“It is not that we love to be alone, but that we love to soar, and when we do soar, the company grows thinner and thinner until there is none at all. …We are not the less to aim at the summits though the multitude does not ascend them.” ― Henry David Thoreau
I grew up in an alcoholic home. It also dabbled in food addiction, depression and anxiety. Gratefully, my parents decided to seek out recovery and shifted the tracks and changed the trajectory of all of our lives.
The first generation that make changes to better their lives usually don’t see the real impact of their actions for many generations to come. Both my grandfathers began a recovery process later in their life, and then my dad stopped drinking when I was 6. Our house was full of recovery, yet the insidious nature of addiction reached it long arms into my adult life. I did not become an alcoholic myself, but most of my painful teenage memories had something to do with the consequences of alcohol. I stopped drinking before I lost the power of choice, yet food quickly tightened its grip on me once again.
We do not all begin life at the same place. We who have grown up with dis-ease have to fight harder to see who we are. We have to push through what we think we know to be true, embrace the expansive discomfort that is not pacified by entertainment, addiction or ideas of the future. We need to slow down enough to cultivate that fire within us that has been smothered by disease and then do even more.
I have to continue to remind myself that there is no one right or perfect direction, yet I have the power to make many solitary spiritual decisions that have the possibility to send healing ripples first through my soul and then out into the world. Each of these choices lessens the pain, strengthens my joy, and fills up that place where the symptoms of the disease used to cry out from for something real. It is now filled with purpose, love, courage, resilience, and the principles that help me slip back into my own Denise shoes and stand up tall. When I am full of that slowed down place where I can see what really matters to me, I no longer suffer, crave, or seek to simply entertain myself. It fills me up so fully that I finally see what it is to want to serve with no strings attached.
My daughters are not fat, and have no interest in alcohol and have a healthy relationship with food. They care about where their food comes from, and believe that all sentient beings have the right to not suffer needlessly. They are conscious of their actions and the impact that it has on the health of the planet, and all those living on it.
My heart swelled last night when my daughters tried to postpone going to bed by engaging me in conversation about The China Study , a (must read) book I just finished and have probably (most certainly) over talked. “Oh come on. I’ll discuss Colin Campbell and his scientifically significant studies on animal protein and it’s negative effects on cancer. We can talk about that Caldwell Esselstyn guy, the surgeon, who finally pushed the steak that was placed in front of him away, and became a vegan”. Laughter ensues…
I can laugh at myself because I know… food is my fire and it burns with me all day. It started as the thing I was addicted to, obsessed about, that disfigured my body, and held me back from finding out who I really was, but no more. It is one place that I can honor all beings through art, political action, compassion, mindfulness, education, love, and a reverence that connects us all.
I am 30 pounds lighter since leaning into a whole food plant-based way of life. No effort at all except being willing to re-learn and be awake.
I no longer worry about how much I eat.
My cholesterol has gone from 216 to 165
My anxiety is greatly reduced.
I hurt less.
I have purpose.
I feel connected.
I am at peace with food.
It just keeps getting better.
It is no longer just about me and my health. Instead it is becoming we, and what is best for us all.