Most of us at one time or another have wondered whether we alone have the power to change things around us for the better. If you’re like me, you’ve also battled with your ego’s response to that question telling you that you can’t ultimately make a difference on your own and that it’s better not to try then to be disappointed.
However, we also know that if every one of us believed that, nothing would be possible. Individuals can and do make huge contributions in the lives of others and ultimately the planet as a whole. The question to ask yourself is whether those individuals are other people or are you included in that group. In my own experience, I have been exploring that question for several years and hope that by sharing my own efforts in the area of health with each of you, you might be inspired to put your own personal vision into action within your own communities.
For those who don’t already know, I do most of my writing from Buenos Aires, Argentina where I’ve lived the past 4.5 years. When I set out on my South American adventure, the last thing I envisioned was that I would be taking a stand for health education and change in a primarily meat eating culture where the concepts of vegetarianism and veganism are as foreign to the local culture as I am to their country.
Having just completed two certifications in health and wellness coaching as well as completely transforming my own diet prior to my arrival, I was a little disgruntled to learn that even finding raw nuts in a basic supermarket would present a challenge in my new home. Eventually I discovered that there were special diet stores where I could find whole grains, nuts, beans and other health products, but the fact that health foods were considered specialty items and not part of the mainstream diet was both a surprise and a potential opportunity.
Very quickly after my arrival in 2006, I began to realize that there were many things I had taken for granted in the U.S. in regards to caring for my health, especially the availability of products and convenience health foods. At that time there were very few, if any, salad bars (a “salad” in Argentina consists of lettuce, tomato and onion even in your most upscale restaurants), healthy take-out or deli foods, health bars or snacks, juice bars or any way in which to order food or supplement products from other countries. Additionally, most of the people didn’t have a clear understanding of the word organic, making it difficult for companies and farmers to justify investing in certification standards. Luckily Buenos Aires did have a few natural restaurants (the word vegetarian was and is still not widely understood) had just opened, but for the most part I knew that if I wanted to maintain good health I was going to have to work a bit harder to succeed at it.
Returning to a whole foods diet, 100% self-prepared didn’t turn out to be such a bad thing. There is something to be said about preparing our own food and knowing as best we can the source of everything we put into our bodies. Over time, I began to learn how to seek out the best ingredients and landed upon a few food companies who were trying to get the word out about the value of organic. Later two foreigners opened up a juice bar and started to educate people about superfoods and wheat grass. The market was on the rise and I wanted to find a way to be a part of it.
My initial idea was to do something big in the area of wellness, which turned out to be a flop. For two years, I worked with a group of business partners on a concept for a full service wellness center complete with yoga, alternative healing, juice bar/café, natural spa, retail store, etc. Ultimately, we weren’t able to fund the project locally and the economic crisis of 2008 deterred any foreign interest in our project at that time. Disappointed and exhausted, we eventually had to let the project go.
Even though it would have been just as easy to give up on my dream and vision at that point given the losses I incurred financially and emotionally, I continued to hold onto my belief that anything was possible and that the answers on how to continue would come to me through the intention I held. This was a critical moment in which I had to throw reason and logic to the wind and stay focused, not letting fear deter me from my goal.
Although it didn’t happen overnight, I did eventually find a new pathway to making a contribution in the area of health, which I will share with you in my next post. However, I leave you with a few questions to ponder. If the change or area you’d like to make a difference in were solely up to you and no one else, would you be willing to let go of your fears and take action to realize your vision? What holds you back and what would it take for you to live out your own dream? Do our personal efforts to instigate change work?
I believe they do.
Published On: January 05, 2011