19 July 2010

Summertime and the Livin' Is Easy?

As you may (or may not - I won't be upset) have noticed, I took a mid-summer hiatus from this blog endeavor. It was not intentional -- the days and weeks just slipped away from me, as they too often do in summertime -- but today marks 75 days gluten-free, it's a rainy Monday night in Boston and I think it's time return and reflect upon my summer thus far...

The past few weeks can be described so many ways -- chaotic, frustrating, exciting, interesting, confusing, inspiring. My discovery of my gluten intolerance came right after losing my job, leaving me feeling defeated, lost and confused. I have so many interests and want to be many things. Some are realistic (pastry chef, sports broadcast journalist, attorney, novelist, wife, mother, marathoner); some not as much (ballerina, farmer, Olympic swimmer, lobsterwoman, opera singer, manager of the New York Yankees). How was I supposed to decide my next steps when so emotionally downtrodden? Lucky for me, I am incredibly blessed with an amazing support network who helped give me strength and guidance to dig deep and find my way.

My decision to go back to school to become a registered dietitian came on suddenly, a tidal wave of clarity. I really cannot imagine a better overall career for me. I have always been interested in nutrition, food science and gastronomy -- I'm basically a vacuum of nutritional knowledge. Part of this stems from my 10+ year battle with eating disorders; if asked, I can still eerily accurately account for my daily caloric consumption from years of subconscious memorization. As as runner, yogini, hiker, swimmer, kayaker and fitness addict, I'm fascinated by how the human body converts food into fuel, for better or for worse. As a talented home cook and baker, I love experimenting with new ingredients and techniques for the benefit of myself, my friends and family. I'm not sure which direction my studies will take me -- school lunch programs, obesity, athletic training, cancer care, eating disorders, celiac disease and other food allergies and so many more facets of the field fascinate me -- but I am beyond enthusiastic to learn more.

My life is coming full circle and I've chosen to return to Simmons College this fall to pursue a degree in Nutrition & Dietetics. I attended Simmons for my freshman year of college, where I was fortunate enough to meet some amazing women whom are still some of my dearest friends who understand me best. Although I claimed to "hate" Simmons while a student there, the wisdom of adulthood combined with time and distance has shown me I would not have been happy at any college or university during that dark time of my life. I was an anorexic, bulimic, exercise addict who hated herself, her body and her life. Transferring to the University of Connecticut was not the cure to anything I felt at Simmons, and it was in Storrs where I met more incredible people and started down the road to recovery. I will be returning to Simmons College as a Dix Scholar, a grown woman with years of real world experience. Everyone in the Simmons community has been more than welcoming, encouraging and supportive as I explored and committed to my decision to return to school. As much as I don't want the summer to end, I am beyond excited, anxious and ready to start classes! I still have lingering doubts that maybe this is not the answer either, perhaps I am not smart enough to successfully conquer such a rigorous academic program, can I really do this? But I've learned by living that there are no guarantees in life and the best I can do is give it my best. If I fail, at least I tried.

So what have I been doing with my summer amidst these major life decisions? A LOT!

Of course, I've been eating a lot this summer (probably too much). Last week I had my first hamburger in a restaurant in nearly three months at Burtons Grill. Apparently one of the restaurant chain's owners has celiac disease, and therefore their menu features many gluten-free options. I had the Burtons Burger, medium rare, with applewood bacon, sautéed mushrooms, onions and cheddar cheese on a delicious gluten-free roll, French fries on the side -- Heaven! I had a sub-par dining experience at Legal Sea Foods in Chestnut Hill in June. Their gluten-free menu seemed full but was really just bare, underseasoned modifications of regular menu items. Although their gluten-free rolls were perfect, I almost wish they didn't have them, as if I've gotten so used to not filling up on bread before my entree. After a few cocktails on the Fourth of July, I baked a gluten-free cake amateurishly decorated with strawberry and blueberry American flag. Much to my surprise, it was a big hit with all 17 people at our summer house in the 1000 Islands for the holiday. Three days later on my brother's birthday, the server at our restaurant did not even know what gluten was (scary) and I was very ready to return to Boston the following day.

Next month I'm running the Falmouth Road Race on the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute team, so I've been reveling in training uphill in HHH weather (you can donate here). Last week I registered for the Boston Athletic Association Half Marathon in October, so no downtime after Falmouth. Barring any illness or injuries which have sidelined me in the past, I will be running my first half marathon this fall. After months of interest, I finally gained the courage to join a running club, Somerville Road Runners. My assumption everyone in the club is lightning fast has been disproven, and I have been welcomed into the organization with open arms over the past few weeks. The best part of the club (other than a fantastic running community) is their seasonal cook-offs. I have tackled the Summer Side-Off challenge of this Thursday's contest with a Top Chef mentality, and win or lose, I will share my delicious recipe later this week (warning: it's addictive).

Other highlights of my summer include a ten glorious days in the 1000 Islands with my family, a very exciting night of babysitting when Lucy lost a tooth, kayaking on the Charles River, attending Boston Symphony Orchestra opening night at Tanglewood, waiting in line for four hours for the new iPhone 4 (only to have it break six days later), meeting former New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni, having a Starbucks cup thrown at my Jeep by an angry automobile passenger, getting a little too "barefoot and crazy" at a country concert on Lake Winnipesaukee, hosting a meeting of the Beantown Book Club, celebrating my baby brother's high school graduation and 18th birthday, experiencing Delta Spirit live at the Middle East Downstairs from the front row plus lots of napping, reading and socializing. September will be here before I know it so I'm ready to pack as much gluten-free fun into the rest of my summer as possible! More posts soon...

No comments:

Post a Comment