"feed me. feed me." the voice was faint; almost inaudible. i knew it wasn't my stomach. i had just inhaled an entire doughy brooklyn baked bagel smothered in a thick layer of creamy, smooth peanut butter. i ignore the voice. but day after day, there it was. no matter how much i ate, i couldn't escape this empty feeling. "feed me. feed me." i heeded the cry the only way i knew how. i fed it. i fed it with a round robin of delicious, mouth-watering carbs. i'm talking, potato chips, fried chicken, french fries. i even tried sweet potato fries. you know, the french fries' healthier cousin.
nope, the hunger was still there. and then one day, this voice wasn't having it anymore. so it screamed. it screamed at the most inopportune time. it screamed in the most embarrassing way.
the year was 2014. groundhog day. not the official groundhog day but rather the same day just repeating itself in a never-ending loop. wake up. commute 1 1/2 hours to work. mindlessly move data around in a computer program for 8 hours. commute another 1 1/2 hours. eat in front of the tv. go to bed. repeat. my life had become a series of groundhog days.
on this particular tuesday, i squeezed myself into the middle seat of the crowded 7:44am nyc bound metro north train as i had done countless mornings before. i sat in this middle seat, surrounded by a sea of strangers; alone with my thoughts.
and then the voice. this time, it wasn't gently nudging me for a snack. this time, it chose a less subtle approach. this time, it berated me with soul crushing questions. "who are you? why are you? does anyone even care about you? does anybody at work even know your name? if you fell in a forest, would you make a sound?"
my eyes began to well up until one rebel tear broke away, leading a pack of tears running for freedom down my cheeks. the floodgates flew open as i sat squeezed between two people who kindly pretended not to see this 40-something year old woman have an emotional breakdown on the 7:44am nyc bound metro north train.
i tried to discreetly wipe away the tears with my sleeve but they were coming fast and furious, as if they were olympian tears racing for a gold medal finish. that gnawing hunger i had been feeling? it wasn't a physical hunger. it was my malnourished soul on the brink of a life-threatening starvation and as amazing as brooklyn baked bagels are, no amount of bagels, no amount of potato chips or fried chicken could fill this nutritional void.
i looked down at my now, mucus stained sleeves and briefly thought, "i really must start stuffing my bra with tissues for just such an occasion." as i used my sleeve to wipe my nose one more time, a simple but ultimately life changing questioned entered my thoughts.
"what have you always wanted to do?" a single word flashed before my mind's eye, like a bright, neon sign.
i had always wanted to dance. i was the girl obsessed with tutus and pointe shoes. i wanted to be a dancer, but the truth is, i never had the confidence to actually step into a dance studio. all those slender, leg warmer clad, lithe dancer bodies staring at me? i couldn't bear it.
but on that tuesday in 2014, at the age of 47, my desperation outweighed my self-consciousness. i had no choice. a soul wants what a soul wants. i had to find a dance studio willing to teach a somewhat overweight, middle-aged woman with visions of sugar plum fairies and two left feet how to chew gum and dance at the same time.
as fate would have it, a dance studio meeting this description not only existed, it was located within a stone's throw from my house. the very next day, i stepped into that studio, tripped over my two left feet and had the time of my life. i came home that night, exhilarated, excited, ecstatic. my soul was finally nourished. a life-long hunger finally fulfilled.
i am proud to say that i have not only been dancing ever since that fateful day seven years ago, but it is through dance that i met betsy, the other half of chaos & tonic.
and that brings me to present day. i'm writing this in march, national nutrition month. but what does "nutrition" really mean? it can't possibly just mean nourishing the body with kale chips and organic green beans. i mean, if we consisted only of mindless, soulless bodies, then sure, a round of green smoothies for everyone! but we aren't mindless, soulless bodies. we are beautifully flawed, deeply complex humans. we have souls that need to be nourished. we have minds that need to be fed. we have emotions hungry for their own brand of nourishment and yes, all of this is housed in physical bodies that need healthy, wholesome food to function properly.
and you know what i've learned? our bodies, and not just our physical bodies, are talking to us all of the time, especially when they are hungry. sometimes the messages are cryptic. sometimes, the messages are loud and clear. "feed me. feed me." oh, that's my cue. gotta run. i've got a dinner date with my soul. on the menu? a ballet pointe lesson. tutu optional.