Hi everyone, and welcome to my blog! I’m excited to get started on this journey with you. I’m also excited to expand my writing skills so bear with me while I figure this out. I’m sure that with time I’ll get better.
I want to start by giving you all a little background about me and this blog. As you probably guessed by now, I’m Madi. I was born and raised in sunny South Florida with my 2 parents and 3 siblings. I grew up as a relatively chubby child in comparison to my peers, which seriously damaged my self esteem growing up. Around the start of middle school I started hanging around with a group of people who were negatively impacting me. I have always been extremely compassionate, friendly and empathetic and I’ve learned over the years that people LOVE to take advantage of that. Luckily, around that time of my life I started traveling, which slowly started opening up my eyes to the world around me.
Once I started high school, I began swimming every single day with the high school team and quickly found a group of friends who were positive and uplifting. I was never very fast, but my coaches were patient with me and always gave me chances to compete. Around that time, I realized that if I kept up the lifestyle habits of my childhood, I was going to be obese by the time I was in my 20’s. My mom had always been a health fanatic (she’s run 27 marathons y’all, I don’t know how she does it) so I asked her to help me lose weight. I think that was when I started falling in love with health, fitness and cooking. My mom started showing me alternative ways to cook instead of frying everything, fun ways to add more veggies into my diet, and how to season my food so that it would taste good. She also started run/walking with me every afternoon before dinner. After a while, I was able to find the motivation to run on my own. I also continued traveling, from Costa Rica to Hong Kong, from the Dominican Republic to South Africa, I traveled all over to world. And with that, my excitement of food and alternative ways to health grew even more.
My service trip to the Dominican Republic was one of the most defining aspects of my life to this day. Looking back, I regret that the way I was helping people was not sustainable, but I formed relationships with people who I still talk to today. My first trip to the Dominican Republic was with Global Leadership Adventures. While there we built houses, schools, cook stoves, and planted trees. Every single night, we watched a movie and talked about the importance of health and sustainability. That was really when I started looking at food as medicine and my interest in alternative, holistic health began. It is also where my interest in global health grew its roots.
Once I graduated high school, I went to Clemson University to study pre-medical sciences. Still torn between medical science and public health, I was taking a mixture of courses to cover both. After my first semester, I decided that medicine wasn’t for me and focused all of my attention on public health. I studied abroad in Spain and worked with the Red Cross. Again, this opened my world up to new foods and flavors and ways of living. Once I returned, I decided to get my Masters Degree in Global Science. I applied to the University of Notre Dame, was accepted to their accelerated Global Health graduate program, and began studying there in 2016.
My studies at Notre Dame continued to challenge my old ways of thinking. I learned so much about sustainable health and the importance of community. My colleagues played such an important role in my time at Notre Dame as well. One of my colleagues in particular was a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. She served in Fiji. Her passion for Peace Corps reawakened a fire inside of me to help people at the grassroots level, and I applied for Peace Corps Peru at the end of 2016. In early 2017, Peace Corps sent me an email saying I was accepted, but that they wanted me to serve in Cameroon. Never saying no to an opportunity, I accepted the invitation and prepared to leave for Cameroon in September 2017.
They always say that the Peace Corps is the hardest job you’ll ever love. I’m still trying to find the “love” part. In all honesty, my Peace Corps experience was HARD. And I’m not talking about the living conditions (I can live without electricity and running water and toilet paper). It was so difficult for me on a social level. The cultures that I had worked with before Peace Corps were always so excited to work with me. I found that the communities I worked with in Cameroon were not. I found that they didn’t want to work with me, they wanted me to do all of the work. This was EXTREMELY challenging for me. It shattered all of my expectations. I can’t even tell you the amount of times I was completely taken advantage of. After my first year, I was completely burnt out and depressed. I was exhausted trying to find people who were passionate about their community, about their health, about anything really. So, during my 2nd year, I decided to sit back and be patient. My village was VERY traditional village though, so work almost didn’t come at all. I spent a lot of time in my house alone. I don’t want to lead anyone to think that this is what life is like in the Peace Corps, because it definitely isn’t. A lot of people in my cohort had very positive experiences. I’m still searching for the positives. A few that I found are that I found my soulmate (who I married just this past March!), I met one of my best friends, I learned a new language, I had endless time to expand my growth in yoga and Ayurveda, and I learned just how resilient I am.
Since coming back from Cameroon, I have been working for a small popcorn business in south Florida. I practice yoga almost every single day. I study Ayurveda regularly. And I’m trying my best to reacclimate to life in the United States.
As for this blog, it has had a long and lonely journey. I started this blog in 2015, and wrote for maybe 3 months. Since then, it’s been pretty bare so I’m starting fresh. I plan to use this blog as a glimpse into my life and experiences involving health, fitness, travel and relationships. I plan to share recipes, workouts, travel guides and tips, and things that have worked in my partner and I’s relationship. I’m excited to share with you and I look forward to learning from you too!
So to kick this off, I want to ask 3 questions to get to know you better:
- Where are you from?
- What has been the most defining moment in your life this far?
- What are you currently interested in?
Can’t wait to read your answers!
With love and happiness,