A few weeks ago I was on my way to the facilitators’ training for Suppers and I left the house without having a substantial breakfast. I had grabbed a handful of sunflower seeds, which satisfied my appetite almost until the end of my driveway. The drive is about 25 minutes, so you can imagine that by the time I reached town I was focused not on the meeting but on food – eating – now! I made a beeline for the bakery. I could smell the fresh-baked bread before I got out of the car.
There is nothing that tells me when my blood sugar is high. If it’s such a bad thing, you would think nature would give you some kind of signal. After all, when you’re dehydrated, nature tells you exactly how to fix it, you get thirsty. If the bright sun is damaging your eyes, you squint. You don’t have to say to yourself, “Gee, the sun is too bright, I better squint to protect my eyes.” It happens automatically. In so many ways our bodies are brilliant and protect us by giving us clear signals.
My great love is photography. I have no problem getting up in the wee hours to drive to a beautiful spot and capture the morning dew on rose blossoms. I have the patience and dedication to wait for those fleeting and humorous moments in the gymnastics of insects or seek out peaking flowers with pollen-coated bees going about their feeding business. When my friends look at my photography, they see it as an act of love. But have I turned that level of care on myself?
My way of thinking is the all-or-nothing kind. It helps me feel safe and I don’t want to change, because I have a history of doing bad things with gray areas. In the old days, if I thought I could do a little of this or a little of that, I’d have gone right back to square one with substance abuse and bad company.
My son plays varsity football at the local high school. He is a husky lad, and it takes a lot of food to fill him up and keep him fueled for all the activity he demands of his body.
I’ve always had kids in sports. Over the years many of us parents have expressed concern about what the boys are eating, and in the past year or two there has been an increased sense of urgency. Changes we tried individually at home to improve the quality of the food were not embraced, to say the least.
It was in Suppers that I realized that I really am a coconut. My first stab at working the program was a dismal failure. I’m sure some members remember my being there, but I hardly do. I have been living in and out of serious brain fog and depression for years, a sane person in a crazy body. And while part of me recognized that this program was exactly what I needed, I didn’t have the wherewithal to pull it together.
I am a sensitive. I would never change that. A musician and composer, I know I bring joy into people’s lives that they would not otherwise experience. But there’s a price to be paid for having the sensitivity that makes artists valuable to a culture. I’m emotionally vulnerable and have always suffered with depression and anxiety.
My mother was a single mother and we were very poor. She worked around the clock, except on Sundays and holidays when she operated from a different place inside herself and produced flat out amazing food. I was raised by my older siblings. Both of my parents grew up in South Carolina; my mother moved to Maryland with her parents and my father came in his 20s seeking work.
I can’t say that I remember getting lessons on how to cook. In those days, grandmothers, and aunts, mothers and daughters just turned out meals together and somehow young women arrived at adulthood with practical skills in the kitchen. We arrived with something else that was just as important, comfort in the kitchen. Maybe there are young women out there who are as comfortable as those of us in our 60s, but it’s just not what I’m seeing.
I participated in a Suppers pilot project for people who self-identify as carbohydrate addicts. We were there ostensibly to change our relationships with food so that we would stop craving things we knew were creating problems and feel satisfied on healthier food. On the first day of the pilot we realized that everyone at that table was an emotional eater. We were talking about biological individuality and realized we each have our own emotional reality too.