Life Is What You Make It. Lessons For Leading A Good Life From Dr. Molly O’Dell.

She’s been aptly named the “Face of Roanoke Public Health” as the Medical Director at the Virginia Department of Health, Dr. Molly O’Dell has spent her life in the matters of health and wellness. Even after over 40 years in the business, coming out of retirement to fight a global pandemic as the Director of Communicable Disease Control for Roanoke and Alleghany. And now, Dr. O’Dell has chosen a new direction for her life. Past rows and fields of plenty, past a friendly big barn and straight into the comfort of her home at Chickahominy Falls in Hanover, VA.

Last month, Dr. O’Dell joined with her new friends and neighbors in that friendly big Barn all share in their commitment to this unique 55+ Agri-Hood lifestyle.

“Think of health as an asset. All of us have had illness and injury, but it’s up to us to decide how we want to manage our health throughout our life,” says Dr. O’Dell. “Just like our finances. Sometimes we have more, sometimes we have less, but we learn how to balance that.”

Breaking it down into what she called the Health and Wellness “Baker’s Dozen,” here are thirteen improvements to begin to make the most of your life moving forward.

  1. Eat and drink healthy.
  2. Get regular physical activity.
  3. Get enough sleep.
  4. Protect your skin.
  5. Care for your health.
  6. Prevent infectious disease.
  7. Avoid tobacco products.
  8. Limit alcohol consumption and marijuana.
  9. Practice mindfulness.
  10. Immerse yourself in nature.
  11. Consult your physician for regular preventative services.
  12. Laugh out loud to stimulate  the good neurotransmitters.
  13. Connect joyfully.

Dr. O’Dell recommends conducting your own self-care evaluation. Looking at your calendar to determine what percentage of your time are you doing other care versus your own self-care. Candidly admitting this as the hard and earnest part of making significant life changes, but not when you live at Chickahominy Falls.

“Only in the US do humans separate physical health from all other realms of our being. We need to open up the idea that we are all hardwired as emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical and psychological and invite that into our lives. We are not just a physical body.”

From your very first impression at Chickahominy Falls, you are greeted with the opportunities to make healthy eating a priority. With seasonal produce coming up and out of the ground, to Woodside Market, which serves up everything from eggs and meats from local farms, fresh baked goods from local bakeries and even healthy prepared meals, our own Woodside Farms makes this choice an easy one.

The Farmhouse complex, walking paths, volunteer opportunities at Woodside Farms all make staying active the fun part. And with clubs, gatherings in constant rotation, you will learn to love the importance of real, face-to-face connection here.

Chickahominy Falls is living proof of a lifestyle of health and wellness that has taken root and grown into a beautiful life. And for Dr. O’Dell, this alignment with her own expertise and ideals, ultimately led her straight to home.

“I think as humans, we tend to look at health as something we do or don’t do. And the choice of where we are living is one of the best decisions we can make for ourselves.”