***Trigger Warning*** This post focuses on food and cooking. The content could be triggering for those in ED recovery.

 

 

I never liked cooking. Or rather, cooking always made me incredibly anxious.

I suppose a lot of it had to do with my decades long battle with an eating disorder. As I moved through recovery, I often wondered if I would ever enjoy cooking. And as I moved through my first year of Recovered, the wondering continued….

Enter: Blue Apron.

A wonderful friend, who I owe an extreme amount of gratitude, introduced me to the glorious Apron of the Blue. As we sat on the gym floor stretching after a grueling workout, she regaled me with a story about a service that delivered three delicious meals to her home every week. It included every thing she needed, in the exact amount she needed and gave detailed instructions on how to cook it (with pictures!)  No last-minute trips to the grocery store to pick up red wine vinegar or heavy whipping cream. It was all there. All she, or her husband, had to do was cook it.

At the time, I was still rooted firmly in “I hate cooking,” so I didn’t run home and immediately sign up. But it got me thinking. I challenged myself to look deeper into why I hate cooking. I wrote in my journal and talked with Steve. I dug deep to figure out the trigger point of my cooking anxiety. After a lot of digging and soul-searching, I questioned whether my issue with cooking had more to do with planning the meals than the actual cooking of the meals.

Steve and I decided to let Blue Apron plan a few dinners for us. We were able to get half off on our first delivery so we figured it was a win/win. And was it ever a WIN! (**EDIT: If anyone is interested in trying it out let me know. I can send you a coupon so you can get your first delivery for FREE).

Has anything ever come along that made your life so much easier that you asked yourself what you ever did without it? Yeah, that’s Blue Apron. It turns out I quite enjoy cooking when I don’t have to plan it OR buy all the ingredients (only to have Worcestershire sauce and rice wine vinegar sitting in my cabinet for a year).

I am a Blue Apron enthusiast. Cooking is a fun and, dare I say, cathartic experience. I put on music, pull out the ingredients and follow the step-by-step directions. I find great satisfaction in the ritual of gathering all the ingredients I need for a meal and putting them together on the counter (I seriously love having the just the right amount of everything).

I do things like zest and mince (I should have gotten a picture of me zesting :-)). And I get to eat things like crème fresh and freeka (I’m still trying to figure out how to properly drain the water without losing half of the freeka. The freeka is to small for me to run it through my strainer).

I even made pot stickers! Pot stickers!

And the best part of it all?

Every night we sit down and have dinner as a family. 🙂

 

 

Yes, I’m wearing a hat inside my house at 5 am.

Last month, the Director of Program Ministries at my church invited me to give talk about eating disorders. It’s scheduled for the end of this month. I am honored to have the opportunity to share my story and spread awareness about eating disorders.

I’ve been working on it a lot lately.

While I was working on it the other day something felt familiar, kinda like déjà vu but less intense. Then it hit me. My life looks a lot like the life I wrote about in Writing Assignment #4: A Day In my Life When I Am Recovered (if you click on the blue it should take you to the post).

Back in November 2015, I imagined what a day in my Recovered life would look like. I remember writing it. I tried to write it months earlier but anxiety took over so I gave myself permission to step away. A few months later, Recovered seemed less intimidating. My anxiety was definitely still there, slowing building below the surface, but I kept reminding myself, “Recovered isn’t a fairytale.”

As I wrote, the anxiety melted away and I enjoyed dreaming about what a day in my Recovered might look like. Rather than create an elaborate fantasy (which I’d done in the past) I worked hard to keep my expectations high, but realistic.

Back in November 2015, I was nine months into my intense recovery work. Most of my eating disorder behaviors were gone but I was still dealing with lingering eating disorder thoughts. So when I thought about a day in my Recovered life, I focused in on what my life would look like without eating disorder thoughts. A life where I could be fully present and show up and be seen and fight for a cause that I believe in.

It all felt aspirational, yet within reach. Not necessarily within my grasp, but close enough that it didn’t paralyze me with fear and self-doubt.

A little over a year later, I get to be fully present in my life. Everyday I challenge myself to show up and be seen in an effort to fight for a cause I believe in.

Keep dreaming friends. Keep moving. I know the road is long and the journey slow, but you will get there. Where ever “there” is for you. You may move backwards, sideways, up or down. But if you keep moving, if you keep getting up, you will move forward.

 

 

 

 

 

In the room where it happens!!!

In the room where it happens!!!

Dear Friends,

I can’t believe it’s been over four months since my last post. So much happened and I look forward to sharing it all with you. But before I do, I want to tell you about something that happened because I Recovered from my eating disorder.

I saw Hamilton on Broadway.

My eating disorder thrived on keeping me disconnected. It kept me focused on two things: My body and food. Everything else felt like borrowed time. Through recovery I started connecting. To my body, to people, to books, to tv shows, to music, to moments, to Hamilton.

This is my Hamilton story.

My obsession with Hamilton started last year at a pivotal place in my recovery. I was feeling all the feelings and searching for connection and inspiration. Negative and scary feelings easily distracted me because I wasn’t use to feeling them. I yearned for something hopeful and inspirational to help keep me on the road to Recovered.

Enter, Hamilton.

It’s amazing what art and creativity can do when you open yourself up to it. The Hamilton cast album blew me away. I also loved the story behind the musical. How a story about our nation’s founding fathers was being told by people of color through rap and hip-hop. And how it took Lin Manuel Miranda (who wrote the book, lyrics and music) six years to write it.

Six years. That resonated with me. When I was working through recovery I often wished I could fast forward to Recovered. In the early days I couldn’t even imagine what Recovered looked like, I just knew I wanted to get there. Fast.  Recovery was so painful, scary and hard and I was so tired. I just wanted it to be over already.

Then I reminded myself that it took Lin six years to write Hamilton. Good things take time. And fantastic, life changing things take a lot of time. And a lot of hard work. It helped put recovery into perspective. I listened to the soundtrack everyday. Sent it to friends and people I just met. I got my kids into it. And no doubt annoyed my family by signing lyrics and talking about the show. NON. STOP.

Last week, I had the opportunity to go to New York. I went with the SOLE purpose of seeing Hamilton. I didn’t have a ticket. I looked online and the cheapest ticket I could find was $1000. I knew the digital lottery was my only chance at a more affordably priced ticket (before each show the theatre runs a lotto for the seats in the first two rows. It’s called ham4ham because each lotto ticket costs ten bucks). I knew my chances of winning were slim to none because over ten thousand people entered the digital lottery every day. I decided to go and try my luck with the lottery anyway.

Actually, I was ready to cancel the vacation altogether because of all the anxiety triggers: the flight to/from New York, getting from the airport to Midtown (and back again), leaving the boys (although I knew they’d be in good hands with Nana and Grandma Jean), SO MANY PEOPLE, and, ya know, trying to score a ticket to the hottest show on Broadway. Frankly, if I still had my eating disorder I never would have agreed to go to NY in the first place. And if I had gone, I probably would have stayed in the hotel room the whole time.

Despite all the potential anxiety triggers, Steve convinced me the vacation would be worth it. I knew he was right. (Steve went as well but flew separately and we barely saw each other because he worked the whole time while I…well, I played :-).)

When I got to New York, I went to our hotel in the middle of Times Square (HOLY PEOPLE!!), checked my bag with the bellhop and walked the block and a half to the Richard Rodgers Theatre (Hamilton).  Looking back I’m not sure what I thought I might accomplish by going to the theatre, but to the theatre I went.

I walked up to the marquee around noon and there were a ton of people there (curtain wasn’t until 7pm). Some were taking pictures of the marquee or just passing through, while a bunch of people (between twenty to thirty people) looked like they were camping out in front of the theatre.

I asked the doorman, Jimmy, what they were doing. He told me they were waiting in the cancellation line. I’d never heard of a cancellation line before so I had a lot of questions. Basically, minutes before each show the theatre releases cancellation tickets. Some days they may have twenty cancellation tickets, some days two, and some days zero. Cancellation tickets vary in price but are usually somewhere between $170 and $550 (unless you get a standing room ticket. Those are $40).

Cancellation tickets are first come/first serve. I spoke with a teenage girl who was in line with her younger sister and Dad. They got to the theatre at 5 am that morning (Dad of the Year!) Most of the others had been there for several days (Later, I learned most wait three days for a ticket).

 Jimmy and the LINE!

Jimmy and the LINE!

 

Jimmy discouraged me from joining the line. He said there probably wouldn’t be many cancellation tickets this week because it was Lin, Leslie and Pippa’s last week. He encouraged me to enjoy my three days in New York and not spend them in line. I was inclined to agree. I didn’t want to spend all my time waiting in line for just a chance to see Hamilton. (Actually part of me did want to do it, but the other part knew there were other phenomenal shows to see.)

I decided to just do the live and digital lotteries and spend the rest of my time seeing other shows and tourist attractions. I knew I’d have to do some waiting for the live lotto on Wednesday. But hey, the live lotto usually only had about three thousand entries. So, yay three thousand! Better odds! Someone has to win, right?!

I entered the digital lotto on Tuesday and part of me actually thought I might win. Back in ’96, I won the live lotto for Rent twice, so I thought maybe I had good luck with Broadway lotteries. Cut to 4:00pm. The rejection email was swift and the disappointment acute. I sucked it up and rallied.

I put my newfound knowledge regarding the cancellation line to use and headed to the Eugene O’Neill Theatre box office. I arrived about thirty minutes before showtime and was the first person in the cancellation line (holla!). I waited approximately three minutes before they sold me the “Julia Roberts” seat (their words) at an “Ali Fields” price (my words). For the first time that day, I felt like I’d won at something.

book of mormon marquee

I sat next to a mother and son from Indiana. Like me, they came to New York with the hopes of getting tickets to Hamilton. They only had a day left and found resale tickets for one of Wednesday’s shows for $1,200 a ticket. They were leaning towards buying the tickets. (and I daydreamed about taking a similar mother/son(s) trip with my boy(s) in ten to fifteen years.)

book of mormon playbill

The Book of Mormon was hilarious! So fun, so much talent and a message I enjoyed. The entire cast was fantastic! Elder McKinley was my fav (such SASS!) I left the show filled with excitement.

Steve got into town while I was at the show, so we met up around 10:00 pm and got something to eat. Since we were so close to the Richard Rodgers Theatre (wink, wink), I suggested we head over to see if anything was happening at the stage door. There were a TON of people there waiting. We saw Mariska Hargitay and her family come out. The understudy who played Aaron Burr that night also came out. Steve lasted maybe ten minutes before heading back to the hotel. I stayed for another twenty minutes during which time nothing happened (I still loved it.)

Steve had to work the next day, so I mentally prepared myself to stand in line for the Hamilton live lottery and ham4ham show. I got in line early so I could get a good spot for the ham4ham show. I got to the theatre a little after 9am and the line was already almost to the end of the block. I hoped to see the mother and son I met the night before at The Book of Mormon but there were A. LOT. OF. PEOPLE.

The lotto didn’t start until noon so I waited for three hours to write my name on a piece of paper and put it in a huge bin that would eventually be filled with over 3,000 names. I met some super nice people from Australia who made the time go by quickly.

Hot and sweaty but happy to be here!

Hot and sweaty but happy to be here!

The waiting paid off because I got a pretty good spot for the show. Front row stage (or stair) right. I was SUPER psyched because I knew this was probably the closest I would get to seeing anything Hamilton related. For 45 minutes I stressed about someone making me move.

ham4ham

Lin came out around 12:45ish and read a love letter Hamilton wrote to Eliza. Then Phillipa, Leslie and OAK (my fav) came out. Everyone lost their minds (myself included) and it was tough to get a good view. Since it was Lin, Phillipa and Leslie’s last week we all sang Happy Trails (Oak held up cue cards). It was awesome.

Ladies and Gentlemen: Lin Manuel Miranda!!!

Ladies and Gentlemen: Lin Manuel Miranda!!!

After the show, Kaitlin Fine read the lucky winners. We all clapped for the winners while secretly hating them. I didn’t win but was happy to see Lin’s last ham4ham. I was also tired. The air around the theatre is electric but also tense and a bit stressful. Everyone wants a ticket and would do almost anything to get one. Not to mention the cast sightings. Everyone wants to be apart of every moment and it’s just not possible. There are too many people.

So after four hours of standing in line, I was ready for a Hamilbreak. I hopped on a bus and headed downtown. I promised my boys I’d see the Statue of Liberty, so I did. I relaxed and saw the sights. At 4 pm, I got the dreaded, “Unfortunately, you were not selected…” email from Hamilton (which feels a lot like “It’s not you, it’s me”).

Who can see the Statue of Liberty? It's there, I promise!

Who can see the Statue of Liberty? It’s there, I promise!

That evening I went to see The Color Purple. I went directly to the box office at the Benard B. Jacobs Theatre and got an incredibly amazing seat for an incredibly amazing price. I cannot even begin to describe how magnificent the show was. I spent the entire second act trying very hard not to sloppy cry in front of a bunch of strangers (including Sharon Lawrence who was sitting right in front of me). Cynthia Erivo got a well deserved standing ovation in the middle of the second act and it all felt like magic. Her talent was awe inspiring.

Color Purple

Same for Danielle Brooks, who played Sofia (she also plays Taystee on OITNB). Oh my goodness was she fun to watch on stage! I’m not sure why, but being in the room with people living their passion and using their talent to connect with others makes me cry (this is a new thing I discovered through recovery). Anyway, I cried a lot during The Color Purple. There were some sad tears (because it’s The Color Purple), some talent tears and some female empowerment tears.

 SIGNED!!

SIGNED!!

I waited by the stage door and got autographs. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before (aside from Hamilton the night before when I hadn’t even seen the show). As I walked back to the hotel, I realized that even if I didn’t see Hamilton, I got to see Cynthia Erivo’s Tony winning performance and Danielle Brooks’ Tony nominated performance (not to mention the incomparable Heather Headley). That would be enough (you with me Hamilton fans ;-)).

 LOVE HER!!!!

LOVE HER!!!!

I went to bed, emotionally spent, but happy. Content. I woke up the next day and almost forgot about the Hamilton lottery. Frankly, I almost didn’t enter because I knew the likelihood of winning on my last day in New York was slim (or zero). I also didn’t want to spend the whole day stressing about my battery dying and not being able to get my “You Won” email (I knew if my phone died I would totally win and not be able to claim my ticket). But really, I didn’t want the letdown of the inevitable rejection.

Yeah, I got over it and entered the lotto. When I did, I noticed something strange. The lotto closed at noon. The lotto usually closed at 4pm. And then I saw it… TWO shows! For whatever reason they were doing two shows on a Thursday (they usually do two shows on Wednesdays and Saturdays). So this was interesting… I thought I only had one more shot to see the show and now I had TWO. There it was…hope.

I hopped in the shower, got dressed and headed out to get something to eat. My hotel was close to the Richard Rogers Theatre so I decided to walk by on my way to get a bite. I walked up at about 9:45 am and there were thirty or so people in line. I kept walking…then I stopped, turned back and got in the back of the line. I had a feeling….

The woman in front of me had just gotten there but most of the others had been there for days. One girl I spoke with had been there for a week. I stood there talking with fellow Hamilton fans. It was great. It was nice to be surrounded by people who were even more excited about Hamilton than I was.

Within about forty minutes or so, people started getting tickets to the matinée. It was unreal! People were beside themselves. Some were happy crying and some just stood in disbelief. All of a sudden I was twentieth in line. Then some of the people in front of me stepped out of line because Lin wasn’t in the matinée. I would’ve loved to see Lin, but I really just wanted to see the show (plus I’d heard fantastic things about Javier Muñoz’s Hamilton).

The theatre released more tickets and suddenly I was fifteenth in line. Then a few more tickets… OMG, I cannot even tell how nervous, stressed and exhilarated I was in those moments as I moved closer and closer to the front of the line. I kept thinking, “Holy cow! This could really happen!”

At about 11:00 am they stopped releasing tickets. I was eighth in line. Someone said they would release more tickets right before showtime. And since I was eighth in line I had a fair (but not great) chance of getting a ticket. I hadn’t eaten anything and I knew if I waited in line for the next three hours and was lucky enough to get a ticket I wouldn’t be able to eat until after the show ended around 5 pm. Whatever. It was worth it. Plus I had a couple granola bars in my purse. I stayed in line.

About fifteen minutes later, someone from the theatre came out and offered two premium tickets. These tickets are more expensive than other cancellation tickets but still way, way, WAY cheaper than resale prices (because you’re buying directly from the theatre). The eight people in front of me decided to wait for the less expensive cancellation tickets (most of them were also looking to buy two tickets). At number eight in line (which meant I needed the theatre to release at least seventeen more tickets), I wasn’t about to throw away my shot. I asked if I could just buy one ticket. They said yes and lifted the barricade.

I don’t remember much of what happened next. I know I got my ticket, put it in my wallet and went to a diner to eat. I then spent the next two and a half hours obsessively checking my wallet to make sure I still had my ticket.

I called Steve, my Mom and Jean and let them know. Then went back to my hotel room and hibernated until show time. I didn’t post anything on social media or tell anyone else because I was so nervous something would happen. Truth be told, my anxiety was off the charts but it was a good anxiety. I still couldn’t believe I got a ticket to see the show I’d been obsessing about and imagining in my head since last year.

I got to the theatre around 1:30 and the line (for ticketholders) was already around the block. I ran into some of my cancellation line friends (they were all in front of me in the cancellation line). They got tickets too, but didn’t get them until right before showtime.

I got inside and immediately looked to see who was in the show. Twitter already told me Lin, Daveed and Oak were out. They were the only three out! OMG, the rest were original cast members! When I realized that I was going see Leslie Odom Jr. as Burr, Phillipa Soo as Eliza, Renée Elise Goldsberry a Angelica, Anthony Ramos as Laurens/Phillip, Jasmine Cephas Jones as Peggy/Maria and CHRIS JACKSON as WASHINGTON, I almost lost it.

Cast

The wait for showtime felt like forever. Then the lights went down and Leslie stepped onto the stage. Everyone applauded. You may be surprised to know I didn’t immediately start crying. I marveled at Leslie’s stillness, his unbelievable poise and voice.  A wave of emotions came over me when Javier entered as Alexander Hamilton, but I held it together. When Chris Jackson entered as Washington I bounced in my chair and clapped like I was at a New Kids on the Block concert (yes, I am that old).

“Wait for it” brought the first tears. Up until that point, I danced in my seat, mouthed the words to every song and reveled being in the room where it happened. Oh, and “Satisfied.” OMG, Renée Elise Goldsberry SLAYED that song and all I could do was watch and marvel at her talent.

Then “Wait for it” started. Tears. Such a powerful song with so much meaning and heart. It was an honor to see Leslie perform it. Again, he was so still. He let his voice and the words do all the work and wow, just wow. Honestly, at that point, I was rooting for Burr.

The tears returned during “Dear Theodosia” and I was really hoping Hamilton and Burr would end up as friends. Oh, and there was an extra scene that wasn’t on the cast album. Eliza gave Hamilton a letter informing him of Laurens’ death. Agh! My emotions!

During intermission I went to the concession stand for a drink. I wasn’t thirsty, in fact, I knew I wouldn’t drink anything for fear of having to pee in the middle of Act II. But someone mentioned that if you buy a drink you get a really cool souvenir cup. I asked if I could just buy the cup. No, but the guy said he could just put a little water in it. Sold! I got one for myself and one for a fellow Hamilton fan back home.

Then Act II started. I basically spent the entire second act crying in varying degrees. Except “What’d I miss,” that song was pure fun. The actor playing Lafayette/Jefferson seemed much more comfortable playing Jefferson. He had swagger and confidence. The song was a real treat. I respectably wept through “Take a Break” because I love the song so much. Oh and Eliza beat boxed for Phillip’s rap! OMG! Joy!

“Say No to This” was just as sexy and sad as expected. Jasmine Cephas Jones has an amazingly sultry voice. Not going to lie, it was kinda hot.

Then we got to “The Room Where It Happens.” AHHHHH!! Happy, happy, talent tears. I don’t even have a word to describe Leslie’s performance. His movements were so graceful and purposeful. It was a phenomenal performance and I was a little surprised it didn’t get a standing ovation. It certainly deserved one. (I read that he got one on his closing night).

I bawled through the entirety of “One Last Time.” I had a small tear break and then “Blow Us All Away” happened. By the end of it I was bawling again (and searching for a dry part of my Kleenex. Side note: Why didn’t I bring more Kleenex!). And then Renée started “It’s Quiet Uptown” and I crumpled into a mess of sloppy tears. I can’t even talk about when Eliza held Alexander’s hand at “forgiveness.”

“The Election of 1800” and “Your Obedient Servant” gave me a moment to get ahold of my emotions. But I knew what was coming…. “The World Was Wide Enough.” What an amazing final song and I cried through the whole thing. Happy tears, talent tears, sad tears, inspired tears. I was a bundle of emotions. Near the end of the song, Eliza became the focus and had a moment at the very end of the show that I didn’t expect and OMG, I lost it. I am tearing up now just thinking about it. I won’t spoil it.

After the show I bought a few souvenirs and then met Steve for dinner. I wanted to do the stage door but there were a fafillion people there and I couldn’t get a good spot. Plus I wanted to see Steve. Steve made this all happen. He knew how much I needed a break and how much Hamilton meant to me. And although he didn’t tell me at the time, he had a feeling I’d find a way to get to the show. I love how he believes in me. I am grateful to have such a loving and supportive husband. I am also soooooooo grateful to my Mom and Steve’s mom, Jean. They watched our boys and took great care of them.