Trust has always been defined through my relationships with others – trusting friends, trusting someone with a secret, or even trusting someone with love. As I grew older, the word “trust” became a central theme in business partnerships. In each case, the underlying notion of the concept of trust always involved another person or thing, and centered around whether or not I could implicitly trust them.
Thinking back, however, the concept of trust has always conjured about nervous feelings of fear and doubt. For, I was never fully taught the concept of trusting myself. Therefor trusting others, or the universe for that matter, was extremely challenging for me. In truth, how could I trust someone or something, if I didn’t myself?
When we started the farm eight years ago, we were way over our heads. Caretaking 4-acres of jungle ranch on Kauai, while learning how to raise a family, has been a truly transformative journey. Those early years were brimming with valuable lessons-many of which I would prefer to not relive in my mind. Admittedly many challenging moments have been difficult to reflect on (as I am sure so many of you can relate to in your own healing journeys).
We were living out the “dream” with an herbal medicine start-up farm: new gardens, a community home-school, three children under the age of seven, several aged-farm structures, two sheep, two horses, one dog, nineteen chickens, one fish and two bunnies. We were overwhelmed, to say the least, and had no appreciation for the simplicity of farm life. Our over-ambitious energies were scattered all over the place. Meanwhile, our family and farm operation were humbly seeking the opportunity to cleanse, simplify, let go, and ground out.
It was the summer of 2015, four years after we got the farm, when we decided to let go of dairy, meat, synthetic sugars and gluten in our diets. We were eating less and less acidic toxins for sure, but they were still evident here and there in our diets. We spent those early summer months focussing on a majority plant-based diet, however eggs from our prolific chickens were still a daily staple.
At the time, our family was throwing back a dozen or more eggs a day (in the name of protein, of course). Then one day, we did it. We finally decided to let go of the eggs and the chickens. Why?
Honestly, the organic pellets we were feeding the chickens were highly processed. The thought of eating chicken’s embryos started to feel gross. And it was especially unsettling asking my kids to clean the gnarly chicken poop off the eggshells. It felt great at first, going plant-based, but soon after letting go of the big egg diet, the entire family broke out in some type of gnarly Impetigo-like, Staph-like bacteria rash.
It started with my 2-year old baby getting what looked like ring-worm on her chest. Then it spread to my 7-year old boy’s face and eventually covered all three kids basically head to toe, intermittently infecting us as well. We immediately went into full lockdown mode. Our family barely left the house or immediate yard area for 5 whole weeks. The quarantine period for the entire family, during which we literally chewed, juiced, rubbed and sprayed every medicinal leaf, sap, bark, and root growing on our farm all over our bodies, was one of those memories that are not so easy to retell. However, as with every healing experience comes invaluable growth and life lessons.
As the healing process took shape, we decided to clean up and literally cleanse out our overwhelming lifestyles. We cleaned carpets, washed clothes, replaced shower curtains, scrubbed floors, vacuumed cars and simultaneously let go of all our animal husbandry activities on the farm. It was not easy, but so necessary in order to clean up our act, simplify our lives, and truthfully stand a fighting chance to right this over-ambitious ship. We even let go of our dog, Guava G. It was a moment for us that required ultimate trust and grounding in our ability to grow and care for our family and the land.
It was a humid and breezeless August, hovering in the high 90s during our deep family cleansing period. First we began chewing handfuls of Tulsi leaves and putting them directly on the angry, inflammed, itchy, painful, oozing skin openings. Then papaya sap seemed to be the one. Then we applied ripe papaya fruit, gota kola leaf juice, comfrey root (bad idea, closes up infection), plantain juice, turmeric juice, tea tree, thyme, sage, and lemongrass to name just a handful of the plants we threw in every imaginable form at this seemingly flesh-eating bacteria of a “staph-like infection”.
We didn’t really focus on what kind of staph it was “called”. In fact, it didn’t really matter to us. For we trustedthe rash was just the symptom, as is all dis-ease; and truly trusted that this healing lesson too shall pass. We trusted in the plants, and in return, we learned to trust ourselves, and our innate ability to heal. Weeks went by as we learned about this bacteria: how it spread, how it dried out, how it became itchy, how it reacted to municipal, salt and fresh water, how our diet fed or starved it, as well as how it interacted with just about every plant on our medicine farm.
Most importantly, in the end, we learned that this bacteria was stewing for quite some time in all of us, as a result of our undisciplined lifestyle and diet. As we cleaned our holistic lifestyle up, the ugly, staph bacteria inside of us protruded in a full-effect rash. Yeah, we panicked a bit. But we humbly trusted more than we panicked. The acidic toxins came out of our skin for a relatively short, yet painful 5-week detoxification period. Today not one of us has a single scar to show for the experience. The evidence lies in our ability to fully trust ourselves with the time and space to truly heal and let go. It was also, not coincidently, the last rash any of us have ever experienced.
The details of this story go much deeper, but more importantly, is the action we take every day as we choose trust over fear. Without a doubt, we confide in Comfrey to regenerate injured bones, Turmeric to cleanse ear infections, Ti leaves to cool down fevers, Calendula to heal skin afflictions, Yarrow to clot blood, Lilikoi Flower to promote rest, Soursop to cleanse the colon, Mulberry to lower blood sugar levels, Tulsi to calm the respiratory system, Chaste Berry to balance hormones, and Noni for just about everything.
The plants have literally taught us how to trust in our ability to heal ourselves. In return, we are learning to trust each other and the universe more and more deeply everyday.