This weekend has been a special affair for me. I have spent three days enjoying the company of vibrant, healthy folks gathered together in Marshall, TX for HealthFest 2016! This is the first time I've had the pleasure to attend a health conference of this nature, and I feel like a kid at a jungle treehouse convention. This RAWKS! 
 
The energy is palpable, and the tone is one of empowerment and personal responsibility. It is impossible not to be inspired, to learn life-saving information, and to forge meaningful connections. 
 
I am so inspired by the vegan women here! Before this weekend, I was not familiar with Miyoko Schinner and Victoria Moran. Miyoko started her own vegan cheese company, Miyoko's Kitchen, after years struggling as a self-proclaimed "cheating vegan," occasionally giving into temptation when confronted with elaborate cheese spreads at social gatherings. Her example shines light on the effect that consistent experimentation in the kitchen to recreate healthy versions of old favorites can majorly bear fruits and come to serve thousands of others driven to make healthier choices while still enjoying themselves. Her 10 varieties of cultured nut cheeses are now available at Whole Foods Markets across the country. Excitingly, six of the ten are oil-free, and half are raw! I cannot wait to try her creations myself at her wine and cheese sampling this evening!
 
Victoria Moran has been another pleasant surprise. A glowing, energetic petite woman with an abundance of charm and New York aplomb, Moran shocked me when she stated that she is in her mid-sixties!  She gave a presentation on youthfulness and embodies the process of graceful aging that transpires organically when you care for yourself with plenty of meditation, movement, nourishment, and detoxification. Last night, she shared her spiritual reflections on the beauty and heart opening that naturally occur when one adopts a healthy plant-based lifestyle. After hearing all about the scientific and empirically-driven findings in vegan nutrition and medicine, Moran's talk infused some balancing feminine energy to the mix. The juxtaposition of her metaphysical perspective with the scholarly precision of speakers like Dr. Joel Kahn and Dr. Garth Davis triggered a revelation for me. The literal heart opening that occurs in the body's vasculature when one's food choices prioritize whole fruits and vegetables mirrors the symbolic, metaphorical transformation that emanates from the heart and permeates one's entire ethereal body. Amazing! 
 
As expected, one of my top three favorite podcasters, Sid Garza-Hilman, delighted me with his talk on Being Vegan in the Modern World. He quoted the French-German philosopher, Albert Schweitzer: "Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing." I could not agree more! Vegans are the ethical minority, and many passionate, well-meaning vegans try so hard to change other people to adopt the lifestyle, but do so in a controlling, aggressive, and largely ineffective manner. To combat others' denial of responsibility for the negative consequences of the actions they take every day at every meal that harm themselves, the animals, and the environment, we must take responsibility for ourselves. For our actions. We must stay in our own business and focus on taking responsibility for ourselves to live the fullest, most authentic and ethically aligned lives possible. That is a full-time job on its own, and has an incomprehensibly huge impact! By embodying responsibility ourselves, we invite others to make more conscious choices.
 
More than anything else, I am grateful for the openness and opportunity to connect with the speakers and attendees alike. I am grateful to be a part of this contagious, positive energy and to replenish my inspiration stores, so I can be more effective in my own personal transformation and intention to share my experiences with my geographical and virtual communities. I highly recommend anyone looking for a fresh perspective to spend a little time researching health events happening in your area. You may be surprised what you find!