While recently leading the Wichita Falls Birth & Wellness Center’s newly implemented Client Orientation Class, I laughed and said, “I don’t know, maybe I’m not all that hippie.” The participants, who’d known me all of 47 minutes, laughed bigger and said, “Oh yes you are.”

But I didn’t start out that way. I was raised by a smart, industrious, working mom who was raised by a smart, industrious, single mom. My mom could (and still does) fix anything, sew anything, cook anything…you get the point. But she was busy so we often ate Hamburger Helper with a side of canned vegetables. “Low fat” was the cry of the times so we ate margarine instead of butter.

My earliest memory of interest in anything remotely healthy was when I borrowed my grandmother’s vitamin book while in high school. I have no idea why this book appealed to me but honestly, I like reading my car’s manual so I may be a bit odd. Of course it could have been all the shiny pills on the cover, but I became annoyingly passionate about what foods had, say, niacin for instance, and why we needed niacin. I’m sure my parents and brothers just loved this stage I was in.

As a newlywed and and into my early parenting years, we ate very processed food. Shane worked while I was in college and we had a baby to take care of too, so money was tight. We split a lot of seasoned rice packets (ahem, seasoned with MSG), probably with a side of canned vegetables.

While in my last year of college, I met my friend Andrea, a health nut RN who worked Labor & Delivery in the Decatur hospital. I did one of my practicums with her so while we drove all over Wise County trying to help young pregnant women avoid premature labor by optimizing their health and education, I learned a lot about true health. Andrea carried around her mini cooler with juiced carrots and greens and bought me carob energy bites from the health food store in Denton. She taught me about fruit smoothies with whole, real fruit, not junk.

And so it began, slowly. First we stopped eating MSG and hydrogenated oil. We learned about the toxicity of sugar but I was addicted to it so it took a lot of work to leave it behind (and I do still dabble in it but the addiction is gone).

Babies number 1 & 2, born in 1997 and 2000, respectively, were textbook pregnancies & births with no epidurals, not because I was crunchy but because I was terrified of the epidural needle. By baby #3 born in 2003, I was leaning a little to the natural side when I wondered why she’d need antibiotic eye ointment for an STD I didn’t have – she couldn’t catch it even if I did, since she was a planned C-section for breech presentation. I was confronted in labor with a militant nurse who was sure my baby would be blind if she didn’t received the ointment. Obviously she didn’t realize what the point of the ointment was. This was pivotal for my thinking around birth, especially. What else is standard procedure that doesn’t need to be?

From there, I think my growth in the natural world accelerated. We’d started home schooling our oldest due to the lack of good schools in our area. Our curriculum, Sonlight, had a thriving forum (pre-facebook days) and I learned so much about motherhood and running a home there. I learned about Mayawrap ring slings and cloth diapers and delayed vaccine schedules. I wore out my own Mayawrap and still treasure it today. We used BumGenius cloth diapers and dove deep into educating ourselves about vaccine safety.

My deepest conviction is that through nature, God provided most everything we need to heal ourselves from common illnesses and issues, generally speaking. Our bodies have an innate power to fight day-to-day illnesses if we simply support it. Many times when we are sick, it’s actually our body signaling for help or rest. Sometimes we absolutely need an x-ray or antibiotic but sometimes we need to let it our bodies fight a virus off. As my children grew, I practiced my diagnosing skills by researching, hypothesizing, then taking them to our family nurse practitioner for confirmation. I was reading about the overuse of antibiotics for ear infections before it was cool, so I’d often get the prescription but wait to see if the infection cleared before giving it. As my children grew, so did my skills and my toolbox. I continued to read about herbs, homeopathics (those aren’t the same thing) and essential oils. I continue to use all three but mostly rely upon herbs: comfrey to heal bones and soft tissue (after x-rays to help diagnosis), a concoction for my daughter’s eczema, another for anxiety, and still more for liver support and virus fighting.

It didn’t happen overnight but somehow, here I am. My children have picked up the skills as well and often tell their friends that they should cut sugar or use arnica for a bruise. It’s quite funny to hear that my kids’ friends are calling my girls hippies for suggesting kombucha for it’s probiotics, but it’s also wonderful to see these skills being passed on.

We live in a time when it’s becoming vitally important to be an advocate for our own health. If this is your desire but you don’t know where to start, reach out, I’ll be glad to help you with baby steps. I can’t promise that you won’t wake up one day and realize you need a pair of Birkenstocks, but I can promise that your body will thank you for supporting the amazing immune system it came with.

Content generously provided by Wendy Fowler, BS, LM, CPM.