October 21, 2023

Life Is What You Make It

Why, hello there.  It's been too long.  Where do I begin?  I honestly don't know how to begin. Story of my life.  Well, I think a good update is worth noting here, as well as a check-in or touching-base if you will, of my life a week away from turning 41. 

I'm currently pursuing a master's degree in applied nutrition, which for me, is very out of place since I never was, nor still am a studious/college "person,"  Everyone knows at least one person who is that type. I decided to do this thing called,  “ go back to school”  because for the last five years, I was searching for something to fulfill my life, other than finding love and becoming a mother.  Something was missing, and sometimes I think there might still be something missing.  Do we ever really find that "thing" that instantly perks us up in life? Maybe some do, although, we have to remember that the meaning of happiness is very subjective. However, this really has nothing to do with happiness, that is, the thing I have been "searching" for to "complete" me.  But at some point, during my day, I do feel happy with something.  It's usually the mundane, tiny things, yet, they are important to me.  Like having a kick-ass workout, hearing a song that reminds me of my mom or grandmom, my daughter saying something in her own unique way and I laugh so hard.  These small things are vital to a "happy" life, whatever that means, though it’s worth mentioning.

 That thing for me that I think was missing wasn’t nutrition, though that is something that I became increasingly interested in, more so since 2019, and started researching the topic, the jobs, the careers, different aspects of nutrition and reaching out to folks working in that field via LinkedIn.  And also, thank goodness for LinkedIn.  It’s been the only spot where I can message someone, connect and follow a company with the click of a mouse and all in under 60 seconds. But that thing that I was searching for, and still am, was trying to be a professional in something.  I always had “career” at the forefront of my mind.  But I didn’t have a career or specialized in anything.  I always worked dead-end jobs and wasted time. I have always felt completely useless, hopeless, unsuccessful, and yeah, a failure. I promise this isn’t me having a pity party.  I do not believe getting a master’s in nutrition will give me success-far from it.  But my opinions and tangents on the education system will have to be saved for another time. I decided that I was indeed passionate about health, food and fitness; it’s all I thought about for at least four years.  I loved watching people cook, sharing what they ate in a day, watching dietitian’s debunk really bad myths about nutrition and what influencers today keep posting about to the younger youth and it’s just bloody awful!

Anyway, I say all of that because at this point in my life, if I have found my passion, it would definitely be nutrition and health. I still don’t believe I was living my life the way I wanted it.  I initially thought that going back to school is at least something important to do and it would keep me busy.  I wanted to gain control of my life again, and school helped. For a while, I was an accidental stay at home mom when I got laid off from my dead-end corporate job back in 2017.  Since then, I have stayed busy with doing things that made me busy and so that I didn’t become a total depressed zombie.  I began a daily exercise routine, cleaned the house a lot, learned how to knit,  helped out at my kid’s school when I could, walked the dog a lot, blogged ( clearly not enough though), read a ton of books, ( mostly in 2020- I think I read 7 books that year-that’s a lot for me). In a typical year, I *might* read 2 books. But still, that thing was missing.  When I decided to study nutrition and pursue a master’s program, I felt incredible imposter syndrome take over. It still doesn’t seem right and I only have about ten months left to go.

I have learned a lot about the field so far in the past year, and I have also had a great part time job at a rehab hospital in the diet office, and I am currently working part time at a local high school working in the kitchen.  I would like to work within a school district and work in the field of school nutrition.  I am just trying to get any experience I can right now. If I am being totally honest, both jobs have been awesome learning experiences.  It’s honest, busy work and I am here for it.  I also plan on volunteering for a food bank next month doing cooking demos in schools.  My anxiety creeps in every day to remind me that I probably should have done the part time jobs and volunteer five years ago. This is called self-talk, if you weren’t aware, but not in a good way. Or one could call it, “telling myself a story.”  But, it’s partially true.  I could have more experience under my belt in these fields by now. The thing is, I didn’t know I wanted to get into nutrition back then.  Hindsight can be a real bitch. The past is the past, but pretty much every day I am forced to shut down those thoughts of “should haves” and “could haves,” and just live in the now.  Live today.  Live in the present.  What’s done is done.  Look forward to tomorrow and to the future. Ha!  It’s easier said than done, though.

I’m nervous for what’s to come after I am finished my degree.  I am nervous that I won’t find a full-time job shortly after. On the same token, I do have connections thanks to LinkedIn and from my jobs and hopefully from volunteering.  I job search everyday when I get a chance just to see what is out there.  Nutrition education is so important, especially for low-income individuals and for people who are in certain nutrition supplement programs or need help with cooking nutritious meals and understanding nutrition education materials.   MyPlate can help, which was developed by the UDSA in 2010, but that’s a small slice of it.  I want to help others understand nutrition and how they can utilize different foods to feel better mentally, physically and emotionally.  I am not sure if this will bring me that “thing” I’ve been searching for to feel a sense of satisfaction,  but what I do know is that I feel energized anytime I come across a post about nutrition, regardless of the topic.  I love discussing food, macro and micronutrients, different diseases and conditions, different diets, intolerance's, allergies, I could go on and on.  I think that’s something worth mentioning here because until now, I was not experiencing this feeling for a long, long time.  A feeling of something that I understand , I have knowledge about, and excites me when I hear or see it.  Could this possibly be a feeling of satisfaction?  I’m not sure yet, but each day I am still working on myself to be the best version of me that I can be, and I am learning so much in such a short amount of time.

When I bit the bullet and decided to go back to school, I felt compelled to do so.  I figured I had nothing to lose because there was nothing else going on in my life that was of importance or that filled many voids for me at the time.  I felt like I needed to do this for myself.  And I was initially scared to begin again with school because as previously mentioned, I am not studious or a fan of school/college.  What I like about it this time around , is that with a master’s degree, the courses, all of them, are catered to a specific field of interest.  That’s how it should be from the get go in school.  Please don’t get me started on undergraduate work.  English majors are still required to take three math courses and three science courses. I’m guesstimating here, but it’s similar to that. We have really just lost our minds. Waste of time, energy and money. But I’ll stop there. And so, this time around,  I have been enjoying at least one aspect of each course, as each of them relate to a concept involving the topic of nutrition.  I took a required Research Methods course, my least favorite so far, but I can still see why that was required.  Although, I’m still not at all partial to the bell curve.  Doing research, looking at the literature, citing references to support claims, that’s important to understand and it’s necessary, especially when it comes to the field of health care and science-based information.

And so, to sum up,  today I am living, thriving, busy, pre-occupied, still anxious, and happy.  I’m not happy all day, every day, but there are moments in my every day, when I feel happy.  I am not sure if I’ll ever feel 100% satisfied with my life, and this is simply because I feel we are always evolving.  We are not staying still, we can’t.  We are always on the move in some form. But also, do we ever really reach a point in our lives where we end up figuring it all out?  Do we actually feel 100% fulfilled every day?  I think we can get there, but I think that’ll happen if and when most of us eventually just let our guard down and stop being so hard on ourselves. It’ll take work and planning.  I know I am still so hard on myself, especially when it comes to finding my purpose and feeling satiated. I have gotten good at resting when I feel I need it, listening to my body, and not caring about what others think. And at almost 41 years of age, I can confidently say that I don’t care about others opinions.  I just don’t have the space in my brain to give any F’s about what Susan or Karen thinks.  I think I drew that line at age 37.   But that doesn’t mean that I don’t get upset sometimes when I am not being productive and think I should be.  Again, pressure. It’s always there. If you are a human being who wants to live some type of busy, fulfilled, fun, important and stressful life, then expect to plan.  Expect anxiety and pressure and routines and habits and exhaustion.  I can’t picture a life where this stuff isn’t present, but unless you want to sit on the couch all day with no one to worry about but yourself and not do anything of meaning, then this is your life.  All the things are there and you must accept them.   I  am finally good at managing myself and my time, and over the years, I have built healthy habits that help with my mental health, but I still have my moments.  Does anyone else talk to themselves every day?  Because I do.  I need to. I am either talking myself in or out of things constantly, and it can be draining, but again, this is who I am.  One thing at a time. One day at a time.  Life is not always pretty and we must manage it in ways that work for us.

As I soon reach another trip around the sun, 41 times to be exact, I can tell you that in this moment, right now, I am feeling physically tired and sore, but happy.  And grateful.  I feel loved and relaxed.  I have things to look forward to and where I know I can try my best in all the things I’ll  be doing starting on Monday which will bring another busy, stressful, fun, chaotic pressure-filled week.  But in this moment,  I am grateful to be alive and I am looking forward to the future.

I hope to see you real soon, friends.

Thanks for reading.


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