Feed the Body.

I had big plans this week. I was going to get ahead in my work after months of putting out proverbial fires. Begin a new blog based on a Christmas gift I gave long ago. Tweak that, edit the hell out of it in fact, record it, publish it, and promote it. Then I was going to do three interviews, have a meeting with another podcaster to discuss next steps and have a fun lunch with a colleague.

But something happened last week. Right after my first heaping plate of Thanksgiving as a matter of fact. I sat there, Samuel Smith chocolate stout poured in a vintage beer glass, Miles Davis on the stereo, our table a mishmash of fancy linen napkins with everyday Pyrex. My husband at my side. Our dog and cat looking up forlornly begging for smoked turkey. I sat there quietly and took my first bite without thinking too much about it. I was tired. Glad the work was done. Glad I could finally stuff my face. I took a bite. Of turkey. Of Big Stone Gap Corn Pudding. Of stuffing made from last year’s stock, mashed potatoes chock full of roasted garlic and butter and collard greens simmered with apple cider and a country ham bone. I sat there and chewed slowly. Methodically. Then something happened. A realization.

The realization folded down over me like a sheet on the clothesline on a summer day you’re struggling to pin up. First I fought it then gave up. Let it settle. Because it was actually a nice one. I realized it all tasted so good. So very simple and good and right. I took another bite thinking it must be a fluke. Thinking I must be dreaming. But no, it was good. Really fucking good. Better than it had ever tasted before. It felt like medicine I needed.

And with that shot of medicine my body completely let go. Shut down. I was absolutely in an instant more tired than I have ever been in my entire life. It was like I’d been holding my breath for weeks. Months. And with the first bite of all of our favorites, dishes we make every year because we love them, it was like for the first time in a long while I was quiet enough to hear what my body was trying to tell me. I was tired. So tired. It took all I had to even attempt a piece of pie and the inevitable cleanup after that. I couldn’t get to the bed fast enough. I slept nonstop for four days, only rousing to get more plates of that glorious medicine.

I’m not sure why this year is so different from the others. Why the food, and the leftovers even days after, taste so much better than they ever have before. But in my heart I do. In that moment I was finally totally quiet enough, still enough to hear my body’s screams. For months I’ve been “ripping and running” as Momma used to say, filling my schedule, setting ever more seemingly impossible goals for myself in an attempt to succeed in an effort to ignore all of the trauma and strife going on around me in my life. The friends with cancer. The cat with cancer. The state of our world. And all the rest of the bad shit going on in my life right now. If I work hard enough maybe it will all go away. Maybe it will all get better. At the very least I’ll make some inroads, right? And all the while my body, my tired worn-out lacking in self-care body is screaming at me that she’s tired. She needs a rest. It took a bite of turkey to hear it.

The other reason is comfort. Continuity. As I said we make these dishes every year because we love them. And they’re easy. Comforting. I gave up scouring magazines, cookbooks, and internet sites for new and glamorous takes on cranberry sauce long ago. Because I love the jelly in the can. And it’s easy. These are dishes we look forward too all year long. We eat them once a year, that special Thursday in November, and linger over them for as long as they last. There’s no spoilage in this house. No newfangled takes on turkey like tetrazzini or soup or enchiladas. Turkey sandwiches are fine for us. Or just a slab grabbed from the Tupperware in the fridge sprinkled with pepper. We eat the leftovers as is. Why? Because they matter. They’re not to be wasted. Our Thanksgiving is medicine that must sustain us all year long until the next Fall when we pull down our cans of creamed corn, jellied cranberry and Pepperidge Farm bags of stuffing. This is our continuity. These dishes are our rock when the world goes to hell.

So what happened to all those plans I made? I’m keeping some of them. Rescheduling others for when I’m better rested. I’m listening to my body right now. Taking naps if I need it. And the Lyme’s I had three years ago says I really need it. Meditating. Gentle yoga. Long, slow walks. Breathing. My yoga teacher recently told me when you feel you have no friends in the world, remember your breath is always your best friend. Because it’s there until the end. I like that. I’ll remember that. And until I’m rested or the leftovers are gone, whichever comes first, I’ll keep eating huge plates of medicine.

6 comments

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  • Marijean

    Reply

    Good for you. Listen to yourself. It’s so important! ❤️

    • Jenée Libby

      Reply

      Thank you so much! For the kind words *AND* for reading! 🙂

  • Victoria

    Reply

    These words are wise and beautiful, and much needed.

    • Jenée Libby

      Reply

      Thank you so much!! 😀

  • Kathy

    Reply

    Oh, isn’t that sweet surrender? the admission that your body and your soul needs – more than anything else – rest. That right there makes for an epic nap. Or series of naps. And turkey sammiches. mmmmm

    • Jenée Libby

      Reply

      Absolutely! I just had another one LOL!

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