Giving Back

Zach, Amélie and Lakota kids on the Pine Ridge reservation

For a long time now, I have been on the receiving end of a lot of generosity. I have often wondered how in the world I could reciprocate and felt lost at how to do this. I finally realized while giving back directly might not be needed, giving back indirectly is definitely needed. One morning a few weeks ago, the executive director of a non-profit called Conscious Alliance invited me and the kids to go help feed 850 families on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. This was not totally random. Lance had been on the board of Conscious Alliance (www.consciousalliance.org), which helps Native Americans in some of the most impoverished communities in the country.

This was a symbolic pilgrimage because it felt like a way of honoring Lance (he had been there too) and doing something meaningful and eye opening for the kids. Pine Ridge is the poorest reservation in the country. It’s population is 30,000. The average lifespan is 50 years old. 80% of the people are unemployed. The people are riddled with diabetes, heart disease, and alcoholism. People live in total destitution and hunger. They live in a world of no hope. A world that was taken away from them with no means to make money. It is just plain sad. Nothing like perspective to give your life a lot of meaning.

The awesome Justin’s Nut Butter team.

Our job? To bag and distribute 850 turkeys (brought up from Boulder in a huge penske truck) as well as veggies, potatoes, corn, stuffing and of course Justin’s Nut Butter. We did this both by people coming to us and by driving and delivering door to door. The Chief and his wife have been doing this for 16 years.

 

 

I’ve been to my fair share of third world countries but this felt somehow sadder than anything I have ever seen. Somehow the people in India don’t feel as if they have completely given up hope but this is what it felt like on Pine Ridge. And it’s right in our back yard…right here in our very own FIRST?! world country.

Amélie delivering a turkey and food

My kids LOVED this opportunity. In fact, Amélie could have stayed for a week. They loved the communal feeling of working together. They loved interacting with the people…just trying to make a small gesture of kindness. It made them feel good. It made me feel good. Nothing like community work to get you out of your head.

Lance and I had a shared dream of exposing our children to eye opening experiences and give them perspective on how many people in the world live. One thing I have promised myself is I will make this dream come true.

I greatly encourage you to go out and help. It can feel defeating to see the disparity of a situation but if we were ALL doing a little bit here and there, it could really make a difference…and you don’t have to go all the way to South Dakota. I am sure there are plenty of opportunities right in your home town.

I felt honored to be asked to go to Pine Ridge, grateful to be with the Conscious Alliance and Justin’s Nut Butter teams and humbled for the individuals who opened their homes and allowed us to help.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Love,
Nancy

Back in business

Some people have advised me to take it slow this year. Sit around and grieve all day? Trust me, I cry enough. Before Lance was sick, I was a life coach for seven years. Back in January 2011, Lance became my sole subject, my passion, my everything. Now I am ready to return to work, I’m inspired and I’m on a mission. My mission is not only to encourage people to eat more healthy but to live their lives more healthily: body, mind, spirit.  I want to share my knowledge (which I will continue to do so on this blog) of the many many different lessons Lance and I learned throughout his illness but I am ready to do this one on one as well. Throughout this process, I realized my true passion is helping people change their lives for the better.

I have some strong opinions and convictions of why this happened to Lance. I believe illness is a combination of a perfect storm, habits that are not serving one both physically and mentally. Lance believed this too. There are too many illnesses out there, cancer raising exponentially over the decades, and what about auto-immune diseases? They seem rampant.

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL. I feel equally if not even more passionate about how people are living their lives NOT just what they are putting in their bodies. My mission is to help you live your life the best you can every single day, right NOW!

Some people start a foundation to raise awareness towards the illness that took their loved one. For me, the best way I see of honoring Lance, is sharing what I’ve learned in order to raise awareness on a healthy lifestyle. I want to help you change. It takes EFFORT to have a balanced life, to eat healthy, to live your life in the most fulfilling way…But guess what? You have me! Someone to be accountable to, to champion you, to give you the occasional kick in the pants and of course love and compassion along the way.

So this is to say, I am officially back in business although it will be much more focused on health, wellness and life choices.  I will listen, motivate, and encourage you to change. Everyone has heard the expression “if you had a year to live…” but the truth is we are closer to our death every single day even if we are lucky enough to live to be 80. So my message is CHANGE NOW!

While I don’t have an official website yet, if you are interested, please contact me at gentrynan@gmail.com and as always please post words of encouragement on the blog.

“A year from now you will have wished you started today” –Karen Lamb

Love and health,
Nancy
PS: I wanted to share my first published article in Elephant Journal and stay tuned for videos coming in the near future.

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/11/my-husbands-last-words-nancy-gentry/