Dallas and Melissa,
You changed my life three years ago. Melissa, I wrote to you, desperate for a life-long solution to an eating disorder that ravaged me for two years then haunted me for twelve more. With your encouragement, I embarked upon my first Whole30 and became the person I always faked I was; I’m becoming the person I always hoped to be.
Who was I then? I was the star student, the bookworm, the captain of the water polo team, the MVP of the paddling team. I taught myself how to surf. I taught myself Python. I wrote on unlined paper in 10 point font with a 0.5 mechanical pencil and never turned in a problem set with a mistake, a strike-out, or an eraser mark. I earned a scholarship and made my way through college. I was the darling of the physics department, their brightest student. I won a philosophy award for a thesis on quantum mechanics, unprecedented. I traveled to Osaka and Key West and Alaska, measuring nuclear states and wave impacts and sonar, finding results of significant consequence. I was a blown Easter egg: beautiful, delightful, yet so very empty. I could calculate the first excited energy state of the helium atom by hand but I could not bring food to my mouth without also naming myself disgusting, slovenly, a heifer. I could charm Oxford tutors and hockey players alike but my heart lacked a smile. I could not keep my demons at bay; I could only try to keep one step ahead: physically running miles on end until exhaustion, hiding myself in tricky passages of Rachmaninoff through hours of piano practice and burning the midnight oil to lose myself in doctorate-level problems chasing a moment’s respite in that single-minded immersion called “flow.”
Who am I now? I am all of the above, without the “couldn’t”s. I am a mom. I am a wife. I am a friend. I am a person who can take a bite and thank the animal whose life sustains mine, the people with whom I’m sharing my meal, the sun and the plants and the soil and the water and God for being part of that great big circle they sing about in The Lion King. I enjoy running, I enjoy the piano, I enjoy solving problems, but I don’t kill myself to do them and I won’t die if I don’t. I love my body. I am blessed in its health, in its strength, in its motion, and I nurture and tend to these gifts. My soul loves more often than it hates. I sing more often than I am scared. I create; I make.
Why would you like me on your team? During my dark ages, I accumulated a great amount of skill, the most valuable being skill-acquisition itself. Now I do the same but with far more joy. I learn quickly and I learn well. I am meticulous. I blog on WordPress at snatchingzion.com. I’m social in a purposeful way: time-wasting, no; connecting, yes. My Instagram is @snatchingzion, and I pin at https://www.pinterest.com/untilzion/. Microsoft Office is a piece of cake. I am a voting, concerned, but always proud citizen of the United States of America.
As for “cheese,” soggy pulverized cashews fall under the dairy chapter of the Karma Sutra of Sex With Your Pants On. No, such “cheese” is not Whole-30 compliant. Instead, try cashews, chopped but not destroyed, a generous squeeze of lemon juice, and a sprinkling of sea salt over a big bowl of fresh greens and flank steak. Most things are better when you’re not pretending they’re something else. And the best cheese is stinky.