And Yet…

For me 2012 was a year of endings and loss.

In the spring of this year I lived through the end of my 12-year relationship and spent many weeks and months following grieving the loss of love, of who I thought I was, of a way of life I lived and of plans I had made for the future.

It was a year in which several career paths I enthusiastically and confidently embarked upon led to dead ends. Those kinds of full-stops — especially when they are unexpected — are jarring and difficult at the best of times, but when there are disappointments and hardships weighing down others aspects of your life, they seem particularly cruel.

And now the year has closed for me with the end of a chapter in my family’s history. My maternal grandfather, John Mihoren, passed away on November 20. His death, following my grandmother Ana’s nearly two years ago means that this is the first holiday season in which I won’t have at least one of my beloved grandparents in my life. My grandpa would have turned 90 on December 24, and the celebration of his birth was always woven tightly into my family’s observance of Christmas Eve. He lived a long and full life, and he was ready to say goodbye to his earth-bound days, but his absence will be felt so keenly this year, it will take form as a presence that will walk with us throughout the day.

These endings have left me living a reality that sometimes feels overwhelming and frightening. I work full time in publishing while trying to give the best life possible to Tilda, the exuberant two-and-a-half-year-old black Labrador retriever/border collie mix that my ex and I adopted and who has remained with me. One thing is clear about her: if she lived on a farm, she would be a tireless working dog. I manage to fit in four hours of daily physical exercise and mental stimulation for her, which — as evidenced by the long periods of silence here at Nostrovia! — leaves me little time for some of the things I used to do regularly. Writing and weeknight social events in particular have fallen by the wayside.

When I’m not feeling overly taxed by the demands of work and responsible, engaged pet-parenting of my particular little beast, I often feel frightened. Frightened that this is it, that this is how my life will look forever, that there will never be anyone else to love me but my dog. When someone leaves you, especially after 12 years, it can be hard not to feel as if you are walking around at all times with a sign that says “Worthless Loser” blinking on and off over your head.

By nature I am inward-looking and serious. This year has given me more than enough reason to hide, to dwell on the wounds, to march behind a banner of bitterness, anger, and resentment. Those who know me well know that I can easily brood in the darkness when it descends.

And yet.

I find myself in an unexpected place at the end of 2012. I first noticed it in the fall, around October. I looked around and saw a whole lot of unfamiliar terrain.

To start, I hardly recognize the body I now inhabit. Soon after I was living on my own, I started running regularly with Tilda, an attempt to tire her out a little more thoroughly than the usual post-work walks and dog park excursions do. I had already lost quite a bit of weight simply from her walking schedule, but running changed everything.

The numbers alone are impressive. I’ve lost 40 pounds and 4 dress sizes since adopting Tilda. But even more remarkable is how I feel. For the first time in a long time — maybe ever — I feel like I’m living inside every inch of my skin. On the trail I feel lean, strong, capable, and, on some days, invincible. I run mostly without headphones now, as my mind crackles. It craves the chance to blow open, to merge with the trees and leaves around me, the sticks and stones under my feet. I watch for Tilda up ahead or listen for her behind me, racing up the path to catch me after she’s stopped to sniff out something interesting. We trot along companionably as the river burbles alongside us, as the birds call overhead, and as the squirrels race for cover (she’s all hunter when it comes to small furry creatures). We become part of what is around us.

Suddenly, distances that once seemed a pipe dream are not only attainable but also routine. Ten kilometres? It’s now my minimum distance for a long run on the weekend. I originally put a half marathon on my life list. I’ll be running that half marathon in May 2013, a warm-up to the full marathon I’m training to run in October 2013.

As that goal of completing a marathon took shape, I realized what running had done for me: It helped me break through. It urged me to overcome limitations I had placed on myself. It helped me take pain and turn it into progress. It made me believe that I had more to give and could actually give it. It helped me dream bigger dreams.

That drive, motivation, and optimism has spilled over into the rest of my life. Rather than staying stuck in loss, I look around each day and name one thing I am grateful for, especially the things that I didn’t or couldn’t have when I was coupled with my ex. Rather than being defeated by the career blocks, I’m looking them straight in the eye and accepting their challenge to find the doors that are open because theirs are closed. Finding love again? Hoo boy. It’s a scary prospect, but for the first time since the split, I’m able to see that I have a lot to offer and that I am willing to receive what someone with values and vision that dovetail my own has to share with me.

Oh, I still have my days. I had one last week, in fact, when I shook my fist at the sky and teared up at my desk at lunch because I was tired of trying and it felt easier to give in to defeat than to keep the light of hope aloft. An immeasurably kind gesture of a colleague reminded me of how incredibly far I’ve come and that challenges are just part of the journey.

And so I find myself entering 2013 believing that anything is possible. In April of this year I looked in the mirror and saw a 39-year-old whose life was falling apart. I never expected to be here, eight months later and less than two months away from my 40th birthday feeling that opportunities abound. Not everything I try will work. Not everything I undertake will end in success. But the important thing is this steadfast belief that something will.

I’m not sure what this plan means for Nostrovia! I certainly miss my time here. Given that I write in long format, I’ve never been a frequent blogger, but I’ve missed posting in regular, if sparse, intervals this year. In some form or another I will continue writing, as that’s what I am at my core — a writer. But I may not restrict my storytelling to food exclusively any more. Or perhaps I will find a way, like my writing idol Kate Christensen, to intertwine stories of food and life so tightly that it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins.

No matter what happens in this space in the future, I wanted to write here one more time in 2012 and share with you what has been this year for me. It began and ended in places I didn’t expect. I believe it will give way to a 2013 filled with things I haven’t yet dared to dream.


24 responses to And Yet…

  1. Thank you, Melissa! I’ve wrestled with and worried a lot about what Nostrovia! should be and who *I* should be on the web. I feel the pressure to have stunning photography, be posting at least weekly, and to craft posts with titles and headings that are SEO-friendly and that have lists and the like so that they can be scanned easily.

    And then, in a year when I had to do so much reevaluating, I realized that none of those things is really who I am as a creative personality. I’m an old-fashioned storyteller. One that finds her voice through food. So I’m just going to go with that! It means I’ll never be an in-demand or a celebrity blogger, but that’s okay. I’ll just tell my stories and hope that there will always be a nice little community of people to enjoy them. I happy you’re part of that community!

    ~ Jodi  |  January 15th, 2013 at 5:43 pm
  2. Such a lovely post Jodi. I hope you do find a way to keep Nostrovia going – it is my little blog reading treat and  you are proof that a food blog is not simply about recipes or pretty photos, but is, in reality, about stories. Your writing this past year has inspired me to spend 2013 going back to my blogging and writing origins: telling stories.  I hope 2013 brings you all good things :)

    ~ Melissa@EyesBigger  |  January 14th, 2013 at 2:56 am
  3. Rachel, you were an inspiration to me as you built a new life for yourself. Having examples of other women like you who faced adversity with grace and strength made it possible for me to believe that I could do the same. So thank *you*!

    ~ Jodi  |  December 29th, 2012 at 1:05 am
  4. Thanks for sharing this Jodi!  I went through this very same thing on 2007 – the same time I met you!!  I remember those very dark days.  6 years out and I now look at those events as the “Big Bang” that gave rise to my new life.  I do hope that the events of 2012 were your “Big Bang” and that you continue to reap the rewards life has to offer.  Our lives seem somewhat parallel in that we both find such comfort and joy in our canine companions and yet we also seem to recognize the fact that they also provide a sense of anchoring us to reality.  Thank you for being one of the people that helped me through my dark days.

    ~ Rachel  |  December 19th, 2012 at 5:10 pm
  5. Thank you so much, Calantha! This was one of those posts that flowed right out of me so even though I was in a cold sweat before hitting “publish” (it’s always so nerve-wrecking to lay one’s self bare like this), I knew it had a home on the blog.

    I feel like this is a year for those of us seeking out our callings and being willing to take risks ~ so here’s to us in 2013!

    (Loved your recent post, btw, and what a lovely spread on you and your work in the magazine! So amazing!)

    ~ Jodi  |  December 19th, 2012 at 1:58 pm
  6. Of course I would expect nothing short of beautiful, stunning prose from you, Jodi, but this post was truly something. Before I could venture past the “And yet” I felt myself stuck, reflecting on your words, your experience and your willingness to share–lost in the solemn beauty of a shared human experience.

    I’m sorry for the loss of your Grandfather, but I am sure his life will continue to inspire you and it would seem from the finale of your post that you are open and willing to be inspired!

    The sort of unbound openness to opportunity you express cannot be ignored by opportunity itself – surely great things will come knocking in the new year!

    All the best & please keep writing.


    ~ Calantha  |  December 19th, 2012 at 1:49 pm
  7. Thank you, Nancy. You know how incredibly important you have been on this journey of mine, and no matter where we finish on race days, we are a fantastic running team. Thank you again for everything this year.

    ~ Jodi  |  December 19th, 2012 at 1:42 pm
  8. A lovely post on so many levels, thanks for sharing. With regards to the running, I will be there with you – a long way behind  - but with you just the same. 

    ~ Nancy  |  December 19th, 2012 at 12:37 pm
  9. Thank you, Andrea. I’ve thought of you often this year, as you always face challenge with such strength and grace. I’ve tried to do the same.

    We’re definitely due for a catch-up in the new year. Until then. xo

    ~ Jodi  |  December 19th, 2012 at 10:58 am
  10. Thank you for this post, Jodi. Your words never fail to stir something up for me, and I so appreciate you for that. I can’t wait to see you soon… AK xo

    ~ Andrea  |  December 19th, 2012 at 9:18 am
  11. Oh, Mom. You made me cry. xo

    ~ Jodi  |  December 18th, 2012 at 5:40 pm
  12. I’m so glad the post inspired you, Janet! Reading about how other people worked through their tough times certainly helped me when I was in the thick of things back in the spring and summer, so if you found something to hold on to in the words of this post, it makes me immensely happy to have published it.

    ~ Jodi  |  December 18th, 2012 at 5:39 pm
  13. My sweet, darling daughter,

    once again you have touched my heart in such a poignant way with your beautifully expressed sentiments. I wish you everything good and joyous now and in the year to come, because you are so deserving of all your dreams.

    Much love always, your proud
    mom xo

    ~ judy  |  December 18th, 2012 at 5:20 pm
  14. Jodi,
    Thank you so much for your post. I’m sure many can see parallels in their own lives with their own personal tragedies. I too have seen some personal losses this year and last. Your post was so uplifting, it gave me pause. I know there is something wonderful coming soon. I’m just waiting to see what it is! Thank you for inspiring me!

    ~ Janet Harmon  |  December 18th, 2012 at 2:46 pm
  15. Marisa, you have always been one of the loudest cheering in my corner, for which I am so grateful. With Marsjo power working for me, there’s nothing I can’t do! xo

    ~ Jodi  |  December 18th, 2012 at 9:34 am
  16. Jodi, my dear, such beautiful, inspiring, life-changing words! You are my hero and a bright light that always shines through any challenge. Great things are ahead for you. I know it in my Marsjo heart. xo!!!

    ~ Marisa Iacobucci  |  December 18th, 2012 at 3:52 am
  17. Thank you, Sarah ~ and it’d be so wonderful to see you. Dog walk in the new year!

    ~ Jodi  |  December 17th, 2012 at 11:24 pm
  18. Deborah, I feel like we are kindred spirits on this journey towards new lives. Let’s celebrate the path we’ve trod thus far in the new year.

    ~ Jodi  |  December 17th, 2012 at 11:24 pm
  19. Lovely to read, Jodi. I know of what you speak, and your words are inspiring. I hope we can connect in the new year. ~Sarah Battersby

    ~ Sarah  |  December 17th, 2012 at 11:05 pm
  20. Breathtaking.  I can so relate (as you well know).  Someone who has walked very closely with me over the past 8 months said to me today – ‘you are not the same person you were in April’.  Thank you for having the courage to share this messy, beautiful stuff.  I admire your style and your heart.

    ~ Deborah Reid  |  December 17th, 2012 at 10:55 pm
  21. July 2012 through July 2013 is a magical year for Aquarians, Julia ~ let’s seize the day!

    ~ Jodi  |  December 17th, 2012 at 10:51 pm
  22. Thank you, Janet! You were someone who reassured me way back in the spring that a new life would grow out of the ending. I had no idea what it would be at the time, but here I am.

    As always, thank you for your kind words.

    ~ Jodi  |  December 17th, 2012 at 10:49 pm
  23. This was just what I needed to read, Jodi—thanks for posting! 2013 is going to be a good year but it took me until last month to believe it : )

    ~ Julia  |  December 17th, 2012 at 10:49 pm
  24. I always love your posts. I stop everything and read from start to finish. Congratulations on channeling your emotions into something productive like running… and then taking it to the next level to a marathon. I am more on the cycling side but I know how awesome it will be when you cross that finish line. YOU CAN DO IT. :)

    ~ janet @ the taste space  |  December 17th, 2012 at 10:43 pm

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