Laura Dawn, Creator of Happy & Raw
I’m a holistic nutritionist, avid gardener and madly in love with real food. I’m the author of “Unhooked: A Holistic Approach to Ending Your Struggle with Food” and “Mindful Eating for Dummies” and have a blast catering events and running raw food retreats here in Hawaii. Over the past 10 years I’ve been on an epic journey of a lifetime in search of my hearts desire: to be healthy and to be happy – after many years of experiencing the exact opposite. I’ve traveled and explored places all over the world, studied nutrition at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition and have been experimenting with different dietary lifestyles to find out what truly works best for me. I’ve interned at different places like the tree of life rejuvenation center with Gabriel Cousens in Arizona and learned from very experienced nutrition experts like Dr. Douglas Graham. I’ve completed a wonderful yoga teacher training in Thailand and spent time in Asia deepening my understanding of meditation and the art of mindfulness. I’ve worked in the kitchen’s of raw food restaurants and spent years living off-grid and learning how to grow my own food on 150 acres of land in British Columbia. Now I live I live in Hawaii on 10 acres of gorgeous land.
It’s been a very full and busy decade of learning
This year, I’ve achieved the biggest goal of my life: After years of learning permaculture and farming practices in different parts of the world, in January 2014, my husband (Noah Dawn) and I bought a 10 acre raw piece of land here on the Big Island of Hawaii. Holy smokes, what a project! We’re dreaming big and working on building the healing retreat sanctuary that we’ve always dreamed of, where we can help people reconnect with the magic and awesomeness of our incredible food source – Mother Earth. I spend the majority of my days developing our land, and also developing Happy & Raw. This includes: planting fruit trees, developing the garden, weeding, planting new seeds, sourcing out plants we want to grow on our land and building structures (well I don’t do much of that directly, but cheer my husband on from the garden!) And then of course, there’s writing (lots and lots of writing), making and developing new recipes, photographing those recipes, managing the website, catering for events, consulting clients and planning raw food retreats and internships that get better and better. And on top of all that I (try to) spend time moving, walking, singing, dancing, swimming, reading, and snuggling with my hubby in front of movies and eating delicious food – yes, it is a good life, but trust me, it wasn’t always this way. I used to spend the majority of my days working in a job I didn’t like, feeling depressed, anxious, overweight and unhappy in my life, socially isolated, and very pale from lack of sunshine. I also used to spend much of my time obsessing about food, what I should and shouldn’t eat and worrying about how much I weighed. I thought sever restriction was the only way for me to “be good” and lose weight until I realized that I would constantly be self-critical and wish for my life to be different! Until the day that I did make it different. Want the full-length story of how I got to be living the life I’d always dreamed of but thought I’d never have? Keep Reading Here:
I was on the “fast track to success” and totally miserable
Few people knew the depths of my struggle with food – after all, I was top of my class and in a highly competitive and prestigious finance and portfolio management program at the John Molson School of Business in my hometown of Montreal. Despite the feedback that I received from my friends and family that I was “so lucky” and going to make lots of money, I was miserable. From the sheer stress of living a life I didn’t want to me mine, I turned to food for support – behind closed doors. And considering that most of the food readily available is packaged, processed foods, I fell into a horrible struggle with chronic overeating, leading to binging, leading to purging and caught in the vice grip of food addiction and disordered eating. I desperately wanted – needed – change, but I had tried countless times to ‘change’ – only to follow mainstream advice that would eventually and inevitably lead me back to where I started – overweight, bingeing, insecure and depressed.
And then it struck me…
One day, I had a crystal clear insight while wailing and crying my head off on the bathroom floor: that this didn’t have to be my life, and that I could choose the life I wanted to live and it didn’t have to be this. In that instant, I absolutely knew that I had to leave. I decided to leave my fast-pace, high-stress lifestyle in the finance industry and despite the enormous amount of fear that I felt, I gave up my apartment, I gave away everything that I owned, I packed a backpack and left – I left everything I knew to be true, in search of a better life – a healthier and happier life – and I never went back.
So I left to embark on the adventure of a lifetime: Part 1
This is a true story, I promise…
I initially left Montreal to explore British Columbia. I took several months to hitch hike across the whole province. The mountains, the fresh air and crisp river water, and the unforgettable festivals, all started to open my mind and heart to new possibilities. One day, a young smiling handsome man offered me a ride towards my next destination. We had a fun day together and parted ways with a smile, hug and wave.
After continuing on my journey, from British Columbia, I jumped on a plane with a one way ticket to China to find myself amongst more than a billion people. From China to Laos, to Cambodia to Thailand, in search of meaning, purpose and healthier way of life, I tuned into and started to listen to my inner calling to realign with my true values in life and I started asking the Universe for guidance to put me exactly where I needed to be.
One day when I was in Thailand, I felt a sudden and strong urge to hop on a ferry boat back over to the island I was staying on. When I walked around the town, I didn’t know why I was supposed to be there, but then all of a sudden, I bumped into the very same young man that gave me a ride hitchhiking in British Columbia.
As fate would have it, we fell in love. We traveled for a month together and then parted ways once more as I embarked on another solo mission to Australia for a year of exploration. After that time, we met in Mexico where we travelled the coast surfing and lived in a van together for six months.
Ironically, I moved home with him to the same town he gave me a ride in, now several years prior. I moved to his beautiful land on 150 acres in British Columbia where I learned for the first time in my life how to grow my own food and live in a more sustainable way. It was a huge time of personal growth for me, as I finally discovered real food, an experience I never knew I was even missing out on.
Growing up, the food in grocery stores was all I knew to be true. I didn’t know that picking a heirloom tomato ripe off the vine was a completely different experience than buying a tomato designed and engineered for commercial production. I feel in love with food, real food and finally started doing an intense amount of inner work, soul searching and reconnecting with my food at its source, finally healing my disordered relationship with food.
When people ask me how I discovered raw food, I tell them that it found me. I literally fell into a raw foods lifestyle as my diet shifted towards eating the foods I was growing. I was surrounded by an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables and this naturally became the predominant part of what I ate. (I promote a high raw lifestyle. My personal philosophy is more about eating real food than it is about raw food.)
From the moment I discovered the joys of real food, I never went on another diet again and my weight has been stable for longer than I can remember. I was not only feeling amazing in my body, but I was thinking clearer and feeling inspired, motivated and grateful for the life I had was now stoked to live. I knew I had to share this “discovery” with the world and make it part of my life path to help others find health and happiness through reconnecting with real food.
This is when I made it part of my life to study nutrition, yoga, meditation, alternative modalities of healing and continue to deepen my direct connection to Source – Mother Earth.
And then it was time for me to embark on another adventure: Part 2
After spending years on the land in British Columbia, I knew I had to continue on my journey as I felt my heart calling to fulfill this mission to help others. I eventually found myself in Hawaii, where every single cell of my body said “Yes!” to being here. I met my husband to be, a wonderful chef and organic farmer and purveyor of all things magical, Noah Dawn.
With Noah as my right hand man, we started Sacred Source Nutrition together, catering events and running raw food retreats. He worked while I got my health coaching practice off the ground and I wrote my first book “Unhooked: A Holistic Approach to Ending Your Struggle with Food” which was way more challenging and took way longer than I could have ever imagined.
Then Wiley Publishing contacted me and asked me to write Mindful Eating for Dummies, starting book number 2 before book number 1 was in print. Now both books are expected to be in print around the same time: in the fall of 2014.
After learning an incredible amount about starting and marketing a holistic business, in 2014, we decided to rebrand to Happy & Raw.
This brings us full circle to the present, where we just took another major leap of faith and bought our dream land here in Hawaii – a 10 acre property to call our own and create the vision of our dreams; a healing sanctuary for others to come rest, heal, reconnect with nature and the incredible magic of real food. We’re creating a place for people to come and heal their relationship to food by simple spending time learning how to grow it, and live with feet firmly rooted to this earth.