Letting Love In

Today’s Happy Note: There are so many happy things in my life right now, it’s hard to choose!  I’m going to go with the fact that I feel very, very connected to many people in my life at this moment.  Strong human connections=pure happiness.

Marathon Training: Speed Work Tuesday yesterday!  I won’t lie, a good speed work session makes me feel amazing, but sometimes it is really hard to get out the door for one.  I finally figured out why there are so many “Goal Pace” miles in my training plan: my marathon goal pace is approximately ten minutes per mile, which is basically what my general pace is.  Duh.  Silly Caronae.  A marathon — at least for me — is not a fast race.  If I were training for a 10k, so many “goal pace” miles would be impossible.  But for a marathon, it’s just fine.  All this is to say that my speed workout yesterday involved:

2 miles GP (goal pace) miles warm-up

2 x 2 miles tempo pace (approximately 9 minute miles) — I worked HARD here and it felt great; did an easy half-mile between the two sets.

2.5 miles GP

Total: 9 miles

Today I did a total of 4 miles with 6×100 meter strides sprinkled in through the last mile.  I also did a 45 minute strength class at the gym.  I have been getting a little bit bored with my regular weight-lifting routine lately and this was fun.  It was nice to switch things up.  I loved the tricep exercises we did.

Therapy Thoughts

Sorry for flaking out again yesterday.  I was out all too late for a weeknight.  This whole having fun thing is nerve-wracking and thrilling at the same time.  I kind of like it.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about people and the way we interact and relate and love one another.  I think that opening up to other people — learning and listening and loving and losing — has become the most important thing in my life right now.  Friends, family, loves. Ultimately, running will not save me.  Having a perfect body or a perfect relationship with food or an ideal body weight won’t save me.  People save me — I save me, other people save me.  Not that I even need saving, really. When I say ‘saving’, I mean becoming a better me.  Learning how I work.  Learning how I love.  I have so many special people in my life.  Two caring, wonderful parents.  A beautiful sister.  A handful of close, fun friends.  A very special therapist.  Lovely, insightful coworkers. Cousins, acquaintances, smart classmates.

It scares me a little bit that I retreat inward when things become difficult for me.  I want to reach out with my arms and my heart to those who care about me — I want to reach out with all the edges of my face and say “I love you” to everyone important to me.  I may not quite be there yet, but I am figuring out how I work with others.  The most important thing has been to figure out me.  It’s something that I have known all along — something that has always been inside me.  I know that when I am anxious I bite my nails; that February is the hardest month of the year for me; that I have really flexible knees and hips; that when I love someone I will love them with every angle of my body.  I will let them into spaces that I didn’t know existed —  I will feel them inching along my crooked chest and I’ll smile a little.  I’m coming to accept the way my mouth doesn’t like to sit quite parallel with my chin.  And even more, I am coming to accept the fact that others accept this fact.  Indeed, maybe this makes my face a little more unique.  Maybe it makes me mysterious and readable all at the same time.

It’s been a year that I have seen L, almost. I am trying very hard not to exalt her, but she has pretty much been nothing short of heroic: she has taught me that not only can I save myself, but that I can let other humans slide into my life and curl up there.  I can let others settle into my life and stay a while.  Or maybe even forever.  I have a gratitude for L that I have had for few others in my twenty years.  I don’t know how she does it, to be honest. But the last 12 months have shown me how beautifully capable I am of connecting with another person.  It’s such a simple act, really, but also difficult, at times.  Coming to love myself has helped the most.  As I am about to start my senior year of college, I’m looking back at where I was one year ago, two years; three years.  I have been lost, wild, isolated, crazy, sad, confused.  But most of all, I have been growing. I have begun to let people burrow deeper into my life.

Yesterday I asked L why I deserve to be loved and cared for and thought of.  She responded by saying that, by virtue of being human, I deserve love. We all do.  Every single being on this earth is equally deserving of love, affection, warmth, and connection.  It is a simple but powerful answer.  Sometimes I catch myself out of the corner of my eye — I see my cheek in a furniture store window; I feel suddenly exposed and unmasked.  Usually, I am not sure what to think.  Most often I say something about how hideous that cheek is, how un-centered and pockmarked and off-color it is.  I am not sure that I will ever entirely leave this way of seeing myself behind.  But I am clear about one thing: I want to be loved more than anything else in the world, and, hideous cheek or not, other people want to love me.  Not in a greedy, silly, childish way.  But deeply and clearly and smoothly.  This kind of love can come from all sorts of places.  I can name maybe 8 or 10 people right now for whom I feel this.

But there is also another kind of love as well.  It’s all this but also more intimate.  When I started seeing L, about this time last year (beginning of September), I felt very alone.  Alone is not a happy place to be.  I believe that much of my unhappiness has come from this loneliness.  I can’t even describe how thrilling it is to hear a friend’s voice on the phone or to hug someone after not seeing him or her for three months.   That’s happiness.  A year ago I did not believe it was possible to carve a small crack in my being and let another person in.  I could not fathom the crack, even from a distance.

Well, there’s a crack now.  A small one.  But it’s there.  It may not get any bigger with this particular connection, this person.  But I have reached a turning-point because I now understand the possibility of the crack.

I met a beautiful, sweet man two weeks ago in the park.  He sort of fell into my lap.  I feel vulnerable and nervous. Alternately pretty/unique and bizarre/disproportionate.  I have been doing a lot of rethinking of my body.

I like him a lot. I feel like I don’t deserve this.  Then I feel mad at myself for feeling like I don’t deserve it.  Silly, really.  The thing is, so far, he is making me very, very happy.  When he touches my arm or my shoulder or my chin, I am so very proud of myself for letting this happen.  I am being brave and open and exposed in new ways.

What do people mean?  What is it to let someone into your life?  How do you know who to let in?  How do you know they won’t break your heart?

The answer is that you don’t know precisely who to let in and how and whether or not they will hurt you.  But it will be right and beautiful and soft.

I want to go back to my 17 year old self and hold her and rock her in my arms and let her know that she will love and be loved.  It will not be easy but it will be happy.

I don’t know how long this particular connection will last; dating and relationships are scary things.  I think I have gone on dates with two other boys this year; both fizzled out.  I hardly consider making out in a club romantic.  So I am not writing this to say that I have met a man and my life is different and perfect and everything has been fixed.  Not at all.  What I’m saying is that I understand the crevice — the opening in me where others might step in and offer me their love.

Okay.  That was a little bit intense.  But my feelings are intense right now.  I’m processing and sorting and figuring it all out.  I’m pretty sure I’ll always be figuring it all out, even when I’m 101.  The point here is that this last year has been monumental for me.  I understand myself better.  I understand how important my friends and family are.  And I can see the possibility of romantic love.

Thoughts?  How have you let love into your life lately?  What does it feel like, for you?

I promise I will be less intense and serious tomorrow.  🙂  Love and people and connections=happy Caronae.  Happy mental self, happy physical self, happy Caronae.

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Adventure Saturday: Ocean, Body Image/Weight Concerns

Today’s Happy Note: Vitamin D overload.  Sunshine! 🙂

I ended up walking 5 or so miles yesterday; I also did a 20 minute yoga core download.  Today I did 3-4 miles walking, 2 miles running (on the beach!!!) and lots of playing in the water.

I had an awesome beach trip.  I always forget that Manhattan is so close to the ocean.  Twas lovely!

Confession: I felt so unbelievably, ridiculously fat in my swimsuit.  I wanted to hide in the changing rooms and cry.  I told my dad that I should not be allowed on the beach without a sign that said “whale.”

And then I hate myself for hating myself so much.  Oh, the irony.

The reality is that, between the GI illness and the hospitalization, I have gained about ten pounds.  I am not someone who could afford to gain ten pounds.  I’m pretty sure this makes me borderline overweight.   I don’t care so much about that label as feeling good and feeling confident.  I don’t feel either right now.  I feel enormous.

I am not necessarily mad at myself: I have hardly been able to workout in the last month, and I have been quite stressed.   I respond to stress by eating emotionally and gaining weight easily.  Seriously, I probably even gained weight when I had my GI thing and all I could eat for three or four days was the occasional piece of toast.

I played on the beach today for hours and ended up having a lot of fun; I dug my toes into the sand, ran up and down, jumped over the waves, swam through the waves, and bothered my sister (endlessly entertaining).  So I am not entirely focused on my body, but it is still there.  It’s this painful, nagging thing in the background.  It’s like something isn’t quite right, and my body knows this, physically and mentally.

The thing that works best for me is not obsessing, but not being lax either.  Counting calories, tracking meals, only “allowing” certain food: none of this works for me. This all creates more tension and anxiety and makes me more sad and I feel worse about my body and I end up eating more.  Funny how that cycle works.  But at least I can recognize it.  In fact, I think I do know what works: eating three wholesome meals a day (plus an afternoon snack and a small dessert), with lots of healthy fats, protein, and veggies, and not snacking in the evening.  It’s as simple as that.

Pretty straightforward.  That’s my plan.  I do intend to use the blog to keep myself accountable. Accountability is where I have failed in the past.  So I intend to do a tiny little check-in with myself when I post, mostly to note whether or not I have been mindlessly eating in the evenings.

Once in a while, I might share a full day of eats.  Like today, since I figured it would be a good idea to have a baseline image of how much I need in a day on an active day where I don’t overeat.

I am sorry if this upsets anyone: if you feel like this would not be a good idea for you to read about, PLEASE skip over it.  I would not want to hurt anyone, especially if you have a history of ED/disordered eating.

Breakfast was flax oatmeal (TJ’s brand) with part of a peach (would have used it all but parts were squishy and I hate that) and a giant scoop of AB.  One of my favorite breakfasts!

Lunch=giant salad with cucumbers, zuchinni, carrots, microwaved eggs, and avocado.

Afternoon snack — it was super melty since it had been at the beach with me all day and it was a hundred degrees!

A few bites of coleslaw and a giant Asian chicken salad for dinner (the size of my head).  You can’t see the chicken and other toppings, but I promise they’re there!

On the left is a peanut butter cup shake I had before going to a play with my dad and sister.  Right was my before blogging/bed snack of a small Godiva truffle.  I REFUSE to go without dessert.  Ever. Regardless of my weight.  I’m sure this is some kind of dieting sin.  But I don’t care.

So there you have it.  I do want to lost a bit of weight.  It’s very hard for me to find a balance between vigilance and obsession; I am aiming to use the blog to help me find a balance over the next few months (that won’t be the only thing on the blog though, don’t worry!).   Due to my body’s natural  (and rather unfortunate) chemistry/metabolism, I do need to have a certain vigilance.  It sounds bizarre, but if I am not careful and I gain weight now, I could screw over my fertility in the future.  Very random, I know.  But I want to be a mother more than anything in the world and so I am not going to take any chances with this.

Any thoughts?

I can Move! And Restaurants Galore

Today’s  Happy Note: My dad and my sister are here!  They came to visit me because they were so worried.  I still don’t feel sick but I know I am on the inside.  Kind of an odd feeling.

I inadvertently walked about five miles today — I wasn’t trying to go that far.  It was never more than one to two miles at a time.  It wasn’t a struggle at all.  I wasn’t short of breath and had almost zero chest pain.  I could actually walk quickly without having to gasp for air!  I am NOT pushing myself or anything, it’s just nice to feel like I can move a bit.  I went to a yoga class yesterday and might do a yoga video tomorrow.

I kinda miss  serious cardio — running, stair-climbing, kickboxing, swimming, dancing.  But at the same time.  It is nice to have a break from the gym or the running path.  Not for too long though.  Another week of this and I’ll be bored.  My doctors said I could start exercising as soon as I felt better/within about a week.  Which means I might go for a run this weekend; maybe three or four miles, nothing intense, I promise!  And I’ll stop if I get tired.  I am NOT doing it because I feel like I have to exercise.  I like running: it clears my head and calms me down and gets all my nervous energy out!

In other health news: my INR is not high enough yet which means that my Coumadin dosage is not right.  Grrrr.  It is a very delicate drug that has to be carefully tweaked.  This just means I have to continue on the Lovenox injections a little longer.  I have another blood test on Monday.  I have had so many needles and IVs and shots in my body in the past week that it honestly doesn’t hurt any more.  I used to be quite squeamish and hated needles and now it’s just like “eh, whatever.”  Weird.

I have been able to go to several wonderful restaurants since being out of the hospital!  Which is good.  I need to make up for all that inedible hospital food.  On Saturday I was still feeling quite tired and a little out of it, but I had  already made plans with Joanne and reaaaalllllllyyyy wanted to go.  So I went.  And had one of the best evenings I have had in a while.

We went to The Meatball Shop, a most interesting place.  I was in the mood for some serious red meat, and this satisfied that craving in about two milliseconds.  I loved how the menu was simple and straightforward.  I think single-concept restaurants (i.e., peanut butter  or sliders or squid…well not squid, but you get the point) do well in NYC.  You get to choose your ‘balls, your sauce, a side dish, etc.  The only problem with this type of menu is that if you don’t like one component of the meal, the whole thing could be thrown off.  Good thing I liked it all.  Joanne and I practically licked our plates clean while gossiping about boys (why oh why can’t there be any good ones at our schools?) and other very important things.

I went for the beef meatballs with parmesan cream sauce and a simple salad on the side.  You get to write your order directly onto the laminated menu!  I love fun touches like this.

Delicious  delicious meatballs.  We couldn’t possibly pass on dessert when we saw our options.  Ice cream sandwiches. In which you could choose a cookie  flavor and an ice cream flavor.  We were instantly sold.

Peanut butter cookie and caramel ice cream.  There are no words.  So I’ll stop now, before I turn into a rambling, spewing, meaningless, incoherent…

Next up in my restaurant adventure-ing: Russian Tea Room for restaurant week!  One of the best parts about having my parents around is having my parents pay for things.  I  would never go somewhere for restaurant week on my own.

A real live samovar.  Awesome.

And the food.  Also awesome.

I need more salmon in my life.  I was about to say “I need more chocolate in my life” too, but if I added any more chocolate to my diet, I would pretty much be subsisting on it.  No judgment.

It was a wonderful (albeit expensive) meal.

Have you gone anywhere for restaurant week? It’s pretty fun, I must admit.  Other cool restaurants in the city you’ve been to (and want to tell me about, hint hint)?

Goodnight my friends! Again, thank you for all the love and caring.  You are wonderful. 🙂

Epic.

Today’s Happy Note: Lost.  Anyone else a fan?  It’s been a pretty epic series with some epicly misleading twists and turns, but ultimately, I think the characters are just screwed up enough to make it endearing (fyi: my dad just commented that the people on Lost are so intense they sound like “they just won World War II”).

Hello friends!  I’ve been having an epic weekend, obviously full of epic activities.  For some reason, weekends like this make me want to go camping.  And eat sticky s’mores and play in the lake and the cedar woods all day.  And then sleep in a tent.  And have lots of adventures.

But alas, no camping just yet, as I’m heading back to the city tomorrow.  They should have, like, a Central Park camping club.  Nothing says wilderness quite like ambulances, sirens, and 24-hour takeout.

Exercise: I ran 10-ish miles yesterday and it was terribly humid.  I don’t actually mind running in the heat, but I despise the humidity.  I’ve always been a big perspirer and any moisture in the air seems to wring all the fluid out of my body, leaving me wet, tired, and drained.  I walked another two or three miles later in the day.  Anyone have any great running-in-the-humidity tips? I’ve been running in the summer for seven years now and haven’t figured out.  Maybe it’s just one of those things where you have to suck it up and do it.

Today I did some serious hot vinyasa!  The teacher was a little bit loony and didn’t quite get the spiritual side of things right, but I did like her flows and her reminders to focus on our breath and internal heat.  We did some really fun series that we would go through several times with her and then do on our own.  It lent the session a nice aspect of independence and created a space for personal growth in a very direct way.  I think that airplane and tripod headstand are my current favorite poses.

Onto the weekend’s epic adventures (not in chronological order because I’m cool like that)!

Epic blueberry smoothies!


This monster-sized bowl of tastiness has five, yes five, varieties of blueberries!  No joke.  All I can think of is that crazy, greedy girl from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.  I don’t think this will turn you into a blueberry though.  Hopefully.

Five large ice cubes

1 C frozen blueberries

3/4 C milk (any variety you prefer)

1/2 packet tera’s whey blueberry protein

1/2 scoop vanilla whey protein

1/2 C blueberry-pomegranate steaz (or other blueberry drink)

1/2 C blueberry chobani

Toppings: almonds/mixed nuts and fresh blueberries

Epic brownie making!

One of the things I love most about being home is having epic adventures with my sister.  When we were little we fought a lot, but we also did many things together — climbing trees, family birthday parties, playing house (and pioneer people — our favorite game; weird kids), and, occasionally, baking things with our mother.  I don’t remember doing brownies.  But I do remember complicated gingerbread people and houses and wild berry muffins.  These were my mom’s specialties.  My sister and I just liked to eat the toppings.  Somehow, the last batch of everything always got burnt.  It’s a family tradition.

We made these brownies from a Joy of Cooking recipe.  Homemade brownies are so worth the time, labor, and mess.  So rich and fudgy and satisfying.  We made three separate pans worth: almond/cherry, marshmallow/m&m, and plain.

Epic swimming with epic friends!

It’s nice to stay close with friends from childhood and high school.  No matter how long I’ve known a person or how close we are, I feel an ongoing social anxiety.  Sometimes I’m afraid of being “rejected”, but the rational, healed part of me knows how silly this is.  My friends love me and I love my friends.  It’s that simple.

We went to the beach!  Well, more of a woodsy lake with a small amount of sand.  The water was chilly at first but we ended up having plenty of fun splashing around and getting nice tans.  I even wore my bikini without feeling too afraid of my own body, although I will confess that I didn’t feel the most confident.  One step at a time.

It was honestly the perfect summer afternoon.  No obsessive, painful thoughts about food or feeling fat or “I should be exercising, not lying around in the sun with a book.”  Just sun, water, friends, and me.  Happy me.  It was a pretty epic feeling.

Epic date with my dad!

I was never one of those girls who was naturally super close to her father.  But my dad is a fascinating, caring man and I do love spending time with him.  It wasn’t necessarily the easiest thing when I was younger, but I love it now.  Sometimes I wish I could spend more time with my parents and sister.  I usually see them 3-5 times a year.  I’m really still a kid.  I know that.

First we went to the park and explored the river.  I wanted to see some fishies but didn’t. 😦  In the evening we had dinner and went to see The Secret In Their Eyes, which was easily one of the best movies I’ve seen in years.  It had all the right proportions of mystery, passion, love, truth, and humanity.  Highly recommended.

For some reason, I absolutely had to have pizza for dinner last night.  Every few months I get a serious pizza craving.  Cheese is comforting.  Very very comforting.  I think Joanne would agree.  Wild mushroom and pepperoni:

I think this is enough epicness for one small post.

What epic things have you done lately?

Home Is Where…

Today’s Happy Note: Family dinner!  I have not had a beautiful, home cooked family dinner with all members of my family (mom, dad, sister, me, cat) present at the same time in months, if not a year or more.  It was delicious, comforting, and loving.  🙂  And yes, my parents are divorced.  They’re still best friends!

Vegetables galore!

Pad thai cooking away!  My sister has the best pad thai recipe outside of Thailand.

My sister and me! Some people seem to think we’re twins, others think we look nothing alike.  She’s actually five years older.

Exercise:

Yesterday (Friday): 6 mile run plus four hours worth of MOVING  which I did entirely by myself.  It was a serious workout.  At one point a friend helped me lift a huge box back onto a dolly, and another friend returned a rolling bin for me, but everything else was all me.  Independent women rule.

Today (Saturday): Travelling with heavy bags.  Hey, that’s serious — I was lugging my bags around for five hours.  Won’t go into the details of why (JFK airport=evil) but suffice it to say my arms are feeling it right now.

So as you’ve probably noticed by now, yesterday I MOVED and today I am “HOME”. But, proximity does not imply relationship!  I did move, but not back home.  I moved into my apartment for the summer and then flew back to Michigan today.  Needless to say it’s been an exhausting two days, and I want to go cuddle with my sister and have some ice cream right about now.

Up in the air!

Random selection of eats from the past few days:

Biscoff.  In honor of Kath!

Cookie Friday and caramel fudge lite choice in one day.  It was that kind of a day.

Storytime: Home

Two and a half years ago, after about a semester of living in NYC, I felt decently at home there.  I knew that I felt a special connection to the city and that it would probably be an extraordinarily meaningful place for me.  I knew how I felt looking across the rivers, finding beautiful buildings, or noticing a depth of cultural diversity.  I knew these things made me thrilled and happy and I even referred to the city as my “home.”  Well, actually, I thought of the city as one of my homes, with my town in Michigan and the house that I grew up in being my other home.  They were both my special places.  In Michigan, I have open spaces with the most lovely pumpkin fields and running trails that wind lazily through meadows.  In New York, I have wonderful buzzing streets and 20-story buildings and thousands of restaurants in reach.

My father picked me up from the airport this afternoon.  As we made our way along the highway and then along smaller city roads and then onto the little side street where my house sits — looking content and almost serene — I had one of the biggest realizations I’ve had in a long while: New York is not only where I live now.  It is my home.  New York being my home was a story that I told myself for the last three years, and in a small sense, it was true.  But in the larger sense — of “home” being where my life and love and passions and future and everyday joy comes from — I wasn’t quite ready to declare the city my home.  It is now, and I suddenly knew this quite clearly today.

At the same time I feel a deep longing for my family.  I am not a child, but I am still a rather young person: I’m twenty years old.  I have been living on my own for three years now and I still miss them deeply, daily.  Many people refer to “home” as a place where their family is, and in that sense, I will always have a home in Michigan.  But in 5-10 years I think I will have my own family and I believe that it will surely be in New York.  With that said, being here, with the three people in the world for whom I have the most powerful, beautiful feeling of love, is a gift.  My mother, sister, and I have not lived together in seven years.  That’s more than a third of my life.  I intend to treasure this time with them (a week and a half) as I suspect that, outside of vacations, it is the last time we will be together in one place.  And not any place either, our original home.  Where we climb crab apple trees and jump from thick ropy willows and hide under the sleeping bags in the basement and sit at the same mahogany walnut wood dining table that we have sat at since before I was born.

The conclusion?  I love both places — among other places that are meaningful,including a special spot in Northern Michigan and Ottawa, the capital of Canada — but New York has moved from a place that I live to a home.  When I walk down Broadway and know exactly how the ground feels at every street corner, I know this.  I feel it.  When I lie down in the sun in Central Park I feel a bit like a compass, sometimes.  Like a compass that knows exactly where it’s pointing and wants to point in that direction.  I sprawl out into a star shape, my limbs different places in my life.  And through all this, I am centered in the city.  The gorgeous, flying city.  City like a flock of birds.

Food, Mothers, Families

Today’s Happy Note: Honey-Lemon-Echinacea cough drops.  They’re special.

Exercise: I felt really icky this morning but felt better as the day went on.  I made a little pharmacy run for cough drops, ibuprofen, and kleenex and just felt like I had to run afterwards!  I did my favorite route along the Hudson River, 3 miles down and 3 back with 20 minutes of abs in the middle.  I did 30 reps of 16 different exercises and my tummy was burning. Some of my favorites include boat pose and crunches with legs at 90 degrees in the air.  Averie did a great post about abs — her favorite exercises, how to get good definition (hint: you need to do a few things besides crunches),  etc. I recommend it, it is very informative and inspiring; I love the attitude she takes that when we want something for ourselves we have to get out there and go for it!  Something I want?  A date.  Or two.  I do not think this is greedy.  I don’t yet have a plan for getting said dates, though.  Any ideas?

What’s something you want?  And what’s your plan of attack for getting it?  I say go for it!

I managed to forget to take pictures of everything today so I thought I would talk a little about food and my childhood (in conjunction with one another).  These are topics that I have definitely talked about before, but not really together.

Feeling Confined: Food, Mothers, Families

My parents, as you well know by now, are both doctors.  Good doctors (my dad was recently ranked second best doctor in the county!  Go papa!).  Both of my parents were very (and are) informed about health,  and their jobs allowed us economic and social access to a variety of healthy experiences.  I was a gymnast for ten years, a swimmer, a soccer player (briefly), runner, diver, scooter-rider, park-going, bike-riding, playground-loving kid.  My parents knew about the importance of fresh fruits and veggies.  They knew that kids don’t need to be pumped full of juice or candy or highly processed junk.  Other kids were bringing sandwiches on white bread to lunch; I had multigrain bread sandwiches with sides of carrots and apples.

I am extraordinarily grateful for the healthy childhood my parents gave me, in so many ways.

Last night I was talking on the phone with my dad and he mentioned that he absolutely had to buy a box of cocoa crispies.  His rationale?  He still felt the need to defy my mother’s “food rules.”  All this time I had thought I was the only one who was traumatized by them!  Don’t get me wrong; my mom always had the best of intentions, but sometimes food could become a stressful experience within our already chaotic household.

Sample “rules” (most unspoken):

-no cereal with more than 7-8 grams of sugar

-no white bread

-dinner isn’t dinner without about five servings of produce

-fake food is not food (ex: processed cheese stuff)

-pop and candy are useless calories

-you don’t need dessert everyday

-fast food is a once a year kind of thing.  If you do eat it, you should not enjoy it.

I think that for the most part these are quite good principles to live by.  And for the most part, I live by them today. For example, I have no interest in most highly processed foods, outside of th occasional oreo, and I quite dislike fast food. But there was something constraining about the relationship with food that I experienced.  I think that my mother was right to be concerned about what she put in her own body and the bodies of her children and husband, but is there a way to remain concerned without becoming obsessive?

When I was 16 I came to NYC on a trip with my poetry team.  One day, we all ate lunch in Harlem at a fried chicken place.  I had a milkshake.  I was terrified of the fried chicken because I had always been taught (and believed) it to be somehow evil.  Food is not evil.  It does not possess any inherent goodness or badness.  It is food.  In a single moment, much of my understanding of the world unraveled: it became clear to me that not everyone did or could eat the way my family and I did.  I had been “food privileged.”  And at the same time, I experienced a disordered relationship with food in much the same way that many very unhealthy people do.  How could these two worlds exist simultaneously within me?

In a way, they still coexist.  I find myself wondering if my actions with food are “correct.”  What if I eat a sandwich for lunch and there is too much bread?  What does “too much bread” even mean?  I don’t know what, precisely, is a proper relationship to have with food.  How I should interact with it on a day to day basis.  I know one important thing: there is a major difference between real food and processed food.  But other than that, I don’t know a whole lot.

I think one other thing I understand is this: maybe I don’t need to know all the answers.  Maybe I only need to live and breathe and be.  Maybe the answer does not lie in the precise outlining of a relationship with food.  Maybe there is no perfect program, but rather, I will find answers and comforts in not following any rules at all — neither restrictive rules nor wildly unrestrictive ones.

I am picturing my eight year old self lying sprawled on an asphalt driveway, a friend outlining my giddy body in pink chalk.  I think this is the rule; remember what it feels like to color yourself in with chalk; remember that outline, how it was sometimes blurry and jagged.  This is what food is.  It is not black and white; my relationship with it may be jagged and this is okay — maybe even beautiful.  Little pink chalk body outlines, surrounded by happy blue stars and yellow suns: this is beautiful.  This is happy.  Food can make me happy too.  A million things can make happy, and I do not have to participate in any relationship in which I feel constrained.  I want that girl back — the one playing with the bucket of colored chalk.  That girl.

Thoughts and Therapy

Daily Creativity: Collage part dos is in progress!

Random list of thoughts, some of which may relate to health:

1. Springtime running is the most wonderful thing ever.  Borderline surreal.  Absolutely glorious — I get to be a personal witness to growing things and new beings and fresh sights and sounds.  Oh my.  I love it.  And you should too.

2. What I don’t love is when you’re running and you steadily pull up on another runner and pass them and then they start sprinting to get ahead of you and then they slow down again and you pass them again and the whole process repeats itself.  Seriously, men, get a hold of yourselves.  Your life will not end if a girl passes you.  And it’s extra annoying when you’ve been walking for like ten minutes and I turn around to head back and pass you again and you try to run again and then die because it’s an uphill and you wasted all your energy trying to outrun me earlier.  Chill.  Out.

3. Starbucks smoothies are delicious, especially the chocolate banana one topped with trail mix and pb.

Seriously, when I’m home for spring break I’m going to make smoothie every single day.  Green monsters, pb and j smoothies, oat smoothies, avocado smoothies.  Everything.  And they will be oh so delicious.

4. Why did I only want peanut butter today?  I forced myself to dabble in some other food groups, but I really just wanted pb and some cashews.  Healthy fat shortage?

5. The power of suggestion is real.  On the train ride back from my Monday night volunteer gig, all the other coaches and I were talking about Chipotle and somehow we all ended up there.  I seriously felt as though I would die if I didn’t have chiptole, with a side of chocolate soymilk.  Very random.  I added brussels for some extra veg, and got the burrito with peppers instead of rice (my poor insulin does not need rice and a tortilla; also, I really don’t like rice) and black beans instead of meat.  And with guacamole.  I haven’t had avocados in forever and clearly they are so good.  I demolished this guy, minus the extra tortilla (this is my least favorite part of burritos/wraps; I greatly prefer the filling and don’t want its flavor to be squandered by endless layers of tortilla!):

6. Why can’t all food be this cute?

Wild cat cookie/pb sandwich.

7. I like grapefruits and oranges.  A lot.  So juicy and soft and beautifully round.

8. My second favorite running capris now have a giant hole in the crotch which was apparently present while I was running.

9. Please do not allow your dogs and their leashes to take up THE ENTIRE RUNNING PATH.  Thank you.

10. Dear school: I am tired of you.  Please stop making me read so many boring things (have you ever made your way through the swamp that is Tocqueville?  Not the most pleasant.)

11. Bonus thought # 11 added on Tuesday: Diana is giving away stevia here and I want some!

Therapy Monday:

I started off today talking about how I’d be going home for my break and how I was excited to see my family, who I only really see a few times a year at this point in my life.  I was thinking the other day that I really am quite a young person: I’m 20 years old, and that is by no means old.  I still have plenty of growing up to do, despite being relatively mature and sufficient.  It’s funny, because I feel like I live a very adult life: I go to school/work, I run, I cook/clean, I grocery shop, do my laundry, go to the pharmacy.  I do my banking, I call my grandparents, I get up early in the mornings, I have hobbies and consistencies and habits.  I feel, in many ways, more like a young working person than a college student.  I don’t really “party”, I don’t spend my morning sleeping in and my nights doing homework.  I don’t socialize in the dining hall over meals or wake up God-knows-where on Saturday mornings.  All this is to say that a part of me feels like I should be entirely independent; I shouldn’t feel a need to see my family and derive joy from this.

But this is silly: I need people.  We need people.  I need my family, my friends, my coworkers and classmates and fellow runners.  I actually used the phrase “self-sufficiency” in therapy today and my therapist stopped me and said that that was silly; humans are not meant to be self-sufficient, we constantly depend on others and this is okay.  I am not weak or childish for having an emotional dependency towards my parents.  I mentioned that I feel like I call them too often, and a part of this is related to the fact that I am so deeply independent for someone my age; it scares me.  I want to stay tied to them in some way.  Probably forever.  I think another thing that scares me is the fact that despite all my abilities to act as a highly functioning adult in this world, I do not feel as though my social skills are those of an adult.  I feel like a kindergartener in that area.  And this is okay because it is something I recognize and am working on.  My therapist said that she would be shocked if  I acted any differently than I do around other people, given my childhood and socialization.  We learn things from our families and those around us when we are very young, and I don’t think I necessarily picked up a lot of positive social cues.  I tried, but I always felt alone.  Even with my closest friends and confidantes I always felt like a part of me was separate from them.  I consciously try everyday to cultivate deep(er) relationships with those around me.  Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t.  But I always try.  I have recently started telling my closest friend about how sad I was last year,and I have found it easier to share things with my friends in the last two or three months.  Over winter break, my best friend from home, after we spent an evening hanging out, said that she really wanted to see me again before I went back to NY. I had no idea that I had connected with her so deeply; her words actually made me cry when I got back to my house.  I was so thrilled that someone wanted to spend more time with me and that I wouldn’t have to be alone everyday.

Social relationships are something that I struggle with everyday.  Sometimes I feel like my parents have tried to push me too much one way or another (“you should go to more events at school and meet people” or “don’t hang out with this girl I don’t think she’s nice” or “call so-and-so”) and I know they have always had my best interests at heart, but interacting with others has to be something that I do by myself for myself.  I think the first step here is simply recognizing how much I want people in my life; I love my friends, my cousins, the people I work and volunteer with.  I very much want them in my life; to laugh with them, share secrets, go out to see weird movies.  I am so happy that I am able to recognize how much I want this.  And some nights, I want to crawl into my bed with Alice Walker and a cup of hot cocoa, orange slices, and  a crossword puzzle.  Sometimes this is okay.  But other times, I need people who love me.  This is okay.  I will not judge myself for wanting to be alone, but I will also allow myself to be with others and to have fun.

I guess this was all just a long way of saying that it is more than okay that I miss my family (and friends from home too).  This is healthy.  I love them and they love me and I even need them.

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