I’ve been obsessed with food for the past 18 months.
Perhaps I should say I’ve been obsessed with other people’s food: for months and months one of my dogs was so fussy about eating that he made himself sick. My mom’s diminishing appetite led to anemia and dehydration, causing a fainting spell that sent her to the ER. Now my husband has been prescribed a strict low-sodium diet, which involves learning to cook and eat in an entirely new way.
I spend a lot of time researching various diets, planning meals, coaxing those who aren’t hungry and don’t want to eat while attempting to appease the one who is very hungry and can’t eat the things he wants. With all this concern about food comes anxiety. With anxiety comes loss of appetite (at least it does for me).
In all the confusion about making sure everyone else eats correctly, I’ve been failing to eat correctly myself. And isn’t that always the way. Those of us whose primary focus is caregiving often forget to take care of ourselves primarily.
I fail to nourish myself in all the important ways. Because nourishment means more than food. Even though food is necessary to feed the body, the things that feed the soul are just as vital.
Of course writing is one. WORDS sustain me, whether I’m writing them myself for personal or public consumption. Scribbling in my morning pages journal is both cathartic and instructive, because so many times the writing calms my mind and unleashes new ideas for resolving dilemmas. When I’m writing blog posts or essays, or even experimenting with poetry, I’m totally focused on finding the right words to connect my meaning and message, a focus that helps me forget the anxieties that occupy my thoughts.
Reading nourishes my mind and my heart, demonstrates a different view, paints a picture of other lives, other ways of being and doing. It helps me escape into new worlds, connect with other people, lose track of time for a while as I immerse myself within the comfort of a compelling story.
Words are totemic for certain periods of life. Today, driving through a pouring rain to my mom’s house to do our weekly shopping, I began to consider words that could inspire me. Words like Brave, and Strong, and Courageous. These words are anthems for difficult decisions and uncertain futures.
Words written nourish, but so do words spoken. A long conversation with a friend heals and inspires - sharing words of comfort, words of connection, words of understanding, we find ourselves in a quieter, more resolute place.
On this dreary and rainy November day, a veritable banquet of words is nourishing me. I’m taking my fill, and grateful for the opportunity.