I am taking liberties with the goal of NaNoWriMo this year. I am writing 50,000 new words, but instead of fiction, I am writing a book of prompts for a course I am planning to launch next April called Feast. Here’s a teaser of the course-to-be.
Sometimes life just needs celebrating. And by “sometimes,” I do mean “pretty much all the time.” Any excuse for food, really.
This is my favorite reason to feast – nothing. No reason at all. I am prone to making elaborate dishes on a whim to savor just for the sake of savoring them. If you were to ask me what the special occasion was or why I was doing it, you would get an answer like, “Because…Tuesday,” or “Because I can.” I might even turn it around on you – “Why not?” It’s not that there isn’t a reason but rather that life itself is the reason.
You are alive. Celebrate!
But it’s not quite that easy, is it?
The first seedlings of thought about this course sprung out of my need to bring celebration back into my everyday life. It’s so easy to go through the motions, looking forward to that next fun event on the calendar so much that I sail past all the rest of my days, eyes glazed and barely seeing everything that I’m passing by. If the next fun event is Friday night relaxing at home (and yes, this is on my calendar – it’s very important), and it’s Tuesday, that’s a whole lot of time to check out mentally.
This is no way to live. I want to make my days matter as much as possible. I don’t want to kill time until an acceptable hour to collapse into bed arrives. I want to live.
So I was going to call the class Celebrate because I wanted to explore all the ways we enjoy life. While doing so is certainly part of the course, something was missing. Celebration alone didn’t seem like exactly what I was going for. The word that kept coming up – the one that tied my vision together – was feast.
This was both exciting and terrifying.
I was excited because I love the idea of feasting. I love holidays where there is a ridiculous amount of food – ten times what the people present should actually ingest in the allotted time. I love the security and the hominess that excessive abundance implies. I love feeding people and being the one who supplies the ridiculous amount of food. I might not have a big house or a fancy car, but when you are invited over to my place, you will never leave hungry.
The excess is also the terrifying part.
Feasting and I have a sordid history. We can get a little codependent if I’m not careful. I love feasting so much that it’s easy for it to infiltrate my life on an identity level.
I was raised to be great at it. When people remark that hosting seems to come naturally to me, I take it as the compliment it was meant to be and say, “Thank you.” But let’s be clear – it’s not talent; it’s training. I have worked hard to become good at it, and I take a certain amount of pride in that. I love having people over, and they usually have a pretty good time. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s important to remember, however, that being a good host is a seductive minx to my ego, and because of that, it’s also important to remember that hosting the occasional flop does not define (and therefore cannot diminish) me.
At the heart of feasting is the food, and with the food comes the seedy underbelly of food issues.
In some ways, I do have a healthy relationship with food. I’m not really one for restrictive diets. I know a lot of them well, because when I have guests that are on limited choices, I prefer to know how to fix something they will eat without having to interrogate them about their dietary needs. I’ve been vegetarian or vegan at different phases of my life, but that was less a function of a plan to diet and more a function of a Lenten fast or having just read something like Fast Food Nation and thus simply losing my taste for meat. And I have to confess that I’m one of those annoying folk who, if I just eat like a normal person and get a moderate amount of exercise, the excess weight falls off pretty easily.
It’s that “eating like a normal person” thing that trips me up.
My issues with food are mainly emotional rather than physical. I am a chronic over-indulger. There are various things that I cannot keep in the house – soda, snack cakes, certain candy bars – because I cannot leave them alone. Since I am hypersensitive to sugar and most of my compulsive food choices are sweets, they’re extra bad news. I know in my head that having only one Kit Kat is the prudent choice, yet minutes later there I stand over four empty wrappers with a darty feeling behind my eyes, a budding headache, and no real memory of where one indulgence ended and the next one began.
I tremble to write that. As you are reading it, I am nervous, knowing that you know something that is a source of shame for me.
But shame doesn’t get to win.
I will remember that I am not what I eat.
I will remind myself that growth is a process and that by my mid-twenties, I had overcome my habit of bingeing to the point that purging was not physically optional.
I will go look at my well-stocked kitchen, full of real food, not junk food, and I will declare aloud, “I did that. I made those good choices.”
And I will sit here and savor my half a glass of wine and my two little squares of decadent dark chocolate. And I will be satisfied.
And then I will drink a bucket of water, because wine dries me out. I will listen to my body and give it what it needs.
I will honor who I am, where I came from, and how far I’ve come. I will celebrate myself. I will feast.
Journal prompt: What do you need to celebrate about yourself today? Where can you show yourself a little more kindness? What do you need to acknowledge?
Activity prompt: Go for a walk for a minimum of five minutes. Don’t come back from the walk until you have noticed at least five things that you think you would normally miss. Go out and see your world today.
Marvia’s prompt for this Real Talk Tuesday is “celebration,” so I’m linking up over there as well.