by erin stewart sm (479 of 247)

A Special Kind of Thank You and a Bit of Back-Story

I’m doing something a little different today – more of a longer letter from me so I can share a bit of what’s been happening behind the scenes and a piece of my personal story with you. I don’t talk about super personal things very much (INFJ here), but this feels so significant and you’ve played a role in how I got here, so I wanted to send you this very special thank you.

I received my acceptance letter yesterday – the one that kick starts a 10+ year journey toward one of my biggest, most closely held dreams.

When I was younger, I wanted to be a psychologist. I had a dream school in mind that I never applied to because I thought there was no way I could go there. Ultimately, my path led me in a different direction – to Bible college, where I met my husband and best friend and spent a few years practicing living a life of service to God and others.

Then I got sick. At 23, a doctor told me I was the sickest person he had ever seen. Every big dream I had felt completely impossible to achieve and my biggest goal was to get well again and find the people who could help me do that. When the western system failed me, I found natural practitioners and plant-based medicine and my body and mind began to slowly heal. I dove into learning everything I could about botanical medicine largely because I needed it for myself and I wanted to understand how and why it was working. As I healed, my dreams changed.

I wanted to build a healing place where other people could come to rest, receive medical and complementary care from a collective of skilled medical and holistic practitioners, spend time in the garden, play with therapy dogs, and heal. It felt like such a big, maybe-it-will-happen-and-maybe-it-won’t type dream. It takes a lot of resources to build something like that and when we first started thinking of it, we were living below the poverty line and even buying orange juice felt impossible.

But today…

Today I feel a special kind of calling. I learned something about myself earlier this month that jolted me to the realization that I could have gotten into my dream school if I had tried. My grades and SAT scores were above the requirements I needed to be accepted. And I still really love psychology. I read psych textbooks for fun and listen to university lectures and podcasts about psychology and neuroscience for pure enjoyment. I’ve walked through a lot of personal healing.

So Jon and I started discussing the idea. What if I went back to school, got a little bit of recent education on my transcripts, earned a few great recommendations from professors, then applied to my dream school? What if I got in – would we want to move there? Could we see ourselves building our farm there? Did we want to live so far away from family? Would it all be worth it?

My Bible college degree is unaccredited, so I’d be starting from ground zero with no transferable credits and I want to earn a Ph.D, so this would a long-term, big-deal commitment for both of us.

Luckily, I married the most supportive man on the planet who shares my dreams with me.

It totally fits with our dreams and makes them even bigger and better. I’m not quite ready to share everything about how they have morphed, but they still include a family farm and the retreat center, with a huge focus on mental health, trauma, complementary therapies, and research.

Dreams that big feel impossible until you feel a real calling to them, you know? But you can’t achieve them unless you walk toward them.

So I applied to our state college. My first step toward the end goal.

Yesterday, I received my acceptance letter.

I’ve been spending my evenings poring through the scholarship manuals looking for the ones I’m eligible for (I’m pretty sure I’m too late for FAFSA aid this year).

So it begins.

I’m both excited and a little nervous – mostly excited. I can clearly see the end goal in my mind and that motivates me.

Don’t worry, I’ll still be here. 😊 Business goals are still the same except now I feel like I need to build my client base faster so I can try to cash flow this schooling. =)

So if you are a magazine subscriber or a Floranella student, thank you. Thank you for supporting my small business and our family, because in so doing, you are helping me reach toward my biggest dreams and for that, I am forever thankful.

With much love and a heart filled with gratitude,


Erin Stewart is an herbalist, NAHA certified aromatherapist, organic gardener and urban homesteader. She grows over 150 kinds of aromatic and medicinal plants for her own apothecary and distills essential oils and hydrosols in her PNW garden. Erin is the founder of Floranella and of AromaCulture’s herbalism + aromatherapy magazine.

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4 thoughts on “A Special Kind of Thank You and a Bit of Back-Story”

  1. Donna Becker

    I couldn’t love this post more, Erin. And I completely support your goals! Education is ALWAYS worth the effort. Always. I’ll be cheering you on and praying for you, so keep us posted. Take it all one day at a time. You’ve got this!

  2. Cathi Christmus

    I am just getting around to reading this, but CONGRATULATIONS! We need more like-minded complementary/integrative practitioners like yourself in the mental health field! I enjoy your writing, your recipes, and your magazine, and if you’d ever like to chat about using integrative therapies in psychiatric practice, please give me a shout. We all need to support each other.
    I look forward to hearing more about your journey and your plans.

    Cheers, Cathi

    1. Erin Stewart

      Thank you for the encouragement, Cathi! I’m actually putting together a list of practitioners who are currently in the mental health field and who are also interested in complementary therapies – hoping to organize a collaborative group in the near future. Would you like to be a part?

      Much love,

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