The good peeps at Dole asked FBG Tish and me to attend its second-annual Healthy Lifestyle Blogger Summit earlier this month. Okay, I”ll be honest. They first asked one of us to fly out to Los Angeles and stay at the Four Seasons to discuss all things healthy eating, which I happily agreed to do. And then I asked if Tish could join…after all, she is local. Thankfully, they were agreeable to doubling our FBG power. Yay!
So, for months I’d been looking forward to this trip. A chance to hang out with Tish, learn more about a company that is obsessed with fruits and vegetables, get some California sunshine on my fair skin…it was all just lovely sounding. And then, rather suddenly, the trip went from a luxury to a necessity.
The weekend before my scheduled Dole trip, my grandmother passed away. It wasn’t sudden or unexpected—she’d been having major health problems and breathing issues for weeks—but still. It hurt. And after the weeks and weeks of watching this 90-year-old woman who has always been in my life slowly—and many times angrily—slip away, it was the culmination of a grieving process that began earlier this summer when we learned she had bone cancer. So, rather numbly, my husband and I packed our bags—full of relief that she wasn’t suffering any more and true disbelief that she was gone—and drove four hours to St. Louis for her visitation and funeral. And it all happened so darn fast. She died in the early morning hours of a Sunday (the day before Halloween), and I was back at home Tuesday evening, re-packing for my trip to LA.
While the services for her were beautiful, it wasn’t until I got on the plane to LA that the reality of losing someone began to sink in. Serendipitously, I happened to have an empty seat next to me on the plane, so I didn’t have to worry about freaking any fellow passengers out with my tears. I listened to music and by the time I got off of the plane, I was able to fully appreciate the warmth and sun of LA. Without any suggestion from me, my driver drove us along the ocean rather than taking the clogged freeway. And by the time we pulled up to the hotel—which was AMAZING, by the way—I felt nothing but gratitude. Gratitude for the beauty I saw, for the job that brought me there, for the time away from my everyday routine, for the memories and times I had with my grandma…for life, really.
And the next few days while at the summit? Well, they were just lovely. The PR team and the Dole team that ran the event were spectacular and real (wanting actual discussion, not just showcasing their products), the other bloggers there were awesome, the presentations were informative and educational, and the food was amazing. Not to mention that I had my first acupuncture session (will discuss that on Fit Bottomed Mamas soon!) and a bamboo body polish (it was as awesome and odd as it sounds) at the Four Seasons Spa. Again, just lovely.
While we’ll review some of the products we tried and share other facts and recipes from the event on FBG in the coming weeks, here’s a more personal look at what the event was like. First, they fed us well. Egg-white omelet with avocado and fresh pineapple:
Dole really does love its fruits and veggies. These two-story tall murals are proof:
During the trip, I got a 4.5-mile run in with the other bloggers and a yoga session! Here’s me, Tish and Crabby (who really isn’t Crabby at all in real life)!
Here’s Tish with the ah-mazing Yonanas machine that turns frozen bananas instantly into dessert. Sure, it looks a little dirty when you do it, but I don’t care. It’s delicious and healthy. Dear Santa: I need one.
The beautiful grounds at the Four Seasons Spa. A “pinch me, is this real?” moment for sure.
Our final night, we shared a healthy yet decadent seven-course meal with the other bloggers and the Dole team. Yes, I said seven courses. And lots of wine. I blame my consumption of wine and food for the poor photo quality.
All in all, it was an amazing trip, and I feel blessed for the work getaway. While I’m by no means done grieving for my grandmother and I know that this holiday season will be hard (and just darn weird without her pies), I truly believe that sometimes there’s no better way to honor those who have passed than by living passionately.
So, like I said, good for the soul. —Jenn