TONYA PAPANIKOLOV: THE WELL WOMAN


by Meagan Henry

Tonya, who can also be found as The Well Woman, has been a brilliant inspiration of mine throughout not only veganism & herbalism, but in art and aesthetics as well. She creates this very breathless, very purposeful ballad upon everything around her. I have yet to taste one of her plant-based creations (as she lives up in Toronto, a city still on my list) however, their essences I do taste through her vibrant images. They instill such insight in me about how to curate my plant plate  those colors, and textures and shapes! Her words below are super beautiful, I must let her take it all from here . . . 

 

THE WELL WOMAN INTERVIEW FOR STEELE HENRY

Where do you come from? What elements of that place has impacted your journey thus far?

There is my more logical answer to this question, that I come from Toronto, was born and raised and spent early life growing up in the suburbs and around The Beaches.

And then there is my more intuitive and imaginative answer. Since I was a little girl I’ve had many vivid dreams and connections to space and the cosmos and beyond. Trusting in those imaginations, curiosities and intuition have impacted my journey far greater than anything else. I like to imagine we all come from somewhere far beyond our current earth-based habitation. 

 

THE WELL WOMAN INTERVIEW FOR STEELE HENRY

 

What is your work?

I’m a holistic nutritionist and plant-based chef.

I do a lot of chef work for clients, families and restaurants / cafes, which can include menu and recipe development, pop-up dinners, private events. 

With The Well Woman I create food and wellness concepts and experiences. I work with clients for nutrition consultations. 

My work really is an extension of me and my beliefs. I treat it as an art. I feel incredibly lucky to be doing what I get to do, sharing knowledge, educating and supporting the health of people and our environment. 

 

THE WELL WOMAN INTERVIEW FOR STEELE HENRY

 

What creative endeavors do you feel drawn to at this time?

Right now (and always) I’m drawn to food. I’m drawn to nature (it’s spring / summer in Toronto), I’m drawn to creating visually stimulating work using the bounty of our earth, using plants as food. For sustenance and reverence. 


THE WELL WOMAN INTERVIEW FOR STEELE HENRY

 

How did you learn to tap into your intuition? Now, what are some of your rituals in doing so?

It’s easy to tap into it as a child, that’s when we are the most connected to it. I haven’t lost this ability to tap in and I think that’s because as a child my parents did a great job of celebrating my uniqueness, creativity and imagination. 

It also comes through when I dream. My dreams have always been incredibly vivid and powerful. I have strong gut instincts and have become better at trusting them. I surround myself with incredible women and get to collaborate with them often. We talk about ideas rather than other things and this is refreshing and always stimulates me creatively. I tap into my intuition through meditation and I try to let that guide my actions. Creativity for me is a visual practice, I look at old books or the work of artists I admire. 

 

THE WELL WOMAN INTERVIEW FOR STEELE HENRY 

 

As the wellness world gets more saturated, what does "holistic, or healthy, living" entail for you?

The words have definitely become more diluted. For me being healthy and living holistically is about integration of the whole. That means integrating every part: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, environmental and beyond. It means acceptance, eating well, drinking water, enjoying myself, doing meaningful work, trusting my intuition, meditating, embracing challenge, choosing with discernment, self-awareness and exploring my shadows. 

 

THE WELL WOMAN INTERVIEW FOR STEELE HENRY

 

What does "Beauty" mean to you?

Beauty can be something so ordinary, like a fallen ginkgo leaf on a side walk. Nature has an obvious kind of breath-taking, show-stopping beauty. We’re all visual creatures so of course, beauty is a visual experience. But it also stretches far beyond that. I think beauty has a lot to do with the energy we’re giving off, our magnetism and confidence. All that good juju comes from within. 

 

THE WELL WOMAN INTERVIEW FOR STEELE HERNY

* all imagery comes from tonya's instagram. any appropriate photographers are mentioned in her original images there. 

 

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