my remaining retirement funds were invested in weatherizing, installing new windows, a new furnace, remodeling to be more handicapped accessible and otherwise making improvements. I knew I needed a comfortable home with minimal maintenance because there is no cure for ME.

Goals for this blog 

By writing and publishing this blog, I want to share the things I use to remain as well as I can be with a chronic illness, chronic diseases and chronic conditions. I will bring all the education, skills and life-knowledge I’ve acquired to this blog in the hope that I can make someone else’s path a bit easier.