I grew up on an island in Lake Erie, called Put-in-Bay and am a fifth generation Island Girl. My great-grandmother raised her 12 children there. She made a medicinal salve, that we simply referred to as "Gramma's Salve." We didn't have fancy Neosporin for cuts and scrapes, but instead, we had the salve. It was gooey and had such a distinct medicinal scent and anytime I scraped my knee or wrecked on my bike, this bottle of salve would come out of the medicine cabinet. It always made me feel better and healed all our family's ailments.
Much later in my life, I was teaching elementary school and living on Put-in-Bay while raising my two daughters, Anna and Meredith. My oldest, Anna became very ill around ten years old. It was discovered that she was allergic to many foods, preservatives, and colorants. Even fluoride! Around the same time, I was often sick, tired and just so run down. A Dr. did some tests and it showed I had high levels of mercury in my body, most likely due to the fact that I grew up in Lake Erie, that during the 70's was heavily polluted. I grew up drinking the water from our backyard well and ate perch and walleye from the lake. Environmental pollutants are no joke. Change had to occur.
During this healing journey, I started bringing myself to the TRUTH of what is in our food, water, cleaning products and finally, body and skin care. The journey toward better health began.
I remember getting rid of our processed food, changed the way I cleaned - vinegar became my best friend - and, then I decided to buy different bath and body stuff, instead of the usual products purchased at the big stores. However, even the "natural" stuff wasn't so natural after all. I had to really read and educate myself. My family and I used bath and body products EACH AND EVERY SINGLE DAY, and these chemicals were being absorbed through our skin! EEK!
I recalled my great-grandma and how they must've all lived on the island all those years ago without the chemical-filled products we'd all been using. So, I called my mom, who called her sister, and I got the secret family recipe for my Gramma's Healing Salve. I thought this would be a better product to use, versus other store bought "healing" ointments. After gathering the ingredients, I made it on January 16, 2013 and that familiar healing scent came back to me, bringing back my childhood memories along with it.
This also gave me confidence. I could make stuff and control the ingredients myself!
At first, I shared my products with my family, fellow teachers, and even my students. Simple boo-boos, headaches, even dry winter hands received love from my salves and balms.
My students were the ones who convinced me to sell my stuff. They were so encouraging to me. So, I listened to them and offered just a few products for sale at my little holistic shoppe, next door to my seasonal Bed and Breakfast. (Teachers often hold a summer gig.) I didn’t think my organic products would sell, but they did!
So, I was teaching, making skin care and running a shoppe, and making beds and booking rooms. And, I was writing a weekly column in our local paper, which was later put together in the form of a real book.
It was too, too much.
After several years of all this, I made the biggest leap of faith ever! I left my teaching career of nearly 20 years, to focus full-time on my seasonal businesses. And, right after leaving teaching, a dream of mine came true! I wintered in Maui, which allowed me the space to create and sell at a weekly Farmers Market. I learned so, so much from the people there. I spent a total of four winters there, coming back to run my seasonal business on Put-in-Bay, until Covid hit.
Once, again, I began to realize my life was extremely out of balance. My heart longed to have more time to create organic concoctions and to teach about the importance of sustainable living. After nine years of running seasonal businesses and a divorce, too, I sold my island home BnB & moved to the mainland.
My life is so much more simplified! I have more time to create organic products. More time in nature! And, I'm settling into life on the mainland as a newlywed. No more making beds - except ours. Tommy and I were married in the fall of 2022. ❤️
I truly believe we all need to check in with our souls often. When you're feeling out of balance, change it! My advice? Keep life simple. Find joy in your day, and when it's especially challenging, allow all the emotions in and then let them flow out of you. Get therapy. The world deserves to receive the best of all of us and we make choices every single day. It's never too late to change for the better, and I should know, because I'm hitting a milestone birthday in 2023 - 50 years of amazing, challenging and learning years of life.