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I start my new job today. Of course my attention shifts to present moment realities. How can it not? Today is the day I return to the life I left three years ago, just for a different agency. A big shift back into the world of the office dweller, from my free-range life of operating my own personal chef business.

In my own business I made the decisions. All the responsibilities were mine. I got to keep all the money, but the pressure I put on myself was enormous to keep the money flowing. To keep the clients happy. Keep myself taken care of, healthy so I can endure the physicality of the labor. I had to bring everything to the table.

Every once in awhile I get a glimmer of a realization that my compulsive behaviors flare up  during times of stress and anxiety. And that maybe these are unconscious coping strategies. Dysfunctional, yes, but that doesn’t surprise me.

Now the business is closing, I have a sense of relief, but also an unmoored feeling. I’m so used to being in control. In my new job I will be a subordinate again.  Not that that’s a problem. I look forward to it. It will just be different. A transition.

Self-love is not just about making statements in the mirror. To me, it’s about really hooking myself up with whatever it is I need to make me comfortable and satisfied in the moment. Kind of like caring for a small child. Anticipating my needs. Setting myself up for success.

I have no idea what the office culture is like that I will be stepping into. But, I am bringing with me everything that makes me feel good and relaxed. I bought a nice-sized cooler and ice packs. Water and coffee are number one for me. Bringing lots of that. A healthy veggie and protein salad for lunch. For snacks, organic roasted almonds and a beautiful golden delicious apple.

My iPod is loaded with music and my favorite podcasts for the seventeen-mile drive (that will seem like twice that during the morning and evening rush hours). I have tucked into my bag my favorite sections of the newspaper I didn’t get around to reading Sunday. I know there will be some dead waiting time somewhere and I hate to be without something tactile to read. I don’t like reading on my phone. I’m bringing a composition book and plenty of my favorite pens for writing if the mood strikes me.

I think I’m set. For me, self-love is about staying with me. It’s when I abandon myself that I get into trouble. That would be in failing to prepare for the day, staying up too late, eating sugar before bed, not giving myself enough time in the morning to wake up and set my intention, eat a good breakfast, care for my body.

These things seem elemental, but boy how I have neglected taking care of myself over the years, putting others first or allowing the work at hand and looming deadlines to overshadow everything else.

What if I put all of that determination and resolve into taking care of me? I realize I am not the same person I was three years ago. I like to think I am a more evolved version of myself. Still a bit fragile, a bit vulnerable. But growing stronger every day.

Grilled Marinated Tofu

Ingredients:

1 pound extra-firm tofu, pressed

3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce (low-sodium preferably)

1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

Method:

Slice pressed tofu into 8 equal planks, about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Marinate in mixture of tamari and sesame oil while grill or grill pan is heating to sear setting, approximately 15 minutes. The more well-pressed your tofu, the better flavor absorption you will get.

*Grill for a couple minutes on each side, until lovely marks appear. Serve immediately with steamed veggies or chill and cut up for salad, as shown.

Yield: 3-4 servings.

*Note:  You can do this in a skillet, but a grill lends a nicer presentation. Either way is fine.

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