Peach

Our Bodies, Our Appetites

Lately I have been thinking more about the theme of appetite in my life, and in the lives of those with whom I work. On the most basic and physical level, we all know what appetite means. But to really follow one’s appetite is still somehow a radical and revolutionary act. I have been wrestling with, and bearing witness to, the resulting devastation to women’s health and self-worth as long as I can remember.

I have no idea exactly how I escaped the insane and demoralizing diet mentality growing up. I know I am in a strange minority of women who have never, ever, seriously been on a diet. Maybe it is only because I happen to have a body shape and size that genetically and naturally was one deemed “acceptable” to society. Maybe it is because I was a tomboy and not at all a “girly-girl” interested in fashion. Maybe it was because although my mother was sometimes on a “diet”, it was mostly a joke even for her and she truly allowed us access to all foods in a completely unrestricted manner. She even had a saying “ A dollar spent at the grocery store, is a dollar saved at the doctor’s office.” She knew that feeding her family well was a gift both physically and emotionally.

Nothing was off limits food-wise in our home. Food was not a moral issue, it was about nourishment and nurturing both. Homemade beef stew topped with biscuits and TV Dinners; fresh Michigan sweet corn and peaches and Captain Crunch—all had a place at our table. We usually had something home-baked—Chocolate Chip Cookies, Texas-Sheet Cake, Apple Crisp—to snack on when we arrived home hungry from school.

It is likely that all these things combined led, for me, to a relationship with food that is deeply joyful, delicious, communal and restorative. And to a relationship with my body that is grounded in self-trust, and a sense of fun, power, and functionality. I have a sense of awe and wonder at the mysteries and miracles of my body, and ALL bodies.

How amazing it would be if we could all, collectively, break free of the body-shame and fear-based attitudes toward food and our genuine appetites. To embrace our hunger as the true impulse that sustains life, to be honored, and nurtured, and ultimately used to guide us in our own personal development and growth. I have read there is only one inviolable truth for us all that applies to nutrition and food: eat or die. Learning to boldly claim one’s appetite, and then to act on it without shame or guilt or fear is a path I strive to model for and nudge other’s to follow.

Our bodies and our appetites contain immense wisdom. Eating is about survival, despite what we have been led to believe regarding the need to “watch” what we eat. But eating is also about satisfaction and joy, energy and engagement. We ignore or suppress our appetites at our own peril. Today, I feed myself without apology, every single thing for which I truly hunger.

Linda R. Glass, M.A.
Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor

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Be Astonished

“Instructions for Living a Life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”
—Mary Oliver

 

This simple poem captures so much for me about how I want to live. I don’t know about you, but as much as I work to practice mindfulness and gratitude on a daily basis, I still too often get swept away in my worries and responsibilities. Chunks of time can go by where my body is doing one thing and my mind is somewhere else. Too many experiences are not fully integrated from a place of humility and wonder and awe that is inside me.

What I am especially wrestling with is the concept of being astonished by everything life has to offer, because the glorious and the painful all have their own beauty. My tendency can be to let the glorious register for only a moment (Wow, that was nice.) And to push away just as quickly the painful (That’s not pleasant and I don’t want to feel it.)

The fact is that none of us are exempt from life’s entire kaleidoscope of experiences. We will love and grieve, for it is impossible to have one without the other. We will go through times of victory and joy, and times of despair and defeat. We all face the same reality that life is, at it’s core, both a befuddling mystery and a magnificent miracle. The things that bring us to our knees will include bliss and devastation. I want to be amazed by all of it.

To be astonished by everything requires me to pay close attention. I am convinced that astonishment is the gateway to the development of our full humanity. Some things I have been amazed by today:

  • The creativity of my classmates in my current writing class “Writing as Mindfulness.”
  • How wonderful I feel to have had a great night’s sleep.
  • How beautiful the glorious colors of autumn are right now.
  • How discouraged and helpless I feel about the current political landscape and polarization of the two parties.
  • How our 14 year old cat has had a personality change in the last year—instead of hiding from us, she has become a lap cat!
  • How grateful I am to have the quiet reading room at the library all to myself.
  • The courage and commitment I am honored to bear witness to in my client’s every day.

The epic art of becoming a whole human being involves profound astonishment. Let Mary Oliver’s words be a kind of mantra for us today, and every day.

Linda Glass, M.A.
Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor