By WSNO Enrollment Director Margaret Runyon
I first met Sook and Francisco Miramontes when their daughter, Luna, was in Ms. Jan’s Nursery at the Waldorf Early Childhood Center and was impressed to learn that Sook’s parents were co-founders of the Merriconeag Waldorf School (now the Maine Coast Waldorf School). Though Luna left WSNO for public school for Kindergarten and Grade 1, we were delighted to welcome her back to Ms. Contento’s Grade 2 class this year. The Miramonteses spent their volunteer hours helping to set up and generously stock the Main Campus nurse's station with natural remedies. Now we must again bid the Miramontes family good-bye, as they move to the Gulf Coast.
Through April and the first half of May, as I was struggling to regain my strength from a mild case of presumptive COVID-19, Sook took it upon herself to support my healing process. We had been only casually acquainted before, so along with gratitude for help in recovery, I welcomed the opportunity to get to know more about this woman for whom “health” is a way of life. Sook and I had the following exchange while we tore red cabbage to fill her sauerkraut fermentation crock.
Margaret: Tell me about yourself. I know your childhood included some unique challenges and cultural experiences.
Sook: I was born in South Korea, and my birth father died in 1988, when I was nine and my brother was seven. Unable to care for us on her own, our birth mother gave us up for adoption, promising that she would come to meet us in our new home. The American couple who adopted us were told that we were orphaned; so we endured the trauma not only of the actual separation from our Korean mother and homeland, but also of layers of deception by our mother and the adoption agency.
Our adoptive parents were victims of this deception, as well. We were fortunate to be adopted by the loving family of a Waldorf teacher in Maine. Their home was a healing environment in itself. When they discovered what had happened, they tracked down my Korean mother and established a correspondence with her. At age 24, after my first enlistment in the Coast Guard, I was actually able to travel to Korea to ask why she had done this to us. This cathartic confrontation/reunion was very therapeutic - an important step in my healing journey, because if you are sick emotionally from trauma, your body will be sick, too.
M: How did you first become interested in researching the topic of "health" and how has your understanding of health evolved?
S: Because of the deep trauma, I was doing things to hurt myself physically, like smoking. But at age 27, I just quit. I didn’t like the taste in my mouth, and being in the military, it was horrible for running.
Francisco and I met in Panama City, married, had Luna, and were then stationed in Texas City, TX, on Galveston Bay, surrounded by refineries. In that environment, I felt terrible. I was sick with respiratory illnesses and within six months of moving there, an x-ray showed lung nodules. But the nodules were too small to biopsy, so the pulmonologist recommended we wait until they got bigger. I was only 31; I was not ready to die or to see if I would develop lung cancer.
I was talking with my Coast Guard Chief about natural cures. His sister had cured herself of cancer, and he recommended a video that featured several alternative cures. This led me to the late Dr. Max Gerson. I read all I could about his work and visited the Gerson Institute in San Diego. This approach made total sense to me: detox and nutrition. We started doing the coffee enemas; we tried to eat a primarily plant-based diet. My health improved immediately, as the health of the rest of my family. Within three years, by the end of my tour in Texas City, the lung nodules had disappeared entirely.
Everyone can look into healing options for themselves. I’m not saying my way is better, but I encourage everyone to research and take responsibility for connecting to their own natural healing power. This includes emotional and spiritual health, too – it all has to heal together!
M: What is the current health maintenance regimen for you and your family?
S: We continue with a lifestyle of healthy diet and detox. It is a way of life for us. My daily spiritual practice is not based in any religion, but is a quiet opening to the spiritual world each morning and evening. There has to be totally honest self-reflection, then asking for spiritual guidance, and listening for answers. Once health is established in the body, you can listen to what your body needs, too, from a nutrition standpoint.
Our daily regimen includes coffee enemas, apple cider vinegar, fresh raw fruits and vegetables that retain their enzymes, and naturally fermented foods to support gut biome. No packaged food, no microwave. Moderate exercise and time outdoors. Our natural immunity is fully supported. I have not been sick in six years, nor has Luna.
M: You organized the creation of a "Loving Traditions" booklet among the families in Luna's class. Could you briefly explain what that is and how other WSNO families can access or add to that?
S: When I read that the Waldorf School was looking for help in the nursing station, I thought, “How wonderful!" I’m so invested in empowering young children and parents to do things naturally, and not have to run to the doctor for every symptom. If I was going to volunteer at the nursing station, I wanted to be able to use natural remedies; and because we have to get parental permission before we administer anything to an ailing child, I wanted to educate parents as much as possible in advance about the kinds of remedies I would be using – like lemonade and apple cider vinegar for a runny nose. Creating a booklet that explains natural remedies ahead of time, that serves as a reference for other nursing station volunteers helps us all be on the same page. I don’t use over-the-counter products - I don’t have to!
I put out the word to parents in Ms. Contento’s class, and we met one afternoon for tea and conversation. I collected home remedies from those who attended, too. I want us to all be able to benefit from each other’s knowledge. I compiled a little booklet, but it’s not professionally done. I had planned to share it at the March Parent Council meeting, and to suggest that other classes add to it, but of course the COVID-19 closure came before that could happen. I would be glad for someone to take this up.
“Loving Traditions” is meant to be a free document, freely shared, not a fundraiser. My intention is that this wisdom is available to everyone. Natural health is a fundamental right, and everyone should have access to this information. In a Waldorf community, we value health and we value sharing. If you are part of this community, we want you to have this.
M: Thank you, Sook! We are grateful for your loving care and your generosity of spirit. Luna and her family will be missed at Waldorf School of New Orleans.
The Miramontes family hosted a juicing party (left, center). The family motto is pictured right.a