Living Naturally Abundant

To begin my story, I have been on this path since I was a child and getting rushed to see the doctor when I had an asthma attack. I strongly desire to impact the communities American community to live a long healthy life. As a child, I viewed doctors as heroes who protect the weak, ill, and vulnerable. I grew up wanting to become a doctor. For most of my childhood, I would say,” “I’m becoming a doctor to ensure my family is healthy.” In my younger years, I didn’t identify what I was interpreting about food and health. Indeed, I lived in a food desert and couldn’t find fresh fruits and vegetables; if not to purchase, at least know these options existed. Furthermore, that childhood experience played a role in my development around not valuing my health. I needed to gain the education and culture of why it is essential to eat nutritious food.

I didn’t know drinking soda and sugary items would create a condition in me that healthy eating was a “Rich thing.” When I turned 18, I began working at a local bank and met my 1st communities entrepreneur. He owned a construction company. He was a confident and humble man who would deposit a large number of checks. I felt a tug of energy when he told me, “Phil, you’re bigger than working at the bank. You belong out in the community. Your personality is great.” Eventually, I changed my degree from a science major (Pre-Med) to business management. This change in my degree was a big transition for my family and me. They didn’t know what to say but to support my decision. I stayed in Chicago instead of going to Louisiana to focus on medicine because my mother didn’t want me to be so far from the family. That decision had a snowball effect I will later get into. With me staying in my
hometown, Chicago, most of my close friends went away to school. I didn’t have anyone close to me. The church that provided youth services ended, and I wasn’t involved in any other extracurricular activities. I became bored and felt myself “chasing” something external. I found myself going to parties and chasing women. In 2002, we lost our home.

Not only were my friends away at school, and the church that kept me “off the streets” ended its youth program, but now I had to move out of my home, neighborhood, and haven. I was devastated. At this point, I ended up living with my grandmother for four years. No one in my family talked to me and asked, “how are you?” or hired a professional therapist to see what was happening. I didn’t realize what was developing in me. I was depressed and didn’t know how to express my feelings, so I kept my feelings to myself. I kept the frustration, anger, and sadness behind a smile. Fast forward, I chased too many women. Having sex became a drug to numb the pain I experienced. I didn’t know of any other outlets. I abused myself. Soon, I met my children’s mom and had my first beautiful child, Aiden, a few years later, in 2006. Understand this, mental health and healing are my personal life’s stories. When I became a father, I discovered art. I used poetry to vent. I wrote over 300 pages between 2003 and 2008. That helped me vent and express my emotions without imploding. At that moment, we were living below poverty, and my health wasn’t that great. We ate TV dinners and lots of sugary snacks to curb our anxiety and hid our depression. A doctor told me that I had signs of a pre-diabetic, and my asthma worsened. We made the most of living in Chicago, but at this time, I knew I had to move to a new location to raise my family. I was invited by my brother to move to Minnesota. I continued to exist and survive on the same trajectory: living check by check, unsatisfied with my life, and disappointed with myself for having kids young; however, I held onto hope that I was worthy of living a better life. In 2016, my children’s mom and I finally decided to split. We divorced in January 2017. I realized I was repeating a cycle of generational trauma like what I experienced living with my parents. I had to heal for the sake of my children’s future. The process ends with me.

With a new perspective on life, I started going to art galleries or anywhere I thought it would be fun and spiritually inclined. I changed my diet to eating non-animals or dairy products. I began to grow my hair out and hung out with people with positive energy about themselves. I went to an art gallery and met Kenneth Caldwell and Ta-coumba Aiken. Two of the Twin Cities finest painters.

Ta-coumba spoke with wonder and life. I felt his energy, and I felt something unique inside of me. When he told me, I knew it was something there and that I should share this moment with the community. That day, I decided I needed to produce a film based on how artists used art to promote well-being and inspire individuals to be creative. This film was a direct reflection of my life. Even though I was under stress, trauma, and even my past, I didn’t let that define my present. I knew I was destined for more. I ended up producing three more films and countless other videos for organizations. I found life’s purpose because I’m a creator and curator of space and storytelling. I began to see myself as who I was and what was inside of me. I began to heal and practice positive self-reflection. I developed a good reputation in the community. When I changed my mind, my life truly changed. From having children to battling depression, purchasing a home, and starting a photography and videography business, one more thing was going to transform my life. In 2013, my grandmother developed Alzheimer’s disease. I was devasted.


My grandmother had a love for cooking. She loved large gatherings, like in the movie, “Soul Food.” During that period, our family gatherings were large. I give credit to my grandmother for teaching me many life skills. I learned how to cook from my grandmother. I knew storytelling was essential as she told me stories of her childhood and life. I want to change the way people see and understand their health. When I was young, I didn’t have the information I have now. My grandmother is one story of a person impacted by ill health. I love being an artist, organizer, and community leader in health and wellness. I left behind my beautiful mother, father, and sick grandmother to find work. And what I found was my divine life’s purpose: to serve my people. Everything I’ve been through has put me on this path to create and curate spaces for healing and health. In 2020, my excellent partner and I walked around a lake.

We saw McDonald’s trash, chips, liquor bottles, and candy wrappers everywhere. The more I thought about it, the more I envisioned healthy eating. I decided to organize a health and wellness festival called V-Fest. I started my organization, Living Naturally Abundant. Living Naturally Abundant is a community health and wellness-focused organization. The mission is to empower people through educational activities to promote healthy lifestyles. We encourage improving the culture and community through festivals, conferences, pop-ups, and more.