Eating Feelings

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We eat for joy, for sorrow, for boredom, for comfort. Whether festive or mundane, our days and moods are defined by  the foods we choose. And of course the present holiday season is rife with treats. What happens, then, when celebratory times and tragic events converge– such as on Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary? Some of us were too revolted too eat; others were too consumed with grief to bother; still others grabbed darling cookies to bring to their children in demonstrations of love because we are the fortunate ones.

I fall into all three categories. Note– my kids didn’t actually have the chance yet to enjoy the cookies because they lost dessert privileges for a few days, but that’s a different story. Let’s just say I had to shelf the elf. They also don’t know the impetus for the impulsive purchase because (thus far) I have been able to shield them from all media coverage. Tonight, guarded by innocence, they’ll share the cookies.

On Friday I planned a lighthearted, witty post on holiday eating– namely baked goods, which you might recall I do love. As you can imagine, any humor was sucked right out of me as I heard the stomach-churning news over the radio. You needn’t be a parent or teacher, school administrator or first responder to feel the horror, grief and anguish of this. You need only be human.

I’ll leave it up to you– if and when you are ready– to read my thoughts on holiday treats. It comes with a small confession: whilst on my sabbatical I have been staying lightly active in my role as nutrition consultant. I’m still with Trismarter.com,  which provides online coaching and nutrition support for multisport athletes. I do so because I genuinely enjoy the work, and also because I enjoy funding my sabbatical pursuits. I’m a firm believer that eating is the fourth discipline of triathlon, and I encourage my clients to fuel properly. Sometimes that, by necessity, involves dessert. Recently I wrote a piece on how to make sure your holiday meal has room for this crucial component.

Regardless of whether you’ll choose to read nutrition tips and regardless of which feelings you are eating today, tomorrow or in the weeks to come, you’ll likely do so while holding thoughts of the Newtown community in your heart. Cookies do wonders– maybe not for the hips– but certainly for the soul.

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Game of Love

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Ping. Pop. Bounce. Spin. Satisfaction.

Smash. Slam. Whiff. Shank. Frustration.

That’s right– it’s the sport of tennis I describe. If you’re looking for schmaltzy romance, you’re on the wrong page. In this game, love means nothing. Literally: Nada. Zilch. Zero. What is to love about that?

Supposedly the scoring system reflects the notion that one plays for the love of it, and nothing else. Not points, not victory. As I chip away at the (many) layers of rust, I might have a tiny understanding of that–finally.

I grew up a tennis player, and put a lot of time, sweat and tears into my game. I loved it as much as I hated it– and after my last high school match the latter feelings forced me to take a 17-year hiatus.

Much has changed since my final days on the court. My knees are creakier, my eyesight is poorer. I have grown into my large feet… and also into my sports bra. I might– just might– have developed some maturity and perspective, too. I’m appreciative for all that my parents gave to me: lessons, encouragement and a lot of court time with my dad. He and I even won a mini-tournament, a highlight (I think) of his parenting years.

In my return from retirement, my stroke actually hasn’t changed much. Timing is another story. What a fine line there is between miss and a winner! If I can keep enjoying the sport, I know that I can only improve.

As my game is coming back to me, my expectations increase. I have to check my irritations at the gate, accepting that less fit women with much less finesse will lob and “push” their way through the points. It gets me every time. I will not bend to that kind of game– never have, never will. I vow to work only on my stragety and also to silence the profanities that are eager to fly from my mouth. Remember– the maturity is still very much in development. I have to actively remind myself that it’s all about the love.

Tennis anyone?