ann keatingI have been told that in order to live a fulfilled life, you should do what you were interested in doing at the age of 8. Well at 8, I planned to be a doctor. As a teenager, I became very curious about alternative therapies, such as acupuncture. In the 60’s that was considered woo-woo. Hardly anyone in the U.S. had even heard of acupuncture. I remember reading an article about it in Time magazine. In college, my interest expanded into the powers of the mind and the mind-body relationship, and I majored in psychology.

I head to grad school, not med school:
Sometimes you don’t get what you wish for, and it turns out to be one of the best things that ever happened to you. Following college, I applied to medical school – twice, and was not accepted. I was devastated and confused.  I had always planned on becoming a doctor, and I had received good grades and a Stanford education, done well on the entrance testing. I had never considered that I wouldn’t get in. So, rather lost, I applied to graduate school in pathology and decided to do research into why people get sick and stay healthy. In the first two years of my graduate program at University of California, San Francisco Medical School, I took the same classes as the medical students. The more classes I was exposed to, the more grateful I became that I hadn’t been accepted to medical school. I realized I was far more interested in natural modalities that fostered healing on a very deep level.  However, the best part of the experience was that I learned enough science to make sense of the other healing modalities I was exploring on my own, and through the experience I made some great connections with some MDs who were also thinking and practicing outside the box.  I developed a passion for healing modalities aligned with nature and which considered the whole person.

Following graduate school, I spent some years putting on conferences related to holistic health and producing a publication for physicians and practitioners. After a while I got “practical”, gave up my dream and joined the corporate world to pay the bills. Holistic health was still in its infancy in the 70s.

My family’s legacy – diabetes
My mother’s mother was diabetic. She had a stroke and eventually went blind. My mother cared for her mother in her home for 10 years. In addition to her mother, my mother’s sisters were all type 2 diabetics. Around age 70, my mother was diagnosed with diabetes. She followed the basic dietary directions from her physician, which were minimal, and took Metformin. When my daughter was three and mother 83, my mother had a stroke and both her life and our relationship were never the same. She spent most of the rest of her life in a wheel chair and eventually went almost completely blind. I cared for my mother for 12 years in my home, watching the diabetes ravage her. She died at the age of 95, and I knew that I could have done better if only I had known how to help her. I just knew she was meant to live to be over 100. She didn’t get to see her only grandchild become an adult.

Enough was enough. I didn’t want to go down that diabetes road too, and have my daughter caring for me as an invalid. And, I developed a passion for helping others avoid this very avoidable experience, as well.

I head back to grad school “for retirement”
With my mother’s passing and my daughter entering college, I took a hard look at the long lonely days stretching ahead of me. I asked myself how I wanted to spend those days, and I decided to create the life I had always wanted. I had always wanted to help people heal themselves naturally on a deep level, and by gosh it was now or never. I pursued and received two new master’s degrees. The first in Nutrition and Integrative Health, and the second in Health and Wellness Coaching. I further completed the testing and requirements for a CNS designation and became a licensed nutritionist in Maryland. I offer consultations in my own private practice and lead workshops, work part-time as a nutritionist in an Integrative Physicians’ office, and I am a teaching assistant for graduate courses at Maryland University of Integrative Health.