"To keep the body in good health is a duty... otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear."
There's no denying the fact that western medicine made huge leaps in healthcare in the 20th century. Whether fixing broken bones or eradicating debilitating diseases, its practitioners revolutionized the way humans interact with their environment. But given western medicine's unhealthy obsession with separating body functions from those of mind and soul, it also engineered some spectacular disconnects. Yes, we abandoned the myths of our superstitious elders for the science-based dogma of our contemporaries. But how much did we lose in the process?
Fortunately, the pendulum is swinging back some. Indeed, the whole idea of health care in the 21st century — at least in the west — is about trying to find ways of re-connecting body to mind and soul. It's not like we're dismissing what science has wrought. But that's not enough anymore. Yoga, meditation, marshal arts and physiotherapy, the slow (and local) food movement... these are all manifestations of a newfound appreciation for a more holistic approach to health and wellness.
Now I know this doesn't come as news to most of you. After all, the Sea to Sky corridor is a virtual nexus for this this way of life. What fascinates me, however, is the proliferation of passionate young people who are setting themselves up in this valley as healthcare providers for a new age.
Magdalena (Magda) Regdos is one such person. She comes from a long line of caregivers — her grandparents were doctors, her mother was a dentist — and she always assumed that she would follow in their footsteps. Alas, the science-based pre-med courses she encountered at university didn't resonate with her. She was far more interested in dealing with people than with theories... hence her decision to switch to a more hands-on profession. Which totally shocked her parents.
But I'm getting ahead of myself again. Let's go back to the beginning.
"I was born in Poland — in Krakow," says the thirtysomething massage therapist. "But my family emigrated to Canada when I was five. Times were tough in Poland in the early '80s, and my dad, a mining engineer, was able to find work in New Brunswick." The town where they settled is called Sussex, and that's where Magda would spend the next thirteen years of her life. "It wasn't all that big a town — probably around 30,000 people — and everything revolved around the mine..." She stops. Smiles at the memories. "But it was a really safe place to grow up."
Soccer was Magda's first love, and she was good at it, really good. But in wintertime, when it got too cold to play, she and her friends mostly hung out at the local ski hill. She laughs. "It's called Poley Mountain. And it has all of 12 trails and 600 feet of vertical." More laughter. "It even has a black run called 'Fanny.'"
Celebrated as the "biggest ski resort" in southern New Brunswick, Poley might not have much of a profile on the national level, but for Sussex teenagers, explains Magda, it was all they needed. "Getting a ski pass was the thing to do back then. Sure, we'd go to hockey games and stuff, but skiing was the biggest thing."
Magda graduated from high school when she was only sixteen. But her education, she says, was just starting. With no college in the immediate area, she decided to move to Halifax so she could study kinesiology at Dalhousie University. Why kines? "It sounded like sport medicine to me," she explains. And smiles. "But really, I just wanted to play soccer..."