A dog, a vet, and finding your passion

Feb 11, 2018 | Musings

We are the loving family to two Boxers, Bruno and Ella; litter mates who will turn ten on the 19th of this month. They are everything and more that they say about Boxers. They are full of energy, ridiculously silly and they think that they are really only the size of a Chihuahua and that they can both easily sit in the same chair with you, which results in them sitting on you.​

Approximately 3 years ago, Ella began suffering from episodes of diarrhea. Sadly Boxers are known for their sensitive tummies. We would take her to the vet, provide stool samples and although tests came back negative or inconclusive, we would walk out with antibiotics or antiparasitics. Her symptoms would improve for a bit, but always came back. This went on for over a year. In addition to whatever prescription the vet gave us to try, I began playing with her diet; adding turkey, pumpkin and slippery elm, as I had read that these things can be helpful. Again, symptoms would lessen or improve, but never completely resolve. After a particularly difficult time for her, I brought her back to the vet again. This time feeling more frustrated as there had been no real answers and she was now losing more weight; and she was already tiny for a Boxer. We were told that they could give her steroids and they recommended a biopsy as soon as possible. When I asked why they would give steroids without any confirmation of issue, I was told that it’s standard treatment for “this sort of thing”. I wasn’t satisfied. I went home, and began researching. I remembered years ago, a colleague of mine had talked about a holistic vet that she brought her animals too, and what a great experience it was. Because of my experience with our Naturopath, and appreciating and valuing alternative approaches to health and health care, I made an appointment for his next availability.

The day in March arrived and we went to see the holistic vet, Dr. B. During that first appointment, I felt an immediate ease and was confident that we would find answers. He asked what I thought the issue might be and what I had been doing. I shared my thoughts, what I had done and why. He told me that he would have likely started out with a similar plan, so due to this, we were already ahead of the game. I began to cry. ​

When asked why I was I tearful, I expressed how I felt validated. How I had brought her to our vet time and time again, never having a resolution. I was also tearful because I had begun to be fearful that we would have to say good-bye to her sooner than any of us would have wanted. He asked when in my life I had the same experience of not being heard and feeling validated. I immediately flashed back to when our daughter was 21 months old and after months of going back and forth to the Doctor; again never having a resolution, things escalated and we ended in hospital. We took her home armed with determination to not have it happen again. It was after this that I became an active participant and advocate in our family’s health. Read more of that story here.

He stood up from where he was seated, invited me to stand with him. He put his arm around my shoulder and turned me towards the large window in his office. I stood there not knowing what to expect. He pulled up the blinds, looked out the window and asked me what I saw. I was unsure of the “right” answer as I was staring out at the parking lot of the building next to us. His response when I told him I didn’t know: “It’s Spring; a time of growth, of rebirth, new life, of change. You know what you need to do. Trust and listen to yourself”.

I didn’t know at the time what it would all mean, but I knew it was important. ​

Ella and I arrived back home; Ella with a new diet and some new nutritional supplementation recommendations, and me with a whirlwind feeling in my head. My partner was working out of town and my parents were in town visiting. I wanted to run in and tell them everything about my experience, but I didn’t. I didn’t know what to say; it wasn’t just what Dr. B. had said, but it was what I felt when he said it. My body vibrated and the top of my head was electric. How do you explain this without sounding ridiculous? Instead, I called my cousin to share what had just happened; I knew she would get it…and she did.

That day at Dr. B’s office ignited a spark. I began sharing this experience. My partner, I’m sure thought that I had lost it, but he listened. The more I shared, a theme began emerging. I had to figure out what this meant to me and what I needed to do about it. Friends told me I should become a Naturopathic Doctor; but that didn’t resonate (for many reasons). Others talked about doing something with nutrition, at first I brushed it aside, but wait…they may be on to something. I didn’t know much about Holistic Nutrition, but I began looking into it and the more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. It sounded amazing! Looking at the body as a whole – how each part of us; mind, body, and spirit is interconnected and communicates on a cellular and energetic level, and how the body wants to be in balance was fascinating to me. When I casually shared all of this with a colleague, she said she knew the manager of a local nutrition school. She connected us and we met for lunch. It was during that meeting that I became even more sure that this was in fact something I wanted, no, needed to do.

I went home, very excited but also very nervous, and the self-doubt began creeping in. I mean who did I think I was? How can I go back to school? I have a young family; this would put so much more on the shoulders of my partner. How could I think that I could, not just go back to school, but then teach and help others about nutrition? I mean, I’ve struggled with my own health issues throughout my adult life and still in the early parts of my own healing journey at times. Why would anyone trust what I had to say?

In spite of this, I jumped.

You see, when we find a passion that wants to push us outside of our comfort zone, to challenge us, the mind’s first act is to protect us from change; to keep the status quo. We tell ourselves that we can’t do it, that we’re not good enough, etc. Change is scary. But the other thing about finding your passion – sometimes you are driven to leap anyway. When all of your old messages, thought patterns, fears of failure, and so on come crashing over you with waves of self-doubt…you just jump.

When I began sharing with people, friends, family, colleagues, and even my Naturopathic Doctor that I was going back to school to become a Holistic Nutritionist, they all said the same thing; “of course you are”. It made me chuckle every time I heard it as apparently I was the last to know.

Later that summer, I brought Ella back to Dr. B. for a follow up. She was doing great, and we had ultimately reversed her irritable bowel disease. I laughed as I shared all that happened in the time since our last appointment. He looked at me, gently smiled and quietly responded that “Paths cross when they are meant to and when we find our passion; our only responsibility is to pay it forward”.

Thanks Dr. B. I’ve again seen firsthand how diet, nutritional supplementation, and energy work helps restore balance and health. Ella is a healthy and energetic senior who still acts much like a puppy.

This part of my journey began in the Spring of 2016 with a visit to a vet. With a young family at home and working my full time job, by September 2017 I was enrolled in the accelerated Natural Nutrition program at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. I would work all day and head to classes 2-4 evenings a week.

My first class, we spent a lot of time talking about water. I left class, sat in my car and cried (see, told you it’s what I do). I felt at home with my tribe, I was recharged, and I was grateful.

The funny thing about what happens when you’re following your passion, it doesn’t feel like work. Don’t get me wrong, it takes a lot of work, but it just feels different. As tired as I was some days after working all day or staying up late to study, when I walked into that school at 6 pm, it was like plugging in my charger.

How lucky am I that at this stage of my life, I found a new passion; what I want to be when I grow up. I can’t imagine being able to have done this without the incredible support of my partner and daughter. They encouraged me, supported me and gave me the space for me to discover this new path.

​You never know when or where you will hear the Universe speak, but when you do and you decide to jump; surrounded by your tribe – things just work.

Mandy Faulkner

A Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Advocate, Mother, and Partner who is helping others on their journey to wellness.

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