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MY FORMATIVE YEARS
I grew up in northern Canada and believe I have always been moving to escape the cold, first to Wyoming which was warmer than northern Canada! Subsequently, to Oregon and I now know I have found where I belong, in Hawaii.
My early life on a farm nurtured my love and respect for all animals, along with my appreciation for growing and preparing my own food. I lived on a completely self- sustaining farm and we rarely needed to purchase any food.
My love for animals, nutrition and the environment has shaped my life. My husband (who shares my compassion for all sentient beings) and I have rescued more animals than I can count and we currently live with a passel of rescued cats, dogs and horses.
Digging in the dirt and watching a tiny seed develop into a beautiful fruit or vegetable, that has so many life-giving properties, forever amazes me. Sustainable agriculture, with garden to table production, even on a small scale heals the body and the planet. The end result, a work of art in the creation of a beautiful, healthful meal, is pure joy.
Meditation for me means many different things, as it should to everyone. I think too many times, it is viewed as sitting on a mat and waiting for “something” to happen. For me, it can be the Zen of pulling weeds, walking my dogs or spending time with my beloved horses.
I am rarely still and prefer to use the term movement with my patients rather than exercise. I mix up activities from riding horses, running, scuba, downhill skiing, yoga, walking and gardening.
TRADITIONAL MEDICAL SCHOOL
Nutrition piqued my interest in medical school, long before it was considered in the assessment of the health of a patient. I requested nutrition as my medical school option much to the raised eyebrows of my professors! Currently, the influence nutrition contributes to illness in medical school curricula is still minimal. It is not until there is a severe deficiency that it is addressed on the problem list in a patient’s chart. Why does someone need to have scurvy before we evaluate Vitamin C intake? The healing power of food is not a new concept as Hippocrates in 400 BC stated “Let medicine be thy food and food be thy medicine”. This is one of the first places I start in assisting a patient to achieve optimal health.
I find it amazing how one encounter completely changed the direction of my career. I was disillusioned with medicine; the restrictions placed on me from the insurance and pharmaceutical industries impeded my patient care and was frustrating me to the point of retiring from medicine. However, one day at a weekly yoga class, that all changed. An acquaintance mentioned she was enrolled in the Fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona started by Dr. Andrew Weil. I applied to enroll in the Fellowship and I was hooked. I have not been able to acquire knowledge on Integrative, Functional, Herbal Medicine or nutritional biochemistry fast enough. Since that day, learning has become a passion for me and has driven me to continue to obtain many certifications beyond my formal medical training. This knowledge, no matter how complex, always brings me back to the basics of nutrition, movement and stress reduction.
I cannot every imagine a time when I will end my quest for cutting-edge information about achieving optimal health.