I Hide My Chocolate

Midlife observations

Escarole and Beans

Invite People In To Your Food Weirdness

People with disordered eating patterns, like me, are prone to eating alone, secretly.  Eating alone makes me feel sneaky, a guilty pleasure.  I can eat as weirdly as I want.  When I was at the height of my eating weirdness I would eat an entire large honeydew melon in one sitting.  It was sweet and filled me up but had almost no calories.  And it was huge!  So it took a long time.  I liked stringing out my meals.  It was a way to avoid feeling empty.

I still look forward to meals alone when I can eat my weird meals:  secretly, silently, selfishly.  However, it has recently occurred to me that my weird meals are not so weird and that maybe it would be nice to share my weird meals with other people and not worry that they think I am weird.  One of my favorite dinners when someone in my family is out and I don’t have to make a more formal family meal  is a large plate of escarole and beans.  It satisfies my desire for a large quantity of food.  It is tasty and healthy and very satisfying.  No one else in my family is interested in eating this dish with me.  My family is used to my odd food choices, but other people are not.  Now when a child’s friend or a niece or sister-in-law want to stop by on “Escarole and Bean Night,” instead of coming up with an excuse about why they can’t come over I invite them in.  They don’t necessarily share my meal – but I share with them some of my eating issues.  I can laugh at myself and share more of myself, which deepens my relationships.  On a recent night, instead of setting up my son and his friend at a separate table with their pizza, the three of us ate together.  Them with their pizza and me with my escarole and beans.  And we talked about God.  And what we hope and believe about God.  (I believe that holiness is the love between people.)  Amazing things happen when you invite people in.   

Escarole and Beans

1 large bunch of escarole (1 lb or more), leaves washed and spun dry

2 cloves of garlic, sliced thin

3-4 T olive oil

1 jar of cannellini beans, imported from Italy preferred, approximately 12 oz

Sautee garlic and escarole in olive oil.  Take your time with this process.  The more you sautee the escarole the richer the flavor.  I do it on low heat and let it cook for about 30 minutes, while I do other things in the kitchen.

Add beans and their liquid.  Sautee the beans with the escarole for another 10-15 minutes.

The desired consistency, for me, is not too much liquid.  This is different than the more traditional Italian version which is much soupier.  The escarole exudes water.  You want to cook off the liquid and almost brown the escarole and beans in the olive oil. 

Experiment with cooking times, temperatures, and escarole:bean ratio!

 Serves:

1 very large serving, or

2-4 normal servings, with bread to soak it all up

Resilience

Resilience

“Resilience,”  she said.

Or lack of.  That is the word that came to her mind when I described my latest bout of overwhelming anxiety, my sadness at the passing of time, and the impact of my emotional and indecisive swirl on the people I love.  My life is so good right now and yet my mind succumbed to negativity.  Why can’t I sustain happiness?  I am plugging away at my writing.  I am plugging away at teaching my yoga.  I am plugging away at nurturing new projects at work.  I am plugging away at my tennis serve and my downward dog.  I am plugging away at living my life with more meaning, compassion, and happiness.  Ho hum, plugging away.  Boring.

AHA!

You see – My ego thinks that I am beautiful, smart, perfect, special.  I should be doing something GREAT by now.  What pressure!  Clearly, I am a fraud and a failure.  What beauty I have has banged into middle age.  (Who is that woman with the wrinkly neck in the mirror?)  I am smart, whatever that means.  (I have a good education and I take tests well.)  But being smart is no guarantee of success and there are many people who are smarter than me.  I have never been perfect and I am tired of trying.  And, I am no more special and no less special than you.  Wow, what a relief.  I don’t have to hide my self any more.  (If only I believed this at my core.)

Resilience is not discipline.  I am disciplined.  I am not resilient.  Yet. 

Discipline is getting up every day and plugging away at making progress.  It is crucial to achievement.  It can be somewhat routine and automatic.  David Brooks succinctly summarized recent research stating that it takes 10,000 hours of disciplined practice to become great at an activity. 

Resilience is more about flexibility and attitude.  It is defined as the ability to bounce back from defeat.  Resilient people see failure as productive feedback, not a setback.  Resilient people are optimists.  Not me.  I respond to setbacks through the lens of PTSD.  I see failure as trauma, severe and tragic.  I want to quit, not fight.  I feel scolded, shamed, embarrassed.  I want to hide.  I am angry at not being appreciated, but I don’t know how to deal with my anger.  As I toil away, alone, perfecting a project, someone who is less perfect but more out there with her self and her productivity leapfrogs ahead of me.  Hmm.  Maybe it is time to learn, change, and move forward.

Resilience is mindful.  It is pausing with self-reflection and making a conscious decision about how to move forward.  Yes, it means plugging away, but not in an automatic way.  And it’s definitely not boring.  It means changing course if necessary.  Keep getting up and getting out there with eye contact and a smile and genuine connection.  Other people don’t know what you are going through.  They are more concerned with what they are going through.  Forget about waiting for perfection and just put something out there.  It’s better than you think.

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