The Passion Project -
When I started my blog Project Cloud 9 (www.projectcloud9.com) last summer, my intention wasn’t to change lives or affect other people. I had been sitting at my open space cubicle with several co-workers at a fashion company in New York, staring out longingly at the beautiful sun that hung in the sky. Abruptly, one of my colleagues came up to the window and pulled down the blinds. He looked over at me and shrugged. I will never forget the next words he said because they changed the course of my entire life. “The sun is coming in.” It wasn’t anything personal towards me – it was probably the sun coming in either creating a glare on his computer or perhaps making it too hot in the office.
Whatever the case, it was at that moment, I realized I no longer belonged in an office in New York shuffling papers. While my career allowed me to do so many things – shopping the market, travels to Miami, Los Angeles, Montreal and the biggest, which was visiting Hong Kong and going to factories in China- I came to dread the long commute to New York and the down time which required me to sit at a desk all day. I longed to be outside, doing things I was passionate about such as teaching Pilates and most importantly- I wanted to connect with people.
So in essence, that is how my lifestyle blog focusing on health, fitness and fashion came to be. The ultimate goal was to connect with others who felt my frustration about being married to a career and desk job, but dreaming about a life that makes our hearts beat faster and our souls feel satisfied. Shortly after I came to the epiphany that day, I left my day job to teach Pilates full-time, pick up Freelance writing in addition to consulting for various fashion companies.
Through this column in addition to my blog, I have had many comments come my way – mostly supportive and from people who totally can relate to my stories and situations. Recently, I received an email from two 7th grade girls from Bayshore Middle School, which really sparked my interest because I didn’t think that age group could relate or be interested in the Healthy Living column or my blog. The reason they were reaching out to me is because their language arts teacher, Donna M. Berg assigned the class an assignment called the Passion Project, which is to get students thinking about topics that they can get excited and enthused about and then explore it more.
Frankie Stavola and her friend Gabby DiMiceli chose to combine their curiosity about healthy eating and their desire to try new forms of exercise as their Passion Project after viewing the documentary “Cowspiracy” directed by Kip Andersen, which addresses the effects of the cattle industry on the environment. The girls will be going vegetarian in the month of March as well as integrating new exercise such as yoga, Pilates and possibly spinning into their routine about 3 times a week. Before the experiment, the girls are already pretty active and eat healthily.
The purpose behind choosing to go vegetarian and trying different forms of exercise was, according to Frankie, because “We want to show our classmates how healthy eating can affect your energy, and that healthy foods can taste good. Our views on meat and the animal agriculture industry have changed because we now know how it affects the environment, and we would like to make a change. We are also more aware of the environment because we see climate change in our own town.”
Getting to know more about Frankie and Gabby’s Passion Project, assigned by Mrs. Berg was deeply meaningful to me since the entire reason I started my blog and writing for Healthy Living was my desire to connect with others who were going through similar situations. But, through this experience as well as other emails and comments from readers, these articles and stories affect the world and reach people. It is amazing to me that these 7th graders Frankie and Gabby are doing this Passion Project to spread the word about health and fitness to their peers.
In the words of wise young adults, Frankie says, “We would like to tell the world how healthy eating can affect the body and mind. We would also like to show people that even kids can make healthy choices about their diet and exercise routine, which will help them to feel better about themselves and boost their self-confidence, not to mention improve their health.”
So, wherever you are today : staring out the window in your cubicle, beginning a new diet plan, or executing a new dream, it just takes one step to get started.
Please read further for my Q&A with Frankie:
Q: Can you tell me more about your Passion Project and your teacher?
Frankie : : Our Passion Project is about seeing how a vegetarian lifestyle, along with working out, can affect the body, mind, and environment. We specifically chose to do yoga, pilates, and spin because we’ve never really done it before. Our end goal is to see how being a vegetarian can affects people’s health. We also want to show our classmates howhealthy eating can affect your energy, and that healthy foods can taste good. Our teacher, Mrs. Berg, actually encouraged us to think about ways that we could alter our lifestyle for the better and we decided that trying out vegetarianism could be beneficial.
Q: Why did you decide to watch “Cowspiracy”?
How did Cowspiracy change your view of food and eating?
Frankie :We decided to watch “Cowspiracy” because we were looking for something to watch and though it looked interesting. Our views on meat and the animal agriculture industry have changed because we now know how it affects the environment, and we would like to make a change. We are also more aware of the environment, we see climate change in our own town.
Q: How did you decide on focusing on being vegetarians for the month of March and working out 3 times a week
Frankie :At first, Gabby and I didn’t know what to do for our Passion Project. Our teacher, Mrs. Berg, talked to us about our interests and gave us some ideas based on our responses. We decided to combine our curiosity about healthful eating and our desire to try new forms of exercise into one project on maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Q: Currently what is your eating style? What is your favorite food? What foods do you dislike?
Frankie :Gabby and I eat relatively healthy, we love salad and quinoa. Both of us live in homes that only buy organic and healthy food. We do of course indulge in ice cream and other treats! My favorite food is either a salad or pasta. Gabby’s favorite food is ravioli. I personally don’t really dislike any foods, except for shrimp. Gabby doesn’t like any seafood and, surprisingly, chocolate!
Q: What do you think is the hardest about going vegetarian?
Frankie :I think the hardest thing about going vegetarian is, of course, not eating meat! In my house we eat a lot of seafood and chicken, so it will be hard to stay away from those specific meat products. Gabby eats a lot of chicken and pork, so that will be hard for her to resist.
Q: Do you enjoy working out?
What types of exercises do you enjoy? What don’t you enjoy?
Frankie :Yes, we do enjoy working out! I find that it relieves stress as well as just makes you feel better overall. We enjoy ab workouts over anything, and leg workouts are our second favorite. We do not like arm workouts, and I don’t like running.
Q: What inspires you?
Frankie :Gabby and I are inspired by a lot of celebrities who talk about being healthy and getting fit the right way. My favorite celebrity is Gigi Hadid because she doesn’t shame indulgences and she promotes loving yourself. Gabby’s favorite celebrity is Kendall Jenner because she promotes the same things.
Q: What would you like to tell the world about healthy living and fitness?Please add anything else I might have missed.
Frankie :We would like to tell the world how healthy eating can affect the body and mind. We would also like to show people that even kids can make healthy choices about their diet and exercise routine, which will help them to feel better about themselves and boost their self-confidence, not to mention improve their health.
**Story compiled with written permission**