Santa Paula Times

Filling the Void

April 25, 2007
By Ruth Ricards Registered DietitianSome of us turn to food to fill up the “big black hole” we feel deep inside - the feeling that we just aren’t good enough, we’re unappreciated or unloved, etc. Nothing from the outside seems to “stick to our ribs” and make it go away. One can buy a new car, a new house, or splurge on a hot fudge sundae. These objects just don’t seem to work. Darn!I have learned the best way to feel full on the inside is not by consuming or purchasing things from the outside. One needs to go deep inside and listen to what brings them joy or what they are passionate about. Is it being with family, singing at church, acting in the community play, writing a book, or creating a collage? Some of these things are more involved than others.We also need to make ourselves a priority so we can find the time to do these things. When I was growing up, my mother refused to sign me up for dance lessons because she said, “I don’t want to invest in all of those tutus and ballet slippers when it is just a phase you are going through.” Well, children do go through phases, which are a way for them to find out what they enjoy and want to pursue in life. I could have held a grudge against my mother, but instead I took a risk and gave myself what my mother was unable to give me. At times I have been a mother to myself.When I was 35 years old, I decided to take my first dance jazz class. I was so scared because I had never taken a dance class before in my life. I can remember the instructor asking all of the ladies in the class how many years of dancing experience they had. Most of the young women were 19 years old and recently graduated from high school. Because of their age, they were forced to take the adult dance class. Most of them had been dancing since they were toddlers.
I will never forget my instructor’s face when I told her that I no prior dance experience and this was my first time. I think she realized how much work she had cut out for herself. Over the next few months she would ask me, “Are you sure you never had lessons?” I would reaffirm that I hadn’t. Then one night after class she told me, “You know, I bet if your mother had given you dance lessons as a child you would be a professional dancing today!” I did everything I could to thank her and get out the door as fast as I could. I cried all the way home. Part of me would have loved to have been a dancer.Not to fear, I have moved on to tap dancing and love every “flapping” moment. I have been in dance recitals where the little girl in me “comes to life” under the blinding stage lights. It is difficult to describe the feeling I got when I took a bow and I could hear all of the applause. I felt so stuffed inside that it was like I had been to an “All-You-Can-Eat Buffet” and as if I had filled up my plate at least seven times. Finally I was full and it stuck to my ribs!Unfortunately, this fullness doesn’t last for long. Another darn! Next month let’s look at how we can “bottle-up” these positive emotions and take them when we are running on empty.