Last week in my nutrition course we heard some amazing lectures about Blue Zones. If you don’t know what Blue Zones are, they are communities in various places around the globe that share common lifestyle and environmental factors that contribute to their populations being among the longest-lived and healthiest on the planet. These areas were first identified and labeled by Dan Buettner of National Geographic magazine and was the featured cover story in November of 2005.
Sardinia, Italy. Okinawa, Japan. Loma Linda, California. Nicola Peninsula, Costa Rica. Icaria, Greece.
In these areas, people are found to eat a traditional, largely home grown and plant-based diet – but more important, stressed Mr. Buettner in our lecture, they share a sense of community and purpose. They have close-knit families and communities which create a strong social network of support and compassion, regular physical activity and positive and healthy lifestyles.
For the most part in America, and other less traditional and more modern areas, life is not like this. We survive on fast food, video games and pharmaceuticals, though this is slowly changing thanks to the good work of many including Mr. Buettner, who is introducing blue zone lifestyle concepts into smaller towns throughout the US with good success.
But we have a long way to go. Producing policies that limit exposure to unhealthy living like fast food restaurants, advertising junk to kids, and low quality school lunches contradicts our familiar capitalist way of life. People don’t know how to make small, healthy changes not just to diet but to lifestyle and culture, or even that they might benefit from those changes. They don’t realize how important community is, or how to integrate it.
If you are reading this though, it means you have gone out of your way to search for community. Grief is an experience shared by so many people, and yet, it’s yet another thing that is often mistreated and misunderstood in our modern world. Last week, another writer here at Widow’s Voice, Kaiti, expressed her frustration at feeling left so alone since her husband died, and that the community around her is telling her to essentially get over it and move on. There were several compassionate comments on that post, including one from Sarah, another writer here, who added that she is no longer asked how she is doing, no one wants to hear about it anymore, and that it feels even lonelier as a result.
Our community of writers and readers is a special place. Soaring Spirits provides ways to connect and get involved to your level of comfort. There are retreats, seminars, events, and online community. And last week, I experienced an unexpected personal outreach from a reader here who I have been in touch with before, and emailed me just to check and see how I was doing, inspired by Kaiti’s post, and Sarah’s reply.
As one of the writers I have a forum to vent. And you are welcome to comment anytime. Many of you don’t, and that is absolutely perfectly fine. But I want to express my gratitude that we have a space to share and support, and are surviving this together, even if we are separated by distance around the globe.
I am fortunate to have several very close widowed friends in my life, but not everyone does. So I ask you. Yes, you. How are you doing? I really care, and so many others of us care. I invite you to comment, message, email, reach out, or maybe inward, whatever feels right. Loneliness is perhaps the biggest killer of all – and community support is important to whole health. It is only second best to having our loves back with us, and I might not be there to hug you personally, but I send love to everyone. From my heart to yours. It matters.