Few people are more aware of the connection between our personal mental, spiritual and physical health and the health of the planet than Candia Lea Cole. Candia is an amazingly creative woman. She is a nutritional alchemist, whole foods cookbook author, holistic health educator, eco-visionary, poet, social artist, and 21st century change-agent. In 2010, she founded Eco-Learning Legacies, LLC, an eco-education company online that offers e-learning tools, an eco-lifestyle curriculum, and online learning events that inspire awareness about eco-intelligent living.
The well-being of people and the planet has never been at greater risk,” explains Candia. “Now is the time to awaken your eco-intelligence and enter into a loving, caring relationship with your self and the earth that will help you to protect, nurture, and sustain life! As the founding mother of Eco-Learning Legacies, I love to support others in the process of awakening to their wholeness through the discovery in their lives of their innate eco-intelligence. The journey to wholeness is not always an easy one, but it never fails to be instructive! The instructions given to us by our bodies, minds, hearts, and souls, serve in my thinking, as the rich and fertile compost for our growth and development and ultimately, our potential to become empowered leaders!”
Recently I caught up with Candia and asked her to share her creative process and how she is using it to help change the world for the better. I was particularly inspired by Candia’s indomitable spirit and the way she has been able to transform truly challenging events into opportunity not only for herself, but for others as well. I hope you find her interview inspiring, too!
How did you get started doing the type of creative work you do?
Growing up, I experienced health challenges that resulted from my exposure to environmental toxins, first, inside my mother’s womb, and later, outside of it. Because doctors weren’t trained to treat environmental illness, I had to search for my own answers.
My mom provided me with educational resources and gave me exposure to a new breed of doctors who empowered me to pave a new path to wellness. I gained a deep understanding about (and appreciation for) the inextricable link between my health ills and the planet’s health ills.
After reconciling with the fact that the health of ALL people and living things were at risk, I chose to use my health discoveries to make a difference. I retraced the steps I’d taken to get well and unearthed the six ingredients of eco-intelligent living. These now form the basis of my ‘recipe’ for whole living and learning. The recipe feeds our need to be socially responsible (by answering to our ecological health crisis), ecologically responsible (by creating awareness about why and how to function as a sustainable whole), economically responsible (by creating new lifestyle production systems that place stewardship before profit alone), commerce responsible (by encouraging green innovation), and technologically responsible (by answering a need for online education that addresses our real life needs).
Tell me about the theme running through your work, and what it means to you and/or others.
The theme running through my work is: “It’s time to (re)awaken our eco-intelligence.” Eco-Intelligence, I believe, is a form of intelligence that we (and all living things) are born with, that guides us to live in balance and harmony with our personal ecology (our bodies, minds, emotions and spirits), as well as our planetary ecology.
What does (re)awakening our eco-intelligence to me and others? It means reclaiming the intelligence that fosters our ability to survive and thrive on the planet. The major health ills affecting men, women, and children alike today, such as birth defects, infertility, cancer, autoimmune diseases, and autism are a reflection of the ills affecting the earth, including species extinction, natural resources depletion, and climate change. And, we are the pivotal generation who must begin to make long term sustainable choices, to bring ourselves and our earth back into balance.
The young leaders of our future desperately seek Earth saving solutions, but they may not know what steps to take next in their lives, in order to enact them. What will fuel their sense of hope? Who will empower them to live well on Earth?
My curriculum training offers to be an educational legacy that supports the reawakening of our global culture’s eco-intelligence. This legacy, given by parents and educators to young people, will support them in taking immediate action in their lives, to STOP making unconscious choices that harm our ecological health and well-being, and START making conscious choices that serve to heal it.
The clarion call issued by world scientists over two decades ago, to develop a new attitude and ethic for living well on the earth, has been drowned out by our over-stimulated lives, and our secret fear that we might not be able to make a difference. But, I believe in my heart that we can make a difference. Not all of us will see the changes we seek in our lifetime, but we need to initiate them anyway. We need to realize that the seeds of our actions matter in the world.
What inspires you?
Children and young people inspire me, and, so does nature. Children inspire me because they are open, tender, and truth-seeking. They also tend to live from the spaces within their beings that their hearts and imaginations occupy. And, we, as adults, I feel, need to live from these spaces more often, especially if we’re going to feel inspired about making a difference in the world. We can’t heal ourselves and the earth with the same mindset that got us into trouble.
Our minds, when used without the guidance of our hearts, can be a very dangerous thing, and there’s evidence of this all around us, when we look at the health ills affecting mankind and the earth. These ills didn’t just happen. They developed over time as the result of our decision to gratify our ego wants, rather than gratify the deeper desire of our souls, to be in a healthy relationship with life. Life is so precious and nature offers to be a lifelong friend from whom we can derive so much wisdom for living well.
Everything that I’ve learned in my own life about physical well-being and spiritual wholeness has come to me, through my conscious connection to nature. Mother Nature symbolizes so many beautiful things to me: She is a source of medicine… she is a community of life from which I derive a true sense of belonging…she is a source of inspiration from which I draw my own sense of beauty and power.
I have learned that, by taking time each day to observe nature, and to appreciate its power and beauty at work, I can embody those qualities. Embodying nature’s qualities is a way for me to connect with something much larger than my personal self alone. And, that’s empowering!
What obstacles have you struggled with in your creative life?
One of the obstacles I have struggled most with, especially the past several years, is my ability to move beyond the creative aspect of my work and into the world with my work.
In my work, I often function as a channel for divine inspiration and guidance. As a channel, I need to be very open in mind, heart, and soul, and, I need to be able to listen to guidance that I receive at any hour of the day and night. In the fifteen years that it has taken me to develop all of my educational products, I have not always been able to have a solid foot in the physical world. My work has asked me to spend time accessing non-ordinary realms of reality and going into deep meditative states of consciousness in order to find the words and meanings that my work is intended to share with humanity, and even create the new world strategies for marketing it.
How have you overcome these struggles?
I am still in a process of overcoming my struggles. Eight years ago, in the course of creating my work, I became utterly exhausted. It was if I was a mother who had given birth to octuplets (in reality, 8 books) and I had endured a process of hard labor (prior to the birth), that had lasted for many years. In my fragile state, I made a mistake. I pushed myself to go on a business trip to meet an education expert in California. During the trip, I did not feel so well, but, it was when I got home that my whole world turned upside down. In the 4 years following my trip, I was nearly 100 percent disabled by a rare medical condition that is thought by some, to be Mal de De Barquement Syndrome. This is a condition that affects balance and equilibrium. For me, it manifested as the sensation of riding in a turbulent jetliner, and walking on slanted floors. To this day, I still struggle with these bizarre symptoms, though to a lesser degree than before, thankfully.
What I have been realizing about my condition all along is that, even though it feels to me that I am riding out my own dark night of the soul on earth, I feel that I am also participating (as a woman who is deeply connected to the earth’s healing) in a necessary shift that is taking place on earth, of massive proportions.
Shifting, it should be said, is not always comfortable. There are days when I don’t want to be part of the shift anymore. Shifting requires me (as a leader) to know the reasons why we need to replace old, destructive paradigms with new, sustainable ones. But it also means being ready, able and willing to lead the masses in a new direction for living, which is no small assignment! Yet, just when I feel ready to give up, I get another spiritual insight…I find another helpful remedy, and I experience yet another level of healing. Healing is an amazing process, I’ve discovered, and, it is what I came to earth to do in this lifetime. Not only for my own benefit, but for the benefit of many.
What have you been working on lately?
I’ve been working to create a variety of educational tools for individuals and families that offer to support them in awakening their innate eco-intelligence, the intelligence that guides them to live in balance and harmony with the earth. The educational tools that I’ve created, including whole foods cookbooks, games, and holistic health curriculums, strive to make people aware of the connection between our personal health needs and our planetary health needs. My company’s signature product is an eco-lifestyle curriculum I’ve created, known as ‘The Bring Back the Earth! Eco-Learning Legacy & Eco-Mentor Leadership Training.’ The curriculum (designed for online use by individuals, as well as parents and teen), is all about bringing back nature’s lost feminine wisdom for living well in today’s world. This is the wisdom that invites us to cooperate with nature and nurture a sustainable relationship with it, rather than dominate and conquer it.
How are you getting the word out about your work?
I have been playing with Social media for the past several months and that has been a fun learning experience. I have a lot more to learn about that. More recently, I have been busy creating a webinar that will serve to introduce my curriculum and learning legacy to parents and teens. I’m really excited about the possibility of openly sharing my curriculum with the world, because for quite some time, it has been sitting as a gift under wraps. This is okay with me, because my work (I agree with some people), has been slightly ahead of its time. All good things take time to develop, and, in retrospect, it’s wise to give ourselves permission to step back and absorb what we have created, and imagine different ways of sharing it, with as many different people as possible.
What’s next for you?
I will be inviting a limited number of mothers and teenage daughters (ages 16-18 and up) with an interest in holistic, eco-intelligent living to join me in participating in my curriculum. I have beta-tested my curriculum training with college students (who have given me some great feedback and positive reviews), and, now, I’d like to see how teens respond to it. I think this could be a stellar opportunity for any culturally creative Mom who subscribes to an organic lifestyle, and who has the heartfelt desire to pass on a living legacy to her daughter that inspires awareness about how a healthy relationship with nature can help her heal and get in touch with her inner nature.
My curriculum focuses a lot on the joy of making sustainable lifestyle choices. But more importantly, it focuses on the personal and planetary relationships that we need to nurture in order to feel healthy, whole, and inspired. Relationships, I know, in my heart, are the key to our health and happiness.
What advice would you give to someone who is wishing to live a more authentic life?
Living an authentic life is the most important thing we can do. Because of my own needs to find wellness when I was a teenager dealing with environmental illness, I opted out of attending college and I embarked upon a path of self-healing. This path led me to explore my authentic real-life needs, and meet them through an awareness of my needs as a whole person. I studied hard, met many wonderful teachers, and abandoned the social conditioning which had originally led to my un-health and unhappiness. In the end, I used my life lessons to create something of value for myself and humanity.
Everyone, I recognize, must choose for themselves the educational pathways that they believe will best serve their authentic personal needs. But, what we all need to remember is that, as a culture, we have an authentic collective need to care for and protect our health and the earth’s. If we don’t honor this need now, what will the future bring? I think most of us are beginning to realize, that, life will go on, only if we help it go on!
For more information on eco-intelligence or to find out more about Candia’s eco-learning curricula, visit Eco-Mentor.com.”