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It’s been a hard road getting here.
But, finally, it’s happening.

“Well, we’re a happy bunch,” I found myself saying a few weeks ago. My family was trying to get through four major surgeries, and I had just broken my ankle the day before the birthday that I share with my sister. This on top of trying to breathe life into two start-ups in the Pandemic Year. “Trying.” Trying this, trying that, trying again. Every time I “try” this year, the best I seem to achieve is to stay afloat. Every time I plant a crop, it is destroyed just before harvest, eaten by the metaphorical locusts. Me vs. 2020-as meme culture would say.

However. Even when the harvest has been delayed, the soil remains. And the soil commands us to work it, to bend with it, to plunge in elbow-deep and prepare it to nourish.

The Global Wellness Lab has already been many things in my mind: a practitioner training program, a virtual face-to-face health coaching platform, a quirky design lab for people who want to change the way we do healthcare both inside and outside the U.S. But for our core mission, I landed on something closer to my heart: holistic health advocacy and health sovereignty. Standing up for ourselves and for each other in a million different contexts.

COVID-19 has made everyone aware of our interconnectedness. Health is not a solitary affair. We can argue about how to best support each other during global health crises, but we cannot deny the urgent need for mutual support and aid. In this global moment, we can also suddenly see how relationships, our environment and community, and our collectively-held beliefs directly influence our personal wellness.

But the opposite vision of reality–that wellness happens in a vacuum and emerges solely of individual choices and chances–is deeply rooted in the Euro-American way of life. This mindset gifts us with false agency. We just aren’t powerful enough to change everything in our health through lifestyle changes alone.

I say this as a second generation holistic medicine kid. Even though there’s a deep vein of individualism in our community (ahem, lifestyle and exercise medicine), a truly holistic view of health necessitates a bird’s eye view. It’s not just about the “whole person,” it’s about person + people + situation + society. Or, as as we refer to the four dimensions of health here at GWL: your body, your relationships, your environment, and your health system.

We gotta give our body what it needs in terms of nutrients and nourishment, but if our relationships are dysfunctional, or our community’s water source is contaminated, or our health care professionals refuse to let us share in the decision-making process … we’re not going to attain the personal wellness we want.

Beyond my history in holistic health care, as a geography teacher, I am unable to separate people from their environments. We are what we eat, and who we interact with, and where we are planted, and what we believe. My health is all these things, and so is yours.

Our goal at GWL is to help you:

  1. Explore the four dimensions of health and how they affect your personal wellness.
  2. Build wellness strategies based on the unique combination of the four dimensions in your life.
  3. Co-create support networks and communication tools to make your plan possible.

As we say here in the Corn Belt of the U.S., plants in your cornfield should be knee-high by the Fourth of July. Well, the Global Wellness Lab isn’t knee-high. But it is ready to be planted. That’s the best I–we–can do.

~Miranda Brist

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