I was inspired to write this post after listening to a 6-minute TEDtalk during a morning walk.

A beautiful tree in my neighborhood.

A beautiful tree in my neighborhood.

I’ve started waking up a bit earlier than usual and spending 15-30 minutes of my morning walking around my neighborhood listening to these inspirational and motivational talks from experts around the world.

I’ve listened to dozens of them over the past few years.

Today’s was different.

It was only 6 minutes and 14 seconds long. But it had an impact on me.

As I’ve written in other reflective posts, eating nourishing food is only part of the equation to being in optimal health and thriving. We have to look at what’s going on in our mind and soul, too, and make sure we’re nourishing that on a regular basis.

Eating all the broccoli in the world won’t make us well if we’re miserable on the inside.


That’s one of the reasons I try to look outside of myself regularly, whether it’s through conversations with friends or family, quiet time, a perfectly timed message at church, listening to things like TEDTalks or reading books by people I admire and respect. I’m always open to learning from other people’s perspectives and experiences.

I took a lot from today’s TEDTalk. The speaker told one story but said more in his 6 minutes than most people can convey in a 300-page book or an hour-long podcast.

The premise? Each of us has the power to be a leader, to change someone else’s life.

The speaker recounted a story of what happened when he went out of his way to make a new student at his university feel welcomed. The lasting, lifetime impact of his simple, brief action (which he admits forgetting) had on this woman’s life was remarkable.

Here’s the TEDTalk. This will be the most well spent 6 minutes of your day, I promise you.

At the end of the talk, Drew asks the audience, “What’s your lollipop moment?”

Who in your life has influenced or impacted you in a way that literally changed your life, your perspective, your career, your health?

Have you let them know?

I’ve had the privilege of being mentored by some remarkable people through my school years and in my career.

One person in particular stands out to me. I met her in college.

I was a sophomore majoring in psychology and had enrolled in an intro to sociology course. I had heard good things about the professor, Dr. Lauren Dundes.

I looked forward to going to her class every week. She made learning fun and interesting. I loved her quirky and energetic demeanor, animated facial expressions and gestures, and all of the stories she recounted and used as learning tools. I hardly remember her looking at notes or a textbook. She knew her subject matter that well.

One day in class, she was telling us a story about social perceptions, and she held up something that would forever change my path in the field of nutrition and behavior.

It was a copy of Nutrition Action Healthletter.


Not exactly prime reading material for most 19-year olds, but it was for me.

After class, I approached Dr. Dundes. “I get that newsletter, too,” I told her. That conversation is what sparked our realization that we had a mutual interest in health and nutrition. It was the beginning of my pursuit of health as a career.

Over the next three years, she supported me in setting up two research studies and writing three papers that were published in academic journals.

For one of them, I was measuring Apple Jacks, M&Ms and Hawaiian Punch consumption by my peers at McDaniel College. The College even wrote an article about us in the school’s publication called “The Hill” magazine…including our semi-goofy pic below 🙂

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 9.04.27 PM

I had the passion and the tenacity to “go for it” but only because I had the support, enthusiasm, and passion from Dr. Dundes.

I had never really reflected on the impact she had on my life until now, until hearing that 6-minute TED Talk. But doing so makes me realize just how special people are who cheerlead for us and make it clear how much they believe in us and what we can accomplish.

I was thrilled to hear from her over the past few months, as she is now an avid supporter of this blog and has told me how certain information I’ve shared here has impacted her life and her family.

In appreciation for someone who took time to make a difference in my life, my career, and my well-being, I’d like to make a tribute to this special person.

Dr. Dundes,

Thank you for believing in me.

Thank you for making me feel like my interests and passions mattered.

Thank you for the hours you spent talking with me in your office, reviewing and editing yet another draft of a publication, and encouraging me to do big things with my life.

You made me feel like I could do anything, that there was nothing stopping me.

Thank you for seeing something special in me and for nurturing it.

I know that this passion for health and nutrition has been in me since grade school, but without the support and encouragement of someone like you, I don’t know that my path would have gone the direction it did.

Many of us live our whole lives never knowing how profound our impact on other people has been.

I thought you should know.

Thank you.

Who in YOUR life has impacted you in a profound way? Have you let them know?

Take time today to do that. Whether it’s a phone call, a letter, an email or an in person conversation, let people who have shaped and influenced your life know.