Danielle D’Amour, Biological-Ecological-Conservation Expertise ~ Passion for Building Partnerships ~ Founder of Belleterre360.com
IN THE SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW
BSO : You have an incredible background of extensive travel in exotic locations, a passion for wildlife, a deep passion for supporting women and wellness through oils and yoga. Plus you are a busy mom. Tell us about your life journey and your vision for your future.
DD: Nature and I have had a long-term love affair.
I used to spend hours hanging out with wooly bears or exploring fox dens when I was a young kid growing up in New England. It’s no surprise that I swiftly became obsessed with wildlife of all kinds, especially African Wildlife. It was always a dream of mine to live and work with wildlife in Africa.
At 19, I took my first trip to Africa to suss out this whole wildlife thing. I fell deeper in love with this planet. Going to a place so far out of my ‘Bubble’, I couldn’t help but drown in the pure vastness of our planet and how small my little world was. At the same time, my heart grew to experience how breath taking our natural world is but also how closed my mind was to other people and cultures. It was humbling yet motivating. An insatiable hunger to know and experience more ran my decisions for the next 20 years.
I spent my final years of college doing my best to learn all things wildlife, ecology and diversity. After school, no job was too remote or paid too little…as long as it fed my hunger to learn. I jumped at the change to work in the Cascade mountains of Oregon where I was able to really get knee deep in wildlife research. There, I got extreme hands-on experience with black bears, mountain lions, elk and black tailed-deer. Jumping out of helicopters onto elk, snaring black bears, tracking mountain lions with hounds, and the shear beauty of the Cascade Mountain Range are imprinted in my being. Again, growing my love.
From Oregon, against all advice and opinions of friends and family, I accepted a research assistant position deep in the jungle of the Democratic Republic of Congo. “The diseases, the war, the poisonous animals” they all said….but love is blind. I followed my heart and gave no acknowledgment to my ‘rational’ loved ones. Here, I was incredibly fortunate to study one of the most endangered and beautiful creatures on the planet. Bonobos. Our closest living relative. The “hippies of the forest”. My heart pounds even reminiscing about this…. All of the ‘what ifs’ of danger were obliterated by the mind and heart expansion this place instills. A large piece of my heart still beats in those trees and rivers.
Falling deeper and deeper into love with how magnificent our planet is, I kept my eye on the prize of continuing my education and dedicating my entire life to learning, protecting and honoring our natural world and the souls that are living in it. I threw myself full force into higher education. To me, this seemed like the most impactful way of reaching my goals.
After getting my MSc in Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation, I found myself on a plane back to East Africa. I spent 2 years facilitating groups of study abroad students to learn about wildlife conservation techniques. As exciting as this role sounds, I couldn’t help but reflect on how effective my role actually was in terms of contributing to wildlife conservation and awareness. At the same time, my heart started to yearn for something more…a connection to people…to building relationships with my own species.
The embers of that desire led to me to a place a bit more populated, California. I landed a job working for a small non-profit with big impact. I worked with wine and produce growers to adjust their farming practices to not only to get them in compliance with environmental regulations and laws but also to help them enhance wildlife habitat on their land. We documented significant reductions in chemical use and fine sediment runoff into waterways as well as completed countless habitat restorations projects.
It is during this time that I met my husband, got married and had a couple of kids. It was a whirlwind….and somewhere along the line, I had the hardest breakup I’ve ever experienced. I left my passionate love affair with living and working in remote forests. In it’s place, I have real humans with real reciprocal love who love every piece of me regardless of my goals, achievements and failures. To focus on my new loves, I had to let go of the thing that consumed my heart for so many years.
I quit my job and opened up a yoga studio in hopes that it would give me more time to grow my family but also connect me with people on a deeper level.
For the next few years, I learned about people and the human heart. Listened to the stories of trauma, of physical and emotional injury. The yoga room opened my eyes to the sufferings of the souls…where there is a sensation of incompleteness in people. I came to understand that our society is suffering from a disconnect. There is a hole in our human experience where a strong connection to community and the earth used to fill. And those little embers in my heart began to stoke. By creating a space for people to heal, connect, move and communicate, I was filling that hole and creating impact in my community. It felt like a secret. This secret of providing the glue to keep people connected to their happiness. How important!
Life takes it’s twists and turns and eventually, the road led me straight back to my roots in New England.
First and foremost, my love and energy goes to my family…but there is something about your first love that stays with you…
BSO: You recently launched Belle Terre. Tell us about it & what’s your vision with it.
DD : Belle Terre or Beautiful Earth, is an expression of all of my past experiences, lessons and desires. Belle Terre represents what we all want and need in life. Community, connection, Respect.
I believe there is incredible value in connecting and respecting our natural world. It is a human necessity in terms of well-being. Another important source of human satisfaction is connection with other human beings. Especially women. We are not meant to be islands and I believe in order to create and accomplish any good, we need to connect to nature and each other.
Belle Terre is a tool to connect people. To connect them to themselves, to each other and healing. To help heal their hearts and give support. To connect them to the healing nurturance of each other and Mother Nature.
The recipe is simple. Connect to each other and nature, and we thrive.
BSO: What can attendees expect from attending your Yoga in the Vineyard and New Moon Intention gatherings?
DD: The goal of yoga and my intentions for these events is to connect people with deeper contentment and happiness.
Yoga in the Vineyard is an opportunity to connect with other people and move our bodies. This workshop is meant to be light hearted and fun…maybe even a little sweaty. Hopefully it gets people out of their comfort zone and hopefully they learn some new things along the way. Whether they are experienced yogis or beginners, there is always something new to learn about yoga. If you have never used essential oils before, or maybe you are interested in experiencing them in a new way, the combination of yoga and oils has a profound impact. What is special about this event is that we will have a full hour after class to sip on some delicious wine and get to know each other a little more. Life is fine with yoga and wine!
The new moon gatherings are a little more thought provoking. At these events we discuss what our goals are for the month and for our lives. We discuss tangible ways to achieve these goals with just the right amount of accountability. Why do we do this on the New Moon? As our bodies consist of mostly water, we are affected by gravity and the gravitational pull of the moon. Just as the tides ebb and flow with the pull of the moon, so do the waves of water in our bodies. So even if we can physically see the push and pull of gravity, we are none the less affected by it. The New Moon’s affect on us comes in the form of introspection. It is a time of quiet analysis of our lives and a good time to focus on what we want to create. Traditionally, farmers plant their seeds during the new moon. So it is a time to plant the seeds of your desires and intentions. With the proper care and nutrition, we can encourage those seeds to grow into the life we desire.
The New Moon events are a great opportunity to connect with community, focus and gain a fresh perspective on your life.
BSO: Describe a typical day, morning to night.
- 5:30 am: wake up…with or with out without a screaming baby. Roll out of bed, scrape my tongue, drink a glass of water.
- 6 am: Baby is definitely awake by now. Change diaper, dress and feed the baby.
- 6:30-7am: Wake up, feed and dress the toddler.
- 7:30-8 am: Drop the kids off at school and head over to teach morning yoga class.
- 8:15-9am: Prep for class or post events on social media, check emails
- 9-11 am: Teach yoga class (or Oil Spotlight)
- 11:30-12:30 pm: Come home, continue emails, prep/planning for events, customer care. Brainstorm business growth.
- 12:30-1:00 pm: Lunch
- 1:00-2:30 pm: business conference calls and follow up
- 2:30-3:30 pm: Continuing education
- 3:30 – 4 pm: Dinner Prep (sometimes teach another yoga class)
- 4 – 5:30 pm: Pick up kids, shuttle to extracurricular activities
- 5:30-6:30 pm: cook and eat supper
- 6:30-7:15 pm: Play time and family time (Sometimes I have evening events from 6-10 pm)
- 7:15 -8 pm: Bed time routine for the kids
- 8-9:30 pm: Finish lingering business tasks or emails. Prep plan for following day.
BSO : How can our readers learn more and meet you?
1) Facebook and instagram, come to a class or workshop!
2) Join my mailing list to receive emails, newsletter, and updates.
3) Call me to host an essential oil make and take workshop at your house or business.
-Oils for kids
-Oils for immune defense
-Oils for emotional wellness
-Oils to balance nervous system
Regular Weekly Classes
Teach Tuesday, Thursday mornings at k2 in somers ct.
Weekly oil spotlight Wednesdays 10am
Yoga in the Vineyard May 22, 2019 6:30 pm
New moon Intention Setting Circle April 9, 2019 7pm & May 2019 (TBA)
Upcoming events Location Date and Time TBD
“Balancing your weight, hormones, emotions and life”