Good Morning, an interview with Natalie

Meet Natalie Papanikolov. She is equal parts beautiful, steady, creative and wise. The foundation that she is grounded in is immovable and I often marvel in her ability to just brush it all off. Whatever comes her way she accepts without wavering. This quality exists because she is rooted in who she is. She knows herself and has a calming energy that spreads to those around her.

I’ve had the honour of growing up with a gal like this. Sharing everything from beds to barbies to boys (I promise it’s not as bad as it sounds).

Our connection extends further than blood and best-friendship, we are connected in a similar way to that of twins. We look the same (so we’ve heard). We are two years and two days apart. More often than not we show up wearing the exact same thing (all the time). Our parents mix up our voices over the phone. But more importantly, we feel what the other feels.

Despite our similarities, those that know us also know how different we are. Unlike me, dominated by Yang, there exists a serene and Yin-like quality to Natalie. These complimentary yet opposing forces symbolize us as a unit. Because that’s what we are, a unit.

Natalie is one who understands the importance of making time for herself. She has a giant smile that lights up a room. Her inside world is a true reflection of her outside world. But go ahead and read it for yourself.

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Describe who you are (right now) and what you do:

I am Natalie, a graphic designer residing in Toronto, currently working full time and doing freelance work. I enjoy all things colourful, humorous and edible. Also, cats.

What are your morning rituals? What’s the first thing you do when you rise?

I have always been an early riser, I jump out of bed and hit the ground running. I start my day with a Matcha Tea (I am obsessed) as I wait for my water to boil I say a few affirmations to set the tone for the day. My creative juices flow strong in the morning so I like to get any freelance work done first thing.


Do you believe your mind and thoughts are clearer in the morning?

100%, my creativity stems from the calmness and serenity associated with mornings. A good night’s sleep refreshes me and I am ready to give meaning to all my crazy thoughts.

What sparked your interest in nutrition? Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to play an active role in your health?

I have always been healthy but it wasn’t until I got sick a couple years ago that I really started to evaluate what I put into my body. I was in and out of doctor’s offices and have seen almost every type of practitioner. An experience like that definitely acts as a pivotal moment in ones health. Now I only believe in eating fresh, whole foods, and cooking with real ingredients.


Let’s talk food. What are you eating for breakfast?

Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day and something I wouldn’t dare skip! Generally I am having a smoothie with kale, banana, blueberries, cinnamon, Sun Warrior protein and almond butter. On weekends I might throw eggs into the mix or an Acai bowl from Bolt mmmmmmmm.

Coffee or tea?

Please don’t make me choose….


How have food allergies changed your relationship to food?

My relationship with food has been both positive and negative. We grew up in a health-conscious home but I would be lying if I said I didn’t abuse my body with the occasional McDonalds meal. When I got sick with a parasite, my relationship to food totally changed. Everything I ate made me sick and I developed a food phobia. It has taken me three years to get back to a good place with my diet, After recovering, I developed a gluten allergy that for a long time I didn’t want to acknowledge. But I continued to suffer until I listened to my body and eliminated gluten. I finally understand the importance of good food and the crucial role it plays in my well-being.


What is the best piece of advice you can give on listening to your body?

Accept what you feel. I have a really difficult time listening to my body, I tend to push past and ignore any warning signs. Accepting what I feel allows me to slow down and heal.


What led you into your field of graphic design? Were there any ah-ha moments where things just felt right?

I have always been a creative person and at a very young age I knew I wanted to be working in a creative field. I always had more of a connection to the applied arts, where it is necessary to work within constraints from the beginning of the process. I first found out that I could pursue graphic design as a career when I was in high school. I immediately knew it was the right path for me because it would allow me work with typography, layout and composition, which I knew I loved.


Does the quality of your morning affect the rest of your day?

Yes I would say so. Morning rituals are so important and it’s the only time I have for myself. I don’t like to be rushed in the mornings and if I am my day is off. I always wake up half an hour before I have to, having that time to myself is so important and really helps me sort my thoughts.

What does holistic living mean to you?

Balancing all aspects of life. Our physical, psychological, and social needs should all be taken into account and seen as a whole. One should not be more important than the other, I think having this awareness and understanding of balance is the key to a healthy, happy life.


Describe mornings with one word.



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