Monday, August 3, 2020

“Beauty comes from within. Your body’s just a shell” I guess that’s what they say;
but do they understand ups and downs, the real struggle every day?

Standing in the mirror starts off pretty well, I touch my edges and curves;
but even those moments can be fleeting and quick, and often get on my nerves.

Stray comments and whispers I don’t understand, have come from those who don’t know me;
they’ve crept in my head it’s sad to say, and it seems like they see right through me.

I’ve spent countless hours changing my thoughts, learning to be gentle and kind;
most days it’s a breeze, no problem at all, some days it sneaks up from behind.

It comes in waves, day by day, this whole body image thing;
most days I feel beautiful inside and out, and I don’t even feel a sting.

A journey frequently traveled, filled with twists and turns, an all too familiar road;
 it will forever be a part of my story, my memoir at best, at least that’s what I’m told.

I’ve started to find love for this body of mine, or at least I’m giving it a try;
I gaze with appreciation at my strength and my grit, and do my best not to cry.

I don’t shudder when other hands touch my skin, and arms wrap around my hips;
I don’t close my eyes when the lights are on or nervously bite my lips.

My limits are boundless when my feet hit the ground and I conquer every last mile;
 my face reflects the woman I am from my eyes, to my cheekbones, to my smile.

I don’t hide from the world in baggy clothes and always try to look my best;
from brushing my hair, to clasping my earrings and slipping into a beautiful dress.

My belly laughs and sweet open heart are contagious, at least that’s the word on the street;
it’s my goal every day, my mission, my purpose to find beauty in everyone that I meet.

It does get easier if you find a way to try, this I can promise is true;
to harness the spirit, fight, and love that lies deep inside of you.

Friday, July 24, 2020

It was only a few months ago that someone told me that my passion for everything I do was a fault of mine. I'd be lying if I said that for a moment I didn't question myself and my actions, but that moment was fleeting as I realized that my passion for life, love, food, and the people around me is my favorite quality.

Let me tell you a little bit about where I got it from.

My grandmother, Mafalda, was a short, large busted, not quite rotund, yet round woman with high cheekbones and a heart bigger than the nights sky, who possessed a talent in the kitchen like no other.  She spent her years as the matriarchal care taker of not only my grandfather, but three sons, and eventually my mother, and me.

In addition to her honorary duties of cleaning like company was always expected and making sure everyone was fed as though every meal was their last, my grandmother spent hours soaking her hands in warm water, yeast and flour making fresh bread, perching herself on the front steps saying hello to everyone walking by, and accompanying my grandfather on his morning trips to the Italian imports store to buy the Italian newspaper, Oggi, and wherever else he wanted to go.

Every Monday, my grandparents made the long trek, about forty miles, to the livestock auction, or as they affectionately called it, "the fair." English never quite came naturally to them as they didn't move to America until my father was sixteen years old, but they tried.

I loved Mondays, or at least the idea of Mondays.  I would beg, plead like my life depended on it, for them to take me along on their adventure. My grandfather would hem and haw (rightfully so because let's just face it, after about fifteen minutes the "I'm bored," complaint would start flowing from my gums), but my grandmother would never leave me behind.

My grandparents had a brand new, navy blue, top model Volvo sedan that my father helped them buy with the star of the show being the air conditioning, but (I'm sure you know how this goes if you're a first gen kid), they never used it. Just like the dishwasher, having this luxury was moot. I refer to it as a long trek because, although forty miles is not all that far, taking every off the beaten path back road made it a leisurely ride for them, but ultimate torture for me. Remember, I begged- pleeeeaaaddded to go.

My grandmother never learned how to drive so as most elderly couples, my grandfather drove allowing my grandmother to be the house DJ all the way there.

She was not a glamorous woman by any means, wearing mostly casual stretchy pants, house shoes, and top three sizes too big, my grandmother had her own sort of flare. From her left shoulder cascading to her heart she would adorn her daily outfits with her pin collection, mostly those she either received from me as gifts, or from the woman at the church resembling angels, the Madonna (Mother Mary), Padre Pio, the Pope, or the late, great Jesus Christ himself.

In her bra, my grandmother kept her most prized possessions. Money, of course, what seemed like and endless amount of funeral prayer cards, pictures I drew in kindergarten, and pictures of her sons, all wrapped up in about two dozen multi colored elastic bands.

There I was, I would say about six years old when I truly started making this journey with them, in the back seat, car sick from all of the winding roads, hot, and any child would be, bored out of my ever loving mind, and we were only a mile from home.

My grandmother would rummage through the front console of the car, pulling out the same Luciano Pavarotti cassette like she had never heard it before and the feeling of dread would instantly come over me like I would never actually survive this trip.

Per usual, my grandmother dug deep into her brazier and pulled out the wad of cash and memories and unwrapped them, gazing at them with all of the love in the world. I would sit as quietly as I could  because I was generally on thin ice at this point as incessantly fanning myself with a half empty tissue box was clearly getting on my grandfathers nerves.

And then there it was. Nessun Dorma. The last song from the opera Turnadot came on. I was in for it now. My grandmother would shift her gaze to the window and begin to sing. Mind you, I had no actual clue what Turnadot was, the meaning behind the words, or the words in general. They were in ITALIAN... I did't speak Italian.

My grandmother didn't sing; she wailed. She poured her heart, her soul, and the souls of all who've ever taken a chance on love, into this song. I mean, now that I know the meaning behind it, I kind of get it. Prince falls in love with princess, there's a riddle, he solves it to marry her, she says "not today Satan," he says," if you guess my name before sunrise I'll kill myself," (okay Rumpelstiltskin) but if not you marry me woman! The princess declares that no one in the kingdom is to sleep until they confess his name and whoever does not will die, a horrible, gruesome, untimely death- okay, unsure of how they will die but come on, middle ages - it can't be a good time.

The song is sang by the prince hoping that the princess never sleeps. He wants her to stay awake and ponder his name until the sun rises. In the end he belts out the words, " vincero! vincero! vincero!"

"I will win! I will win! I will win!" Clearly this prince is persistent.

That being what it was, my grandmother felt this song deep into her body. She would clutch her chest, poured her every last ounce of energy and grit into those words as the tears would rush down her face.

Oh dear Lord. Now put yourself in my shoes. Six-ish years old, sweaty, nauseous, dumbfounded and all of a sudden remembering that my ride home would be sandwiched between crates of live chickens, and rabbits, and God knows what else, and I would spend that trip picking flying feathers from my sweaty skin and blowing rogue fur off my clothes.

It wasn't until I was an adult, experienced the joys and pitfalls of love, that I would understand why my grandmother would not only sing this song with endless emotion, but also apologetically let her seep from her pours, eyes, and strained vocal chords.

There was an undying passion in her. She loved and loved hard. She loved like any second that love could be lost and she kept that a very realistic fear.

I've learned more from her than I could have ever dreamed and I'm so thankful. I bake bread like she did, spark up conversations with strangers, and I've learned the difference between house and home. Most importantly though, she taught me how to love and that my love knows no bounds.

More often than not, when I'm in the car by myself, or ya know, with my kids (life lessons on my childhood), I play Nessun Dorma. I play it multiple times and rotate through has many sources of talent I can find. I get lost in the moment. I sing, no, I wail. I clutch my chest, feel a lump form in the bottom of my throat, and let those tears fall.

Loving hard comes with its consequences, but also its rewards. I can confidently say that a big part of learning about my passion, my beliefs, and my heart has been from my grandmother. I'll never give up hope, I will always do it scared, and I will always give it one hundred percent because that's what loving is.

I miss those car rides with my grandmother. Oh how I would do anything to see her one more time. I would love nothing more than to drive her around, sing that song, hold her hand, and learn as much as I could about love.

Monday, July 13, 2020

January 23rd was the last time I put my thoughts on life into words.

Why? Because after I pushed that infamous "publish" button on my blog post, I gently closed my laptop and resorted back to assuming my usual and comforting position hovering over the toilet.

My life, as I knew it, was a mess. I felt completely out of control, as if I were swallowed up by a tornado and spit back into the land of the unknown. Okay, okay, it worked out pretty well for Dorothy and she got a great new pair of shoes out of the deal, but that just wasn't the case for me.

I fell in love with helping, coaching, and guiding other women through the pursuit of body happiness, and where was I? I felt like a failure because once again, when shit got tough, I got even tougher on myself and the only thing I knew to do was find solace in the fact that I could control my body.

It all hurt, every last bit of it. In the midst of dealing with heartbreak, the world was changing in front of my eyes, my business was on the line which would ultimately trickle down to my parents, my children and my home. 

For those of you who know me, I am a die hard problem solver. I love obstacles because the comeback is always bigger than the setback right?

These were all problems I could not solve. Not one was anything even withing my grasp.

I dove into survival mode. I worked upwards of eighteen hours a day, barely leaving my business to come home and sleep (on the couch of course because the bed was just not inviting) and I would anxiously snap at anyone who walked through that door because all I wanted was to feel and with others around I felt like I had no permission to do so. Nothing made me happier than to lock my restaurant doors, shut the lights off, sit alone and hurt.

With that being the case, I stopped caring for myself. I wasn't eating but was surviving on sugar free Redbulls and bad habits, and of course wine- a bottle at least, per night, all to myself. 

I wish I could tell you the moment when I began to heal, but I cant quite put my finger on when exactly it happened. It was a slow scarring, with me periodically picking at the scabs.
I baby stepped my way back into reality. It didn't matter how many times I heard people tell me how worthy I was for all of the riches in life or how much of an amazing job I did keeping my family business not only afloat, but thriving in a pandemic, I needed to realize that for myself.

I made a decision to be happy again.

I stopped looking at my body as the enemy and starting valuing its strength. I stopped hurting myself through food restriction and purging and started focusing on what I have spent years learning- nourishment. But nourishment for not just my physical self, but for my soul.

I started surrounding myself with mostly women, and some men, who brought the light back into my world through inspiration. I started doing things again that I hadn't done in so long, and when I tell you that the good vibes were pouring from the heavens, that's an understatement. 

I let myself feel- the good, the bad, and the real. My workouts became less for self competition and more for pure enjoyment. I stopped on my runs to take pictures of beautiful things in the world or to strike up what seemed like endless conversations with strangers. 

My intuitive eating habits started to return all on their own. I've been studying my own genetic makeup for what works well for my body for years and just like riding a bike (which I feel is bullshit by the way because my bike riding skills are sub par to say the least), I remembered how to do it.

I took comments about my body being unworthy and undesirable and started to mute them from my memory.

Although I still have worries and concerns for what my future holds, the one thing I have found again is hope.

Yesterday I held someone's face in my hands. A twelve year old girl who didn't want to come out of the house because she felt far from beautiful, and in the middle of the street, vowed to be her lifeline. 

A promise to her would never be valid if I didn't make a promise to myself as well.

I promised myself in that moment that I would always find the beauty in me. May it come from my stretch marked mom belly, my tears of vulnerable honesty, my uncontrollable laughter which is sometimes accompanied by a snort, my endless hugs and deep kisses, my ability to stay and fight as well as selflessly walk away, my arms that embrace my children or the desire to never stop believing- my beauty is always here. 

Do I regret falling back into the eating disorder life style that has been a part of my life for thirty-ish years? No, not one bit.

Today, as I stand in front of the mirror, changing from my workout (which was filled with laughter, waves, and countless "good mornings"), I am grateful that I continue to rebound, rediscover, and stand tall as a better version of me than I was before.

Remember to enjoy the little bites of life as well as the big ones and always, always, eat the chocolate cake. 

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Diary of a Former “Fat” Girl
Looking back on years of self-body shaming and having a very unhealthy relationship with food, I realize that having a “fat” life had nothing to do with weight, but rather everything to do with my outlook on the world and myself. I had a “fat” mentality.
I must preface the rest of this post by just getting it out there. The word “fat,” to me, is as derogatory as the word “slut.” I understand as I work more with women on positive body image, that the word “fat” is only used as a descriptive word with no negative meaning, but, the word “fat” has been such a hurtful word in my life, it’s taking me time to get used to hearing and using it.
I remember that dreaded day in gym class, where once a year, I had to get on the scale, the gym teacher would weigh me and write me down on a list with the rest of the girls. I hated that day. I hated feeling like the “fat” girl. I hated knowing that my teacher did nothing to shield those results from any of the other girls and boys in my class. Looking back now I realize how “fat” I wasn’t, but comparatively speaking, I was.
Weeks ahead of time I would start to do things to drop my number as fast as possible. I would try to get by on as little food as possible, chew food and spit it out, overdose on laxatives and avoid that class at all cost. My anxiety would be through the roof. I would cry for days and skip as many social situations as I could.
From then on, I felt like the eyes of the world were always on my body and not in a good way.
Similar situations followed me into my adult life. My confidence was in the gutter. It didn’t matter if I did my hair and my makeup, dressed nice, and forced myself to “feel my best,” because I truly didn’t. I didn’t have it inside me. I couldn’t walk around faking a feeling that wasn’t there. Then the rut happened. I had son number two, gained sixty-five pounds, sat miserable in a marriage that consisted of fast food in the car and slumping on the couch every night.
I avoided outings like weddings and parties. I would spend hours trying on clothes from my closet and end up on the floor in tears. I had no desire to go into a fitting room and try clothes on, nor could I really afford it. I struggled like this for years, continuing to hurt everyone around me with my bad attitude that was trickling down for my low self-esteem. I would show up to my office job with coworkers that I adored feeling subpar because I was still wearing my old, dingy maternity clothes because I hated myself already, so who cares what I wore, right?
Along the way I had a coworker who was always very friendly to me. I slowly vented to him one day about my absolutely diluted self-worth because of my body insecurities. I remember him telling me that he thought I was beautiful (stop right there with your assumptions, just friendly conversation) and that he found “fat” women beautiful, so beautiful that he actually had a fetish for big women getting stuck places and having to squeeze by things while they walked.
Now, to each their own, but this sent me into a full tailspin of absolute hate. Disgusted rage for myself. I started associating the word “fat” with the notion that it meant lazy, sloppy, dirty, disgusting, uneducated, unattractive and useless.
I swore I would never be a “fat” girl ever again.
I lost seventy pounds that year (fifty I would gain back and start the vicious cycle of yo-yoing twenty, thirty for years to come).
I started all my bad behaviors again. Why? Because once again, I felt like all eyes were on me.
I shied away from friends, social events, wore baggy unflattering clothes, had a bad attitude, and put zero effort into finding what made me feel beautiful at my size. I used food restriction, binging and purging, irrational behavior to justify the fact that being “fat” just made me angry. I hated having attention put on me so if I did go anywhere, I sat quietly, and hid behind the shadows of my friends and family.
Intimacy was hard for me. Although I had intimate relationships along the way, I would never let myself be naked. I would never let the lights be on. I would be covered up, under blankets to hide my body. My gross body. My body reminded me of an old road map made up of stretch marks and sag. I couldn’t face the fear of rejection if anyone got turned off by me.
A girl I knew from high school, but never even talked to once, because in my eyes, she was perfect, and I was not, put out an add about wanting volunteers to spend time with her so she could get her feet wet becoming a health and nutrition coach.
At this point, my marriage had already broken down, I was now a business owner, heartbroken, uncomfortable in my own skin and unable to figure out how to pick up my own pieces.
In the past five years, she has been instrumental in helping me build the woman I am today. And yes, FIVE YEARS and STILL LEARNING.
I learned how to be healthy, and although we all think, “oh fruits and vegetables make us healthy,” that truly has nothing to do with it.
First I learned how to have a healthy relationship with food. I learned how to make peace, let go of the fear of food being the enemy. I had to embrace my love of cooking and eating and find the foods that made my body and my heart feel good. I had to get right with the relationships in my life, the friendships, my family, my children. Yes, believe it or not, I was so bitter for so long that I drove a protective wedge between me and everyone else. I worked hard to open my heart and let people back in again.
Then the hardest part came along. Learning to love myself. Learning to look in the mirror and admire the woman staring back at me. Regardless of weight, hair color, clothing, I had to learn to love me. I had to find what made me strong, what made me proud, what made me fearless.
I love my body. I see it in a different light now. I appreciate it. I find it to be strong, beautiful and sexy. I love putting my headphones on after my kids go to bed and getting lost in the moment. I play music that hits my soul, and I dance. Sometimes I watch myself, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes it’s playful and fun, sometimes its sultry and slow. I truly enjoy my curves. I find gratitude for my stretch marks. 
I wear clothes that make me feel comfortable in any environment. When I walk into a room now, I command my own presence. I engage in all types of conversation and laughter with all different types of people.
I learned to loosen my grip on the “fat” mentality. I found pride for the body that I have, the person that I have grown to become. I am confident in the woman that I am and know what I bring to the table in every situation, even those that are new.
I look at women from the outside now and I hope that if they are struggling to find love for themselves, they reach out and grab ahold of an extended hand. I am a work in progress and will always be and that is exciting because the thought of becoming a better version of who I am now is absolutely invigorating.
Although there are still moments when I feel uncomfortable, they are fleeting. They come and they pass, sometimes with barely any recognition. I hope that one day soon that “fat” mentality will be completely gone, however I am thankful for the process as I don’t think I would have grown into the woman I am today, without it.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

As women, we spend countless amounts of time in our lives focusing on the things about ourselves that we aren’t happy with. We stand in the mirror and get lost in the trans of our gaze. We see stretch marks and round bellies where we once carried our children, wrinkles and lines on our face that we developed from years of smiling and laughing, and a tint of shimmery gray around our hairline indicative of the wisdom that we have gained when simple moments turned into not so easy learning experiences.
Over the last few weeks I have been reaching out to women in my life who I see as beautiful in every way and asked them a very simple question knowing well enough that the answer would take thought, heart, possibly tears, and definitely soul searching. I thought that I would escape having to deep think myself, but someone turned the question around on me, so my answer is in there as well, at the end.
What quality about who you are makes you feel beautiful? I put no timeline on how long they were given to respond, and some took longer than others. My gut tells me that if I asked for a list of qualities they didn’t like, the response would be nothing short of immediate, but that was not the case. I wanted them to dig deep and the responses were astonishing.
I hope you enjoy reading what these incredible women had to say as much as I did…
What quality about who you are makes you feel beautiful?
Susan V.- My willingness to give to people. I am a giver not a taker and people who are giving are the most beautiful.
Andonia D. – I have always felt that my nature to be loving and caring has carried me through the times when my weight was scary high. I dip into the ways which I have helped people and affected their lives when I feel rejected or judged.
Jodi P.- My ability to connect with anyone. Quality is different from features, so I pick that.
Amanda H.- Empathy for people when I’m working with people. I see how much it can help that people feel listened to.
Marie B.- I’m pretty laid back and I try to create an environment that is nurturing for others. I love Jesus yet I don’t push Him on anyone. It is the Jesus in me, however, that others are drawn to. That is true beauty and love. I am grateful God gave me self confidence and an unconditional love for self and others. I am blessed.
Lisa N.- Having been through a lot myself, I am very sensitive and realize everyone is fighting their own battle. I have compassion and a desire to help and do good for others. I cry when I see people’s dreams come true and like to see people happy and feeling good; it’s infectious and makes me filled with hope and hope makes me feel beautiful.
Sandy S.- My heart, my loyalty, my empathy. I always appreciate my Irish eyes which have been passed down through generations. I love with every ounce I have left in me. I am loyal and 100% real and true but it is never reciprocated. I am empathetic not by choice, but it is who I am and it overcomes me. I love more and it makes me more loyal; huts me a ton because I take on emotions around me.
Alison- My nurturing instincts and my heart, how I always care about people who are close to me and love doing things for them.
Amy R.- I feel like being genuine makes me feel beautiful. No time for nonsense.
Courtney R.- I think we tend to lean towards outward appearance when we think of being beautiful, but if I had to say another attribute of how I feel beauty in my mind it would be how I think I make others feel and what I do to give back or help others… I’d rather have a beautiful and giving soul over physical beauty any day of the week.
Maggie- Being a mother, being a woman, a nurse. Being pansexual; polyamorous. Being Puerto Rican and bilingual. I can sing; I am relatively funny.
Kristen V- My slamming personality. I’m just not afraid to live unapologetically. 100% myself after years of quieting my personality and dimming my light to make others more comfortable. I’m loud… I’m super fun… I’m hilarious… and I’m not sorry.
Olivia- My bubbly personality. Pretty much how I love to be happy and make people laugh.
Grace T.- My sense of humor.
Julia- What makes me feel beautiful is being with people I love, laughing and allowing myself to just be in the present moment. Whenever I’m stressing about the past or future it robs me from the ability to appreciate what is right in front of me. When I can recognize life is beautiful, I feel beautiful.  
Allison N.- My willingness to always come to someone’s aid and help with something (some people think I’m crazy).
Lisa B.- I don’t sugar coat my brutal honesty and sarcasm.
Brittany C. - My silly, goofy, funny personality.
And lastly, thinking really hard about myself, I would have to say, what makes me feel most beautiful is my tenacious spirit; I give of myself unconditionally. If I am invested in something or someone it is with my whole heart. I look only for the good and work hard to make sure that I am putting in all I have, to give and that it is genuine and true. I love to see others smile and hear them laugh. I love to provide a space and time for people to be their authentic selves. Holding doors, paying for a stranger’s coffee, bringing people together, and leaving my footprint on the world truly feels like my purpose. When I stand back in the corner, silently, and watch everything unfold, that is when I truly feel the most beautiful.
I wish everyone the happiest of Thanksgivings. Don’t forget to be thankful for yourself and to eat that fourth piece of pie!

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

I still see that fat girl.

Last week I had a conversation with one of my closest girlfriends. She told me that she could not wait to share her accomplishments with me. She has lost inches and pounds and has put her heart and soul into setting goals and crushing them.

I was overjoyed for HER joy, but then she said something that we all have thought when going through a body change. “I just don’t see it. I still see the fat girl.”

I couldn’t reprimand her. I couldn’t get annoyed. I’ve been there. So many of us have.

Looking in the mirror and adjusting what we see is the most difficult part of change. We have a certain image imprinted in our brains of what we think we see rather than what’s right in front of us. We have spent years formulating an opinion of our physical self.

Although we may never be able to completely reverse our mental reflection, we definitely can alter it.

We can adjust our harsh opinions of ourselves.

Instead of getting in front of the mirror and picking at the parts of our bodies that we hate the most, why not make it our mission to fall in love with the things about us that make us the incredible humans that we are.

Make a list of all the things we find happiness in. Smile ourselves, pick out a great outfit, a swanky piece of jewelry, anything that will make our vibe shine.

We are all allowed moments of critique, that will always be a thing, but how about we make it our mission to turn it around faster than before?
Find love, find peace, and spread body positivity not only to each other, but to ourselves as well.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Does it make you feel like a hypocrite when you struggle to practice what you preach?
I’ve learned throughout my journey (I don’t call it recovery because I don’t personally feel like we ever truly recover from self-abusive tendencies, I believe that we learn the tools to channel our triggers in a different direction) that setbacks will happen.
It’s comfortable and easy to go back to our old habits, our old ways. Who wants that new pair of stiff shoes that squeeze your toes and give you heel blisters when you can slip your feet into that nice cozy pair of old shoes when you just need comfort?
It’s sad to say but when we take that drug, throw back that drink or purge into the toilet, it’s almost like saying, “hello old friend, I’ve missed you.” It is the easiest way to take whatever it may be, frustration, lack of control, sadness, anger, and soothe that pain.
When it comes to me, I’ve always turned to food restriction. Its not scary. It doesn’t hurt. I feel no hunger pains, it’s calming. It’s this feeling of yes, I can control this. I can figure this one out.  
I’m writing this blog almost two days in. I just don’t want to do it. I don’t want to eat. I don’t have the desire to force my body to have to work to digest anything. It has nothing to do with how my jeans fit or what my body looks like with no clothes on. It has nothing to do with a number on the scale (I don’t do that shit anyway) or the size of my thighs. It’s emotional.
I woke up this morning feeling like that hypocrite. I was supposed to write a blog on a topic that I find so extremely important (I promise, that’s next on the list), I talked my friend through a binge/purge last night and expressed the importance on why she didn’t need to take that road, but here I am. As defiant as ever, spiteful towards only myself.
I did exactly what I tell everyone else to do and I reached out. I sent an SOS to my lifeline and within minutes I was on the phone letting it all flow. I told her how I couldn’t believe that I would even go down this route again especially since I make it my life’s efforts to throw everyone I know the rope to help pull themselves back to safety. She reminded me that it’s okay to have a setback. Its okay to use my struggle to help other people and it’s okay to take the rest of my life to work on it.
It’s easier for me now to recognize that my actions are only hurting and not helping. I have a faster turn around than I used to. What was then weeks before I would let go of the death grip I had on food restriction, is now days. I know what I need to do to bounce back, but I can honestly say it can’t be forced. It will be on my terms, when I am ready. The fork to the mouth is not the hardest part though. The hardest part is the work that absolutely must be done before I can move onwards and upwards. It is a little bit of talking it out, a little bit of working out a plan, and a whole lot of soul searching.