Healthy Concepts

Whether it’s hosting your entire extended family for Thanksgiving, worrying about overspending, not being organized, having concern about family dynamics, or trying to find the time to shop for gifts, the holidays can be an incredibly stressful time. With so many commitments, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, and you may forget to take time for yourself. This season, it’s time to say goodbye to holiday stress!

We’re always looking for the best ways to naturally support our health, especially around the holidays. We’ve come up with five tips that may help you have a happy and stress-free holiday season!

Eat well

Sometimes it seems like the holidays have become synonymous with overindulgence. From the peppermint brownies your coworker brings to the office to the pecan pie your grandma makes every year for Thanksgiving, almost every holiday get-together offers an opportunity to eat poorly.

This year, beware of sugar! This source of empty calories can contribute to feelings of stress and tiredness. Too much sugar may also dampen the receptors that tell your brain to stop eating, so you may end up consuming far more than you intended.

Focus on food that is filled with the vitamins and minerals your body needs. Choose to incorporate leafy greens, whole grains, citrus fruits, and protein-rich foods like chicken and fish into your diet. You’ll feel better and be giving your body the nutrients it needs to function optimally.

You may also consider having a healthy snack before holiday parties, so you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks.

And, just like any other time of year, be sure to drink plenty of water!


Even though the colder months make it tempting to curl up on the couch with a blanket, making the time to exercise can have many potential benefits throughout the holiday season. In addition to supporting your overall health and maintaining muscle health, exercise can be a great way to manage stress.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports, “Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep and improve self-esteem.”

Whether it’s taking the family on a hike or hitting the gym for 30 minutes, you might be surprised how exercise calms your mind and leaves you ready to tackle your next holiday to-do.

If you need extra motivation to get moving, try finding a workout buddy to keep you accountable, or sign up for a local race that benefits a good cause. Of course, picking the perfect playlist and fueling up with your favorite green shake is also a great way to get in the workout mindset.


While it may seem like there aren’t enough hours in the day (especially at this time of year), taking the time to get a proper amount of rest may support a healthier mood and outlook. It may seem obvious, but a lack of sleep can contribute to your stress levels.

According to the American Psychological Association, there is a direct link between sleep and stress. In a stress and sleep survey, adults who got less than eight hours of sleep per night were far more likely to report stress-related symptoms such as feeling irritable, overwhelmed and angry, and lacking interest, motivation and energy.

If you find that you’re having difficulties getting a full night of sleep, try fitting in a short nap during the day. The National Sleep Foundation reports that a nap of 20-30 minutes can potentially benefit your energy levels, mood and alertness. You can also try a sleep supplement.


Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils to support health, and these oils are used to support everything from head pain relief to memory support. This holiday season, trying aromatherapy may be a natural way to calm your mind during times of stress. You can choose a holiday specific scent like fir, frankincense or peppermint, or scents like lavender and vanilla that seek to support a healthy mood. Many oils are also available in blends that offer stress support.

Essential oils are also versatile — you can diffuse them, use them as massage oils or add them to bath products. Simply find the oil that works best for you and makes you feel happiest.

Take time for yourself

One of the secrets to a stress-free season is making sure you re-center and refocus yourself, and remind yourself of the things that matter. Depending on your preference, taking the time to slow down and enjoy your favorite cup of tea, read a few pages of your favorite book before bed, practice your coloring, or start your day with a few calming breaths can be the perfect balm for recharging your mind and may help you with holiday stress.

While the holidays can be a source of stress, they can also be a time of joy. Focusing on the time spent with family and friends may also help you to relax and enjoy. We hope that these tips can help you have a more restful and healthy holiday season! 

No matter where you are in your life, you have a lot of decisions to make. When to buy your first house. What school to attend. Is it the right time for a job change? As things change in life, those changes influence your financial decisions too.

Following is a high-level overview of the financial information you should be aware of and consider during the various stages of your life. This is intended to be informative only, and everyone’s needs will vary based on their personal situation. You should always seek advice from a licensed professional when considering the purchase of financial products.

In your 20s

In your 20s, you’re usually just starting off in your first job and struggling to make ends meet; beginning to build a financial portfolio is probably not at the top of your to-do list. However, this can be a critical time as it can set your financial foundation for the rest of your life. A top priority should be building an emergency savings account to help you get through an unexpected loss of a job or a large and unexpected financial obligation. This should be separate from your normal savings and should only be drawn from under extraordinary circumstances. Also consider looking into disability income insurance to make sure your income and savings are both protected if you were ever unable to work due to a long-term illness or injury. Disability income insurance will serve you well throughout your career but the sooner you purchase, the better protected you’ll be. Additionally, this can be a time to begin thinking about starting an investment portfolio if you have the means, as the longer you’re invested the greater potential for long-term growth. Work with a financial professional to ensure your investments align with your appropriate level of risk for your specific situation.

In your 30s

Your 30s are the prime time to continue building a solid financial future. Hopefully you’re comfortable in your career, perhaps have gotten married and may even have begun building a family. This is when your financial options start to open up and you may want to start thinking about life insurance to offer protection for your family’s future against an unexpected death and loss of income. Term insurance for yourself and coverage for your children are usually affordable, easy to procure and can offer additional financial protection for you and your family.

This is also when you should be getting serious about your savings plans. Retirement savings should be at the top of your mind as you’ve started to make more money in your 30s and are becoming more comfortable navigating your bills and expenses. IRAs, 401(k)s, annuities and other retirement savings tools are important for you at this stage since the earlier you start saving, the more you’ll accumulate. And it’s never too early to start thinking about college savings for children.

In your 40s

In your 40s, many people have teenage children, tackle new challenges and opportunities in their professional lives and have established a level of income they can rely on comfortably. You can start to work with your child to investigate the various options (savings, aid, loans, grants, etc.) to help pay for postsecondary education. This also might be a time to start considering additional life insurance, as your assets and need for protection have grown as you’ve prospered both personally and professionally. Since you’re probably about halfway through your career, you should also start to keep an eye on the retirement horizon and on your overall retirement strategy. Make sure it aligns with your goals and dreams for after your career ends.

In your 50s

Your 50s are an exciting time in your financial life. Your children have probably left the nest and retirement is just around the corner. You should think about establishing a floor of guaranteed income, possibly by purchasing an annuity or insurance product, to meet your essential expenses that will continue into your retirement. This is the time to start considering how you want to live in retirement and beyond. What level of income would you like after you retire and how will you maintain your standard of living? Are you protecting your savings from the high costs of extended care? Whether you’re looking to purchase long-term care insurance or not, this is also a time when you should discuss your extended care plans with loved ones, and how that might affect everyone involved.

In your 60s

In your 60s, your retirement has probably arrived or is right around the corner. This is where managing assets, investments and financial strategies are critical. Even at this stage of life it is important for you to have some of your financial assets in an investment portfolio carefully managed for growth consistent with your risk profile. Meeting regularly with your financial representative at this life stage will help you stay on track with your financial goals. This is also a time to consider leaving a legacy through a life insurance policy that designates your children or a favorite charity as a beneficiary. The death benefit from life insurance can ensure that your spirit of generosity lives on and the causes you care about will be supported in the future. Another option for securing your future is Medicare supplement insurance, which will help with medical bills not covered by Medicare. This protection can help safeguard your retirement assets from additional costly medical bills.

No financial journey is the same. We all have different needs and goals at different stages of our lives. However, with a solid financial program in place along with the support of a financial professional, you can be prepared to make a lifetime of wise financial choices. 


Serves: 4

1 tablespoon olive oil

12 ounces of 93 percent lean ground turkey breast

1 cup pre-chopped onion

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1 cup unsalted chicken stock

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

11/2 ounces Beanitos chips, coarsely crumbled

4 (8-inch) whole-wheat tortillas

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/3 cup shredded cheese

1/2 cup chopped tomato

4 lime wedges


Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add turkey; cook 4 minutes, stirring to crumble. Add onion and next four ingredients; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in stock and juice; bring to a boil. Simmer 3 minutes or until thickened. Stir in chips.

Heat tortillas according to package directions. Place tortillas on a work surface; spread one tablespoon Greek yogurt over each tortilla. Divide turkey mixture evenly among tortillas; sprinkle evenly with cheese and tomato. Roll burritos tightly to close. Serve with lime wedges. 


Recent decades have seen an explosion of research supporting the use of fungi in health promotion. Some common actions shared by many medicinal fungi include: balancing the immune system, liver support, anti-tumor, antiviral, antibacterial, antioxidant, lowering LDL cholesterol, anti-inflammatory.

Let’s take a look at some of the readily available mushrooms we can use to support our health, using nature’s plants:


(Inonotus obliquus, Hymenochaetaceae)

Chaga is very popular as an immune tonic and antioxidant. There is concern about the overharvesting of chaga, since it is not currently being cultivated, so avoid use as a daily beverage, but use as needed for health promotion. For example, prepare chaga chai with traditional chai spices to help prevent colds and flu.

Maitake, or Hen of the Woods

(Grifola frondosa, Meripilaceae)

Maitake is used as a liver tonic to balance the immune system, has demonstrated antitumor activity, helps lower blood sugar and LDL cholesterol levels, and lowers blood pressure.1


(Lentinula edodes, Marasmiaceae)

Uses of shiitakes include supporting the cardiovascular and immune systems. They are antioxidant and used as a cancer preventive to increase stamina, improve circulation and alleviate arthritis symptoms.

Hemlock Reishi, or Varnished Artist’s Conk

(Ganoderma tsugae, Ganodermataceae)

There are different species of this mushroom: Ling-zhi (Ganoderma lucidum) and Ganoderma tsugae, which can be substituted for one another in recipes. Reishi is used to support underactive and overactive (e.g., allergies and asthma) immune activity. Reishi is used in traditional Chinese medicine for the liver, heart and lungs.1 It is helpful as a daily support for those who often suffer from respiratory infections. Reishi is also used for those with hepatitis C, or with a history of alcohol abuse or exposure to environmental toxins. It is an adaptogen (balances the body, supports its ability to manage physical, mental and emotional stress), known for increasing vitality, energy and overall resilience.3 Reishi is used for anxiety; it is noted to be balancing and grounding.

Here’s a wonderful recipe that can be used to support immune function — it’s a nice option for those who may not like elderberry syrup — or who want to try something different. It’s yummy. Even kids like it!


Recipe from Juliet Blankenspoor, Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine


1 cup dried shiitake slices (1 ounce, or 28 grams)

1 cup dried maitake slices (¾ ounce, or 21 grams)

1 cup dried chaga crumbles (2½ ounces, or 70 grams)

1 cup dried reishi slices (1 ounce, or 28 grams)

2 tablespoons cinnamon chips

2½ teaspoons decorticated cardamom seeds

¾ cup maple syrup

11 ounces organic corn, grape or cane alcohol (190 proof [95 percent]), or 21 ounces (621 ml) 100 proof (50 percent) vodka


  1. Add mushrooms, cinnamon, cardamom and 40 ounces of water to a pot. Stir well to coat the mushrooms and herbs.
  2. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 6-8 hours. Stir and check water level frequently. When water dips below the mushroom-herb mixture, add enough water so mixture is completely submerged.
  3. Turn off heat and leave uncovered to cool 30 minutes.
  4. Strain the mixture through a straining cloth into a half-gallon jar.
  5. Press mushrooms with a stainless steel potato ricer.
  6. Measure 32 ounces of your liquid into a half-gallon mason jar. If you have less, add water to bring volume to 32 ounces. If you have more than 32 ounces, pour off the excess. Exact measurement is important, or your proportions will be off.
  7. Add maple syrup and alcohol.
  8. Shake well, and pour into your storage bottle.

Store in the refrigerator for one year; in a dark, cool cabinet for 6 months. Adult dosage is one teaspoon to one tablespoon, twice daily. 


1. Hobbs, C. Medicinal Mushrooms: An Exploration of Tradition, Healing, and Culture. (Botanica Press, 2002).

2. Stamets, P., and Yao, C. D. W. Mycomedicinals: An Informational Booklet on Medicinal Mushrooms. (MycoMedia, 2002).

3. Winston, D., and Maimes, S. Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief. (Inner Traditions/Bear & Co., 2007).

Insulin resistance, syndrome X and metabolic syndrome are terms that are unfamiliar to many. They all refer to the same condition, and are used to give a name to this cluster of symptoms. I tend to prefer the term insulin resistance as it helps most people visualize the problem. Insulin resistance may affect as many as 60 million Americans and yet it is rarely addressed as the cause of many common symptoms. The suggestion is that if you have three or more of the symptoms listed, you should consider the possibility of insulin resistance as a causative factor.

There are a multitude of people who have several of these symptoms and are struggling to get these symptoms under control. The modern medical approach is to prescribe one drug upon another in the hopes of getting the symptoms under control. Getting the symptoms under control may be useful in reducing your risk; however, it rarely gets you closer to being healthier. In order to see the kinds of changes that improve your symptoms and reduce your need for medication, you must look to nature to help the body heal itself.

Even when using natural approaches to healing we can make the same mistakes as doctors. If we only target cholesterol or blood pressure and we miss the cause as being insulin resistance, then we will only be partially successful. You must understand this one important concept: if your symptoms are driven by insulin resistance and you only treat the symptoms and not the insulin resistance, then you cannot be truly successful in becoming healthier.

What is insulin resistance?

Insulin resistance describes a condition where the cells of the body become resistant or desensitized to insulin. Insulin is the hormone that is secreted by the pancreas and acts as the carrier of glucose into the cells. As the cells become resistant to insulin, the pancreas will produce more insulin and the excess of insulin causes the cells to become even more resistant to insulin. What follows in the body are dramatic physiological changes, leading to the symptoms described. These symptoms increase our risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems. What is hard for many to understand is how these more serious problems spring from insulin resistance and that your diet and lifestyle can reverse these dramatic symptoms.

If you have three or more of the following markers, you should consider insulin resistance as a foundational cause of these symptoms:

  • Central obesity (excessive fat tissue in and around the abdomen as demonstrated by a greater waist to hip ratio)
  • Low levels of HDL cholesterol
    • Men: Less than 40 mg/dl
    • Women: Less than 50 mg/dl
  • Fasting blood triglycerides greater than 149 mg/dl
  • Elevated blood pressure (130/85 mmHg or higher)
  • Insulin resistance as demonstrated by the presence of pre-diabetes (glucose between 101 and 125 mg/dl)

In 2002, the National Institute of Health (NIH) designated insulin resistance as a new target for the prevention of coronary heart disease. High blood sugar is associated with a whole host of serious complications such as cardiovascular disease including high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, nervous system disease, amputations, pain, depression and autoimmune disease.

What causes insulin resistance?

There is little doubt that the standard American diet (SAD) is a major factor in the development of insulin resistance. On average, more than 50 percent of our calories are derived from high glycemic foods and/or highly nutrient deficient foods, refined sugars, refined and overprocessed grains and other carbohydrates, and the wrong types and amounts of fat.

What can you do?

Diet and lifestyle are critical elements and sometimes the hardest to change. Even when you can’t make a lot of dietary changes you can make some that would be to your benefit. Small changes made over time can add up to some significant benefits. You will also find that as you improve your glucose metabolism you will not crave foods in the same way. As you improve the nutrition that your body receives, your body will respond by being satisfied.

Dietary guidelines for insulin resistance

  • Watch your calorie intake. Log your food intake for a couple of weeks if you really want to know what you are consuming.
  • Avoid trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils.
  • Limit saturated fat.
  • Increase omega-3 fatty acids, especially fish oil.
  • Increase fiber, especially soluble fiber, with meals to minimize the blood sugar spike.
  • Reduce sugars and refined sweeteners.
  • Reduce refined grains and overprocessed carbohydrates.


Make an analysis of your overall health. If you have three or more of the symptoms described as insulin resistance, then follow a protocol designed to improve your insulin/glucose metabolism. Within three months (and often sooner) you should see significant improvements. 

There are many exceptional health benefits from consuming balsamic vinegars! The most common are:

  1. They help with repairing any damage in the body caused by free radicals because of the antioxidants that are present.
  2. Balsamics help improve blood circulation.
  3. They contain polyphenols that ultimately can protect the body from cancer and heart disease.

Taste and texture also play a big part in purchasing balsamics. Which balsamics are the best? Well, it’s been said that there are a variety of dark balsamic vinegars that are better than others. It also depends on why someone is purchasing a balsamic vinegar. Is it for the health value, the taste, cooking or some other reason?

If you look at it in simple terms, anytime you buy a “lower number” balsamic such as 4, 8 or 10 star you will get a finer, water-like consistency balsamic. These usually have a more pungent taste, and aren’t as “aged” per se. When you purchase an 18 star balsamic you will get more of a syrup-like balsamic. Finally, there’s the thickest of them all: the 25 star balsamic! Please keep in mind that the numbers mentioned do not signify the years they have aged.

Balsamic vinegars are made from grapes. Depending on the variation, dark or light, the grapes will produce a white or dark balsamic vinegar after it’s fermented in oak wooden barrels. Much like wine, the taste of a balsamic will intensify the longer it is aged. The 25 star balsamic has a minimum of 80 percent concentrated grape must (a mixture containing skins, seeds and stems of the fruit) and aged red wine vinegar that is aged a minimum of 10 years. This makes it thick and sweet, not because of added sugar as in other balsamics, but due to the high amount of concentrated grape must.

25 star balsamic vinegars are thicker and more intensely flavored. Obviously at this point, you don’t need to use as much of the balsamic to provide a taste boost. When using a balsamic vinegar (BV), you naturally will want to pair it with an extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), for the ultimate health value and taste to your pallet!

Some examples of pairings for particular snacks, meals or even beverages might be:

  • 25 Star Dark BV and Organic Basil EVOO
  • Black Truffle BV and Organic Garlic EVOO
  • Organic Premium BV and Organic Ice Pressed EVOO
  • Huckleberry BV and Organic Blood Orange EVOO
  • Strawberry Dark BV and Cranberry Walnut EVOO

We have over 55 flavors of olive oil and balsamic vinegar at Oil Well ~ Lake & Country, plus free accompanying recipes, so stop on in and taste our free samples, join a class to learn how to use them or simply visit with us and share your story! Bon appétit! 

Today’s youth continue to battle obesity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the percentage of obese children in the United States has more than tripled since the 1970s. Roughly one in five school-aged children is obese. Obese children and adults are at a higher risk for chronic health conditions such as asthma, bone and joint problems, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

Although many factors can contribute to obesity among children, researchers with the American Academy of Pediatrics are now warning parents that fruit juice can be a contributor. In suggestions that overwrite previous recommendations from 2006 in which the AAP said children between the ages of six months and six years could have up to six ounces of fruit juice a day, fruit juice is no longer recommended for children under the age of one. Plus, health experts say that older children should choose whole fruit sources in lieu of fruit juices whenever possible.

According to an article “Reducing Childhood Obesity by Eliminating 100% Fruit Juice,” authored by Janet Wojcicki, PhD, MPH and Melvin Heyman, MD, MPH and published in the American Journal of Public Health, excessive fruit juice consumption is associated with increased risk for obesity. There also is recent scientific evidence that sucrose consumption without the corresponding fiber is associated with metabolic syndrome, liver injury and obesity.

Obesity is not the only risk associated with fruit juice. Although fruit juice in moderation can be a nutritious beverage, drinking juice from a bottle can lead to nursing bottle dental caries. Also, “toddler’s diarrhea” has been associated with juice consumption, particularly in juice with a high fructose to glucose ratio, according to data published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

Many health experts are concerned by excessive fruit juice consumption that can lead to an increased caloric intake and obesity.

AAP researchers suggest parents of young children mash up fresh fruit instead of giving them juice. Water, milk and breast milk/formula should be the main liquid for children. Older children can have limited amounts of 100-percent fruit juice, but should be steered toward other low-calorie drinks instead. 

Source: MetroCreative Connection.

The holiday season is finally here. That means you are about to attend an abundance of family dinners and holiday parties. Hearing loss affects 48 million Americans; chances are, someone in your family is one of those individuals. Take the opportunity this holiday season to finally have the conversation you have been putting off, and talk to your family member about getting their hearing checked.

It is important to note how much treating hearing loss can do beyond simply improving the ability to hear. It has been linked to improvements in general health, professional success and emotional well-being. While untreated hearing loss may lead to difficulty concentrating, problems storing new information, increased cognitive decline and an increase of physical injuries, those who treat their hearing loss can see an improvement in their overall quality of life. In addition, many experience a decrease in feelings of depression, anger and anxiety; an improvement in their balance; renewed confidence; an increase in social interactions; and healthier and longer lasting relationships.

Hearing loss affects everyone, not just the individual with the impairment. I recommend following the below steps to make yourself part of the solution.

Have an honest conversation. Tell your loved one why you want them to get their hearing checked. You can remind them of the things they are missing or how they must feel when they have to rely on others to communicate.

Share success stories. You can either share personal stories or testimonials from These will show your loved one that they are not alone and that others were able to find treatments that worked for them.

Offer support. Going to the doctor and facing the fact that you have hearing loss is scary. Offer to help them make an appointment and attend the visit with them.

Remind them that they have nothing to lose. Scheduling a hearing screening is a quick, painless visit. They are not committing to anything. Your loved one will be able to learn about hearing loss and the available treatment options.

Most importantly, remind them that you love them. This is for them. You do not want them living in isolation and missing out on the things they used to enjoy.

For more information on how to talk to a loved one about seeking the hearing loss help they need, visit Your family member’s hearing screening can be completed at one of our three convenient locations in Shawano, Waupaca and New London. 

Reading an astrology chart is not hard; it only seems that way when you look at a natal chart wheel with its complex knot of planets, signs, houses and aspects.

I’m going to dispel the myth that you have to know a whole lot about astrology in order to be able to help someone with it. Let me tell you a secret right off the bat:

Don’t ever try to “sum up” a chart for someone right then and there. Professionals have a hard enough time trying to do it, and the best ones don’t even try to.

Just take bits and pieces from the chart, and tell them a little bit at a time. A person can only absorb a little bit of knowledge at a time anyway.

Take it from me, a practicing astrologer of a couple decades; don’t overwhelm the person or try to impress them with your knowledge of astrology, it will go in one ear and out the other.

Astrology can be a subject that is interesting to talk about, but it is also an amazing tool that can help a person to understand him or herself better, and to understand what’s really going on in their life at any particular time.

Therefore, I’m going to give a little step-by-step plan to help a nonprofessional like you to be able to help someone else, a family member or even yourself better understand an astrological chart — perhaps better than some professional astrologers will do. This information can be used on both tropical and sidereal charts, and is intended for the person who has some knowledge of astrology, but has never taken a rigorous study of the subject. However, I’m sure some intermediate and advanced students can profit from this information as well.

The Tools You’ll Need:

  • The person’s chart (obviously), which can be obtained for free online on sites such as (visiting this site may help the steps below make sense) or with a free program that can be downloaded from the Internet.
  • An astrological “cookbook” (for instance, the book “Astrology for Dummies”) that describes the meanings of the planets, signs, houses, and each planet in those signs and houses. There are literally dozens of such books available in any bookstore.
  • You’ll also need a planetary rulership reference, usually provided in the aforementioned astrology book.
  • Lastly, bring your intuition to the table; if anything comes up while you’re endeavoring to describe the meaning of the person’s chart, give voice to it and see where it takes you.

Step One:

Start only with the Sun, Moon, and/or the Ascendant; any of them will do. Talk about what the sign of each of the three major points mean. You can even use a book right there as you speak, just read out what the sign placement means. If anything comes to you about it, such as how you see it manifesting in their life, talk about it. Be sure to listen for their responses, and help them to understand their self and life better through the lens of their chart.

Remember you have two ears and only one mouth, be sure to listen more than you talk (or drone on, as some people do).

Step Two:

Look at the rulers of the sun, moon or ascendant; that is, the planet which rules the sign they are in. This provides a very strong subtext to the meanings of their planets. The planet ruling the sign that another planet is in is also called the dispositor of the other planet.

For instance, if the sun was in Taurus in a chart you were looking at, look at the placement of Venus (the ruler of Taurus); what sign is it in? If Venus was in Cancer, this means that they have a Taurus (earthy, practical and sensual) emphasis in their life with a strong Cancer (emotional, attached to their roots and nurturing) subtext to their Taurus nature.

Do this also for the moon and ascendant; you’ll be surprised at the amount of accurate information you’ll be able to supply them. That probably will be enough right there; you could get a good 30-50 minutes just out of that! No kidding.

Step Three:

Look for patterns. Specifically instances of two or more planets in any particular sign even if it is not the sun, moon or ascendant. This accentuation of planets in one sign is going to cause an additional emphasis of that sign in the person’s life in question.

So for instance, if a person has the sun in Aries, the moon in Virgo and has a Sagittarius ascendant, you can briefly describe those points and what they mean to the person you’re helping. But if they also have a couple planets in Libra you know there is also going to be a strong diplomatic refinement of disposition, and focus on peace and harmony in the person’s life.

When there is a concentration of any particular sign in any person’s chart usually that denotes a strong simultaneous positive and negative manifestation of that sign’s energy in their life.

Stay tuned to the next issue of Nature’s Pathways for Part II of this article. Good fortune! 

when one considers “retail,” a typically unflattering vison may come to mind. Fluorescent lighting, disinterested associates and the unwelcomed cash register are all things we’ve encountered while shopping. Walk into Sweet Willow Naturals, and the wonderful smells and uplifting environment are refreshing. But this is only the beginning when it comes to differences in this shop and typical retail experiences.

Owners Mary Radue, Heather Herdman and Lynn Green, along with their one employee, Dana Schlies, intentionally created this environment. The camaraderie between the four is evident, and visitors feel as though they’re sharing time at home with friends rather than in a retail location. In this scenario, the “friends” happen to be highly knowledgeable about all things natural, and want to partner with you to share their knowledge.

“We’re a retail store, but our mission really is service and education,” Mary says. “We want to help people understand what’s going on with their health, and partner with the person to see if lifestyle changes could be considered.”

“We try to meet people where they are — someone might want to buy $250 in essential oils. We encourage them to learn about one or two oils and find many ways to use one oil, rather than buying an oil for every different use,” Heather says. “Lynn says the same about herbs. Trust the herbalist who knows 100 things to do with one herb, rather than one thing to do with 100 different herbs.”

Their mission is backed up by their education. Mary’s academic background is in psychology and education; she holds coach certifications in integrative nutrition and eating psychology, and is currently working toward her health coach certification from the Functional Medicine Coaching Academy. Heather and Lynn come from professional nursing backgrounds; Heather holds a doctorate, Lynn has a master’s degree and maintains a nurse practitioner practice. Heather is a clinical aromatherapist, has completed massage school and has taken numerous courses on herbs and essential oils. She’s currently enrolled in a 1000-hour immersive herbal course. Lynn is a long-time master herbalist, which she uses in conjunction with her advanced nursing and medical knowledge. She has studied with internationally recognized integrative health specialists, such as Drs. Tieraona Low Dog and Andrew Weil, and is well-known regionally and across professional groups as an expert in herbal and integrative health care. Dana is a certified herbalist, completing specialized herb courses for women and children. As a mother of three young children, she integrates herbs and sound nutritional principles into her family’s life. Continuing education is a way of life for these women!

“Evidence-based practice is integral to who we are; we don’t recommend something that doesn’t have research behind it. Many people aren’t aware there can be interactions with essential oils or herbs and medications. We share that, and encourage people to talk with their health care providers. We hear things that have no research support — essential oils do not cure cancer, but there are folks out there saying they do. We try to educate,” Heather explains.

“Nature isn’t always nice — you wouldn’t lie in poison ivy, right? So why use herbs or essential oils without knowing how they work and any cautions you should consider? These are natural medicines with chemical properties, and should be used carefully — the same way we should use Western medicine,” Mary adds. “We’re known to talk someone out of buying something when we don’t have evidence to support a particular use.”

“Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort.” —John Ruskin

Balance in lifestyle is important to the women at Sweet Willow Naturals, but their approach to quality and integrity of products is non-negotiable. “We source local, quality products,” Heather says, “with proper labeling and appropriate ingredients sourced from reputable places. We try as much as possible to supply organic herbs. If we can’t find what we need locally, we go to reputable regional suppliers. We try to stay as close to Green Bay as possible, because sustainability is part of our mission.”

Twenty-four tea varieties are blended in-house to promote health in areas such as: sleep, stress, anxiety, digestion, breastfeeding, etc. “We do a lot of custom blending for people,” Lynn says. “Sometimes it’s making a flavorful beverage, and sometimes it’s to promote health so we can blend something especially for them.”

The store offers a variety of ethically grown, harvested and distributed products, including more than 170 high-quality, organic or wild harvested herbs and spices sold by the ounce (also available in bulk). A full line of do-it-yourself products is available, including organic carrier oils, salts, clays, etc. Natural skin care products; Sweet Willow Natural’s own line of infant/child products, natural salves, tinctures and liniments; a variety of natural soaps, lotions, shampoos and deodorants are available. The store has its own line of spice blends, chai, cocoa, and other culinary goodies too.

Sweet Willow Naturals provides a large variety of 100 percent pure essential oils, featuring a brand which performs gas chromatography and mass spectrometry to test and confirm purity. “It’s the only way to know that what’s supposed to be in the bottle, really is in the bottle,” Heather says. Many aromatherapy products, including essential oil diffusers, are available. Just as significantly, the group provides invaluable information regarding safe essential oil use.

The store promotes recycling and reuse by encouraging visitors to reuse to the containers they purchase and bring them back for a refill (or bring your own container in and they’ll fill it!).

Empowerment is a word used carefully by the team at Sweet Willow Naturals — they believe that people hold their own power to support their unique journeys — instead, the notion of providing knowledge to partner in their visitors’ health and well-being is their No. 1 priority.

“In a nutshell, we’re very curious people,” Mary explains. “We’re not judgmental, we don’t tell people what to do, we ask questions to understand the bigger picture: ‘Tell me your story. How are you nourishing yourself with food, movement, sleep and relaxation? How are you managing stress?’ Then we can educate.”

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” —William Butler Yeats

Visitors also enjoy classes designed to support well-being (see sidebar for upcoming classes!), and take advantage of health promotion services offered. These include health & wellness coaching, massage therapy, herbal and aromatherapy personal consults. Appointments can be made in person or by phone, and take place in private rooms available at the store.

“We provide lots of classes, including how to use garden herbs for health and in cooking, and how to use herbs for each body system,” Dana says. “For example, we’ve offered classes on herbs for making toothpaste, mouthwash and for gum issues. You can learn to make herb-infused body care products. For kids, antimicrobial items, such as first aid ointments, cough syrup, cough drops, teas and soups are great.”

“We’ve offered classes on making soap, body butters, lip balms… how to use essential oils — where they come from, how they’re processed, how to use them safely. We’ve had instructors offer classes on sound bowls for meditation, and Ayurveda and its health care tradition,” Mary adds.

Sweet Willow Naturals encourages custom creation of classes. The staff can develop a class (or “tea time chat”) with your own interests in mind. A group of 4-10 people is ideal, so participants can interact and ask questions. Some examples of previous custom-designed classes include: general health promotion, understanding our relationship with food and letting go of the “diet mentality,” tea blending, safely using essential oils, and using herbs as foods.

“Our classes are fun and laid back, not overwhelming,” Dana says. “We share information and always like to have treats to try. I recently brought medicinal gummy bears made with a strong tea infusion, cherry juice and gelatin. They’re fun for kids, but the adults also loved them.”

“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.” —Charles Dickens

The Sweet Willow Naturals team has a philosophy based on balance and holistic health. They support mind, body and spirit, living in the moment, and finding joy in simple things. Humor is in no shortage within the shop. In fact, these women find contentment in laughing — at themselves.

“We have a retail horror story,” Mary laughs. “It was our first summer in the old store, and I was alone that day. We had our infused oils in glass bottles hanging on this shelf on the wall… and it came flying down. Glass and oil went everywhere! It ended up being a defining moment for our working together; we learned we don’t get bent out of shape, and we found humor in what could have been a catastrophe.”

“We take one day at a time, and really enjoy ourselves,” Heather says. 

“Our primary mission is education. We want to teach people to proactively manage their own health, rather than having to rely on someone else to do it for them.” —Heather Herdman, RN, PhD

Mary, Heather, Lynn and Dana have a love of sharing knowledge and supporting others in taking their well-being into their own hands — literally. See below for the fall and winter lineup, or call the shop to set up a custom class for your group of friends and family!

  • October 11: Let’s Dance – Intro to Nia
  • October 12: DIY Herbal Salves and Lip Balms
  • October 18: Essential Oil Safety – Use Those Drops Wisely
  • October 21: DIY Herbal Salves and Lip Balms
  • October 24: Gremlin Training
  • October 26: DIY Lotion Bars & Body Butters
  • November 9: Strengths Spotting
  • November 13: I’ve Run Out of Sheep and I Still Can’t Sleep!
  • November 16: Soap Making
  • December 2: Make Your Own Aromatherapy Jewelry
  • December 5: Done with Dieting
  • December 9: DIY Windowsill Herb Gardens
  • December 11: Herbal Treats & Sweets

For more classes, details and to register, please visit, call 920-530-1188 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Slow down and stay a while…

“Our location features a tea bar where you can come and grab a delightful cup of tea and a yummy, healthy snack! We encourage you to sit down for a spell, sip your tea and chat with us!”

Sweet Willow Naturals

1541 Bellevue Street, Suite 3

Green Bay


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