Reassuring because sitting in my first herbal medicine class, I felt like I had chosen a path of study that was like coming home. I was elated to be there, and hungrily mopping up the teachers' words. Not gritting my teeth in strong disagreeance with the lecturer, vowing to do things differently once I graduated!
One of the things my herbal manufacturing lecturer said really stood out for me:
"In life we may meander, take a convoluted path, or get-side-tracked. But if we persist, we are always drawn back to our true purpose, one way or another." Diana Bowman
In my class there are people in their 50's who have deferred following their dreams until their kids left home. Others who began their study a decade or more ago and had to stop when life (sickness, pregnancy, deaths, financial restraints) got in the way, who have now picked up the scent to follow the trail again. Others like me who have been in allied health for a few years, and want to widen their scope with some holistic sideview mirrors.
Looking back, I sometimes feel regret at not choosing naturopathy as my first degree (and consequently racking up a sizeable HECS debt!).
But I shake that regret off when I think of all I have learnt along the way. I feel that I needed to go through an entire veterinary science degree, to travel and live overseas, to do my masters in (mainstream) dietetics, to practise on my own as a holistic dietitian in a climate where dietitians are usually anything but... all part of nourishing my basic desire to heal using every tool I possibly can, whether that be allopathic or natural medicine. Whether that be for humans or animals. Whether people are rich or poor, sick or healthy.
Naturopathy is the closest thing I've found the embodies this wide-viewed approach. I love that we don't need to choose one over the other - natural/complementary medicine over mainstream medicine. We can choose both. For example, if someone with cancer decides to take a chemotherapy treatment approach, they can mop up the damage with herbs, nutrition and lifestyle changes and drastically reduce the harsh side effects of chemo.
Ironically, I remember telling my year co-ordinator and SOSE teacher in Grade 9 that I wanted to be a naturopath. Her advice was to "choose something else that better used my intelligence." A similar thing happened in Grade 11 when I talked to my careers adviser. Not that my convoluted path was their fault! I believe all my experience has enriched my life deeply, and given me a huge appreciation for being where I am, now.
"The wild woman is the source, the light, the night, the dark, and the daybreak. She is the smell of good mud and the back leg of the fox. She is the voice that says, "This way, this way."
Clarissa Pinkola Estes
In case you were wondering, I am continuing to practise as a dietitian. It's just that once I've graduated I'll be dual-qualified as an accredited practising dietitian and a naturopath, which is exciting!
A nutritionist first and foremost, I will always believe in the immense power of food, and will ALWAYS look at diet as one of the primary targets for anyone looking to improve their general health or move past their health issues.
Although I've nearly lost count of how much uni I've done (this is my third degree - gulp!), I do seem to have a sick affinity for study and have not stopped doing online courses, informal and formal mentorships, and in person trainings since I graduated from dietetics. Plus I decided it was time to put all those excuses and fears to bed and JUST DO IT!
I look forward to sharing my journey with you and all the loops, dog legs and hurdles that will inevitably pop up along the way!