I once read that if you’re struggling to find your life’s purpose, you could reveal it by looking to your behavior on the evening of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. What were you doing in the days surrounding the four coordinated terrorist attacks against the United States? This advice works if you were of age at the time, and not, say, a toddler. The idea here is that your curiosity, your natural inclinations will draw you to your calling, and reflecting on your actions in those days will reveal your gifts.
My gift, it turns out, was stress-eating. For a good week. And cooking for a good lifetime. More on this here >>
In these past few days since the Covid-19 epidemic has escalated to a pandemic, since a national emergency has been declared in my country, since “shelter in place” orders have been mandated throughout parts of our nation, I’ve only spent two days eating like it’s a plural-verb. 2020 – 2001 = 19 years. And in those 19 years, I’ve whittled down my food buffering by five days. I’m gonna boast and use the word “only.” I am a vision of progress.
It took a pandemic for me to write, and it’s the most therapeutic ritual I know. My home, the one I know by heart. The only ritual I’ve practiced since primary school. And, I was too afraid of it, that I wouldn’t know what to say, or worried who I’d offend. It’s too big. People want to read about blinding fear or gratitude, to validate or escape. To see a 35-year-old woman, a gym fanatic without underlying health conditions gasping for air, to give themselves a compelling reason to justify the anxiety. Or musical instruments played from terraces, neighbors dancing at their front doors. Light up the spirit.
I sat down to write this, finally, something real, something worthy, and a funny thing happened. Just as I couldn’t wait to write about the opportunity we all have to tap into our natural strengths, to write about my trip into Manhattan yesterday, and the way I saw the city and immediately regretted not having my camera at my hip–my thirteen year old daughter entered the room. “Please, I’ll only ask you these two things, and then I swear I’ll leave you alone,” she said.
“Don’t even,” I said, my fingers fanned into air stops.
“Just the fastest, please just the garlic and the onion. That’s all I need help with,” she said, holding a smile.
“Seriously? Now, of all times, when I’m finally writing. When you know I’m writing, you seriously want to interrupt me for this?”
“Come on, you can write about this, how your daughter interrupted your genius flow the one time you actually had something to say.” This sentence of hers makes me deeply proud.
“Yeah,” I say as I march toward the kitchen, “I can’t wait to tell ’em how you derailed me so you could make Spanakopita like a good Greek girl, when you’re like 90% Jewish.”
I teach her to remove the papery skins from the garlic, how to pass it through a press for intense flavor, and the French technique to dice an onion. I ‘ve had all kinds of teachers in my life. My mother, who taught me to make homemade Spanakopita was one of my earliest. Writing professors. Photography instructors. YouTube tutorials. And now I’m a teacher, not just to my children. Through my books, this blog, my photography, and where lately I’ve spent my most time creating value: helping people not just lose weight, but lose the problem. If you’ve read Moose, you know I’ve studied food and body image for the whole of my life. My past has been the teacher.
Yesterday when I was driving into Manhattan, I thought about something a writing professor once said to me. A writer is always writing, even when they don’t have a pen. They’ll walk into a party and be thinking, “How should I write this?” My photography instructor said something similar, assessing how he’d set up a shot, even if he was without his gear. Yesterday, I regretting not having my camera to capture the masked crowds, not six-feet apart. The man spitting phlegm on the sidewalk. The way a woman outstretched her hand to grip the top-most part of a door handle, witnessing her hand-to-metal progression as she tried first to use two fingers and then a full fist.
When I look to my behavior these past few days, it is not a list. People are de-cluttering, shopping, ordering puzzles, binging on the news and booze. I wanted to paint. To cook. To enjoy board games. To play Auld Lang Syne on the piano. To take photos, maybe. What I’ve spent my time doing these past few days? Coaching. I’ve been helping people with their anxiety, the thoughts and behaviors that don’t serve their future selves. I’ve been knee-deep in it, full days on the computer, holed up in the kids’ homework room. Virtual Coaching. It’s quite possibly what’s in store for my future self, since it’s what I already do. So, if you’re sheltering in place, isolated at home, or surrounded by too many loved ones, reach out to me. I’m in it with you, friends.
Should you be a WW (formerly Weight Watchers) member, digital or workshops, our virtual workshops are included in your membership, no extra fee. I’d love to invite you in. To hang with me online, get coached, get your mind right, or to just be a voyeur. If you live in the USA, or know friends who are members, share this post, as I invite you to pull out your WW app, click the icon of the people (aka Connect), then “Browse groups” and search for STEPHANIEK (screenshot below) and a list of my workshops will appear. You can come get a Stephanie Workshop 6 days a week, from home. In your PJs. Here’s my schedule…
To join the Virtual Workshop, click on the location name, click Join/Visit then “See more” on the Pinned top post to expand the post to reveal the link that will launch your virtual workshop. This Saturday, March 21, I’m available online at 7am, 8:15am, 9:30am and 10:45am. As for the other days, my schedule is posted here.
If you’re not a member and you want to join because you feel out of control right now, or you want to feel better, or you just want some help, I’m not going anywhere. I won’t run an advertisement, but you can reach out to me.
As for writing, while I’ve been thinking of the “how” in these past few days, writing in my head as things unfold, it was never something I was desperate to do. Until now.