My Addiction

 

chocolate

My addiction began very early in life.  My fiends and family may have known something was up……but I don’t think they would have ever guessed how bad things got.

I have a picture of me as a very young girl in the kitchen of my parents home.  I’m standing on a stool, a big wooden spoon in my hand, chocolate pudding (or chocolate cake batter) all over my face.  I was sooooo happy.  The sweetness racing though my body and triggering the dopamine that creates the ultimate chocolate high.  It could have stopped there.  But we all know that it didn’t.  I was hooked.

choc bars

I remember being in elementary school and getting my allowance on Saturday mornings.  I would take that money and walk about a mile to the closest corner store to buy……you guessed it, chocolate.  But I felt guilty buying too much at one store so I would split it up and go to three stores.  Harry’s Market, the grocery store and then the drug store.  I figured I would get less disapproving stares if I bought one candy bar at a time and not three.  Whatever it took to get my fix.

Then there was Switzerland when I was in my early twenties.  Some days it would be a toss up.  Would I have dinner or some chocolate?  I could have potatoe soup anytime.  But Toblerone wasn’t readily available in North America then and I may not taste it again for, well, weeks. A few weeks after we had left Switzerland my traveling companions gave me some Swiss chocolate for my birthday.  I think I scared them a little when I hugged them.  For half an hour.

toblerone

In my thirties not a day would go by that I wouldn’t have chocolate.  And I wasn’t picky.  Mars Bars.  Mint Patties.  Maltesers.  Oh Henry.  Lindt Bars.  Hersheys Kisses.  Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  Halloween Minis.  Kit Kat.  Easter Eggs that I stole from my nephews.  Ferraro Rocher.  Three Musketeers.  Need I go on?  I would hit up any vending machine that would take my money.

At thirty four I went to work for Starbucks and was introduced to a new taste.  Dark chocolate.  A fellow employee once said to me.

“People who don’t like dark chocolate simply have unrefined palates”.

dark chocolate

I’m not sure that she was right but I will say that coffee does taste better with a nice piece of dark chocolate on the side.  Really it was just another option to feed the monkey on my back.

Then came Nutella.  Oh how I loved Nutella.  At first it was just a little dab on toast or a waffle.  But slowly it became a mandatory after dinner treat.  I’d quietly get a spoon out of the drawer while “doing the dishes” and dip it into the jar.  How it melted on my tongue as I licked it off the spoon.  So sweet.  So smooth.  So creamy.  The Europeans really know how to do sinful don’t they?

nutella

Then came the day that all of the sneaking and over indulging came back to haunt me.  I knew it would.  Nothing that good can last forever.  The doctor said I needed to go cold turkey.  No sugar for at least 6 weeks.  What?  Are you kidding me?

Sadly, she was not.

I knew I had to do it for my health.  I wasn’t going to last long if I didn’t make some serious changes. I did my six weeks and got clean.  That was two years ago.  Have I fallen off the wagon?  Of course.

The Best Thing in Life is moderation.

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Giving New Years a Pass

I’m not particularly looking forward to 2015. Not because of anything in particular, but because 2014 was such a great year. How can I improve on it? Can’t I just opt out of a New Year? Continue on with the one that is working so well for me? I don’t want to make any resolutions because life is good and it would appear that what I am doing already, is working. I am happier now than I have been in a long time. I am relaxed and feel good with who I am, where I’ve been and were I am going. I don’t know if I want a New Year?

The year started in Hawaii. All four of us spent two weeks enjoying all that Maui has to offer. Beautiful quiet days at the beach, snorkeling with serene sea turtles, fish tacos and cold beer for lunch and relaxed dinners on the patio. Really, it was an amazing vacation.  I had a chance to paddle board with my 18 year old son for two hours one day. Two hours of uninterrupted time to talk about life, work and the future. No cell phones allowed. For all of you with teenagers. you know that this doesn’t happen very often and is precious time.  The fact that we still had enough in common to talk about made me realize that I have raised a thoughtful, mature man.  (Holy crap, my son is a man)

Two weeks away was also a good chance for me to think through my options when it came to work. Life was getting crazy with my husband away so much and me not enjoying my job. On a warm sunny beach the decision seemed quite clear. Work? Whatever. But when we got home and life got back to normal, the decision wasn’t quite so obvious. I spent an entire weekend in early January changing my mind every half an hour. Work. Quit. Work. Quit. Thank god my husband is as patient as he is. So many reasons to continue and so many reasons to pack it in. Ultimately I decide to stop working at the end of February.

I thought that once I had decided to quit work I would immediately feel a sense of relief. Nope. Panick, guilt, stress. It took a good six months before it would really sink in that I had made the right decision and that everyone in my family was in a better place because of it. I do still feel some guilt. Usually it’s when I’m on the phone with my husband and he is telling me about how he has a meeting in one city, then is flying to another city for a site tour and then back the same day for more meetings and then working late to keep up with the work he didn’t do because he was in meetings all day. “Okay then, bye I’ve got to get to yoga” I say. Guilt. At least yoga is teaching me to be grateful for everything in my life.

So March 1st rolled around and eventually so did this blog. In hind site I went out of the gate a bit fast. I wrote A LOT in those first two or three months. Loved it, but perhaps could have saved some pieces for a later date. The world of online blogging is quite fascinating and I have learnt a lot from other bloggers and writers. When I tell people that I have a blog I get lots of different reactions. Some are interested and some sort of dismiss it as if to say “ya, you and every other person with nothing better to do”. There is some truth to that I suppose. For me it has been an outlet for the small speck of creativity in my brain that has been waiting years to come out. I’m not a “writer”, I’m not trying to change the world and I’m not trying to sell people on anything. I’m just enjoying my life and my friends and passing on the experience.

I think in my head I was hoping that not working would change how I felt, not only emotionally, but physically. I was dead wrong. In May I found myself feeling worse physically than I had in years. Tired, achy, fuzzy, bad skin. I could name a couple of others but, well, I’m not going to as nobody needs that much information. A complete overhaul of how I ate was, as far as I could see, my only option. Hardest thing I have ever done. Almost six weeks of no sugar. With a road race smack dab in the middle I needed to get off track a bit and then back on track half way through my detox, but I did it and am so glad I did. It’s not for everybody and anybody who does it should approach it in their own unique way. By the time I turned fifty in October I could finally say “I feel good inside” and truly mean it.

So here I am on January 3rd filling in the 2015 calendar and reminiscing about last year. It was a year of change and realization for me. I am comfortable in my slightly older skin, although I could do without a few of the new grey hairs. I feel a sense of contentment in my life that is new for me. I started Tweeting every day in November to recognize some small thing each day that I feel is one of The Best Things in Life. Give or take a few days, I have kept up with it. Totally not something I would have seen myself doing a few years ago, but isn’t that what life is about? At any age? Being able to make changes and start new things that bring happiness into your life? Maybe I won’t pass on New Years after all