My Jelly Bean Journey

By Hannah Raiche

I think that everyone, whether they’d like to admit it or not, has gone through a time in their lives where the choices that they were making hindered their ability to be “well.” It is true that wellness can be defined in many different ways and can look different in practice from one person to the next, but it is that fluidity which allows each person to discover and create their own individualized wellness strategies and plans. I strongly believe that my own wellness journey is uniquely suited to promote “wellness” in the way that I define it, meaning that what works for me in maintaining wellness and a healthy lifestyle may not work for others. But, I have found that embarking on the adventure of defining what “wellness” means to you and incorporating wellness strategies that help you to meet your wellness goals is probably the most important (and fun) part of the your entire wellness journey! With that being said, I do want to share a bit about my own personal wellness journey in hopes that it will #InspireWellness in others.

 

Admittedly, I am still quite new to grasping the concept of individual/personal wellness. Growing up, I always understood wellness in terms of not eating a bunch of cookies or cake all the time and playing at least one sport per season for purpose of planned physical activity a few times a week. It is only in the last two years that I have begun to truly understand and appreciate the various dimensions of wellness and the intricacies that such an open-ended term, like “wellness,” can encompass. While I still find a great deal of value in being physically active and making healthy food choices that nourish and energize my mind and body, I now have a very different take on what personal wellness means to me both theory and in practice.

My most recent wellness journey was kick started about three years ago at a family holiday party when I presented a four year old with a box of jelly beans that I was simply regifting because I didn’t want to eat them but also didn’t want to be wasteful by throwing them away. When she opened the box to find that it was filled with jelly beans you would’ve thought that I had just given her a multi-million dollar winning lottery ticket. Honestly, to this day I still have never seen a happier glow in someone’s eyes or the type of genuine excitement and gratitude that this little girl showed over a relatively thoughtless gesture on my part. It was then and there that I realized that I had lost that spark of genuine happiness, excitement, and gratitude in my own life. I began wondering why I no longer felt that kind of spark about anything in my life and when that had happened. Although I never did find satisfactory answers to the ‘why’ and ‘when’ questions that filled my head, I realized that for years I had been going through the motions of life without truly feeling alive. From that silly jelly bean epiphany on, I promised myself that I was going to spend my life rediscovering and pursuing the things that make me feel passionately and genuinely happy, excited, and grateful.     

That little four year old jelly bean lover is now an amazingly thoughtful, intelligent, witty (and devious) second grader and I can’t wait until she’s a old enough to fully comprehend the extent of the impact that she has had (and continues to have) on my personal wellness journey. Her authentic enthusiasm and energy inspired me to completely rethink the way that I was choosing to live my life.  I could go on for pages and pages about the multitude of wellness benefits that come from staying active, well-hydrated, well-nourished, and well-rested, and all of those things do have an enormous influence on my day to day wellness, but, for me, rediscovering wellness was about shifting my frame of mind and adopting an attitude of gratitude. It’s not always easy to be grateful for everything that life throws at you (because it’s usually not a big box of jelly beans) and I certainly still have days when I struggle to see things as challenges and life experiences instead of barriers and obstacles; but actively choosing to prioritize my own wellness every day by pursuing the things that make me feel alive has made me feel more happiness and fulfillment then I could have ever imagined possible.

Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read about my wellness journey and I hope that is has helped to #InspireWellness in all of you the way that your energy and enthusiasm continues to inspire me!

And a little more about today’s bloggers favorite…

Food: Cucumbers

Place: White Mountains of Northern New Hampshire

Exercise: Yoga

Book: The Giver

Movie: Harry Potter and the Socerer’s Stone (on a cool Sunday in October with hot cider)

Vacation Place: Cocoa Beach, Florida

#InspireWellness: A View from Johanna’s Desk

In my work I frequently get to talk about the importance of mental and emotional health.  I am so excited for this chance to talk openly about other dimensions of wellness that are incredibly important to me.  And I invite you to come with us on this celebration of wellness throughout the month of September. Share in whatever way feels right to you, and when possible, let us know by using #InspireWellness.

I love food. Simply love it. I love eating, designing menus, grocery shopping, dining with friends and families, making food to give to others, talking about food, teaching cooking classes… You get the picture. I especially love to fuel my body with the food that makes me feel good. My individual food choices are driven by a desire to support local farmers and our local economy by purchasing food directly from local farmers whenever possible. My food choices are driven by a deeper understanding of the economics of our food system and the impact that food selection has on our environment. My food choices are driven by the experience that green vegetables, whole foods and balanced meals make me physically powerful.  In fact, I view each opportunity to eat as an opportunity to lead and advocate for the world I want. I challenge each of you to think of why you eat the food you do each day. Are vegetables apart of your life? If not – how can they find a way onto your plate?

I was blessed with an innate love of green vegetables. (And I believe you can grow to love them if you don’t already!)

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to find a balance of physical activity that is right for me. I challenge you to find something that works for you! I sometimes think I am allergic to exercise. My whole mind and body seems to revolt at the thought of a long distance run or pushups. I do love the way I feel after my body moves. After a long struggle of trying to find an exercise that works for me…I started to walk. Just a walk, almost every day. And I love it! I listen to podcasts as I walk and look forward to it as a time to be inspired, a time to reconnect with my physical body and a time that is just for me. And in a perfect world I find time for yoga!

Each day that I fuel my body with the best food possible and set aside the time to stretch my legs in a walk throughout my Northeast Iowa hills I go to bed with so many of my wellness dimensions in good places. When I break it down to the basics:

Veggies + walking = balance in emotional, environmental and intellectual dimensions

Find the equation that is right for you!

I am overwhelmed by the excitement I have received from Youth MOVErs after our decision to celebrate whole body wellness throughout the month of September.  Wellness is really important to us here at National AND really, really important to me personally.

At the end of the day – Thank YOU – for inspiring wellness in me.

You can follow the Youth MOVE Chapter Network’s celebration of wellness on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest throughout September with the hashtag #InspireWellness. Please join us!

-Johanna

And a little more about today’s bloggers favorite....

Food:  Spinach

Place:  Northeast Iowa

Exercise:  Walking

Book:  Harry Potter

Movie:  The Lion King

Vacation Place:  New Orleans

Introducing Youth MOVE's New Executive Director

Youth MOVE Nation:

Many of us come to associate the start of a new year with resolutions, self-improvement, and new beginnings. Such has been the case with us at Youth MOVE National.

It is with much excitement that I announce the hiring of Johanna Bergan as our new Executive Director. Johanna took over as Interim Executive Director in October when our founding Executive Director, Lacy Kendrick-Burk, resigned to pursue other ventures in her career. Johanna had planned to stay in the interim position just a few months until we hired someone permanently. However, as I had hoped, Johanna realized that she was exactly where she needed to be, and decided to apply for the position.

Johanna has been involved with Youth MOVE National from the beginning, serving on the Board of Directors for 4 years. When we parted ways with the Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health and became our own independent organization in 2012, Johanna applied and was hired as the Director of Membership Services. She will maintain this role as well until we bring on additional staff.

John Quincy Adams, 6th US President, said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” I believe this to be true with Johanna. I’ve never met anymore more committed to their work. She truly lives, breathes, and bleeds Youth MOVE. I am excited to see where her fearless leadership takes us, and know she is going to be a true RockStar for Youth and Young Adults across our nation.

All the Best,

Brittany Holt

President, Youth MOVE National

YouthMoveLogo2Color

Transition of Youth MOVE Executive Director

Greetings, Youth MOVE Nation!

 

In a time of transition, I am able to look back on all that has accomplished, as well as forward to all that will come.  I have so very much enjoyed the opportunity to work with the amazing group of phenomenal young leaders across the Youth MOVE nation, and have been able to witness and support the growth of the youth voice MOVEment over the past two years. I believe I have been able to make a major difference in not only for the Youth MOVEment, but have helped to further youth voice and leadership skills for our nation’s young people.

 

When I started at Youth MOVE National, we had three half-time positions, and through work with our leadership team, was able to increase this to four full-time positions, with nearly quadruple the budget in less than two years, as well as providing strategic implementation of policies and procedures necessary to provide organizational infrastructure. Additionally, I oversaw the development and implementation of several successful programs, including the National Young Leaders Network, the Trauma Informed Method of Engagement (TIME) Model, the first grassroots, youth-led national policy initiative in our field – What Helps What Harms, Youth Peer Support Standards and activities, saw an increase from 43 to 77 chapters nationwide, and held the best Rockstar Youth Leadership Track at the Georgetown Training Institutes yet!

 

While I consider it an absolute privilege to have led this organization and this MOVEment for the past two years, an important part of leadership is knowing when to step out of the spotlight and support the next generation of young leaders to take over. As such, my time has come to pass this amazing and incredible opportunity on to the next fantastic young leader. Effective September 30, 2014, I will no longer serve as the Executive Director for Youth MOVE National. This is not an ending, but simply a transition in how I can continue to serve the Youth MOVEment.

 

Johanna Bergan, our current Director of Member Services, who you all already know and love, will serve as the Interim Executive Director. I look forward to supporting the next aspiring and inspiring leader of Youth MOVE National. I want to sincerely thank each and every person who has supported us (and myself) along this incredible journey, all of the supportive adults who have provided their guidance and wisdom, and the young leaders across the nation who continue to inspire and motivate me every dayI encourage you all to seriously consider visiting www.youthmovenational.org to make a financial donation to Youth MOVE National as our staff continue assisting the Youth MOVEment to grow strong in voice, leadership skills, talents, connections, and most importantly support of each other It truly takes all of us to continue a strong Youth MOVEment, and it has been an honor and a privilege to serve each and every one of you. I can’t wait to see where you all take the Youth MOVEment in the future.

 

Stay well, Youth MOVErs J 

 

Yours truly,

 

Lacy Kendrick Burk

Advocate for Youth

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