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  • Jason Wood

The Little Things

My mom had an affinity for the little things in life. She spent the majority of her childhood and adult life struggling to get by. I can only imagine the sheer pain and strife she faced over the years. She was forced onto the tough road early, which is something that connects me to her.

Through it all, her children came first. I used to hear stories about how she went to bed hungry some nights after a double shift at the restaurant. She did so to ensure my older siblings had something to eat. Her first two marriages ended in heartbreak but the third time was the charm. She married my dad in 1985, the year I was born. She could finally exit life’s tumultuous highway for easy street. Similar to how my husband, Matt, appeared like a lifeboat to save me from the endless doggy paddle in life’s cold grasp.

I look back on mom with astonishment. She always wore a smile through the pain. It was her love for the little things in life that helped her survive. The mom I knew was campy and could laugh herself into a coughing fit over the littlest thing. She collected McDonald’s merchandise, yes the woman should have been honorary CEO because we were there everyday. But I’ll you what, the joy of a teeny beany baby or a replica old school McDonald’s restaurant would bring her warmed even the coldest hearts.

Family vacations produced wonderful memories but should she see a deer while we were driving, her eyes would light up. She’d get home and tell her friends all about it! What could be the dumbest thing to some would make her giddy with delight. As I mentioned, she had a rough life until she met my dad. He owned his own asphalt paving company, which provided us with a comfortable lifestyle but she never needed anything money could buy, well except for her daily McDonald’s Coke.

She didn’t want fancy jewelry or perfume; Avon suited her just well. Forget French bakeries, her eclairs from the Jewel-Osco were a delicacy. And, I’ll always cherish those trips to the Hostess Outlet for half priced Ho-Ho’s. She was a Wonder Bread kind of lady who loved garage sales and the simple life. I’m positive that is how she survived tough times. I’m lucky to have inherited that love of the small, simple things from her.

It is proving crucial to my recovery process. Orthorexic thoughts badger my mind on a daily basis. Just because I am in recovery does not mean they vanish. Like the memories my mom must have faced from her tough years, orthorexic thoughts will always be in the mind. But now I look at the small stuff and find reason to celebrate.

What is the small stuff you might ask? Well just last week we ran out of almond milk. Orthorexic Jason would be in a tailspin but Jason 2.0, as I like to refer to myself now, fought back against damaging thoughts and reached for the small carton of regular milk on the bottom shelf of the fridge. After all, a bowl of cereal is not near as tasty without the milk! I poured that milk over my shredded wheat, silencing the critics in my head, who told me this would result in certain weight gain and maybe death. That first spoonful hit my lips like a runner crossing the finish line. You know how the winner of the Indy 500 always celebrates with milk in victory lane. That was basically how I felt! I could have poured that milk all over me with a fist pump of glee, but I’m not about to waste food!

I defEATed orthorexia in that battle! The war is far from over but that night I was the victor. That was one of the best bowls of cereal I’ve had in a long time. Think about it, a bowl of cereal! Like a half priced Twinkie or a doe on the side of the road. To most it means nothing at all but to me it was a gold medal event.

I’ve recognized more of these little accomplishments as recovery progresses. While out of my “safe” whole wheat pita the other day, I reached for once villainous naan instead. My voice trumpeted with joy as I showed Matt what I was about to eat. Again, so little to some but not to me.

Recovery does not occur overnight. I’ve said before that my mantra is to TRUST the process, then EMBRACE the process, and eventually ENJOY the process. It’s easy to lose sight of the finish line but these little accomplishments along the way make it much easier to keep pushing through. If you are out there battling through your own recovery, take a page out of mom’s book and appreciate the small things. Each hurdle we overcome, big or small, deserves recognition and celebration!


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