Happy Monday, loves! We're kicking off this beautiful week with a new blog series: Meet an Aromatherapist. After interviewing several aromatherapists and related professionals about aromatherapy education, I decided to give you all a deeper look at the life of an aromatherapist. Since there are many different ways to practice aromatherapy and use our aromatherapy education, getting to know a few professional aromatherapists can be an inspiring way to expand our vision for our own practices. Today, we're chatting with Leslie Moldenauer of LifeHolistically.
Leslie Moldenauer has been studying natural
living and holistic wellness for over 10 years.
She is the owner of Lifeholistically.com, a
trusted resource that covers essential oil safety
and encompasses all that natural living has
to offer. Leslie earned her Associates Degree
in Complementary and Alternative Medicine
(CAM) at the American College of Healthcare
Sciences in Portland, Oregon. She is passionate
about providing education and tools to help
others make decisions regarding safety above
all things when utilizing aromatherapy in the
Hi Leslie! Thanks for being here with us today. Could you start by telling us a bit about who you are, where our readers can find you, and what you are doing in the aromatherapy industry right now?
Hi Erin, thank you so much for asking to talk with me! For your readers, my name is Leslie, and my business is Lifeholistically, which has been in existence now for almost four years. I currently write a blog that covers all that natural living has to offer us, but my focus is on safety surrounding the use of essential oils. I recently wrote a book entitled Essential Oils Safe use for the Home, that AromaCulture so graciously reviewed in the holiday edition. My book has been getting a lot of attention; for which I am very grateful.
I work tirelessly to create infographics that can be shared many times over to make people aware of the truths surrounding essential oil safety. I have recently begun to make videos as well. Lastly, I have been blessed with some consulting work, so you are likely to see a lot more of me in the near future!
When did you start working with essential oils? What was it about them that inspired you?
I began my journey using essential oils over a decade ago. The first aroma that I inhaled was that of Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), and it remains one of my main go-to essential oils when I need to settle and center my mind. I began using essential oils right around the same time that I founded my yoga and meditation practice, and now today, those three things still work energetically together in a magnificent way. The energy that essential oils can bring to my body on a soulful level keeps me consistently inspired.
Which teachers or mentors have been the most influential in your aromatherapy journey?
I have been incredibly blessed in having numerous teachers and mentors, and I am truly honored to pay homage to them today.
Dorene Petersen, BA, DIP.NT, DIP.ACU, RH (AHG), ACHS President and CEO - I attended the American College of Healthcare Sciences to obtain my associate degree in complementary and alternative medicine. Throughout my years with the school and beyond, Dorene has supported me in any way that she can. Dorene and everyone at ACHS are definitely champions for their students and alumni alike.
Robert Tisserand, Expert in Aromatherapy and Essential Oil Research - I was simply ecstatic the day that Robert reached out to me to write an article for The Tisserand Institute. Ever since that day, he has been here for me to answer any questions I have had, and has offered his support whenever I needed it. I am very grateful for Robert.
Mark Webb, BSc, MASCC - I first met Mark when I attended his very first Aromatic Medicine course on American soil in 2015/2016. He took my education foundation up a number of notches. He was truly a catalyst to a newfound confidence in all that I knew, and all that I was about to learn.
Sylla Sheppard-Hanger, Founder & Director of the Atlantic Institute of Aromatherapy - I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with Sylla on a number of ventures. She was the first vintage aromatherapist that I met on social media almost five years ago. She has always welcomed me with open arms, both personally and professionally. For that, I will forever be grateful.
Gabriel Mojay, founding Co-Chair of the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists (IFPA) - Gabriel has been a mentor of a different kind. He has kept me grounded in what is important in life and in the industry; he is such a gentle soul. His passion is admirable; the industry needs more people like Gabriel in it.
Was there ever a specific situation that led you to an, "Oh, this really works!" moment?
I'm sure I could come up with more than a dozen of these instances both for family, my friends, and myself. The example I will share is during the time period after my father passed away. I had a 6 month old and a 2 year old at home at the time, and grieving was very difficult for me. I utilized aromatherapy for myself extensively to keep me going and help me to continue to see the beauty and light in those two little souls that needed me.
Can you tell us a bit about the aromatherapy coursework you have completed? Would you recommend the school(s) you attended to others?
As I mentioned a bit earlier, my formal education began with the American College of Healthcare Sciences (ACHS). Truth be told, I researched on and off for an entire year before deciding to go with ACHS. I am an ambassador for the school today, and have recommended the school to many. ACHS is very comprehensive, science based, with a staff of professional instructors that are also working in the industry in some capacity.
In addition to ACHS, I obtained further education with both Mark Webb and Robert Tisserand. They each bring their vast knowledge and expertise, and are both great assets to becoming a well-rounded and educated practitioner.
One thing aromatherapists have in common is an endless thirst for continued education in our field. What are some of the ways you are continuing your own education? Are there further courses that are currently on your wish list?
I definitely have the thirst for continued education. There are not many days that go by that I haven’t read an article, journal piece, or research paper on aromatherapy. It is a bit of an addiction, of the best kind.
In regards to what I have planned for the upcoming future? There are a number of educators that are on my list, including: Gabriel Mojay, Cathy Skipper and Florian Birkmayer, Peter Holmes, Madeleine Kerkhof-Knapp Hayes, Stillpoint Aromatics and others. Our industry is truly blessed with the sheer number and variety of approaches to using aromatics.
What does a typical day or week as an aromatherapist look like for you?
I am typically writing at least two articles a week from my home office. I do still work one on one with clients helping them to restore and maintain homeostasis, but that is no longer my main focus. I teach classes at my community yoga studio. I have many projects in the works at home including two new books, and a few other secrets that I have up my sleeve. Lastly, I have begun to do some consulting. One important thing to mention is that I stay true to myself and to my self-care, in which aromatherapy is a large part.
What do you enjoy most about being an aromatherapist?
This may sound cliche, but it is 100% truth, and that is helping others. This brings happiness to my heart. As the Dalai Lama says, “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others”. This is what fuels me to work hard. It is what ends my day with a smile and starts the new one with a grateful heart.
What is one of the most challenging aspects of being an aromatherapist?
This is such a great question, Erin, and I am so glad you asked it. The two biggest problems or challenges of being an aromatherapist in my eyes are:
1 - How to operate legally as a complementary practitioner in the US. What I mean by this is how to help others and stay FDA compliant. This is the #1 question that I get from fellow aromatherapists, and the reason that I spent hours and hours researching the ins and outs in order to create the online training found on my website, “Aromatherapy, compliance in your practice”.
2 - Combatting the misinformation that is shared on the Internet and on social media.
When I saw this as an issue a few years ago, I decided to try to spread as much safety information as I could, to take on the issue.I am the type of person that takes a challenge or what I see as an obstacle and do what I can do to be a part of the change. This helps me to have purpose, and if I do my part, I can let go of much of the emotion attached to the problem.
Is there a particular aspect of aromatherapy that you are passionate about?
Outside of my passion for safe use, which I think is very apparent for everyone that knows me, I cherish the esoteric and energetic uses of the oils. I am a very spiritual being, with a love of yoga, meditation, Ayurveda, and various other spiritual practices. By far my favorite oils are ones in the sesquiterpene and sesquiterpenol families, oils like: Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica), Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin), Sandalwood (WA variety as it is sustainable; Santalum spicatum), Spikenard (Nardostachys jatamansi), and esters such as: Clary sage (Salvia sclarea), Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), and Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis).
Our minds can be our biggest obstacle or our greatest asset. Essential oils and the practice of aromatherapy have a profound effect on our mental and emotional well-being. Herein lies my true passion.
Which essential oils are you finding yourself working most often with lately?
I, like many aromatherapists, tend to go through phases of love for particular oils. My top 5 currently would have to be: Blue Tansy (Tanecetum annuum), Red Mandarin (Citrus anthemis), WA Sandalwood (Santalum spicatum), Kunzea (Kunzea ambigua), and 10 fold Orange (Citrus sinensis). These are oils that I typically use the most of. When I am blending for a client, every essential oil is carefully selected for that individual based on needs and constitution, among other things. In these instances there is no oil that I use more often over another.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering a career in the aromatherapy industry?
The industry needs more individuals looking to complete formal training. Learning, however, is never over; self-teaching, reading, research, and experience are important as well, and ongoing. You will get out of your education what you put in. I recommend looking over the approved schools from both the Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA) and the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA). As I mentioned before, I researched for nearly a year, and asked many people what they recommended and why. I recommend you do the same before you make the commitment. But don’t wait; the industry needs more dedicated practitioners!
Thank you, Erin, for inviting me to participate in your first interview. I enjoyed it, and look forward to future opportunities to contribute to AromaCulture.
I hope you were inspired by Leslie's insight today. I find it so interesting to see how different aromatherapists are impacting our industry. Do you know someone who we should feature in this series? Leave their name in the comments section below.