Happy Birthday America! It’s hard to believe the Fourth of July weekend is once again coming to an end. So often we go through this holiday weekend marking the event with picnics, barbeques, and various outdoor activities. But, the 4th of July is much more than a day off of work. For me, it’s a day worth remembering and reminiscing.

I’m grateful for my independence and freedom to live in this great country. Yes, it’s the day America decided to become independent of Great Britain and represents freedom to make our own rules and be responsible for our welfare, but it also is a time to look back and remember family events—good and bad.

This morning my day began with sunny, blue skies, white puffy clouds, birds singing and a wonderful walk, talk and prayer time with my sister. No doubt, a start to a picture perfect South Florida day! Independence Day is a time for Americans to remember and celebrate what was and what is—not only for our country but for your personal desires.

Are you on course?

Although today is truly glorious day for me, somewhere someone out there is mourning something. Perhaps a family member is sick, or you lost someone you love, or maybe you personally are facing a challenge of your own. I’m certain there are many fur-children out there not too happy. I can attest to my Sage’s fear of fireworks which is inevitable this entire weekend.

Also on this day I think of  my Mom and recall several Fourth of Julys before and after she suffered a massive stroke. I am filled with joy for great memories as well as sadness. The first 4th of July after her stroke I questioned how the world could still move forward while I was suspended in gripping emotional pain.

And yet, no matter where you are in your life today, even though you might be grappling with an emotional, physical, or spiritual loss, the 4th of July must go on. It is no doubt a time for celebration, which includes: picnics, boat outings, Barbeques, et cetera, along with foods, drinks and temptations. This is the American way!

I can’t help but wonder what role food plays in illnesses, losses, and death. In my line of work (eating disorders and mood disorders) holidays can be very difficult when platters of favorite foods are presented in front of you. I have a long history of active food addiction that certainly was fired up during this very holiday weekend. My recollection brings me to our summer vacation home in Wautoma, Wisconsin where we began each morning of our holiday weekend with several boxes of glazed, chocolate, and long-john doughnuts filled with cream washed down with chocolate milk or a huge breakfast of eggs, bacon, cheese, and loaves of Italian bread slathered in butter.

Holidays meant lots of foods tempting me to eat myself into a coma. Today is different; I understand my food addiction and practice recovery every day. It’s not always easy and certainly I’m not perfect. I have witnessed in my practice, as a certified addiction professional, and certified eating disorder professional the different facets of eating disorders, none of which are easy to move from active addiction to recovery. But, it can be done.

My Mom had her own battle with food and weight. She spent all of her adult life obese and she ate large portions of high fat, salty foods. Perhaps she grew her body rather than restricted to accomplish hiding within her body. My grandmother, also a large woman, bounced from diets to bingeing. No doubt my food issues were inherited genetically and environmentally. Mom died just before her 67th birthday.

I believe unprocessed foods play a huge role in healthy minds and healthy bodies. All of my self-hypnosis CDs addresses the importance of clean eating, exercise, and spiritual recovery.

And so here we are on this glorious day. The Florida sun tucked away for the evening as festivities of 4th of July come to a halt. I wonder, as the last bits of fireworks fall from the sky, sounds still within ear shot, how many close this day with full bellies and empty bellies both rumbling from restricting or bingeing. Many are alone and lonely, turning to food for comfort…or not. Eating disorders come in many guises. It does not matter if your black or white…or somewhere in between. It does not matter if you’re rich or poor…or somewhere in the middle.

Today, I celebrate America’s Independence. I celebrate my independence. I broke away from food controlling me…and now live free. I hope those suffering and hurting today will find independence from pain and sadness—and the loss of loved ones. Life is to be celebrated. America is to be celebrated. Let’s wave our flag proudly. We live in a country that offers help and hope to all.

Photo by: Dr. Lisa Ortigara Crego

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