Health and wellness has always been a part of my life, I just didn’t realize it was such a passion for me until my dad started having some serious health issues.
I grew up in a very small town in Southern Illinois. If you didn’t live in that small town you lived on a farm. The nearest city was 60 miles away. My dad, like many other people in the community, always had a garden. The corner of the backyard was home to the ever-brewing compost pile. There were no chemical pesticides. One of my favorite memories of summer is taking a salt shaker into the backyard, picking a bright red, juicy tomato and eating it. Unfortunately, not everything relating to this garden was exciting. Pulling weeds and shelling peas were not on the fun list! Sometimes helping mom can the vegetables would interfere with or delay our bike ride to the local pool. But, I did love those pickled beets during winter dinners! I can remember my mom and dad shredding cabbage and stuffing it into a crock jar that they topped with a plate and a rock. The rock was to hold the plate(lid) in place while the cabbage fermented into sauerkraut in a dark corner in the shed. Even today, just thinking of that kraut kicks my salivary glands into action and causes just a little pucker in my lips. That just doesn’t happen when I pick a jar off the shelf in the store.
Life was simple. We picked wild blackberries and dewberries and my dad taught me how to identify hickory nut trees and hazelnut bushes. He was an outdoorsman at heart who loved hunting and fishing. Anything he brought home we ate. I often joke telling friends, “If you’ve ever watched Duck Dynasty you’ve probably seen a lot of the things we ate.”
Summers were spent catching lightning bugs, playing Hide-and-Go-Seek and Crack the Whip. Fall was—and still is—my favorite season. To this day, there is no eye-candy more perfect or more awe-inspiring than the canvas of reds, golds, yellows, and magentas painted by the October leaves. The best part of having to rake them was falling into the piles afterwards. One of my favorite memories of this time of year was home made apple butter. My mother and grandmother would spend an entire day peeling and coring Jonathan apples. The next morning when the sun was just peeking over the horizon, they would light the stack of wood that had been strategically arranged in our back yard. A huge copper kettle was placed over the fire and my grandmother would put 4 or 5 real silver dollars in the bottom of the kettle. Only then would all the apples, some sugar, and a little star Anise spice be added to the kettle. There was a long handled paddle that someone had to man for the entire day stirring the contents of this kettle. The silver dollars were in the bottom to prevent the sugar from sticking to the kettle. Magically, somehow the whole process was completed just as we were getting home from school. There is nothing like warm apple butter on soft fresh bread at the end of a busy school day.
I didn’t realize it then but I was being programmed; programmed into honoring and enjoying all things natural. Unbeknownst to me that was the beginning of my passion for wellness.
Fast forward many years later. Before going off to college I can remember my dad driving me past fields that had markers on them designating them as fields with genetically modified crops. I can also remember him showing me which wild berries and nuts not to eat because of the pesticides that had been sprayed along the roadside. It was also about that time that I noticed the water coming out of the kitchen faucet had a very strong odor of chlorine. Farmers were no longer letting a field lay fallow every seventh year. Now they were double cropping. Double cropping means you plant the second crop before the first one has been harvested. All the things my grandmother had taught me about companion planting to keep pests away seemed to be falling to the wayside giving way to the so-called modern technologies of farming. There is no doubt in my mind or the minds of many scientists that these modern technologies have depleted the minerals in the soil as well as the nutrients in the food.
Fast-forward another 10 years and my dad has three distinct, unrelated cancers. I am totally convinced that the pesticides from farming running off into the water supply and the chlorine used in an attempt to purify it were two main culprits in his unfortunate health issues. When I was growing up in that small town I can remember one person having cancer. It was so unheard of and so misunderstood that everyone was afraid it was contagious. Today the news of cancer in that town is commonplace. The population of that small town hasn’t really changed but the thing that has changed is the use of toxic chemicals, synthetic fertilizers and the methods of producing foods.
And so arises the awakening of my passion to honor Mother Nature and enlighten and change the world one person at a time. It is my goal to help people understand the good, the bad, and the ugly of the food we eat and the water we drink. I am here to coach people to not only survive on a planet we’ve made toxic, but also to turn it around and become better stewards of the abundance and gifts we have been given.