Pamela Byrne is a mother of two and the founder of Byrne Health and Wellness. Having healed her autoimmune disease through holistic nutrition, she knows first hand the importance of diet and nutrition. Born and raised in Fairfield County, Pamela lived in San Francisco, London, and Chicago before finally moving back to Fairfield County. Here is Pamela’s Life in Darien, CT.
Describe your journey to Darien
I grew up in New Canaan and lived there until I was in middle school when we moved to London for my dad’s job. I ended up graduating from the American School in London for High school. My 2 older brothers had the New Canaan (and St. Luke’s) High School experience, but I missed that one. I came back to the states for college where I attended Villanova University. From there, I lived in both San Francisco (almost 2 years) and Chicago (9 years). After marrying my husband and having my 2 children in Chicago, my husband got transferred to NYC for his job. We lived at my parent’s house in New Canaan for 6 months while we waited for our house in Chicago to sell. We debated between New Canaan and Darien, and ultimately settled on Darien because it seemed like a fresh start for both of us. My husband also preferred the shorter commute to the city.
Since you have lived in both New Canaan and Darien, what do you love about living in each town?
You are in luck if you are moving to either New Canaan or Darien. They are BOTH great towns and each has its strengths. The downtown of New Canaan is great for shopping and dining. It is so picturesque regardless of the time of year. Darien also has some great shopping and restaurants, it’s just not on one main strip like New Canaan. Darien has Darien Sport Shop, which is a go-to for people in both towns. It’s like having a mini department store right in town (with endless free lollipops and Hershey kisses to appease the kids). I personally love that Darien is on the water. We take advantage of it as often as we can.
When you moved to Darien, did you know a lot of people?
When we moved to Darien we knew no one. Literally. I had friends of friends that had moved there and got set up on a few mini “blind” dates through acquaintances of friends, etc. We joined the YWCA Darien/Norwalk Newcomers Club and did both the Winetasters group as well as the Gourmet Club. We met friends through those groups as well as through our neighborhood and children’s preschool. Darien is a great mix of people from the area (Fairfield County) and a lot of people from all over. I also joined the YWCA committee and Opus for Person to Person committee where I took part in planning various fundraisers. I met so many great friends there who were all in the same boat – new to town and looking to get involved.
Can you describe your social life?
Our social life is great! We feel very lucky to have made the wonderful friends we have. Over the 8 years of living here, our friends have truly become our family. What I love about Darien is that it is big enough in that you are always meeting new people in town. I have never felt claustrophobic or that I know the whole town. I like a little anonymity so it is nice when you see somebody you know in the grocery store, but you don’t know everybody. Another aspect of Darien that I love is that we are still meeting new friends and our circle continues to expand. With my son headed into middle school next year, I am sure there will be a lot of new faces (and some very familiar ones).
How old are your kids? What do you like to do with your kids in the area?
I have a boy, Henry, age 11 and a girl, Ellie, age 10. My kids love to ride their bike around the neighborhood with friends or walk the dog at Woodland Park, which is like a nature preserve. When the sun comes out we love to go to Pear Tree, Weed or Woodway beach. During the colder months, we take advantage of the area and go into the city. Whether it’s for a museum or even just a lunch out, the kids always love it.
What are your favorite restaurants in Darien, New Canaan or in the area?
So many to list! A staple in my daily routine is Aux Delices in Goodwives Shopping center for coffee or a quick salad. Its also like town hall, so you will see everybody you know which is always a nice break from the monotony of the day. As for restaurants, I love Spiga Wine Bar and Salumeria and Solé Ristorante in New Canaan for getting appetizers and drinks at the bar with my husband. I also love Cherry Street East (New Canaan) or Tequila Mockingbird (New Canaan) for a family dinner or lunch. In Darien, Ten Twenty Post and Scena Wine Bar are my favorites. They have great menus with plenty of selection and you can’t go wrong with their dirty martinis. The kids are avid fans of Burgers, Shakes & Fries (Darien) as well as Shake Shack (Darien). And they will never pass up a trip to Gofer Ice Cream (Darien) or Swirl (New Canaan).
What are your go-to places in Darien, New Canaan or in the area?
I am a regular at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods in Darien. They know me by name (literally), especially at Trader Joe’s. I also love Palmer’s (Darien) for easy dinners to-go and entertaining. Darien Sport Shop (Darien) and Kirby and Company (Darien) are my favorites when I’m looking for some fun accessories or a gift. And my weekly visit to Dolce Nail and Spa for a polish change is a must. I also love a great spin class at JoyRide (Darien) or a long walk near the water at Pear Tree Point Beach. Those are my happy places.
What are some things you don’t like about Darien?
I am a sucker for all things Darien. It has treated us so well in the time we have lived here. The only negative is that I wish it had a greater array of restaurants. However, the upside is that New Canaan, Stamford, and Norwalk are just down the road so you can always find a change of scenery there.
Are you a member of a country club?
We belong to Woodway Country Club right on the border of Darien and New Canaan. This will be our 6th summer there and we have loved every second of it. It is a great crew of people from both towns. Woodway is also fortunate to have 3 separate venues for golf, pool, and beach. We chose Woodway based on the friends that we knew that went there and the proximity of it to our house.
What has your experience been with schools in the area?
We have loved the public school system here. I had my children in both St. Thomas More and Noroton Presbyterian nursery schools. Darien is lucky to have a number of really good preschools, so people have their pick. I recommend getting registered as early as possible to avoid the rush. Also, do your research in terms of what kind of hours and programs you are looking for. My children are currently at Holmes Elementary School, which we have loved.
Do you or your spouse commute to the city? What has your experience been with the commute?
My husband used to take the train into midtown up until 3 years ago. When he was commuting he was lucky enough to be close to Grand Central so he was fine with it. He found the commute most difficult during inclement weather (but the Friday night bar cart always seemed to erase any of the week’s stress). He now works in Stamford which is only 5 miles away so it has been life-changing. He still goes into the city for clients meetings but doesn’t commute on a daily basis. He has been on the Darien Metro-North train station parking waitlist for 5 years and still doesn’t have a spot. Good thing he doesn’t need it anymore!
Any tips/advice you wished someone had given you when you were looking to move to the suburbs?
I was ready to move to the suburbs after having kids so I didn’t find anything that surprising about being back here. However, the driving did catch me off guard at first. In Chicago, everything was so accessible in the city and nearby. It was an adjustment to be running errands all over the place – New Canaan, Darien, Norwalk and Stamford. Now my time in the car is second nature. Thank goodness for Sirius XM.
Tell me more about Byrne Health and Wellness?
I started Byrne Health and Wellness two years ago after graduating from the Institute of Integrative Technology. After being diagnosed with Celiac disease and Scleroderma in 2011, my life became fully focused on healing my body with food, not medicine. I had always had a keen interest in diet and nutrition, but truly realized the importance of it after my diagnoses. I was placed on over 20 different medications for my scleroderma and each one had me feeling worse. I realized slowly but surely I could heal my body and reduce the inflammation through stress reduction, sleep, and exercise with my main focus being on food. After adopting a plant-based diet, I have successfully stayed away from all the strong medications (including steroids) I had previously been on. The profound impact that diet had on my mind, spirit, and body made me a believer. Byrne Health and Wellness works with people who simply want to feel better. Whether they have poor sleeping habits, digestive issues, suffer from chronic infections or want to lose a few pounds, I am here to help. I focus on bio-individuality in that every BODY is different and everybody needs a plan specialized for them, not for the masses.
About Pamela Byrne
Pamela Byrne is the founder of Byrne Health and Wellness, a holistic nutrition and health coaching practice. Her personal struggle with Celiac disease and Scleroderma (an autoimmune disease) has taught her first hand the importance of diet to one’s well-being. She has a Masters in Counseling from DePaul University and is a graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. Pamela lives in Darien, CT with her husband and two children. Visit her website.
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