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Sitting in the clinic kitchen and looking out over the cold, white landscape, it’s hard to tell that it will be April next week.  It makes me think of our northern inhabitants and wonder how they manage their long winters every year.  Maybe lots of whale blubber full of vitamin D…  At least the sunlight has significantly increased, bringing in the cleansing season again.  Time to cook up some kitcharee and break out the milk thistle, grin.

Life continues to be intensely focussed on loved ones struggling with illness.  If you’ve been following me since summer, you might have guessed that my sister in New York has brain cancer.  It happens to be the same kind to which my late husband succumbed in 2002, glioblastoma multiforme, GBM.  Lili is bravely going through chemo and radiation with naturopathic assistance.  It’s almost surreal because she is so strong and healthy…as was Mickey.  However she has a better prognosis and expects to live for decades.  All of us pull together to get through this intact, even if it means healing through loss and death.

Mickey’s eldest son is recovering from flesh-eating disease and will need to live in a long-term care facility.  It is astounding to me how he keeps his spirits up.  It’s like visiting an angel.  Last Saturday I went to a Salvation Army store and bought a bag full of movies, books and CD’s which I will deliver to his bedside tomorrow.  It’s fun to visit him, not something one usually feels in a hospital.

My daughter’s partner is still disabled with some unknown illness, which is maybe the hardest, the not knowing.  We go from doctor appointments to the pharmacist to the hospital and keep getting more tests.  Her doctor has been stellar, helping us feel that eventually we will figure this out.  And my good friend who had the heart transplant and is staying with us is having complications that don’t allow him to move forward in his life.  Utter frustration and yet he powers on.  The good news on this illness front is that the family member with mini-strokes is doing fine and back to regular life.

In the middle of all this, I do my best to help and regain some sort of balance.  Normal life happens in between crises and hospital visits and trips to New York.  And yet I’m generally at peace.  It is deeply satisfying to be of service and growing into acceptance.   My own health is improving beyond my expectations and I am booked for a long-desired breast reduction tomorrow, armed with remedies and pain techniques, which will allow me to exercise more comfortably.  At this point I’m looking forward to the two week recovery—my turn to rest!!  My joints are slowly getting better, my eyes are stable with days of actual improvement, my hair is shiny for the first time in decades and my back is no longer keeping me up at night.  My guts are still the resistant area, leading me to deeper awareness of how I hold tension and emotions.  I am definitely not as enlightened as I thought, laugh!!

Yesterday I had a phone consult with my German New Medicine teacher, Ilsedora Laker, about these guts of mine, embarrassed that it’s taking me so long to figure out the trigger.  She took me in the direction of looking for a “lack” and led me to see that because of my guilt around having so much, I deny myself many things, especially time to relax.  In the conversation, I could clearly see the issue but couldn’t imagine not feeling guilty.  Later in my meditation, I asked myself what it would take.  The answer came: to accept that I DO MY BEST to share and contribute all that I have.  I don’t have to be a super-human or beat myself up or drive myself to the brink of exhaustion to justify my existence as a person with wealth.  A beautiful light flooded me and I realized that I’ve cracked the code.  Now to continue reinforcing it gently.  Eureka!

KW-Ice Show2

Katherine performing her solo at the ice show.

In the middle of all this intensity there have been many fun moments: taking slow walks with my sister; participating in the ice show with Felix (see photo); sleeping in the yurt with grandson Felix and our friend Jessica—until 2am when we rushed back home through the woods in the dark because I couldn’t get us warm enough with the wood stove; trying out ecstatic dance with the regulars in Ottawa; cross-country skiing at Fitzroy Park; and simply enjoying the privilege of being well enough to do my daily tasks of cooking, laundry and looking after Felix…who is trooping through all the stress around him with courage and kindness.

The best part of my own healing process is that night is no longer a time of horrific visions and terror but growing into a delicious experience of relaxing and coming home to myself thanks to the ongoing work with EMDR therapist Mary Ann Carmichael.  Decreasing my constant anxiety and increasing my awareness is the central piece that allows everything else to change.  The main thing I need to be careful of is that much of the energy I seem to have may be due to being in a shock state because of my sister’s illness, a long surge of adrenalin that will take me to exhaustion as it did with my late husband.  This time around I need to take better care of myself.

And underneath everything there continues the dream of the centre.  Every time someone is helped with a remedy or a healing technique I fantasize sharing it in a class or workshop.  With the spring sun comes new visioning and soon we will be able to let you know what we will offer here.  Patience all around!  I do realize that I have a compulsive tendency to overdo and am committed to moving forward slowly and thoughtfully.  I think that will be easier with the recent insights.

Here’s to your own visions and dreams–


It’s a mild winter Sunday afternoon seen through the kitchen window. Felix and I spent the morning sledding in deep powder snow—do you remember how wonderfully strenuous that is!? Now he’s with his mother and I get an afternoon to myself. My computer plays the soundtrack from the movie Amelia, music for my performance at the ice show this weekend. It gives me shivers of anticipation and great distraction from the intense stress in my life.

I just reread my last blog and laughed at the paragraph about having a “saviour complex”—my whole existence these days is around trying to save people or feeling despair when I can’t. The onslaught of personal tragedies around me is almost unbelievable: cancer, flesh-eating disease, a heart transplant with complications, debilitating pain and mini-strokes.

Needless to say, I lost my balance. Worse, I disintegrated into whining and feeling a victim, resentful that “my life” had been derailed. These thoughts weren’t conscious at first, too embarrassing to admit even to myself. It took unpleasant physical symptoms to show that I am holding deep anger and that I need to change the way I am thinking or become sick myself. Once I realized my negative state, I was able to begin digging out of my hole.

The more positive me is now taking better care of myself and feels cheerful. As I travel with my suffering family members and friends, I am developing a deeper acceptance of whatever life has to offer, including the horrors. From a larger perspective, I can see life moving through me, pushing me to grow beyond my attachment to this body and ego. As I reflect, I also see that my closed heart is cracking open, little by little, allowing me to feel closer to people. And myself. And Life!

So really, I’m being blessed and in these rare hours of quiet, I can see that I’ll be a better person for the honour of walking these paths with people I love. It’s not about saving, it’s about serving.

And despite the cold and snow, spring is around the corner.

warm regards,
ps It may be a while before I can tell you what will happen at the centre in the future, but ideas continue to brew…

It’s a Thursday evening at 10 pm. I should be asleep, but I can’t breathe through my nose, so it’s easier to be up. At least the house is quiet except for little crackles from the woodstove.


Turbulence from facing my deeper illusions continues to rock my little world. A second flu culminated in this sinus blockage that responds to nothing and not enough energy to stay on top of anything. Then Felix came down with an ear infection last night and his eardrum broke today and bled. (It shows how issues run energetically in families and manifest in similar symptoms amongst the members. Ear infections are not contagious.)


I had never seen blood from an ear from an infection and called Telehealth—what a great service—who advised me to go to CHEO, not what I wanted to hear! I went to my local medical clinic instead, confirmed that Felix doesn’t have a skull fracture from the little hit on the head he got at Sara’s school yesterday (where he asked to “volunteer” once a week because “she must miss me so much”) and agreed with a very understanding MD to keep a close watch for meningitis/odd behaviour instead of having him take antibiotics. I put him on children’s echinacea and astragalus in honey instead. In case you are interested, we stopped the ear pain last night in what seemed like a very long three hours with homeopathic Pulsatilla in varying strengths and then homeopathic Camomile as well as herbal ear drops along with lots of reassurance that this will end soon and to cry as much as you need to…which wasn’t very much, he’s a trooper!


We came home from the doctor’s and fell into bed, but I was too restless to sleep, a GNM pattern in healing where the brain busily restructures one’s life according to new resolutions at the beginning of the night. My new resolution is a big one, you’ve probably noticed the headline: I am going to retire from active naturopathic practice at the end of June. One of my friends watching me continue to get “sick” (healing phases) suggested that I might want to do it sooner! (Not.) However it is a major and positive midlife leap for me. I already feel lighter and freer and not overly bothered by all these physical repercussions. I look forward to creatively helping my patients find continuing care that supports them in moving forward in their lives too. (See more in my letter about retiring.) I believe that when a person makes a good decision for themselves, the people around them will also be positively affected. I’m hoping to eventually write and teach about what I’ve learned over the last thirty years.


But first there’s lots to clean up at home on all levels, so I will keep my professional activities to directing the clinic for now, something that I never had enough energy to do properly all these decades.
One of the practitioners who is helping me heal is Jennifer Presley. She is a massage therapist at the clinic who also practices craniosacral therapy, but most of all, she is profoundly intuitive and energetically picks up patterns that are stuck in my body and then helps release them, sometimes with the help of Angels.


Going back in the month, the trip to Germany was gruelling—and totally worthwhile! My ears were fine on the plane without drugs and I didn’t relapse off the antibiotics. I had found a good rhythm of taking them: before each meal, letting them work on an empty stomach. Then I took probiotics after the meals and various immune boosters as well. There were no side-effects and I was able to come off the antibiotic after seven days (I was told seven to ten).
In Germany, a highlight was going to Baden Baden, the city in the south where my grandmother had her naturopathic practice. Lots of memories…her old house has been sold and renovated and actually looks much nicer. I saw the little window on the top floor where I’d wake up in the mornings to a symphony of birds which echoed in the valley below, a famous park with beautiful old trees along a canal. And the larger window to the dining room next to which we would see patients together. I watched her poultice a breast cancer and then two years later saw the same woman with a perfectly straight small scar where the tumour had been. I learned to give injections of procaine along the spine and homeopathic solutions into the buttocks—much to the dismay of the older gentlemen!


Tears come that were frozen while I was there because of the effort of coping with my fragile health. Even at the service for my aunt, my nearest naturopathic forbearer, I couldn’t feel anything. My cousin delivered one of the best eulogies I’d ever heard, weaving my aunt’s life within the family dynamics and dysfunctions as well as the political influences at the time, dominated by World War II. So much suffering. It is still alive and imprinted on the whole German culture…as well as my own psyche…part of the origin of the dark visions that have haunted me all my life.


During the trip, I battled with how to change in a way that would help me balance. No answer. Once home for a few days, however, the answer came clear. After sitting on it for a week, I started to tell staff and colleagues at the clinic and was bowled over by the support. Several people cried for me. I am so moved by this and will continue to peel back the layers of issues that incline me to overworking. I intend to rebuild a life based on taking appropriate care of myself, prioritizing my family and helping them heal. And of course doing my best to pass on what I have learned to other practitioners as well as through public courses, finally from a place of walking my own talk…


All in good time. First I need to restore this body. I have lost much of my muscle, appetite, flexibility and endurance, of the little that I had from being so depleted. I SO look forward to feeling truly well and then continuing to pass it on in some form. It feels ready to burst up like a green shoot!


Thank you for your patience with the length of this blog. Usually I try to keep them shorter. I’ll continue to write to let you know how I’m doing with rebalancing my life and will plan some kind of event to celebrate what all of you who are my patients have taught and given me. Summer solstice seems like a good time…watch for an invite.


Felix is still asleep. Time to give it another try myself.
warm regards,


* I looked up “sea change” to see if that’s really what I wanted for the title. It means a profound or notable transformation. I think I’ll keep it, grin!

It’s December and we’re heading toward one of the most challenging times of the year: Christmas holidays.  We’ve taken the lowest point of the four seasons, when we are meant to be hibernating, internal and quiet in order to rejuvenate for spring and made it into a marathon of activity.

I have seen months of healing progress go up in smoke, mine included, in the few weeks before and after Christmas and have thought long and hard about how to deal with this drain on our collective  energies.  Even people who love this holiday end up depleted in January!

How do we keep our balance with pressures around weather, family, food, time and money?

1. Plan ahead for some down time.  Strategize for how little we can do.  Holiday expectations in our culture are TOTALLY UNREALISTIC.  Break out of the box and bring our families with us.  Expose the myth of being able to see all of our relatives, give everyone cards or gifts, stay up late, drink alcohol and eat rich food for weeks in a row, go to a ridiculous number of social gatherings and remain cheerful and sane.

2. Take a complete break occasionally.  See family in the summer when the energy is higher and it’s not snowing.

3. Sleep a lot.  Refuse to shop, get a tree or bake unless it nourishes us and involves healthy ingredients.  No one will notice, everyone else is on a Christmas adrenaline rush.

4. Alternatively, plan physical activities outside in the snow that are gentle.  Refrain from pursuing sports which are draining at this time of year; it’s a season to slow down.  If we go on a ski holiday, let’s ski for half of the day and rest for the other half.

5. Singing Christmas music is good for our soul.

6. So is setting aside time for meditation, prayer and spiritual gatherings.

7. If we have small children, let’s do the minimum…creatively.  Let’s develop new family rituals that are slow and healing for us.  The little ones will benefit most.

8. Be honest with ourselves about how we are feeling.  It’s when we pretend to be jolly and we’re really exhausted that we override our immunity.   This might be the most important piece.

9. About charity: it starts at home and then we can give it out.  Christmas time shows us how balanced we have been the rest of the year by how much we have left to give.

10. Travel.  The only way to have this be successful is to come back in April!  Going away for a week is just a tease and requires about 2-3 weeks recovery time.

11.  Vow off sugar and wheat and whatever else aggravates us.  Start in October for best results.  This is easier if we provide a lot of healthy protein snacks to stem the cravings.  Best combined with number three as it’s almost impossible to fight cravings when we’re tired…

Christmas has the silver lining of reflecting the state of our balance, awareness and kindness toward ourselves in the previous year and motivating us to have a better year moving forward.  All the best to all of us in creating some rest, relaxation and rejuvenation in our holidays!
Katherine Willow N.D.

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