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Hillary Peterson on Quarantining, Gardening, and Loving

Armed with a dream after being diagnosed with thyroid cancer, Hillary transformed her experience of getting well into her life's work as the founder of True Botanicals, a plant-based non-toxic luxury skincare line. Here, this visionary talks about life in quarantine, daily gardening, ongoing learning, and the one thing that changes everything.


WHAT DOES WELLNESS MEAN TO YOU?

To me wellness is about an abundant connection with nature, seeking balance, and nourishing oneself inside and out.

WHAT WAS THE AH-HA MOMENT THAT LEAD TO LAUNCHING YOUR BRAND?

Following my treatment for thyroid cancer, I became increasingly focused on wellness and learned that what goes onto your skin goes into your bloodstream. As I looked more closely at all of my personal care products, I discovered they were made with an abundance of toxins which made zero sense to me. Since then, I committed my energy to building a line of luxurious, effective products without compromise. In other words, I believe you can have both!

HOW ARE YOU ADJUSTING TO LIFE IN QUARANTINE?

I feel so blessed to live within a 5 minute walk from open space, which I've been taking full advantage of. Every day I try to go for either a hike or bike ride. I also spend my free time working in the garden, which is literally grounding. Plus, getting into a routine has been very important too. I get dressed early and dive into my work while the house is quiet. I have been cooking a ton, so I carve out time for that as well and I've been trying to be disciplined about shutting down and “arriving home” at a reasonable time so that I can be present for all aspects of my life. That said, I realize that everything I mentioned is doable because my kids are grown. Two out of my three kids are home and we are functioning a bit like a commune, cooking together and working in different rooms during the day. My husband and I keep thinking about the families with young kids who are working and homeschooling. I really don't know how they're doing it!

HOW DO YOU SEE THIS PERIOD OF TIME IMPACTING YOURSELF?

I normally travel a lot and it has been SO different to spend this time at home. I'm noticing the little details more than ever, like the blue jay’s nest in our laurel hedge, the first blooms on our roses, the poppies, and lupin blooming on my local hike. It's invigorating to be connected to my surroundings and resuming the pace I was accustomed to does not sound appealing. I will definitely still travel when we get back to that but I'm not interested in traveling as much as I was. This realization will help me prioritize my trips better, enjoy more time at home, and ultimately accomplish what I need to while saving time and money.

WHAT'S BEEN YOUR "NEW NORMAL" DAILY ROUTINE AND RITUALS?

I have been falling asleep earlier and waking up later. Even though I'm working as much as always, I find I have more time for cooking things like fresh bread and homemade chicken stock - both do not require a lot of time but I need to be at home and I am here plenty of the day lately! It's also easier for me to sneak in a run, hike, or ride, so I'm in a lot better shape than I have been since I started True Botanicals. The regular exercise has definitely helped me stay mentally strong during such a crazy time.

WHAT ARE SOME NEW RITUALS THAT YOU ARE INCORPORATING INTO YOUR DAYS?

Baths and masks on the regular! Tonight, I'm going to do a full face and body treatment with the Resurfacing Moisture Mask and the Resurfacing Body Mask. Followed by face and body oil. My skin feels amazing after that and I rinse the masks off in a warm bath so it is super relaxing.

HOW DO YOU START EACH DAY?

I am usually having a cup of coffee in my window seat by 7. I love to take that time to catch up on the news, to prioritize for the day, and to read emails. Some days I meditate first which always feels so good.

HOW DO YOU UNWIND AT THE END OF THE DAY?

I love to go on a walk or sit on our porch and have a cocktail with my husband before dinner. It is a lovely way for me to transition from my work life to my home life.

HOW DO YOU EAT?

Lots of whole, fresh, seasonal foods with an emphasis on vegetables.

HOW DO YOU MOVE?

Movement is key, whatever it may be. Humans are not meant to sit in front of a computer all day so I try to break it up.

HOW DO YOU SELF-CARE?

Listen to myself and honor what I hear. The other day some friends wanted to have zoom cocktails and I had already been to the farmers market that day and then I had a full workday. I realized that was enough excitement for me so we pushed out our “gathering”. My tolerance for a fuller schedule has gone way down and I am trying to go with that.

HOW DO YOU LIVE A "CLEAN" LIFE?

I try to do everything to nourish my body inside and out. For me, that means fresh seasonal food, time in nature, and, of course, clean, nourishing skincare products. Especially now, it feels so good to nourish my body in all of the ways that I can.

WHAT'S THE BEST LESSON YOU'VE LEARNED IN LIFE?

This moment right now is the best place to be. Spending too much time in the past or future is not rewarding or productive so I have dedicated myself to living in the moment.

WHAT'S SOMETHING THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING?

Love.

WHAT ARE FIVE THINGS YOU CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT?

Love, my family, my friends, our garden, and music.

NAME A BOOK THAT CHANGED YOUR LIFE.

Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hahn

WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO THESE DAYS?

A playlist that my youngest daughter created for me that includes: The Dixie Chicks, Mandolin Orange, and King Princess.

WHAT DO YOU HAVE FIGURED OUT?

That I have a lot to learn.

AND, WHAT HAVE YOU NOT YET FIGURED OUT?

How to get myself to meditate every day instead of a few times a week.

WORDS TO LIVE BY?

Kindness is everything.

TELL US A SECRET.

I love french fries.

ANY ADVICE YOU CAN LEAVE US WITH?

For me, this has been a time of many questions. When will we go back to the office? Is COVID-19 a virus that will respond to a vaccine? How soon will I see my son who is living on the East Coast? With so many questions cycling through my mind every day, I have found the following from Rainer Maria Rilke so helpful. I hope that you will too.

“... live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

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