I needed to write. The words were always right there, at the front of my mind and on the tip of my tongue. My friends were privy to those thoughts most of the time, but there were things I kept hidden.
I needed to write.
I’ve kept journals since the fifth grade. My aunt gave me a Hello Kitty diary for Christmas that year. It was the height in sophistication with it’s little lock and key, and I was hooked from the first page when I wrote about how nervous I was for an upcoming test.
Journals and diaries have been an escape for most of my life. There were times when I would write daily, and others when I would write after months away. Each time, however, was welcomed with a rush of energy and need.
I needed to write.
I like to go back to my journals sometimes to do a bit of a status check. Sort of a ‘where have I been and where am I going?’ kind of deal. I laugh at some of the lighthearted entries, especially when I was in high school and experiencing the rush of so many firsts.
My first date. My first kiss. My first boyfriend. My first college acceptance letter. My first heartbreak.
My journals are time capsules. The person who wrote them has changed so much over the years. Sometimes I don’t even recognize the author, the tone and urgency of the words don’t match who I am today. It’s like reading a novel about another person and I can detach myself from the emotions for awhile. Not all the time, but for awhile.
It was over a ridiculously large cup of coffee that I spoke openly about my fears and my desires for the future with an old friend. She urged me to step out of my comfort zone and to do what I knew I could do: write.
I sipped my coffee (I mean, just look at that cup! It was more of a bowl, which made the caffeine addict in me skip with glee), and took in her words as she calmly illustrated what my future would look like if I took a chance. I call it a perfect storm, that morning in London, when things clicked and I experienced real clarity for the first time in my adult life.
I sat in my seat on the plane, ignoring the safety precautions and the flight attendants, as I moved my pen furiously along the pages of the brand new journal I’d picked up the day before.
The older couple sitting next to me took advantage of a pause in my frantic writing and asked me what it seemed they were desperate to ask me when I first pulled out the book half an hour before:
“Are you a writer?” the woman asked.
I smiled, thinking to myself, Yes, I think I am.
It was the first time I’d ever embraced that need to write so fully and used it to define who I am. I took that rush with me all the way through the airport, in the taxi, and in my apartment where I began putting together the framework for Food4ThoughtNYC.
This past year has been a blur of posts, research, conversations, social media networking and an endless internal dialogue that has me questioning myself repeatedly:
Why am I here?
Food4ThoughtNYC has never been just one thing. It’s a food blog, a forum on nutrition and health policy, and a guide to wellness and exercise. I often struggled with trying to pigeon hole my blog, but in reality, we’re all not just one thing. We’re complex, with different facets needing equal attention and space.
More importantly (especially in the past couple of months), this blog has become an extension of my journals. I hesitate with how much of myself to put out there in public, because I’m so used to hiding behind the words on the page, peeking out only for the benefit of my close friends.
But with each post where I honestly delved into some of the darker aspects of getting on track with happiness and wellness, I felt a bit of the weight lift and some of the light shine through.
I’m unbearably hard on myself and it takes a leap of faith for me to sit down and write these things out. I’ve walked away multiple times in the past twelve months, but I always seem to find my way back, because I know I’ve created something here that needs to be kept alive.
This is where I met Eva from Healthy Glow Nutrition whose generosity and kind spirit drew me in with our conversations both on and off the blog. She became my first real friend in this world and her sweet nature and empathy helped me understand how empowering it is to share my private thoughts about my past with food and body image on this stage.
This is where I met Bonnie from Recipes Happen who invited me to share in her Saturday Upside series so long ago. This was a tremendous opportunity to let go of my tendency to look down all the time and to see the upside in every situation. I relished the challenge of sitting down each week and really looking at my life from a different angle. The Upsides gave me a chance to express gratitude for my experiences, which was an essential step for me to begin understanding the path to wellness.
This is where I met Ilene from The Fierce Diva Guide to Life who I have no words for, at least not the right ones. Her remarkable talent to write stories filled with such emotion and vibrant imagery always moves me. She inspires me with her fierce determination and strength. She encourages me selflessly and always has the right words to say, even when it’s a post that I’m unsure about. She motivates me to write without even realizing it, because her stories often push me to offer more of myself and to be fearless with my words.
And it’s that need to write fearlessly that keeps bringing me back here.
This year hasn’t been an easy one. I’ve asked myself some hard questions and confronted some of my issues surrounding food, body image, and past relationships, right here, with all of you reading. It’s full disclosure that I would never allow myself beyond the pages of my journals.
I rode that line between the thrill of finally letting all of this out and a crippling fear of what the consequences would be for laying my emotions bare for all the world to see. But with each story I told, I found solidarity with someone who went through something similar. I found people willing to follow along and find inspriation in my words. Over time, I realized I’d found a purpose.
I started all of this with the intention of starting a dialogue. I wanted to have an intellectual (or maybe, not always so intellectual) conversation about food, culture, and how our societal expectations of beauty affects our daily lives. I still want those things.
My blog will always be more than one thing. One day I’ll have recipes on here, telling you about the nutritional benefits of avocados or strawberries. Another day I’ll pose a debate about GMOs and our national food policy. I may choose to focus only on what’s going on in my head as I try to sort through insecurities, fears, and body image crises.
The point is, I’ll be here. For the good and the bad. Through the thick and the thin. Whether one person reads my post, or twenty. If I’m freshly pressed or featured on another website. Or if I’m in Europe or in the canyons of Utah.
I’ll still be here.
I just saw my friend who shared that huge cup of coffee with me one year ago, and she gave me a gift that was so apropros to this moment:
She has a knack for getting to the heart of me without even trying. This new journal reminds me that there is always room to write, whether it’s on this blog or in a book. Each step I take forward, big or microscopically small will be there for me to document and the choice to do so, gives me more strength than I ever thought I had. I don’t take that for granted and I hope that whatever gets you motivated to move ahead in your own journeys will continue to be a source of support. Nurture that connection and express your appreciation of those moments that bring you there.
Thank you to all who’ve been along for this ride with me.
My friends and family who’ve been a constant source of support and love throughout all of the ups and downs, and all the times I’ve changed my mind: you’ve been incredible. Your faith in me is staggering and I’m glad I never have to find out what life would be like without you.
My fellow bloggers, some of which have come and gone, have been incredible inspirations to me and you keep me motivated, even when all I wanted to do was run away. Your stories uplift me and sometimes they make me cry while other times they make me laugh. But each time you keep me moving, and that means more to me than you’ll ever know.
You, the reader: what can I say to you to properly express my gratitude? I realize, that this is all sounding very melodramatic. I had witty commentary and jokes to share, but once I got to writing this down, I realized my emotions ran much deeper than that. I never expected anyone to really read my posts. I’m still sort of amazed when I get an email or a comment to something I’ve written. Regardless of my disbelief, however, you’ve all proven what an amazing audience you are by sharing your own stories with me. I will never fail to be awed by your selflessness and your openness. Thank you, now and always.
Alright, now that I’ve packed away my tissues and I’ve managed to stop gushing my heart out on this page, I can tell you about how I’m celebrating my blogiversary!!
Last fall I did my favorite series to date when I decided to share five recipes featuring apples (5 Shades of Apples: EL James has ruined me for life) in both sweet and savory dishes. It was the most fun I had, back when I still had the energy to feature weekly recipes with loads of nutritional factoids and pictures (I promise: I’ll get back there again!).
It’s time I bring some food back to the table with another series this week featuring my favorite summer produce!!! Get your pretty aprons ready (or your napkins if you’re not cooking, whatever), and stay tuned for some easy, healthy recipes to get you through the rest of the summer!!