I first encountered Cortney about 7 (8?!) years ago somehow through a mutual acquaintance. To be honest, the details of our meeting are fuzzy but what I do remember clearly is how drawn I was to her. She seemed otherworldly from how she spoke to her work to how she.. just was. The more I learn about her (we’ve never met in person, not in this lifetime, not yet) the more I adore her. I am honored to have her as our first Woman Wonder. An alchemist, an intuitive, a formulator of Wildcare gorgeous skin potions
, a woman, a mother, sister, wife and a friend.
Please, introduce yourself.
Hi, I’m Cortney Herrera - a dreamer, mother, gardener, intuitive and triple virgo. I grew up along the California coast, was transplanted to midwest farm lands and maple tree forests, and then back again to the California coast before landing in the Pacific Northwest as an adult with my beautiful husband and children. I’m the middle child between 2 incredibly generous & wise sisters. By trade and joy I’m an alchemist & distiller.
Talk to us about you. What is special about you?
My dreams; For most of my life, I’ve had to engage in practices to integrate my dreams and my intuition. It was often overwhelming when I was younger to have premonitions, and with practice has become the framework of this special line of communication I've been given. I’ve learned to better weave my own thread between different realities as I incorporate more of my own personal embodiment into this physical landscape through my dreams.
I’ve been through 2 wildly different and challenging birth experiences that have informed much of my life to this point, after almost losing mine. My perspective on being alive shifted in a big way, becoming rooted in opening myself fully, as relationships built on honesty and reciprocal care emerged and deepened– including re-meeting myself as a mother. It’s in this way, that life jolted me into perspective and triumph. With gratitude for these big experiences, I feel what makes me special is in the way I’ve worked to transform grief and heartache into purpose, meaning and even pleasure.
What does connection mean to you?
Connection is at the core of how I listen to what is within me and what is outside of myself, as I bridge the two. It’s the wind that brushes through my hair, the visions that come into my dreamstates & formulas, the stories of my ancestors that speak through plants and how I relate & listen to another. Over the last 7 years, my business Wildcare has been a source of relating in physical and emotional discovery, formulating products as specific charms of repair on an emotional level first, vibrating outwards and transforming the skin second. The way I express myself through our garden and my photography of nature, from the tiniest, almost unseen details to the most perspective-twisting views from the sky is generative, creating this natural networking. Expressing ourselves in ways that magnetize, reach and ignite wonder…that is true connection to me.
What has been your proudest moment in your career or personal life to date?
Ha ha, this is funny timing but probably just recently. My business is doing the best it’s been in 7 years, and simultaneously I recognized that I was very far from my best– consumed by debilitating exhaustion and adrenal fatigue. I pushed myself to work hard the last 7 years through birthing 2 children, both when I was 7 months pregnant, long stays at NICU and through my rediscovery of myself as a mother and a woman. I barely paused to process, often integrating healings in the windows I allowed for myself. I very recently was diagnosed with a nervous system disorder, and truly surrendered to naming my experience and giving myself permission to pause. I’m proud to be envisioning my own vibrancy again as I stop, breathe, reassess, and reinvent myself. I’m proud to be prioritizing pleasure and taking up more space to feel the emotions that I decided were too much for others, and myself to hold. There is real power in asking to be held. Being strong does not mean being alone with our experiences. Proud of arriving at this realization and pause is an understatement. :)
How do you balance your work and personal life?
For me, the two can be easily blurred until I catch myself asking bigger questions, in envisioning more vitality. I think the tiny fantasies that start to compile in our minds are the greatest indicators of what areas need support– paying attention is the way. Building a solid community and care team has been quite important in my own story. The people we choose to spend our time with can either root us further into our true selves or pull us away from ourselves. We can’t do it all, nor should we try. I feel so lucky to have found (and am still finding!) my people here in the NW and beyond. So, as far as balance goes, this is the first time in my life I understand that balance isn’t solely what I push myself to achieve alone; It can wholly come from my surroundings- the people, the environment, the energy.
What female role models do you look up to and why?
Every woman in my family (sisters, mom, grandma, nana, mother-in-law, even my husband’s grandmothers) all are epically courageous, playful, emotionally intelligent, & dare I say feisty women. While they are each strong in their voices and stories, their strength is led by their hearts, with empathy and honor. Each of them shows me how to love more fully- starting with grace for myself. I greatly look up to 3 of my dear mentors/friends, Dena Birch, Stacey Moss & Tina Lilly for their integrity as women and as mothers. Not only have they each solidly championed me in times of stagnancy, but each lives and acts from their gut, unfiltered and self assured. At various times I didn’t feel like I knew myself- they did, and rooted for my homecoming.
What key learnings would you like to pass on to the next generation of women?
I feel blessed beyond measure to have a daughter so I’d love to share what I’m passing on to her first. Inspiring wonder and delight is my biggest quest. Life can feel absurd at times, especially as a woman as of late; Being able to tap into that spark of wonder and delight, for me, is a key part of our survival as women. I aim to encourage her how to listen to her body’s queues, how to integrate and have relations to the land she’s on and the nature she is a part of, and how to lead with courage, commitment and embodied pleasure. I hope to guide her in understanding that her worth is not based on what she achieves, and that her achievements are not what defines who she is. I’m also quite excited to have conversations with her about the nourished masculine and feminine and what it means to be emotionally healthy & have the tools to regulate, beyond contributing to our physical wellness.
How do you champion women in your personal and professional life?
In my relationships & on my business’ platform, I encourage women to come back to their wholeness- in heart, gut & joy. In all I do, I aim to remind those I’m around to observe and consider their relationship with the land that has shaped them, learn how to receive and also consider what they’re offering. I think it’s crucial to also champion women to root for nourished, emotionally aware men; there are beautiful men in the world and disregarding them in attempts to empower women I feel will create more harm than good. Most of all, I champion the sense of feeling, presence & drive through a healthy relationship with fear, in order to carry out their biggest dreams into the tangible.
What is something that used to challenge you but doesn’t anymore? What challenges you now?
In the past I was consistently the girl/woman that was called on for support, advice, emergencies, etc. It became more intense the older I got and only transformed after the birth of my children. While I’m humbled by the way I’ve been seen and trusted in that way, I had zero boundaries and it often left me incredibly depleted and often disregarded when it came time for my own requests and desires. I think empathetic and generous women can often get lodged in this mothering role with friends and family. Becoming a mother myself completely changed the way I knew myself and engaged in my relationships. They’re now rooted in transparency and honesty with “soft boundaries” as my sister has nudged me to engage with. I feel more seen now than ever because I’ve learned how to embrace vulnerability and express myself unabashedly. I value my wellbeing and protect my energy while still keeping the doors open- lets say it’s a screen door, ha ha. Moving in this way with courage and assurance completely shifted how I was able to receive as well.
What is your favorite city (anywhere)?
When you’re in your favorite city:
Walk through the cypress trails.
Your go-to restaurant:
Hula Island Kitchen (The coconut ceviche!!)
Your favorite tea/coffee/smoothie shop:
Happy Girl Kitchen
Favorite hole in the wall:
Where do you go when it rains:
On a walk.
Monarch Grove, Butterfly Sanctuary
Advice your auntie/mother/grandmother gave you:
Eat, eat and eat again. Food is our greatest source of love, community, nourishment, wealth and pleasure. You’re full? Eat more.