Monday, May 11, 2009
Posted originally on Second Helping Http://www.secondhelpingonline.com
"Especially on Mother’s Day, soak it all in. Realize what it is you want to fight for; be it your mother, your loved ones, your beliefs, and especially yourself.
And if in doing so, you realize you had given up on any of them, that’s okay. Really.
All you have to do is come back for a second helping."
A year since this was written in Second Helping’s first incarnation, those five sentences are the only thing more life-changing for me than my mother’s death two and a half years ago.
Last mother’s day, my then-editor encouraged me to write about my mother Jane’s death – her influence on how I covered food and dining, why and how I left my food writing job, and how my life fell apart in the aftermath got all mixed in. The rough-around-the-edges opus is archived on this site. You can read it here.
Red-eyed from tears and Fair Trade Organic in a cup-ridden booth of a North Carolina coffee shop, I didn’t realize writing those sentences would form the foundation of this Web site and begin an extraordinary adventure. In writing about how life fell apart when my mother died, it somehow knitted itself into something better.
And my beliefs haven’t been the same since. Be it a transformative body change, a death of a loved one, any status-quo shift … reflect on your life, stare it down and then dare yourself to not got lost in the transition. Succinctly – keep stepping back up to the plate, and standing for the constant expansion of life. Yours and especially everyone else’s.
That’s what I learned in my initial weight loss, gaining a chunk back after my mother’s death, and then losing it all again and leaving the messiness of post-mom North Carolina life behind. The real accomplishment of my weight loss wasn’t that I lost it the first time. It was when my life turned upside down I chose to get back up on my feet and recreate it from nothing. The 350-lb. Russ would have chosen differently, and that has nothing to do with what I weighed but rather what I believed about myself. The irony is, it took losing the weight for me to realize those beliefs for what they were.
I think everyone realizes weight loss itself doesn’t “fix” your life on some level. But I’m not sure people realize that it does offer you a clean plate, metaphorically speaking. Within weight loss is an implicit opportunity to make your life (not just your body) something beyond your wildest imagination. Something resplendent.
Doing that requires being unflinchingly honest with yourself when you ask yourself now what? I don’t think I’m unique in this – Mom taught me I’ll be asking myself now what? every day for the rest of my life. Those don’t stop being scary questions.
But in answering them, you can build the kind of life in which your weight loss – constantly showing off the fat pants – winds up being the least of your accomplishments. That’s what I strive for, and I hope it speaks to you too.
That constant will, determination and drive to fully realize your potential, stubbornly refusing to accept anything (like your weight) as “just the way things are,” is very much in keeping with the spirit of Mrs. Jane “Will, Determination and Drive” Lane. I encourage everyone to do as she would have and raise a glass of Chardonnay in her honor today. For all the scrappy fighters in your life – including yourself.
Yet the celebrating of her life still feels hollow. It doesn’t make me miss her any less.
But sometimes, the only thing left to do is forge ahead. That’s what Second Helping is all about.
So let's forge ahead together. I hope you enjoy what we’re building here on this Web site. We’re just getting warmed up.
French Quarter, New Orleans, La.