goji berries

Finally, we’re reaching the end of 2020! I can’t tell you how many people have yearned to see this year pass since it’s been so difficult for most. Indeed, 2020 brought big changes to our lives and the East West Herb Course, too.

I have always loved to travel and have done so since a young girl when my family took three-week long camping trips across the U.S several times. This year is the first year since then that I haven’t traveled in a year, well except for our two-week evacuation-‘vacation’ when the Santa Cruz mountain fires came within ½ mile of our home and herb course office on one side and 2 miles on another. We only journeyed to local Santa Cruz and Capitola, but that was a worry-fraught time for sure rather than a true holiday.

Volunteer firefighter Todd Ellis at a blaze in Ben Lomond, where the Tierras live, in August. Photo by Susanne Rust.

Fortunately, our neighborhood and school were saved and livable. The gardens were fine after all the ash and burnt leaves were cleared and the herb course buildings fared well, too. Thank you for all of your postings of concern and care – we survived!

One of the most eye-opening experiences of this year was moving our 30-year annual onsite seminar to an online one instead. We were amazed at how many people joined us who had wanted to attend in the past but were unable for various reasons. With the Foundation and Intermediate Tracks of last year’s seminar now recorded, they are available to be viewed at any time anywhere in the world.

In 2021 our annual seminar will be online again, and we are adding a live week-long seminar for the Advanced Track. This will be a first as we’ve always worked in person with advanced students. However, we believe online personal interaction with a smaller group with online cases and clients should be quite effective.

As well, we added something else new to the course this year – live online student Q&A sessions with us both! Some months there are two, for Foundation on the first Monday of the month at 5-6 pm PDT, and the Intermediate/Advanced on the third Monday of the month at 5-6 pm PDT. Some months the two are combined into once session, held one of these Mondays. For more information contact our school.

Like many others, we worked mainly at home from March on this year. As a result, we’ve handled far more distant consultations and in July, began seeing some people locally, with lots of protection and protocol guidelines in place. We find distant consults not only convenient for all involved but also quite effective. Fill out our online consultation here.


Lesley continues to receive letters from children about her Kids Herb Book. With so many places having people shelter at home, more and more folks are studying herbs for their family’s health, which includes kids, too! East West offers a free Kids Herb Course and we love hearing from children about making various preparations, reading the herbal stories, and singing the herbal songs. More often than not, we learn that root beer is one of their favorite recipe projects. With so many children learning from home, A Kids Herb Book with the Kids Herb Course is a wonderful way to help teach them how to care for their health and in a fun and involved way.

Talking about kids, we’re found one of the best formulas Michael formulated for children is actually excellent for adults, too: Calm Child. It beautifully calms children and adults alike who experience stress, insomnia, or even have colds, all of which are more prevalent this year. It’s available in

tablet form as well as a glycerite that tastes good. Further, Albizia is very effective for stress, insomnia, and even PTSD. Many this year are under higher stress levels than normal and both these formulas can be quite useful for helping calm nerves and easing emotional and mental strain. You can find these and many other useful formulas at our online shop.

What else have we been up to all year? For one, Michael has been teaching a grandson, Kai Tayam, herbal medicine through the course and onsite herb walks in our gardens. In turn, Kai has been teaching Michael tai chi. His father, Arnold Tayam Prof., D.M.Q., D.T.C.M. (China), is a SiFu with his school in Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and Qi Gong healing (https://longevity-center.com) .

In the meantime, Lesley has been photographing many of our herbs in the gardens and through the seasons:

he shou wu



We’ve also had many family meals outdoors, like so many other people, plus online meals with other family members. Online meals with our son, Chetan, and daughter-in-law, Melissa, have often brought us updates on their San Diego Piano Academy progress (they have five teachers now!) along with their new online Masterful Musician courses in learning piano, how to practice, and other teachings on musical proficiency. https://www.masterfulmusician.com

Our free clinic went dormant this year not only from Covid but also due to renovation of the Mountain Community Resource Center facilities where we meet. We have started up again with distant consults, which means our advanced students can participate no matter where they live. This is a terrific learning opportunity and provides wonderful practice, too. For more information contact our school.

So what’s in store for 2021? This will soon be revealed to us all. Whatever it’ll be, I’m sure it’ll be interesting! May you all have a safe and wondrous holiday season, Happy New Year, and a great year ahead!

Leave a Reply