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Katherine Willow N.D.


Jack in the pulpit

After a year of cleaning up, restructuring and tending to family, CREWC will re-open this fall with programs on health, healing and sustainability; spaces to rent for holistic health practitioners and workshops; an online store; and a holistic assessment service.

For those of you who haven’t visited Carp Ridge EcoWellness Centre, it’s on 190 acres of rocky wilderness overlooking the Carp River valley, about thirty minutes northwest of downtown Ottawa. Trails wind through magical wetlands filled with wildlife. White pines, ash, spruce and ironwood are home to songbirds, hawks and owls. There is a holistic clinic, a learning centre, a yurt, two straw bale cabins, a pond cabin and three colourful office cabins as well as two tents on platforms, each with their own woodstove and composting toilet which practitioners can rent for treatments or workshops. A large deer-fenced garden awaits planting and is growing wild medicinal herbs in the meantime…

Over these last eighteen years we have run programs ranging from holistic family retreats to professional development courses for doctors of all stripes. CREWC hosted the first Forest School in North America, which continues in the form of Ridgewoods Outdoor Programs for 3-6 year old children run by experienced teacher Sara Raeesi.

However, the central activity at CREWC has been the Carp Ridge Natural Health Clinic, now simply Carp Ridge EcoWellness Centre, where many conditions were treated, including cancer. For several years we also offered a Healing House where patients could stay, be nourished with healthy food according to their body type and condition, and cared for by a team of holistic practitioners.


Lady slippers

The results we saw amazed even ourselves. After starting to use a new concept of disease and healing called German New Medicine, we witnessed many cancer patients recovering without their treatments. In ten years we saved our provincial health insurance (OHIP) over two million dollars. Now we would like to put our experience into programs to pass on this extraordinary knowledge, both to the public and other health care practitioners.

Starting this fall after an open house in September, there will be classes such as meditation, body types & cooking; health assessment services; and products for health, healing and a sustainable lifestyle. We will begin offering monthly healing circles by donation in the village of Carp to introduce the idea of emotional work being as important as diet, exercise and adequate sleep. And I’m pleased to announce that the Ask a Naturopathic Doctor column will restart in Tone! Please email your questions to


It’s a grey, chilly Wednesday morning from the kitchen window at the clinic where Felix and I now live. Beams of sunlight break through the clouds to brighten the day. A squirrel runs across my view and up a tree, scrambling to get ready for the cold season. The parking lot is empty.

I’m deeply tired but satisfied. Most of the last two weeks has been spent in New York state helping my sister with medical visits and a big move and she is recovering splendidly from her brain surgery in August, looking well with a new emerging beauty. Her process is facilitating healing for the rest of us!

My daughter Coral and partner Ashley have settled into my former house and now Felix can visit back and forth between Nana and Mom and Ashley. Coral and I go for counselling for family healing and parenting transitions.

Felix is in grade one French immersion at the wonderful public school in Carp and chatters away with great enthusiasm in his new language. We have dictionaries everywhere to look up French words.

The clinic has been vacated and Lori (manager), Gisele (bookkeeper), Jeremy (maintenance/drumming) and I are cleaning up, preparing the infrastructure at the centre for what comes next.

Internally I’m hanging on by the skin of my teeth. With little time for self right now and my emotional healing roaring away in my subconscious, I often feel disoriented and strange. By grace I’m able to continue my daily meditations/tapping/prayers, which take the edge off the anxiety that comes with old memories surfacing. Knowing there will be time alone ahead and glimpses of bliss nurture me through this demanding phase.

One lovely new activity that helps is that I’ve started figure skating again. Felix and I skate three times weekly with both lessons and free time. For me skating is like soaring and dancing all in one and feeds my soul profoundly. I used to be a skater as a child and my body is slowly remembering the spins, jumps and figures that I used to do. What a joy! My joints are still sore, but I refuse to let that stop me and am certain that this is part of my healing, not old age, grin…

My retreat in Quebec to learn more shamanic work with splendid teacher Ilka Marcenay was profound—and feels light years away. However, I’ve claimed the yurt at the centre for myself to practice “journeying”. It is insulated, has a stove and is in the woods. When time allows, I light a fire in the morning and then come back later when it’s warm to meditate, write, rest and enjoy nature. It reminds me of the forts I used to build as a child and makes me happy.

Finally, I made a decision about holidays. After another agonizing Thanksgiving, I decided to stop doing holidays after this Christmas. Until I’m emotionally well, I’m going to take that time to slow down instead of getting drained. Alternatively, I will do something else to connect with family and friends and give to charity. I’ll let you know how that goes!

in growing love,


A stick bug joins in the fun on Jessica Spirak's arm!

A stick bug joins in the fun on Jessica Spirak’s arm!

Why we call them red oaks...

Why we call them red oaks…

The woods were alive with activity on a cloudy, drizzly Saturday, September 20 at Carp Ridge EcoWellness Centre during a collaboration with the Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust to provide opportunities to be creative in nature.

Inspired by MMLT’s Creativity Blitz on 200 acres near Pakenham in May, CREWC director Katherine Willow decided to do something similar with them on the Carp Ridge.

Neil Carleton leads people in creative experimentation with leaf and bark rubbings.

Neil Carleton leads people in creative experimentation with leaf and bark rubbings.

Participants registered with a donation to MMLT to continue preserving precious wilderness. Then they were given a map of the trails and activities: drumming, Soundscaping (listening with a dish and electronics…extraordinary), nature journaling (with gorgeous bark and leaf rubbings), meditation at Father Jack’s Sacred Space, visiting beaver ponds, exploring a children’s nature museum (compliments of the Ridgewood Nature Program outdoor preschool) and observing the “Poo Tree” where generations of porcupines have lived.

Healthy, local, organic and gluten-free food was available—and delicious—thanks to volunteer Tanya Spirak. And the general consensus was that this event had infinite potential and will happen again in some form. Thank you to all who contributed.

If you are interested in finding out when the next nature event will happen, please sign up for email newsletters at: and/or and we look forward to seeing you in the woods!

Katherine Willow N.D.

How to Rejuvenate at Midlife

It is a common experience to feel depleted by age forty or fifty after decades of working, raising a family and following dubious lifestyle habits. Energy wanes, digestion becomes sluggish, muscle mass decreases in contrast to adipose tissue around the waist, libido diminishes, memory fades and overall quality of life recedes with the hairline.

People with strong constitutions don’t typically notice the change as much as those more sensitive, but the latter have the advantage of getting the message early enough to make changes while their more robust counterparts are able to plough forward until they get sick or drop. Another pattern is overriding the body with one’s mind, enthusiasm and will, thinking one has lots of energy which in reality is adrenaline wearing away the body with constant stimulation.

The first and definitely most difficult step towards better health in this harried, pain-driven culture is to SLOW DOWN. For those who manage to get out of the overactive box, much potential opens. It is said in older traditions that investing in three months of deep rejuvenation gives ten extra years of life.

Once time is freed up, the next step is to REST MORE. This is accomplished by early bedtimes between 8:30 and 9:30pm, depending on one’s level of fatigue, and strategic power naps of 10 to 20 minutes during the day. All organs and body systems need rest to recharge. Watching screens, doing puzzles and reading don’t count as rest. Eyes need to be closed and muscles relaxed.

Feeling more rested gives us more control to EAT WELL. This is where the process needs to be individualized by body type and condition. Essential criteria is how much a person is depleted versus being congested/toxic which will determine if the diet needs to be nourishing or cleansing or a mixture of both.

EXERCISE falls into the same category of needing to be individualized. Restorative yoga, however, benefits everyone. Once energy is high enough, interval training (aerobic and with weights) is one of the most effective methods of building muscle and restoring human growth hormone for vigour. It takes literally 20 minutes two to three times a week. Add stretching to this and within weeks to months the body will begin to feel renewed. Science tells us that 9 months of intensive training can reverse aging factors by ten years.

When the body is balanced, one can more easily undertake EMOTIONAL HEALING in order to release negative feelings and their corresponding tensions held since childhood. Much energy can be gained in this way.

When we are able to sit peacefully without climbing the walls, CONTEMPLATION and MEDITATION deepen mental rest and access one’s spiritual source to receive guidance about what to do with our renewed self. PURPOSE keeps us living well.

BASIC PRODUCTS helpful to rebuild health include: digestive enzymes, adrenal support, thyroid support, multivitamins/minerals and cleansing herbs such as milk thistle, dandelion, cleavers and psyllium. Then there are more sophisticated products such as homeopathic remedies, Ayurvedic combinations and modern discoveries of cell recharging substances. However, consistent results require lifestyle changes…

Sometimes it takes a specific product to break a pattern of low energy in order to be able to move forward with one’s lifestyle. Other times it requires a person’s support–a friend, family member, coach or healing practitioner who believes in us and helps us take those small realistic steps into the destiny of the second half of our lives.


Golden frog, meditatingThe guided meditations will assist your child to become more aware of who they are, their gifts and interests.

The meditations are simple and sensory focused.

GROUNDING CORD MEDITATION – Helps them let go of any worries

SLEEPY CLOUD MEDITATION – Helps them to fall asleep

HAPPY TREE MEDITATION – Helps them notice their feelings

Instructor – Dorothy Allemang – Reiki Master, Certified Meditation Instructor for Children and Teens, Reflexologist.  Twenty Years  Experience .

Place – 30 Moore Street, Arnprior, Ontario. K7S 1G4

Date – Saturday March 15, 2014

Time – 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Cost – $20.00 per person payable in cash or cheque to the instructor.  Inviting parents to participate in the class for free.

Pre-registration is required by Tuesday, March 11th, 2014.

To register call Dorothy Allemang – 613-623-3520

email –

By Katherine Willow

This topic interests me personally.  After decades of being driven by subterranean terrors, I find myself finally and concretely learning to feel my body, ground into safety and create a life based on realistic adult thinking.  Along the way numerous therapies and naturopathic remedies helped maintain my body, daily functioning (sometimes barely) and relative sanity until I could start coming to grips with the intense feelings which threatened to sink me whenever there was a quiet moment.

All this is to say that treating anxiety and fear can be a long process, although I have seen some patients break a cycle of anxiety and panic attacks in a few weeks or months.  Here’s the general treatment plan.

Overcoming anxiety and fear starts with strengthening the body:

  1. Restore nutritional deficiencies, especially protein.  Eat easily digestible protein (powders come in handy) at every meal and snack.  Take enzymes to help absorption if there is gas and bloating.
  2. Support the adrenal glands.  Depleted adrenals lead to anxiety which in turn depletes the adrenals more.  One needs to break this downward spiral or crash into chronic fatigue or depression.  I suggest adrenal glandulars as well as herbs and homeopathic remedies and eliminating caffeine, which whips the adrenals into even more fatigue and prevents their recovery.  Stop overworking.
  3. Move regularly, gently and mindfully to release muscular tension.  Weight training is awesome for feeling stronger emotionally.
  4. Learn to sleep well to rebuild the nervous system.
  5. Acupuncture can help balance weak organs and systems.

At the same time, there is a process of becoming aware of one’s emotions and learning to feel without freaking out or needing to self-medicate.

  1. Talk to someone regularly: a therapist, co-counselling buddy, sponsor in a 12-step process or life coach.
  2. Bodywork such as massage or craniosacral therapy with emotional release is useful.
  3. EMDR, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, with an experienced therapist has a strong track record for healing trauma that lies at the root of chronic anxiety.
  4. Mindfulness meditation likewise is well documented to help anxiety as well as depression.
  5. EFT or emotional freedom technique is a safe and effective self-help technique which can move us out of anxiety in minutes.  See for instructions and inspiration.
  6. Energy work such as reiki, quantum touch or shamanic journeying can access soul strength that has been lost along the way.

Then we can learn to relax and defuse the anxious state on our own:

  1. Yoga, meditation and conscious breathing.
  2. Relaxing massage.
  3. The Nordik Spa.
  4. Socializing in a safe group of friends.
  5. Nature.

Sometimes one needs several modalities over many years to break through layers of habits, addictions, delusions and denial.  Sometimes it takes generations.

Finally, we need to understand resistance when we do all of the above without seeing much progress.

Resistance is the biological survival mechanism which tells us it is not safe to relax and heal.  It does not respond to rational self-talk, reading self-help books or many of our efforts UNTIL there is a solid sense of safety, usually with another person.  Sometimes it takes one person reaching in and being present with our unbearable feelings to begin coming out of the isolation of living in chronic anxiety and fear.  And this person doesn’t need a title…

It is common to suffer from anxiety and fears; let’s be gentle and patient with ourselves.

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.

It’s a rainy Sunday evening of the first afternoon alone in a month.  I spent four hours on the couch sleeping beside the woodstove and am beginning to feel human again.  I had become exhausted from some extra family responsibilities, with less and less reserve to manage my stress levels.  Scary place.
My healing is progressing slowly, still stuck in the “hanging” phase.  As suspected, my thyroid is sluggish, with thyroid antibodies at 166 (normal around 30).  In the mainstream medical/naturopathic world-view I would be diagnosed with Hashimoto’s autoimmune thyroiditis.  In the German New Medicine framework, this is my thyroid recovering from a lifetime of control issues.  What is required is to let go, rest and recharge.  A little Armour thyroid through my medical doctor will help nudge the thyroid back into activity as well, but without the rest, it will stay in hanging healing and not be able to finish.  Tired adrenals, the energy glands, also keep the thyroid from recovering, and mine are chronically on the verge of burnout.  The key thing is regular, early sleep and I’m still not getting enough.
This is a little humbling given that I’m co-facilitating a workshop on sleep soon!  I’ve always known that healthy sleep is not easy in our culture, but this is my first experience struggling with it.  My newest strategy is using yellow light in the evening to avoid the over-stimulation of normal lighting.  I’m wearing amber goggles as I write this to counter the extra light from the computer.  (link to article on sleep and light here)  This should help me overcome the pattern of staying up too late doing online work after putting 5 year old grandson Felix to bed.  My goal is to go to sleep early and get up early enough to answer emails before he wakes up.  I’ll keep you posted on how this works—so far it hasn’t!
The other areas of my health are equally stuck.  My eyesight is now in the legally blind range, past my optometrist’s machine’s ability to measure.  She’s amazed that I can still read and drive safely (ie that my glasses are able to correct my vision to that extent).  I’m more determined than ever to avoid the prescribed cataract operation.  Here again, rest and relaxation are the key factors.  Cataracts are another healing phase, this time for the shock of not being able to see someone we love, maybe finally recovering from the death of my late husband Mickey…
My joints still hurt, a third healing phase, this one related to feeling devalued, and I’m getting much better at reminding myself that I’m not sick and decrepit but need to be patient and allow my body to rebuild.  On a positive note, my back is finally getting better with the exercises from our amazing chiropractor Carole, providing the additional benefit of learning a whole new way of moving and regenerating core strength.  I can put on my socks standing up again, grin, and recently found myself chasing Felix up the driveway.
It is an extremely valuable experience for me to go through this plodding, tiring process.  It allows me to see how difficult it is to truly and deeply heal with family and work responsibilities and how to develop the awareness, thinking patterns, breathing and other lifestyle tricks for invigorated living.  The trauma therapy (EMDR) that I continue to undergo is central because my inner tensions led to an off-balance life in the first place, with me creating constant stress because that’s what I expected and to what I was accustomed.  I’m amazed at how persistent this is even when I know better.  I like to remember that all of this can change for the better very quickly and to leave an opening for that possibility while committing to the everyday work and creating a climate for this change.
In the background of all the physical efforts is the spiritual, the core part of healing.  In my case it goes hand in hand with control issues, learning to feel safe enough to relax my ego so that Spirit can manifest.  For me it’s moving from intellectual lip-service to remembering to be humble and that ultimately I’m not in charge.  Meditation, prayer and tapping are still my practices.
Heartfelt thanks to my patients’ understanding when your emails take so long to get answered!
slowly and cheerfully,

by Katherine Willow, ND

It’s Monday afternoon, verging on the witching hour.  My adrenals want a break during this natural low in the day.  Not coffee, not sugar and not a cocktail — a rest.  So I decide to lay down for 15 minutes and do my ‘corpse pose’.

It’s much better than the sudoku puzzles I often do to “relax”.  Lying down with eyes closed (saving immeasurable brain activity), arms and legs spread out, letting go into the waves of the breath.

Except that thinking about waves snaps the image of a shark into my still-jangly mind.  It’s one of my terrors. My PSTD (post traumatic stress disorder, the still-unhealed-part of me on constant danger alert) starts creating disasters to match the chronic anxiety I’ve held for decades.  It’s actually a very common response, we’re still well-wired into the oldest part of our brain which responds to perceived threats.  And it takes practice to go beyond that for most of us.

It’s a lot better than it used to be though, now I just ignore the visions and go back to my breath, knowing that eventually my mind will settle, the body will soften and the wonderful feeling of tension release will spread.  At this point I fall asleep for a few minutes, as usual, which is great, it means the pose was successful and will give me up to three hours of refreshed energy.  It wasn’t always so, it took me two years to learn this skill.

I’ve noticed that when I try to plough through the day without recharging my nervous system, my mind gets slower and slower until it’s so inefficient I’ve wasted much more time than I would have spent in resting!  And yet I still resist.  Getting through the inevitable frightening images at the start is unpleasant.  It’s like not wanting to exercise even though one feels so much better afterward.  At this point I manage to do it about twice a week.

That’s it for my brief personal blogging in this issue.  It’s time to have dinner with my family, my elder daughter Sarala visiting from Montreal, Coral home from a long day at school, our delightful new assistant Anu who is cooking while the girls play with grandson Felix.  It feels comfortable even though much of my paperwork is still waiting to be done.  I know my brain will be up to it after dinner.  Maybe in writing this, I will be more conscious of consistently practicing what I preach and remember to rest more often!

Here’s wishing you a relaxing Christmas season, hoping you also find time to rest in the midst of  the pressure to perform, buy and consume.  If you want to experience quieting and recharging the mind, consider joining us for the next wellness retreat at the end of January which focusses on meditation with a lovely schedule of classes (read the post about it).  We are pleased to introduce a Christian element this year in the person of Father Jack Lau, spiritual director of Galilee Mission in Arnprior, and a beautiful presence.

Take care and I enjoy receiving your comments,

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