Every once and awhile, during my youth bouncing around Catholic schools, our teacher would inform us that we had a take home test to do regarding some topic we were currently studying.
You could feel the emotions in the classroom as those words circled our wooden desks and danced above our neatly cropped hair and pressed collared shirts.
“A take home test,” I remember grinning ever so slightly as I repeated my teacher’s words. I could see my less than focused friends sit up straight and smile as if our teacher said ice cream would be served in place of Latin class. And there was always the pouting faces of the few girls sitting in the front row, upset that the rest of us would actually have the chance to compete with their high scores.
It occurred to me that most of our adult life is a take home test. With information available in an instant to most of us there is no excuse for not knowing the answers to most questions, especially if those questions are important to you.
“How long do I roast vegetables?”
“How does the Electoral College work?”
“Is Ted Cruz the Zodiac Killer?”
“When is Christmas this year?”
“Is Mister T dead?”
Those and billions of questions can be answered with a few clicks and few minutes of your time.
Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending Wanderlust Festival at Stratton Mountain as a representative for Lundberg Family Farms. During the four-day event we handed out samples of rice products made by some extraordinary people out on the left coast.
During my time there I bumped into Jessica Murnane on her way through Stratton Village. She stopped at our tent and we were able to talk for a few minutes. Jessica was at Wanderlust as a presenter. She had just published a book and was sharing some of her knowledge to some of the folks in Vermont looking to find their “true north” (festival phrase, not mine).
Jessica’s book, One Part Plant is a great place to start for those of you interested in making positive changes to your health and well being, but are not ready to go head over your plant based heels like I did.
Since being let out of the house after my bypass and subsequent stint in cardiac rehab I come across folks I share my story with. It doesn’t happen every day, in fact I can go weeks without mentioning what happened to me. For the most part my health reports stay in the family. Shared by those closest to me and those that we with me during the darker days, and now of course, to all of you reading my blog.
Every once and awhile I talk about it to a stranger. And on that day in Vermont Jessica was that stranger. Having done this a few times I can tell you it’s all in the eyes. There is a way someone looks at you that you feel at ease sharing your story and then listening to their response. These few people that I have been lucky to come across during my recovery have had a huge impact, it is as if they understand me even though we were strangers nine minutes prior.
I quickly learned that Jessica had her own health issues, which she details in her book, that led her to seek out new ways to nurture her body. What she was able to accomplish by changing her diet and lifestyle was extraordinary and she is a gifted role model for anyone looking to improve their well being and live a healthier lifestyle.
So after our brief encounter ended I got back to professing to the Wanderlust crowd about the benefits of the many Lundberg products. Just as I was saying to myself, “Remember to go buy that One Part Plant book,” Jessica glided by and handed me a copy. A simple act of kindness that I think about often and try to do a better job of incorporating into my life.
Speaking of incorporating things, don’t think I have forgotten about you and your take home test. As I continue my recovery I am constantly learning new things. Reading countless articles, blogs and journals, watching documentaries on health, yes, I will be coming for your milk and eggs soon enough, and discussing big ideas with smart people have me focused on improving my life more than ever.
But I need to do better. We all do. So back to our test. As for me, I need to push myself to improve my body. Every pound I lose is weight off my heart. I just passed the six month post surgery time and even though I hear about all the progress I am making it is not enough. I am still too heavy and my portion sizes are too large. That will be my test.
I am going to increase my exercise and cut my portions, and to keep me honest you will see new tabs on this site that will bring you to my diet and exercise experiences (I’ll still keep this spot as a longer form space). Perhaps we can share a recipe or three and help each other with some good home exercise routines in between updates from the Appalachian Trail.
As for you. Your test is to follow in Jessica’s footprints and add one plant based meal to your daily meal intake. It’s far easier than it sounds and if you need Jessica’s book for help I am sure you can find a link to buy it on her site http://www.jessicamurnane.com/ or let me know and you can borrow my copy. One plant based meal a day. It is a small step that will have a big impact on your body.
And for extra credit. Don’t think I forgot about extra credit. Another favorite phrase of mine from my schoolboy days. I always loved extra credit questions, they gave me hope in a hopeless world of Algebra equations.
For extra credit, take a half dozen or so of the food items you use most often and look at their ingredients. Write down the words you don’t recognize and look those words up. Once you do that ask yourself this questions. Why am I eating that?
Good luck on your tests everyone. I hope you are learning as much as I am. If you are struggling to find an answer or two, take a deep breathe and look around. The answers are usually right in front of you.