'Re-Inventing Me': A Story of Bugs, Floods and Mountains

December 10, 2020
Ricki McKenna
'Re-Inventing Me': A Story of Bugs, Floods and Mountains
Photo Credit: Courtesy of the author Ricki McKenna

Ever stand up in front of a group of strangers and declare that you’re going to move to Colorado and then sit down and think, “Did I just say that?” And then the instructor asks, “Where and by when?” – and someone who sounded like me replied with no hesitation, “Aspen - by mid-December.” Little did I know …

My husband and I moved from New York to Baltimore, Maryland then to Houston, Texas in 1971. On weekends, we were in “deep East Texas,” where he was a salesman for a large corporation's recreational land project in East Texas. We lived in Houston but on weekends, we drove up to Jasper and stayed in an apartment above an old three-car wooden garage which was surrounded completely by huge trees. One lovely evening, there flew into the living room a huge monster, a tree roach. As I screamed and pointed, my brave man threw his cowboy boot at it, hit the damn thing and it continued to march across the floor. That introduced me to the bugs in Texas, from which I made my escape several years later.

Attending a weekend seminar was part of my birthday gift to myself in September of 1998. I hadn’t planned on the rain (but it was Houston and another flood), but as I carefully navigated the route from my condo to the second-story parking lot of the office where the Forum was being held, something in me knew I had to get out of this city and move to higher ground. Literally.

My good buddy Claire tried for several years to get me to take this “weekend seminar that could change my life.” With nothing else better to do, I chose to treat (or subject) myself to a three-day oasis in the hurricane season for my birthday. I signed up for The Forum, which I’d thought was a weird group of people who yelled at you to see your reactions but then told you how to improve your life by taking their classes. 

As a single mom raising two teenagers, I was working in a personnel agency selling computer training to large companies and organizations. With the help of my parents, I had bought a two-story condo on the second and third floors (safe from floods) of a building near the Galleria area of Houston. My son came back to live with me while attending the University of Houston. Plodding along fairly well, I had some good friends and acquaintances and my social life was ok, but nothing spectacular. I was doing what many 50+ divorced women did when they had left a 21-year marriage: Got a job that paid the bills and a bit more and began putting my life back together. 

Within three months after my “Who said that?” thought, I realized I had been in a community that supported the idea of living a fuller and happier life from my heart.  They inspired me. I had driven to Aspen and back, interviewed for two jobs, found a place to live and was packing my little green Mazda to move. My son, 19 at the time, when I got home from the seminar and announced, “I’m moving to Aspen, get a roommate and prepare to pay rent,” grinned, shook his head and then helped me pack the car.   

I had begun to see that when we take steps in the direction of our heart’s calling, the Universe takes over and presents opportunities we had only dreamed about. 

As Goethe wrote,

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. 

Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.

Magic is believing in yourself, 

if you can do that, you can make anything happen.

As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.

It was about three weeks after I’d arrived in Aspen. I was standing in my new mobile home in Aspen, admiring the snow-covered mountains, wearing my new flannel pajamas and fleece booties a friend from Houston had sent for Christmas, when the light dawned. OMG, here I am in Aspen. I had arrived on the 15th or mid-December!

In the 15 years that I lived in the magnificent Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado, I found another wondrous community that promoted and reinforced my pursuit of a new life and career. Out of the corporate mold, after three years of studying nutrition, health coaching and food, I became a certified nutritionist and life/health coach. I happily entered the world of alternative health practitioners, holistic healers and believers in the incredible impact of food on the human body and psyche. I’d found my tribe. I was encouraged and manufactured 12 nutritionally wonderful organic soups for three years and sold them in Aspen and at farmer’s markets all through the Roaring Fork Valley as “McHealthy’s Soup’s ON”.

From there, all manner of events and people have come along and helped move me toward where I am now. It’s been 21 years since I followed my heart to the mountains, escaped the bugs and floods, and then returned to Houston. I’ve discovered we can find our tribe wherever we go, if we’re open to change and don’t mind re-inventing ourselves.  

Discovering that tribe, a supportive community, helps you realize the importance of people and the vibrations we emanate that attract the right ones into our lives and vice-versa. All through my adventures, I’ve learned that what schools us and feeds us is way more than what we put in our mouths. It’s those souls we encounter along the journey who bestow their wisdom -- if our ears and eyes allow us to truly hear and see what is before us. It is also the places in which we find ourselves, literally, that can lead us to avail ourselves of the richness of history and our place in it.

Re-inventing my life brings me to where we are at this moment in a pandemic. We use the word present to describe a gift in the now as well as a moment in time. As of March of 2020m when the lockdown and social distancing was advised as a precautionary measure, after an initial period of minor panic, something in me clicked that was not conscious at the time. One of those intuitive gut feelings slipped through the plethora of thoughts running around in my mind about How do I network and see people? Yak-yak-yak. And then I heard one that said, The kitchen is your favorite room. People are home guarding their toilet paper and now’s your chance to do something to help them. Food is medicine

Huh? Here we go again.  

Ha, no way! said the part of me at 75 thought I was ready to slow down, move in with my sweetheart and begin a new life. To which the entrepreneur in me countered with You could do stuff online, learn Zoom, WhatsApp, Facebook Live and all the rest of the virtual programs available and reach lotsa people that way. 

Guess who won now that I’ve completed 33 live “PAN-Tuitive Cooking Classes” on Zoom? They are interactive classes where we speak to and demonstrate food preparation, cooking (which is a major source of joy for me) and tips for safe shopping and storing of food and how it all affects us emotionally, mentally and physically. I now have one part-time sponsor in the healthCare arena.   

As I sit here reviewing my journey, I did move in with my sweetheart and begin a new phase of my life. I did learn to visit with my family on WhatsApp or Zoom, although I sure do miss the hugs and personal contact. I did learn how to work with Zoom and schedule weekly classes online that I believe are helping others cope with the craziness of working from home. I “re-invented me” one more time:  “McHealthy – The Turquoise Chef, health coach and foodie.”

As I said earlier, I’m encouraging my community – my tribe – to be aware that food or what feeds us is way more than just the stuff we chew and swallow with our mouths. In April of 2020, I began a weekly Mastermind Coaching Class that speaks to food of all kinds: our environment, physical and emotional and spiritual.  The stuff we see, hear or tune out from the television and social media that “feeds” our minds and hearts is as important as the actual food we eat. 

I take part in another Mastermind that teaches me how to take advantage of more online services and sites that help with promoting my classes. My sweetheart and I partake of an online Spirit Group that reads books and shares our feelings about our Higher Power and spiritual lives. Never give up hope. Be brave. Find that supportive community, your tribe, and thrive!

As Emily Dickenson wrote, 

Hope' is the thing with feathers - That perches in the soul – 

And sings the tunes without the words - And never stops - at all.


I live and “Dwell in Possibility” and the awareness of the eternality of life. There is always something new that will attract me and keep me young and alive. I’ve re-invented, adapted and moved my coaching, cooking and communicating to the virtual platforms that support me and where I can lead, follow and work together with others for a better lifestyle. 

As Emerson said, 

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying 

to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.  

Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string”.

I say Live!  Go make a difference.

For more information, please reach Ricki McKenna, CN DBC & Foodie at:   


Ricki McKenna

Ricki McKenna

As a certified Nutritionist and Life/Health Coach with Choose Health, Ricki guides you to clarify and make tough decisions with ease and support. Her Passion and Profession for 25 years is empowering people to improve their lives with good health and true wellness. Food matters!

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