Hi there!  My name is Carissa Bender.  I am thirty-six years old, but feel more like 27.  Not that age (or the feeling of age) has any relevance or bearing on why you're here, but I thought you should know.  I'm thinking I will feel about 27 for awhile as I'm enjoying this spot, so don't expect updates on my age for at least a decade or two.

I live in Dundas, Ontario, with my wonderful husband, Kevin, and Rottweiler-Lab, Oscar.  I teach middle school students at an inner-city school in Hamilton.  I love what I do, and I realize how fortunate I am to have found something that I enjoy, but that also pays my salary.  Besides teaching, my passions are photography (all photographs on this website are my own), outdoor pursuits, various team sports, and learning.

Nutrition, plant healing and alternative wellness have always been central themes in my life.  My mother brought us up on a whole foods diet, before it was given that title.  In recent years, after meandering away from these principals, I have experienced the beneficial impact on my body when I eat whole foods that agree with me.  I love finding new recipes that help me stick to this way of life, while still being able to savour foods that traditionally contain intolerances or sensitivities.  My interest in food and nutrition pairs nicely with (insert favourite drink here) the fact that I love to eat, and there are often new creations being tested in our kitchen.  I enjoy learning about how we can use food to encourage our bodies' natural ability to heal, and how alternative therapies can support that process.  I am also fascinated with the abundance of healing options available, literally, right at our feet.  I feel as though I am just beginning to understand and make use of the power in food and plants to help and to heal.

That being said, I am also keenly aware of the irony as I sit here eating a sour key.  I don't even love candy!  (Chocolate is a different story.)  I just feel like eating something tasty right now and I'm out of healthy snacks from today's lunch.  Aaand one of my students gave me a sour key.  What was I supposed to do?  I would consider myself a realist, and understand firsthand how difficult a lifestyle change can be.  It is gratifying to know that I can control my cravings (most of the time) and be more in tune with my body.  

Through my interactions with various alternative health and wellness practitioners, I have gained an even deeper understanding of how we can heal ourselves and lead healthier lives.  I began this journey in late high school when I learned about naturopathy during a treatment visit to a physiotherapist for a sports injury.  I decided to visit a naturopath, and a whole new world of nutritional support suddenly appeared.  During my undergrad at McMaster University in Hamilton, I studied kinesiology where I learned about nutrition, movement, wellness and the human body.  I then spent a year backpacking through south-east Asia, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.  Through my interactions and experiences, I started questioning the principals behind western medicine, and why they often conflict with those of eastern medicine.  I believe that there is a balance that has not yet been achieved in our society, but that more and more individuals are attempting to find on their own.  I slowly began replacing store-bought cleaning products with homemade, and in recent years our kitchen has seen the trials and tribulations of natural skin care remedies.  I had no intention of starting a business, but after positive feedback from gifts to family & friends, and some serious conversations about the demand for these types of goods, I have taken the leap.

My wish is that people have access to relevant information in order to make the best decision for their well-being and longevity.  I support many different healing methods and interventions, and feel that there is a 'right answer' for each individual.  I am hopeful that the synthesis of some of my learning can be shared, and used to assist others on their own adventures.  I also believe that we are more influential when we support each other in the journey towards wellness and the health of our planet.

May you find your path in health & happiness!