Today we’d like to introduce you to Julie Ward.
Hi Julie, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start, maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers.
There are so many pivots and growing moments to my story. It’s really about change, allowing both my spiritual and mental evolution to grow unapologetically into being fully me. It’s been an interesting road, one that has truly taught me appreciation for myself, the lessons I have learned in life, and that the Universe has my back—so why not have fun.
My life has always been different. I never wanted the things I was supposed to want…college, a job, a house, two kids, and a car. Even though I went to college and brought a house, I always wanted adventure, to see the world, do business with different countries and have experiences of a lifetime. So, in my 20s, I started to travel. It was life-changing. It was the first time that I realized traveling could be mind-altering, inspiring, and lead me to change the trajectory of my life. I returned to finish graduate school and then went back to Zimbabwe for a year, working at the University of Zimbabwe.
The first pivot: I realized I loved to travel and wanted to share my experiences with others. I started a travel service taking people to different countries in Africa to shop and experience festivals. It was a blast…until 9/11. During my trips, I discovered the most beautiful fabric from Nouakchott, Mauritania. Mauritania voile is this colorful, flowing, soft fabric that reminds me of a summer breeze. I had this desire to find the most beautiful fabrics and jewelry from around the world and bring them to the U.S. for to designers to make clothing that embodied the human spirit and combined cultures. I imported Mauritania voile, wax prints form the Ivory Coast, Suzani hand embroidered fabrics from Turkey, scarves and shawls from India, Shipibo textiles from Peru, and anywhere else I travelled. I loved everything about this lifestyle, business, and traveling during the summer. I often made my year’s salary in just a few months with commissioned trips and custom orders for businesses such as Anthropology, Barneys and Neiman Marcus, as well as on stages with top entertainers. It was a great time of life, but it came to a halt in 2008; 75% of my business went out of business.
The second pivot: This transition was based on what I had already been doing in my life. I did not want to go back to school to get another degree. I believed that whatever was next for me was already in my life. I had been on a plant-based diet since 1987, giving up meat, dairy, and fish after college graduation to relieve my constipation and alleviate my depression. It worked. At one of my dinner parties, a friend told me that she thought I was in the wrong business—that I should do something with food. I thought about this amidst the economic implosion and the end of my textile and jewelry business, and decided to start Fresh Food Alchemy, designed to assist people in transitioning to a healthy plant-based diet to help them heal.
The third pivot: I realized that healing is about more than just food. It’s about the connection of mind, body, and spirit. I watched people do really well with food for a while, but then slide back to old habits. I’ve done it too, and I learned that it’s about how we treat ourselves, how we see ourselves connected to this world and to God. It’s about releasing old habits, old thoughts, and old traumas that keep us from being our best consciously expanded self. So, I created Spirit Alchemy, which is designed to help people be gentle with themselves while healing and discovering their next steps to live a fully realized life, using nutrition, mindset work, and fun to deepen spiritual connection.
I have been on a spiritual journey quietly for most of my life. I never talked about religion or God, nor did I always go to church. But I grew up Methodist and the church was a big part of my childhood. My spirituality expanded during my travels, being more inclusive of cultural and indigenous practices that combine reverence for humanity, Nature, and God. I combine both Shamanic techniques, herbalism, and science of mind/metaphysical knowledge with my Christian upbringing to help people elevate and open their minds and hearts to their own purpose on this planet.
People can work with me in many different ways.
– I do Shamanic readings via zoom and in person at the Spiral Circle in Orlando
– I do fun herbalism, mocktails, and tea meditation workshops in the area for organizations and corporations
– I offer nutritional blueprints if someone is need of a diet update but does not need regular coaching
– If someone is desiring to create a life they love, I have a program called Divine Nutrition that is offered in both a group setting and one-to-one. It’s especially for women on the verge of a transition in their life. We create lifestyle practices that incorporate nutrition, spirituality, and play for more energy, clarity, and increased intuition to identify and live their desires “out loud” as they experience the joy of aging gracefully. It’s a lovely experience and based on all the techniques I used during my own transition.
We all face challenges, but looking back, would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I think “smooth” is a matter of perspective. If we live long enough, things happen in life. It’s more about the things that motivate someone to change to become who they are in the moment and our perspective on what has happened. Have I had ups and downs? Sure. I embarked on this life depressed and not happy in my teens and early 20s. I just didn’t like the life I had or the experiences I had growing up with people. I found no solace in being me, which I think is why it was always so easy to pack up and see the world. It was part escapism, part adventure and curiosity. I wasn’t being stagnant; I was in motion around the world. One day I caught up with myself and found myself feeling terrible while in another country. I’ll never forget calling my dad and explaining that I didn’t understand why, after all these years, the trip didn’t give me the energy boost it normally did. He simply said, “No matter where you go, there you are.” It took me a few more years to understand that I had the power to make the changes.
It was always being still that was difficult. To heal, I had to sit with myself and all those thoughts that I learned as a kid that I didn’t like. I had to face them, recognize that they were not true, and release them. The negative things we tell ourselves get in the way of our health, receiving unexpected goodness, and being fully who we are.
There was a moment years ago when I made the physical connection between my thoughts and how I felt. I had been doing a lot of work on myself to let go of being depressed. It didn’t serve me any longer, and I was tired of being moody, sad, and angry. One day I was home making dinner. I had a great day. I sat down to watch something on T.V. and instantly felt bad. I had to retrace the endless sequence of thoughts running through my mind and grab the one that was so negatively charged that I felt bad instantly without question. I remember finding the thought and being so angry—because I knew it wasn’t true. Then I spoke to that thought, told it that it was not true, and replaced it with the truth about myself—and I instantly felt better.
The ending of the textile business and travel business felt terrible at the time, but they lead to something equally new and wonderful. I still travel, but now I talk about the intersection of spirituality, nutrition, and play. In 2019, I gave a talk in Geneva at the Vitafoods conference on the topic of Plant Based Nutrition and Depression. It was my story of how I started my health journey simply to feel better and not be depressed. As I was putting this talk together, I was able to find scientific proof of why changing my diet healed my constipation and alleviated my depression. Of course, the mindset and spiritual work was also a huge part of the healing. It was nice to see mainstream science catch up with what holistic practitioners have long understood.
In terms of your work and the industry, what are some of the changes you are expecting to see over the next five to ten years?
I think the health industry is realizing that not one modality works for everyone. People are different, and it takes more than one technique, herb, or food to heal. We now have functional and personalized medicine which is great. Healing mental health now includes nutrition plans.
Some mild mental health issues can be treated with food alongside therapy and medication. I think we are going to see more combination of wellness modalities and spirituality, along with more research on the gut microbiome. I started my health journey based on healing chronic constipation, which I found out, as I did research, also occurs hand in hand with depression. The connection of the Brain and gut is huge, and I can’t wait for the new things they will find.
- Shamanic Readings range from $55 – $99
- Individualized Nutritional Blueprints $497
- Divine Nutrtion is a customizable 8-week program. Contact me for pricing.
- Corporate wellness workshops are custimizable. Contact for more information
- Website: www.freshfoodalchemy.com and spiritalchemy.net
- Instagram: @_spiritalchemy
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/freshfoodalchemy