KAPAA — Hosting guided tours is just one of the many ways Michelle Lemay nurtures herself and her community. It’s a way to preserve the island and spread aloha at the same time.
The Kapaa resident has lived on Kauai for 11 years and has been hosting local tours for the past few years, a consolidation from her former lifestyle of taking tour groups throughout the islands and overseas.
Recently, though, Lemay has started doing guided tours again, and is at the same time working to become a minister in the philosophy of Science of Mind with the Center for Spiritual Living.
“I mostly do 10-day, three-island hopping tours, however I was able to do a Northern California tour in June and an Australian/New Zealand tour in November,” Lemay said. “It was amazing.”
Lemay became a tour guide by taking a course at San Francisco’s International Tour Management Institute, and started working for a tour company in 2005. With the exception of a break that lasted a little more than three years, she has been guiding tours with the company since then.
In fact, hosting guided tours throughout Hawaii is how Lemay landed on Kauai. She’s originally from New Hampshire and lived on Hawaii Island for about three years before moving to Kauai in 2008.
“I had been tour managing by then, island hopping a lot, and I felt very drawn to Kauai, so I made it permanent,” Lemay said.
After living on Kauai and guiding tours for a bit, Lemay decided to come off the road from tour managing and be home full time. During that time, she was also watching a friend change her life by going to classes at the Center for Spiritual Living.
That triggered another passion.
“I started taking classes right away and really immersed myself in the philosophy and community,” she said. “(Now) I am in ministerial school and will graduate in 2020.”
Currently, she’s a licensed practitioner — meaning Lemay has completed four years of classes with the CSL Revs. Rita Andriello and Patrick Feren. She’s also taking online classes with her school in Los Angeles.
That means she’s gone through enough training to do spiritual and professional sessions with people.
“I am looking forward to continuing on my path to becoming a minister in the philosophy of Science of Mind and Spirit through CSL,” Lemay said.
Lemay is also involved with the Kauai Vegetarian Society, hanging fliers and promoting monthly potlucks and lectures.
She became vegan in 2017, after having major surgery.
“I had already been watching lots of movies/documentaries and really feeling how my body didn’t feel good after eating animal products, so I was heading in the direction of becoming vegan and the timing felt perfect to make the shift,” she said.
Lemay continued: “Even though it started because of my health, it really has evolved to include the planet/environment and animals.”
She wondered if it would be difficult to find food as a vegan on Kauai, and when she discovered that wasn’t the case at all, Lemay started her Facebook page, Kauai Vegan Unicorn — a place where she can share restaurant ideas, recipes and tips about becoming vegan from a Kauai perspective.
“It’s been helpful to people on island, and I have heard from quite a few vegans who travel here that it’s been a great resource,” she said.
Looking forward to 2019, Lemay says she plans to keep all those irons in the fire while juggling visits from family.
“I am looking forward to adventures and fun with my husband Ron and an abundant and prosperous New Year,” she said.