Doctors appeared to not truly listen to what was going on contextually in Jo’s life at the time. It was almost as if the environment had no connection to what her body was experiencing. After a few years of trying new combinations of different drugs, Johanna fainted at work. This was the instance that her soon-to-be husband, Paul, urged her to seek out an alternative solution. Paul was going to school for Shiatsu at the time and was passionate about healing the body naturally. Johanna went to see a doctor who, along with medication, worked with herbs, acupuncture and diet. He was the first doctor during Johanna’s health struggles who listened to her and asked questions about what was going on in her life. He inquired about her life beyond what she was experiencing internally because he believed that health difficulty is intertwined with life’s daily stressors, tension in relationships, worries about jobs or money etc. and the environment you surround yourself in has a deep effect on one’s physical health.
Johanna also went to see an herbalist in Chinatown whose office was filled floor to ceiling with jars of different herbs. The man instructed her to boil a tea he ha concocted specifically for her needs and to drink it 3 times a day. After a few weeks, Johanna began to feel a difference in her digestive system, had less trouble breathing, and began to wean off of relying on her inhaler that she had had for years.
After having such an incredible experience with the herbalist, she took Paul’s advice and began to take control of her health through educating herself on the power of herbs. Johanna moved to Block Island in January of 1996. After living on Block Island for a few years, someone handed her a flyer for an herbal apprenticeship program thinking that she might be interested. After the first class, she knew this was her passion. The teacher instructed the students to walk around until you find a plant that calls to you. Sit with it. Meditate next to it. Share the same energy with the plant. Throughout her experience in the field, Johanna concluded that plants are actually great communicators, but people are just not used to listening to them. Throughout Jo’s childhood she would stay outside developing a deep bond with nature. At the time, little did she know that the medicinal properties of those same plants would be her savior in the end. Now, Johanna’s focus is always on the plant, “What can I infuse this with to make it as helpful as possible?
Throughout her health journey, Johanna came to realize that one must use various modalities in conjunction with western medicine, especially when it is simply not helping solve the problem. The most difficult part is that people feel they do not have control over their well-being or health when they actually do! Although it has been constantly reinforced that if one is experiencing a problem, they must go to someone else who can fix it for them, it’s important to look at the environment you are putting yourself in and the people you choose to surround yourself with. But in this life, nothing is immediate. Learning and relying on plants is a slower healing process, but a more gentle way to deal with things while also developing a deeper connection to yourself.
Now, as a company owner, Johanna sees her self-care journey happening right alongside her customers. She always encourages them to ask questions so they feel they are taking control of their health in a mindful way. Almost every product sold at Island Mist Natural came from a customer experiencing a problem and seeking out help. Johanna’s true passion is helping others through connecting and appreciating all that plants have to offer. Since every customers’ needs matter when selecting a product to purchase, Johanna focuses on maintaining an affordable price point, because everyone should be able to afford and practice self-care. Each recipe is made in a small batch, and someone is physically there making the product with love and intention each time.