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Getting Tough | KERRI EIKER

Getting Tough


“When the going gets tough the tough get going.” The affirmation has been loudly bouncing around in my head amongst all the other incessant chatter. The antiquated cliche holds truth I believe, because the going certainly got tough for me recently and I am most definitely anything but inert!  After my marriage brutally and abruptly ended in January it was excruciating to take the next breath much less the next step. Somehow, I managed to pick up the shattered pieces of my heart and step into life rather than hide from it.  Either was an option.

Quiet suddenly and drastically my daily routine has changed.  For decades I have enjoyed my role as part-time yoga teacher/full-time mom and wife.  The whirlwinds of life swept me up and dropped me in a new world!  I am now a full-time college student/full time single mom/heavy-part-time yoga teacher.  My world of abundant flexible time and  low financial stress have been turned upside down.

My first week of classes the cliché “early to bed early to rise…” inspired me to set my alarm for 4:30 AM.  This situation has been hard on the kids, of course. To keep life as “normal” as possible the one thing I decided that WOULDN’T change was their healthy diets. I made Joshua’s breakfast. Before before packing his lunch I paused to answer some texts and emails.  In my recent past reality I was not exactly focused or organized about my time.  I had plenty of it!   Laundry distracted me from the emails, the dog and cats distracted me from the laundry, a rug that needed to be vacuumed distracted me from the pets, and before I knew it Josh was about to go out the front door.

For Joshua’s lunch I had prepped and planned to pack a honey mustard chicken sandwich with crispy bacon and cheddar cheese, a garden salad with grilled chicken. Oven baked kale chips with nutritional yeast and olive oil, chocolate chip cookies and sweet tea.  All organic and made from scratch of course.  I consider my growing and ravenous teenager  pampered, not spoiled.

“Stop!”  I called and ran to the front door.

“Mom!  I’m going to miss the bus!”

“Yes you are!”  I ordered and sternly directed him back into the kitchen.  The bus drove by.

“I think you’re the only mom ever who makes her kids late for school because they don’t have lunch!”  Josh acted annoyed but I could tell he was grateful.

I dropped him off at school and watched as he slowly climbed the steps.  He didn’t look back and wave like he did when he was little.  I didn’t really expect him to.

My little lunch bag was stuffed in my purse.  Inside were a bag of nuts, a hard boiled egg and an apple.

After that first week of school existing off of hard boiled eggs and nuts I realized I needed focus, order, and discipline. I created a food schedule: Friday evening grocery shopping-Saturday morning marathon cooking for the week.

College students are POOR!  While I fully expect abundance in all forms including financial to flow back into my life, my current reality is frugality and strict routine. I no longer regularly shop at my beloved Common Market or Wegman’s (although I know I’ll return when balance and abundance return to me) My new store is ALDI!

On my first trip to the discount grocery store I skeptically walked down the aisle feeling as though I were in a foreign land. Tentatively,  I reached for a box of granola cereal that caught my eye; coconut, hemp, chia, vanilla. To my surprise it was Organic and non GMO! I realized I was hungry and just opened the box for a little bite. That $1.86 box of cereal was better than my usual $6.00 brand.  I found organic nut butters, organic dairy, there are even meat selections that are organic!  The produce, I don’t think is organic, but it mostly is grown in the US and it was fresh and perfectly ripe.  My entire purchase came to $204.78.  The volume of food I bought would equal around $375.00 at my usual jaunts; taking into account instead of buying ahi tuna steaks, truffles, and saffron my purchases were now chicken legs, button mushrooms, and dried parsley.

I brought home my loot and began to cook for the week. Chicken Tikka Masala, Chicken noodle soup, split pea soup.  I cringed a little opening the bag of frozen spinach and ricotta ravioli. I sort of felt guilty not making everything from scratch, but the marinara sauce and shredded cheese topped dish turned out to be a  perfectly enjoyable comfort food.

About two months ago I didn’t know how I would ever survive the pain.  When the going gets tough-when our worlds are shattered we do, in fact, fall apart. My heart shattered into millions of pieces.  It did take a great amount of courage or “toughness” to gather all those razor sharp splinters and step into the next chapter of my life.

I drove to school Monday morning, my lunch bag as full as Joshuas! Before class, my very wise teacher asked if he could sit and talk with me.  I dabbed at my eyes, sniffed and said “Sure.”  After some words of compassion, wisdom, and advice he paused and locked his eyes on mine. “I want you to hear this.”  I nodded and braced myself.  “When are you going to stop feeling sorry for yourself and get on with life?”

At ground zero, humbled and in need of guidance I didn’t react defensively to this question.  I sat in silence for a moment, and then I got it.  I remembered my 23 year old son putting his hands on my shoulders and saying “Mom, this happens to people EVERY. DAY.”

It’s just life. And its absolutely perfect. I chose in that moment to get tough and get on with life.  My wise teacher held a crooked smile that produced dimples in his cheek.  His eyes twinkled.  I’m pretty sure this 77 year old man, who is clearly a lover of life, has the ability to read peoples souls. He knew I was “getting tough”.

“Oh, and one more thing.” he said as I closed my text book.  “You need to eat good!”  (Deliberate poor grammar use is part his charm.)

“Now THAT I have under control!”  I said.  He smiled with both corners of his mouth.  Then he patted my head and with mocked gruffness said “Get to class!”

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