I am excited to welcome to Nourish 360 today, Melanie Villeneuve, the beautiful woman behind the Nomadic Wife. I first stumbled across the Nomadic Wife on Instagram and was drawn to Melanie's welcoming, authentic, and encouraging tone around well-being and slow living.
Melanie has created the Nomadic Wife, a community focused on small shifts towards health, love & mindfulness through cooking, gardening, community & healthy habits. I was so appreciative to have this conversation with Melanie for her to share her wisdom and honesty around life, wellness, and community. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did, and gain inspiration from this lovely lady. And without further ado, our interview!
N360: Would you tell us a little about yourself and Nomadic Wife?
NW: The Nomadic Wife is a blog that also houses a little shop. Within the shop there is a cookbook that comes out every season. The Nomadic Wife is a vehicle for me to communicate a lifestyle that I really believe in. The highlight reel is basically a slowed down lifestyle. For some of us that find that a fast paced lifestyle is slowly killing us, the Nomadic Wife is a creative outlet to show you there is another way. It includes making your own food, being mindful about what and who you bring into your life, and whatever it means to the individual to create a slow living way of being. I am native to Montreal; born there, raised there and when I turned 16 I moved to California and that is where I finished high school. From there I found myself traveling to New York, Turkey, Istanbul, Hong Kong, mainland China, Singapore, so I had this thing for packing one bag and moving to another country. And that is where the 'nomadic' part of the Nomadic Wife really comes from. Its also what really inspires me to create all my recipes. It has been the women I have met along the way throughout my journeys that have made all of these dishes from local ingredients and have been doing it for generations. I find something incredibly beautiful about being in these women's kitchens and that has been a big creative inspiration for me.
N360: Is there one anecdote that stands out to you from your travels that still speaks to you?
NW: One memory I have is from my time in Istanbul and being with a friend of mine whose mom literally took all day to make one recipe that we ate in about ten minutes, because it was that delicious. She made it with so much love and the meal was so patiently executed. She just relished in the fact that the whole meal disappeared in ten minutes, even though it took her all day to prepare. For me, the lesson in there is when you're doing something really out of love it is never work. Its about creating that atmosphere around what you do. And when you're in this moment of pure dedication to the people around you, its just magical. I speak about a handful of words in Turkish and she probably spoke half of that in English, our views are different, we live in very different lifestyles, but despite that, the amount of bonding that was able to take place over food was genuine and incredible. There is something about food that brings people together.
N360: In this world of health, meaning so many things to so many people, can you give us any thought on what it means to you to live a healthy lifestyle?
NW: My answer for me personally and my answer for the population at large are slightly different. For me, living a healthy lifestyle means that I try to manage my stress actively day to day. When things feel like too much, I force myself take a step back. When I put too much on my plate, I have the conversations that I need to have with the people involved in order to slow things down, or move what we are doing a little further down the path. It means being respectful of how my body feels and how much stress I can handle and what my limits are. On a more physical level, I like plant based foods; they serve my purpose. It doesn't mean I don't eat bacon because that happens too. My approach isn't a confined or boxed in approach where I am a 'vegan' or 'paleo' or whatever it may be. For me, plant based means creating a priority around plant based foods: fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and as local as possible. For others and how I bring the concept of being healthy to the world is to encourage others to take the time to figure out what healthy means to them as individuals. Start by asking questions: What is working for me? What is not working for me? If you feel like you need to run a marathon every year in order to feel healthy, rock on sister. But this chick doesn't run unless chased. A healthy lifestyle in a quick capsule is taking the time to question everything. The food you eat. The time you go to bed. The temperature of your shower. If you get out of the shower and you are itchy all over, chances are your shower is too hot. The key is finding out what works for you.
N360: One of things I love about following you is that you aren't about one way of living. I think that is really helpful for people to see that there is no one size fits all or quick solution. And I love how you are encouraging people to be intuitive without being harsh or restrictive. How do you weave these concepts into your cookbooks?
NW: I include a lot of life philosophies in my cookbooks so they aren't solely recipes. I include meal planning support and general ideas around what I believe are key to living a healthy life. The idea that carrying guilt around is not the way to be and figuring out what works for you. In the beginning of the most recent cookbook, there is a section that instructs people on how to make the cookbook their own. And I hope people do make it their own. And even though all of the recipes have been tested and taste great, at the end of the day if you can't digest cabbage, don't eat a cabbage salad. The idea of these books is to create a foundation upon which people can build on the techniques of cooking or how to plan a week and how to build a food culture in their household that suites everyone's needs.
N360: I love that! Of course everyone has a different way to start their morning and routine that helps them set the tone for their day, but could you give us a snapshot of how you start your day?
NW: My mornings look really different based on the season. We are in spring right now, so a typical morning is me waking up and stretching a little. Salutations to the sun really serve my body well so I generally start with that. And then doing my darndest to stay away from my phone as long as possible. Some mornings it works and other mornings it doesn't but I try to go out of my way to not touch technology during the first moments of my day. I usually make a large cup of coffee and while I'm trying to reduce my coffee intake, I just need my morning cup of coffee. From there, I do a lot of planting in the morning because we have a large herb garden. I do a lot of watering and tending to the plants. And then I'll get my day slowly started business wise. I do eat breakfast in front of my computer, which I don't recommend, but if you need to check your e-mails to make sure nothing is on fire, I get it. I do however take lunch computer free. In the summer, the garden is in full swing so I get outside right away with my cup of coffee and do some weeding and transplanting and whatever needs to be done and then get started with my day. And in the winter, I sleep in.
N360: Do you have any people or books that you look to for inspiration that have made a big impact on you?
NW: One of the books that always comes up for me is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Brené Brown is such an incredible speaker and researcher that deals a lot with emotions and acceptance. There is a specific Ted Talk by Brené Brown that really spoke to me. It includes this powerful quote, "If you are not in the arena, getting your butt kicked too, I'm not interested in your feedback." (Link here)
N360: One thing we talk about with other women at Nourish 360 is how to deepen connection by being vulnerable. Is there anything you can share that you struggle with at times or something that is imperfect about your life?
NW: Absolutely. I truly believe I am a culmination of imperfections. Everything I've done or gone through, even the victories, have often felt like a struggle. I've often thought I am not worthy of the victories. And I think that is what in part, makes me strong. Stuff gets really difficult, but there is a lesson to be learned. I've shared on my blog how I've dealt with addiction and through high school the struggles I have had dealing with anorexia as a way to control things. It is important for me to tell people where I come from and who I am, and a part of that for me is that I was depressed for such a long time. I felt outside of my body and numb and everything was too much. So many components of my life came crashing down and I think that to some degree everybody has had those moments in life and everyone can relate to the struggle. The way that I'm sharing it on my blog is by sharing my story, but also how I am dealing with it. And I think its important not only to acknowledge that there is struggle and that people are dealing with real issues that are pushing their life in one direction or another, but to also give them all of the tools I have. And it may not be what they need. And the people who have responded to this, my actual tools have not been helpful, but the fact that I have tools has been helpful. Its given others a little hope to find their own. I think that one thing we can all cultivate within ourselves is resilience. Because when you have that, no matter how deep the hole gets, no matter how dark the season of your life is, you will know that you will get to the other side. And I think that has saved my life multiple times over. Just the knowledge that, "I've got this."
N360: Thank you so much for taking the time to share your wisdom and work with our community. Where can we learn more about you and what you are up to?