Eat, Pray, Live

I escaped the east coast winter for five magical days in San Diego

Photo courtesy of the author

I didn’t speak to my younger sister for ten years. For an entire decade it was as though she had never existed. She who, as a little girl, sat on our shared bed holding her blankie and weeping because she wasn’t getting hugged enough after our parents split up.

As adults, we argued often. More often, we had fun together, but the spats lasted longer and longer. Then, I cut her out of my life. The birth of my daughter thankfully brought us back together.

She says that the first five years were deserved – until she quit drinking. But that means there were still five years wasted. Of the mistakes I’ve made in my life, this is one of the most painful. But we’re doing what we can to make up for lost time.

I spent the past five days in San Diego, to celebrate my sister’s fortieth birthday. This visit focused on purifying the temple of the body: we observed a plant-based diet, did yoga and walked more than 15,000 steps every day, and attended a Hare Krishna temple service. We ogled ground squirrels, pelicans, seals, and lizards. As we soaked up the sun, I was immensely appreciative for the 80-degree weather, having left snow flurries behind me in the NE. While also being spoiled with 8-10 hours of sleep each night, it was a mental health break in all respects.

I greatly admire the progress my sister has made in her life. She is accomplished: a college professor who is also a photo shoot stylist and a world traveler. She brings positivity to others’ lives and builds community. She decided not to become a parent because she didn’t feel she had the patience, and I respect the hell out of that. Above all, I would characterize her as a doer. She took care of me for a week last spring after I underwent a major surgery, she’s a fun and loving aunt to my daughter, and she cares about fashion despite everyone in our family being born into tie-dye and sandals. She’s a natural optimist despite hailing from a background that instills anything but.

I’ve just lived a week in her shoes, and a glorious week it was. She could sell this experience: healthy eating, daily exercise, massage, wildlife viewing, lots of rest. For me, as a mother who works full time, in the midst of a pandemic, in the midst of a freezing NE winter, these days of sun, exercise, and rest were just what the doctor ordered.

I hope you, reader, are likewise finding ways to take care of yourself. We all deserve a break, especially in these trying times.

Cookies for Dinner

It’s not just a pandemic thing

Source: Wikimedia Commons

I grew up only so that I could eat cookies for dinner if I so pleased. It was the main benefit to adulthood, as far as I could see.

Just as Peter Pan didn’t want to grow up, I didn’t technically wish to, either. I just needed the autonomy to put whatever I wanted on my dinner plate—that being cookies instead of lentils and Brussels sprouts.

And so I grew up. With wild abandon I ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. In my twenties, my motto was: life is uncertain — eat dessert first! It was an easy stance to take with a well-functioning metabolism. And at first, it was deeply satisfying.

As it turns out, this wasn’t a sustainable lifestyle. Decades later, it’s clear that my parents were right about the importance of healthy eating — I’m fifteen pounds overweight, have an irritable bowel and intermittent low back pain, and feel far older than my actual age.

I owe my rough shape to poor eating habits. The reality of a slowing metabolism has socked me right in my doughy belly. Case in point: my toddler was searching for her beach ball which had rolled out of sight. Approaching me she said, “Here it is!” She lifted the hem of my t-shirt, fully expecting to find a beach ball hidden underneath. Imagine the disappointment we both felt at that moment.

Apparently, it’s true that you are what you eat: I can point to exactly where all those chocolate bars, sweet, iced coffees, and late-night bagels have surfaced.

In a terrible twist of irony, I must start parenting myself.

My mother and father don’t even get the satisfaction of saying, “I told you so,” because they’re unaware of the direct correlation between my diet and increasing decrepitude.

I find myself yearning for that plate of lentils and Brussels sprouts from my youth…