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Thursday, August 13, 2020

Book Review and Blog Tour for Erica Elliot's "Medicine and Miracles in the High Desert"


Erica Elliott's






Medicine and Miracles in the High Desert




Book Summary


This is the true story of a young white woman, Erica Elliott, who comes to the Navajo Reservation in 1971 as a newly minted schoolteacher, knowing nothing about her students or their culture. After several blunders and misunderstandings, and beset by loneliness and despair, Erica makes a determined effort to overcome the barriers of language and culture. From the moment she begins learning the Navajo language, the people open their hearts and homes to her, inviting her into a world that will profoundly impact the rest of her life.

Erica falls in love with her Navajo students—along with their enchanting land, healing ceremonies, and rich traditions. She witnesses many miracles during this time, and experiences her own miracle when the elders pray for her healing. She survives fearsome encounters with a mountain lion and a shapeshifting “skin walker.” She learns how to herd and butcher sheep, make fry bread, weave traditional rugs, and more.

Erica returns years later to serve the Navajo people as a medical doctor in an under-funded and under-staffed clinic, where she treats myriad ailments, delivers countless babies, and performs emergency procedures. When a medicine man offers to thank her with a ceremony, more miracles unfold.

Print Length: 202 Pages
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Babloa Press

Medicine and Miracles in the High Desert is now available to purchase in print and as an e-book at, and Barnes and Noble. Add it to your GoodReads reading listing as well.


About the Author Erica Elliott, M.D.


Erica Elliott is a medical doctor with a busy private practice in Santa Fe, New Mexico. A true adventurer, she has lived and worked around the world. She served as a teacher for Indigenous children on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona and in the mountains of Ecuador.

In 1976, she was one of the first American women to climb Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the western hemisphere. She taught rock climbing and mountaineering for Outward Bound and, after her first year of medical school, she led an all-women’s expedition to the top of Denali in Alaska.

In 1993, Erica helped found The Commons, a cohousing community in Santa Fe where she continues to live. She gave a TEDx talk about living in cohousing. Referred to affectionately as “the Health Detective,” she treats patients who come to her from all parts of the country with mysterious and difficult-to-diagnose illnesses. Erica is a frequent radio guest and has given workshops at various venues, including Esalen and Omega Institute.

Find her online at:

Author website:


Professional website:

Blog site:


Book Review by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto

I am so glad to have read Medicine and Miracles in the High Desert - thank you to Erica Elliot for her poetic and honest writing style. She drew my right into this beautiful tale. I consider myself blessed to have been able to travel back in time to the high desert. She did a fabulous job of helping me know and love the people she met along her journey as well as creating photographs through her vibrant descriptions. Not that her characters weren't amazing, but it was her horse, Jimmy, who brought me most joy throughout the story. As a horse lover myself, I could appreciate her sense of partnership with her equine friend. 

Medicine and Miracles in the High Desert is a quick read - not because it's a short book, but because of the way it is written. This book is written in short chapters and journal style, but when you finish a chapter you don't set the book down - you turn quickly to the next beautifully written chapter because you want to know more and more and more! The writing is poetic and calming - this was a most lovely distraction from current affairs and the busy-ness of our fast paced lifestyles. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone! 5 Stars for this Enjoyable Read!! 

and a little bit about me before we look at the other dates in this lovely blog tour...

Crystal is the office manager, council secretary, financial secretary, and musician at her church, birth
mother, Auntie, babywearing mama, business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger, Blog Tour Manager with WOW! Women on Writing, Press Corp teammate for the DairyGirl Network, Unicorn Mom Ambassador, as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and their five youngest children, two dogs, four little piggies, a handful of cats and kittens, horses Darlin' and Joker, pony Miss Maggie May, and over 250 Holsteins.

You can find Crystal milking cows, riding horses, and the occasional unicorn (not at the same time), taking the ordinary and giving it a little extra (making it extraordinary), blogging and reviewing books here, and at WOW! Women On Writing  - Crystal is dedicated to turning life's lemons into lemonade and she has never (not once) been accused of being normal!


-- Blog Tour Dates


July 13th @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Join us at the WOW blog to celebrate the launch of author Erica Elliott's Medicine and Miracles in the High Desert. You can read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of the book.


July 15th @ A Writer's Life

Visit Caroline's blog today and you can read her review of Medicine and Miracles in the High Desert.


July 17th @ CK Sorens' Blog

Stop by Carrie's blog and you can read her review of Erica Elliott's Medicine and Miracles in the High Desert.


July 20th @ Memoir Revolution

Read Jerry Waxler's essay "Losing Yourself to Find Yourself," inspired by Erica Elliott's memoir Medicine and Miracles in the High Desert.


July 22nd @ A Storybook World

Visit Deirdra's blog today where she spotlights Medicine and Miracles in the High Desert.


July 26th @ Michelle Cornish's Blog

Visit Michelle's blog and you can read her review of Medicine and Miracles in the High Desert.


August 1st @ Deborah Zenha-Adams

Visit Deborah's blog today and you can read her insights into Erica Elliott's Medicine and Miracles in the High Desert.


August 3rd @ Memoir Writer's Journey

Visit Kathleen's blog today and you can read her review of Medicine and Miracles in the High Desert.


August 4th @ Beverely A. Baird's Blog

Visit Bev's blog and you can read her review of Medicine and Miracles in the High Desert.


August 7th @ The New England Book Critic

Visit Victoria's blog today and you can read her review of Medicine and Miracles in the High Desert.


August 7th @ Books, Beans, and Botany

Visit Ashley's blog today and you can read a review of Medicine and Miracles in the High Desert.


August 8th @ Boots, Shoes, and Fashion

Stop by Linda's blog and read her review of Medicine and Miracles in the High Desert.


August 10th @ Fiona Ingram's blog

Fiona will be featuring author Erica Elliott's memoir Medicine and Miracles in the High Desert.


August 13th @ To Write or Not to Write

Visit Sreevarsha's blog and read her review of Medicine and Miracles in the High Desert


August 14th @ Bookworm Blog

Visit Anjanette's blog and read her review of Medicine and Miracles in the High Desert.

August 14th @ BringOnLemons with Crystal Otto

Visit Crystal's blog and read her review of Medicine and Miracles in the High Desert.

August 15th @ Strength 4 Spouses

Visit Wendi's blog today and you can read her review of Medicine and Miracles in the High Desert.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

When You Can't BE a Helper, Find the Helpers!


My dad gave a lot of great advice in the short 17 years I knew him. One tidbit came when things were difficult. I believe the year was 1983 and I was going to be going into 1st grade in September. My dad was off work and I vaguely remember being with him when he went to Union meetings. We were broke, I know that now. My mom had to go out and get a job and that left me with my dad. I don't remember being broke. I remember having a lot of fun doing things that didn't cost any money at all. I remember bus rides to the mall where we would walk in the air conditioned hallways and chat. I remember trips to the beach where I would sit in the surf from what felt like sun up to sun down while my dad sat under the tree or chatted with the lifeguard - always keeping a watchful eye on his little punkin'. I remember mowing the lawn and hauling bags of grass clippings to the horse farm where I would then receive a short pony ride in exchange for clippings. I never went to bed hungry and my heart was full. 

Fast forward a few years, I learned my uncles had generously provided my family with some extra money to help get us through those difficult months. Contracts had been written up at kitchen tables and monies were paid back slowly but most surely in full. My uncles had helped us through that awful time. I had no idea any of that had taken place. I just thought we stopped over at their homes on Sundays to enjoy coffee and donuts - little did I know my dad was making a payment while I enjoyed the sweet pastries and gentle family banter. It wasn't until a time in my life when I felt hopeless that my father shared the sage advice:

When You Can't BE a Helper, Find the Helpers!

With that advice, he told the story of his brothers helping during our financial hardships. He went on to tell stories about Joe the amazing oncology nurse who gently helped him deal with the pain of his cancer. I learned about my grandmother who was a young widow with small children and how she would take in laundry to help her neighbors and in turn help put food on the table. I learned that you would never go broke giving your time, talents, and treasures to your friends and community. He taught me to never take the parking space closest to the door because someone needs that spot. He taught me to offer to help a stranger with their groceries, returning their cart, or reaching something at the store. 

He also taught me that on the dark days when you feel helpless you can always find a ray of light if you look for the helpers. You can learn from them, be inspired by them. and your faith in humanity will be restored! 

Today was an unusually rough day with things not going my way. Many tears were shed. When I finally had a moment to take a breath, I smiled. I smiled not because the day was amazing or full of joy, but because when I needed them most, the helpers appeared. Long story short, someone was injured at my house and it's not my story to tell, but I do know when my address went over the dispatch the helpers dropped what they were doing. They arrived one by one with a cloud of dust behind their vehicles. They arrived in trucks hauling seed. They arrived in work trucks. They arrived dirty and tired and I know they left many things undone at their own farms to provide help at mine. They pulled in and left vehicle doors wide open as they ran to help me help a friend (a stranger to them). I didn't even have to find the helpers today because they came in droves and they found me! I just had to open my eyes to see the beauty God provided.

My Pastor also reminded me that God is in control and even though it feels like things are out of control, my Savior has a plan. 

Thank you to all the helpers. Thank you to my daughter for keeping her cool and following each instruction. Thank you to my husband who later said "I was really impressed with you today - you're pretty amazing under pressure". To my Pastor who always knows just what to say to help put me back together when I'm falling apart. To all my helpers, neighbors, friends, and strangers. Tonight I smile because of you and Daddy was right, I'm inspired to be more like you!