A Life Well Lived

Article by Krishna Everson / Photo by Annie Noon (Fotoforce)

I first met the delightful Anne Clark around 15 years ago by chance at a local market at Noosa Marina. She had just relocated with her husband Darryl and their young son Jay from Cairns, and was looking for a place to set up shop and connect with locals. You will still find her there most Sundays! Annie has educated thousands over the last 30 years through her health retreats in far North Queensland and the Sunshine Coast, speaking events, raw food and essential oil workshops, and a plethora of books including the renowned, ‘The Poo in You’ and ‘The Raw Food Cookbook’.

A raw food and gut health pioneer, Anne was sharing her wisdom on these subjects long before they were popular trends and recognised links to health and wellbeing. A prolific storyteller, Anne shares her insights with wisdom, humour and simplicity.

Anne was just 13 years old when her brother brought home his date who was a vegetarian. This became a catalyst for her early experimentation with food. Anne recalls, “I was watching my poor mum going into an absolute flap about what to feed us, so I suggested a really lovely salad. I said, ‘Come on, Mum, I’ll help you make it.’ As we’re making the salad, I’m looking at the burnt lamb chops… I don’t want to insult my mum’s memory but there’s this burnt, horrible meal that she’s about to feed us, and there’s this beautiful fresh salad for my brother’s vegetarian date. It was like the light bulb had gone on and I suddenly thought, ‘am I really going to continue to eat in this manner or am I going to do what Kathy’s doing?’ It was a little wake-up call. I decided to start saving for my first house at the age of 13 so that I could move out and have my own kitchen!”

Anne’s vocation as a health educator began in the eighties. She penned her first publication to assist customers at the health food shop where she worked part-time. Anne recollects, “I noticed a lot of people were coming in with no idea how to use some of the ingredients, like the dried chickpeas, the lentils, the gluten-free flours and other items on our shelves.” After suggesting it to her boss, Anne would experiment with ingredients at home, then come back to work with a recipe they would print out and put on the front counter. “I created a recipe book called, ‘Good Health Recipes from Breakfast to Tea’. I submitted it as my assignment for my nutrition course and I got an A+! In 1986 I published it. I remember taking the books over in brown paper bags to the post office across the road as I was getting orders for it. I went all around Melbourne and I sold this little book. I noticed that there was nothing available written in Australia that gave functional practical recipes for some of the ingredients that were being sold in the health food stores. That was my first go at being an educator. It was just a natural progression for me to make it less about cooked.”

By 1993 Anne had published ‘The Raw Food Cookbook’, the first of its kind in Australia, and travelled across the country with her husband Darryl selling it to health food shops who snapped it up because it was so unique. Anne has now published more than 20 books!

Anne is adamant that healthy eating is more than just the ingredients we use; it’s also other factors such as our environment, stress levels and mindset.

Her favourite saying is, “I believe the worst food eaten in a state of joy, happiness and relaxation can sometimes be better than the best food eaten in a state of anxiety and nervousness.” This was not something she recognised 20 years ago, but has been part of her evolution as a lifestyle educator. “I’ve come full circle with it all. Nutrition is about being comfortable and relaxed with what you’re eating, the environment that you’re eating in, and who you’re eating with.” Annie believes sitting down to a meal with a glass of wine and feeling happy and calm and comfortable, can actually be better than someone who is eating a wine-free meal uptight.

Anne overviews the nature of her work, “As a Lifestyle Health Consultant, I look at the lifestyle of my clients. They come to me because they want to have a change in their life and diet. They see me as somebody who can help facilitate that change without making them feel bad about where they’ve got themselves to. That’s a big key. I’ve had clients come to me that were in trauma because of the last practitioner that they saw. Not only did they see somebody that drained their bank account very quickly, they didn’t get a result.” Anne loves to be a catalyst for people to experience better health in a way that is meaningful for them. “I can help them with things like: what to make for breakfast or what the best movement might be for their temperament. Some people can’t handle yoga classes. Some people are good if you just give them a mountain to climb, or tell them to go play tennis, or put on their favourite dancing record or music and dance. That’s their movement. That’s much better for them.”

Anne takes a very holistic approach to guiding people on a healthy and fulfilling path. “Where I’m going now and in the future is more about helping people with their mental health, and perceiving their purpose and their role on this Earth.”

Anne emphasises that we need to reckon with ourselves and take the necessary time out to focus purely on rest and restoration. “That needs to be as important as paying your rates or maintaining your property or going to work, because what are you going to work for? I’ve hung around a lot of people who have passed away. No one lies on their death bed and says, ‘Jeez, I wish I had worked harder. I wish I had done more.’ The last things they talk about is the people they love. They talk about that and their experiences. My retreats wake people up to that as well. We really emphasise that in the content of what we’re teaching. We look at seven major elements. We look at how they’re breathing, what their definition of hydration is, how they’re nourishing their bodies with the food they’ve decided to eat, how they’re moving their bodies…we look at their mindset and what’s bugging them. They say stress is not so much what happens, but how you deal with it; your perception. You and I are on a roller coaster. If we’re really happy about being on the roller coaster, we’re creating endorphins, interleukins and interferon. If we’re not too keen about the roller coaster, we’re creating adrenaline,” she says.

As Anne heads into her 60th year she will be offering more retreats as well as collaborating and speaking at the events of others. “I’m feeling good about my purpose on this planet. It’s not about accumulating things; it’s about accumulating experiences and being able to give back to other people who are in real need,” she says.