Friday, 19 July 2024


Dr. Becky Salato. Courtesy photo.

LOWER LAKE, Calif. — Do you remember middle school? Most of us look back on it with mixed feelings.

It’s an interesting developmental period, a time when kids begin to move away from the safe and familiar ways of childhood into the independence and confusion of adolescence.

According to a slew of studies (and my own experience as an educator), middle school students require a special environment to meet their needs.

Depending on the day, they might need nurturing, encouragement to explore, or a push to test their own limits. They need teachers who can be patient with some shenanigans and also capable of drawing clear boundaries at the same time.

Middle school students are ready to spread their wings more than elementary school students but not quite ready for full immersion into the high school world. In short, they need their own school–and that’s what we are planning to provide.

Next year, the campus that currently houses Konocti Education Center will become Obsidian Middle School, where 650 seventh and eighth graders can prepare for the rigors of high school as they explore who they are becoming.

Opening any school is a big undertaking. Opening a middle school can be especially challenging.

Happily, we have a wonderful principal to lead the charge: Michelle Patterson. Michelle joined our district this year on an interim basis and it was clear from the start that she belonged with us. She has already forged great relationships with many Konocti teachers, and she is enthusiastic about creating just the right environment for our middle school students.

Michelle shared with me the 12 key factors necessary to create a successful middle school, based on a well-regarded book called Taking Center Stage.

Middle schools must focus on rigor; instructional assessment and intervention; time management; relevance; relationships; transitions; access; safety, resilience, and health; leadership; professional learning; accountability; and partnerships. It’s a big list, and she has ideas on every item.

Her first and most important goal is to build relationships with parents, because when schools and families work together, students are far more likely to succeed.

Michelle will provide online access for parents to stay tuned in to their student’s academic workload, and she’ll build agreements with parents so students never feel as though following their parents’ requests compromise their ability to follow school rules. No child should be put in a situation where they are caught between opposing adults — that’s not fair.

We’ve got some logistical work to do, like updating the campus to allow both parents and buses to drop off students at the same time and finishing the construction of the gymnasium. We’re also identifying and working with the new faculty, and planning for them to connect with each student’s current teacher before creating class schedules.

This is not a one-size-fits-all kind of place. Every step is intentional, so that each student has access to the resources and experiences that will help them thrive.

We will certainly have more to share as our preparation progresses, but I wanted to let everyone know about our plans. When our schools improve, our community improves. When we invest in our students, they often grow up and contribute their time and talent to our community. As many of you know, some of our best teachers grew up here. They went through our schools, went away to college, and came back to support this community they love.

As we continue on our journey of getting better at getting better, we find ways to better support each student. Having a middle school will ease students’ transition into high school, paving the way for future success. It will also allow teachers to specialize and collaborate for the good of our kids. Ultimately, I am confident that it will lead to better academic outcomes for our students.

As a school district, we are committed to investing in our students’ development–academic, social, and emotional. We do our best to provide students with experiences and opportunities to build confidence, knowledge, skill, and character. We know that when we do this in partnership with families and community organizations, it can catapult students toward a bright future.

Becky Salato is superintendent of Konocti Unified School District.

Dr. Becky Salato. Courtesy photo.

Right before Christmas, our brand-new Lower Lake High School barn was tagged with graffiti.

At first, I couldn’t believe it, but that denial quickly gave way to anger.

I thought about the years-long process required to fund and then build the barn. I thought about the students who were excited to have such a nice facility to house their animals.

I thought about the uphill battle we continually face regarding our reputation — I was worried that people would learn of the graffiti and assume our students were responsible, which would reinforce the false narrative that our students don’t appreciate and/or cannot be trusted with nice things.

This, in turn, would decrease the exact kind of support we need to help our students thrive.

I wanted the taggers to be identified and brought to justice — ASAP. Then I took a deep breath and began to come back to myself.

I remembered that people who behave like this do so for a reason. I started moving through the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance.

When I say acceptance, I do not mean that I accept or condone this behavior. I mean that I recognize that it happens even when it shouldn’t.

According to local law enforcement, the tagging may have been gang-related, which got me thinking. Why do people join gangs? It’s not so they can have buddies to go tag buildings with. What’s the draw (no pun intended)?

Gang affiliation is attractive to people who want a sense of belonging and safety, and they think being a gang member will provide that.

What if we could provide that sense of belonging and security in other ways? How could schools and other community organizations come together to support families and students who are struggling? It’s a big question without a clear answer, but I still think we should keep asking it.

According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, several factors may put a young person at higher risk of getting involved in a gang, including the following: low self-esteem, feeling hopeless about the future because of a lack of educational and/or financial opportunities, significant unstructured free time outside of school hours, minimal adult supervision, an upbringing where there is exposure to heavy gang activity (possibly even in the immediate family), a lack of positive role models, exposure to media that glorifies gang violence, underlying mental health issues such as depression or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, and alcohol/drug use among peers.

If you didn’t feel safe (physically or emotionally) and you found a group of people who said, in essence, “I have your back and I’ll prove it by the violence or risk I’m willing to take,” that could be incredibly tempting. If all that was asked in return was that you prove your willingness to do the same in return, it might feel like a small price to pay.

So, while I remain sad about our barn being tagged, I trust that our law enforcement officers will do what they can to assure justice. I have returned my energy to something that feels more empowering: supporting student wellness.

As with adults, each student is facing their own challenges and opportunities and developing along their own path. My goal is to make schools a place where students can both gain the technical skills they need to be ready for the college or career of their choice AND to have the social and emotional wherewithal to feel comfortable in their own skin and get along with other people.

Some of the ways Konocti Unified supports students is by providing all sorts of after-school activities, from clubs to sports. Clubs cover a huge variety of interests, including culture-based, personal affiliation-based (including religious and LGBTQ+), and activities-based such as crocheting, drama, art, music and more. We also have social-emotional counselors to support students’ needs.

Our counselors are not the only adults who provide support. Our entire staff is made up of caring adults dedicated to helping students thrive. We are here because we care. Every day on every campus I see our staff going way beyond the call of duty to help kids become the best version of themselves.

If you have ideas on other ways we can support our students, please reach out. It’s hard to imagine anything more important.

Dr. Becky Salato is superintendent of the Konocti Unified School District.

Don Amador. Courtesy photo of the Post Wildfire OHV Recovery Alliance.

In 2001, I wrote an op-ed entitled, “I Have a [Trail] Dream.”

My dream back then was that someday all trail users would respect each other's personal choice of recreational activity and work in a collaborative manner on important trail stewardship projects, travel planning and forest health efforts.

Shortly after that missive was written, a number of stakeholder meetings were convened by the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation, or OHMVR, Division in an effort to bring diverse outdoor recreation interests together. The theme for those meetings was based on the new concept of collaboration.

OHMVR Division’s collaborative process was a strategy to bring OHV groups, conservation organizations, and the non-motorized trail community together to discuss how they can work together to provide high-quality outdoor recreation opportunities for the public while protecting cultural and natural resources.

Embracing that collaborative spirit, OHV worked with conservation groups and Congressman Mike Thompson in 2005 on a final version of the legislation that became the North Coast Wilderness Bill (HR233).

After a lot of hard work by both sides, the bill recognized OHV and mountain-bike use as legitimate recreational activities on federal lands and also codified OHV use in statute on designated routes.

Collaboration between conservation groups and OHV continued in a process that led to the 2016 Dedication Ceremony of the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument held at a popular BLM recreation site just a few miles east of Clearlake, California.

The dedication event was unique because OHV recreation was featured as a key partner in development of the plan to enhance both conservation efforts and existing/ future non-motorized and motorized recreational opportunities within the Monument boundary.

Another stellar example of collaboration is being carried out by the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship in their Connected Communities Project where their vision is to partner with the Forest Service, local communities, and other motorized and non-motorized trail groups to connect 15 mountain communities via a 600-mile route.

As the country celebrates Martin Luther King Day this year, I believe the outdoor recreation and conservation groups should continue to participate in solution-oriented collaborative efforts where finding common ground is the goal so our public lands can be enjoyed by current and future generations.

Don Amador has been in the trail advocacy and recreation management profession for 30 years. Amador is president of Quiet Warrior Racing/Consulting. Don served as a chairman and member on the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission from 1994-2000. He has won numerous awards including being a 2016 Inductee into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame and the 2018 Friend of the AMA Award. Amador currently serves as the government affairs lead for AMA District 36 in Northern California. He writes on recreation and conservation issues from his office near Cottonwood, California.

Dr. Becky Salato. Courtesy photo.

LOWER LAKE, Calif. — For a couple of years, our theme has been getting better at getting better.

While we certainly have students who are thriving, it’s clear that many of our students are struggling academically and socially and we want to help them thrive, too.

Each student’s specific circumstance is unique, but the challenging behaviors are the same. Students feel anxious, sad, angry and vulnerable, and their inability to handle these difficult emotions is ruining their ability to thrive in school.

We’re seeing everything from a lack of concentration to outright violence and antisocial behavior.

When students don’t perform well, people often look for someone else to blame. At a time when schools and families should be working as a team, we are looking at each other as the source of the problem.

The truth is, the problem is way bigger than either of us. The world is getting more complex and challenging every day, and even adults (including teachers and parents) are having a hard time managing it all.

I was talking with Clearlake Police Chief Tim Hobbs recently, and he said he is seeing evidence of the same struggles in our community at large.

So, how do we help kids if we can hardly help ourselves? The answer, I believe, is to work together.

Right now, when teachers or principals call home to discuss a student’s behavior expecting to be met with a parent who wants to work with us to help their child, we often face parents’ denial, anger, or blame — and sometimes even threats.

This didn’t used to be the case and we’re trying to understand what caused schools and families to go from partners to opposing sides — and more importantly, how can we reverse this.

In a recent case, a mother insisted that her son was not responsible for a violent situation, and she was furious at what she perceived to be the unfair treatment of her son.

According to her, he had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time (because that’s what her son told her). In fact, her son had been the instigator.

It was only after we all got together and I showed the student what his mother was willing to go through for him that the student was willing to admit his role in what happened.

Now, the mother and I are a team and we are determined to help this student overcome the obstacles in his way so he can graduate. She and I have built enough trust that we are both willing to share information and, when it makes sense, to compromise.

In another situation, one student struck another student and was suspended for it. Her parents explained that their daughter’s action was justified because the other student had harassed her, and they wanted assurances that the other student would be punished.

While I completely understand the parents’ feelings, schools cannot share confidential disciplinary information.

We assured the parents we were investigating the situation, but they didn’t believe justice was being served, so they began to take things into their own hands and we had to involve local law enforcement.

If we had had a stronger relationship in place, the parents may have trusted us and things probably would have gone a lot better for everyone.

Kids are always watching adults for cues on how to behave. If we fly off the handle, they will too. If we take a deep breath and calm down before doing something we regret, they will see that as the best way to handle things. If we hear juicy gossip and share it without verifying it, they will too. If we ask questions when we get disturbing information, they will see that there are often at least two sides to every story.

With everything going on in our schools and in our community, it is clear to me that if schools and families can come together, our students will have a much better chance of growing into their potential.

We need to develop more resilient relationships so we can work through problems when they come up. Students make mistakes. Teachers make mistakes. Parents make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. If we can build trust with each other, we can learn from mistakes and come out stronger.

To that end, in late March, schools in the Konocti Unified School District will begin hosting parent meetings so educators can learn from you, our student families, about how we can do better, and we will share information about how you can work with your school to support your student’s academic success. Check your school website for dates and times.

There is a ton of evidence that when schools and families work together, students do better. Let’s give our students what they deserve — an opportunity to thrive.

Will you join us?

Dr. Becky Salato is superintendent of the Konocti Unified School District.

YREKA, Calif. — The assumption that the 1971 Free Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Protection Act is protecting American wild horses today is incorrect.

It's a fact that over the past 50+ years since the 1971 Act was passed, socioeconomic impacts on land management policies driven by consumerism have resulted in the highly-flawed, inhumane management of wild horses witnessed today.

Like flies to any dying or dead animal, the ineffective and failing wild horse management program was quickly surrounded by money-motivated people and wild horse nonprofit organizations who proffer numerous costly Band-Aids, which arguably benefit them far more than the wild horses.

Instead of learning from mistakes and implementing a genuine management solution that is most beneficial for wild horses, the Band-Aids that are promoted are highly flawed and conflict with the highest and best interests of the so-called 'protected' wild horses.

Core flaw in wild horse management today

The core flaw in wild horse management program today is that managers are keeping wild horses in areas commingled with livestock, where for the past 200-years, apex predators have been eliminated with great prejudice to reduce losses of livestock.

During the 1800s many wild horses were dislocated from their natural habitats and into other regions via livestock traders.

When the 1971 Act was passed, many areas that had been used for livestock production for two centuries and largely devoid of apex predators became Herd Areas and Herd Management Areas, or HMAs.

The result is that the wild horses contained in these now HMAs are virtually living in the absence of their co-evolved natural predators, which over the millenniums had regulated wild horse populations and engaged in a process known as “natural selection” that preserved the genetic vigor of the species.

The result is that wild horse populations go unchecked and their genetics suffer from a lack of natural selection, both of which are bad for the sustainable conservation of wild horses.

It's critical to understand that the process of Natural Selection works perfectly and weeds-out weak genetics. Natural selection works on many levels. For instance, having a large selection (diverse genetic representation) of bachelor stallions competing for breeding rights helps assure that the best genetics are represented in the competition and then carried forward by the champion who becomes a band stallion.

There is also a recently discovered more subtle form of competition representing another facet of Natural Selection, which occurs within harems (mares) of family bands for the position of 'lead mare'.

During 8-years living-among and studying free roaming wild horses in an ecologically balanced wilderness, I’ve discovered and recorded that the offspring of a lead mare has a survival advantage over the offspring of lesser mares in the band harem. This is because the band stallion and harem will stick with the lead mare, and the lead mare will wait as long as it takes for her new foal to gain its strength to travel with the band.

On the other hand, an omega mare who has a new foal that requires time to stand and be ready to travel with the family band may be faced with a difficult decision. If the lead mare moves the band before the omega mare's foal is ready to travel, the omega mare will have to decide to stay behind with her foal, or abandon the foal and leave with the band. Either way, the omega mare's foal has a lower rate of survival without the protection of the band and its stallion.

Examining flawed Band-Aids being applied to failed management

1) Roundups and subsequent warehousing of captured wild horses into off-range feedlots are argued as one manner of managing wild horse populations in areas devoid of apex predators. These methods are very costly (>$150-M/year) for taxpayers (lots of personnel, equipment, aircraft, feeding horses hay, etc.), and they are brutal, inhumane and ecologically inappropriate given that such actions do not correct the core problem.

Roundups also result in ecological damage to landscapes due to stampedes, where dozens of wild horses running for their very lives from helicopters trample the landscape, injuring and killing some flora and fauna. During helicopter roundups, wild horses are run for miles and beyond their natural ability, adversely impacting the health of horses. Pregnant mares spontaneously abort foals on-the-run, and new foals run their soft new hoofs off and go lame and fall behind, ending up being eaten alive by coyotes; and,

2) So called 'contraception' (costing tens of $-millions annually) is a nice sounding term for what is actually 'chemical sterilization' of mares using chemicals commonly known as “PZP” and “GonaCon,” along with the castration of stallions. PZP and Gonacon are known to adversely impact the social structure and hierarchy of the harem, where lead mares that sterilized can lose their status in the band,

One program known as “Veterans For Mustangs” and the bill by the same name (H.R.7631 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) proposes to have military veterans using high-powered gas-operated rifles to shoot heavy darts/projectiles containing chemical sterilization compounds into wild horses, making a complete mockery of the intent of the 1971 Act, by stalking and shooting wild horses (aka: harassment), making American wild horses into a carnival shooting gallery.

The wild horse nonprofit known as American Wild Horse Campaign also engages in this ludicrous and dangerous activity. Studies show horses shot in this manner can suffer from bleeding, hematoma, broken bones,and death.

“Fertility control in free‐roaming wildlife populations has been associated with changes in immigration (Ramsey 2005; Merrill, Cooch & Curtis 2006), decreased group fidelity (Nuñez et al. 2009; Madosky et al. 2010), increased survival (Caughley, Pech & Grice 1992; Kirkpatrick & Turner 2007; Williams et al. 2007), altered reproductive behavior (Nuñez, Adelman & Rubenstein 2010; Ransom, Cade & Hobbs 2010) and shifted phenology (Ransom, Hobbs & Bruemmer 2013)” ~ Ecological feedbacks can reduce population‐level efficacy of wildlife fertility control.

The use of chemicals to control wild horse populations (wildlife) disintermediates evolutionary Natural Selection and leads to genetic erosion and social disruptions in wild horses (equids). Furthermore, using chemicals (PZP & GonaCon) is 'Selective Breeding' and leads to genetic decline.

In addition to the social breakdown of family bands, genetic erosion and selective breeding that are all part of using PZP on free-roaming native species American wild horses, we also find evidence of the following:

"Even on a large animal struck correctly, the dart (contraceptive PZP and GonaCon darts) can cause hemorrhage and hematoma. Misplaced shots can break bones or even kill the animal” (Thomas and Marburger 1964).

Muzzle report can cause problems in darting either captive or free-ranging animals. In captive situations, the noise can be more disturbing to animals than getting struck with a dart. Disturbed animals are then more difficult to approach, or the entire group of animals may run away.

3) Farming-out wild horses at taxpayer expense as so-called adoptable or trainable horses, also costs American taxpayers, since the BLM pays $1,000 for each horse adopted.

As most wild horse advocates know, the 1971 act was passed to ostensibly protect wild horses. Yet few parts of the 1971 Act are being observed and followed by the Bureau of Land Management today.

Even the core intentions of the 1971 Act that are cited in its preamble are disrespected and ignored in the management of wild horses today by the very agency charged with protecting wild horses, the BLM. This is clearly the result of political pressures brought to bear on law and policymakers by the trillion-dollar corporations who provide campaign donations to politicians on both-sides of the aisle.

The key sentence in the preamble to the 1971 Act states:

"It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding harassment, or death …"

The reality of life for wild horses in America today under the 1971 Act is quite different from what any outsider looking in would believe having read the 1971 Act.

The reality today, over 50 years since the passing of the 1971 Act, is that the BLM does everything to wild horses that was originally prohibited under the 1971 Act.

The BLM regularly and aggressively captures, brands and separates family members from each other, where stallions, mares and juveniles are sent into separate holding corrals even as family members scream for each other, causing tremendous emotional hardship for wild horse families. After segregating horses by sex and age, they are genetically molested where stallions are castrated and mares are chemically sterilized. This inhumanity transcends the prohibited 'harassment' cited in the 1971 Act.

Naturalist William E. Simpson II is greeted by a wild mountain stallion in the Soda Mountain Wilderness area. Courtesy image.

It's a horrifically brutal and inhumane scene that is repeated annually dozens of times each year in America over the past 40-years.

The protests of wild horse advocates and wild horse nonprofits, in court and in the media, have yielded no change in the behavior of the BLM.

That's simply because the public servants at Government agencies are like soldiers carrying-out the orders that are handed down from their superiors, who are essentially controlled by elected politicians who in turn are arguably beholden and influenced by campaign contributions from huge corporations.

A very simple example of the foregoing is relevant to the current SAFE ACT (H.R. 3355) that is languishing in the U.S. Senate.

The lawyers who drafted the Safe Act made sure there was a loophole for a major corporation (Nestle) who owns the second largest pet food company in Mexico Purina (conveniently located just-over the U.S. border in Mexico). In order to remain profitable, Purina requires a constant source of horse meat from America and elsewhere.

A review of the last draft of the SAFE Act showed that shipments of American horses for “human consumption” outside the U.S. would be prohibited if the SAFE ACT passed. However, there is an arguable loophole; shipments of American horses for “animal products” is not cited as being prohibited in the draft bill.

Since the installment of Deb Haaland as the head of the Department of Interior ('DOI'), which oversees the BLM, the brutal process of rounding-up wild horse families in holocaust fashion has increased.

Wild Horses captured by the BLM and the United States Forest Service ('USFS') are then genetically molested where stallions are castrated and mares are sterilized using chemicals commonly known as PZP and Gonacon. These chemicals are known 'genetic poisons' and end the natural life-cycles and genetic lines of wild horses.

No DNA (genetic) testing is performed by the BLM or USFS prior to ending gene-lines of processed wild horses using castration or chemical sterilization.

This practice is a form of selective breeding and as science proves, ensures a loss of genetic diversity, resulting in genetic decline in wild horse herds, and ultimately lead to bottlenecking and possible extinction of wild horse gene-lines, which contain the most robust equine genetics.

At some point soon, domestic horse breeders will need to breed-back to these robust genetic lines to reinvigorate domestic horse breeds, many of which are suffering from congenital defects and genetic diseases related to inbreeding over centuries.

Following this initial horror show, wild horses are then processed for allocation into so-called programs that are extremely costly to American taxpayers, and further punish wild horses emotionally.

The BLM sells its Adoption Incentive Program, or AIP, as a success and solution for getting rid of wild horses they have rounded up. However, combination of the AIP and other wild horse processing programs (prisoner programs, etc.) only places a small percentage of all the wild horses (about 5-7%) rounded-up into the hands of adopters or trainers who are paid $1,000 (tax-dollars) by the BLM for each horse adopted.

Wild horses that are funneled into adoption and training programs are wild sentient beings, few of which will submit to any training program.

Wild horses adopted are made to submit to the demands of human trainers. Surprisingly, so-called horse 'trainers' fail to understand the wild nature and spirit of wild horses, as opposed to domestic horse breeds, which have been bred for the past 6,000 to serve the utility of humankind and are well-suited to training. This failure by people and trainers to understand wild horses and their behavioral ecology leads to a majority of wild horses placed in programs resisting training and ending-up at slaughter auctions for meat in the pet food industry, a horrific ending for innocent wild horses.

The big question: Is there a better solution to the current wild horse management debacle?

Answer: Absolutely!

There is a plan that provides a more humane, natural and cost-effective management paradigm for wild horses.

That plan is called the “Natural Wildfire Abatement and Forest Protection Plan,” also known as the “Wild Horse Fire Brigade.”

Wild Horse Fire Brigade is a cost-effective solution for humanely managing wild horses naturally without keeping them on degraded ecologically collapsed landscapes that are being intensively used for commercial enterprises, including oil, gas, mineral and livestock production.

Keeping wild horses in areas where they are deemed to be in conflict with the interests of $Trillion/year corporations guarantees that wild horses will remain in a constant state of conflict with consumer-driven demands for public land use, resulting in the highly flawed and costly management concepts previously cited.

What many people (including some wild horse advocates) fail to realize is that there are 115-million acres of designated critical wilderness where motorized vehicles and livestock production are prohibited due to law, and costly logistics.

Using just 20-million acres of this vast water and forage-rich wilderness area, up to 100,000 wild horses could be redistributed (rewilded/relocated) as family bands, at the rate of 1-horse per 200-acres; away from conflicts, ending the plight of wild horses.

This plan provides wild horses with habitat that is consistent with what they had enjoyed prior to the arrival of the Europeans in North America. Wild horses are completely at-home in the deep wilderness and have survived in such habitats for 1.7-million years in North America.

And via reestablishing wild horses into economically and ecologically appropriate wilderness areas, these keystone herbivores can once again rebalance ecosystems, and manage the now overabundant grass and brush wildfire fuels. This natural symbiotic wildfire grazing reduces fuel loading and results in normalizing the wildfire regime, devolving super-fueled superhot catastrophic wildfires back into the normal wildfire expected on the landscape that burns low, slow and cooler as a result of less fuel. This in turn saves forests, wildlife and watersheds from catastrophically hot wildfires.


More about the many benefits of the Wild Horse Fire Brigade plan here:

ReWilding Europe's wildfire-focused journal 'GrazeLIFE' published an abstract of the Study that supports the Wild Horse Fire Brigade plan online at:

NPR national radio has also published a story (with audio) online at:

Rewilding and relocating wild horses into economically and ecologically appropriate wilderness areas reduces the frequency, size and intensity of wildfires at

William E. Simpson II is an ethologist living among and studying free-roaming native species American wild horses. He is the award-winning producer of the micro-documentary film “Wild Horses.” He is the author of a new study about the behavioral ecology of wild horses, two published books and more than 150 published articles on subjects related to wild horses, wildlife, wildfire and public land (forest) management.

Winter is a time for slowing down. We have moved from fall, of leaves falling and releasing and letting go, to receive the time of winter, the most Yin time of year. A time of rest, stillness, and replenishment. It is the time for the seed underground, storing up and conserving energy, growing strong roots that will support our growth in the coming spring.

Each winter is a time of replenishment, to restore our resources and potential energy. We restore our trust in ourselves, our deepest wisdom, that uplifts us to realize anything is possible if we simply follow our true nature.

This winter how will you acknowledge this essential season? How will you replenish yourself?

In Chinese Medicine the winter season is the water element.

Water is about our ability to flow and overcome obstacles. To understand the attributes of water in ourselves we can think of the many ways water presents itself in nature. Think about how our energy can resemble a mighty river or a trickling stream, the waves of the ocean, a frozen lake, or a gentle rain.

Water is transformative. When we take the time to be quiet and internal, and “be,” we allow an internal transformative process to occur. As the most yin of all the seasons and the elements, it is a time for stepping back from our relationships to the outside world and instead, turn inward, to reconnect with ourselves.

Each element has its own gifts in body, mind and spirit.

The body/physical gift of water element is rest, solitude, re-balancing, and replenishment. When we have enough reserves, we have enough strength, drive and ambition. We manage our physical energy by not overdoing it or we can become tired and exhausted.

The mind/emotional gift of water is courage, faith, trust, and the renewed sense of our essence and the 'blueprint' for our lives. What happens if we become out of balance? We can feel anxiety, fear, and stress from not being able to live our fullest lives.

The spirit gift of water is the will, to persevere and adapt, to nurture our intuition, tap into our creative, internal energy, to manifest who we are. The water element grants us the capacity to more deeply discover the essence of our true self, and to grow ‘roots’ that anchor us in who we are.

Keys to staying balanced in the winter season.

Allow yourself to be quiet and listen to your deepest self-essence.

Stay warm, reduce outward activity to conserve energy in the colder, darker months.

Take a quiet walk outside in the fresh air, listen to relaxing music, read books or listen to books on tape.

Take time for extra self-care: get a massage, take a soothing bath, or a hot foot soak. Get an acupuncture treatment to stay balanced!

The winter season is an especially good time to discover more about yourself through reflection, paying attention to your dreams, and begin the practice of meditation.

Do more moderate exercise like Chi Gong, Tai Chi, Yoga and Pilates.

Daily vitamins can help to keep your immune system strong: try taking multi- vitamins and multi-minerals, B vitamins, Vitamin C, and Vitamin D.

Drink lots of warm herbal teas, like chamomile, ginger tea, Bengal Spice, and Good Earth tea. Eat warm foods, like soups, plenty of steamed vegetables, and complex carbohydrates.Have meals with whole grains, squashes, beans, peas, and dark leafy greens like swiss chard, kale, and bok choy.

Avoid too many cold foods and drinks. Although it is hard over the holidays, try to have less sugar and dairy, as they can deplete your immune system.

Drink plenty of good quality water. Drink half your body weight in ounces. For instance, if you weigh 150 lbs, you need to drink a minimum of 75 ounces of water per day.

Stay warm, cover the back of your neck to protect against the cold wind, as energetically this can cause colds and flus. Also cover your low back area, to protect your kidneys, and your reserves of energy.

This is the wisdom of water: the effortless response to its environment, adapting to change, yielding yet persevering, the courage to stay the course, and staying rooted to one’s essence.

Find the quiet contentment that comes with resting and waiting in the hibernation as you replenish your reserves.

Spring always follows winter. We don’t know what that will look like, yet if we have followed nature’s way and allowed ourselves to be immersed in Winter’s gift of rest and replenishment, we will emerge in Spring with replenished energy, more vibrant, rooted with a clear vision, and a deeper sense of how we want to manifest our life.

Wendy Weiss has been practicing Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine for thirty years. She can be reached for more information on Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine at 707-277-0891.


Upcoming Calendar

07.20.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.23.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
07.24.2024 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
ReCoverCA Homebuyer Assistance Workshop
07.27.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.30.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.03.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.06.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.10.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.13.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.17.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile

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