I lost both of my parents in 2013. My father lost his battle with cancer on April 19, and my mother passed on November 21, ten days after suffering a sudden, massive stroke.
If losing my father threw me off balance, my mother’s death finished the job and knocked me right over the edge. The holidays that followed her passing were a rushed, hazy mishmash of attempts at keeping-with-tradition, forced smiles, and lots and lots of less-than-ideal eating and exercise habits.
What I mean by “less-than-ideal” is that I ate a lot of crap-tastic food and engaged in absolutely no exercise.
I was breaking my own rule. I had abandoned my own mantra that has guided and protected me all along my journey to health and healing:
I had forgotten to ask. Or maybe I just stopped caring enough to make an effort to remember.
My roots had seemingly disappeared, and I was floating – disconnected like a helium balloon caught up in a directionless wind. And because I felt disconnected from everything, I started caring about almost nothing.
I forgot my purpose. I forgot that my main joy is to be of service to others – my husband, my children, my friends, my clients, and my online community – and that starts with being of genuine service to myself.
You may wonder why I’m bringing this up right now.
Because today, I ate cake.
I’m back on the saddle, back to my mantra, and back to my practice of being of service to myself so that I may serve others.
And I still ate a giant piece of the most amazing Jewish apple cake I’ve tasted… since the last time my mother made it for me.
I’m a blogger who loves lists, so while eating my delicious cake, I wrote a list:
My 3 Best Tips for Eating and Moving With Love
1. Pay attention.
That’s all. Don’t try to change what you’re doing right off the bat. Don’t attempt to limit your calorie-intake or start exercising like crazy. Just pay attention to what you’re doing right now.
It’s just like meditation. When we first sit down, cross-legged on our little pillows, we begin by simply paying attention to our breath as it is in that moment. There’s no need to do anything but observe and listen to what our body is saying.
This works with diet and exercise too. When we pay attention, observe, watch, and listen, we begin to understand, see patterns, and affect change without even trying.
The easiest way to pay attention that doesn’t take super-yogi spidey senses: a food diary. If you bite it, write it. I keep my hand-written food diary in an orange Moleskine notebook. I hear there are special apps for it, too. I’m not a fan of calorie-counting, so I’ve never found the necessity for such a fancy upgrade.
2. Always be honest, and never judge.
I’ve lied to myself. I’ve eaten pie and “forgotten” to write it down in my food diary. I know what you’re thinking. Why lie when you’re the only one who sees it? Because, my dear friends, I often play the same role in my life that you probably play in yours from time to time – I am my own worst critic, my most unforgiving judge.
Do yourself the favor that I haven’t afforded myself too many times – always be honest, and stop your judgement in its tracks.
It doesn’t serve you or your journey to lie about the reality of your present. Until you reconcile with your present, the Universe will never allow you to move forward.
Speaking of service…
3. “Does this serve me and my purpose?”
This is my golden mantra. I ask myself this question before every meal, every workout (that I may or may not be dreading), every business deal, and before entering into any new relationship.
Is what I’m about to do in alignment with service to myself and in turn to those whom I intend to serve?
I’ve discovered that time and time again, when I am acting from a place of love and high regard for myself and my purpose, that all decisions become easy… and worthy of me.
So let’s talk about the cake.
I was standing in a local deli with my fourteen year old son. We had just left his doctor appointment, and I decided that instead of bringing him back to school, we would have a special lunch date instead – just the two of us. Even at 35, I’m still a fan of ditching school for any option promising more fun.
There was a Jewish apple cake in the display case, something that I’ve never seen in a deli in that part of South Jersey. I spent the morning and the night before thinking a lot about my mom, so I smiled to myself when I saw the cake. Jewish apple cake was one of her few specialties, and she made it often.
I took it as a sign.
After ordering our sandwiches and potato salad, I gave in to the urging of the Universe and my longing for a taste of my mom’s cake.
I ordered a slice for each of us and got more excited for it with every bite of my sandwich. I couldn’t wait to taste it again. It had been so long.
I eat a generally clean diet that consists of mostly raw fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and only water and herbal tea for beverages. There’s not much room for cake or refined sugars of any kind. However, I try to fit them in when it feels right.
You read correctly – sometimes the “wrong” foods feel absolutely right.
Today I ate that huge piece of cake, and it was in total aligned service with my purpose.
This piece of cake wasn’t meant to cover a pain or fill a void. It wasn’t a decadent treat or a cheat on my otherwise pristine diet. This cake was a warm hug. It was a reminder that all is not lost and that there are reminders of life’s beauty (and my mom) everywhere. It surprised me in the deli case today much like when my mother would stop by unannounced with her own cake, still warm from the oven and sprinkled with powdered sugar, ready for us to devour in one sitting.
Sometimes when we ask, “Does this serve me?” and we’re asking from a place of genuine love and respect for our purpose, the answer may surprise us. More often than not, a yoga class, a date with a person we’ve been admiring from afar for a while, or a giant kale salad will get a resounding “YES!” Other times, we’ll get a “yes” to a piece of cake or playing hooky or watching a marathon of the Real Housewives instead of going to the gym.
Today, I am so grateful for the service provided by that slice of cake.
Stay blissed in! xx