We love the SOUTH! part 1 of 3

Congrats to these three readers who won Cool Caps for their green smoothies, by being the FIRST to write us:

Patricia Ottley of Shelley, ID; Sandy Zent of Ten Sleep, WY; Kylee Wilkins of Lehi, UT

Did you know that caps and lids were the third-most collected debris item worldwide along shorelines, with almost 900,000 collected in 2010 alone?

What a great green habit, these dishwasher-reusable straws and lids-–by a GSG reader-mom, of course!

We’re just back from Atlanta, Columbia, Charlotte, and Raleigh, where we had a blast meeting our friends in the South. (And then Kristin and I stayed out till 3 a.m. in both Charlotte and Raleigh, checking the city out, before getting 4 hours of sleep and jumping out of bed to teach more classes!)

At first it was a little disconcerting, all the people saying, “AMEN!” and “HALLELUJAH!” in response to whatever I’d say in the lecture.

By the fourth class, I would actually wait for it. Feel the tiniest bit dejected if I didn’t get the revival response.

I love the South. I’m from Virginia and realized this past weekend that I miss it—the warmth and hospitality Southerners are famous for. In Columbia, I reconnected with one of my dear friends from high school, Emilie, a valedictorian and a phenomenal athlete I haven’t seen in 27 years. In Charlotte, Courtney showed up, our homecoming queen and my freshman-year roommate I haven’t seen in ages either.

I’m almost always given what I call “love letters” at my classes. In Raleigh, Jennifer brought me photos of her and her husband, Paul, before and after his dramatic 127-lb. weight loss in one year, from shifting to a whole-foods diet after a cardiac scare.

The Blackwell family gave me a letter with 10 photos of all the habits they’ve adopted they say are GSG-inspired. Green smoothies made by a nine-year old, homemade spelt bread, my granola, kefir, coconut oil, salad always on the dinner plate, and…..this one’s fun!…..they’ve been on a Sugar Bet ever since I made a pledge with Matthew 10 months ago. None of the kids have eaten sugar in nearly a year! I’m so impressed!

Joanie in South Carolina brought me a hand-written letter and hand-tatted green cross from Hope Green, in Tucson, who has been to my class and sent her friend Joanie. (I should have been named Hope Green. Not fair.)

I want you to know that I read and save your letters, and that the comments you make appreciating my mission, are deeply meaningful to me. I mostly remember names, and it’s so fun in nearly every city to meet people whose names I’ve known from five years of blogging and facebooking.

I feel a deep connection to people who say, “I’ve been with you for so long that I received 12 Steps to Whole Foods, one chapter at a time, in 2008.” Y’all are my people, darlin!

(I call my kids, and other kids I love, “darlin,” probably because of my upbringing in the South. Everybody called Kristin that in the Carolinas and she loved it!)

I put the site up five years ago. I can’t dramatize it by telling you it was just an embryo, or a dream, at the time. There was no dream. It was just some content I put up on the internet, thinking I’d walk away from it and hope it helped some people.

I had no idea how it would resonate with, now, about 100,000 visitors a month, and sometimes as high as 10,000 blog readers a day, or lectures in 50 cities annually averaging 200 attendance.

I love all the people like Hope, who send people she loves 2,500 miles away to hear my message. Our long-time reader Kari Powell, who sent an email to 100 people to attend our class in Raleigh, many of whom were there. More about some amazing people I met tomorrow…..