CANDIA LEA COLE'S JOURNEY
(From Learner to Leader)
I’ve been living with environmental illness for most of my life and it has taught me so much about taking care of myself and living my life to the fullest. On February 23rd 1956, the day I was born, I could not have imagined that the chemical toxins I was exposed to in my mother's womb, would impact my life long health and vitality. But they did.
I was born with a dirty gene that didn't allow me to detoxify chemical toxins well, and that didn't work in my favor, when you consider the idea that I grew up during an era when nearly every product made, originated from toxic chemicals, and every food grown, contained pesticides, drugs, and hormones. My sensitivity to chemicals, I didn't realize at the time, was exacerbated by infections that I was dealing with, which had originated from bacteria, viruses, parasites, and mold.
Unfortunately, the doctors that my mom took me to see, in order to try and figure out what was wrong with me, didn't have the kind of training that would have helped them to diagnose and effectively treat my condition: environmental illness. The doctors we consulted with only knew how to prescribe drugs, which made my condition worse. Thankfully, my mother was forward thinking and way ahead of her time. She made a decision on my behalf, to explore the world of natural, non-toxic medicine, and I curiously followed in her footsteps.
As a newly initiated student of the natural healing arts, I was inspired to study books whose topics addressed herbal medicine, acupressure, massage, fasting, detoxification, clay therapy, and Chinese 5 Food Element Theory. I was fascinated by what I learned about all of these topics, and I eagerly experimented with the healing protocols that were suggested by the authors of my reading materials.
While studying about the role of nutrition in preventing disease, I also had the opportunity to learn about how food is produced for the masses. And that's when I became aware of the problems related to dousing foods with toxic chemicals, and raising animals in confinement operations. It dawned on me that if the earth was being made sick by industrial farming practices, I could not be healthy, because, as I understood, the earth's health was inextricably linked to my own health.
Adopting an organically raised whole foods diet was the best decision I ever made for my health. As I learned about the health properties contained in plant foods, I was inspired to experiment in my family's kitchen with the creation of meals that I imagined, would be therapeutic for my health, as well as the natural world's health. I prepared non-dairy milks from nuts, seeds, fruits, and flavorings, which served as "milk without the moo." I also prepared dairy-free fruit and vegetable smoothies, that I enriched with a variety of super foods and medicinal spices. And I prepared meat-less main dishes from ancient whole grains that I accented with legumes, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and herbs. YUM! All of these foods served as medicine for what ailed me, as they detoxed my body and rejuvenated my energy!
During this very fruitful time on my self-healing journey, my mom was invited to be on the board of an organization whose mission was to provide education about alternative forms of health care to people living with cancer and other disease conditions. Lucky for me/us, our home became a Bed 'n Breakfast for some of the health experts that the organization had hired to speak at our local meetings and conventions.
As fate would it, I met Dr. Paavo Airola, N.D. and Dr. Richard Barmakian, N.D., (pioneers in the field of bio molecular nutrition), both of whom were destined to become my friends and health mentors. Meeting these doctors helped me to know what a healthy doctor-patient relationship was all about. These doctors honored me and my self-healing journey when they prophesied that my health hardship was preparing me to (one day) serve others.
During the late 70's and early 80's, I use my newfound knowledge about food and nutrition to establish a natural foods catering service known as Gourmet Gatherings. Through this service, I prepared artistic gourmet food buffets for a variety of health care professionals living in my community. I later added Meals That Heal to my catering services, and cooked for people with special dietary needs.
In 1989, I was awarded the top honor in a cooking contest that was sponsored by the governor of Minnesota, to promote organic food and agriculture. I used my $1,000 prize-winning recipe to get noticed by a California-based publisher, (formerly known as) Woodbridge Press, which then published my first cookbook "Not Milk...NUT MILKS!" The success of my first title led to the subsequent publication of two others, including: "Gourmet Grains: Main Dishes Made of Nature" and "Super Smoothies! Taste the Nectar of Life!"
Throughout the 1990s, I served as a freelance food writer and food stylist, for popular magazine publications such as Vegetarian Gourmet, Woman's World, Vegetarian Times, Llewellyn's Gardening Almanac, Veggie Life, and numerous newsletters such a Dr. Julian Whitaker's Health & Healing Newsletter. I was also a guest on a number of national radio shows and local community cable TV programs, and I collaborated with grassroots organizations such as VRG (Vegetarian Resource Group) and FARM (Farm Animal Reform Movement) to produce school-related educational events that promoted eco-sustainable farming and eating.
During the mid-90's, after being invited to serve as a guest speaker and entertainer at a corporate green event, my soul's mission was awakened in me. This mission serves to support parents, teachers, and wellness educators in becoming role models for today’s youth, so they are prepared to live well in today’s world, and ultimately become everyday sustainable leaders themselves. Becoming a sustainable leader is all about living in balance and harmony with one’s self, the natural world, and all living things. It is about creating lifestyles that are clean, green, healthy, and organic, and which nurture our personal ecology systems (our bodies, minds, hearts and souls) as well as the planetary ecology that we are an integral part of.