I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 1992 and have been living with chronic pain ever since. By 2017 I found myself so overwhelmed with fatigue and pain I could barely sit upright, and had to fight to stay awake and focus throughout the day. I knew something was wrong, but when you have fibromyalgia you tend to ignore episodes like this, thinking it’s just another phase.
Then the heart arrhythmia started and I knew I had to see a doctor. My heart was flipping and stuttering all day and night and I could feel something was really off. At the doctors’ office, I found out my blood pressure was off the charts and the doctor put me on medication before I could even leave the office.
Before I knew it, I was taking test after test, on 3 different medications, taking 6 pills a day. None of this led to a diagnosis and there was no plan from the doctor beyond a life of medication. Her answer to all my questions about what to do was, ‘let’s just deal with the symptoms’. I couldn’t believe it - this was to be my life? Medications and status quo? I went home completely depressed and defeated.
After some serious self reflection and research, I was determined to take my life back into my own hands and be fully responsible for the outcome of my health. I learned how a plant based diet can change the trajectory of our health, reverse disease, and eliminate the need for medications. It was a path to a quality of life I never dreamed I could have back.
I chose veganism over simply adopting a plant based diet, because living cruelty free is a wonderful added bonus that’s congruent with my love of animals. It’s allowed me to live fully in compassion and freedom for the first time. It’s a lifestyle in line with my ethics and values and it truly makes everything in life better!
As someone named after the Goddess of Wisdom, I’ve always loved the owl, who is often seen accompanying her. According to myth, an owl sat on Athena's blind side, so that she could see the whole truth. My logo is based on the coin of Athena:
The acronym AOE, engraved on the coin, stands for Alethia Orno Eteronis, meaning Truth, Honor, Forever. What better symbol for my own odyssey to wisdom and honoring myself and all others?
The Day Job
Athena Pond most recently worked as the International Programs Operations Director at Hope for Justice, a global organization fighting to end modern day slavery. Athena began her career in bookkeeping, business administration and management but in 2005 she and her family moved to Phnom Penh, Cambodia where they co-founded Agape International Missions and developed an innovative program for survivors of sex trafficking ages 11 to 18. She and her husband later developed the first transitional program in Cambodia for survivors aged 16-25, focusing on successful reintegration and career skills. In 2007 she co-founded Transitions Global where the program gained international attention for professionalism, quality programming, and successful outcomes.
Athena has consulted on anti-trafficking projects in India, Cambodia, the United Kingdom, Thailand, Moldova and the United States, including providing feasibility studies and gap analysis for survivor programs. She is on the advisory board of the National Women’s Coalition Against Violence and Exploitation and formerly on the advisory board of Restore NYC. Athena has been awarded a commendation from Homeland Security, ICE Division, for her work bringing foreign pedophiles to justice in Cambodia and she was awarded the Soroptimist International Ruby Award for her work with survivors of sex trafficking. Athena currently lives near Nashville, TN.