What is appetite? I know what an appetite for life feels like.
It feels uncharted, wide open with all possibilities. It’s listening to Bono in your car at full volume, making a complete ass of yourself as you sing along, forgetting that your windows are open while sitting at a red light. The people in the car next to you start to laugh but then join in, making for a memorable and great moment. Or it’s sitting in front of the glorious, overwhelming Canada Day fireworks at Ashbridges Bay while a full orchestra of “Oohs and “Aaahs” takes over every pore in your body, or standing at the edge of Niagara Falls and breathing in that overpowering beauty, or standing on the shores of either the Atlantic or the Pacific or any other ocean as a storm rolls in and the power of the pounding waves takes your breath away. It’s impossible not to be awestruck time and time again by the majesty of nature or the ingenuity and imagination belonging to us humans.
Falling in thrall with another human being and wanting to consume the object of your desire, much the way a Praying Mantis does, is as terrifying as it is overwhelming … and more than a little twisted. It’s potentially dangerous but it is still appetite, probably more in the Hannibal Lechter vein. To feel your heart be cracked open by the power of love is like no other feeling. It’s achingly pure and magical. The want and need to be in that person’s wake 24/7 is wholly consuming - a different kind of hunger.
But appetite in the more traditional sense is confusing for me. When I feel the pangs of hunger, I’m not always sure what it is I am hungering for; is it food? Is it attention? Solace? Companionship? Stress release? Boredom? I know I want something and food is what I reach for first, habitually and blindly staring at the full or empty fridge, not always finding what it is that I need to shut down the feelings of emptiness or hunger. I can’t always tell the difference. I love food - good food. I’m not a junk eater. I have high standards even when I’m in an angst-driven tailspin. (French fries don’t count - they are a super food).
Often my plate is simply too full. I have taken on too much and I have forgotten to exercise the power of “NO!” That’s what it’s like to be a woman attempting to have and to do it all in today’s world. I am like those plate spinners that can’t stop running from one end of the row of fast-twirling plates to the other, keeping them aloft from sheer will. I am wide-awake at 3:00 a.m., unable to quash the brilliant and awful ideas spinning out of my overtired brain that is incapable of relaxing. But I have solved the crisis in the Ukraine, the mess of the Alberta Tar Sands and Jennifer Anniston’s dating woes.
Learning to say no is what we all must learn to do. We serve no one when we are on overload. Frying synapses zapping and popping much like the sound of the electrocution black flies and mosquitos face when flying into that seductive purple light - SNAP! Spreading oneself too thin is a totally false concept seeing as it leads to stress eating, which in my case leads to weight gain - Aaarrrghh! And it has nothing to do with my appetite. There is a hole that is desperate to be filled. Knowing what it really is that I am wanting remains an elusive mystery.
The planet is resting but we are restless. We are out of sorts. Our plans have been disrupted and we are scared what the future may bring, or worse…not bring. A future interrupted and completely stalled. No money. No direction other than being confined to home. Straightjacketed as we try to tame our claustrophobia. When we break free it’s as if we are in an endless corn maze, as we walk 6’ feet apart, desperately seeking a way out. Some pray to Jesus to save them, some to Allah. We all pray that this invisible equal opportunity destroyer of our hopes, dreams, lively-hoods and lives can be brought to heel.
This is when resilience is truly required. I know this, in order to live a quality life it’s a very necessary component. But what exactly is resilience? To my mind, in it’s simplest form it’s similar to the coating one finds on non-stick frying pans. Bad things can be made to slide off. But like bobsledding or axe throwing, it’s a skill that requires practice.
Into every life there are troubles big and small. Right now, we are dealing with the biggest trouble of all. This ravaging death stalker called the Coronavirus. It’s tentacles are everywhere, but we can’t see them, except in the body count which is climbing every hour and every day. Of course we are scared. We don’t know which way to point our sword. How can a little facemask and endless hand washing protect us? But they do! So does this uncomfortable, ill-fitting idea of distancing ourselves from our friends who we lean on in times of trouble, and now we can’t. But we are not on our own. We are sharing this daunting time with not just family and friends but with our entire planet.
How we handle these troubles is what makes us or breaks us. Remember, we are not defined by our circumstances. It’s the way we respond that defines us. Resilience and flexibility is what we all need to make it through these moments when the unexpected awful comes our way. I really believe that faith is the unsung companion necessary to make resilience whole! Don’t spend too much time alone in your head. It can be very weedy and dark in there. Find someone to talk to, or laugh with, even if it’s online…or pick some flowers and make them into a bouquet. It’s always about making the best out of every situation. That’s our path forward.
Every day, in almost every civilized country, there is a feature story (with before and after pictorial) about how to make your body look better. Better than what?
What is the holy grail of a better body? What if you haven’t won that genetic lottery? What if you are short or pear-shaped? Busty or flat chested? Stocky or skinny? We can’t seem to leave well enough alone, because we don’t know what well enough is. We orbit into a spin-cycle of self-directed mean-girl-ness.
Must we spend our lives in abject misery about our God-given design flaws? I say NO. I am fat, fit and fabulous! And I have spent far too much time trying to be something that perhaps I was never intended to be…thin.
I started my TV career as a plus-sized woman by doing an exercise show on City TV. I squeezed my body into a leotard, yanking that thing up as if it was a sausage casing, praying that when I stood up; nothing would fly out, especially my boobs (which by then looked like floatation devices). Blessed with an unnaturally flexible body, I did backbends and the splits. I decorated the Christmas tree with chicken legs and celery twists and played host to an endless parade of fitness experts who all thought they had the solution to being overweight. ‘Lose it!’ I tried. I did every diet on earth and some that must have come from Mars. If it was on a magazine cover, I did it. I knocked back a drink infused with clay, which was guaranteed to suck the fat from everywhere including your spleen. (Assuming one could have a fat spleen - which I’m sure I must have) The drink smelled like wet basement walls, tasted like the very glamorously named plaster of Paris. And that was the good news. The bad news came as my personal plumbing ceased to function and I was left with what I imagined to be my very own collection of clay garden gnomes that now resided in my gut. Never had I been more bloated or hoodwinked. Zero poundage was lost as my doctor encouraged me to eat lots of bread dipped in olive to loosen the backlog. Eew! My next favorite diet-disaster from the ‘Chronicles of Stupidity,’ was presented as a guaranteed lard-dropper: daily shots from the urine of pregnant cows. What? But of course in my desperation to become thinner, I said yes. Every day for six months I had a needle jabbed into my hip filled with pregnant cow urine. (How was that collected?) The diet accompanying the shots was an alarming 500 calories, mostly made up of grass cuttings. OF COURSE I LOST WEIGHT! I was eating the equivalent of two sticks of gum! But the diet devils couldn’t have made any money from that scheme, so they fronted the whole flim-flam enterprise with the magical properties found in pregnant cow urine. Why are these shysters never put in jail? I know why, because desperate people like me pray that there could me a kernel of truth to these brilliantly crafted sales pitches. As if the diets weren’t enough, there are always the bullshit exercise contraptions that have been springing up like mushrooms since the turn of the last century. Shaky leather belts strapped to one’s derriere, pulleys, ropes, electrified fat-melting pulse machines. Hey, I wore gravity boots to bed. I knelt at the altar of my Thigh Master. I skipped, I hula hooped and I popped Bennies. I lost weight.
I have a gold star for losing weight – and I have a platinum one for gaining it back. I’m not a scientist, but I have a theory: fat doesn’t ever really disappear. It hovers above the hole in the ozone layer just waiting for one bad hair day, one teeny emotional meltdown, one glimpse caught in an unflattering light and…whoomp! Fat always finds its way back home.
There are Ferraris and there are Fords. There are racecars and cruisers. Would I want a smokin’ hot body? You bet, but I wouldn’t know what to do with one. I already have a permit for this one and it has taken me years to learn to hug the curves and drive it full out!