Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Year's Reflection

Recently I've been reflecting on what I have been doing and what I may have "accomplished" over the past year after semi-retiring. By semi-retiring I mean, I finished up several voluntary responsibilities on various professional boards (and have resisted the requests to add new professional responsibilities even though they would be meaningful and enjoyable), and I accepted only three speaking engagements with my criteria being those invitations that would give me an easy opportunity to visit with my two grown sons who live in Virginia and Washington. In addition, I have stopped: (1) actively marketing my books A Dietitian's Cancer Story and Historia de Cancer de una Dietista, (2) updating my web site on a monthly basis (plus responding to the numerous individual inquiries through my web site), and (3) developing the content for a quarterly Email newsletter.

What have I been doing? Hmmm, I needed to reflect on that. I have done lots and lots of walking, playing with, and caring for our dog (initially our son Eric's dog) Kaya daily and often walking with her 2-3 times each day. I enjoy that immensely, and obviously so does Kaya. I have been far more active in our vegetable garden than years past, and in addition, this year I actually got our annual flowers planted before Memorial Day. In many previous years, I did so much speaking in May and June that it was often mid-late June before the impatiens, etc, got planted, let alone the yard weeded and tidied up.

I have done more reading for pleasure than ever before. Do I read racy novels? No, I never have had time for that, and I don't anticipate that I ever will start. However, I have read lots and lots of non-fiction books that focus on food and food systems, books in the genre of The Omnivore's Dilemma. Have I taken up golf? No, I am a birder and would much rather spend my time, both alone and with friends, without the distraction of a golf club and aggravation of score keeping. I have done more birding around town than in years past. In addition, I do love to cook and have spent much more time exploring new cookbooks plus the ones I've had for decades. I love shopping at the local farmer's markets and have taken the time to do that.

I also love being with my friends and making new friends. I have had more time for both opportunities, with my new friends being made through our local Slow Food chapter and also a group of local Lady Food Bloggers.

Oh yes, blogging!! How could I forget that? I looked back over the times I have posted something on my blog and was astounded to see that dating from my first posting last year on June 21, 2007, I have done 113 entries to date. Wow, I had not even thought about the possibility that I had done over 100 blog entries over the past year. Yes, that represents a lot of time, but it is time very well spent that has been both meaningful and enjoyable for me (and I confess that I do hope my readers feel the same).

Have I cleaned out closets? No, but I do feel like I have finally had time to clean out some of the closets in my brain, which finally made room for a great idea (!!), in fact I would call it a bona-fide brainstorm. This whiz-bang of an idea hit me while in the shower a few weeks ago, where over the years I have had other similar bursts of creativity and coalescing of ideas that have been hanging out in the periphery of my brain.

I ran the idea of starting a book club by a couple of my local dietitian friends, and 100% of my small sample size thought it was a great idea and even nudged me when I needed to move from talk to action (thanks, Janet!). So, I have done it. :-) I have organized a book club that brings together many of my joys by gathering my closest dietitian friends all in one place once/month, at my house where I'm cooking a simple dinner for them made from as many local foods as possible, we're going to be reading books and journal articles focused on our dysfunctional food system, the resultant unhealthy eating that is so prevalent in country (and increasingly world-wide), food and climate change along with potential actions and solutions, we're obtaining continuing education credits for our discussions as required to maintain our professional registration (RD), making a monthly donation to a very worthy non-profit local community building organization called Growing Hope, and last but not least, building our own community, which is still unnamed, although the Ann Arbor Sustainable Strawberry Sisterhood has been suggested. :-)

We had our first discussion and dinner two days ago. It was a heart-warming experience, and I have to confess that I am still feeling both jazzed and content, two days later. I'll post up some photos and a description of our meal in a subsequent entry.

Having been a cancer survivor for such a long time, I will share with you that I have found that making plans and having future activities to look forward to are essential on-going components of my cancer journey. Thus I am very very excited to have both had a chance to review my activities of this past year and see how what I did and how I spent my time have led to the development of an exciting personal and professional activity for my upcoming year, with something to look forward to each and every month of the year that will be both fun, delicious, and meaningful.

I'll end with the blessing I read at our book club dinner. I've used it before as a blog ending, but I want to use it again because it just seemed so perfect for this dinner, this group of friends, all my blog readers, and our connections to each other:

May the food we are eating make us aware of
the interconnections between the universe
and us, the earth and us, and all other living
species and us. Because each bite contains
in itself the life of the sun and the earth,
may we see the meaning and value of life
from these precious morsels of food.

~~Adapted from Thich Nhat Hanh

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

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