Ch-ch-ch changes

There was a scene in Sex and the City, where Samantha tells Smith (an aspiring actor), “first come the gays, then the girls…and then the industry.” For me, weight-loss follows a similar cadence where first my friends noticed, then my husband…and then me. I haven’t suddenly lost another chunk of weight, but it’s like things are settling and my body is adjusting.  I have a waist again, my face is less round, and even my feet seem smaller somehow. I have had to do another purge of old clothing, and even more satisfying, started fitting back into some of my old clothing. I am far from a hoarder.  Just ask my husband Craig who is often annoyed with how easily I part with our possessions and keepsakes in an effort to stay clutter-free.  But I have always kept a handful of my favorite items items that hard to find, or that seemingly never go out of style. I am  nothing, if not hopeful and positive, it would seem.

The sisterhood of the traveling pants


My lady-bird

Segues are overrated, and my mum is a stunningly beautiful woman. And she has been stunningly beautiful her entire life. Of course, we are surrounded by gaggles of traditionally, and undeniably beautiful ladies, but someone has to carry the torch and light the cauldron, and I am suggesting that it is almost certainly my mother Mary-Ann (also known in close circles as “Birdie” or “the bird” or “lady-bird”, as she would prefer to be nick-named).  To support this claim, I can tell you that my high-school boyfriend once joked (kind of) that he was only dating me to get to my mother, and that my entire group of friends in college referred to her as a “yummy mummy” behind her back.

Not only is she a beautiful woman, but she also has enviable taste, when it comes to clothing, art, entertaining, and design. I once asked her what she would cite as the single most important fashion advice for women. “Buy the best and highest quality pants that you can afford”, she quipped. Although, she may have referred to them as trousers, or *cringe* SLACKS, but I digress. She also added that in addition to the very best pants that we can afford, we should also have access to the best tailor in town.  “Nobody ever tailors clothing to fit their bodies anymore”, she lamented.  She also seemed to suggest that I should mosey on over to Escada or St. John to procure said pants, which I never did – not because I couldn’t afford it if I started putting quarters in my swear jar, or stocked my apartment with cheaper wine for a couple of months.  I didn’t because I was too fat. There is a good (and a little sad) reason why my closet is filled with pretty handbags, and shiny accessories. When you are over-weight but you have a deep appreciation for fashion and design, you probably have nice handbags and great jewelry.  Unless I missed the Carolina Herrera rack in the Encore section of Nordstrom, or the Oscar de la Renta area of Lane Bryant, then I am sorely mistaken.

Back when I was still shopping in semi-regular stores like the Gap, I found a pair of pants that I could never seem to part with.  I’m sure that some of you will sympathize – but one does not simply give away the perfect white wide-leg linen trousers. They have a button, not a band or an elastic. They have pockets that lay flatly against my hips, and the linen is high quality such that it doesn’t stretch out four more sizes throughout the day when I wear them. They are timeless, and they look great on me.  Or, they did over seven years ago when I last had them in the rotation.


The pants: now (2017) and then (2010)

Until ten days ago, my weight-loss was mostly numbers and data. The numbers were great, but it is even more satisfying when they translate into more tangible milestones like crisp white linen pants. I hauled them out of the bowels of my closet, just to see what would happen.  I was certain that I wouldn’t be able to button them up, but perhaps by the summer we would reconnect.  Only they did fit. And perfectly, at that! I honestly almost cried, I felt so proud of myself. The last time I wore those pants was just a few weeks after I found out I was pregnant with Quinn – and not because it was inching closer and closer to Labor Day, either. Could I wear them, though? We were still another two weeks away from Memorial Day long weekend. Luckily, the answer I gave myself was HELL FUCKING YES!

A suit that suits me

bathing suit

The suit that now suits me

You would think that I would immediately dive into the rest of my closet to see what else I could bring back into play with my new hot bod, but it didn’t occur to me until almost two weeks later. I was packing the family up for a pool party, and searching through my short-but-shameful pile of swim dresses. At least I was looking for the smallest swim dress, I reasoned. Then I remembered a bathing suit that I had purchased years ago because I thought it was too adorable not to own.  Only, when it arrived, I couldn’t even get it on.  Like, I literally broke a sweat trying to pull it past my hips. Like, it still had the tags and even that pinchy plastic pantyliner still attached. Holding it now, years later, it is a little more sailor moon than I might choose today – but I still thought it was adorable. I looked at the tag, which read size 16. Size 16…oh gawd, there is no way.  Why am I going to torture myself by reattempting to pry it on without at least buttering myself up first?  Craig and the kids were still outside enjoying the fresh morning air, so I decided to go for it. I almost typed that “magically” it fit!  Magic schmagic –  it fit because of all of the hard work I have done to unpack the “why” of my fat. It fit because I am learning to care for myself, and value my health and vitality. It fit because I sweat my balls off, and ate so much spinach that it turned my poop green! When I asked Craig whether or not he thought I could wear it to the pool party, he said yes. And my friends all commented on how good it looked, and how good I looked – and must have been shooting sunbeams of pride out my eyeballs, toes, and fingertips, because that’s how good it felt to soak in the sunshine and all that I have accomplished.

In so many ways, things are getting easier and easier. I used to hate seeing photos of myself. They never matched how I thought I looked, and I would immediately feel the sting of shame and the reality of what I had slowly and steadily done to my body. Now I see photos of myself and feel a rush of pride, and the warmth of self-love. That is, when I see current photos of myself. It is getting harder to look at the person that I used to be.  Even though it was only a few short months ago, it makes me feel embarrassed.  Glad to be on a good trajectory, of course – but still hard to accept.

Today, Quinn brought home the most adorable bound book of her experience as a kindergartner. We flipped through the pages as a family together: Halloween, thanksgiving, beach day, the day the bee-keeper came to school.  And then there was a first day of school photo that made me tear up in disbelief. st chrisI wanted to rip it off the page, so that Quinn would someday flip through that book and feel proud of me – like I always did about my mum.  My beautiful yummy mummy lady-bird. It has taken me a few hours to process the shock of seeing myself like this.  What it means to look back at myself and feel shame instead of empathy, and embarrassment over compassion – and how I can get better at unraveling that. Owning where I am at, and where I have been. Being vulnerable and bold with my sharing (both the good and the not so good) seems to be a big part of what is working for me thus far – hence the reason why I am including the photo here. Turning to face the strangeness of these changes.

Changes – David Bowie
(Turn and face the strange)
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time


The bad, the ugly, the good, and the great.

The bad

I was left to my own devices for two weeks between the three month Project Healthy Body and the year long program which started this week. For the first week, I made great choices. I ate whole and vibrant fruits and vegetables. I upped my daily step goal to a minimum of 15k steps. The front desk ladies at Lift were starting to know me by name (which I suppose is not that impressive with a last name like VonDemfange) because I was there so often. And best of all, by the end of the first week, I was another two pounds down – bringing my total to exactly forty pounds since January. I was confident. Too confident. It was that over-confidence, the assertion that I had this all figured out, and that I was impenetrable, which invited back the voice that I had quieted for so long. The one with a sense of entitlement toward food.  The one that whispers, “better have it now, because the party is over next Monday when Project Healthy Body starts back up.”

It didn’t happen all at once. Old habits are like that. They creep back slowly, so you don’t even realize you are in trouble until it’s overpowering. It started simply with eating too much of the right foods. Another handful of pistachios, another scoop of hummus, or a larger bowl of fresh berries. “It’s fine”, I told myself. “I am just hungrier because I am working more”, I reasoned. Mid-cycle period? Early menopause? Psychotic break? It’s amazing the excuses I can come up with before getting real with myself again.

The ugly

Still, the self-awareness wasn’t enough to slow my roll – which felt particularly defeating considering all that I had juts finished learning and practicing in the three month Project Healthy Body. The meals that followed were like death from a thousand paper cuts. Nothing on its own is a horrible transgression, but in aggregate it is no different than how I used to treat myself.

We took my youngest to Benihana for her fourth birthday. I told Craig and my health coach that I was going to reign it in and get back on track.  I would skip the fried rice and have the salad and chicken without the sauces. I had the fried rice, the chicken, the sauces – oh, and I also got myself  nice and sauced on cheap wine spritzers. But I skipped the cake because, you know, moderation! The concept was no different than how I used to order fast food from the drive-through. I call it the Diet Coke phenomenon.

Operator: Welcome to McDonalds. What’s your order?

Me: Hi there. I would like a Big Mac combo, please.

Operator: Would you like that super-sized?

Me: (pretending to think about it) Hmmmm, ok, sure! There’s a first time for everything!

Operator: What would you like to drink with that?

Me: A diet coke, obviously.

From there, things went from bad to worse. The closer I inched toward the start of the next Project Healthy Body, the more my old bad habits showed up. By Sunday, I was in full blown “send-off” mode and treating every meal like I was on death row…but with a diet coke.

I was a very hungry caterpillar.


On Saturday, I started strong with a banana/spinach/nut-butter smoothie (diet coke phenomenon), and then ate through two carnitas tacos from La Victoria (with “orange sauce” of course), one order of gyoza, two tempura rolls, a couple strips of teriyaki chicken (for the children), and one huge piece of chocolate cake. On Sunday, I started iffy with a cheese, turkey, and yellow pepper scramble, and then ate through a gluten-free (diet coke phenomenon) pizza with bacon and pepperoni, one large piece of leftover birthday cake, a handful of tortilla chips, one huge carnitas burrito, and a big piece of leftover birthday cake – and no, i did not accidentally repeat myself.

Only in the end, I didn’t turn into a beautiful butterfly, like the Eric Carle version. In the end, I cost myself a few unwanted pounds, some self-disappointment, and a lot of regrouping.

The good

Monday, and the start of a 28 day AIP Protocol (elimination diet, essentially) to kick off one year of Project Healthy Bodying came as a relief. No coffee, no dairy, no grains, no beans or legumes, no alcohol, no sugar, and no night-shade vegetables. But mostly, no burritos, no cake, no more hungry caterpillar, no diet coke phenomenon, and no death row.

Six days post-stumble and I am back in black. I am reading more, sleeping more, and being kind to myself again. I wake up and take five minutes to read something positive and soulful out loud to Craig, before getting out of bed. Before leaving for work, I open the blinds and fully make my bed. Because when I start each day with intention over panic, and being present over being five steps ahead, it makes all the difference.

Just six days post-stumble and I am re-losing the couple of pounds that I gained back. It is shocking how quickly the weight can come back.  Stay humble and stay mindful, I repeat to myself. I will stumble again. Many times, probably. But the difference now is that stumbling doesn’t equal throwing in the towel. For years, I would try some diet (low carb, no carb, vegan, cabbage soup, weight watchers, jenny craig, nutrisystem, bullet proof, skinny girl, and others) enjoy mild initial success, stumble once, then completely go off the deep-end and gain all the weight back and then some. I am afraid of many things, but my weightloss success is not one of them. Failure is no longer an option, because I now have the roadmap to true healing and becoming my authentic healthy self. And there is great comfort in that. This is not a diet; it is a lifestyle (not to be confused with the lifestyle which is a completely different concept).

The great

IPOThis week marked five years exactly since Facebook’s IPO, which was truly the most memorable time of my career. It was my first (and only) trip to New York. The action packed 24 hour trip included sitting next to Craig of Craigslist on the way out, pulling up to the Four Seasons hotel and having someone standing there with my room key, dinner with the coworkers and friend who worked tirelessly on that project, visiting NASDAQ and the Morgan Stanley trading floor for the opening bell, and 3 hours and access to a driver who took me to central park to wander around Barney’s and have a real NYC hot dog. In spite of all of those magical moments and unforgettable experiences, I wasted more time feeling uncomfortable in my clothing, stressing over what to wear, and feeling ashamed of how unhealthy I looked, than being truly present and enjoying myself.

Five years later (to the day), that same group of coworkers, ex-coworkers, and great friends gathered to share memories and raise our glasses to FB’s IPO adventure. Only this time, I was excited about what I was going to wear, comfortable in my clothing, and wasted no time feeling ashamed or looking unhealthy. I enjoyed meaningful conversations with people that I care deeply about, gratefully accepted compliments about how I looked, and support for my weight-loss journey. I didn’t undo a button, or endure weeks of numb toes from squeezing my feet into shoes not meant to support my weight. It’s possible that I didn’t even drive home that evening; I may actually have floated.

And when I got home, I received a notification that I had been tagged in a group photo from the event. This is typically a nightmare for me, where I take a look at the picture, feel the sting of shame in how I look, and lament over whether or not the original poster will notice if I untag myself out of pure disgust and shame. Nervously, I clicked to open the picture. For the first time in a very long time (20 years), I saw myself as a normal healthy person, and not someone who stuck out like the token fatty in the group. I looked vibrant, and healthy, and confident.  I felt like I looked like a peer, and not the funny fat one, or the chubby one with a heart of gold, or the squishy one who gives great advice.

I felt like I belonged there. group




Dude, where’s my village?

A couple of weeks ago we took the kids to a local amusement park, where I had two back-to-back experiences that left me asking the question, “When did we become so afraid of other peoples children?” Since then, I have been tossing this question around my head like the load of whites which I have washed three times since Friday (laundry that I STILL forgot to transfer to the drier this morning, damnit). Before I opine on why I think that we have lost our village, I will first describe the incidents that caused me to ask the question in the first place.

Local readers are likely familiar with Happy Hollow (the amusement park and zoo geared toward small children in our neighborhood) – and if you are familiar with Happy Hollow, then you probably know about the crooked house – and if you know about the crooked house, then you know about the tube slide that transfers children (and playful adults) from the second floor to the ground level. Of course, I am using the word transfer diplomatically. The sunflower yellow tube slide is decidedly quaint juxtaposed against the Victorian architecture of the crooked house. At first glance, it is the most unassuming slide in the entire park! But as most families discover, it is actually an aeronautical rocket booster that is just shy of breaking the space/time continuum.

Every time, and I mean every time we visit the park, I sit in bewildered horror (ok, it is actually more like psychotic delight) as kids and dooped adults sling-shot down the tube slide, before rock-skipping 5-6 times across the slivery tanbark pond at the bottom. Someone with an entrepreneurial spirit and an iPhone could easily take first place in an upcoming episode of Americas Funniest Home Videos, based on crooked house slide footage alone! And why, god, why, is there ALWAYS at least one family who cannot resist the urge to launch their 9-12month old baby down the thing? What could possibly go wrong, they must ask themselves? Ummm, it’s a god damned baby, not a pilot trying to prove their ability to withstand G-forces! There should be a disclaimer at the top which reads, “must have prior centrifuge experience to ride this slide.” This is a slide that turns babies into men and women, and men and women into babies. As a spectator, it is well worth the price of admission, I assure you.

To be clear, this is not an indictment against the park in any way. We absolutely love and happily support Happy Hollow. We are there almost every weekend, and I will be truly sad when our kids out-age it. And lord knows, I would slip into full protest regalia and hit the streets, if there were even a whisper of making modifications to that amazing slide.

Ok, less tangent, more story…

We had just finished the zoo portion of our usual tour de la hollow. The kids were heading to the top of the crooked house, while we made our way to the viewing area at the bottom of the slide. Craig and I were stationed stage left and stage right respectively, in anticipation of what was sure to be an entertaining slide-show. However, instead of the usual dose of pure parental entertainment, I was left gobsmacked by the unwillingness of other adults to participate in the social construct of the village  that it takes to raise children, sometimes.

First up was an absolutely adorable little girl, who couldn’t be more than four years old. For anonymity-sake, we will call her Velocity. I could hear Velocity’s mum from the top of the slide assuring her that it would be a grand time and that she would meet her at the bottom for a hug and a commemorative photo. It is an odd feeling baring witness to a child’s final moments of complete and utter parental trust. You can almost taste its sugary sweetness.

Three, two, one, blastoff!

Out shoots Miss Velocity, in a manor that was true to her fake name. With an exactly zero chance of sticking the landing, she skidded, face-first, before coming to a complete stop. There were no less than eight parents standing around this child, mind you. And every single one of us knew that it would take a minimum of 45 seconds for the guilt ridden parents to find their way back down the stairs to their shocked and dirtied child – because lord knows that even the sounds of their kids wails couldn’t move them to save themselves 29 seconds with ride down the hell-chute. I mean, we all love our children, but hurling myself down a black hole to Bruiseville isn’t going to help anyone. I was arguably the farthest adult in the pack, yet I was the only one to offer any help. I ran over, picked her up, and started excavating the wood chips from inside and around her mouth. Then, to the perceived horror of the crowd, I gave her a hug and told her it would be ok. Why am I the only one helping this kid, I thought? How have we become so afraid to step in as proxy for each other? Dude, where is Velocity’s village?

I suspect that it may boil down, in some part, to the loss of community / or the village we used to attribute to the business of raising children – and if we drill down even further, to a general sense of fear. When we set aside the 24/7 entertainment porn coverage of daily tragedies in this country and consider the actual data on crime and violence, we learn that we are living in the safest period in American history.  It has literally never been a better idea to kick our kids out the front door to play. Yet the thought of letting our kids explore the world in absence of child proof gates, fences and barriers, leads parents to examine every worst case scenario imaginable! The things that we are afraid of have very little, if any actual data to back it up. I mean, if we take a second to get over our own self-importance and really think about it, nobody actually wants our damned kids. Not even the straight A students, or the ones who go to bed without any objections! We think nothing of strapping our kids into 70 mile per/hr tin cans every day, but lament over 10mins of playing in our front yard without being under the watchful eye of Sauron.  The overwhelming majority of actual monsters aren’t strangers at all – they are people we know and trust!I don’t know when we started to go wrong, but I fear that the consequences of childhood experiences that are devoid of unstructured, adult-free, adventure (and occasional trouble) will seriously and negatively impact their abilities to lead joyous, fulfilling, and independent lives.

You may be wondering what the hell this has to do with the concept of the village. A lot, I suspect. Part of the reason our parents let us wander the neighborhood so freely was because they had confidence that other adults would intervene if they were in trouble, or needed help, or were acting like assholes. It is also probable that they weren’t entirely sober, but I digress (and no judgement).

Which is a great segue into my second story from the crooked house that day: assholes. Children are no different from any other random groups of people. You’ve got some kind ones, some cute ones, some smart ones, some hella funny ones, and one or two assholes.  Two, in this particular case.

Not five minutes after Velocity’s unexpected high-fiber wood chip lunch, I had a front row seat at another baffling example of adults who were completely unwilling to take reasonable action in the name of the village. Two twin boys came traipsing around the corner, who were about Wrenn’s age (4). I will call them Vader and Chucky, even though it is highly likely that those are their actual names. Immediately, they began gathering armfuls of tanbark and dirt and throwing them up the slide just as other children were rocketing down. When you hit a three inch puddle of tanbark doing mach 3, you’re going to have a bad time (hello, sliver butt!). All eight of the surrounding adults looked at each other to see if anyone would lay claim to the little scamps – but either they were too embarrassed, or they were not present. So I pulled up my villager boot-straps, and stepped up to the plate. “Hey guys”, I said politely. “No more throwing the bark onto the slide, ok?” I remembered what it felt like to have a villager reprimand me as a kid, so I was careful to be friendly. I figured that I had squashed the issue, and returned to my post.

However, Vader and Chucky were not phased by strange adults and their demands. Instead of stopping, they upped their game and began throwing handfuls of dirt and bark onto the children as they came down the slide. Maybe they didn’t hear me, I thought – or perhaps they didn’t speak English, i reasoned. I scanned the area again for signs of a parent before approaching them again. “Hey, guys – knock it off. NO MORE throwing dirt at kids coming down the slide. Do you hear me?”

My hand to god, they both looked at me completely amused, pointed at my face, and laughed maniacally before bending down to grab two more handfuls of dirt-bark and running away.  I was half bewildered at the kids reactions, and half shocked at the secret fantasy scenario playing in the movie of my mind. The one where I carry them in a football hold (one under each arm) and promptly toss them out the Happy Hollow gates to the sound of a standing ovation behind me.

Only, they hadn’t left. They had merely climbed the back stairwell to the top of the slide and launched their nastygrams down the slide for the next unsuspecting child to scrape through. When they came back down (via the stairs instead of the slide) to grab more dirt, a woman came up to me and whispered, “you’re doing great.” The sentiment, although supportive, only succeeded in circling my mind back to my original question of when did we become so afraid of other peoples children? Granted, Vader and Chucky were in a class of naughtiness that I had never before experienced (classholes, ha!) – but we collectively had a couple hundred years of experience and age against them, so come on! Use your big girl voice!

Admittedly, I had lost my cool at this point. Given that this was the third round of reprimanding someone else’s children, followed by laughter and ignorance, I was about three seconds from sinking to their level (terrible, I know). Sensing the embarrassment and imminent jail time, Craig stepped between me and the twins and asked diplomatically, “should we take the kids to brush the goats?” Even though I was red hot, I knew he was right.  As turned to leave, I saw a woman sitting alone at table across from the crooked house. It was Chucky and Vader’s mother. I can’t explain how I knew that this was the woman who had spent the last four years of her life catering to every demand, I just knew in the way that only a mother can. She was nose deep into her ipad and completely oblivious to angry crowd still watching her kids throw dirt on others, and my secret fantasy of ejecting them from the park (the crowd goes wild!).

Later on, I mention the mom to Craig. Why didn’t I approach her, he asks? I tell him because I suddenly was struck with the thought that perhaps she needed that time alone. Maybe she knows they’re assholes, and maybe she figured there would be one villager in the crowd to step in and try to get them under control. I imagined how shitty I would feel if I explained what had happened and she started crying. So I said nothing. Of course, it is absolutely possible (likely, even) that she would have chewed my ass out for speaking to her precious little poopsies.

Regardless of what this mother’s reaction would have been, I am standing firm in my belief that we need to bring back the village. Even if we don’t get it 100% right 100% of the time, at least we would be acting as a community. Besides the benefits of helping raise the next generation of independent adults with the ability to think critically, the village mentality also helps parents realize that they aren’t alone. Parenting is hard, but it is less hard when you know that your village has your back. Even if you are too afraid to stand up to a four year old jackhole, for the love of god, please run over and pick up the next Velocity that you watch yard sale all over the playground. Show her that she has a village/community who will help dust her off. And then take that same sentiment and apply it to every single person you meet. That’s what villagers do.


This is the end; this is the beginning.

February 28th vs May 5th

February 28th vs May 5th

One week ago today, I completed a three month commitment to weight-loss and improving my overall health and wellness. For me, the end of the Project Healthy Body is met with mixed emotions. On one hand, I am radiating with pride over all that I have accomplished. I have lost 40 pounds, and countless inches (I say countless because stupidly I didn’t start measuring until 1/3 of the way through the program). I have also dropped two dress sizes. Most importantly though, I am armed with the tools and knowledge that will keep me on the road to success.

In other ways, the end is bitter sweet.  I have shared my inner most feelings of shame and struggle with the women in this group – and they have shared their inner most feelings of shame and struggle with me. In the short period of just three months, we have built a deep connection based on vulnerability, empathy, support, and trust. It feels odd, and slightly sad to put an expiration date on that connection. The group has become part of my routine, and I have equated, in part, that routine with my weight-loss success. It is like the feeling you get when you walk out the door without a bra: it is freeing, but damn, these danglers could really use the support!

So what’s next? Well, I am over the moon excited to be transitioning into a one year long Project Healthy Body led by my health coach (Jennifer). It is going to be intense, and challenging, and fucking awesome! My life has already changed so much in the four months that I have been working with Jennifer – I can’t even imagine what I will look and feel like one year from now. Maybe I will be so damned healthy, I won’t even need a bra anymore! Swing low sweet chariots, and watch out world!

Some things that will probably happen over the next year (not limited to, and in no particular order):

  1. This dress. Because gingham, because shopping in regular preppy girl clothing stores, and because god damn, I love a ball skirt with pockets!
  2. Increased awesoMEness – and by that, really just mean continuing to treat myself like I would my best friend. By practicing how to see myself as the world sees me, and then standing in that greatness with confidence and humility.
  3. Pursuing the impossible – daring to consider the things that I previously thought were impossible because of negative self-talk. Then taking action on those dreams despite my own fears, and my self-doubt. Answering hard questions like, “why am I here?” and “what is my purpose?”
  4. Big make-outs – our first dance as a married couple was to Marvin Gaye’s, “Let’s Get it On.” At the time, it was representative – but somewhere between that dance and careers/commutes/kids/getting fat, we lost our mojo. It is time to carpe his diem and get us back on track.
  5. Looking good / feeling good – in the movie of my mind, it will look something like this clip from one of my all-time favorite movies

In some ways, the future is up: momentum up, standing up, head up, chin up, push-ups, and sit ups. In other ways, the future is down: weight down, inches down, dusted down, sized down, stripped down. Every pound I lose comes with so much more than just a data point. The work that I am doing is not a diet. It is tunneling deep into the why, and the how of my issues with weight. It is a sustainable, and enjoyable way of thriving that I will be practicing for the rest of my life. It is about so much more than the food. It is about connecting with my authentic self – and I am so excited to find out what this next year will bring: the ups, the downs, the ends, and the beginnings.