It might already be the 7th of January, but I’m just now getting back to work after a long holiday break.
All I did for the first few days was bake cookies and other Christmas kitchen activities I’d been putting off to try to get ready to take two weeks off, and then by the time the New Year rolled around, I was trying to keep my vegetable garden from freezing and squeeze in a few more projects before the holiday break ended.
I hope you all had a chance to catch up on some activities (and people) you’d missed out on in the weeks and months leading up to what a friend recently called "the velvet rut" and are feeling refreshed for all that awaits in 2014.
I wrote two stories that ran in the paper over the break that really sum up what I want to do this year: Be generous, kind and thoughtful to those who need it, which is everyone, including myself.
It sounds cheesy, but if you’ve been reading my work for any amount of time, you know I’m overly sentimental and touchy-feely about these kinds of thing, which is one of the reasons I jumped at the chance to go to Kerrville in the middle of December for a turkey fry at the veterans’ hospital there.
It wasn’t just any turkey fry, though.
The Texas Association of Vietnam Veterans has the biggest turkey fry you’ve ever seen: an eight-turkey behemoth that one of their members invented about a decade ago. Sadly, that member was murdered a few years ago, but his daughter donated the fryer to the group so they could continue to fry more than 160 turkeys a year for veterans in need and a trio of local charities. Watching this group give so unconditionally to their community — they have visited vets at the Kerrville hospital every single month since 1986 — was unforgettable.
On New Year’s Day, I wrote about a path toward unconditional self-love: mindfulness.
For the purposes of the food section, I focused on mindful eating in which you stop worrying so much about calories and fat grams and breaking rules that other people set for you and start acting (and eating) based on what you really need and cutting out all the crap that you don’t. This can be foods or people or obligations or self-imposed restrictions whose origins you’ve long forgotten. A number of authors have tackled this subject in recent years, but I was most impressed with the work of Michelle May, whose book, "Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat," inspired the article last week.
I didn’t think about the connection between these stories until today, but they really do represent philosophies of living that I aim to follow this year. In two weeks, I’m sure I’ll be frazzled and stress-eating in front of my refrigerator and thinking about all the other ways I could spend my lunch hour other than delivering for Meals on Wheels, a volunteer gig I just started two weeks ago, but hopefully I can look back on this post and these stories to remember that you can’t help others if you haven’t taken care of yourself first and do whatever I need to do to get back on track.
For me, that’s gardening and running and yoga and reading books that have nothing to do with food.
What gets you back on track for your New Year’s resolutions?