Carbs: 6, Me: 0

bagelsWe are nearing the end of the first quarter of 2017. Before I became a teacher, the end of the quarter meant additional stress to get commercial real estate leasing agreements negotiated and signed. Now that I’m a middle school language arts teacher, the end of the quarter means essays and tests to grade, report cards, and progress reports. This weekend I gave myself a progress report. Carbs: 6, me: 0. In tennis terms, that would be a bagel. (Who knew?)

My love and ultimate renouncement of carbs played out in my previously published essay, Scared Skinnier. I was doing so well, until, the holidays, a/k/a the mother of all diet-related battlefields. My birthday was in October, where I celebrated a major milestone, documented in The Big One, quickly followed by a trip to Puerto Rico for Thanksgiving, and then Christmas. It’s been tough getting on back on track, and I’m none too happy with the pounds that have crept back on.

It’s amazing how quickly a bad habit will return in full force. First it was the grilled bread that came with my moules frites for my birthday dinner. Then it was freshly made corn tortillas served with rice and beans, I mean, it was Puerto Rico, for heaven’s sake. And, Christmas, seriously, have you ever seen the “haul” a teacher gets, both edible and non-edible, just before Christmas break? And, then Valentine’s Day…the only thing better than a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup is a Reese’s Peanut Butter Heart. Basically, from October 11th to now has been one long, slippery, slide down the rabbit hole. That’s why I declared this past weekend as THE END. As in, stop the madness. No more. I’m done. Game, set, match. Fini.

But, deciding to go out with a bang and not a whimper, which is what winter is doing here in the DC metropolitan area with a late-season snow storm bearing down on us, I had a bagel this weekend.

We had an overnight guest on Friday night and we were all going to Mass early Saturday morning. My husband suggested coffee and bagels put out for our guest to help herself before Mass. Late Saturday afternoon, staring at the bag of bagels, I caved. We used to have a tuna bagel from Bagel City on Saturdays for lunch, but I haven’t had a bagel since July of 2015, when my ill-fated visit to a cardiologist put an end to my relationship with bread. Since then I’ve subsisted on Magic Pops, a break-like creation that looks like a six-inch flour tortilla but is only 4 grams of carbs with a really pleasing crunch. I cover them in peanut butter, cottage cheese, ham and cheese, tomatoes and mayo, avocado, tuna, Nutella, and anything else I can think of as a sandwich replacement.

As you can imagine, the toasted everything bagel with Irish butter I enjoyed Saturday afternoon was delicious. I had nearly forgotten how wonderful that dense chewiness is in a good bagel. I could almost hear the angels singing as I ate it slowly with a steaming cup of tea. In fact, it was so good, I had the exact same thing again on Sunday afternoon. See what I mean? Classic slippery slope.

I’ve declared Wednesday my restart day, deciding today that to start eliminating carbs the day before a major snow storm is just plain ridiculous. Yes, I will have to contend with Public Enemy No. 1 over Easter break, the Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg, but enough is enough. Let the games begin (again).

A Sea of Silver

braceletIt’s a thin bangle of sterling silver bearing a sliding charm, simple and low-profile like much of my jewelry. Etched into the silver charm shaped as a heraldic shield is a mighty ship, sails billowing in the wind. The bracelet, made by a popular
and trendy company, is called Steady Vessel: Journey/Fortune/Change. The card that accompanied the bracelet states, “Vessels are associated with discovery and fortune. Fortune awaits you. Set sail for life’s treasures.”

This was my Christmas present from my older daughter, who is my first of life’s treasures. How well she knows me and my love of water. On her Christmas card, she wrote that this bracelet was to remind me of all our times across the sea, our two years living abroad as a family when she was in middle school, and of all of my times on the bayou, because I was born and raised in southeast Louisiana with the Mississippi River for a back yard and the bayous leading to the Gulf of Mexico for a front yard.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved the water, whether being in it, being on it, or just viewing it. Whether perched atop the levee of the Mississippi River on my first stop whenever I returned home or high above the Atlantic Ocean on my first trip to Europe at the age of 16, I have been filled with peace and inspiration whenever I am near the water. For several years, I rode the ferry to the old courthouse in Plaquemines Parish for my summer job working in the Clerk of Court’s office. I’ve taken an overnight ferry from Italy to Greece, and I’ve taken the Cape May ferry from Delaware to New Jersey. I’ve been on oyster boats, shrimp boats, deep sea fishing boats, whale-watching boats, and two cruise ships. And, near the end of each school year, I board an ancient skipjack and sail out of the port of Baltimore for a hands-on science field trip with my 8th graders.

This past fall on my 60th birthday, I paused to reflect upon my many blessings: a lifetime of satisfying work in two different careers; 27 years of marriage to my best friend and soulmate; raising two strong, independent, intelligent, and talented young women; and an enduring foundation of faith passed on to me by my parents. Undaunted by the notion of starting my 7th decade of life, I look forward to what the future holds in store. As I slip on this little sea of silver each morning, I find great inspiration in the symbolism of this bracelet, for I am the steady vessel, sailing ahead into the wind, looking forward to my next journey, my next fortune, my next change.