Think about some of your favorite celebrations. About important family moments. About seeking comfort. About catching up with friends.
For me, food is something that is a constant thread in each of these thought patterns. It may sound silly, but there’s something about a home cooked meal, a special night at your favorite restaurant or simply chatting and munching around the kitchen table that means so much. It’s more than just something that tastes good, it’s the memories that come with.
It’s Aunt Terry’s famous cake at weddings. It’s our “last supper” of grilled steaks, buttery corn on the cob, salad, baked potatoes and homemade apple crisp before my siblings and I would all head back to school. It’s the Lebanese fosulya that I make in the dead of winter when I miss home. It’s the wine and cheese or the popcorn and M&Ms for a girls’ night in.
Although food plays such a role in many memorable life moments, it can also be the source of guilt or lack of self-confidence for me. The feeling of being overly full after a delicious meal can often leave me more focused on how I regret taking that second helping than on the flavors of the dish or how nice it was to eat with friends of family. My self-image is constantly wavering, and for as much as I love food, it honestly plays a big part in these back and forth feelings.
2017 is winding down quickly, and recently I have the feeling that I’m exactly where I’m meant to be. I have family and close friends, both near and far, who fulfill me in so many ways. I’ve met and am dating a man who seems to be everything I could have hoped for. I work for an organization where I see our impact and where people care. My faith has grown exponentially and I see and feel God at work in my life everyday. I am truly blessed.
This final month of 2017 is about to be a whirlwind. December brings with it such joy and excitement. The coming weeks will be filled with holiday parties, shopping for presents, new and old traditions, Advent wreaths and Christmas ornaments – a wonderful way to close out a wonderful year. It will also come with worrying about money, a jam-packed schedule, safety in the snow and inevitable darkness both on the way to and from work.
It can be so easy to lose sight of what matters and the importance of this season and let it pass you by. In fact, it can be easy to lose sight of what’s important most days. The daily grind can often overshadow the small, often hidden daily blessings.
This year, I’ve made a conscious effort not to let those blessings pass me by. Last year, I was given a Christmas gift by my aunt and godmother that has helped me pause and give thanks for the beautiful, often insignificant moments each day that are true blessings.
I love my birthday. Not for cake or celebrations or presents or plans. I love my birthday because it’s a day for me to look at how far I’ve come and where I want to go. It’s my day. It’s the start of my year. It’s new chapter of my life.
Only a few months into to 25, I knew I wanted 26 to be a big year. For some reason, 26 carried this weight. Early on, I had a feeling that 26 would somehow be significant. A meaningful year.
To mark what I hoped and assumed would be such a momentous year, I signed up for the Chicago Marathon. What could be more fitting (or more crazy) than to run 26 miles only weeks after I turn 26? And in my favorite city at that! In December 2016, with nine months notice, I was locked in as a first-time marathon runner.
Every year as autumn approaches, there’s a sense of excitement and tension in the air. It’s more than the changing leaves, the cooler air, the anticipation of the season.
It’s a feeling that started at a young age when the school year was looming, and one that hasn’t quite gone away as I’ve grown into adulthood. The feeling that the wheels are starting to turn, that the speed of life is about to pick up a bit, and that you better hold on tight so you don’t fall off the tracks.
It’s my favorite time of year, but it’s here and gone in a flash. If you don’t take time to stop amidst the chaos – pause for a moment, breathe in the fall air, enjoy time with friends, appreciate this season of life – suddenly the cold sets in, winter comes and autumn has passed you by.
This year, I welcomed fall with the ultimate pause.
“Life takes you to unexpected places; love always brings you home.”
This quote is framed on my wall. It’s always there, but I rarely pay it any mind.
Recently, however, the idea of “home” has been permeating my thoughts, like a song that you just can’t get out of your head. Maybe it was the chapter of my book called “Coming Home.” Maybe it was watching Dory try to swim home to her long forgotten family. Maybe it’s a result of being on the go and not quite home enough. Whatever the reason, the thought of “home” just lingers lately.