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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2017 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved. 


 

October 6, 2017  RSS feed
Culture

Text: T T T

The one thing I learned about achievement

Editor’s Note: Iris Ruth Pastor will discuss her book, Tales of a Bulimic Babe – Simple Wisdom to Live the Life You Crave, on Sunday, Oct. 29, at 10:30 a.m. at the Bryan Glazer Family JCC as part of the Jewish Festival of Books and Conversations.

Riddle: What’s an annual event that costs money to attend, pits you against the most talented and enterprising, and gives you no more than two minutes to strut your stuff?

Hint: Jewish authors travel near and far to attend, in the hopes of enticing representatives from cities across the nation to invite them to speak in their communities.

Answer: The Annual Jewish Book Council Conference in New York City every spring. Six hundred fifty attend. Two hundred fifty present. I was a presenter.

The first crisis was figuring out what to wear.

A smashingly original outfit? That would be my cheerleading costume.

Something boho and outrageous? That would be my flowing magenta sequined robe, cowboy boots and denim skirt.

Boring and innocuous? Black no-wrinkle trousers and a cream colored blouse.

I consulted my sister - more of a fashion guru than me. “Lose the boho - you’re outrageous enough,” she admonished me. “And leave the cheerleading costume home in the closet. For Pete sakes, you’re sixty-nine years old. Can’t you act like a professional for once?

“Wear the pants and blouse and throw on a strand of pearls.”

I took her advice - reluctantly. Well, actually, quite begrudgingly. And in a pissy mood.

The second crisis was not to be tripped into stunned silence when I read the roster and saw the presenters’ awards, degrees, and experiences. All far “outweighing” mine. Pun intended.

Oh sure, I too had done something out of the box - bingeing and purging in secret for forty-six years. But somehow the fact that I had shed both the secret and the behavior and wrote a memoir about my bulimia dimmed when compared to Yale degrees, Pulitzer Prizes, literary awards...

Time ticked by. In alphabetical order, each participant walked up to the podium, leaned into the microphone, and dazzled - or at least attempted to dazzle - the audience.

My mind wandered.

Please don’t let me trip over my pants leg on the way to the podium.

Please let them laugh, not scowl, at my joke about ED not standing for Erectile Dysfunction, but Eating Disorder.

Please don’t let my presentation run past two minutes, cutting off my monologue mid-sentence.

I presented in a blur:

What it felt like to be thin

How I figured out how to eat all kinds of “forbidden” foods and not pack on pounds

And how I could remain skinny and eat goodies - by bingeing and purging.

I told them it felt good to oust the secret

It felt good to stop sabotaging my aspirations

To stop letting my demons rule and my strengths and talents languish

I wanted to say more:

I bet I’m not the only one who comes unglued at the site of a mound of caramels on a coffee table top

I’m not the only one whose late-night eating is “her bitch”

Whose scale rules her mood

Who berates herself for indulging in a second (or third) slice of chocolate cake

I wanted to say more:

That I cried as the needle on the scale inched further and further north

That whenever I wriggled into too tight jeans, I vowed to start a strict diet the very next day

That I started every diet with high hopes and great resolve, only to go off it at the first stirrings of hunger

That I wished my mood depended less on how much I weighed and more on my accomplishments, effort and talents

That I got more attention when I was thin and blended-in with the crowd when I was not

There wasn’t time. Instead, I said:

Shedding my story helps me once again realize that people who love you love you in spite of your imperfections

Nobody can make you feel as bad as you make yourself feel

Weight: it’s the battle so many fight - privately and/or publicly

I’ve been there. There’s a way out.

Life is as good as you decide to make it

Life is good because I decided to make it this way

There was silence when I finished. And then resounding applause. And that’s when I realized maybe I had done something pretty awesome after all.

Writing this book set my inner demon free.

I hope reading it will do the same for yours.

Tales of a Bulimic Babe – Simple Wisdom to Live the Life You Crave by Iris Ruth Pastor.


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