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Adventurous • Passionate • Caring

Her Story

Brenda Tapp

Naturopathic Doctor - Clinic Director of Peterborough Centre of Naturopathic Medicine

Brenda's Story :

I grew up living a very quiet life. As a child, I spent afternoons riding my bicycle along my street, climbing the tree in my front yard, and exploring the forest behind Highland Heights Public School. It instilled in me a sense of adventure for my small world on Hemlock Street. I was an avid student, always at the top of my class. As I grew up, my world naturally expanded beyond my neighbourhood, but I continued to follow the stereotypical trajectory many parents set out for their children (i.e., be a good student, achieve good grades, attend university, get a good job, and then your life will begin). I attended Trent University where I buried my nose in textbooks and proudly graduated on the President’s Honour Roll. I proceeded to attend naturopathic medical school in Toronto and became a naturopathic doctor. Up until 7 years ago, I equated happiness to an emotion facilitated by a set of circumstances. In my case, I equated happiness to high academic performance. However, truthfully I was not fulfilled.

Humans are programmed to seek what they know, so when I took my first major trip 7 years ago, I was stepping far outside of my comfort zone. I packed my bags and took part in a medical brigade on the tiny island of Ometepe in Nicaragua with Natural Doctors International. Nicaragua was eye-opening. The scenery was more beautiful than I expected, but what really struck me is how generous, kindhearted and positive Nicaraguans are. They live their day to day life being grateful for everything they have, whether it be the ability to go to work, a bicycle for transportation, a roof over their head, or the presence of their entire family under that roof. The sense of community was palpable. Neighbors were practically family and I was in awe. Despite Nicaragua being one of the most impoverished countries in the world, many of the people I met felt rich in other ways. My perception of happiness began shifting from one of circumstance to one of choice. I started to realize that a sense of purpose, belonging, and love are things you can choose to feel regardless of physical or material circumstance. While it was incredibly intimidating for me to step outside of my comfort zone and travel to Nicaragua, I learned that taking the path less traveled is where you find the most profound reward. This has been my chosen path ever since.

A little over a year later I traveled to Haiti. Here I spent three weeks volunteering at a midwifery clinic. The women there had very minimal prenatal care, no prenatal visits with their obstetrician, and no emergency medications should something go wrong. With seemingly so many things working against them, these women always had a spark of joy in their eyes when they attended their appointments. My perception of what it meant to be truly content continued to change and so did my understanding of what it meant to live a satisfying life.

Every time I return home from my travels I feel invigorated and ready to share what I have learned with my community. It is still very important to me to build my career as a naturopathic doctor who focuses on integrative oncology and to be a successful female business owner (both which are certainly paths less traveled). It has become my life goal to help others learn ways to feel fulfilled. I want to help people feel a sense of purpose and to be truly happy. Happiness is not suffering until you achieve something great. Happiness does not come when you get the grades, the job, the car, the partner. Happiness comes when you gradually let in bits and pieces of joy, gratitude, and purpose. I’ve learned that there are mysteries, experiences, and fascinating parts of life that we won’t see until we step out on the wild side, and take the path less traveled.

 

 

I grew up living a very quiet life. As a child, I spent afternoons riding my bicycle along my street, climbing the tree in my front yard, and exploring the forest behind Highland Heights Public School. It instilled in me a sense of adventure for my small world on Hemlock Street. I was an avid student and always at the top of my class. As I grew up, my world naturally expanded beyond my neighbourhood, but I continued to follow the stereotypical trajectory many parents set out for their children (i.e., be a good student, achieve good grades, attend university, get a good job, and then your life will begin). I attended Trent University where I buried my nose in textbooks and proudly graduated on the President’s Honour Roll. I proceeded to attend naturopathic medical school in Toronto and became a naturopathic doctor. Up until 7 years ago, I equated happiness to an emotion facilitated by a set of circumstances. In my case, I equated happiness to high academic performance. However, truthfully I was not fulfilled.

 

Humans are programmed to seek what they know, so when I took my first major trip 7 years ago, I was stepping far outside of my comfort zone. I packed my bags and took part in a medical brigade on the tiny island of Ometepe in Nicaragua with Natural Doctors International. Nicaragua was eye-opening. The scenery was more beautiful than I expected, but what really struck me is how generous, kindhearted and positive Nicaraguans are. They live their day to day life being grateful for everything they have, whether it be the ability to go to work, a bicycle for transportation, a roof over their head, or the presence of their entire family under that roof. The sense of community was palpable. Neighbors were practically family and I was in awe. Despite Nicaragua being one of the most impoverished countries in the world, many of the people I met felt rich in other ways. My perception of happiness began shifting from one of circumstance to one of choice. I started to realize that a sense of purpose, belonging, and love are things you can choose to feel regardless of physical or material circumstance. While it was incredibly intimidating for me to step outside of my comfort zone and travel to Nicaragua, I learned that taking the path less traveled is where you find the most profound reward. This has been my chosen path ever since.

 

A little over a year later I traveled to Haiti. Here I spent three weeks volunteering at a midwifery clinic. The women there had very minimal prenatal care, no prenatal visits with their obstetrician, and no emergency medications should something go wrong. With seemingly so many things working against them, these women always had a spark of joy in their eyes when they attended their appointments. My perception of what it meant to be truly content continued to change and so did my understanding of what it meant to live a satisfying life.

 

Every time I return home from my travels I feel invigorated and ready to share what I have learned with my community. It is still very important to me to build my career as a naturopathic doctor who focuses on integrative oncology and to be a successful female business owner (both which are certainly paths less traveled).  I want to help people feel a sense of purpose and to be truly happy. Happiness is not suffering until you achieve something great. Happiness does not come when you get the grades, the job, the car, the partner. Happiness comes when you gradually let in bits and pieces of joy, gratitude, and purpose. I’ve learned that there are mysteries, experiences, and fascinating parts of life that we won’t see until we step out on the wild side, and take the path less traveled.