Looking for my groove after an extended absence.
Earlier this month, I was fortunate to chaperone my son’s seventh grade class field trip. The class was staying for two and a half days at Naturebridge in the Marin Headlands. The class left the East Bay on busses early Monday morning, and we didn’t return until Wednesday mid day. Designed for the science class, the trip’s program centered around the area’s indigenous people, plants, and environmental conservation.
The timing of the trip couldn’t have been better. I’d stopped blogging in mid June for multiple reasons. One, a friend told me I should stop trying to pursue this blog as the competition would be too intense. Plus, he added, I’m starting from ground zero. He basically said it would never go anywhere. I believed him.
Second, I learned a close relative was dying. I realized early on that I wanted to be free to visit her and feel all the feelings of our relationship, past and present. Plus, I knew I had to come to terms with my grief and the loss of her friendship. She passed in mid September, and in late October we celebrated her life and funeral at sea.
So, after out-of-town family had left and we’d left for the trip, I was ready to get away from it all. Not only the surreal and extremely stressful events I’d just experienced, but also pretty much everything. I had no idea how much I needed this short respite, and how it would change how I felt, both physically and emotionally.
When we arrived, the students were broken up into numerous groups with 10-12 students and two adults (the guide and me). Journals printed for the trip were passed out and the kids got to work immediately. The guide asked the group to write down a few things they wanted to while they were at the facility. Since we were staying at dorms right on the ocean, many of the students chose hikes to and on the nearby beaches.
Hiking in Marin County
And boy did we hike! We must have hiked about 15 miles in our two and half days, but we weren’t just hiking. There were team-building projects for the kids, and we learned a lot about the native flora and the history of the previous settlers.
Dreas, our guide, is amazing. He is very knowledgeable about the area (the facility is an old WWII fort), and was patient with the kids. Every day during our stay, he would encourage everyone to sit apart from one another for about 10 minutes of mindfulness and quiet time. Our quiet times were while we were resting on the beach or hiking. I appreciated these moments to collect and be with my thoughts.
Because I have a pretty limited menu of foods I can eat regularly, I initially had some concern about what was available to eat. In addition, no outside food was allowed because of the risk of nut allergies among the children. Thankfully the facility had a salad bar with all meals, and I ate vegan most of the time there.
The Coast of Northern California typically celebrates its “Indian summer” in the fall. Tourists who come to San Francisco throughout the “warmer months” are usually disappointed at the chilling fog that is standard until mid September. All the kids and chaperones packed clothing to prepare for cooler weather. We were surprised at the amazing weather when we arrived. For the duration of our stay, the daytime temps were quite warm in the mid 70’s with intense sunshine.
On the second day, we met outside our camp dorms and went over the day’s activities. We planned to hike a great deal in the area, and planned on breaking for lunch on the beach. Who can beat that?? As the day began, we would hike for a bit, and then stop in the shade to learn about and discuss found indigenous plants, and then we would hike some more.
By the time we got to the beach, we were all huffing and puffing. After we ate a quiet lunch, we reapplied sunscreen and walked up and down the beach, learning about how the cliffs we’d climbed down were formed about 14 billion years ago.
After spending a couple hours at the beach, we started the hike back up the cliffs and prepared for the hike back down the hill towards our base camp. Our guide chose a different path for us to go down, and gave us an assignment. Dreas explained that he was going to go down the hill alone, leaving his whiteboard on the trail with a question. He instructed me to time his departure, and to send all the students, one minute at at time. After they had all begun their trek down the hill, I went last. Dreas said he was going to leave his small whiteboard on the trail that had a question. We were to contemplate our answer to that question for our solitary hikes down the mountain.
As the last student went down the hill, I gave myself a little more time and began down the hill, curious about his question. I was relishing the slow hike down the hill before I reconnected with the others.
What is my legacy?
When I came across the whiteboard in the trail, and held it up, I gasped and became choked up. Even though the entire field trip was geared towards conservation, the message left on the trail couldn’t have been more personal for me. “What is my legacy?”
Instantly, my spirits lifted, and I felt immensely inspired by the simple yet profound message I read on the trail.
I realized a few things on that trail. First, I decided I was going to renew my writing efforts on my blog. I feel obligated to help people who may be suffering from the same issues I do, regardless of how many readers follow my blog.
Secondly – and this is a big one – if I can share information on how the foods we eat can impact our future self’s health, and my blog persuades even one person to eat better, then my blog will have accomplished what it was intended for.
You see, my relative who passed in September died, after withering away for years, because of Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, my father, who lives with me, is suffering from dementia that may be Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s isn’t just a disease that older people develop. Alzheimer’s disease is a preventable disease, and it can even be called “Type 3 diabetes.” Both Type 2 and “3” diabetes can be avoided. Like exercising as you age, eating healthy foods shouldn’t be a burden, but a powerful, liberating choice. If we make poor choices, we can anticipate problems in the future. Sadly, our bodies may betray us.
To say I’m passionate about eating healthy is an understatement. I have certain friends who are as passionate about eating healthy foods as I am. When we’re together, all we talk about is nutrition, superfoods, food intolerances, and recent studies we’ve come across. When I’m with my family at home, I typically am looking at new ways to creating healthy and delicious dishes that can help maintain and support our current good health.
The following morning after breakfast, we set out for one last hike over Wolf Ridge on the Coastal Trail which took us to cliffs overlooking Tennessee Valley Beach.
We congregated on the path in a circle, and the guide revisited the whiteboard question from the previous day. All the students shared what they wanted their individual legacies to be. It was compelling as I feel kids this age are in a tumultuous place at this age where they are straddling childhood and teenage years. The question about what an individual wants their personal legacy to be can be amazing for self-discovery.
The trip ended that afternoon as we bussed back to the East Bay, but that doesn’t mean my personal journey has to end. I felt healthy and accomplished, despite being sore from the hiking. My experience gave me the chance to look for other opportunities for personal insight and growth, both physically and emotionally.
Contemplating the legacy I’d like to leave behind…
So, what will your legacy be? Are you taking care of yourself in the best way possible? Are you eating for your future health or are you eating only for today, without consideration for the years ahead?
Consider this: A lifestyle change that is delicious and may prevent future illness can have innumerable benefits while you age. If you can’t consider changing how you eat at this time, what challenges are you facing that prevent this?
By looking at what foods you feed yourself and your family, you have the opportunity to take care of yourself and your family in the healthiest way possible, both for now and years to come. This lifestyle can become a great contribution to your family’s future. It can become your personal legacy.