>Sausage Biscuit

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Thursday was a lovely day. I wore my new retro dress to our monthly women’s gathering, where our pastor leads a lively “teaching” session. One of my favorite people, Anne, has been hosting the gatherings in her home since Urania died last October. Urania gave a set of her china—the china she always used to serve coffee and sweets at her house—to Anne. Sunshine was pouring into Anne’s den, which has floor to ceiling windows looking out into a beautiful courtyard. We sat in a circle, drinking from Urania’s china, enjoying stimulating spiritual conversation and delightful company.

Afterwards, we went to Bronte’s (the café inside Davis Kidd Bookstore) for lunch, and continued the fellowship, along with yummy food. Several of us had caught part of the Oprah show the day before… one of many shows where she brings in Dr. Oz for more excellent healthy living advice. I don’t always learn something new from Dr. Oz, but it’s helpful to be reminded of the virtues of olive oil and red wine and broccoli and other fresh fruits and vegetables. And the destruction we do to our bodies with processed, refined foods. We all agreed that Lent would be a good time to re-double our efforts towards healthy living, as the Orthodox Fast omits meats and dairy. Not that all meats and dairy are unhealthy. But the spiritual framework of the Fast provides a great opportunity to eat low-fat, high anti-oxidant foods, in moderate amounts.

Arriving home mid afternoon, spirits lifted by the day, it took me all of about thirty minutes to begin to slip into a boredom that could lead to depression. I saw things I want/need to do in my house, and with my post-surgical foot in a cast I just can’t or shouldn’t tackle them. I have wonderful books to read and essays I’m writing that I could jump into. Instead, the voices in my head started to cry out: more! I want more!

So I served up a bowl of ice cream with chocolate syrup and propped myself up in front of the television. All my spiritual and creative powers went numb.

The next morning, I woke up craving a McDonald’s Sausage Biscuit! I haven’t had one in several years, but they used to be one of my food addictions. Okay. It’s Friday, and we don’t eat meat on Friday’s. So a Sausage Biscuit would be a blatant rebellion against the fast. And… each one (yes) has 27 grams of fat, 10 of which are saturated. The average person only needs 20 grams of fat in their total diet for the day, preferably little or none of it saturated. McDonald’s closes breakfast at 10:30, so I stayed in bed until after 10, reading and writing and willing myself not to get up and out the door in time. But the temptation has left me restless, so I dressed and headed out for some writing time at Starbucks, a much healthier choice, thankfully.

A friend came by later in the day and we talked about food cravings, weight issues, depression, and all those things many of us struggle with. What is the “hole” we are trying to fill up with all the wrong stuff? If you’ve ever been in therapy, you probably know what some of your own “holes” are. I’ve been working on mine for years. And I’m always encouraged to find someone else whose journey is similar and is willing to share their story.

A while back I mentioned that I had just ordered the book, Finding My Voice, by Diane Rehm. I just finished it this morning. A wonderful memoir. Diane was a talk show host for many years in Washington, DC. When she began having problems with her voice, she was diagnosed with spasmodic dysphonia, a condition that affects the muscles that control speech. I love Diane’s book for several reasons:

She was born into the (Syrian) Orthodox Church, and although she left it for the Episcopalian Church, her roots are still showing. (I took the opposite journey, growing up Protestant and converting to Orthodoxy.) She didn’t go to college, and fought an intense inferior complex most of her life. Even when she was a successful radio broadcaster, interviewing all sorts of VIPs, the negative voice inside her head continued to tell her she wasn’t good enough, she was a fake, etc.

I hear that same voice all the time. I also don’t have a college degree. When I was hired to produce a newsletter and edit papers for the graduate school of Engineering at a local university years ago, I got the job by burying my educational information at the end of my resume and talking up what I hoped were my strong points. There’s a sense in which I feel that I’ve been doing that my whole life.

So, I was surprised, but also comforted, to read these painful statements near the end of Diane’s book:

During the initial period of national distribution of ‘The Diane Rehm Show,” WAMU had undertaken satellite transmission of the program independently, without financial support from National Public Radio. But when NPR saw the total carrying strength of the show, they announced that they would begin to offer stations across the country a “Talk Track,”…. By January 1996, the NPR “Talk Track” was launched with great fanfare and much publicity…. Before long, stations that carried my program were inviting me to come and speak to their listeners…. My views were sought on political topics as well as on the media…. All the attention and excitement made me pause, however, wondering why I still felt like “a little Arab girl” who really didn’t belong.

And later she says she had “an almost irrational need to keep proving myself, even though people all over the country had welcomed the program into their homes, offices and cars.”

I said those very words to someone a few months ago, when we were discussing writing. I love the very act of writing, but I also very much want to be published. Writing isn’t just therapy for me. It’s a dialogue, which requires a reader. And yes, I feel I have something to prove.

So, why did this beautiful and successful woman feel so inadequate? She talks about her therapy sessions that helped her come to grips with being molested by a politician when she was young, and the impact her emotionally abusive mother had had on her. I know at this point some of you are saying, “here we go again… blame it on the parents.” But it’s not about blame. It’s about understanding. And letting go. And forgiving. And re-programming ourselves not to be ruled by inner voices that are so negative.

There’s also great stuff that Diane learned when she had to take time off work to get treatments for her voice. She found healing in silence. In walks outside in nature. In prayer and the healing services at her church.

It’s a gorgeous day today… I’m dying to go for a walk, which I can’t do with my cast. Maybe I’ll sit on the patio and soak up the sunshine for a while…. And keep working on the essays I’m writing for my memoir. I can hear the birds out the window of my office calling me now….

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