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Life Lessons From a Tomato Plant
Last summer, I was gifted one night away. Who would have known this would teach me valuable life lessons?
We didn’t go far; we traveled about an hour to a place called Riverhead. There wasn’t much planned. First dinner, then maybe a bike ride around town. The life lessons were soon to follow.
As we were getting ready to leave, we saw a sign for peach picking. We stopped by and had so much fun loading up our bags with peaches. Just so you know -rotten peaches smell pretty rotten.
After peach picking, we saw another sign, “vegetable picking – closes at 6pm.”
It was 5:40pm, we decided to check it out.
It was the cutest little farm – and the owners asked please just be back at 6:00pm so we can head out. I didn’t want to leave because I felt one with the earth. It reminded me why I went for the field of nutrition – it’s magnificent to see where our food comes from.
Besides for the guilt and shame entrenched in every ounce of our world when it comes to food and non food, the profession of nutrition has become highly clinical – more about proper paperwork and less about the individual client.
Shortly after this trip, I was recommended a book called “168 Hours, You Have More Time Than You Think,” By Laura Vanderkam. It’s a great book – all about time management – and -as the title suggests – you have more time than you think.
One of the things Laura suggests in her book is to create a list of 100 dreams. Like any good fan, I looked up her blog online and actually took her advice. She recommends making a list of things you have really enjoyed in the past or things you want to do. This will help you get clear on the things you SHOULD be doing more of.
Interestingly enough, I realized how much I loved to pick vegetables.
I didn’t know how I would pick vegetables more often but I remembered a woman from my gym who told me all about her husband’s vegetable garden. “He’s a dentist by trade, by this is a true passion of his,” she told me. I asked if I could maybe speak with him about his garden and she was extremely kind and generous and he was happy to give me all his gardening tips.
Ok -let’s get to the point. Life lessons.
During the Spring/Summer months this year, due to COVID-19- there wasn’t much to do – at all. We got excited about our new project. We planted cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchinis and peppers. It was a cute little garden and maybe the zucchinis never saw the light of day but we have some beautiful cherry tomatoes in the front of our house.
The cutest part about this story is our across the street neighbor is a very nice, retired man, who decided he was bored one day and brought over TEN TOMATO PLANTS AND PLANTED THEM ALL FOR US.
At first, when I realized that I loved picking vegetables but I lived nowhere near a place to pick them, I felt kind of devastated. That probably sounds like a dramatic way to describe how I felt, but it’s true, I feel my emotions strongly – for the good and for the bad.
When I came up with the idea of planting ourselves, I also wanted too hopefully, as my brain instinctively goes to doom, gloom and me not being good at things.
I know I have this tendency to do that, so I fought the urge and pushed through. Low and behold, besides for my meager, little tomato plant, we have 10 tomato plants all throughout the house.
It was the most fun this shabbos when we wanted a tomato dip and we all went and picked the tomatoes for it. It was a beautiful way to elevate shabbos. As I ate it, I felt a sense of calm and happiness.
Some people may read this story and be awfully confused how a tomato dip can bring me a sense of calm and happiness, but I know others will get it on every level.
You see – food is sustenance. It’s really how we survive this world. G-d didn’t have to make it pleasurable, we need to breathe to survive but we don’t find it necessarily enjoyable. Eating is enjoyable and that’s a gift, we need to eat numerous times a day which means we get pleasure from eating numerous times a day. Or maybe we get pangs of guilt, fear, shame, horror from eating numerous times a day. Maybe diet culture has stripped food for what it is – sustenance and pleasure.
Maybe this story is a metaphor for my entire life. Wanting something badly but being afraid of failing. Not knowing how it will work out so not trying at all. And than in a moment of hope, pushing myself anyways and getting more than I ever could have imagined.
And that, my friends, is how I choose to continue to live my life.
I don’t always know how it will work out – I can’t see G-ds vision. But every time I try a bit, I get a whole lot more tomatoes than I signed up for.
If you are interested in making peace with food through the principles of Intuitive Eating and the practices of self care, go ahead and schedule a free call via my website. You can work with me one on one, or sign up to be in one of my online support groups.
Gila Glassberg is a Master's level registered dietitian and a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. As a teenager, she was faced with constant diet talk, body shaming and obsessive guilt around food. She struggled with disordered eating. This is what propelled her into the field of nutrition. She uses a non-diet, weight-neutral approach called Intuitive Eating. She helps growth oriented women break out of chronic dieting, and regain clarity into what is really important to them.
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