I am in the middle of another relocation- the fourth in 10 years. We’re headed back to New York- whenever we get there. The emotional and practical chaos has been crushing. House-hunting trips, home showings and endless to-do lists have squeezed home cooking out of my life. Exercise time has become unpredictable. I’ve imbibed too many of my daily allotment of calories from stemware.
I’ve put on about 5 pounds- at least that’s what the scale says. It feels like a helluvalot more. The tops of my bra cups look like a pillow-top mattress. My face is all broken out. My joints ache when I lay in bed at night. I’m an insomniac, relying on the crossword puzzle App on my iPhone to drone out the obsessing my brain forces upon me. I wake up with canker sores in my mouth. I have numbness and shooting pains between my shoulder blades from all the tension I’m carrying there. This must be what it means to “carry the weight of the world on your shoulders.” All that and, honestly, I’d say that I’m pretty relaxed, considering it all.
At 8AM on Thursday morning, while searching for any bits of leftovers I could put in Sophie’s lunch, I found a bag of chicken carcasses in the back of my freezer. I might have been as excited if I’d have found the engagement ring I lost three years ago. The autumn air is wafting into the atmosphere. Soup was begging to be made. It was a sign that it was time to start cooking again.
When I was working out with my trainer, Cindy, the other day, she remarked that I looked a bit, uh, haggard. “You’re lookin’ a little like your botox has worn off.” I launched into a bit of a diatribe about how crappy I felt. For the record, the botox thing was a joke.
She then observed, “Didn’t you say you’ve been eating like crap?”
She nailed it. Isn’t that funny? I- the self-proclaimed foodlife guru- missed the obvious cause of many of my physical ailments: my diet. I’ve been eating restaurant and takeout food for weeks on end- with occasional meals at home. I effectively reversed my usual diet. Of course that’s going to affect my body and how I feel! That’s precisely why I’ve been so focused on eating well for the past few years! Duh.
The next day I made Chicken and Wild Rice Soup with my homemade broth. The smell of the broth cooking tingled my senses. The familiar feel of “Mike the Knife” in my palm calmed my nerves. I tasted, seasoned, and balanced flavor. I felt like the high-school girl who spent some time with the “in” crowd only to appreciate the quality of her “old” group of friends. I’ve spent time eating like a typical American. I’d told myself that I deserved it, that I had more important things to attend to during this “crisis” time in our lives. I was so wrong.
People often ask me if my kids get sick less often because they eat well. It doesn’t seem like it. They ask me if I think I’m less likely to get cancer or heart disease. My answer is that I don’t really know. This is a great reminder that eating well makes me feel better today. The discipline of cooking adds rhythm to my day. It is scheduled time to unwind. It makes my guts work better. It makes me look and feel healthier. It keeps gross ingredients and debilitating amounts of salt and sugar out of my body. It keeps me from getting fat.
I can and will cook more regularly, but more simply, until this is over. I deserve it. My kids need it from me. I just got a call 20 minutes ago that my realtor wants to show the house at 5:15 tonight. Crap. Just last week, I would have said, “Screw it. We’ll eat out.” Now I’m thinking, “I’ll do a stir-fry. I’ll prep before the showing so it won’t take long for me to cook it afterwards. Heck, the lovely little glass bowls full of brightly colored vegetables will look inviting next to the range, won’t they?
If the weight of the world is going to rest on your shoulders today, you’d better not be eatin’ a Pop Tart for breakfast.