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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Birthdays and Deathdays

Birthdays are everywhere. We all have one and we love to acknowledge it, be it with hugs and gifts or cupcakes and cards. It’s easy to celebrate our beginnings, but how do we honor the day a life became no longer? Yesterday marked the second anniversary of my father’s passing, but really it’s been years since was lost to us. The last few of which  proved a lengthy good-bye to the wonderful man he had been, and his death gave us the permission to celebrate his very rich existence. Yet the grief lingered, and still creeps in from time to time, some days without warning.

Leading up to this day I wondered what I would feel, and I questioned what I could do to  make it significant. When a political, cultural or religious icon meets his or her end, the day might be sanctioned as one that’s recognized locally or globally. For the rest of us, the scale of appreciation for our legacy is much, much smaller. Perhaps only a handful of us turned our thoughts to my father, each in our own way.

I enjoyed a sunrise swim (I will always remember that I ran on my dad’s deathday with a dear friend who ironically lost her dad on that day years ago), and then tended to the usual morning routine. When finished, I made a small contribution to the Alzheimer’s Association, figuring that, hey, every little bit counts:  http://www.alz.org

Finally, I did what was most important in toasting my father: I bought a big, juicy chocolate chip cookie. Enjoying the serenity of the beautiful ocean view in Torrey Pines Preserve, I ate that cookie while honoring a truly exceptional person. After all, the greatest of men may have the humblest of pleasures!