Recently, having taken the commuter bus to work, I walked past a low-income housing complex that is on the way to the Health Center from the bus stop. As I approached the complex, I saw two women standing on the sidewalk in front of the buildings. I would guess they were both in their sixties. One of them was blind and holding her white cane. The other stood very close to her, ready to guide her if necessary.
I was quickly scurrying along, gauging my pace on my need to arrive at my office on time. As I only take the bus on occasion, I was aware that my mind was taking in very different impulses along this route than when I drive. As the two women came into view, I processed thoughts about the nature of their relationship, kindness, the burden of poverty coupled with blindness, and a reminder to myself to work on my gratitude list. Just as I was passing them, the blind woman said, “And I heard that sugar substitutes aren’t that good for you and that they make you crave more sugar.” The sighted woman replied, “Yes, I heard that too.” (Resources: Sweet Deception, Sweet Misery)
I often say that it does not take long in the course of my day for some nutrition-based message to filter into my consciousness. Yet, this was an unexpected source. By the time the women exchanged the two sentences my steps had already taken me just past them. For a split second, I thought to stop to engage them in a conversation, to inform them of my nutritional proficiency and expound on the topic of artificial sweeteners, affirming what they had heard. Instead, I felt my lips turn into a mild smile that was intended to be for them, but that neither would ever see.
I think I absorbed the experience as a quiet lesson that one never knows how or where new information flows. In this regard, it related to my own work of attempting to expand nutritional consciousness and yet not always knowing how or where my own or others’ efforts are reaching. I internally thanked the women and carried their story into my day–and referenced them as my teachers with some of my clients.
This story also has meaning for me as I come full cycle of having written this blog for two years–and as I contemplate beginning a third. Looking back, I see that I have written seventy-five posts on various nutrition-related issues. I see them as vignettes that describe the milieu that defines eating in this current and complicated time; the challenges that dictate and mutate our food culture and the experience of the real and humble people who eat in response and reaction to this environment. I hope others see them in this way too.
I often wonder if my stories have resonance and purpose and whether they are instructive. Or, if they need be. Many people out there are doing incredible work and informing in clear and beautiful ways on how to address and improve human nourishment. It is not infrequently that I have doubts about the service of my writings and if they justify the time they demand. Are my words flowing into any cracks and crevices that may be helping others that I may never know about? Or, as my wise friend Lisa Dungate, who writes Lion’s Whiskers suggests, if my writing serves to fulfill some need of personal expression, that is adequate as well. Sometimes I don’t know.
But here are a few things I do know:
Every day a small but real number of people from all over the globe are reading my blog. Thanks to the amazing stat collecting abilities of WordPress, I know that people from eighty-four countries have seen The Nutritionist’s Dilemma. Just yesterday I had readers from Poland, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. People in Azerbaijan, Mauritius, Guinea-Bissau, Estonia, and Oman have crossed paths with my ideas as well.
My blog is listed in Healthy Living Blogs and I get some nice readers from that connection. This site offers a very vital community for people writing on many diverse topics devoted to health. I encourage anyone interested in writing and reading about these issues to visit and support the members of this site. I give thanks to Lindsey Janeiro and the staff at HLB for creating this exciting space and offering all the amazing opportunities that they do.
That my blog was also chosen by Marc David and the Institute for the Psychology of Eating as one of the Top 50 Emotional Eating Blogs of 2012. Check out #47. This was a big surprise and very exciting. It is particularly meaningful as Marc David’s work has been phenomenally inspirational to me on my own path. I have shared my feelings about the importance of Marc’s contributions in Three Good Mark(c)s.
And finally, that I have a circle of subscribers who do follow me and who offer words of kind support along with relevant insights of their own; as well as a few hundred clients a year who I am privileged to work with and who always inspire me with their courage and capacity for change.
So, though the anniversary date of my blog just happened to occur during one of the most intense of times–in the post-Superstorm Sandy and pre-election week; and, while my own dining room table was still littered with hurricane preparedness supplies and Halloween trappings; and my head swam with thoughts about health care reform and the millions affected by the storm for whom eating had suddenly taken on a new meaning regarding survival, I committed to continuing the blog that I had birthed into being one fall day, two years ago. For the occasion, I have dressed it up with a new decorative theme that I think is very nice and makes for a cleaner read. If you are a subscriber and usually receive my posts via email, do go to my home page to see its new threads. I hope you like it.
My commitment includes my decision to allow myself greater voice and visibility. In my tiny corner of the world, in the confined spaces of my offices, I bear witness to some big and powerful stories. If I can participate in the larger conversation and in turn can give expression to someone’s experience that may help others–then that can be a good thing. Who knows? Maybe a person standing on a sidewalk in Baku, Port Louis, Bissau, Tallinn or Muscan, or even in my own community will help carry the information or inspiration forward.
As always, comments, clicks on the like button, subscribing, sharing, stories, feedback, my plate haikus–and any suggestions for improving the quality, content or technological capacities of my work are greatly appreciated. No, let me amend that–deeply craved. Let me know you dropped by for a virtual cup of tea with me. Thanks.
In health, Elyn
My Plate Haiku
Not too much.
by Michael (Pollan)