Learning to Be Me

This blog post isn’t really just about weight loss; it’s about me — all of me — and I sure as heck am a lot more than just my weight.

It has come to my attention that I have absolutely no idea how to “just be.” I am always doing something. I am always going somewhere. The concept of being … well, that’s a lot harder for me to grasp.

When I first began my weight loss, self love, get-out-of-depression journey a few years ago, I realized that I had no idea who I was. My identity comprised other peoples’ opinions (real or self-perceived) of me, numbers on a scale, societal definitions, expectations from external sources, a whole heck of a lot of self hatred — I could go on. My point is — I didn’t really know who I was. The essential Me. I didn’t know what made me tick, what I loved, what got me out of bed in the morning, what would make my heart race, what could make me split into a grin, what might make me cry… I didn’t know myself at all.

So, I decided to try and get to know myself; and, I started with 2 things that I did know:

knew that I wanted to lose weight — I joined weight watchers.

knew that horseback riding was something I loved in my childhood — I started taking horseback riding lessons.

As I have gotten to know myself, I have started to do more and more:

I know I love cats and have a passion for rescue — I started fostering cats and volunteering at events/doing adoption interviews.

I know I love baking — I started baking cakes for all occasions.

I know I love God — I joined a church.

I know I love to sing — I joined my church’s worship team.

I met a man, I met the man, I got married, I bought a house, I joined a zillion meetup groups, I made friends, I began running a meetup group out of my own home, I started blogging, I joined a bible study, I started a bible study, I joined a meditation group, I began taking spiritual healing workshops, I started leasing a horse on top of taking lessons… the list goes on.

I am really really good at doing.

All this time, I thought that all of this stuff I was doing was because I finally knew who I was.

I was wrong. What I do is not all of who I am. I still don’t really know all of who I am.

Sure, I know what I love to do. I’ve figured part of this equation out: I know what makes me tick, I know where my passions lie, and I know what I believe in.

And yet, if you were to take away all of my doings… what would be left? That would be me — a part of me that I’m afraid I don’t know.

I’m at a point in my life where I am bouncing all around trying to find fulfillment and wholeness in all of my doings. But, the truth is, none of my doings are ever going to truly fulfill me until I really, truly, from the bottom of my heart love myself. And, I can’t really truly love myself until I know myself.

So, here’s to the next step in my journey — learning to be. Learning the part of being that lies outside of doing.

And not just learning to be… but learning to be me.

 

There Will ALWAYS Be An Excuse

Things in my life have been pretty hectic over the last couple of weeks. My fiancé and I closed on our first home and moved in the next day.

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This meant lots of packing, tons of fixing things in our apartment before inspection, and then having to move and handle things in the house. Things did not go as smoothly as I would have liked. We wound up without heat (in near-freezing temperatures) for a couple of days, and half of our appliances broke down within 24 hours!

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In all of this chaos, I found myself eating out quite a bit and downing donuts and pizza without a thought even after the move was over.

“I’m stressed!” I said to myself. “I deserve to be able to eat whatever is convenient and delicious right now.”

“I don’t have time to cook!” or “I can’t cook because we have no gas!” and, my personal favorite, “I don’t want to cook because our dishwasher is broken, and I don’t want to hand-wash the dishes!”

Excuse upon excuse led me to at least 2 weeks of eating whatever was handy without a thought about Weight Watchers PointsPlus or tracking my food.

I have been feeling exceedingly guilty about this eating issue after posting just a couple of weeks ago about how I indulged over the holidays and then “got right back on plan.”

Yeah. I did.

For 3 days.

So, here I am again to apologize to all of you for not confessing sooner. The truth is, after only a few days back on track, I found excuse upon excuse to indulge and remain off track for weeks. And, honestly, none of my excuses are good ones because there is no good excuse for hurting myself this way or for putting my health on the back burner.

After 2 and a half years on Weight Watchers, I know very well that there will always be “excuses” for overeating available to me should I look for them. Whether it’s a holiday, my birthday, a stressful time in my life, or just being grumpy, I can always find a reason to explain away my behavior. But, sticking my head in the sand isn’t going to get me anywhere.

I’m not going to make an excuse for these last few weeks on track. However, I’m also not going to beat myself up over it… because, honestly, I could use “punishing” myself as an excuse to over- or under-eat too! Not going to happen; not this time.

No more excuses. It’s time to get back on track. And, honestly, there’s no trick to it. No words of wisdom I can give here to explain how one stops and gets back on the Weight Watchers or healthy eating bandwagon. I just have to do it.

Making Peace with Hunger

Over the holidays, I indulged. I’m going to put that out there right now.

cookies

I had cake, cookies, truffles, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, candy… I had it all. A little of everything. I didn’t track these things. For about 5 days, I did not track at all. And then, on December 26th, I picked up where I left off and began tracking again.

 

I admit, I am proud of this; I am proud that I was able to let loose and then pick right back up where I left off. But, I am also telling you all of this because I am mentally struggling with myself about getting back on track.

Why?

Because I’m hungry.

sharkme

(This is me when I’m hungry. Truth.)

Right now, while I write this, I am hungry. My stomach is twinge-ing and twisting; I feel a rumble coming on. I’m thinking of lunch, which is still over an hour away. I’m thinking of dinner…of dessert…of food. I’m hungry, and hungry isn’t something I do very well.

The first days back on track are always the hardest and hungriest for me. When I first begin any “new diet venture,” I am able to endure this hunger out of the excitement and possibility of losing weight. The motivation for drastic change overrules the hunger. But now, over 2 years into Weight Watchers, that motivation and honeymoon-type excitement is essentially gone. So, I find myself having to look at hunger differently. I’m realizing that not only is my weight loss journey about my relationship with food and myself…it’s also about my relationship with hunger.

When I was a teenager, someone once told me that my stomach growling was the sound of fat being burned. That mindset led me to embrace hunger; it was comforting to me.

I don’t consider that to be a healthy way of looking at hunger.

When I was in college, I ate so much and so frequently that I went about 4 years without ever feeling hunger pains. Then, when I did finally feel hunger again, it was unbearably painful.

I don’t consider that to be a healthy relationship with hunger either.

Now, I see hunger pains as a line of communication between my mind and body.

Hunger pain is a sign that my body is still working. It’s a sign that I haven’t overeaten; it’s also a sign that I need to eat something. Hunger is my body saying “I’m ready for some fuel!”

Hunger can also be an emotion. I can get angry or resentful hunger when I think that I deserve an indulgence that I am not allowing myself right now. I can get sad hunger when I think that I deserve an indulgence to help me feel better about a loss in my life. Because, let’s face it, cake always makes things a little better.

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Hunger can be a mental awareness that “yesterday, I would be eating something at this time.” It can be an awareness of change in quantity, quality, or type of food.

“This orange is not chocolate. I’m hungry for chocolate!”

“This salad may be huge, but I’m still hungry for a burger.”

“This soup may fill me up, but I’m still not too full for candy.”

Hunger can be overwhelming. Sometimes I let it control me; I’ll reach for the easiest food to access the moment I get home from work.

Hunger is uncomfortable. Hunger is a sign of life. Hunger is a call for action. Hunger is a shared experience.

Hunger is so many things to me. In times like this, when I’m getting myself back on plan, I debate with myself about my hunger. All of those thoughts I discussed above…they all bounce around in my head. I think, in the end, it is important to feel hunger and it is important to deal with hunger appropriately. This means not letting myself get overwhelmed by hunger to the point where the hunger is making the decisions.

Whenever I feel hunger now, I ask myself where it is coming from. On days like today, the hunger is genuine. I’m hungry because my stomach is adjusting to less food. This type of hunger is hard to deal with, but basically what I’ve chosen to do is keep my body on a healthy schedule. As long as I am giving my body what it needs each day, it’s ok for me to be hungry sometimes.

My Weight Watchers leader also gave me a great way of analyzing my hunger. She suggested that, when I feel hunger, I ask myself “would I like an apple right now?” If the answer to that question is “yes,” then I am probably feeling genuine hunger. If an apple (or whatever fruit/vegetable you choose) is not appealing, then that hunger is probably emotional.

So, I’m going to give that trick a try as I get myself back on plan.

Yep.

An apple sounds pretty darn appealing right now 😉

Guess it’s time for lunch!

Apple

The Tradition of Food

It’s that time of year: time for candy and pies…time for cookies, cakes, turkey, and stuffing. It’s time for love, warmth, family, and memories. It’s time for sweet smells, crisp air, warm drinks, and pumpkin everything. It’s time for tradition. And, for me, that tradition includes a lot of food.

(Who DOESN’T put a whole stick of butter in their corn??)

This time of year is always bitter-sweet for me now that I’ve left childhood behind. Many of the traditions from my childhood have passed for good, and new traditions just don’t have those beautiful memories attached to them yet. But one thing never really changes about this time of year, and that is the food.

(My Christmas cookies from 2011)

No matter how old I get, there will still be turkey on Thanksgiving and cookies on Christmas (God-willing… because I know that, for many, food is a luxury). It’s very easy for me to start trying to fill up the bit of emptiness I feel because of ended traditions with food that will always be around.

This year, I want to start a new tradition. I want to start a tradition where I focus on people and non-food experiences for the holidays. I want to fill up the bitter-sweet spaces with love, and not with food. I want food to just be food and not something that I cling to because it will never change or leave me.

This year, I’ll focus on random acts of kindness, sharing memories, and visiting family. I’ll sing carols (which also never change), give gifts, and make sure to tell people that I love them. I’ll dance in the first snow, play like a kid again, and try to find magic that still exists even as an adult.

I want these things to be my new traditions. I want to remember that genuine love also never leaves; in fact, it lasts a lot longer than any food.

Weight Has Nothing To Do With It

Weight has nothing to do with most things in life; so, it’s kind of strange that my weight was once always at the forefront of my mind.

Gotta move through a crowd? Oh no…I’m too fat to fit.

Awesometastic picture of me in the middle of a crowd running my first 5k:

The Color Run!

Gotta fit into one of those desk-attached-to-chair setups in college? Crap…what if I don’t fit?

Want to ride on a ride at that theme park? Oh man…the attendant has to buckle me in? He’s going to see I’m fat! What if he can’t close it?

Why yes I AM on the kiddie swings with my fiance! I’ll never grow up!

Want to order dessert at a restaurant? Everyone is probably thinking how I’d be thinner if I didn’t eat this stuff!

I didn’t realize until only a few months ago that my weight had nothing to do with it.

With what? you might ask…

With everything…

With my value as a person

With my fears

With my being good enough

With whether or not it was acceptable for me to do things

With whether or not I can succeed

(Crossing the finish line at my first 5k: the Color Run!)

But, strangest of all…

Weight has almost nothing to do with my weight loss journey.

In fact, the only part that my weight has played in my weight loss journey has been the part of something measurable that has changed as more important and permanent changes were being made. It’s almost like the height of a child; it changes as the child (hopefully) matures and grows. My weight changes as my mentality, relationship with food, and lifestyle change.

Now, it hasn’t always been this way. In fact, for most of my life, my weight has been the focus. Certainly, it has been the focus of every weight loss attempt I’ve tried before. I don’t know when I realized that this journey was different, but I do distinctly remember the first time that I tried to really remember exactly how I felt and saw things before joining Weight Watchers, and I couldn’t do it. My mentality has actually changed so dramatically that I can’t remember how I used to feel or think.

That was when I knew that I would never go back to how I was before. And I truly believe that if my mind really can’t go that far backwards, my weight won’t go back that far either. Because the change has gone deeper than my weight, and those aspects of myself that have changed are the things that caused me to gain weight in the first place.

 

God’s Sense of Humor

In case you hadn’t heard…

I’m engaged! 🙂

Actually, I’ve been engaged since August 12th, but I’ve had a hard time deciding how I was going to blog about it. Obviously, there’s the proposal story (which I will share); but, there’s so much more that I want to say, and I don’t know where to start. I’m also NERVOUS about saying some of this stuff because, well, this is the internet…and both my family and my future family could be reading this. But, I’ve decided that that’s ok. They’re welcome to read.

I guess I’ll begin by saying…marriage has always been a terrifying thing for me to consider. On one hand, I spent a large part of my life believing that I would never be good enough for someone to want to marry me. On the other hand, I worried that I would never find someone who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with…someone I could actually trust that way.

Having witnessed what happens when you “choose wrong” in marriage, I have always been terrified of making that mistake. Relationships are always a risk, and I’m not one to risk making a mistake. Ever. But, relationships don’t come with guarantees. You can’t run your significant other through a “compatibility check” system to find out if he or she is, indeed, the “right one” for you…and if your relationship will last through the ups and downs of life.

That has always scared me, because as I said earlier — I don’t like making mistakes. I especially don’t like making the same mistakes that others have made before me. So, relationships have always been difficult for me.

Being a Christian, I was taught and to this day believe that God has a plan for my life – including the man I’d eventually spend it with. Many of “the adults” in my life have told me (repeatedly) that when I met that man, I’d “just KNOW.”

Uhm, hello… what the heck does that even MEAN?! Just know what? And how? Will there be some sort of neon sign pointing to the man telling me “THIS ONE! Pick THIS ONE!” Will I “just know” that it’s time for marriage? Will all of my fears, self-doubt, and second guessing “just” go away? Will an a-la-Dickens ghost of marriage future visit me in my dreams to tell me “you will meet the man you’re meant to marry at the stroke of midnight?”

And even better is being told that “it’ll happen when you least expect it” or “it’ll happen when you stop looking.”

“Well then,” I thought, “I guess it’ll never happen, because I never stop looking!”

And when I met Kevin, by the way, I WAS looking. I met him on eHarmony. I mean, I was there for the sole purpose of looking.

But, admittedly, I wasn’t expecting it.

There I was, looking through my matches when I find a listing for a guy from my teeny tiny hometown in rural Maryland. I was beyond excited for some reason…even though I no longer live in said hometown and any relationship I might find out there would mean quite a bit of distance. I mean, I had some really good matches just minutes away…and I expected that I’d probably date one of those guys for a bit.

But, anyway, I messaged Kevin. And it turned out that not only did he live in my hometown, but he’d gone to my same middle school, high school, AND college as well as been involved in ALL of the same programs as me (choir, theatre, etc.)…and we even knew some of the same people. But his being 4 years older than me, we’d never met until now. (And just in case I didn’t notice the similarities the first time…we now work for the same company!)

We talked for hours; and, as crazy as this might sound to some of you…I JUST KNEW.

I remember hanging up the phone one night, looking up towards heaven, and being like “Seriously, God? Did you need to make it THIS obvious?”

I’m pretty sure that he did. Because God knows me pretty well…and He knows that when it comes to relationships…I needed an obvious, in-my-face answer to all of my fears.

I truly believe that not only did God play a big part in sculpting both Kevin’s and my lives so that we wound up fitting so well together in the end…but, He ensured that we did not meet one another until vital and difficult lessons in BOTH of our lives had been learned. I believe that with ALL of my heart.

Our relationship has certainly not been flawless. But, with each and every real-life challenge we’ve faced, I’ve “known” more and more. Kevin makes me want to be a better person because he is such an amazing person. He’s one of the few who truly puts others before himself; he’s one of the even fewer who I can truly and fully trust with everything. I’ve never for even a moment questioned whether or not I could trust him.

So, now I’ll tell you the fun, mushy story of how he proposed 🙂

I knew it was coming (we’d picked out a ring together), and I knew (and he knew) that I was DYING for it to happen during my recent vacation with my extended family to the beach.

On this particular day, I was kind of grumpy… I admit it; I can be really grumpy sometimes lol. Kevin had brought his guitar to the beach, and he’d been playing it on and off all morning. I was honestly starting to get irritated at all the guitar playing. (bad me!)

We’d just come up from swimming in the ocean, and Kevin asked if I wanted to go have a picnic lunch on the beach. I told him that I wasn’t hungry. He asked if I’d go sit with him on the beach while he ate; but, I told him I didn’t want to get all sandy again. We’d just rinsed off. For some reason, I didn’t even think twice about this. Despite the fact that I knew a proposal was coming, it didn’t occur to me at all that he might want to propose at a picnic on the beach.

So, Kevin ate his lunch out on the deck overlooking the beach with me. And then he goes back inside and he and my cousin come back out; Kevin is carrying his guitar. And then…then comes the part where I embarrass myself eternally.

The scene played out like this:

Me: You’re playing your guitar again? Seriously? I’m going inside.

Kevin: No…you need to stay here and listen to this new song that I learned.

(I sit down, and Kevin begins to play a tune that I IMMEDIATELY recognize as Train’s “Marry Me.” I suddenly realize what is going on. And I suddenly completely freak out because my family isn’t there, nobody is there to videotape (my one request!), and and…and…OMG is he seriously proposing?)

Me: No! This isn’t happening! (I get up and run over to my cousin.)

My cousin: What’cha doooin? (I suddenly realize that she knows what’s happening…and that she’s there to videotape)

I probably said some more stuff in there…babbled a bit? Who knows. I was shaking like crazy. All I know is that my cousin told me that my family was inside watching…and then, finally, I relaxed (some). Because it was SO important to me that my family be there, and now I knew that they were.

I went back, sat down, and Kevin both played and sang Train’s “Marry Me” before getting down on one knee and asking me to marry him in front of my whole family (he’s so brave lol). I cried. A lot.

Of course I said yes, and now he has this hilarious, MORTIFYING story to hold over my head for the rest of our lives 😛

So, that’s the big change in my life recently; it’s brought with it a lot of thinking and reflection. I can hardly believe that this time in my life is here. After years of worrying that it would never come, I now realize that I never needed to doubt myself like that. This growing up business has been a very up-and-down journey so far. I have to wonder if it might have been easier had I just learned earlier to trust in God and those around me to help me through it one step at a time. But had it been easier…I may never have learned the lessons that made me really, truly ready for this step in life.

And now I get to continue learning with someone very special by my side 🙂

———————–

This is the song “Marry Me,” by Train that Kevin proposed with:

It’s Time to Try Defying Gravity

The other day, I was running on the treadmill like normal and was nearing the end of my typical 30 minute, 2-mile run. I was about ready to start cooling down at the time. It hadn’t been the best run; I was just a bit too slow and lacking in stamina that day. I was feeling discouraged and frustrated, as I’ve been feeling a lot lately. Then, randomly, Pandora started playing one of my favorite songs from Wicked (as performed on the TV show “Glee”): Defying Gravity.

(Here is a youtube video of just the audio to the song. If you’ve never heard it before, I’d love if you’d listen before or while reading the rest of my blog!)

This song isn’t new to me at all. I’m very familiar with the lyrics, and I’ve probably sung them a million times into my hairbrush while dancing around my apartment in my PJs. But for some reason, on this day, the lyrics suddenly became more than just words to a song I love.

You’ve probably experienced it before – that moment when you hear a song that just completely explains everything you’re thinking, feeling, and struggling with at the moment. That few minutes when everything comes together and you totally and completely understand and confront all of the things you’ve been keeping yourself from facing.

I cranked up the speed on my treadmill and ran faster than I’ve ever run in my life for longer than I’ve ever been able to sustain that speed. And while I was running, I realized and processed so much…

(Pic from 2009)

Something has truly changed within me over the last 2 years; and it is absolutely too late to ever go back and forget all that I’ve learned, faced, and overcome. I stand here at the brink of a new decade; I weighed in at 170.0 this past Saturday, and I’m about to succeed as I’ve never succeeded before. This success has been scaring me lately… because it goes against everything I’ve ever truly believed about my ability to succeed.

But, for the first time in my life, my weight loss journey is my own. It’s not something I’m doing for anyone else and on anyone else’s terms. It’s under my control only, and nobody else can take any credit for it. Nobody else is dictating my goals; and nobody is standing in my way and telling me that I can’t accomplish my goals.

All my life I’ve tried to lose weight, get fit, and be attractive enough to be good enough for love; I’ve always been afraid of being too fat to love. In the words of “Defying Gravity,” “Well if that’s love, it comes at much too high a cost.”

This weight loss journey I’m on… it’s required me to defy the odds, which have never been in my favor. It’s meant turning my back on everyone and everything that has ever told me I can’t do it…everyone I’d believed for SO long… and showing myself that I can.

“Kiss me goodbye… I’m defying gravity, and you won’t bring me down!”

160s, here I come!

Will I Ever Get There?

(This picture of my boyfriend and me canoeing seemed a fitting analogy to my weight loss journey today)

Weight loss journeys come with plateaus; they happen, and it’s just part of the process. But, whenever I hit a plateau, I start questioning myself. I start feeling trapped again… like I’ll never move past that hurdle, and like I’m going to fail. And THIS TIME it will be a very public failure because I’ve blabbed to so many people about my weight loss attempts.

I’ve been stuck between 172 and 175 for 3 months. I’m still 25 pounds from a healthy weight. I can’t stop yet!

I’m going to confess that after a few months of just completely stalling out, my first instinct was to go back to my old way of thinking and under eat. I was really angry at Weight Watchers for a couple of weeks because I felt like it was failing me. Since I began Weight Watchers, I thought I had discovered a way to lose weight without starving…and now it just wasn’t working anymore. And even my Weight Watchers leader seemed to be telling me to eat less (which, for me, immediately turned into “you need to eat WAY less,” but she never said that…).

(This picture was taken during a time in college when I starved myself down 20 pounds in 2 weeks. I remember it well. And then, of course, I gained it all back plus some. You know what they say…if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got)

Thing is, I haven’t just plateaued in my weight loss; I’ve plateaued in my personal growth. It’s funny how the two seem to go hand-in-hand for me so often.

Busting through a plateau (both the physical and mental kind) always requires that I experience some level of discomfort. It requires change, and I resist change. See, I went to talk to my Weight Watchers friends about my plateau, and this is basically how the conversation went:

Me: I’m sick of being stuck and I’m seriously thinking about under-eating to bust out of the 170s because it has worked in the past and it’s all I know to do! Even my leader says I should eat less! I feel like I’ve been totally lied to because Weight Watchers is all about not under-eating to lose weight. I feel like I’ve basically been told “haha just kidding – WW only works to a point; now you need to starve again.”

Them: Under eating doesn’t work long-term. If what you’re doing isn’t working, then you need to try something new.

Me: Nyeeeh! I don’t wanna listen to your rationalities! I’m doing it right and not getting results.

Them: Actually, you could just try lowering your Daily Points down to 26 like Weight Watchers allows you to do and maybe watching your processed foods and carbs ‘cus you’ve been eating bread at every single meal for like…3 weeks now.

Me: It’s not that much bread… it’s just like 3 bagels a day… and a pancake or 3… I have the points!

Them: You could try…

Me: NO!

Them: ….Which do you want more: 3 meals of bread per day or to lose weight?

Me: Bread! 😡 !!……no, ok, I want to lose weight.

(Haha…my entire family should recognize THIS look!)

And so I eventually committed to trying their very smart idea of dropping my daily points to 26 (the lowest allowed by Weight Watchers), still eating ALL of my weekly points (the extra points Weight Watchers allows each week), and limiting my carby meals to once per day. I have been sticking to this commitment for 2 weeks now…

It has been uncomfortable at times.

It has not been easy.

And…it has worked.

On Saturday, I weighed in at 170.6 and earned my 55-pound star.

(Proof!)

I also re-learned one of the most valuable lessons a person can learn: Sometimes, I Am Wrong.

Have I given up bread and carbs completely? Of course not! I had the best bagel I’ve ever eaten in my LIFE last weekend (Bagel Café in Herndon guys…you gotta try it), and I still lost 1.2lb at my next weigh in. I’m just being more mindful of what I eat.

So begins week 3 of the commitment… will I get into the 160s in time for my vacation in August? It’s only a few weeks away!

Well, I don’t know. But, I do know that I will get there someday as long as I’m open to accepting advice from the wise and awesome people who are on their own journeys right alongside me. They always get me through in the end.

Legacies

A little over a month ago, a girl that I knew in high school passed away. I was pretty good friends with her step sister, and even though we’ve all lost touch over the years, I still frequently feel  like those years when we were friends happened just yesterday.

The entire situation has brought up a lot of thoughts and feelings for me. I’ve watched a number of people lose loved ones, friends, and family over the past few years. I’ve been very fortunate in my own life when it comes to this type of loss; I still have my 98, almost 99, year-old great grandmother.

Whenever someone passes away, it makes me re-consider mortality: both mine and my loved ones’. (From what I hear, this is common for a lot of people.) The big question for me lately has been about what really matters in life. If I were to die, what would I leave behind? What would be my legacy?

For this girl who recently passed, her legacy has been her smile and her love. Everyone who loved her or even just met her in passing remembers those things. And, in my opinion, that shows you who she really was. Her legacy is love and joy.

If I were suddenly taken away, I wonder what people would remember about me. I also have to ask myself this: what would I want people to remember? What would I want to leave behind as my most important contribution to the world? And will I have made my time here worthwhile?

I wrote in an earlier post about how my weight does not determine my worth. I have never felt this to be truer than when it comes to answering these questions.

When I am gone, I hope that nobody will remember my weight. I hope that it will not be the most important thing about me; it will not be the most important thing that I do here.

At the end of the day, who really cares about the number on the scale? At the end of it all, what does that really matter?

Yes, I want to lose weight and be healthy. Yes, it matters to me that I accomplish this goal that I’ve set for myself. But it only matters while I am here; it will not matter at all when I am gone. I believe that who I am and my worth as a person will ultimately be determined by what I leave behind.

I can leave behind bitterness, anger, and resentment. I can leave behind a negative outlook, a fear of doing anything memorable, and a memory of “that girl who always stayed back while others went forward.” I can leave behind darkness, selfishness, and chronic misery.

Or I can leave behind honesty, integrity, and love. I can leave behind, like my great grandmother will someday, a legacy of always standing up for what is right and standing up to defend and love my neighbor no matter who that neighbor might be. I can leave behind an attitude of forgiveness and strength through that forgiveness. I can leave behind joy!

I can leave behind love or I can leave behind hate; I choose love.

Because, in the end, that’s really what it all will come down to. Did I love myself, my neighbor, and even the people who hurt me?

Or did I spend my life hating myself and everyone who ever offended me or hurt me? Did I spend my life focusing only on me and not bothering to pay attention to the lives of those around me?

Isn’t that, ultimately, what determines my worth?

I believe so.

In the end, I believe that love is the only thing that matters. Whether it’s love that I show to myself and others or love that I refuse to give to anyone (including myself) is up to me.

——

The Last Time I’ll Ever Eat This…

Has anyone ever told you “slow down! (or stop over thinking about this)… This isn’t the last time you’ll ever eat [insert food here]” or have you maybe told this to yourself? I know I’ve heard that phrase many times before and I’ve even used it on myself before.

A funny thought came to me the other day:

There are so many foods that I will never eat again.

Not because I’m not allowed to, but because the people associated with those foods are no longer in my life…or because those foods come from a time in my life that is over.

And there will be more foods that will leave my life; there will be times when I will eat things for the very last time. ever.

And that scares me…

What if he leaves me and we never go get froyo again and sit outside talking for an hour? Or go on a dinner date? Or cook for one another?  This could be the last time I ever eat a crumble that we made together…

It’s been years since any of us has had our Nana’s applesauce; she no longer knows how to make it.

What happens if my grandma doesn’t pass along my Nana’s recipes…they’ll be lost…

What if my brother becomes estranged and this is the last birthday cake I ever make him…what if I lose him…

What if something tears us all apart and some people are no longer in my life…

What if something stops my mom from cooking, and I never eat her burnt beef stew again…

🙂 Just trying to lighten the mood (love you mommy!)

It’s happened before; it will happen again. Sometimes, it really is the very last time that you might ever eat something.

About a year ago, I found a recipe that closely resembled my ex stepmother’s Moroccan Stew: a dish that I grew up loving and asking for on special occasions. It’s one of many dishes that I associate with her, and one of many dishes that I will never eat again.

I was so excited to try it; I altered it based on how I remembered her making the dish.

It was almost perfect. And I felt a huge sense of relief at being able to create the dish; it was like being able to hold onto a part of the past that I thought I could never have again. I even cried.

Food can be re-created…

and sometimes relationships cannot.

That’s why it is so very important to me now to spend the rest of my life focusing on the people around me instead of the food in front of me.

I want to spend my time and effort loving my nana, my grandma, my mom, my family, my friends…not sneaking food from the kitchen and stashing it away because I have a strange desire to hoard food as if I’ll never have it again.

If ever I have to say goodbye, then I will know that I spent my time wisely…and maybe I will try to re-create the dishes I remember them making. And I will think of it as a small “hello” from someone who loved me.