Today I stood up in a Weight Watchers meeting and told everyone how I dropped my daughter off at acting class, then drove to the Cheesecake Factory and purchased a low-carb slice of cheesecake, and why not, a slice of carrot cake the size of Peter Rabbit. The man who bagged my order asked how many forks I needed. “Two,” I said. He wanted to know where I was going, which I thought was a mildly creepy thing to ask. “To my daughter’s class,” I said, wondering if that was the right answer. What do you even say to that? It’s not like I bought a cake. It was two slices of individually wrapped dessert. Who asks where you’re going with them?
As I wheeled through the revolving door, I thought about what he might’ve done had I told him the truth. I got into the car, didn’t even bother turning it on, and ripped into the cheesecake first. I finished half of it, locked the container and folded the bag closed. I waited. Yeah, so the restraint and satisfaction I was hoping to kick in didn’t. I climbed right into the walnut-packed house of carrot cake crazy. Forks were never used.
I lied in the moment, knowing when he’d asked exactly where I was going, but I was honest with myself and honest with Phil when I returned home, sickened and full of “why’s.” Why had I bought them, why both, why devour them with my hands like an animal? Fat person not dealing with her feelings. What is going on, why?
That little story represents a lot of who I am. Not the girl binge-eating in her car, but the person who makes a mistake, owns up to it, and wants to take some time to figure out the why, and then share it, so other people feel less alone, so other people feel connected, so other people want to own their shit, too.
Ripped from a page in my journal, this line stood out to me today: statement should be something you can be, do, and give. I was attempting an exercise in designing my life, a la Tony Robbins, trying to pin down words that best describe me, that are important to me, words that highlight my strengths and capture who I am.
Brands do it. When I worked in advertising at Young & Rubicam, we performed a Brand Asset Valuator (BAV) analysis, measuring Brand Vitality and Brand Stature, digging deep into the buckets of knowledge (how intimately you know the brand), esteem (how well regarded the brand), relevance (how appropriate the brand is to you,) and differentiation (how the brand is different from others like it).
Even with a survey, it’s hard to accurately know how you come across to friends or colleagues, what your strengths are even, without asking. So, I started by asking myself the question in my journal. What three words capture my values and strengths? And are these words able to not only describe me, but can they be actions, can I give or share these things to or with others?
Honest. Bold. Wise.
What are your 3 words?
I believe my strengths are my willingness to be honest, no matter how small or ugly it looks; my boldness or courage, the engine behind my honesty, the fuel that empowers me to be authentic; and the wisdom I gain from my curiosity. I’m not the fourth wise man or anything, but my God, am I introspective. I learn a lot, and what I learn, I like to share. I’m generous with my information. That’s my act of service. I offer advice, I share my own stories, and believe that ultimately people find their own path, but hopefully they get there a little quicker (or with less unnecessary suffering) because of something I’ve shared that stuck.
As for my carrot cake insight: I blame Pinterest. I pinned some insane photo about a month ago, linked to a recipe for carrot cake, and I hadn’t been able to shake it. I got the low-carb cheesecake thinking it would satisfy me enough to not want the carrot cake–the equivalent of eating the entire contents of your fridge to avoid eating the one thing you actually want. But I lifted the skirt on that one pretty fast. The lesson learned? I should have skipped the low-carb cheesecake, ordered the carrot cake and enjoyed every last lick once it came to room temperature and the frosting softened. Savored it. It didn’t need to be an illicit affair. Next time, and there will be a next time, I’m using the fork.