Hopefully routine will stick

Hopefully routine will stick

I felt alive this morning as Lucy and I headed out the door shortly after 6 a.m. to go for a morning run, something we have failed to do for way too many weeks. This morning I was reminded why I need to stick with this running routine of mine.

I was spoiled for two years. I had the opportunity to walk away from my work whenever my heart desired because I worked from the comfort of my own home as a freelance journalist. Since we were living in NE Tennessee at the time, it was not crucial to go running first thing in the morning to beat the heat. We usually went mid-morning to  mid-afternoon when the temperatures were comfortable to run in .

Now I am faced with a new challenge . . . beating the Florida heat, which means going super early in the morning before the sun becomes too intense.

As of June 8, my freedom became no longer as I started my full-time job as the editor of The Islander. I will be completely honest, it has been extremely difficult putting myself on a schedule that included both exercising and giving myself enough time to complete my work without being at the office for all hours of the day and night.

With Jason and I working completely different schedules, I stay up later than I should to spend some time with him, which makes it hard to get up super early the next morning.

So, setting all my excuses aside, Lucy and I went for a 3-mile run last night around 6 p.m. The sky was overcast and there was a breeze, so I thought why not, let’s go for a run. Lucy took off at full speed as soon as we rounded our corner, which became almost a crawl by the time we finished our 3-miles. The run was sticky and buggy, which was a new experience for me. When we got home I had bugs stuck to my arms, shirt and in other places that surprised me. It was gross running through windows of bugs, but I was determined, so we kept on going.

I felt energized in a way I haven’t experienced in a long time. I know running is my outlet. I know running is what clears my head. So, this feeling of energy was welcomed with open arms even when the exhaustion hit.

With the motivation in full swing, I got out of bed before 6 a.m. this morning so I could put some more miles on these running shoes of mine that are still brand new. I figured I would head out by myself this morning to give Lucy some rest after last night’s run. When she saw me putting on my running shoes, she went running into the bedroom and laid in bed with Jason. So, I continued to get everything ready. I unlocked the door and this little puppy reappeared at my feet eager to go with me. After putting her harness on she was ready whining because I was not opening the door fast enough.

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Our run started in the dark and ended with a beautiful sunrise painting the Florida sky an array of oranges. It was by far the perfect way to start a Monday. I was thankful I dragged myself out of bed and started a routine that will hopefully stick.

I’m pretty proud of Lucy and I. In two days, we have ran 5.39 miles after taking 13 days off.

Maybe I needed to take some time off to fully appreciate running again. I know both Lucy and I need that 30-minutes or so workout.

Since we are now starting a new month, I am determined to go running at least four or five times a week like I used to in Tennessee. Time to get this body back into shape!

‘Know thy food’

Fresh summer salads, information about eating healthy shared during potluck dinner

Published in Sanibel-Captiva Islander July 29, 2015 issue

Community members were treated to an assortment of healthy, fresh summer salads that were made step-by-step last week by the co-owner of The Sanibel Sprout during the monthly potluck dinners at the Community House.

In addition to teaching those in attendance how to prepare summer salads and homemade dressings, Nikki Rood provided some information about why it’s important to fuel the body with healthy foods.

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Rood, who owns the shop located near Bailey’s with her mom, moved to Sanibel from Miami three years ago when her mom was suffering from Leukemia. The two decided to work on her mom’s diet to see if that would help her health.

“I said do you want to try and tackle this and take this on and see what a plant based whole food, no chemical, diet might make a change in your condition,” she said. “She was completely game. For a month every single morning I cooked for her or prepared for her all plant based (foods.)”

In three months time, a visit to her mother’s oncologist confirmed that a plant based diet was beneficial.

“In three months she went to her oncologist and her numbers were fabulous. The guy wanted to know what she did and we just laughed all the way home,” Root said. “She has never turned back and it is now three or four years later.”

Rood, a firm believer that food is medicine, shared her philosophy with the crowd, “Let food by thy medicine . . know thy food.”

Before she took those in attendance through the preparations of chilled almond curried salad, arugula and fresh pear salad and island coconut quinoa confetti salad she shared some information about the role food has with health.

“Everyday there is new research coming out on how our food sources have been poisoned if you will,” Rood said. “This isn’t sensationalism. This is proven fact. The rash of the epidemic of chronic disease, like cancers and autoimmune disease, inflammatory diseases, it’s starting to look like the food source has been a large part of the problem. All of the problem, no. As a civilization there are many things going on. But I think if we move back towards the way we used to eat . . .good healthy nutritious organic food that isn’t sprayed and manipulated and processed and sitting on a shelf for five years before we even touch it.”

She told the crowd that there is vitality in fresh food that offers an aliveness, which translates to the body.

“When you eat it you can feel the difference between eating a fresh vibrant salad and fit and a McDonald’s burger,” Rood said. “You can feel the heaviness in your body or you can feel the light.”

The dialogue of fresh foods, she believes should continue, so people can take the power back from big farms and big agriculture entities.

“Everybody’s body is different and for me to sit up here and tell you, you should eat a certain way is disingenuous,” Rood said. “I am here to show you some healthy options and some fun ways to make some tasty foods that are really going to fuel your body instead of harm your body.”

Information about acid alkaline, and wheat and gluten were discussed while she prepared the various salads.

Lemons are a great source for acid that is good for the body. A glass of water with a slice of lemon, Root said is a great way to start the day.

She said more and more people are forming allergies to gluten and wheat because an individual’s digestive tract becomes compromised from a lifetime of ingesting various chemicals found in foods.

“You can get a heavy feeling or it can actually cause depression, inflammation,” Root said. “If you are feeling not well in many cases you may be eating an inflammatory diet without recognizing it and that will wreak havoc to your sleep cycles and your digestion.”

‘Recipes to CROW About’

‘Recipes to CROW About’

CROW set to launch first ever cookbook

Published in Sanibel-Captiva Islander July 29, 2015 issue

A unique fundraising effort that includes the public’s participation of an original idea created by one of CROW’s volunteers is in full swing.

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Cecilia Tweedy, head of the CROW cookbook committee and longtime volunteer, said the idea of creating a cookbook surfaced in February after brainstorming fundraising ideas. She said on a whim she created a proposal and shared it with the executive director of CROW, who told her to run with the cookbook idea.

The adventures of figuring out how to put a cookbook together began as she visited stores seeking information and ideas about what paper to use for the cookbook, as well as which printers to use.

“They were explaining things in a different language,” she said laughing. “I don’t understand bond and thickness, all of which I had samples of.”

With not fully grasping all the information that was shared, Tweedy decided to contact The Sanibel School and ask if she could meet with someone from the art department. The phone call put her in touch with Tylor Stewart and 10 fifth grade students.

Tweedy said Stewart and her students were writing an organic cookbook at the time because they have an organic garden at the school.

“I met with the children at the school and was honestly overwhelmed,” she said.

After arriving at the school, Tweedy was greeted by 10 kids with folders who introduced themselves through a handshake. She said after she explained her problem the kids opened their folders and one at a time asked three questions, some of which included what is your marketing plan and what size cookbook do you want to use.

“Throughout the whole process these 10 children, who have submitted 10 recipes, have been totally supportive of this book and of CROW,” Tweedy said. “They helped me choose the bond and the size of the cookbook. Incredible. Incredible.”

Since the children became supportive of CROW she asked how many had visited the facility, which resulted in about half of them raising their hand. On Feb. 19, the 10 children were led on a tour of the entire facility, which resulted in them becoming bigger ambassadors and supporters of CROW.

“Their power, plus the proposal got me going . . . got me on track and I knew where I had to go,” Tweedy said.

From there, she formed a committee of folks who volunteer at CROW who met on a weekly basis. On April 24, the committee felt they had a great handle on how the cookbook will look and what it will contain.

The philosophy of the cookbook is “healthy recipes written with clarity.”

“From the design of the cover to the separation of categories, to the dedication is just spectacular. It’s going to be a legacy for CROW, honestly,” Tweedy said. “It’s going to be really wonderful. We chose great colors and I think everybody is going to be really thrilled with it.”

The cookbook, which bares the name “Recipes to CROW About featuring Taste of the Island Restaurants,” will contain 250 recipes from such groups as the 27 restaurants who participate in Taste of the Islands, CROW volunteers and the general public.

The community can submit recipes by emailing them to crowrecipes@gmail.com. Tweedy said those interested should include the name of the recipe, ingredients and their name in the email. The committee is taste testing the recipes before they are formatted for the cookbook.

Those who wish to contribute are asked to send the recipes as soon as possible, so they can be formatted for the cookbook.

“I got 27 recipes from Facebook,” Tweedy said Thursday morning. “Most of which are from island people and volunteers.”

The cookbook is split into five categories – appetizers, main dishes, vegetarian dishes, soup and salad and dessert. Throughout the cookbook five inserts will be included providing helpful hints for cooking.

Tweedy said she hopes to launch the cookbook at Taste of the Islands.

“The profits will go towards CROW,” she said, adding “Not only are we going to produce a cookbook for $20, but it’s an eBook as well. You can take your cookbook anywhere you want.”

“Recipes to CROW About,” will also be available on Amazon.

“It will be a healthy contribution for CROW in terms of profit because we all have done the work,” Tweedy said.

My morning paradise

My morning paradise

This morning I visited Lighthouse Beach on Sanibel to take photographs for one of my paper’s features called Faces.

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I arrived shortly after 8 a.m. with my camera in hand ready to capture wildlife. The clouds kept the sun away for the entire hour I stayed. With clouds built as far as I could see, I still walked away with more than 130 pictures.

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Although the sun did not beat down on the beach, the wildlife still made its presence. I had so much fun watching the birds every move while capturing their hunt for food in the water and on the sand.

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Most of the birds did not pay any attention to me. I tried to give them their distance as I used my zoom to capture them.

The osprey, perched on the side of the lighthouse and in their nest were the most intriguing.

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The highlight of my trip to the beach was of course the dolphins. Spotting a dolphin will never grow old, never! There is truly something special about watching them play in the water. Today there were three or four of them swimming together.

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I swatted away many sand fleas while trying to keep the camera steady to take photographs of the dolphins.

I thought of my puppy Lucy when I spotted this little lizard. She would have gone nuts trying to chase it.

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The pictures below were taken on a sunset cruise Jason and I took last month of the Lighthouse Beach. It was a completely different perspective . . . a beautiful way to see the shoreline.

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Next month will mark two months since I started on Sanibel as the editor of the Islander. The excitement has not gone away . . .

I work in a beautiful place, a place where I get to explore on a more intimate basis.

 

 

 

Strangely beautiful animals

Strangely beautiful animals

This morning I had an interview on Captiva with Matt, a Florida Gulf Coast University grad student working on a grant challenge about American pen shells. We sat under an umbrella near the water during our interview, which provided such a laid back relaxing atmosphere. The interview was fascinating.

After learning about pen shells and the beautiful pearls they produce, he asked if I wanted to see his home, a sailboat out in the bay near Jensen’s Marina. Before we made it to the end of the dock, we stopped and watched a family of manatees swim around and come up for air. Matt said about seven manatees hang out at the marina, which included a few young manatees. A smile was plastered on my face the entire time. I just could not help it . . . they made me happy as I watched their every move.

I was mesmerized by these strangely beautiful creatures that were so docile. Today was the first time I have been so up-close and personal with these giant animals. It was hard to walk away because they kept drawing me in, which resulted in a slew of photographs.

This was definitely the highlight of my day.

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‘Nature provides us with surprise’

‘Nature provides us with surprise’

Alexandra Cousteau shares her story during Float for Life event

Published in Sanibel-Captiva Islander July 22, 2015 issue

Alexandra Cousteau captivated a few audiences with her stories about the ocean and how exploration of the waters was discovered more than 40 years ago.

The guest speaker, who is the granddaughter of Jacques Cousteau, traveled from Berlin, Germany to speak at the Sunday, July 12, Float for Life event on Fort Myers Beach and later at the Sanibel Sea School.

Once the 75 participants of the 2nd annual Float for Life completed the first portion of the event, they gathered under a large white tent near Pink Shell Resort and Marina to listen to Alexandra share her story.

She took the audience on a journey, which involved many memories with her grandfather.

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Alexandra Cousteau

The voyage started in the 1950s when no one knew what was under the surface of the ocean. Although Jacques had been like James Bond as the French intelligence for the Navy, he found his true passion while on leave from the service.

“He actually encountered his passion like many of us do totally by accident,” Alexandra said. “He originally wanted to be a fighter pilot. He dreamt of flying and not diving.”

While driving on windy roads to a wedding in South France while on leave, Jacques had a really bad car accident that broke his back and took the use of both of his arms. Although the doctors wanted to amputate his arms, he refused, replying “calm down, I’m going to fix it.”

Alexandra said her grandfather worked for several months just to move his tiny pinky finger. A suggestion from a good friend of swimming in the warm waters of the Mediterranean to build his strength, furthered his recovery.

“As he looked down, he saw things that no longer exist in the Mediterranean,” she said. “He saw three to 400 pound groupers and all sorts of extraordinary marine life. He said wait ‘I want to go deeper. I want to stay longer. I want to be able to really understand what is down there.'”

When Jacques’ passion for the ocean developed, tools of exploration had not yet been created, which encouraged him to invent the aqua lung.

“He tested it and tested it and almost lost his life several times. It was an incredible thing,” Alexandra said. “When you look at exploration over the course of the past thousand years, more than anything else, it is exploration that has shaped our civilization. It’s the 1500’s when the Europeans set out from Europe and sailed around the world and conquered a few people and spread some disease. But, they began the process of globalization and finding out what is beyond their own shore.”

She said her grandfather’s tool, the aqua lung, shifted how individuals understand the world.

“He pulled back the curtain on 70 percent of this planet and showed us what was there . . . the sharks, the sea otters, the fish, the whales, the dolphins and then he helped us understand the connections that those creatures and those places have on us,” Alexandra said. “He inspired people from around the world to want to explore and discover the ocean.”

As a very tall and skinny 7 year old, she had the opportunity to go scuba diving for the first time with her grandfather. Alexandra admitted that she learned how to swim before she could walk so she was very comfortable in the water.

However, when she stood on the side of the boat looking at the black water, those feelings changed to being sacred.

“I didn’t exactly want to tell him I was scared,” Alexandra said. “So I looked up at him, he winked at me and he pushed me.”

A tentative breath was taken and then another breath, which gave her courage to swim down 20 feet. When Alexandra stopped and looked at the ocean’s surface she witnessed a school of small silver fish. With the help of a light shining through the water, she noticed the fish were swimming towards her.

“When I reached out they would move away and when I pulled my hand back they would move back in,” she explained. “It was sort of this incredible thing that I experienced and it shifted something inside of me and made me more courageous and made me more curious and made me want to go deeper and stay longer.”

Passion of learning more about the ocean and environment was instilled in Alexandra as a young girl, often times through adventures had with her grandfather.

“I like to go find what is there because in a highly regulated environment that we have created with our civilization, nature provides us with surprise. It provides us with an opportunity to not be able to suspect what is going to happen next,” she said. “I think that more than anything else, it makes us feel truly alive when we are in nature. When we are encountering the unknown and feeling amazed by it, even if it’s just a few thousand small fish, they have the ability to amaze us and become something to remember for the rest of our life.”

Although many of Alexandra’s favorite places as a young girl are no longer around, she still has hope for the ocean and land.

“Here in the United States and around the world are communities that come together and protect what they love because those places define them and those places are part of their legacy,” she said. “They come together to reclaim, restore and protect these places that they love. When enough people protect what they love at home then we can shift the moment. We can reclaim these places and pass them onto our children.”

Alexandra’s meet and greet at the Sanibel Sea School began by sharing similar stories of her grandfather and how he created the aqua lung. She then took questions from the audience, so they could direct where the conversation lead.

‘Something magical happens’

‘Something magical happens’

Float for Life event attracts larger crowd for second annual event
Published in Sanibel-Captiva Islander July 22, 2015 issue

Seventy-five individuals reunited with the ocean on Fort Myers Beach while floating on their backs in an effort for them to fall in love with the water, which in turn will encourage them to become stewards of the ocean.

Seventy-five people participated in the second annual Float for Life event on Fort Myers Beach.

Seventy-five people participated in the second annual Float for Life event on Fort Myers Beach.

“Two years ago Roy and I moved to Palm City on the east coast of Florida,” Shelley Lynch said. “The devastation of the waters and the death of marine life were so painful for us. We felt so powerless, so we decided we wanted to be apart of the solution. One day we said, ‘you know we float people for a living, let’s float them for our oceans.'”

That thought ignited the inaugural Float for Life event last year on Fort Myers Beach.

A quote from Mother Theresa, “If you ask me to march against something I won’t join you. If you ask me to march for something I will be there,” made the thought into reality. The first event attracted 55 people within six months of promoting the event last year.

“We are here to float for our waters, marine life, for our eco system that supports us and gives so much to us,” Lynch told the 75 participants this year through tearful eyes. “This topic is so emotional and passionate for me that I want to cry because it is so important.”

Lynch grew up on the Florida coast in a little town when kids were able to roam freely. She spent countless hours on the beach, in the Gulf of Mexico and in the intercostal waters that were lined with massive mangroves that were used to play make believe house.

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“It was really where I fell in love with the ocean,” Lynch said. “I feel like it was my third parent. It was my solace.”

Her husband, Roy Desjarlais grew up on the canals of Cape Coral where he spent countless hours finding ways to be in or near the water.

“The love of the water became ingrained very early,” he said. “So that is really the heart and passion for me when it comes to Float for Life. We are both therapist wanting to help people.”

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The participants separated into groups of three and headed for the ocean near Pink Shell Resort and Marina Sunday, July 12. Each member of the group floated for 10 minutes while the other two group members provided assistance with their head and legs.

“We want things to be on a really positive note when you connect with the water. When you are positive, when you have that connection, you tend to love things and care for things,” Desjarlais said.

Fort Myers resident Paula Reiss attended the event for the first time this year because Jacques Cousteau has had a major impact on her life. She said she met him many years ago, which resulted in scuba diving and being actively involved with water quality issues.

“It was a very interesting experience,” she said of floating. “You don’t feel like anything is going on around you until you go vertical.”

Once Reiss went from the horizontal to vertical position she said it resembled the “feeling you get when you wake from a good sleep.”

Other participants described their experience as feeling safe, incredibly peaceful and it allowed them to tune into how their body was feeling. Another participant said “the rough waves out there weren’t ideal, but it’s kind of representative of life in a way.”

Alexandra Cousteau and Roy Desjarlais.

Alexandra Cousteau and Roy Desjarlais.

Guest speaker Alexandra Cousteau, Jacques Cousteau’s granddaughter, said it was really exciting for her to see everyone floating and enjoying the ocean.

“I hope that we will take something away from this day and that will be some renewed conviction that everything you do matters and every single choice you make has a consequence . . . that it doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” she said.

In addition to participants, the Float for Life event also attracted many volunteers that assisted before, during and after the festivities.

Edie Gleason, a Sanibel resident, said she wanted to volunteer because she loves the ocean and believes in the importance and connection between the health of the water, environment and everyone’s actions.

“I encourage people to think and support government issues,” she said.

The event’s beneficiary this year was the Sanibel Sea School, which resulted in a presentation from Cofounder and Executive Director Bruce Neill. He shared with the crowd that the Sanibel Sea School’s mission is to improve the ocean’s future one person at a time through marine conservation and education.

Sanibel Sea School Cofounder and Executive Director Bruce Neill

Sanibel Sea School Cofounder and Executive Director Bruce Neill

“Very quickly we are all going to realize that conservation is the true economic way to do things. It is the most cost effective way to do things in the future,” Neill said. “Humans don’t change our behavior based on data. We don’t read numbers and say ‘oh geez, I shouldn’t be doing that.’ We change our behavior based on emotions. At the very root of conservation is an emotional attachment to that thing.”

He classified the work between Lynch, Desjarlais, guest speaker Alexandra Cousteau and the Sanibel Sea Schools as a perfect union.

“It is conservation that is hooked to an emotional content of how we feel about the environment that sustains us,” Neill said.

Float for Life is similar to the Sanibel Sea School’s soul floats, which also connects individuals with the ocean.

“We like to cover our chests and we tend to not open our chest because it tends to leave us vulnerable,” Neill said. “So when we lie on the ocean and open our arms to allow us to float . . . when we open our arms and we open our chest something magical happens. We become reunited with the ocean and not only do we heal ourselves, we reinvigorate the love for the ocean.”

One of the main messages participants took away from the event was how to become better stewards of the water.

“To me what that means is take personal responsibility for our immediate environment,” Desjarlais said. “Embrace personal stewardship and create a new habit or embrace the old one and let that ripple out.”