Healthy Concepts

Snow is swirling, wind is gusting and there’s an already huge drift blocking the majority of the window as we put finishing touches on this issue of Nature’s Pathways — and yes, I’m talking about May.

Mid-April brought a record-breaking blizzard to our area and while we’re no strangers to snowfall this time of year, it caused me to reflect on expectations and dreams and the obstacles that sometimes get in the way. According to Wikipedia, “Spring and ‘springtime’ refer to the season, and also to ideas of rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal, resurrection and regrowth.” And that’s what we’ve come to expect; however, as of today, that’s not what we’ve gotten.

When we’re met with the unexpected – whether it’s the answer “no,” uncharacteristic weather or even a literal roadblock – it’s frustrating. We had a clear idea or route planned and we’re forced to change directions. In the middle of the recent storm, it looked messy, unwavering and frankly, mean. Spirits (and snow blowers!) were broken. But then, it stopped.

In difficult moments we tend to feel like our goals are impossible, that the adversity we’re facing is too much for one person to handle. But we’re not alone. What I witnessed after the blizzard made me realize that support systems in any form are vital for survival. Neighbors helped neighbors, extra hands assisted with shoveling and plowing and an overall sense of determination filled the snowy streets that can apply to our everyday lives too:

We got this.

5.4 million.

According to, it’s the number of skin cancer cases treated in the U.S. in 2012. And it’s estimated that 178,560 cases of melanoma specifically will be diagnosed in 2018.

Of the three most common types of skin cancer — melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma — melanoma is a dangerous form that, if not detected and treated immediately, can spread to other areas in the body. According to American Cancer Society research, if melanoma is caught in stage one, the five-year survival rate is 97 percent. Late detection survival rates can be as low as 15 percent.

They’re astounding numbers, and May, Skin Cancer Awareness Month, provides a public reminder that skin screenings can save your life.

“A lot of different diseases get a lot of attention, and rightfully so,” Dr. Betsy Wernli, board-certified dermatologist at Forefront Dermatology, says. “For some reason, skin cancer gets a little lost in the shadows. I think people in general underestimate the impact and severity of melanoma.”

“Creating awareness is key,” Dr. Victoria Negrete, board-certified dermatologist at Forefront Dermatology, adds. “Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, but it’s also one of the most preventable.”

Dermatologists recommend sun avoidance during peak hours from 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., wearing wide brimmed hats and using an SPF of at least 30 (if not 45). Reapply sunscreen every few hours and when you get out of the water, and be diligent — even when it seems unnecessary.

“You have to wear sunscreen even on a cloudy day because the ultraviolet (UV) rays penetrate 80 percent through the clouds,” Dr. Negrete says. “One of the common themes I hear is that someone doesn’t like sunscreen. Now there are mineral sunscreens you can brush on like a powder, you can wear hats, UV protective clothing.”

Creating healthy skin habits at an early age are also vital.

“Parents using sunscreen on their kids and teaching them to wear hats and rash guards are getting them in the habit of using protective measures against the sun,” Dr. Wernli explains. “I think it’s the best thing you can do.”

And the worst?

“People always try to come up with the rationalization that they need to get their base tan before they go on vacation,” Dr. Negrete says. “And that couldn’t be any further from the truth. There is no such thing as a safe base tan. Every single time you go into a tanning bed it raises your chance of skin cancer by 2 percent.”

Studies also show that those “coupled up” have a much higher chance of detecting skin cancer. Partners should be looking at not only their own skin but their partner’s, and if they notice something new that’s changing or growing, visit a board-certified dermatologist.

“We see melanoma showing up even where the sun doesn’t shine,” Dr. Negrete says. “It’s painless to get checked, and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

And while there are statistics and signs that point to probable cases, there are always exceptions and distinctive circumstances to be aware of. Forefront Dermatology was founded on the belief that dermatologists’ ability to treat not only medical conditions but the emotional response that accompany them is crucial, and it’s clear: it’s the patients who matter most.

Here are three of their unique stories:


“It only takes one sunburn and I’ve had many.”

Laura, a wife and mother of two, has grown up loving the outdoors — hiking, boating and spending time on the beach — and has always made it a priority to spend time outside while the four seasons of Wisconsin allow.

I grew up loving the sun. I loved the way it made me look and feel. I thought, ‘I don’t need sunscreen because I want an awesome tan and to look really pretty.’ I used baby oil! I had an opportunity to work at a tanning salon… so I got it for free. You see a lot of superstars, Hollywood actresses, and they were always so tan and gorgeous. I thought ‘I want that.’

I was down in Florida when I recognized a spot on my inner arm and I thought, ‘Oh that’s weird, I never noticed that,’ but I have freckles so I thought I’d just watch it and see. Some time passed and I noticed it started growing a little bit. I started comparing it to other freckles and spots I had and thought, ‘This one’s a little weird, it has weird edges,’ and I noticed it had changed shape. I wasn’t too concerned yet but I decided to go to the dermatologist to check on some other things, and to get an annual look over.

“It was on the inside of her left upper arm, not an area that gets a ton of sun exposure,” Dr. Negrete explains. “It wasn’t your typical melanoma, like one that you would see on Google. This was nonspecific, a pink little area that some people wouldn’t think twice about it.”

It was pretty shocking. You never think it’s going to be you. I was 34. My friends are focusing on having babies and building careers and here I am getting this news that I have skin cancer. All of those years in the sun finally caught up with me.

“Fortunately for (Laura), it was caught extremely early,” Dr. Negrete says. “She had a melanoma in situ, which means it hadn’t even penetrated past the top layer of the skin. We were able to excise it and her overall outlook is exceptionally good.”

I try and use my situation as a lesson to people that you’re never too young or old to get your skin checked out… I tell my daughters, ‘Mom spent too many careless hours in the sun, you don’t want to have an owie like mommy, you want to protect your beautiful skin.’

I always recommend Dr. Negrete and Forefront. If there was one thing I’d want you to know it’s that they’re there for you, they’re there to listen to you, even to help you through the financial aspect after.


“I didn’t think melanoma was that severe… I’m very lucky to be alive.”

Marvin, an active father and grandfather in his 70s, is a prostate cancer survivor who, like many, wasn’t aware of the severity of skin cancer.

I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2001… the conversation about cancer was so routine for me that I wasn’t alarmed. I was not a sun worshipper. I never had any inkling of having a problem with skin cancer.

My melanoma was on my back so I couldn’t see it. I had a mole that was there for my entire life. I never had a concern about it; however, around Labor Day of 2013, my wife said, ‘You better have it looked at.’ My wife was insistent. I went to see Dr. Negrete… she sent in the biopsy and it came back positive.

I was scheduled for an operation the day after Thanksgiving… and when you have an operation the day after Thanksgiving, you know it’s urgent. I didn’t think melanoma was that severe. I had the mole removed, then I was scheduled for another surgery in January.

“He came in with a very quickly growing nodule on his back. He had a 3 cm growth that was really pink and at the base looked black,” Dr. Negrete explains. “It had grown very rapidly in a few months’ time. It came back as a rather aggressive melanoma: 8 mm deep. 4 mm is considered aggressive. (But) fortunately in Marvin’s case, it hadn’t spread.”

I like to think people are more aware of melanoma now than they were 5 years ago. It isn’t something that happened just last week. In my case, I was exposed to the sun as a teenager. My mountain to climb was huge… If you have melanoma to the degree I did, death is within one year. That was absolutely frightening. It changed my way of life. It’s my personality to keep going.

Now, I never go out in the sun without a long sleeve shirt, I do put on sunscreen. I take extra precaution. I owe it to myself to do everything possible so I don’t have a continuation of melanoma.

I chose Dr. Negrete because my wife had some skin problems and she liked Dr. Negrete. The longer I have been on this road, and the more I know about it, I feel very, very privileged to be alive. And I totally respect her… I feel very comfortable and I enjoy having her as my doctor.

“He is my melanoma miracle,” Dr. Negrete says.


“I had ‘just a freckle,’ and it was something.”

Kim, now an advocate of skin cancer screenings and taking responsibility and action for your health, knew of melanoma but never thought about it personally or that a small blemish could be as serious as it was.

I’ve been to the dermatologist before, and I’ve had little checkups… I had something that was irritating my neck, so I thought, ‘You know, I should go in to check it out.’ Before that I had found three freckles on my backside. I didn’t think anything of them because they were just freckles. It was my neck that made me make the appointment.

I went to the (Forefront Dermatology) website. I wanted to find a female and wanted to check these people out! I was looking at Dr. Wernli’s picture on the internet as I made the phone call. I said I wanted an all-over check, we made the appointment and I went in.

(Dr. Wernli) started with my feet and worked her way up and then she asked if anything was new. At first I was thinking, “No,” but then I remembered the three freckles. She said she’d like to take a biopsy of one of them but didn’t make a big deal about it.

I came back and she rolled her chair up to my knees… I can feel the anxiety increasing. She has a piece of paper and I see in capital letters: “Malignant Melanoma.” I said, “From that freckle you took off?”

“In (Kim’s) example, hers was in a very unique location… anywhere you have skin is at risk for skin cancer,” Dr. Wernli explains. “Because we caught it early enough and she was diligent about coming in for a skin check, she didn’t require any chemotherapy or lymph node surgery or anything like that.”

I thank God that I was lucky enough that the results came back and everything was clear. The margins were clear. How lucky I am to have made that appointment, have a doctor who saw it right away and removed it, and who kept me calm.

For me, it wasn’t just being in a tanning bed and having that freckle appear the next day. It had been at least ten years since I had been in a tanning bed and the freckle popped up that long later. You have to think about it long term.

“I’ve had other patients who have been diagnosed with melanoma who didn’t quite understand or grasp the gravity of the diagnosis. Kim got it,” Dr. Wernli says. “She understood from day one that it’s a big deal, and she became the biggest advocate for melanoma awareness and prevention in our town.”

One check isn’t enough. You need to make it a part of your regular routine. If you go see Dr. Wernli, she’s amazing so that makes it a lot better too. Once you meet her, you want to know her. It was a no brainer for me.

“Just skin cancer” is cancer. What would I have missed? My grandson. My daughter’s wedding. I can’t even fathom not being here for those things. I would have missed so much.

Do it for yourself. Do it for your family. Just do it.

Hear more from Laura, Marvin and Kim by visiting or

Forefront Dermatology is the health care expert on treating melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and less common skin cancers. The level of medical care and technique is unmatched, and it’s also complemented by their dedication to providing patients with compassionate care, education and personalized treatments throughout a patient’s journey.

Currently in 36 locations throughout Wisconsin, they also expertly address a wide spectrum of other conditions and concerns, including acne, eczema, rashes, warts, psoriasis and rosacea, along with cosmetic treatments.

For more information about Forefront Dermatology and to find a location nearest you, visit or call 855-535-7175.

Most of you have probably heard the excitement and buzz around building and living in a tiny home. While most of us aren’t planning on moving into a tiny house anytime soon, we can apply tiny living concepts to our life to reduce our environmental impact and energy footprint in a big way.

While reading this article, imagine living in a tiny house with a water tank and a finite amount of electricity saved in a battery or natural gas available. How would living with finite resources impact your energy usage? Try to imagine living in a tiny home and turn saving energy into a fun game.

Typically, the largest energy hogs in a home come from heating and cooling, lighting and your washer/dryer. A few easy tips for saving costs in heating and cooling include getting a programmable thermostat to keep your home comfortable when you’re there and adjust when you aren’t or when you’re sleeping, installing low-flow fixtures or fixing water leaks to reduce water heating costs, or turning down your water heater a couple degrees. To save energy used in lighting, install CFLs or LEDs. If buying an energy efficient washing machine is out of the question, try washing in cold water. All your actions can add up to make a big difference. If you can believe it, you can save energy without changing any of your lifestyle patterns.

Think about all the unused appliances in your home that are plugged into the wall right now. Contrary to what you might think, these appliances are using power, even if they aren’t turned on or being used. These are called phantom loads. Before I tell you some of the common phantom loads and the energy wasted, write down or make a mental list of the phantom loads for your home and take a guess at how much power they are using and the yearly cost.

Here are a couple examples of how much power your common appliances draw when they are not actively being used:

Household appliance/Product

Average watts used

(Rounded to nearest

whole number)

Mobile phone charger (On, charged)


Clock / Radio


Computer display, LCD (On)


Power tool, cordless, ready, charged


Set-top box, DVR, on, no recording


Coffee maker


DVD player, off


Microwave, ready, door closed


Televisions, off



89 watts

Numbers based on measurements from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory:

If you assume the above appliances are plugged in for 24 hours per day, that is 14,952 watt hours per week or 15 kW per week. Using the average price per kW hour in Wisconsin from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, at $0.11, that costs you around $86 dollars a year.

You don’t need to make any lifestyle changes to save this energy. A couple easy solutions are to unplug devices when you aren’t using (at least the big users) or utilize power strips where you have many culprits together, like in your office (computer, monitor, speakers, printer, etc.) or kitchen (coffee maker, toaster, microwave, etc.). Saving small amounts of energy can add up to make a difference and reduce your carbon footprint and your energy bill.

To read more about how to save energy and find resources to take the next step, check out The U.S. Department of Energy website:


Trust: An unwavering reliance on the character, ability or strength of someone or something.

Revocable: Capable of being cancelled.

I’m sorry, what? You want me to put all my most valuable assets into something called “revocable trust”? So the lawyer marketing people had a bad day that day. But don’t let that discourage you from learning what a revocable trust is!

It’s approximately 1,327 percent better than its name would lead you to believe.

Explain it to me like I’m 5 years old please. Think of it like a special basket. This basket is created by an attorney for you to put assets in. When you die, the basket will be delivered directly to whomever you said it should go. But that’s why I have a will…

Three things to know:

  1. The legitimacy of a will must be verified by a court of law. This is called probate. Probate costs money.
  2. Probate takes a long time and can be very stressful for your loved ones.
  3. When a will is verified by a court of law, everything in your estate becomes public record. Trusts, on the other hand, are private.

OK. But what if I still need my assets after I put them in the basket? No problem. Most people do. With a revocable trust, you can still use your assets.

Isn’t this just for rich people? No, it isn’t. If you don’t want people knowing how much “stuff” you had after you die, a trust is what you need. Period. End of story. Privacy is a very legitimate, non-financial reason to own a trust. You are also doing your loved ones a big favor when you create a trust — it’s one last stressful thing they have to deal with after you are gone.

Do I own a trust? No. Why not? As of today, my estate is rather small. Avoiding the cost of probate doesn’t help my family out a whole lot. Privacy is not a concern of mine at this point in life. I just told you that my estate is small. So if I die tomorrow and you look up public records of my estate and find out that it’s small, I don’t really care.

OK, I get the privacy thing and I don’t want anything to be stressful for my family. But I’m still not convinced it’s right for me. If you’re looking for further rationalization that your estate is “big enough” to need a trust, try this:

Think about the value of your estate, minus anything that has a named beneficiary. Got it? OK, these would be “probate assets.” In the state of Wisconsin, probate generally costs 4 percent of “probate assets.”

So, for an estate that has $100,000 in “probate assets,” the probate process will cost roughly $4,000. Google tells us that the average cost of creating a trust is about $2,500 for married couples. Is it worth it for you to spend $2,500(ish) on a trust now in order to avoid ______ financial cost when you die, privacy to your estate and less stress for your family? Only you can decide that.

For me, right now, the answer is no. It’s not worth it. But I can also tell you that at some point down the road, the answer will be an emphatic yes.

A couple things to keep in mind:

  1. What I have done here is very rudimentary in nature. These are purely estimates to give you some sort of basis upon which you can start making your decision.
  2. In reality, the cost of a trust varies greatly based on the specific firm and attorney you are working with. In many cases, costs are based on the amount of time (billable hours) an attorney takes to draft your document.

Contemplating a garden this year? Calendula will steal your heart with its gorgeous orange and yellow blossoms and its low maintenance growing status. No herb or vegetable garden, large or small, should be without calendula. Also known as pot marigold or garden marigold, calendula officinalis is native to Eurasia and is a self-seeding annual grown in many regions of the world. It displays the most beautiful, bright, daisy-like flowers and provides many benefits for medicinal use.

Calendula has a lengthy list of actions including: alterative, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antiviral, astringent, cholagogue, demulcent, diaphoretic, immune stimulant, and vulnerary, making it useful for numerous common ailments. It is a very gentle herb, with no known toxicity, making it especially appropriate for babies and the elderly. Individuals with known sensitivity to asteraceae family plants should be cautious with its use.

It is one of the best herbs for skin problems and is known to support cell repair and growth. It can be used for any skin inflammation or injury. Calendula is commonly found in many baby products as its antiseptic properties support skin irritations such as diaper rash and thrush. It’s further used externally for boils, bruises, burns, bunions, eczema, chapped skin, hemorrhoids, herpes, insect bites, sprains, sunburn and varicose veins. Calendula is also highly supportive to the body when used internally. According to “The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine,” herbalists commonly use calendula for “candida, cervical irritation, chicken pox, conjunctivitis, glandular swellings, hemorrhoids, herpes, infection, lymph inflammation, measles, mumps, smallpox, staph infection, stomach inflammation, thrush, and ulcers.”

The whole flowers or petals are used for herbal tea, tincture, compress, poultice, oil infusion, salve and body cream. The tincture can be diluted in distilled water and used as an eyewash, mouthwash or nasal wash. Used topically, infused calendula oil can be used to massage lymph tissue. Additionally, the brightly colored petals can be added to spruce up salads and omelets and have been substituted for saffron to color butter, rice, desserts and egg dishes. Any mundane meal can be sprinkled with the brightly colored petals to create a gourmet experience.

Classically infused into oil, calendula oil should be in every home herbalist’s apothecary. Calendula retains its moisture very well. Leave fresh blossoms to dry for a week or two before infusing into oil to reduce the chance of rancidity.

Calendula Infused Oil

  • Freshly dried calendula petals
  • Olive oil (or grapeseed, sunflower, etc.)

Loosely fill a half pint size mason jar with freshly dried calendula petals, leaving an inch of space at the top. Add oil to fill the jar, leaving 1 inch of headspace at the top of the jar. Let sit for 2-4 weeks in a dark space, and strain out the flower petals to discard. Use the oil topically as body oil for all ages or on any skin problem ranging from dry skin to cuts, scrapes and rashes.

Calendula is a fabulous herb to grow in the garden. It is a hardy herb, blooming early and all season long, providing beauty and attracting pollinators. It is a readily self-seeding annual that will only have to be planted once. The flowers are sticky with resin when ready to pick. This resin is antifungal and a good sign of a healthy plant. The more flowers you pick, the more they will continue to bloom. As one of the easiest and most beautiful flowers to grow, easy to harvest and exceedingly useful, it is a worthwhile addition to any garden type or size.

As always, please talk to your health care provider before adding herbs into your diet.

References: “The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine.” Basic Health Publications. 2007. B. Mars.

“Holistic Herbal: A safe and practical guide to making and using herbal remedies.” Thorsons. 1990. D. Hoffman.

“Medical Herbalism.” Healing Arts Press. 2003. D. Hoffman.

“Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide.” Storey Publishing. 2012. R. Gladstar.

As we all look forward to spring, one big thing comes to mind at my household: gardening! My husband was dreaming of this year’s garden last summer, as every year it seems our garden grows bigger and bigger with different varieties of vegetables. However, along with gardening can come stress and strain to our muscles and joints. Common gardening activities such as tilling, digging, planting, mulching and raking are physically demanding and can wreak havoc on our bodies, especially those who normally are not as active, particularly those of advanced age. If we do not pay attention to our body mechanics or “listen to our bodies,” our shoulders, neck, back and knees can be vulnerable to injury.

Gardening warmup

One good way to minimize or prevent injuries while gardening is to do a “warmup” before starting to dig, rake, plant or weed. Gardening, as you know, is very physical. Just like a warmup is recommended before lifting weights at the gym, a warmup is ideal before gardening. The “weights” just look different. Instead, they are the bags or shovels of soil, garden tools, wheelbarrow and the stubborn weeds that take much more force than expected to dig up or pull out. Simple acts of walking briskly, doing stretches for the spine, arms and legs can really help prepare the body for such activity. Try to reserve five to ten minutes before gardening to get the blood flowing to the working muscles.

Stay comfortable

Depending on the gardening task, working in a kneeling or bent over position may be warranted for an extended period of time. Staying in one position is not good on our joints and muscles. Try to change positions frequently to avoid stiffness or cramping of muscles. Along with this concept, “listen to your body.” In other words, be aware of how your body is feeling while you work in the garden. If you need a break, take one. Stretch your body in the opposite direction it was just in or work on a different gardening activity. If your back starts to ache from bending or leaning forward for too long, stand up and do some backward bends to stretch out your spine. If kneeling on both knees causes pain in your back, try alternating which knee is on the ground. Using knee pads or a gardening pad can also protect the load and pressure placed on our knees. Look into garden kneelers, which have handles on each side so you can use your arm strength to lower yourself for weeding or planting, and then push yourself up again without straining your knees or back. Such kneelers can also be flipped over to become a bench to sit on. If you are unable to kneel, or leaning forward is painful on the back, elevated planters may also be a good option.

Body mechanics of gardening

Proper body mechanics are essential with lifting or pulling, such as those darn weeds! Upon trying to lift an object, tighten your abdomen and bend your knees, keeping your spine straight as you lift or pull. Do not hold your breath. Exhaling during the exertion can help make sure you are breathing as you lift heavier items. Do not twist the spine at the same time you are bent forward, as this puts your spine in a vulnerable position, leading to injuries. Instead, move your feet or pivot on your toes to turn your whole body together as one unit. Planting materials such as soil and tools can be heavy. Use a garden cart or wheelbarrow to help move these items, but just make sure to watch your posture and body mechanics by keeping your back straight when using this equipment.

To protect our wrists and hands, avoid extending the wrist upward when pulling weeds or while using gardening tools. This can lead to overuse injuries of the muscles in the forearm. Instead, keep the wrist in a neutral position and use the bigger muscles in your upper body and/or shoulders to pull and lift.

Gardening cool down

Once you have completed your tasks in the garden that day, just like you started with a warmup, make time to end with a cool down. My favorite is standing backward bends to protect my spine. Also, some light walking and stretching of the arms and legs can help alleviate the strain to your muscles and joints.

“Self-trust is the first secret of success.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson


Take a moment and notice what just happened in your mind and body when you read the word trust. Loaded and layered, right?! It might have opened up Pandora’s proverbial box of issues and triggers around trusting self; your body, your decisions, your feelings! And then there’s always the broader trust: your boss, your partner, the government. As most things that hold the potential for great transformation in how you experience life, it begins within.

Breathe! Gabrielle Bernstein, a world-renowned author and speaker, assures you that you are not alone in this. “You are always being guided. Even when it doesn’t feel like it.” By the way, it’s OK to ask for guidance along the way. Key elements in building trust within yourself include, but are not limited to: nourishing hope; working on forgiveness of self and others; remembering trust is to be earned, not lightly given away; being still and listening to the quiet whisper of your wisdom; strengthening your intuition.

Everyone has intuition and it is a powerful guidance system. And remember, building trust is a growth process. It does not and cannot happen overnight. Be patient and gentle during this step-by-step development. Thich Nhat Hanh writes, “Peace is every step.” Trust is as well. Here is a beautiful exercise, from the University of Minnesota, on strengthening your intuition:

Focus your love.

  • Find a spot to sit comfortably.
  • Identify something you really love to do or a place that you love.
  • Using your imagination, allow what you identified to “fall into” your heart area and nest there for the duration of the exercise.
  • Inhale on the count of one and exhale on the count of two; however, imagine that it is your heart that is breathing.
  • Allow your “heart breath” to caress your thoughts as it moves in, through and around the nest.
  • After five minutes of caressing the thing or place you love, invite your thoughts to return to your head area.
  • Focus on your breathing heart.
  • Use your intuitive senses to know what gift of understanding has been left or been born in the nest.
  • If nothing is there, let it go for the moment.

Fill your love tank, possibly never quite full enough, with self-love. With the absence of self-love our inner guidance system is clouded by a veil of misperception due to looking for our answers and love outside of ourselves rather than inside. This requires a willingness to be open to compassion. Dr. Wayne Dwyer said, “The practice of compassion is something we have to try on, see how we fit in us.”

“Compassion is, by nature, peaceful and gentle, but it also very powerful. It is the true sign of inner strength.” —The Dalai Lama

Beginning to trust in yourself, inside at your core, leads to it overflowing and covering the world like a comforting, healing blanket. Let it begin!

Aurora’s Apothecary’s retail location is at 1607 N Richmond St in Appleton. They have been in Appleton for over a year.

Before having a store in the big city, they were selling in Morrison, Wisconsin out of an old stone General Store. This location is still their headquarters where they grow all of their plants and make all of their products.

Owner Melissa “Aurora” Adlebush started her interest in herbs at the young age of 14, nurtured by her grandparents’ passion for plants. And that’s just what she has today: a passion for plants!

She readily shares her knowledge of the healing plants when she teaches her many classes or leads meetings with the Fox Valley Herb Society of which she has been president for over 10 years.

If you visit the Appleton store, you will probably see Aurora’s husband, Kevin. He will greet you with a free cup of tea and a full tour of the shop for newcomers.

There is so much to see at the store. Besides their handmade herbal remedies and body products, you will find hand blended herbal teas, and the biggest blending bar in the Fox Cities where you can blend your own oils and make your own products. Aurora likes to cater to the DIY herbalist by carrying a wide array of bottles, jars, bases for body products, bulk herbs, oils, and other ingredients.

In the downstairs area, you will find crystals, gemstones, jewelry, leather journals, tarot cards, books, incense, singing bowls, clothing, and belly dance attire. Upstairs is the classroom and a private room for the healers and psychic readers that set up frequently. Many different classes are offered from gardening and herb classes to bath bombs and belly dance.

There is also a private yoga studio with drop-in classes offered Monday, Wednesday and Friday. (Check the Unknown Yogi Facebook page for details!)

Aurora’s Apothecary prides themselves on their hands-on approach to the business, from growing the herbs to making the products and even designing the labels that go on each item.

Many of her classes are hands-on too. She runs a yearlong apprenticeship program where students are able to get out into the field to really get to know the plants that surround them every day.

Check them out on Facebook! This is where you will find all their classes listed as events. They also make fun informative videos on their YouTube channel (Aurora’s Apothecary), and have a website with classes listed and some of their products available.

If you can’t make it to their store, you can find them at farmers markets, festivals and street fairs near you, as they sell at many of these events all year long and all over the state.

Aurora’s Apothecary LLC

1607 N Richmond Street, Appleton


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Turn your watermelon into something new and delicious this grilling season!


Yield: 8 pieces

2 (2-inch) slices watermelon

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 limes, juiced

½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Salt, to taste


  1. Cut each watermelon round into 4 pieces, for a total of 8 pieces*. Brush each side of the pieces with olive oil and a little of the lime juice, reserving at least half of the lime juice for after cooking. Season with a little bit of salt — about ½ teaspoon total for 8 pieces, both sides.
  2. Heat an outdoor gas grill to high heat. Grill watermelon for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, allowing grill marks to form.
  3. Remove from grill and season with the remaining lime juice and sprinkle with cilantro. Season with additional salt to taste. Salt brings out additional flavor so really do it to taste.


*This is one of those recipes where a written recipe with exact amounts is not really necessary. You can make as much or as little as you want and easily adjust it. Slice the watermelon 2 inches thick. The above written list of ingredients can be used to estimate how much you’ll need for either more or less.

We all look forward to birthdays, especially when we are younger. You never forget starting school at age five, getting a driver’s license at 16, and voting for the first time after your 18th birthday. Each birthday brings new opportunities to learn, grow and take charge of our lives as we prepare for our future.

Birthdays at ages 26 and 65, or an early retirement age, can have a big impact on our health insurance.

Up to age 26, dependents may stay on their parents’ health insurance plan. You can be married and living on your own, but remain on your parents’ plan. Once your 26th birthdate month comes along, you have a special enrollment period (SEP) to get your own health insurance.

When making that transition, you should get expert help to learn about monthly premiums, provider networks, drug formularies, health savings accounts, direct primary care and out-of-pocket expenses.

Buying health insurance is another example of how we can take charge of our lives for good health, protection against risk and saving money.

The next big birthday for health insurance is becoming eligible for Medicare at age 65.

The 1st of the month of your 65th birthday is the day you can or must transition to Medicare. The decision to enroll into Medicare can be different for everyone.

If you are working and have a qualified employer group health insurance plan, you do not need to enroll into Medicare, but once you stop working you have to take Medicare Part A and B or face a penalty. There are several exceptions to this, so you should work with an expert to make sure you get enrolled at the right time and avoid potential penalties.

Early retirees can really be any age, but are more likely starting at age 59½ when you can draw retirement funds without penalty, or age 62 when you can first apply for Social Security benefits. Whatever your age before 65, your household income may impact your health insurance premium due to tax credits.

Early retirees with incomes below $47,000 for an individual, and $64,000 for a couple, receive advanced premium tax credits that lower the monthly premium. Strategies to stay below these income levels can be successful, but take some advanced planning and consultation with your insurance broker and accountant.

Getting help with insurance gives you peace of mind, and allows you to truly enjoy your 26th, 65th and all the birthdays in between.

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