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From the Publisher

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Dear Kendall County Woman reader,

If there’s anything the past 18 months has taught us, it’s that our health is something we should take extremely seriously. Yes, I’m referring to COVID, but hopefully you also have come to understand that the health of our own bodies as well as our collective family is vitally important and something we all might have taken for granted in the past.

With this in mind, we put together a special “Alternative Medicine” issue for this September/October issue!

“Medicine” means a lot of different things to people nowadays. We ask more questions, we research more, and we understand more about the care that is offered to us than perhaps ever in our history. As such, we wanted to take a moment to introduce you to a few of these practitioners that specialize in forms of healthcare that you might not be familiar. Kim Verbeke, Helene Gross, and Dondi Persyn are all leaders in their respective fields…fields that you might not even have known existed.

These women help people with a myriad of issues, from physical to emotional, utilizing a variety of techniques and specialties that you might dismiss at first glance, but shouldn’t. The more studies are conducted on alternative medicines, the more evidence is uncovered showing that “health” is achieved via a variety of journeys, many considered “alternative”. So enjoy these profiles with an open mind, research the people profiled, and if they are fitting for your situation, give them a try. We promise you that they are experts in their respective fields!

As for the rest of this issue, we cover a lot. From herbal teas to first hand accounts of hypnotism, there’s something for everyone. So dive in, learn something new, and expand your knowledge. Your health (and your family’s health) is perhaps the most important things in your life, and treat it accordingly. If you ever have an idea or suggestion for a future issue, please don’t be shy! Reach out to any of us to the right and let’s start a conversation.

Thanks so much for reading, and thank you even more for your support throughout these years!

Sincerely,

Peggy Schooley

Healing with Teas

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There is something about pouring a cup of herbal tea, either by yourself or with a friend, and holding that warm cup in your hands, that makes everything in the world seem alright. There are so many options of tea flavors to choose from these days. So, which do you pick? I’m going to share a few of the beneficial teas with healing properties that will be sure to make your day or night go a little smoother.


Fennel Herbal Tea
Fennel has been used for medicinal and culinary purposes since around 800 BC. In ancient Greece and Rome, it was used for a variety of purposes such as a dieting agent, a muscle enhancer, and to treat kidney stones. Greek doctors even used the leaves and seeds of fennel to create a tea to help nursing mothers increase their milk supply.

Dandelion Herbal Tea
Dandelion tea can be used for weight loss because it promotes the breakdown of fat and cholesterol. It can also improve digestion by stimulating the gastric acids in your stomach, which can then encourage the activity of fat metabolizing enzymes. It is also a diuretic, which means it will help you eliminate excess water and bloating from your body, making you feel lighter. It also helps promote strong bones, as it contains essential minerals such as calcium, zinc, iron, and magnesium, which are important in preventing osteoporosis and anemia.

Cinnamon Herbal Tea
Cinnamon is known to clear the brain, improve cognitive speed, increase focus, and encourage the growth of neural pathways. It is also very effective for calming an upset stomach, gas, and diarrhea, and improving digestive health. The antioxidants help boost the immune system, to guard you against colds, the flu, and infections.

Lemongrass Herbal Tea
Lemongrass is known for its removing properties and it helps the body rid itself of cholesterol, toxins, fats, and uric acid. This helps lower blood pressure. It also contains high amounts of potassium that stimulates blood circulation by increasing the production of urine, relieving fluid retention. Because it is a rich source of vitamins A and C, lemongrass is also great for the health of your skin and hair.

Chamomile Herbal Tea
When chamomile’s vapors travel to the olfactory part of the brain, it reduces your body’s stress and tension, which can also help promote sleep. It helps relax the muscles in the intestines and stomach, which can also help relieve symptoms that are associated with gastrointestinal issues such as pain and anxiety.

Violet Herbal Tea
Violets have been studied since the late 1800s, and have proven themselves to be equal to oranges and spinach in terms of vitamin C and A respectively. Violet is one of the herbal tea remedies for severe headaches. It is also an effective anti-inflammatory that can help relieve bronchitis, joint and muscle inflammation, and skin rashes.

Thyme Herbal Tea
Thyme is both an expectorant and disinfectant, making it a remedy for sore throats. It is also effective in reducing fevers and lessening the duration of whooping cough and asthma attacks. It is also an effective remedy for gastrointestinal discomfort and diarrhea and is safe for use by children. It can also help reduce the pain of a headache.

Spearmint Herbal Tea
Spearmint is helpful in treating colic and gas. Because of its anti-inflammatory effects, it is also a remedy for dyspepsia, stomach spasms, the swelling of tissues, and nausea and vomiting. Because it reduces the inflammation in gastrointestinal tissues, it improves your digestion and nutrient absorption.

Natural Healing in the Hill Country

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Written by Ben Schooley
Photography by Paula VM Photography

Alternative medicine and holistic healing practices have become a topic that more residents are having in our area with each passing year. As our exposure to information increases, so does our knowledge on possible remedies to our health and well being struggles.

Whether emotional, spiritual, or physical…we all have issues that we want resolved in our lives and “Just go to the doctor” isn’t always the best and final solution. As women continue to investigate treatments for themselves and their families, we talked with 3 of the area’s most prominent professionals working the front lines of these practices to discuss their specialties, who most benefits, and why.


 

 

HELENE GROSS (left)
DONDI PERSYN (center)
& KIMBERLY VERBEKE (right)


 

Dr. Kim Verbeke, Traditional Naturopathic Physician and owner of Avita By Dr. V here in Boerne, has always had a propensity for healthy medical choices. So much so that she
ultimately received her degrees in Traditional Naturopathic Medicine in 2014 and has been advising people on healthy medical choices ever since.

She begins, “I was raised around more traditional and natural health choices. When other people’s mom were taking kids to pediatricians, my mom was taking us to homeopathic doctors. It was normal for me. I had worked in the medical field prior to going to school and so I had been around the industry for a while. I wanted to be a doctor early on, but I was disillusioned with how people were treated – they treat the symptoms and not the cure and I never cared for that.”

Naturopathic doctors might not be a term you’re familiar with, but Verbeke explains, “Naturopathic doctors are kind of what doctors used to be – we look at the root cause and while we use supplements, I have a medical director and will prescribe actual medications, but only if they are truly necessary – if someone has a migraine, we’re looking at lifestyle issues that might be causing the migraine. We look at holistic health problems – the root causes for the disease – the toxins, the missing nutrients, or you have a toxic load. It’s not always that simple, but it often is.”

After a comprehensive lab panel test, Verbeke is able to identify the deficiencies and issues that can be plaguing a patient. She continues, “I can’t tell you how many parasites or some sort of toxic exposure I see in the clinic – those are things I see a lot of. They’re super common but normal MDs aren’t testing for them. On a hematology panel, there are certain markers that are elevated when you have parasites – there’s tons of them and people don’t realize that they have them – and they can wreak havoc on your health. I had a lady that I was working with that was getting sicker and sicker and they kept telling her that her thyroid was the problem. She couldn’t drive to her appointments without having to rest. After our lab panels and some other testing, I discovered that she had rope parasites, and we got rid of the ropes and she had a new life. This foreign organism sucking up all of her nutrients – it’s fascinating.”

Just like any good physician, Dr. Verbeke is serious about not only her patient’s health, but how they are treated within her clinic. “Normal MDs normally give you about 7 minutes. What can you possibly learn after 7 minutes? I spend a 30 minute consult which normally becomes about an hour and a half typically. I want to learn the pieces of the puzzle and put them together. I also have a great group of practitioners that I talk with on a regular basis and consult with on the more complex cases. I wanted to practice in a way that was different. I want people to walk away from our time together saying that their life is better. They’re sleeping. They can think clearly. Their overall health. When you’re healthy that also spills over into all parts of your life and truly gives you the best quality of life.”

After some of her own health struggles a few years ago, to ultimately finding a more natural remedy for her ailments, Verbeke had found her passion. She explains, “For me, what pushed me down the road into my career was realizing that many of the MDs didn’t really know how to help me. They’d just throw a bunch of hormones at me and tell me that those would make me feel better. But they’re not going to fix the root causes of my issues. There has to be a way to fix this that can help me figure this out and put the pieces together and it just catapulted me from there. It was really frustrating trying to find someone that could help me.”

As for the future of the clinic. Verbeke continues to grow and add services, along with just generally wanting to raise awareness locally. She finishes, “I have some things I’m looking at adding to the clinic, I love educating people around town about super simple changes you can make that can create meaningful change and I love talking with people about that – being healthy and feeling well are based on the choices you make day over day and I love educating people like that – I’d love to do more group educating of people because it’s fun and I love talking with them about it. This community is amazing, I’ve loved growing my relationships and would be blessed to continue helping people with their overall health…in a natural and healthy way.”

“I love educating people around town about super simple changes you can make that can create meaningful change and I love talking with people about that. Being healthy and feeling well are based on the choices you make day over day.”


 

Dondi Persyn takes special notice of the scents around her. So much so that she has re-invented her career around the emotions and benefits she finds in her custom scents she produces via her business, Rosewood Maison, LLC. A Boerne resident, Persyn has developed a niche of providing consumers with her custom created fragrances designed to uplift, heal ailments, both visible and emotional.

 

Persyn begins, “I have a background in histology and marketing but I always knew I wanted to work with oils and herbs. I have some goats on my property – they got lice from the deer and I wanted to treat them in a way that wouldn’t harm them. I looked up some oils, treated them, and they got shiny, happier, and I thought that it smelled quite good so I started using it around the house and around myself.” From these simple beginnings, Rosewood Maison was born, a farm and fragrance company that creates custom signature scent products for luxury clients including fragrances, oils, soaps, salt, soaks candles – each item handcrafted. However, she is focused on far more than providing a signature scent for your home or business. She is vested in your spiritual and emotional health and well-being.

 


With her corporate scent marketing background, Persyn balances her professional experiences while trying to infuse her more spiritual or “natural” sides of her work. She explains, “I have my scent marketing world and I have my earthy intuitive world. I want to bring them together more – I want to expose people to alternative ways of thinking and getting back to authenticity – REAL things. Natural, non-toxic ingredients.  Healing, uplifting herbs and oils. Being vulnerable. I see so much fear in our lives now and so many fake things. I want my clients and the people in my groups to heal naturally and grow in that authenticity.

Utilizing an enneagram personality profile, and some honest discussions about the struggles in your life, Persyn works with her clients to journey to healing. She continues, “My individual clients for the oils are my enneagram clients. I create oils specific to their life path. It’s a spiritual journey – it’s ancient wisdom and it’s powerful. I share that wisdom with companies and groups, but I really enjoy couples or groups.  After 28 years of studying the enneagram, I developed the inner-child enneagram theory: You were born a certain way, then life happened, and you began acting and thinking a certain way. You learned ways to navigate your life. I try to guide people back to their inner child, where we started, and how God created us to be. What’s our gift? And what is stopping us from getting there again? When we understand your vices and virtues, I can create oils to help ease that resistance. The enneagram teaches that we see things in 9 different ways. We all see the world differently. This is what our family says we should be. Our job. Our partners. But what path are we on? Take off your glasses and view the world differently. “

While you might have heard of “enneagram”, Persyn explains the science behind it: “It’s not religion specific, it’s a spiritual tool. The enneagram teaches you to do the opposite of what you WANT to do, so it’s challenging.

On occasions, I honor my ancestry by drumming with healing groups. The vibrations are super healing and when coupled with essential oils. The vibrational healing is very real and it’s extremely helpful. You can drum out anxiety. In the Native traditions, you can drum the specific areas for perspective, action, to let go, and to honor our ancestors. When you go through the steps of drumming, it brings about the whole healing. And really that’s my motivation: to heal, live authentically and to help my clients do the same.”

Asked about how the area has received her practice, Persyn is honest and unapologetic. “My family are really the only ones who give me a hard time. I suppose – my sister, my dad…. he was injured and I wanted to get him to do yoga and give him essential oils to help him and they made fun about it. I’ve been preaching enneagram to them and they have been skeptical …but most recently my family are starting to come around.  If they’d just spend some time with me, I know it heals, but it’s always about getting them past their own notions…. I don’t use the word HELP because it’s the sunny side of control, but I guide you. Assist you. And I absolutely love it. I’ve experienced similar things here in town – some people question what I do, and some embrace it. Many clients have said to me that it has been beneficial, but yes, you have to be open to a new way to address healing.”

“My individual clients for the oils are my enneagram clients. It’s a spiritual journey – it doesn’t really matter where it comes from, but it’s ancien wisdom and it’s powerful.”


 

Helene Gross, owner of My Divine Connexion, wears many hats. Working in a variety of practices, from professional hypnosis to “energy healing”, she is one of the area’s most well known “clinicians” that works in these areas. Through a life full of experiences, both good and not so good, Gross passionately works with clients to move them through their issues to a healthier, better life.

She begins, “I’m originally from Denmark. My family was in the military, so we moved all over. One of those moves was to Puerto Rico, where I ended up staying for 5 years. I married and moved back to Denmark. Ultimately, I moved to Texas which is simply perfect for me. That was in 2009.” Before her arrival in Texas, however, Gross’ life changed while in Mexico in 2003. She continues, “I surrendered to what I was supposed to have done. I opened up my life to accept what I was supposed to be doing and whatever I have done that was wrong. I let go of everything physical – I went into an indigenous tribe on the Pacific ocean that more or less told me ‘We’ve been waiting for you’. They gave me a necklace and I started crying – that necklace was one that I was given when I was very little that broke before I left for the US – it wasn’t exactly the same necklace, but it was from the same tribe. They showed me their medicines and philosophies and how they worked.”

Gross had been working online with many clients in her varied skills and mediums, but following the trip to Mexico, her skills were refined further. “What do I actually do? It’s literally going in and helping you connect with YOU. In that way, also clearing your body of spiritual and emotional negative energy, opening you up for a flow. Together with “the Divine”, I work on your cellular being but also on your frequency. You know when you feel down and out and you see everything through muddy glasses, a victim standpoint, I help you move from the victim standpoint to the empowerment. I go into your deepest issues, with your permission, and pull that out with you so that you can release that which stops you in your life. The beliefs and limiting behaviors we carry from childhood…I help you dispel those things. Deprogramming what you’ve been programmed with. I work with PTSD – the entire world is going through a programming of fear this past year and a half. That fear gets you to make decisions on fear, which is never good for you.”

Utilizing her training, skills, and passion for not only your health but your emotional well being, Gross does credit her spiritual connections with her success rate. She continues, “I have a home office where you lay on the massage table and we work with frequency. It goes in and raises your whole body and system via the technology. It’s a healing mechanism. I then work with your guides and mine to connect you to your own wisdom – your own intuition. It comes from you that is not physical, it’s the non-physical. This is very hard to explain. As an open channel, you allow God to come through you, and you allow the energy to do the work. After we’ve established a flow in your body, we go into deep relaxation similar to hypnosis – you’re no longer in your critical thinking. Once your body is flowing through your body, you will feel where the energy centers or shakras are – if they are blocked, you will feel the energy come through and those are the areas you’re holding on to the emotions from way back. Then we journey through your body and process those emotions and release them. Anxiety and depression – there’s normally something that has occurred to cause it – and the behavior you’ve learned stays with you. Then you come to me in your 40s and say ‘My life is falling apart’ – we go back in time and see where it’s started and determine which programming you’ve been following that’s not YOU. We clear that from you and suddenly life looks different for you after even just one session. Physical, emotional, spiritual healing that happens all at once.”

While certainly something many may dismiss, Gross’ work has countless success stories. And Kendall County contains many of them. She finishes, “Yes, I get called a gypsy from time to time. But the area here has been wonderful and welcoming and I’ve made many friends through my sessions. I want people to reach their full potential, and every single day I watch that happen as people experience something bigger than themselves, and they leave my office feeling better than they have in decades. What could be more rewarding than that?”

“I want people to reach their full potential, and every single day I watch that happen as people experience something bigger than themselves, and they leave my office feeling better than they have in decades.”

 


 

What is Rolfing®?

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Unusual name — Yes, I hear that a lot and it is my opportunity to explain this very effective bodywork/physical therapy…And the name is attributed to Dr. Ida Rolf who was the developer and founder of Rolfing®.


Rolfers work most directly with the myo-fascial system which can best be described as a ‘wrapping’ of the many tissues and organs of our bodies. Fascia is a complex web of tissue that covers and connects muscles (‘myo’) and bones as well as organizing and holding in place other structures including our skin and internal organs. It covers individual muscles, but also forms broad sheaths that in turn form a completely interconnected web throughout the body. Dr. Rolf called this network of fascia, with its ability to compensate for and adapt to stress/strain and injury anywhere in the body, the “organ of structure.” If you have had a fever that felt like an inflamed sheet covering your entire back, that virus or infection is spreading out in some of the facial layers of your back, in this example most likely involving your latissimus dorsi (‘lats’) and its associated facial layers.

As we move through life we compensate for injuries and traumas, work postures, habitual activities including athletics, and even emotional traumas. A Rolfer® looks at where you have become “stuck”, whether it be over time or due to an accident or injury…including some of those weekend warrior exertions we are all guilty of. Our bodies ARE our life experiences both good and bad. Activities, and inactivities, traumas and injuries result in compensations.

A very common example, sitting at a computer all day shortens and weakens muscles and facia of the abdomen, chest/shoulders and neck resulting in postural problems and often carpal tunnel/arm/hand issues too. Rolfing can help you go into your after-work activities and not look, and feel, like you are still sitting in front of that computer. Of course accidents and injuries create more obvious imbalances leading to neck, back, hip, groin, leg and foot pain. Sleeping is not as restful and getting out of bed becomes a daily habit of ‘working out the kinks’. Experiencing life as we do can lead over time to discomfort and pain in simply sitting, standing and moving though our day to day routines. This challenges efficiencies in movement and therefore your enjoyment of your chosen social activities and athletic endeavors. Simple movements can become cumbersome and exhausting and Rolfing can help you improve.

You can ‘see’ a person’s mood. A person who is sad or depressed typically has a more slumped posture, walk heavily, eyes not focussed and/or downcast. A person who is feeling great is ‘be-bopping’ down the street, walking tall, eyes alert and animated. When the body can handle each of these moods with ease, quality of living improves. Physical compensations from ‘life’ result in the muscles, facia and other tissues becoming out of place, sore, stiff, and shortened causing a loss of elasticity and reducing ease and range of motions thus dampening your vitality.

In a Rolfing session, I apply pressure to the fascia/connective tissue using my hands and forearms. In applying this pressure and with direction, and sometimes asking for small movements on your part, the fascia/muscles/tendons/ligaments lengthen, reposition, and release where it is sluggish or stuck. Where this fascia has adapted to strain, Rolfing relieves those strains facilitating your rediscovery of more freedom of movement, improved balance and function, alleviate pain and muscle soreness, and give you greater sense of well-being.

Rolfing is often assumed to be a type of massage therapy, however it very different in both methodology and the goals of a session which are to make lasting beneficial changes to your body. Rolfing is an intersection of physical therapy, myo-facial therapy, and Chiropractics in that a Rolfer® seeks to bring relief to areas of tension and injury while simultaneously bringing balance back into your body. As such, Rolfing can be an excellent complement to other therapies giving you even better results all around, while at the same time it is an excellent stand alone therapeutic solution to aches, pains and injuries.

Humans have always developed and still live within the gravity pull of the earth. They must make peace with this energy field, whatever it really is…..The energy of this field can enhance or dissipate the energy of the individual man. You cannot change the energy field, but you can change the man.” Dr. Ida P. Rolf (1896-1979)


Rolfers are Licensed/Certified only through the Dr. Ida Rolf Institute™ located in Boulder, Colorado. Kathleen McBride has been Rolfing for 29 years. She can be reached at 210.317.4242 or rolferkathleen.com

What is Sound Healing?

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After spending nearly 30 years in a stressful corporate environment and working over 60 hours per week, I struggled to find balance. Unable to catch long deep breaths during my busy, sometimes toxic work day, I became even more stressed. To get by, I practiced yoga and made a weekly appointment to receive a massage to alleviate the constant throbbing in my neck and shoulders. It was during a Kundalini yoga class 6 years ago that my miracle came. That was when I was introduced to crystal singing bowls.


I was invited to close my eyes, clear my mind then relax to the sounds of crystal singing bowl vibrations. The soft, coherent sounds gently washed my body in pure relaxation, an auditory version of a deep tissue massage. I fell asleep and had a very vivid dream about a baby elephant with blue eyes and long graceful eyelashes. This was the most relaxed I’d been in several years.

After that experience, I couldn’t stop studying and researching sound. For my 50th birthday, I became a certified Vibrational Sound Therapist through the VSA (Vibrational Sound Association).

Sound can also unlock blocked emotions and release them with ease and grace.
Tibetan Singing Bowls, gongs and other instruments have been used for centuries for healing and meditation purposes. They can clear the mind and aid in the process of releasing deep layers of tension and stress stored in the physical and energetic body.
Benefits of a Sound Healing treatment are numerous including: reduction of stress and anxiety; lower anger and blood pressure; PTSD, depression, grief, improve circulation and increase blood flow; can help with sleep disturbances; re-balance the chakras (energy centers); increase mental and emotional clarity; stimulate the immune system; create an elevated state of consciousness; boost overall well-being; boost creativity.

This modality has also been shown to support the healing process for cancer patients by reducing stress and aiding in pain management. I am always quick to point out that I am not a “healer”, but more of a facilitator in the healing process. I help my clients calm the mind and let it do what it is supposed to do. If our brain is an organ designed to send messages to the body, and our thoughts are whirling around, or we’re over thinking, we are not allowing it to do it’s job.


Jeanelly Concepcion describes her
experience in a sound healing session:

“My experience was extremely relaxing. Sometimes, I don’t fully relax during a massage or yoga, and other times it takes me a long time to get there. During the sound bath, I think I started to feel relaxed almost immediately as I laid down on the table, which had a warmer infused with quartz. Somewhere along the session I would see images of peaceful places I love in my mind’s eye, and I remember vividly hearing rain and my mind transported to my youth, when I would travel to the Dominican Republic and stayed in my Grandparents house, where part of the roof was tin and we would fall asleep to the raindrops falling on that roof. I must have fallen asleep, because I heard Audrey’s voice in the distance letting me know to start making my way back, instructing me to wiggle my fingers and toes, but it was almost like a dream. I woke up feeling refreshed, as if I had slept through a full night.”

For more information, to find out about upcoming events and workshops, or to schedule a session with Audrey Stephens in her private studio, check out her Facebook page or
Instagram account @blueelephantvibes.


 

LEARN MORE:

BIOFIELD TUNING
A groundbreaking therapeutic method that uses sound to relax & reset the nervous system.
Biofield Tuning is based on the premise that the human biofield – the energy field that surrounds and permeates our bodies – is inextricably connected with our conscious and subconscious mind, including all of our memories. All physical, mental and emotional disorders can be perceived as “dissonance” in our energy fields. Biofield Tuning is able to diminish and resolve this dissonance and in doing so, alleviate and even eradicate the corresponding physical, mental and/or emotional symptoms.

HOW IT WORKS
​During a Biofield Tuning session, a client lies fully clothed on a treatment table while the practitioner activates a tuning fork and scans the body slowly beginning from a distance. The practitioner is feeling for resistance and turbulence in the client’s energy field, as well as listening for a change in the overtones and undertones of the tuning fork. When the practitioner encounters a turbulent area he/she continues to activate the tuning fork and hold it in that specific spot. Research suggests the body’s organizational energy uses the steady coherent vibrational frequency of the tuning fork to “tune” itself. In short order, the dissonance resolves and the sense of resistance gives way. This appears to correspond to the release of tension with the body.
www.biofieldtuning.com

The Holistic Healing Power of Nature

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At the Cibolo Center for Conservation, my role as the Farm Programs Coordinator at Herff Farm is to educate the community about the benefits of organic gardening and the many ways we can use plants and nature for both food and medicine. From facilitating yoga classes every Saturday on the back porch of the Herff House, to teaching gardening classes, to hosting the Farmers Market at Herff Farm where our community can purchase healthy organic food, we promote overall well-being through our programming, both for ourselves and for the land.


 

Nature is a powerful tool for staying healthy. Studies have shown that time spent outdoors improves both mental and physical outcomes. We can exercise in nature without even noticing that we’re doing it, and just a few minutes outdoors in nature is shown to significantly reduce stress. On top of this, healthy diets and medicines can be found both in the plants we cultivate in our gardens and the ones that grow wild on the land.
My path to my current role at the Cibolo was circuitous, but nature was a common thread through all of it. I worked abroad as an ESL teacher after graduating from college, and while backpacking around the world between teaching jobs, I began to work on organic farms in exchange for room and board as a way of traveling cheaply and further immersing myself in different cultures.

Unexpectedly, I fell in love with organic farming. Many small farms abroad are organic not by design, but simply because they are still using manual farming techniques. Meals are local and seasonal not to reduce carbon footprints but because there is no superstore within 200+ miles. I experienced real physical labor for the first time and found that I slept much better when both my body and mind were tired. Seeing this alternative way of living was incredibly eye opening: it was more in tune with the rhythms of nature, and it was on a human scale. I saw how plants were used in daily life: an aloe vera cutting was used in place of shampoo and palo santo was burned inside to keep the mosquitos away.

During my time abroad, I also spent a lot of time in nature staring at or swimming in waterfalls, trekking up volcanoes, and camping in canyons. I had the experience of learning how to cultivate plants at the same time that I was realizing that time outdoors was empowering, energizing and even necessary for mental health.

After returning to the United States, I received my Wilderness First Responder certification, which teaches you how to provide first aid in situations when you are far from medical care. I learned how to diagnose and treat common injuries and illnesses that occur in the backcountry using traditional medicine. I learned how to set bones, fashion splints out of whatever is available, and treat common illnesses. Plant remedies, however, were not taught. This seemed like a glaring oversight, as common plants could be all you have available in such a situation.

I began working as a field guide for a wilderness therapy company in Oregon in 2016, and it was while there that I truly learned the therapeutic value of nature. It was a trauma-based program that treated teenagers and young adults who were struggling with myriad issues: addiction, depression, attachment disorders and countless other issues stemming from trauma.


Our students camped in the wilderness around Bend for an average of three months at a time without ever going inside. I spent more time sleeping in a tent than in my own bed for the two years I spent in Oregon. We carried water, food, cooking utensils, hatchets, saws, tents, and everything else we needed to survive in the Oregon wilderness on our backs. Winter was the most challenging season, but also the most rewarding. Layover days when we weren’t hiking to our next campsite were spent gathering downed branches, processing them for firewood, cooking group meals and boiling water over campfires. When our students were feeling lost, we told them to look to nature for examples of how to live. Our job was just to keep our students safe while nature did its healing work.

After getting chilblains on a particularly cold shift, I started to experience shooting pains whenever my toes warmed up. This went on for months, and I tried everything I could find. Finally, I went to a botanica in San Antonio and explained my cold injury in Spanish to the woman working behind the counter. She recommended soaking my feet in arnica flowers steeped in hot water. I was willing to try anything, and to my shock, the pain went away within a few days (although I still can’t feel the tips of my big toes to this day). I realized that plant medicine isn’t just a weak substitute for modern medicine. They have powerful constituents that can be very effective when used correctly. In fact, plants often provide the active compounds in many medications.


Plants became my favorite source of nature metaphors to help struggling students. We worked in Ponderosa Pine forests around Bend that depend on wildfires for their overall health. Their jigsaw-puzzle bark is thick and fire resistant, and they sprout after wildfires. There is so much to learn from this tree’s adaption to fire, which feels destructive in the moment but is serving a necessary function for the good of the ecosystem when allowed to run its course.

Because they can’t run away from predators or get in the shade when they’re too hot, plants have had to develop incredible adaptations in order to play the hand that’s dealt them. They are survival geniuses, and over time, humans have learned how to harness these adaptions as medicine. We pass down remedies and recipes, building on the knowledge of our ancestors to extract the constituents from the plant that will benefit us. Take Aloe Vera, a staple of our regional gardens. This plant survives in the desert, and so naturally it has adapted to withstand harsh sunlight. It is no wonder, then, that it is so effective at soothing sunburns and other minor burns.

Anyone who has ever taken a wilderness first aid course has probably been told that there is no cure for altitude sickness except to trek back down to where you came from. If you’ve ever gone for a high-altitude hike in the Andes of Peru, however, you will know that it’s common practice for your guide to provide coca tea to help you acclimate. Again, it is no coincidence that this plant grows at high altitude and also provides its cure. It is the plant’s own will to survive that we benefit from to improve our own health.

All of my experiences with nature, first aid, teaching and gardening came together at the Cibolo, and we are able to address so many facets of wellness through our educational programs at Herff Farm. I have the incredible opportunity to teach both children and adults about the healing power of nature, whether we are learning about edible and medicinal native plants along our trails, making first aid salves from the cultivated herbs and plants of the one-acre Teaching Garden, or learning how to grow our own healthy, organic food. We practice mindfulness as we walk through the forest, listening to the birds and the rushing creek and living entirely in the present moment while we are here. There is so much to learn from nature, and so many alternative methods for staying healthy to be found growing all around us.


Ronnie and Paula are the owners of Nature’s Presence. They purchased Nature’s Presence on March 1, 2017. In 2014, Ronnie and Paula moved to Boerne from their home in Celeste, a small town northeast of Dallas, after Ronnie accepted a job offer with Axeon Specialty Products in San Antonio. They did not plan for the move to be permanent, but they fell in love with the area and stayed when Ronnie retired. Ronnie and Paula love to exercise and pursue healthy lifestyles. The purchase of Nature’s Presence was the perfect opportunity for them to personalize a local business to help others live happy and healthy. Their mission is to help educate people and help them live healthy, fulfilling lives by providing the highest quality natural supplements and wellness products and sharing their expertise with the community.
Ronnie received his Juris Doctorate degree from Texas Tech University School of Law, and has practiced law for more than 30 years with over 20 years of experience as an in-house General Counsel. Paula is a former educator. She spent 20 years in education in various capacities. She was an elementary teacher for nine years and then transitioned into administration, serving as junior high principal, curriculum director, and then ending her career as an elementary principal. She received Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Education from Texas A&M Commerce and has a mid-management certificate.

Wandering as a Spiritual Practice

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For as long as I can remember, one of my favorite poems has been Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken. Sometimes it seems the theme running through my entire life can be summed up in its final statement:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


This is especially true when it comes to my spiritual journey. As each metaphorical fork in the road appears, the voices in my head arising from my upbringing and conditioning caution, “Take the well-trodden path. Follow in the footsteps of the conventional crowd. Be safe. Be comfortable.” But these programmed voices are countered by a still small voice deep within my heart that whispers, “Take a risk. Try something different. Trust. Life is an adventure to be explored and savored.”

Now lest you think I am a daredevil, you should know most people consider me a down-to-earth, logical, methodical sort of soul. More often than not in my life, reason wins out over risk. Nonetheless, in my heart, I am a wanderer. The road less traveled beckons me to explore its potential and mystery, to lean into its unpredictable charms and challenges. I consider its beckoning a kind of sacred calling, an invitation to walk in relationship and trust with the Divine, opening myself to new discoveries and insights.

An oft-used metaphor for the spiritual life over time is a journey. Likewise, the person pursuing (or undergoing) spiritual growth is known as a pilgrim. The use of the journey metaphor implies there is a path, a way, or a road that has a beginning and an end. For the literal pilgrim, that end or destination is typically a holy or sacred place (like Mecca or Jerusalem). But as any true spiritual pilgrim will tell you, it is the journey itself and not the destination that has the power to transform. Because it is by walking the path, replete with unexpected encounters, joys, and trials, coupled with commitment and perseverance, that shapes and molds the pilgrim more than the journey’s end.

Enter the wanderer, a special kind of pilgrim. The spiritual wanderer may or may not have a specific destination in mind. Their primary focus from start to finish (if there is a finish) is to BE on the journey – fully present, acutely attentive to each experience, listening for inner guidance and direction. The wandering pilgrim trusts that sought-for truth will be revealed, wisdom will be gained, and spiritual healing will be received in the measure divinely appropriate for a given place, time, and/or situation.

There have been many holy wanderers from various religions across time, men and women determined to seek and find direction and connection on the spiritual journey. But one specific type of wandering known as peregrinatio has always fascinated me. In the Celtic monastic tradition, Irish monks did their wandering in small boats known as coracles. Without oar, rudder, or sail, they embarked on their journey, letting the winds and currents carry them in their little vessels to an unknown destination. They trusted they would land where they were meant to be; their next place of service was found by letting the Divine take the lead.

Of this particular type of holy wandering, Christine Valters-Painter of Abbey of the Arts says, “In this profound practice, God becomes both destination and way, companion and guiding force. God is in the call to the journey, unfolding of the journey, and greets us at the end of the journey.” (See Abbey of the Arts blog dated 4-26-2015 at https://abbeyofthearts.com/blog/2015/04/26/wandering-for-the-love-of-god-shepard-pilgrimage-of-resurrection-through-creative-practice-a-love-note/)
Truly these monks were prime examples of the J. R. R. Tolkien quote “Not all who wander are lost.” They may not have known where they were going, but they were wandering with intention by faith. They always knew where they were….in God’s hands.
This brings me to wandering as a spiritual practice, which could also be called “getting lost on purpose”. Although I, for one, don’t plan to get into a boat and drift to an unspecified destination, there are other less frightening (or dangerous) ways to engage in experimental wandering. For instance: taking a different route on your morning walk or way to work, making a new dish without a recipe, creating artwork utilizing a new medium (i.e. if you are a painter, try clay), finding a new way to pray or meditate, or going for walk in a new setting – a park, a forest, the beach, alongside a creek. As you wander, notice how you feel in this unfamiliar territory. Is there something new to discover about your surroundings or yourself? Does your literal or figurative walkabout change the way you see things? Do these new surroundings provide you with inspiration or experiences you might not have had otherwise?

Yes, there is something to be said for wandering on purpose as a spiritual practice and I am not the only one who feels that way. Barbara Brown Taylor devotes a whole chapter to “The Practice of Getting Lost” in her book An Altar in the World. Some of the challenges she cites for this practice include: getting out of your comfort zone and allowing yourself to be vulnerable, containing panic when you are in unfamiliar territory, and having to depend on others (or the Divine Inner Other) for direction. Some of the benefits she mentions are discovering new things about the world, others, and yourself; finding freedom and inspiration through exposure to different environments or techniques; learning how to be resourceful; and developing trust in something beyond your reasoning mind – your Inner Wisdom, intuition, the Holy Spirit, God.

In addition to providing the challenges and benefits of “getting lost”, Brown Taylor also contends holy wandering builds spiritual muscle memory for the times when, rather than by choice, you find yourself lost in a metaphorical wilderness due to a loss – the death of a loved one, joblessness, betrayal, sudden illness or injury. In other words, intentional wandering prepares you to navigate times when the landscape of life, as you know it, becomes unrecognizable. In such times she asserts, the choice to wander becomes a matter of consent rather than initiative.

I can attest to the soul growth acquired through both varieties of wandering. For example, on several occasions, I have visited Lebh Shomea, a retreat center in South Texas near the King Ranch. Once a working cattle ranch, it is now a House of Prayer operated by the Oblates. The ambiance of Lebh Shomea alone is enough to let you know you have entered another world. Saturated in the sacred, it has an entirely different vibe and routine than normal everyday life. Retreatants are expected to maintain silence (except for one hour on Sunday) and attend daily morning worship as means of deepening connection to the holy through solitude, nature, and prayer.

Several unfamiliar aspects of my stays at Lebh Shomea contributed to my road-less-traveled experiences, such as: keeping silent when my natural inclination is to talk, attending Catholic services though raised a Protestant, and walking “the wilderness trail” where I encountered javelina, wild pigs, nilgai, and snakes. All of these things added to my holy wandering, as did the silence and solitude found in my room, the library, and secluded sanctuaries set aside for prayer. I came home a different person each time I traveled to Lebh Shomea. Yes, I was at least temporarily more relaxed and at a peace, but I was also more deeply connected to the Divine within, a feeling that remained with me as I reentered the familiar territory of home, family, and work.

Of course, I have also been involuntarily thrown into the wilderness by life circumstances, seemingly left alone to wander, feeling hopelessly lost. I am, in fact, in such a place at present. Two months ago my husband and I found it necessary to move into an independent living facility due to his deteriorating health and medical needs. This is not where I expected to be at the age of 65. I find myself a stranger in a strange land – a mature, able-bodied woman of sound mind (most of the time) in the midst of octogenarians and nonagenarians, walkers and wheelchairs, hearing aids and memory loss. There is nothing wrong with any of this or any of the people here; it is just unknown territory I did not expect to encounter this early in life.

Regardless, I am amazed at the similarities between my responses to intentional wandering and that of the involuntary variety. As I try to find my footing, I notice my resistance to the unfamiliar, my fear and moments of panic related to aging, and the emotional vulnerability that arises from not being in control of my life. Consent to feeling lost and patiently waiting for direction to be provided have become necessary tools in my spiritual toolkit. Additionally, I try to go into each day with a sense of adventure, exploring my new surroundings (both the facility and the neighborhood), trying new activities, stretching myself mentally, physically, and spiritually all while discovering new people and their incredible stories. Although I am not yet in my comfort zone, I am getting there and I can see how intentionally choosing some roads less traveled in the past has helped me to wander in this present wilderness with a trust and peace that I do not feel would otherwise be possible. Moreover, I think my future self will thank my present self for hanging in there when the way forward was not so well defined. Sometimes that is just the way spiritual growth works – mysteriously, paradoxically, slowly.

There is a saying familiar to many in some spiritual circles: “as within, so without”, meaning whatever is going on internally will manifest itself externally in some way. But I have found the opposite to be true also: as without, so within. External spiritual practices done with intention and openness can change our inner landscape. Such has been the case for me in regards to consciously taking the road less traveled. Wandering as a spiritual practice has shaped my soul and in the shaping has provided me with the experiences, inner resources, and resilience to navigate some unexpected wilderness wandering. I hope that my experience and this information will tempt you to try wandering as a spiritual practice too.

Peace on the journey!

Healing with Hypnosis

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For years, like many of you, “hypnotism” has been relegated to carnival acts or comedy clubs. The swaying chain watch, the droning voice saying “You are becoming sleepy” and all that. It’s certainly not a clinical, professional niche of psychotherapy, right? I recently volunteered to be treated with hypnotism by local professional hypnotist, Helene Gross, and I thought readers might appreciate a skeptic’s retelling of the experience.


 

Nervously, we sat in her studio with a large massage bed. We spent a considerable amount of time just explaining some of my struggles and the obstacles I feel have interfered with my life. She didn’t spend a lot of time with long-winded questions about my past, but rather “How do you feel about this situation today?” which I appreciated. Nobody wants to spend 2 hours just bringing the listener up to current day.

She had me get comfortable on the table, close my eyes, and breathe deeply. Her voice, with a quiet and monotonous tone, began to relax me further and further. Focusing on different parts of my body at a time, I was aware that I was drifting more and more to a relaxed state.

I don’t want to explain too many of the specific steps that Gross uses as she guides you through the process for fear that I might mischaracterize them or make them sound silly, but she visually begins to walk you through a bit of a “journey” through your life in an attempt to identify key moments and begin to process them.

A few moments here and there I realized that I was answering her questions about “What do you feel?” or “Can you see where you are when this happened?” and I responded as if we were having a normal conversation. At no point did I feel out of control or as if I was drugged or that I was under a spell or any other state that one might think possible when viewing hypnotism on a TV comedy show.

A few times I realized that there were tears running down my face, but not in pain or fear…just in emotion. Mostly good emotion. I was processing emotions that had festered in my life for a lifetime and I was just now fully allowing those emotions to wash over and through me as I held onto what I needed to, and released much of the toxic portions that have been holding me back.
At one point I realized that she began to sort of “talk me back to the surface” and I listened and dreamed a bit and was relaxed, yet tired simply from the exercise. Ultimately, I rose higher and higher back to my consciousness, until she finally said “Ok, and how do you feel?”

I sort of nervously giggled and said “Wow, that was…intense” and she said “Oh my dear, you did wonderful.” We debriefed a little about the experience, and she helped me make sense of what I described for her during my experience. We spent a good hour talking through the visual and auditory remnants I could remember, and she was knowledgeable and professional and was able to help me fully understand what my brain and my heart had been through.

There’s a lot more to this process that I’m not explaining, but only because I believe that each person’s experience is quite unique based on circumstances. What I did and what she guided me through might be entirely different for you and your situation. I can, however, tell you that upon completion I giggled nervously at one point and said “That was one of the most powerful things I’ve ever done. I absolutely need to do this again!” and she was gracious and encouraged me to return. She again told me that I had done a great job and I said “I can’t believe we covered so much in 20 minutes!”

She said “My dear, we were working for over two hours.”

IV Vitamin Therapy

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Intravenous (IV) therapy is a way to receive healing vitamins, minerals, nutrients, saline (fluids) and medications directly into the body through a peripheral vein. IV therapy is becoming increasingly popular throughout the world for aiding in boosting the immune system, increasing nutrient levels, correcting dehydration, combating infections, healthier skin and much more. It can even be a great cure for hangovers after a fun night out with friends and drinks!


By: Shannon Sartor Livingston, MD

The first IV vitamin drips were developed and administered by Dr. John Myers in the 1970s. His research led to the popular Myers’ Cocktail. These types of infusions generally take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour and take place within a medical office with a licensed medical professional observing the infusion. People receiving IV vitamin therapy can receive much higher concentrations of the vitamins than when taken orally. Interestingly, there are many reports of septic systems being clogged by completely undigested oral vitamins still in their original form. Yes, there are many OTC oral vitamins out there that look great on the label but are not able to be broken down and absorbed in our bodies at all. When people take vitamins orally, they must go through the gastric system/digestion process which naturally dilutes the nutrients. Of the vitamins that our bodies can break down, we only absorb about 50% at best of the vitamins and minerals. Whereas with IV vitamin therapy, we receive upwards of 90% of the vitamin and nutrients directly into their blood stream.

Today, doctors are seeing an increase of patients suffering from high stress, anxiety, busy schedules, and an overload of work causing physical exhaustion, lack of sleep, mental fatigue and brain fog. These stressful lifestyles lead patients to not drink enough water and choose poor dietary meals (i.e. fast food), especially after a long day at work. An IV vitamin infusion is a great option to keep a person hydrated and obtain the proper nutrients needed to stay healthy.


IV therapy provides a quick and efficient way to infuse the body with the nutrients it needs to replenish itself and operate at peak efficiency. It also aids the immune system which has never been more important than now with the current Covid-19 pandemic. Patient’s immune systems naturally weaken with age, stress, and poor diet. IV vitamin therapy helps to combat viral, bacterial and fungal infections, therefore improving recovery time.
The nutrients, minerals and antioxidants available through IV treatments have been shown to be clearly visible from the appearance of a person’s complexion. IV hydration immediately improves skin tone and suppleness, especially in dry skin that has been damaged by sun exposure. Along with visible improvements in the skin, IV vitamin therapy can improve sunken eyes and dark areas under the eyes. It can also give you fuller appearing lips. Nails and hair can become stronger, with increased sheen.

You should be cautious when choosing an IV therapy provider as some vitamins and minerals can be extremely harmful to people with certain medical conditions. Many IV clinics and mobile units operate on a “one size fits all” basis regarding vitamin therapies. For example, a patient with kidney problems, heart conditions or diabetes can wind up in the hospital if given certain or too much of a vitamin or mineral. Some medical conditions will worsen rapidly with too much IV fluids.

Some IV therapy clinics do not provide vitamin dosages high enough to treat the problem at hand due to their drive to keep costs low. Some may give everyone only 1,000 to 5,000 mg of IV vitamin C which you could just take by mouth in pill form. More importantly, this dosage may not be enough to be effective for the disease process you are treating. It takes significantly higher doses of vitamin C than above to kill viruses and bacteria. If you are fighting an infection like Covid-19, it is absolutely crucial to get the correct dosage of vitamin C to help lower the viral load in your body but not harm your kidneys or other organs.

As a Board-Certified Family Medicine Physician, I prescribe vitamin infusion therapy to most of my patients. Many of them use vitamin IV therapy as an ongoing part of their health and wellness regime. I recommend receiving vitamin IV therapy under a licensed and experienced physician who will ensure the appropriate dosage, mixture, and delivery of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that are effective and SAFE for your body and medical conditions to achieve your health and wellness goals.

With a variety of vitamin and
nutrient cocktails available, IV vitamin therapy has shown to:

● Boost your immune system
● Increase your energy level
● Help with weight loss
● Improve recovery time and reduce symptoms from infections
● Relieve seasonal allergy symptoms
● Mitigate chronic and acute pain throughout the body
● Increase your fitness performance and recovery
● Boost your libido
● Enhance your focus
● Improve your complexion
● Detox your body
● Treat hangovers/dehydration
● Alleviate acute migraines
● Reduce chronic cough
● Boost sexual performance
● Help with anxiety, depression
● Promote better cardiovascular health
● Relieve muscle cramps
● Lessen pain with intercourse
● Correct heat exhaustion
● Hasten healing from burns
● Improve sun burns faster
● Promote better sleep

Publisher Letter July / August 2021

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Dear Kendall County Woman reader,

After a year like 2020, we felt like we wanted to tell a great story of perseverance, dedication, and frankly, a story that would just make you smile. I think that we delivered that with our cover story on Cara and Jeannette, owners of STUDIO Comfort. Housed in a beautiful building, the gallery and its dynamic partnership have not only survived perhaps the worst year for retail (and art) in decades, but have come out of it growing and even more dedicated to their mission of providing fine art to the masses.

While Comfort might not be the first place you think about for “fine art”, the studio is delivering exactly that. Along with their instructional classes, they are literally transforming the landscape for artists in our region. Additionally, their relationship together as dear friends and overcoming tragedies makes their story all the more fun, more inspiring, and I trust will bring that smile to your face.

In addition, this issue has a slew of other content that we really hope inspires you to learn more about your neighbors, their businesses, and to learn even more about our area.

As summer is in full swing, and we begin to already start looking toward the fall, we encourage you to take a look around at people you might know that would make an interesting story. Local business owner with a great story? Local woman doing some amazing things? A non-profit that is making a difference? We want to hear about it! Don’t be shy! Shoot any of us an email to the right of this letter and let’s have a conversation. This magazine exists only because of our dear clients and the many people like you that appreciate our local community enough to support it!

Welcome to the July / August 2021 issue. Let me know if we brought you a smile!

Sincerely,

Peggy Schooley