This has been my journey thus far…
I'm an advocate of food as medicine and natural living, for the entire family. I am a Functional Holistic Nutritionist but my real schooling has come from my life experience.
As a young adult, I knew there was more to life. My teenage years were riddled with hormonal issues, severe depression, an eating disorder, many visits to the doctor’s office, and admission to the hospital, with no clear answer to why. On the outside, I appeared put together, as a scholarship student and elite-level athlete, but this was far from the truth. I was feeling uncertain about life and frustrated with my health. This was my original catalyst and why I became a nutritionist, way back then.
At the young age of 20, I left my small hometown in Northern Ontario, Canada, to travel and explore the jungles of Latin America, where my heart was captured by a local singer/performer (now my partner of 13 years). I fell in love, with him and the culture. In the meantime, I was diagnosed with a life-altering disorder, and told I’d be unable to have children, and would have to depend on pharmaceuticals for the rest of my life. I denied.
That was it, I realized. I had a new path. This is when my incredible journey started, into a life-changing, transformation as a holistic practitioner. I decided to leave my current University Dietetics Program and get a diploma in Applied Holistic Nutrition, a philosophy that resonated with me at a deep level. I wanted to focus on the internal mechanisms of why we get sick. More importantly, what could make us well? So I focused on taking classes on holistic nutrition and functional medicine to learn the causation of disease. I needed to change these health challenges that were ruling my life, and the lives of so many around me. I was struck by this powerful calling to help others. I realized that the vehicle for me to help others was going to be through natural health, and since that day, I have never stopped learning.
My pilgrimage to health…
I was drawn to a life that lead me to explore and live in five different countries spanning from Central America to the Caribbean, learning the ways of traditional cultures and indigenous peoples, and then full circle back into discovering the roots of my own mixed ancestry.
It was only when I was displaced back to my Northern homeland in the so-called ‘developed world’ that I truly understood that something was seriously off, compared to the intact cultures that ate locally, had a powerful sense of community, and did not suffer chronic degenerative disease, remaining healthy well into becoming centenarians.
During the beginning of political unrest in Venezuela, we relocated to Trinidad & Tobago, and opened my Clinical Nutrition Practice from our home, and had our first child. A few years after, with our young growing family in mind, we moved to a smaller, slower-paced island, in the middle of the rainforest. The Commonwealth of Dominica—also known as ‘The Nature Isle of the Caribbean’, is where we opened the doors to Beyond Vitality Nature Camp, our family-run, off-grid eco-lodge, homestead, retreat center, and sprouting eco-village. Here I gave birth to my second child unassisted.
We were settled in our lush green paradise we called home, raising our children wild & free, with the art of simplicity. We imagined growing old here, with our children spreading their wings, and eventually coming back to live the simple island life, surrounded by grandbabies, family, and friends. I was quite a visionary!
I thought we had settled until the unthinkable happened…
On September 18th, 2017, Hurricane Maria, a catastrophic category 5 superstorm, completely devastated the island, along with our home, business, and livelihood.
It took everything along with it, everything but our lives. We survived the hurricane in our little red closet when everything around us crumbled to the ground. We were left stranded and living in our vehicle for a week, surviving off rainwater and fruit from fallen trees, which ended with a helicopter evacuation. Watch our full hurricane story here.
After a grueling few months living in the aftermath, with a plan to rebuild and a dream still alive, hope was slowly diminishing. Building supplies were yet impossible to source, water, electricity, and the internet took over a year to be restored, and illness took hold of us. We were separated by borders, the children and I evacuated to Canada, and their father back to his home country of Trinidad and Tobago. This was the most difficult period of my life! We were displaced and had to find home again.
A hurricane and aftermath living in survival mode, a near divorce, displacement, and a serious health crisis, life as I knew it was gone. I found myself at the deepest and darkest pit of my life, searching for new meaning, and the will to live. From pain and misfortune, we continued to move forward, believing that this was happening for us, not to us and that something great would come from the lessons.
After 12 years, it wasn’t the initial culture shock of leaving my birth country that shook me, it was the reverse culture shock of re-entering into a place that felt so unfamiliar, so isolated, and so disconnected from the life I had built. Within my own healing journey, the more I spoke with people, the more I realized that here in the ‘developed world', we are expected to get sick - as young adults, after becoming mothers, or as we age. This was where I now stood myself. After a tremendous loss, recovering from the effects of trauma and PTSD, exhaustion, and struggling to care for myself, I was left wondering how I would ever have sovereignty over my own health, and be able to care for my family.