It’s difficult to recall the first time we met Maddie because it feels like we have known her forever. However, our relationship really blossomed when she moved to Eugene to work with us at Dutch Bros Coffee. Since we’ve known her, Maddie has shown up in her life consistently: full of joy, easy to connect with, and sweeter than molasses. Her presence has always felt like a blessing, and we are so lucky to have her back in our lives, working with us at BZen Wellness.

We are so excited to introduce you to Madelaina, and announce her as our newest addition to the team. We know you’ll enjoy her as much as we do!

We asked Maddie a couple questions so you can get to know her better:

1. Tell us about your first experience with yoga?

My first experience with yoga was because of my mama. She has such a beautiful practice and is an instructor herself. So, between her and other family members who also practice yoga (even my Mimi does chair yoga!) I guess you could say I “grew up” around it. I was always eager to participate in any class with those I loved, but I never developed a practice for myself until I lived in Everett, Washington. I joined a studio there and would go consistently. Because of that consistency, I understood and deeply felt yoga’s mental and physical benefits… 4 years now, and I’ve been in love ever since!

2. What drew you to BZen Wellness?

I have been fortunate enough to know Brittany and Jonah since they welcomed me to Eugene, OR in 2015! I am from Colorado and was freshly 21 when I moved. They helped make the West Coast feel like home (they even had me over for my first Thanksgiving without family). I remember attending yoga classes Brittany hosted for her employees, and seeing her passion for wellness and yoga was, and always will be, inspiring! I have been a supporter and admirer of BZen since day one! Drawn to the raw, genuine, helpful, and incredibly beneficial content! & of course, drawn to the souls creating it!

3. What does being of service mean to you?

To me, being of service means using your gifts and strengths to help others, without the expectation of reciprocity.

4. Tell us about your studies. What drew you to psychology, horticulture, and therapeutic horticulture?

I am passionate about a multitude of seemingly “unconnected” things: plants, the ocean, education, women empowerment, dancing, travel, languages, wine, the stars, my mental health, llamas… just to name a few. So, going to a university and continuously switching around my major to match all my interests became exhausting. Thankfully, I came to realize that my combination of interests and skills is a strength, not a disadvantage (except for when no graduation date is insight because you want to have like 3 majors and 5 different minors). I had to ground myself and decide on a path that felt best. So Psychology was a major that brought me the most joy, interest (learning about myself and others)…and I had the most credits towards. Then, about a year ago, I stumbled upon horticulture therapy! I was inspired to pursue the people, plant, and nature connection! AND, by being more intentional with my journey, I now officially graduate in June! An OSU Beaver who is proud of my combination of interests and skills.

5. Please share more about Horticulture Therapy!

So, there is Horticulture Therapy and Therapeutic Horticulture. Therapeutic Horticulture is a process that uses plants and plant-related activities through which participants strive to improve their well-being through active or passive involvement. Gardening, plants, and horticulture can help individuals develop personally and socially, and gain confidence, independence, and a sense of wellbeing.

Then, there is Horticultural Therapy which is similar as it combines gardening, involvement with plants, and nature to improve the lives of people with physical and/or mental health problems. As a horticultural therapist, your job is to engage your patient in gardening and plant-based activities to achieve specific therapeutic treatment goals.

I would be happy to share more websites, books, podcasts with those who are interested in knowing more!

Horticulture Therapists (HT) can work in a wide variety of settings, common places are rehabilitation centers, hospitals, schools, community gardens, retirement centers, and correctional facilities. As a (soon-to-be) registered HT, I am not sure what population I will work with, or what exactly my practice will look like but I do know… Plants are healing! Nature is important to our well-being, and I still have so much I want to study and work towards – For example; becoming more knowledgeable on herbal medicine, and landscape design for therapeutic gardens!

6. What is your favorite self-care practice?

My favorite self-care practice is dancing! Moving your hips and blasting your favorite song is an indescribable and rather emotional journey! Music has always been a type of therapy for me (though I can’t play any instruments or sing) I have always felt connected to a song’s rhythms. My favorite is Latin! Self-care for me is also taking care of my many houseplants and my apartment balcony garden, jumping in bodies of water (preferably the ocean) and I am also a sucker for the self-care routine of taking a nice warm bubble bath, add in some Epsom salts, light candles, pour yourself a glass of wine, and slap on a face mask!

7. What does radical self-care mean to you?

Radical self-care for me means that you have an understanding within yourself that you will honor your needs, your wants, your boundaries above all things. By honoring yourself and taking care of yourself first, you are actually serving your loved ones even better than you could before. We can’t pour from an empty cup.

8. What are you currently working on in yourself?

I am currently working on SO much haha! Everything mentioned by Brittany in last week’s blog post about our relationship to self was a beautiful reminder of a path I have been walking and working on. I especially have been working on setting boundaries and being mindful to the fact that where my attention goes, my energy flows.

9. What’s your most embarrassing moment?

Oh, Man! I try not to let myself get too embarrassed by things or situations. But…this story is pretty priceless. I flew to Mexico to meet my cousin. She was running a little late to pick me up, so I was sitting at the airport’s outdoor patio bar. I was wearing this black jumpsuit. Hands down my favorite outfit. So cozy, so sexy. Well, I was enjoying a beer, she calls me and we are doing that classic conversation. “I’m pulling up. Where are you? Signal for me”. So, I thought it would be easiest for her to see me if I was jumping up and down. Maybe it was the cerveza, maybe it was the flowy pant legs of my jumpsuit, either way… I fell face-first into the street, in front of all the other eager travelers. Knees scratched, my face red (and not from the sun) my cousin and I were able to find each other in the crowd.

10. What/who inspires you the most?

Gosh, I am inspired by so many people and things! That’s hard to choose just one…My Top 3 are:

1) My family- I come from a long line of really amazing people and some really bad-ass women!

2) Mi Amor- Who is so driven, hardworking, stable, appreciative, humble, and kind… & you really learn a lot about yourself through love and relationships, which in itself is inspiring!

3) Frida Kahlo because she turned her pain into beauty, lived an authentic life, and in learning about her life I feel like I also learned about the importance of resilience.

Be well, friends. Thank you for reading!

Photo taken by my dear friend and talented photographer Grace Gatto!

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