For naturopaths, educators and ‘opposites’ Randa Karzon, 50 and Amie Steel, 37, what started as a work association evolved into an irreplaceable connection and the friendship of a lifetime.
I was introduced to Amie when we started tutoring together and I thought she was a goddess. She had such confidence, yet at the same time there was no ego about her at all. There was just pure presence. I wondered who this amazing woman was, and we quickly became close friends.
Because I’m older than Amie you’d think we had a mother-daughter dynamic, but it’s not the case as she has so much wisdom. I describe her as my soul sister, and there’s a lot of truth that comes with that, as I can be who I am and she can be who she is. But we also speak our truths and challenge each other with the security of knowing it doesn’t mean we are going to lose the friendship.
People never get it when I call Amie my best friend. And that’s because we come across as opposites in so many ways – she’s tall and I’m really short just for a start. She has this high-flying business career and I come along looking like a hippie. But that’s just part of who we are – Amie has a deeply spiritual side and I’m also confident on the academic side. Society sees her academic achievements, but underneath the suit she is very much mother earth.
Amie is such a multi-faceted woman – she’s both a wild horse and a born leader. She’s forthright, strong and very ‘left brained’, and anyone who knows her will tell you her ability to process information quickly is magnificent to watch. She’ll get it last year and I’ll get it next year. But Amie’s taught me that is ok and that I am more than capable of achieving great things – it just has to be at my own pace.
I see one of Amie’s most special qualities as her ability to accept people’s personalities and see people for who they truly are. This has given me the confidence to stand in my truth. Our friendship has taught me I don’t need to justify or validate myself and that being a pleaser can be detrimental to my health. I come from a Middle Eastern family background where girls can sometimes be forgotten, and Amie has helped me realise I have a right to stand up and express myself. What a gift!
This has also played out professionally. I’ve just submitted my first paper to publish, and I remember saying to Amie that the next paper I write will stir up a few people in our profession. And she was the one to say “Good – that’s just what our profession needs!”.
I have so much belief in Amie. She is the person I look up to for being herself fully and living truthfully. I also have so much respect for her commitment to advance the naturopathy profession globally. This isn’t just a job to her – she lives for it. People don’t realise how much time Amie has spent outside of work rallying and doing everything in her power to protect and further our profession. She has so much dedication for the wellbeing of our planet.
We went through a tougher time years ago when I was quite harsh to her and wouldn’t back down for a period. But I received the biggest gift possible from her, and that was unconditional forgiveness. There was a time when my husband had a stroke and I didn’t want to burden her with the news as she was going through her thesis. When I eventually told her she understood why I had held off, but was also really disappointed. She said ‘You have always chosen to be there for me – did you ever stop to think I want to be there for you too?.’ That moment always stuck with me.
I tell my naturopathy students the degree is like a self-development course on every level. For me my relationship with Amie was like doing another degree. From the moment we met in the supervisor’s clinic I started to grow again. She’s the person beside me accepting me and believing in me unconditionally.
I met Randa 15 years ago when we were both tutors at the Endeavour student clinic. I loved her free spirit straight away – her passion and love of the world and everything in it. She’s incredibly intelligent and committed to every aspect of her life. Each of those qualities are amazing, but to find them all in the one person can really take you by surprise.
Randa is someone who very quickly invites people into her personal world, and so it didn’t take me long to form a connection with her. I’ve always felt blessed that she considers me such a close friend, as I know she could have a special connection with anyone she wanted. That’s the type of person she is.
I’ll always remember inviting Randa to my wedding at the end of our first semester of working in clinic together. She was so overwhelmed she started crying, and I was so moved by that. Randa is someone who recognises the importance of all the big moments in a way many people easily disregard these days. She makes everyday things special and makes special things amazing.
In many ways Randa and I couldn’t be more different. I’m very analytical, spend a lot of time in my head and can be quite reserved, whereas Randa is a free spirit who lives in her heart space. She’s someone who thinks nothing of showing up to clinic wearing fairy wings, and here I am in my suit giving presentations at conferences. We’re very yin and yang in that way. We walk such different paths but have the strongest connection.
From writing curriculums together to being each other’s rock through some trying times, we’ve gone through a lot. And I love how it’s built this rich tapestry between us.
Sometimes I find it frustrating when I watch her ignore her own needs. She’s that person who will offer you her seat if you walk into the room, or give away her last piece of food. She always sees the good in people and will do everything in her power to make sure people are cared for. It’s a beautiful thing, but occasionally I wish she’d look after herself more.
Interestingly, we don’t actually do a lot of socialising together. We both lead such full lives and spend a lot of time with our families. We’ve actually only had one ‘for no reason’ social occasion over the last year. But our relationship is deeper than that. It’s a fixed force in the world – it just ‘is’. When we do see each other we talk about the real stuff – no small talk.
When I found out I was pregnant with my son [Asher] it was an absolute no brainer that I would ask Randa to be his godmother. Randa made the time to be there with my closest family in the waiting room until crazy o’clock when he arrived. Having her in that precious circle in that moment in time was so special to me.
I’d describe Randa as my quiet strength. I remember being nervous about my first live TV media appearance, and I pulled out a jewellery set she had given me because
I know that by wearing it I would have her energy with me.
Having Randa in my life has inspired me to have deeper connections with people which has been such a gift. She makes me want to be a better person in the world. The love between us is unconditional – we understand inherently who the other is. She is one of the people I’d call if I was in a difficult place, and she knows that I am that person for her. More than anything, she’s my right arm. She’s my best friend.
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