Southern Obesity Summit- Day 2

Look at this motivated group at 6am!

Look at this motivated group at 6am!

My alarm goes off at 5:20am. I don’t even press the snooze button because I’m super excited to lead the 6am, 4.5 mile run from the conference hotel in downtown Louisville over the Big Four Bridge (no, seriously… I am excited!). I lie there curious to know if anyone will even show up and wonder to myself, if they don’t, will I still run or come back home and crawl into bed? I get dressed, eat a hardboiled egg, drink some tea and walk the 3 blocks from where I live in downtown Louisville to the Marriott.

Jamie Sparks, Kentucky Department of Education Director of School Health was the one with the brilliant idea that the keynote would lead the run. He volunteered me a month or so ago, but I’m so glad he did. He showed up as well and we had an amazing turnout- 16 adults and a 6 month old! Being fall, the entire run was in the dark, but we somehow timed our run to miss the rain and I enjoyed hearing conversations, laughter, networking and I was especially excited to meet another UCONN fan (Go Huskies!), Karl from Atlanta (I’m a basketball fan and living in Kentucky as a UCONN fan isn’t always to easy).

We successfully completed the run and the rest of the day brought engaging speakers, courageous conversations, networking, a walk with a new colleague from South Carolina and reconnecting with Scott Bricker from America Walks, an old friend and colleague I met my first year teaching in 1999 in Portland OR. Scott worked at the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and needed a teacher to pilot the Bicycle Safety Program. I implemented it, helped with revisions and alignment to other content areas and subsequently hundreds, if not thousands of my students went through that 2-week skills safety program during my years teaching.

I enjoyed the schools pillar conversation in the afternoon, especially hearing the positive things going on in the south in schools. It was great to hear more from Larry Cohen from the Prevention Institute in Oakland. We got a taste of his passion and work around supporting communities promote, implement and live and breath prevention and when Maya Rockeymoore, the keynote wasn’t able to be here. Larry willingly stepped in and did a great job giving many of us ideas of how to use past campaigns, like the tobacco, to eliminate unhealthy environments related to lack of physical activity opportunities and non-nutrient rich foods.

Great second day and looking forward to the third day. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to keynote and share my story with participants at the conference. And one other thing… who says you can’t get any physical activity during a conference?

Southern Obesity Summit- Day 1

It’s just a question of changing political will.
— Larry Cohen, Executive Director, Prevention Institute

A fabulous panel of experts from a variety of backgrounds in obesity work and from across the US opened the 8th Annual Southern Obesity Summit in Louisville, Kentucky last night. Dr. Stephanie Mayfield Gibson, Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Public Health set the stage by sharing what’s happening in Kentucky, both from data and programmatic perspectives, as well as statewide goals to make our state a safer, healthier place to live, play and work. 

Larry Cohen, Executive Director of the Prevention Institute inspired us with his work around helping communities address equity and prevention strategies. When talking about influencers of population health, 70% of the influence is related to behaviors and environment, 20% related to genetics and 10% related to medical care (access). And guess what? 3% is spent on prevention as opposed to 97% spent on health care expenditures!

Obesity is a national security issue.
— Major General Allen Yougman, Retired, Mission Readiness

Major General Allen Youngman spoke next, a retired and now with Mission Readiness, a nonpartisan national security organization of more than 450 retired admirals and generals calling for smart investments in America's children. He began by telling us the history of the National School Lunch Program (post WWII) being a result of malnourished boys and young men not ready and able to enlist. It began as a partnership between Departments of Education, Agriculture and Defense.

70% of our youth are ineligible to serve our country for two reasons: #1 overweight or obese and #2 educationally unfit. The military is not in the business to bring these youth into training and getting them into shape. And, among those currently serving, many are at higher risk of injury as a result of poor nutrition during their childhood.

Spinach today is a lot more affordable than foot amputation due to diabetes complications.
— David Jones, Jr., Chairman, Chrysalis Ventures

David Jones, Jr., Chairman of Chrysalis Ventures and on the Board of Education of Jefferson County Public Schools (Louisville metro school district) talked about new tools at our fingertips that will help support policy change, create better environments and encourage people to move more and eat healthier.  Use of big data to drive healthy decisions and smart phones were two tools he talked about. From a public health perspective, smart phones monitors where we are, what we are doing, who we are talking to. And, those data can change behavior and encourage and support healthy habits.

Thanks to the panelists for kicking off the conference! To stay tuned/in touch, use #SOSKY2014 on Twitter.

"Do Something Extraordinary" Speaking Engagements

Super excited to share my journey of cycling 4197 miles across the United States solo in 2013 with the following audiences/organizations:

  • Prince Georges County Public Schools, Health and Wellness Team Summit, September 27, 2014
  • Floyd Memorial Hospital, Floyd County Nutrition Coalition, October 1
  • Southern Obesity Summit, Louisville KY, Tuesday, October 7

If you are interested in having me speak at your event, please contact me at


A Year Ago...

Strawberry Mountain Range, Oregon

Strawberry Mountain Range, Oregon

A year ago June 5, I left on the most exhilarating, empowering adventure I've ever been on. A year later, I'm living in a totally different state, building my school health consulting firm up again and running more than cycling. Since June 5 occurred just a few days ago, I've been nostalgic of my adventure from Oregon to Rhode Island, solo across the US on my bicycle. Each day this past week, I've woken up and thought about where I woke up and my destination for that day exactly a year ago. June 9, 2013 I biked from the adorable, small town of Dayville to a picturesque Prairie City. I met Jim Soupir and stayed at his home overlooking the gorgeous Strawberry Mountain range as he and his son cooked a fabulous meal. 

Standing under Natural Bridge, Red River Gorge Kentucky

Standing under Natural Bridge, Red River Gorge Kentucky

As I daydream of the moments, thoughts, memories, smells, feelings from a year ago... I long to be back on the open road, exposed to the elements and pushing myself beyond belief. However, I need to work and an adventure like that isn't something I can do regularly. At least not without a trust fund! So instead, I try and create shorter opportunities that bring me to what I felt and what I experienced. This past weekend I rented a cabin for 3 nights in Red River Gorge. RRG is another place I cycled through beginning of last August. It's always so strange to go back to a place you cycled to from the west coast. But I live in Kentucky now and creating new memories of these beautiful places are a blessing. I hiked, took two bike rides,  enjoyed the sounds and sights of being in remote Eastern Kentucky again. Campfires, country music and hot tubbing were among the activities of the weekend. So, it's not a 90 day adventure, but a 3 day opportunity to leave the concrete jungle of Louisville and the terminals of airports I spend so much time in and embrace the spotty cell service. 

Natural Bridge

Natural Bridge

On the bike again...

This past week, I straddled my Vanilla Bicycle again for the first time since September. I've been on my Bridgestone, but not my touring bike since I completed my trip. It's been overhauled and is riding like a new. Breaking in a new seat is incredibly uncomfortable, but something that has to be done. The weather is getting better and it's time to be on the bike everyday… whether commuting, doing errands or riding with friends. And, I'm looking forward to doing some mountain biking this week after work.

Most importantly, I'm sorting through the 100s, if not thousands of artifacts related to my trip. Photos, gifts, certificates & awards, tokens, quotes, blog posts… anything that spurs memories and allows me to grasp the moments I experienced. I'm doing this because I'm working on a book. It may take years to complete, but it's the next journey I've already begun. Stay tuned!

Leadership Lou; Best of Leadership Summit Reflections

As a business owner and someone completely immersed in the school health field, I find myself straddling two incredibly different worlds. K-12 schools are a completely different beast as compared to the business community, but both are incredibly important to the work I do. 

-The core of a great city are its citizens and there's nothing more vital than education." -Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer

-The core of a great city are its citizens and there's nothing more vital than education." -Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer

Nine years ago, as I found myself starting a business with a masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction, I realized I had a lot to learn in order to run a business. And, over the years I've learned an incredible amount about running a business, leadership, managing people and growing with intention. Nine years later, I've sustained a business in a world where most schools still don't prioritize the health and well-being of their students. But, I'd say we are making progress. 

Designed to replicate the energy and commitment to community that happens through our programs, the Best of Leadership Summit is a one-of-a-kind event offering professional and personal leadership development for all who attend. If you want to be on the pulse of current issues, reconnect with the region’s most dedicated and influential trustees, plan now to join us at the Best of Leadership Summit.

I attended an event by Leadership Louisville, an organization I heard about within my first week moving to the city. Yesterday's event was the first ever Best of Leadership Summit. It fulfilled my needs in many ways. Surprising to me, the event addressed both the education and business fields. Education came up in most of the presentations I viewed. I guess it's difficult to talk about our vision for Louisville and a thriving community without addressing education. I was thrilled to be introduced (by Mayor Fischer) to Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Donna Hargens and have an opportunity to not only share what I do and what I can bring to her school community but also advocated that healthy kids learn better. She said, "I agree." I commended her support of the JCPS Health Committee that I sit on and I'm happy to see that a value under the district's mission statement includes, 'partnerships among schools, families, and community are important for the health and well being of our students'.

We have to focus on educating the mother first.
— Family Scholar House, Cathe Dykstra

I had the opportunity to present "Do Something Extraordinary", a presentation around my 4,197 mile solo bicycle journey across the US this past summer and lessons learned that relate to being a strong leader. It appeared to be well received and many seemed inspired by what I said. 

In education, we have to invest in new teachings.
— JCPS Board Member, David Jones, Jr.

I left feeling inspired by leaders, educators and champions that live locally. I gained knowledge of what is going on in my new community (and why) and met amazing people from all different organizations, government agencies and businesses. From the technology world to media to venture capitalists to politicians. I ran into people I've met over my 5 months here, allowing that feeling of community I so want to be a part of my life. I commend Leadership Louisville for a fabulous event AND creating opportunities in a one-day conference for networking by scheduling 30 minute breaks throughout the day. What an idea! Bravo!

One of the most rewarding parts of the day was the post- celebratory/continuing the conversation meet up after the event at Sidebar with 6 of us. We had deep, meaningful conversations, literal handshakes across fries and drinks to collaborate on events, programs and local opportunities. A promise for UofL basketball game invitations next season and scheming on how to make this a stronger community; "The Best' as Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer says!

Do Something Extraordinary

This afternoon I have the privilege of speaking at Leadership Louisville's Best of Leadership Summit on my bicycle journey across the US this past summer, lessons learned and how those lessons relate to being a leader in your field, a champion in your work, a family member at home. 

More to come, but I hope you are able to attend and listen to stories from my 4,197 miles solo journey and learn how to balance work and play, consider who's on your team, use humor, how to be vulnerable, how to focus on the journey, not the destination and how to celebrate success! See you at 3pm today!

Writing Coach

I was connected to Amanda at Polished Pear Creative through a colleague (they are related) and I'm feeling it's serendipitous that our lives have crossed passed at exactly the right time. I was inspired to write more when the momentum of hundreds of regular readers of my daily bike blog over 90 days this summer took place. I would love to continue to process my own journey personally but to inspire and share the story with a larger audience. Amanda and I officially partnered today to continue this journey of writing, sharing and processing the amazing event I experienced riding solo 4,197 miles. 

If a book comes out of this process, great! Short stories? Awesome. But, the process itself will be amazing and will just build my skills as a writer, reader and speaker professionally. This is very out of my comfort zone, so here I go again… being bold and courageous and pushing myself beyond what I think I'm capable of doing. This past summer was a physical & emotional challenge. This will be an emotional & intellectual challenge. Let's see what the end product may be… whatever it is, it's not the destination, it's the journey.

Jess' Super Bowl Commercial Rules

Ok, since this Super Bowl isn't really holding my attention, here are my arbitrary commercial criteria if I were to be in charge of the NFL… which would be impossible since I'm not even a football fan. But, I figure I should do something in between the commercials. I love watching sports, but football? No comment. 

All Super Bowl commercials will...

  • never use talking animals (pigs, bears, etc)
  • be 30 seconds max
  • make me laugh until I have an asthma attack or cry until I have tears
  • not advertise upcoming movies
  • use cute kids

And finally, the station that is awarded the Super Bowl should have a contest (applications scored using a scoring rubric, of course). Winning organization gets $1 million to film a 30 second commercial and airing commercial is no cost. The organization needs to improve the lives of a certain number of Americans. Winning organization does not have the ability to pay for an advertising spot themselves… How cool would that be? 

Ok, it's about halftime. Time to begin watching… 

Life/Work Balance


Life/work balance is something so many of us struggle with. My transition back into the working world after almost 5 months off to train, prepare and bicycle across the country has not been too challenging. I’ve heard from others that have accomplished a similar goal and the transition has been rough for them. I’ve written already about why mine has been smooth… I’m passionate about what I do and love my work! Something that hasn’t been so smooth for me is getting back into work and maintaining a life/work balance that works for me. 

Granted, within a month of ending a bicycle journey across the country, I did decide to move across the country from Oregon to Kentucky first week in November. I had 1.5 weeks in Oregon to move (work and logistics played a role), and once in Kentucky, waited for my belongings to arrive for another 1.5 weeks. The day my furniture arrived was the day prior to me having to leave for Florida to celebrate grandma’s 95th birthday and then off to CT for Thanksgiving. December and January each year is committed to full time work for Clinton Foundation’s Health Matters conference and to make it crazier, I had another contract that started (with Colorado Legacy Foundation) and work meetings in both Houston and Jacksonville in December. I arrived back home after all this travel this past Sunday and decided to figure out the number of days I’ve actually been home since I moved to KY. I have officially been on the road 44 of the 77 days I’ve lived here.

With all that said, I love what I do and travel means being with colleagues I truly love being with. However, when it comes to eating well, being physically active and establishing and maintaining a routine for sleep, work and play, it gets challenging. I get home this upcoming Sunday from Miami (here visiting family now) and have a full month in Kentucky without travel. During that time, my hope is to establish my routine… yoga, swimming, running, cooking again, meeting people in Louisville. I know once that routine is established, all other pieces fall into place. I feel better- in shape, stronger and more rested!


Bicycling, Running and Swimming...

It's really nice to be back at work. I know, I know. Most people don't say that. And then I think, I wish everyone was a fortunate as I am. Not only to have been able to take substantial amount of time off work to fulfill a lifelong goal of bicycling across the country, but to love what I do professionally

And, it was a risk leaving my business for 4 months, but it was worth the risk. And, work is coming my way. Good work! Fun work. Meaningful work. To read more about what I do, you can view my school health blog here. I haven't been able to put 5-6 hours of exercise in a day anymore (sadly), but I still exercise regularly and even have two events coming up that I'm excited for. I'm running in a 5K (nice and short!) Mayor's run called "Healthy Planet Healthy You" in January since I'll be in Palm Springs CA for 2 weeks for work. I also plan on being the swimming 'leg' of the Lakewood Valley Triathlon happening in Owensboro in June. I met Danielle (the cycling 'leg) through Warm Showers while on my bicycle trip across the US. It's fun to engage in all different physical activities for me- cycling, running and the sport I'm actually most skillful in, swimming! The team triathlon idea is exciting to me and it will keep me accountable through the winter.

My brain has adjusted back to work easily (too easily!) and having good work come my way has been exciting and fun. However, I did spend quite a bit of time on the airplane yesterday, daydreaming about my next bike tour. When and where and for how long... 


Today is the First Day of the Rest of My Life

It feels monumental. Maybe because I have my voice back and I'm not sick with a flu or cold anymore. It's probably more so because my moving truck arrives in Kentucky today. All the sh$# I've collected over 16 years, maybe even longer while living in Portland Oregon. The delivery window was 7 days. Today is day 7. I fly out for almost two weeks tomorrow. Yup, it stinks. But, the week was fun nonetheless. You know, being sick on an air mattress directly on a concrete floor? Allows for appreciation of what I have. I didn't complain much. I'm incredibly fortunate. 

photo 1.JPG

It is interesting how little I need to do what I need to do. A pot, a few plastic silverware, a camping chair and a computer with internet access. My space is ready for my stuff. But, it's just stuff. How does stuff make us happy? Content, comfortable, familiar, nostalgic. I rode my bicycle across the country with a little trailer and was the happiest I've ever been. 

But, I haven't seen a lot of my belongings since March and I'm excited to walk into a place and feel order. Settled. Choices. Be surrounded by art I've selected over the years that means something to me. Art that moves me. 

Today is going to be a long day pointing where I want things and opening up boxes to attempt to unpack in the little time I have until I'm back in town. And, a little emotional. Because I'm here. It feels more permanent then ever. 


I moved to Portland in 1997, after graduating from college. I moved cross country with my boyfriend at the time, who became my husband, who has since become my ex-husband. I look back at the past 16 years and they are filled with joy and love and happiness. We met great friends in Portland and I've had amazing experiences here. A dog named Oliver I loved and a home that was out of this world amazing. The past few years were hard, devastating at times. Filled with loss and pain and sadness. And sometimes those waves of emotions come back. I miss things in my old life. Stability, security, holidays with someone, companionship… 

But, I know these things will be a part of my life again, no matter where I live. Moving away from Portland doesn't feel like I'm running away from something. It feels like a new beginning. In a time that I'm already in a transitional state, with most of my belongings in storage anyway, it makes sense to move closer to my family and start anew. I'm scared. I'm scared to death. Feeling more uneasy about this then I did bicycling across the country!

Yesterday, Jamie a close friend and colleague in Kentucky, who will be my cross country companion and support as I drive away from this wonderful city a week from today mentioned how he and other colleagues were slightly making fun of me. He told me that he finds it incredible that I was able to bicycle 4200 miles alone (and be pretty much fearless), yet I want someone to drive with me the 2300 miles to Kentucky. It is ironic I guess. But, emotionally, leaving a city that you've called home for 16 years is harder than physically cycling across the US. Having a friend with me will provide the love, support and fun adventure I'll need into this next phase in my life. I told him he may have to deal with some tears along the way and he thanked me for the warning. 

I received this today from a colleague in Atlanta via Facebook, "You are fearless and amazing. I could never just pick up and move like you are doing. Also, your bike trek was incredible. I enjoyed following your daily posts." And, another colleague in Arizona who recently purchased her first road bike texted me, "I don't know how you went across the US… I channel you when I ride." I know I've inspired many of my readers on my bike journey. And for that I'm glad.

This last week is filled with errands and packing and seeing people I love dearly. The fear and anxiety is there. I'd be lying if it weren't. But I know I can do it. If these legs can cycle 4,197 miles, my heart and mind can be strong enough for me to relocate. 



I honestly never though my dream from my teenage years would bring this much recognition. I mean, raising over $22,000 to fight childhood obesity is the focus and the press and awareness has been just awesome. I mean, why not bring more awareness and education to the epidemic? 

When I was invited to the Kentucky State Board of Education Health Committee meeting, I accepted. I was in Louisville anyway, so an hour's drive to Frankfort to the Department of Education to see the Coordinated School Health Team and attend this meeting sounded great. What I didn't know was that Jamie Sparks and Vicki Greenwell put together a slide show of photos from my trip to share with the committee- I was initially mortified. But it all made sense... they awarded me a certificate signed by both the Commissioner of Education and Commissioner for Public Health!  How the heck they got those two signatures... I have no idea. But, what an honor! Jamie even remembered where I entered into KY and left (it's on the certificate) and my mileage.

Not only did it feel great to be recognized, but I loved the meeting that followed. See my school health blog for an update on School Health in Kentucky!  

Kentucky Coordinated School Health Team: Vicki Greenwell, Jamie Sparks, Stephanie Bunge, Todd Davis

Kentucky Coordinated School Health Team: Vicki Greenwell, Jamie Sparks, Stephanie Bunge, Todd Davis

The certificate!

The certificate!

Healthier Generation Hero

Monday I was recognized by Howell Wechsler, the CEO of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation as the first Healthier Generation Hero, an award they plan to give annually. When asked just a week ago if I was able to attend the annual Healthy Schools Program Forum hosting by the Alliance in Little Rock, AR, I was told I was being honored, but assumed it was for my bike ride across the US and the money I raised for them, over $22,000 to fight childhood obesity. I didn’t realize it was for my genuine passion and work in the field of school health. The Healthy Schools Program (HSP) is an annual event that recognizes schools around the country participating in the Alliance’s 6-step process to create healthier school environments. These teachers, administrators, school board members, school counselors and other local champions are present and recognized for obtaining bronze, silver or gold status, an incredibly difficult feat.

Since I didn’t realize I was invited for my dedication to school health and for exemplifying the Alliance’s mission to combat childhood obesity, I was struck by the introduction given by my colleague and friend Howell. As Howell mentioned my accomplishments in the field in school health nationally, I was touched by his recognition and support of my work, as well as his charisma and emotion surrounding what I do. I was in disbelief that I was getting an award. I got my first standing ovation of my life and it felt great to be celebrated among over 250 school health champions, the people working everyday to implement and advocate for making schools healthier places for students and staff.

Howell briefly interviewed me and I was asked to say a few remarks. I received direction to inspire these champions to go home invigorated, to keep the momentum of their work going as they deal with competing pressure of test scores and AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress). I had a few days to write something up and started writing a few days ago with talking about being a middle school teacher and having students that were homeless or food insecure (unsure when you’ll get your next meal), but decided against talking about my past as a teacher. After a day or two of processing and talking to a few mentors and my family, I decided to talk about the life lessons I learned on my bicycle ride across the US. What did I learn that might help these educators feel empowered, sustain programs and reflect on their work? Then, the writing came easier. I talked about 5 lessons learned.

1.     Having a sense of humor

2.     Creating a balance of work and play

3.     Building relationships

4.     Asking for support and help

5.     Enjoying the journey

I told stories about how each of these key lessons learned played an essential role on my adventure. I shared photos and even a video. And, then I received my second standing ovation in my life. WOW! Exhilarating. I never knew my 23-year dream would bring me recognition like this. I set out to genuinely accomplish a personal goal and here I was inspiring others. Coolest thing ever.

The Bucket List

My mom has been telling me since I finished my bicycle journey that I have to watch The Bucket List from 2007 with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. The Netflix DVD arrived yesterday morning so we watched it together last night. In the movie, both men are being treated for cancer and sharing a room.  Both of them have been told they have a year to live. With news like that, they develop a bucket list; a list of items they both hope to accomplish before they die. Jack Nicholson’s character is loaded with money and the two of them take off on a wonderful journey around the world hoping to… laugh until they cry, see Mount Everest, kiss the most beautiful girl in the world and observe something magnificent.

If you were told you had 6-12 months to live, how would you spend it? Would you have regrets of how you've spent your life so far? Would you feel ashamed of how you treated others?

Why wait to start living? Riding my bicycle across the country was the one (and the only) item on my bucket list. I’ve been asked, what’s next on my list. I responded with, “I don’t have anything.” After watching the movie last night, I decided I needed to write down goals and dreams I have to formalize my bucket list. It’s my list, so I can edit it and add to it as I please. I encourage you to do the same.

In the movie, Morgan Freeman’s character asks, “Have you experienced joy in your life?” and, “Have you brought joy to others?” How would you answer that?

Here are my added bucket list items:

1.     Dance until sunrise with the person I love

2.     Attend a Soccer World Cup

3.     Live on the ocean someday

4.     Skip rocks on a lake or pond with my nephew someday

5.     Write a book

6.     Travel to Zanzibar

Legit Work Day #1

I walk into a room with marble pillars, gold ornamental décor, floor to ceiling windows overlooking Union Square. I’m definitely not in Eastern Colorado anymore (I’ll stop picking on Kansas). Maybe this transition is going to take some time. I look down at my Bandolino black patent leather pumps and think, ‘these are not my Crocs’. And, I look around the room and see some of my favorite colleagues. The people who pull together incredible philanthropic events that support the health and wellbeing of millions of Americans. And, in a way, I’m home. I can’t even begin to explain the longing I feel for being on the open road. But, I know I need to be here. I am passionate about facilitating today’s event. But, I miss the remoteness of Wyoming and the beauty of Montana. I long for feeling that physical exhaustion at the end of the day. Waking up in the middle of the night and stretching my legs out… slowly so they don’t cramp. Standing up in the morning for the first time and wobbling a little on unsteady and fatigued legs. Do I really miss that? I do. Will the empowered feeling of confidence and freedom persist?

The uncertainty of each day on my bicyle trip was incredibly freeing. Most days of my life I know where I’m sleeping that night, I know I won’t wake up wet from the rain. I know what I’m making for dinner or the leftovers I’ll have for lunch. I know the roads I will drive to get to my daily meetings. The people I see each day I know well, or at least are familiar. On my bike trip, I went weeks and weeks (a month at one point) without being with someone I knew. Sometimes we have uncertainty for a weekend get-a-way, or a vacation, but for 90 days? I had space to think, grieve, heal, reflect, process. Let the laughter flow! Let the tears stream down! I feel recharged and I hope I continue to feel this way for a long time. Even though I’ll need to put on my pumps every once in awhile.