On Thursdays, I typically go to our local farmers market to purchase fresh produce for the week. I pick out an assortment of organic vegetables at my favorite stand and pass them to one of the Amish women who works there. Her strong and weathered hands gratefully collect my vegetables, gather them in my cloth bags then place the bags in my cart for me. Anna is her name, and she always greets me with a smile.
Anna’s dark colored plain clothes along with the white cap that covers her hair, remind me that this is a moment of rare coexistence. Despite our visible differences, I am intrigued and inspired by our shared joy and gratitude for the bounty of the land. Then I realize maybe we aren’t so different after all, maybe there’s a delicate thread of connection, a common appreciation for the simple things in life.
While I push my cart through the market, I see a younger Amish girl at another stand who wraps hot dogs in thick layers of freshly made dough – the same sticky dough she uses to make soft pretzels. The smell of that buttery gluten full dough brings back memories and churns a longing in my stomach for days gone by.
Then my eyes veer over to another stand and catch a glimpse of the colorfully decorated Halloween cakes and cookies next to the glazed donuts with rainbow sprinkles.
These sweet seductive smells and sights trigger the memory of how delicious I used to find those foods. Yet, I know if I ate them now, they would taste completely different, and most likely I’d only be disappointed. After all, it’s been over ten years since I’ve indulged in any kind of gluten or sugar. Besides, I’d actually rather savor the memory than try to recreate a feeling that didn’t serve me. Though it could be tempting, I could allow myself to cheat occasionally without getting sick, I don’t. I choose to say no.
As my thoughts lingered around those forbidden pleasures, a loud message came pounding in my ears. It said, ”I love you Suzie.” The message reminded me of my commitment to not eat the dough – cookie, pretzel or bread dough – to not snack on cheese or reward myself at the end of the day with sugary treats. The voice reminded me that I choose me.
I choose to be the happiest version of me. I choose life. I choose to feel like me in my body. I choose to be clear and to honor my mind, body and spirit. All the tiny microscopic cells inside me, even though they are hidden from my view, show me they can feel that love and thank me.
Despite how many people around me come to the market for the donuts, cakes, cookies or candy – the very things I used to splurge on to treat myself and my children – I do not judge them. I choose to be different because I no longer view those things as a treat. Instead, I view them as not real, as fake food designed to trick me, to trick them. Even though it may be alienating, I embrace this difference, this lonely choice I make, because of the love. Love above all else, I choose love.
We all make choices every day. The trick is to make choices that are nourishing and loving, kind and generous, to your body, mind and soul – to love yourself with brutal and steadfast commitment, with passion and adoration for that golden light that sparkles in your soul.
Freedom doesn’t come from eating whatever you want. It comes from these radical acts of self love, including choosing to eat real food, not junk. That is my constitution, way of life, that I hope spreads more love around the world – starting with you!