Just a few years ago, I had an incredible fear of food. I also had a fear of anything outside of my control. I see now, after a few years as a health coach, that those two things were intimately connected for me. The more I've worked on my relationship to food, the more the other life stuff settles a bit. And vice-versa.
It's been important work for me to invest in letting things go, including any obsessiveness I have over food. I lost a lot of this habit years ago, but the tendencies still came through in other aspects of my life. Yes, I don't count calories anymore, but my resiliency in a lot of life situations wasn't as...bouncy...as it could be, let's say.
When I went away recently to attend an amazing retreat with Pema Chodron, I ended up in the small little town of Fairlee, Vermont. The lodgings for the weekend were an old renovated motel overlooking a drive-in movie theater. The nearest place to eat in the mornings before taking a bus up to the retreat center was a local diner. We met some of the nicest folks you ever saw, but nothing but meat and fried stuff surrounded us for three days, except the vegetarian lunch served each day at the retreat.
The theme for the weekend became, "when in Rome" or, more appropriately, "when in Fairlee, Vermont".
I was there to celebrate one year of transitioning from female to male. One year of injecting myself with testosterone. One year of leaving behind a lot of familiar ways of looking, feeling, sounding and behaving. It was an intense weekend, and definitely one worth celebrating. That celebration included eating whatever was available.
One of the biggest changes I was celebrating was my ability to eat whatever was put in front of me with gratitude and humility. I also am grateful to be able to masterfully select healthy options, or whatever my body is needing most, from whatever is offered. This is new for me, and such a cooler way to live my life, in my opinion.
The man who owns the drive-in movie theater/motel also owns his own farm a few miles away where he raises his own Angus cows. He sells hamburgers, cheeseburgers and fries and a whole bunch of other stuff out of a trailer to all the folks who come see the movie.
After a day of intense feelings, meditation and vegetarian food for lunch, this growing boy needed some beef, STAT.
I have to tell you, those burgers were some of the best I've ever had.
It gave me tremendous joy as we walked around into the yard from our room, scooped up some burgers and got to tell him how much we were enjoying our stay there, especially the burgers. On our second night there, his friend and grounds-keeper came up to me and shook my hand. He said, "we are so glad you are here." I wondered if he expressed that kind of gratitude for every guest but I was just happy he gendered me correctly to Brenda when he said, "make sure you keep him in line!" As it turned out, we think he knew I was trans*. He soon began talking about his daughter and how she was "different" but she was happy with her girlfriend and his ex-wife didn't approve...and, you get the picture.
At first I was disappointed, but I realized what was truly important wasn't whether I was passing as male but that I was being warmly received for being transgender.
My spiritual practice teaches me to listen for the vulnerable gems people share. It's nice to not miss the love coming through in the message, since I'm becoming less and less focused (and attached) to hearing something specific.
After a warm welcome like that, I have to highly recommend you head up to check this place out, if you're ever wanting an adventure.
Here's what it was like in the rooms (make sure to click the red 'X' to turn the sound on):
After the third day of eggs or pancakes in the morning and burgers at night, I was craving fiber with a capital F. We headed for home and stopped over in Keene, NH where we feasted on salads topped with salmon from Keene Fresh Salad Co.
The cafe owner serves vegetables from his own garden and prided himself on smoking the salmon himself the night before! Supppperr tasty! I loved this man's commitment to growing and serving local food, but he desperately needs a real website.
The week following this trip was jam-packed full of vegetables with meat making minimal appearances. Balance is everything and, for me, the key to living a fuller, happier and richer life.
As I celebrate a year in this new physical form, I'm also celebrating the massive transition inside to let go and live in the moment, including eating what's provided with love and gratitude.