Happy medium

A beautiful moth that I saw several years ago

My body is fairly healthy, which is a miracle when I consider that for much of my adolescence,  I lived on Tab (remember that horrible diet drink!) and frozen pizzas (not to mention the cigarettes and alcohol that went hand-in-hand with that time of my life). Truth be told, I have had spells of “eating healthy” but I don’t think my diet is particularly note-worthy. I drink coffee every morning, love chocolate, crave ice cream at least once a week, still have take-out pizza with extra cheese and cheeseburgers occasionally. I also like fresh salads, fruits, and lean meat, but if I was being graded, my diet would get a B- …I think. In the past, I’ve held out the fact that my diet was not perfect, as one of the reasons for not progressing further in my spiritual search. Felt that if I could get on the right diet, I could fast-track the spiritual path as well.

So, I tried, for a very short periods of time, diets which included vegetarian and even veganism. I’ve gone totally off sugar, wheat, grains, dairy, took very expensive whole-food supplements, fasted for days, drank wheat-grass juice, aloe vera juice, cleansed with the hideous combination of lemon, cayenne pepper and raw garlic, all in an effort to purify (i.e. perfect) myself. Jesus, who lived in an era where dietary rules were extensive and cumbersome said, “It is not what goes into a person that defiles, but what comes out (of their mouth/thoughts)” When I am appreciating life, the choices I make, regarding my diet and everything else, are of a higher quality as well. When I am not feeling great emotionally, my food choices seem to match that.

I heard a spiritual teacher say once that if you really wanted to reach that inner place of God, you must give up caffeine. There is a belief system out there that says really spiritual people must eat a certain way, which can easily be extended to, dress a certain way, talk a certain way, pray a certain way, …the list is endless and can keep us perpetually feeling that we don’t measure up. The “Spiritual Path” would be pretty petty and extremely complicated, if  it depended upon our outer life; human rules and regulations (especially when these rules are established by experts and authorities who tend to change their minds according to what research they are doing/quoting, or what religious tradition they are a member of) to progress.

I also suspect that many more head and stomach aches are caused from negative, fearful thinking than lunch (whether those fearful thoughts are actually about the food we are eating or the state of the world, it matters not. Negative thoughts adversely affect our cells) .

There is one way to live; Love everything (including yourself, your food, your body, your job…) as much as possible, and eventually the things that don’t match love, will fall away.

The important work of moving the world forward does not wait to be done by perfect men“. George Eliot

26 thoughts on “Happy medium

  1. Well, Mary, it sounds like that demon we call perfectionism that gets us every time…it affects our diet, our spirituality, our relationships…we just want everything perfect and that isn’t really what makes us whole or happy, just stressed.

    I am wishing for us today a day that is balanced in every way…
    love and hugs, Marian

  2. Mary, It appears I’ve been many of the places emotionally that you have been. When I dieted and felt good about myself, (well let me say accepted by others) then the “I’m okay, Your okay” part of my life came out. But eventually the diet went away and I was no longer “Okay”. It’s so hard when you live by others rules of “okay”. I’ve learned through lifes ups and downs, in’s and outs, fat and thins, that I am “okay” by any standard. That all life ask of me is to love and be loved. And I am loved and do love. I’m learning and growing everyday and am striving to increase my ability for unconditonal love to those who in the past I wanted to meet my “okay”.

  3. Good morning, Mary – looks like I’m going to hell in a hand basket as I read this post sipping my second cup of coffee!! I have a magnet on my fridge that says:
    “Caffeine is the glue that holds me together”! It was given to me by a dear friend who died too young (cancer – nothing to do with coffee). And I have a tin poster on my kitchen wall given to me by my sweet daughter – the poster reads:
    “Coffee – you can sleep when you’re dead!” – a 1950’s kinda gal holds up a steaming mug of coffee! And, one of my favorite pieces of literature, the play Our Town by Thorton Wilder ends with Emily saying good- bye to life, “Good-bye Momma, and Poppa, good-bye to sleep and waking up, good-bye food and coffee…” That’s when I got out the tissues.

  4. P.S. In reading over my posted comment, I see that I have included many exclamation points!!!!! Perhaps, I have been drinking too much coffee !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. What a profound post! I agree that there can be a mindset in dieting that is about telling ourselves “I am not good enough”. Eating in a healthy way has a definite mental component.

    Your reference to Tab made me laugh out loud, thank you! You are right, it was awful, like drinking paint thinner! Yuck!

  6. On this morning’s menu, more food for thought from Mary!

    “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” – Michael Pollan. That’s about as many rules as I can digest.

    I’m always saddened when I go looking for help and guidance, but am handed someone else’s set of “rules” instead.

    That must be why I come here every morning! Always something delicious to chew on.

    I’ll stop now.

    • Well said, Jill. Mary’s morning menu works more muscles than just the jawbone. I just grasped the dual definition of the word ruminate: to chew a cud AND to reflect or meditate on. Holy cow!!

  7. It’s funny, Mom and I always seem to be in disagreement over food. She likes junk food (my term) and processed food. I like to eat “healthy”, more fresh veggies and less red meat. We manage to compromise and neither of us really gets to eat the way we want to. I just don’t see how some of the chemicals in processed food can be good for you but lots of folks seem to survive on it. Just my “mind set” I guess. We all need to eat what feels right to us. One day you read coffee is good for you the next you hear it is harmful. In the long run I agree that how we think, what we think affects us more than what we eat. Thanks for a positive thought Mary. :‹)

  8. I just finished reading A Widow’s Story, a memoir by Joyce Carol Oates on the sudden passing of her husband in 2008. He was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia, was making an excellent recovery, when suddenly within a few hours, a staph based bacterial infection entered his body and ravaged his system, and he died. He was 78, but otherwise in excellent health, and was faithful all his life working out at the gym, even in his seventies. She writes with a touch of humor, what his reaction may have been to his death from a hospital borne infection – she imagines him saying, “Well, a hell of a lot of good all those workouts did!” – guess what I’m trying to say is, life if fraught with so many variables, things we have absolutely no control over, so we just have to do the best we can. I. too, feel that what we feed our minds and spirits is every bit as important as the foods we ingest. In fact, maybe more so. The flock is surely providing a daily smorgasbord for the soul. Thanks be to all!

    • [Regarding yesterday’s blog post] Susan, I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who begins AND ends their day in a comfy ‘feather bed’! I wish all my bad habits were as good for me as this blog. And in an effort to expand my daily dietary requirement of warm hearts and open minds, I’m wondering how does one attach a photo “signature”? in the upper right corner that I’ve noticed on a few of the posts—where wonderky and jayne’s cute pics are here today?
      Living as close as I do to Silicon Valley, you’d think I would know that! Now that I’ve decided to embrace these new technologies, I love seeing a ‘face’ of all my cyber siblings. We may be separated by miles but not by smiles!

  9. Great post. I,too, reside in a strong body in spite of many poor choices. I still crave a good drag of tobacco from time to time but satisfy myself with a clean deep breath…….not the same. There is no end to the opportunities for fear to invade our lives and diet is one way for many of us. Moderation in all (at least Most) things is where I put my trust. How did our spiritual progress become linked with food other than through the lens of deprivation, suffering, martyrdom? Silly. Life is too big and juicy to contain through diet.

  10. I just love to eat! I am vegetarian (which is a long story), and I know what foods resonate with me best. And I absolutely cannot live without chocolate at least twice a day, just a little. I love your statement, Mary, about stomach aches more often caused by negative thinking than lunch. Tap it away! A thoughtful message…Thank you.

    • I appreciate this Diana and your inner knowing of “what foods resonate” with you (very wise words)!

  11. Mary I could not agree more with what you said. I too would grade myself a B-, I try to limit any processed foods, I only eat organic fruit and veggies, and eat humainly raised meat. But life would be boring and not as enjoyable without the foods that I love. Dr. Phil called eating “a party in your mouth” I always remember this, the occassionaly party is great but not everyday. Food is a joy to me, something which should be enjoyed and shared with others. Thanks Mary for another great post!

  12. Over the weekend I was reflecting on weight and dieting with my husband and then again with a close friend. I was thinking about ALL the food I had eaten over the past few weeks. Out to dinner for wedding anniversary, vacation, lunches and dinners with friends, ice cream here and there, chocolate everywhere…and I just sighed and said but you know what? “I just really really enjoyed it all”…and I did…I don’t want to be disappointed in myself afterwards, although I usually am as I secretly unbutton my pants so I can breathe better! So now we are back to walking each morning…if only so I can eat what I want to…Like you Diana, I just love to eat…nothing psychological about it! I simply love the taste of food!

    • I really enjoy food too Kathye and one silly (but I am serious) thing that I do now is only buy pants with spandex (or some kind of stretch) in the waist band!

      • I think that is where I am headed Mary! To the land of elastic!!! Not so silly if it allows me to eat in comfort (and joy)! Thanks!

  13. I love EVERYTHING about this post! I love to eat, I love chocolate, I love a yummy pot roast and the first pot of homemade soup on a chilly day in fall. I love warm bread out of the oven with a crunchy crust that I can dip in that soup. Is there anything more enjoyable?! Maybe the joy one feels at the partaking of a meal is the same zeal we should use to approach other parts of our lives, which come to think of it, is kinda what you are saying Mary, only better.

  14. French girls are always eating and are always thin. Know why? They just sample foods. They love the manner in which they dine. Food is eaten slowly with family or friends. It is high in fat, fresh and prepared with love. No exercise but love of beautiful lingerie.

  15. That moth is so beautiful, the spots remind me of peacock feathers. Your post reminds me of Peter’s dream in the book of Acts where a big sheet comes down from heaven filled with all kinds of creatures and he is told to eat everything. Nothing is unclean that has been made clean for everyone. Such liberty and freedom from law and tradition.

  16. Lovely post Deb. these are the things I love to here. However, most Americans today sustain themselves on chemicals, preservatives, artifical sweetners, carbonated drinks, and the list goes on, that provide no nutritional value to their bodies. When did we stop using what God has provided and start poisoning our sacred bodies? I had three cases of fresh green beans for the food pantry yesterday. After 15 families attended, I had to call Christian women to freeze and can the beans. Meanwhile, I am out on a tree stump cutting a breast out of a fresh killed hen pheasant for dinner and lovingly smoothing the wing feathers which will be used on bumpers for bird dog training. I tell you this because there is a large gap in the population that has the message and those who haven’t. What can we do about this?

    • Thank you, Mary Lou. It sounds like you are already doing something about this. You are sharing your knowledge and food with love. That has such a great ripple effect. Feed the body and feed the soul.

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