Hi friends. I’ve been a little quiet lately, I know. It’s not because I’ve forgotten you, or even because I haven’t been cooking. I think of you–and cook–very often.
Here’s what I’ve been working on:
- Getting ready to go back to school. I’ll be starting off the year helping with a Special Education class and then subbing for teacher friends here and there until the beginning of second quarter when I anticipate beginning a full-time position where I’ll be for the rest of the school year. I’ve been so fortunate and blessed by all the people I’ve come in contact with during the last two and a half years, and my job will be a maternity leave replacement for the teacher who mentored me during my student teaching internship. While I am a bit anxious and stressed, as always before jumping head first into a full-time teaching job, I am so excited to meet new students and to collaborate with old colleagues. Oh, and I get to teach The Great Gatsby so basically my life is complete.
- Getting my business plan assembled. My long-term career plan, which I hope to start putting into motion once this school year is over, is to be a nutrition consultant with an emphasis on plant-based, whole foods. In addition to working one-on-one with clients, I’d also like to develop healthy eating instruction and curricula for kids, teens and communities, and teaching classes in healthy eating, plant-based nutrition, and cooking. To prepare for this career move, I’m volunteering through PCC to assist in their plant-based cooking classes, working through eCornell University’s Certificate in Plant Based Nutrition, and meeting with a small business mentor at the SCORE office in downtown Seattle. Not only are the cooking classes and nutrition program giving me substantial knowledge which I can use to help improve lives, my business mentor is helping me gain a lot of focus and confidence and helping me to believe that my dreams really are possible, while showing me how to make them happen. I feel very happy, very fulfilled, and very fortunate to be in such a positive place in my life right now.
If you’d like to read the discussion board reflection I just wrote for my Nutrition Fundamentals class, here it is. The prompt was asking us what brought us to the program and what we hope to gain from it. Here’s how I responded:
Hi there, plant foodies. How lovely to meet all of you!
I found out about this course after attending a blogger event hosted by Whole Foods to promote their healthy eating initiative: Health Starts Here. The event consisted of cooking demonstrations by a vegan chef and discussion about the mission Whole Foods is trying to advance through this program: promoting a diet of plant based whole foods and healthy fats. My blog that drew me to the event is http://www.eatfoodseattle.com–a plant-based recipe blog–which I started after watching the documentary Forks Over Knives.
I am a high school teacher and I had the opportunity last spring to show this documentary to students when I was subbing for a culinary program teacher who tries to teach her students about health and nutrition as well as food preparation. After we finished viewing the film, I was fascinated by students’ responses: most were very skeptical about the validity of the research as well as the feasibility of a whole foods, plant based diet. The school is located in an urban area in Seattle and has a large population of very poor students who were turned off by this type of diet because it seems difficult, time consuming, and so expensive. I was surprised by this response, though, because many students suffer from obesity and related diseases, and/or have family members who do. While I had expected some reticence at the idea of giving up cheeseburgers and ice cream, I thought that the trade off–being healthy, living longer, not having to worry about buying medicine or paying to go to the doctor–would be appealing. The dietary prescriptions suggested in the film appealed to me for these very reasons: all 4 of my grandparents suffered from cancer and other degenerative diseases: osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, to name a few, despite being a healthy weight, eating fairly well, and exercising regularly. As I watched, at a young age, three of my four grandparents decline in health, and saw the stress and sadness it caused our whole family, not to mention the extreme physical pain they all felt, I became very determined to do whatever I could to avoid this kind of decline in my own life and to help my parents, if possible, as well.
So, long story short, even though you already got the long story…
I am working through this program because I want:
1) to be healthy,
2) to help those I love be healthy,
3) to become a career nutritionist and health coach, and
4) to work towards developing a nutrition education program for kids and teens as well as urban communities so that everyone–regardless of age, race or income level–can feel empowered to make healthy food choices and to understand and feel confident in their reasons for doing so.
- Getting my ish together. Mark and I had a very serious conversation the other day about chores. I say this with only the tiniest bit of playful, loving sarcasm, because I feel so ridiculous that this conversation needed to happen. Basically, I’m terrible at doing the chores, even when I’m not working. He doesn’t really do them either, but when I’m home all day, and he’s off at his grown up job making money for us all day, the responsibility, very rightly, falls to me. I’ve always been the lame roommate who cooked a ton of food and never did her dishes, who left the living room full of beer bottles for a day after the party, or who never remembered to scoop her hair out of the shower drain. I feel terrible about this. That’s why I’m so glad that my husband was able to bring it up in a very sensitive and kind way. Did I think he noticed, before he said anything about the mountains of dishes, or the hills of dust bunnies? Yes. But, did I think he cared at all? No. (I mean, no offense honey, but you should have seen HIS bachelor pads.) So since he brought it up I’ve felt a renewed sense of motivation to make my (our) living space, well, livable. I’m doing the dishes, vacuuming, picking up after myself, and how does it feel? Great. It feels really, really great. And it smells better too. In addition to sorting out my chore duties, I’ve been trying to figure out how I really want and need to eat. Not just to be healthy, but also to feel good, and enjoy cooking and meal time. The conclusion that I’ve come to is not at all surprising, as I believe it could be a metaphor for my life’s journey of self-realization: I know that eating a vegan diet could very well be the most healthy thing for my cells and my body, but it’s not always the best thing for my soul. Depriving myself of the VERY occasional poached egg, raspberry glazed donut, cheese burger, or salmon fillet makes me so sad that I’m sure the health benefit of avoiding these things is lost. Will I eat only cheeseburgers for every meal? Of course not! But, if I’m craving one, and it’s been awhile, I just might go for it. Then, the next day, I guarantee that I will be ready for salads and beans and rice. If I know anything, it is this: life is all about balance, and my balance is probably different than your balance, which is why it is so important to do the work and spend the time figuring out for yourself what your own balance is.
And hopefully you, unlike me, don’t have to eat 4 cheeseburgers in two days in order to figure it out.
Love and veggies,