It seems like ages since I have written and yet it really has only been a day or two over a week. I have so much to say and so much is going on in my head right now but I can’t spit it all out at once so I will spread it out over a few posts for sure.
Over the last week, I was in Chicago attending a seminar called the Landmark Forum. I had no idea what this forum was until a year and a half ago and was quite intrigued by what sort of “Kool-aid” it was that everyone at work had been drinking based on their experiences. The founder of my company gives each and every employee the opportunity to attend which is quite impressive after seeing all the time, money and travel that went into just my own trip. I promised myself to go into this experience with an open mind. I was assuming this would be some sort of self-help seminar that was going to try to fix me with some simple formula to live my life by. I was sure that I had it all figured out and was pretty skeptic going in even though I promised to keep my mind wide open.
I will tell you now that I am back that this was nothing like the experience I anticipated.
To be honest, I am not really sure what I did in fact anticipate, but I got far more out of this weekend then I ever dreamed I would. The people I met and relationships I made were certainly enough to seal the deal, but I got even more. For the first time in years, I stepped back and was able to clarify the difference between actual experiences in my life and my own interpretation of them. And that was HUGE for me. I realized that I have been living in a story for so long based on the things just a few people said. So here is what I really learned.
I have mentioned before when I was about 16 I started working out after being out of dance for a bit. I instantly without trying dropped about 15 pounds. For the first time since I hit puberty, people started to notice me. They commented on how amazing I looked and made all sorts of comments about my body. I was noticed and in a way the center of attention. However, being a teenager, I heard beyond just the words that everyone was saying. The story in my head was so much louder and it did not go away. I interpreted this attention as “I am loved, noticed, and valued based on my body.” So what does a 16 year old do with that? She makes sure that she doesn’t gain a single pound. She works out more than she needs to. She restricts foods that she thinks will make her fat from her diet. She refuses to admit she has a problem when her mom questions her. All of this because of the meaning that she put behind people’s compliments.
Down the road a few years and I had what I thought was my confirmation for this belief I guess. I had gained a few pounds when my mom was going through chemo for breast cancer as I had more or less turned to food in my sadness and loneliness. I was dating a guy who at the time I loved and trusted. One night we were driving home from swimming at his parents. In casual conversation, he turned to me and said, “You know, you really could stand to do a few extra sit ups.” (Jaw drop, I know). Who I am today wishes I could go back and tell him what I really feel about what he said, but instead I just brushed it off. I felt so stupid and little for not standing up to him. Instead, I decided that this just confirmed that I was loved and valued only for what was on the outside.
These and a few other incidents brought me to such a stupid conclusion and yet I believed it. I spent years with disordered eating, exercising to exhaustion in search for this perfect body I thought I needed in order to be truly accepted and loved. My thinking was so warped and yet I allowed it. The thing that gets me the most is that no matter what I did or how hard I tried for this concept of the perfect body, I never seemed to get there. Nothing was ever good enough and I was always left discontent and never felt good enough. I was like a hamster running the wheel over and over and couldn’t get off. I was stuck.
This weekend was a way to help me get off of that wheel and start new and fresh. If anything, I learned the power of words this weekend. Just one sentence had such an impact on the way I felt about myself. I realized I was still holding on to that one statement that was said to me almost 15 years ago. I feel as though I can still see it so clearly even though it’s so far away. The meaning I put behind that one sentence robbed me of my own happiness and contentment. I created a story based on what actually happened that couldn’t have been farther from the truth. From where I am sitting now, it seems so silly and yet I let it be my story. And I held tight to it because who am I without this story? What do I know other than this?
Thanks to this weekend, I am ready to let go of this story. I am ready to live the life of love and acceptance I was meant to have.
And so, standing here today, I am inventing the possibility of being in the possibility of a life of freedom, a life of love, and a life of peace within.
As always, a nice dose of food for the soul deserves an extra delicious dose of food for the body. When I returned home from Chicago, I was not amused by the amount of snow that was dumped on our city in the month of March. I am not one who enjoys winter at all and seeing this just made me ache all the more for spring and summer. So I decided to start working on some ice cream recipes. I do not have an ice cream machine although I am slowly working on my husband with this one. Hopefully by the time summer is in session I will have it. Until then, I have dabbled in recipes that don’t need a machine. Full fat coconut milk and frozen bananas make a great base for these.
Since this recipe’s base is bananas, you get the extra potassium and fiber from your ice cream. The sweetness is mainly from the fruit itself so not a lot of extra sweetener is necessary. If you are a caramel lover but also are a clean eater, it’s pretty tough to find a compromise. However, a few soaked dates and water can actually make quite a rich and smooth caramel. I am getting hungry just writing about it!
Salted Caramel "Ice Cream"
- 4 frozen bananas
- milk of choice
- 12 medjool dates pitted and soaked in warm water for 30-60 minutes
- 1-2 T 100% pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- sea salt
- 1 cup water
- After soaking dates, process in food processor until broken down into a paste.
- Slowly start to add the water about 1/4 cup at a time and process until smooth.
- After all water has been added, add vanilla and maple, and 3-4 cranks of sea salt and process until rich and smooth.
- Pour caramel into a bowl and set aside in the refrigerator.
- Add bananas to the food processor along with a few splashes of milk of choice to get things started.
- Process bananas until a smooth, soft serve like consistency.
- Pour mixture into a mixing bowl and add about 1/2-2/3 of the caramel mixture and stir well.
- Transfer the ice cream to a container that can be covered. I used a bread baking pan actually!
- Drizzle over the remaining caramel and swirl into the top.
- Freeze for about 30 minutes to an hour to allow to set.
- Serve and enjoy with crushed pecans, some of my coconut whipped cream and more!