Something(s) new

Ever since I first watched it a couple of months ago, Matt Cutts’s “Try something new for 30 days” TED talk has been on my mind. If you haven’t watched it, you should. It’s only about 3 and half minutes, and it’s quite inspiring.

I try a lot of new things. I’m a big believer in shaking my life up and, for better or worse, I don’t do all that well with routine. The older I get, the more I crave… well, new. Different. I want to explore. Stretch. Expand. Make shit. I want to experience all the stuff that happens when I do the things that scare me, and learn all the things I can learn when I’m willing to be a clumsy beginner again and again.

What attracts me to Matt’s idea is the 30-day part. It’s just enough time to try something out – a new art form, a new exercise program, a new diet, a new habit – but not so long that you feel daunted by the commitment. I’ve been waiting for the right 30-day project to occur to me, and while we were traveling last week, eating too much food in too many restaurants, it did…

For 30 days, I’m going to eat like a child.

Years ago, I read an article which said that children up to about age 10, if left to their own devices, won’t overeat. Children, when not prodded by parents or other well-meaning adults, eat when they’re hungry and stop eating when they stop feeling hungry. They don’t stuff themselves and they don’t eat because they’re bored (or depressed or worried or heartbroken).

I have a difficult relationship with food, and I don’t really remember the time before food and I became so adversarial. While I don’t starve myself anymore, I often obsess about eating. It’s a control thing for me, a thorny calculation of indulgence and deprivation that is far more compulsive than it is necessary. So I wondered, what if I take all the psychology out of it?  What if, for 30 days, I eat like a kid?

I’m on Day 3. So far, so good. This may be the easiest diet I’ve ever been on. It’s definitely the most relaxed I’ve felt about food in a long, long time. In 27ish days, I’ll let you know how it all turned out.

If you’re interested in doing your own 30-day thing, tell me in the comments section. We can cheer each other on!


I am absolutely loving the answers to Samantha Reynolds’s (Bentlily’s) question from last week. You guys are so creative (and funny and surprising and poetic). Next Thursday, July 5th, I’ll pull all your answers together, fold them into a paper airplane, and hurl them through the ether to Samantha. Someone’s going to win a limited edition Bentlily book of poetry! (Seriously, just typing that makes me grin.)

If you haven’t commented on the post yet, hop on over. There’s still time!


Finally… One of the Love Essays, “Earnest, hippie and doe-eyed,” has been published in its entirety on the very new, very cool, online magazine CLAMP. I’m honored to be part of that site’s launch because I think it’s going to be an amazing place where smart people write and talk about things they (and we) care about. Check out the site, and if you haven’t read the Love Essays, please read “Earnest, hippie and doe-eyed,” then consider downloading the collection. I wrote it from the deepest parts of me, and I’ve never wanted to share my work more.

Oh, and I took this picture for you in Santa Fe last week…



  1. Taoist Soul on June 28, 2012 at 12:19 am

    Why would you be on a “diet”??

  2. j on June 28, 2012 at 12:32 am

    Well, diet in the sense that it’s about what I eat (or how I eat). Not about losing weight.

    • Taoist Soul on June 28, 2012 at 12:43 am

      Oh, ok! Well, then I guess I could say that my ‘diet’ is Taco Bell. 😛

    • j on June 28, 2012 at 12:47 am

      I looked it up (because I’m like that). Diet is “food and drink considered in terms of its qualities, composition, and its effects on health.” So, yep! Taco Bell is a diet!

  3. Marit on June 28, 2012 at 1:23 am

    Hi J. I’m glad you liked the fact that I linked to your booktitle-poem in my ‘Quirky Dutch Summer’ post. I only just found you, but you’re on my fave list of blogs to visit now, you’re writing and style is awesome! Greetings from the Netherlands!

    • j on June 28, 2012 at 10:32 am

      Hi, Marit! I bookmarked your site too! I love what you’re doing over there. I’m so happy to meet you!

  4. Estrella Azul on June 28, 2012 at 2:45 am

    In the context of it all, that is such a wonderful thing for you to try for 30 days, can’t wait to hear about your findings. Glad it’s going well so far!
    It’s a great thing – I notice firsthand on the little girl I babysit. She won’t eat when she’s not hungry, and will eat even three portions when she is.
    I pretty much do that all the time, eat like a child. Everyone tells me to eat more (mostly because it doesn’t show how much I do eat), but that just makes me more stubborn to eat when *I* feel like it and how much *I* feel like it 🙂

    My 30-day thing was/is leaving love letters behind every single day of June. The month is coming to an end this week, but it was so much fun! I felt the love I put out there return.

    Congrats on the love essay being published! Dropping by in a minute.

    And if you feel like dropping by to leave the link for this blog post over on my Seasonal Challenge page, I’d love to have it <3 Such a great self-portrait (which is one of my suggestions for June)!

    • j on June 28, 2012 at 10:31 am

      Your 30-day thing is BEAUTIFUL! When, during the love project, I wrote love letters for a month, I was surprised by how it affected me. The sitting down, going slow, handwritten communication really felt so much more intimate, as if there was nothing between me and the subject of my words. It’s hard to describe, but I know you know what I mean. I can only imagine that feeling is amplified when you do it every single day. (I didn’t quite manage that.)

      I just wrote “Drop by Estrella’s place” on my list of things for today. I’d be quite honored leave a link. xo

  5. northernchick on June 28, 2012 at 5:07 am

    That purple room! Gorgeous! Can you tell me about it or re-direct me to a post?

    • j on June 28, 2012 at 10:38 am

      It’s actually an international market in a mall in Santa Fe. It works like an enormous consignment store, but I love the setup. It’s kind of a big warehouse, with individual little spaces “carved out” for different artists/collectors. I have a bunch more pictures of it. I will do a post either here or at

      In the meantime, I’ll see if I can find a link for you. Stay tuned.

      • northernchick on September 2, 2012 at 5:42 am

        I just found this reply! Still feeling my way around the wordpress reader. Thanks so much! 🙂

  6. Amy on June 28, 2012 at 6:23 am

    When you said eat like a kid, I thought you meant Mac n Cheese and chicken nuggets. HA. We finished our 21 day no-junk-food challenge a week or so ago. I wish I could say “it was awesome! I feel like a new person!” or “My eating habits have changed forever!” But….no. I’m glad it’s over. A sandwich just isn’t a sandwich without chips.

    Having said that, I like your challenge much better. I struggle with portion control. I’ve never been addicted to alcohol or cigarettes, but I swear food is like an addiction. I dream about it all day long…think about lunch while I’m eating breakfast, dinner while I’m eating lunch. I often eat when I’m not hungry. So, is it that I just love food that much, or is it a compulsive issue? I don’t know.

    I bet you’ll do great. And just for shits and giggles, throw in some animal crackers for good measure 😀

    • j on June 28, 2012 at 10:46 am

      What you’re describing – the way you think of food – is just how it works for me, even at the height of my disorder. These days, I don’t go days without eating, but I’m always calculating. If I have this for breakfast, what does that mean for lunch? Or, I’ll eat this today and nothing tomorrow. We may be coming at it from different angles, but the result is the same. Food becomes this stressful, obsessive thing.

      Day 4 today. I’m totally loving it. I find I’m thinking about eating less, and when I’m faced with something delicious (like chips!), it’s not hard to just ask myself, “Am I hungry?” If I am, I eat some. Just like a kid would. If not, I don’t. And I’m eating way slower, so I have time to recognize when I’m not hungry anymore. I have a tendency to scarf, so by the time I realize I’m not hungry, I’m already full, which is not how a kid does it.

      I know Day 4 is a little early to make the call, but I think this may change my relationship to food. (I hope. I know there’s a lot of history to undo on this subject.)

  7. June O'Reilly (@LunaJune) on June 28, 2012 at 7:07 am

    I love that picture of you ♥ the colours the reflections & seeing the joy plastered all over your face as you are taking it

    amazing what we can do to ourselves in 30 days
    the complaint free life takes 3 weeks….but to go 3 weeks without complaining is a task I’ve been on for 3 years… amazing all the shit I’ve been through in those few years that I haven’t complained about, but piddly assed things.. oh ya I still have some minor things to shake off.. turns out they are the hardest… people were the easiest to stop complaining about

    food and me.. like music and me.. we have an amazing love affair.. inspiring each other all the time… some ingredient will pass by and instantly I can think of a few awesome things I could do with it.. or I’ll taste something and instantly know what I’d do to make it better for my taste buds.. like painting a picture the flavours holler out to me.

    I’m trying to find time to bring exercise back so that might be the perfect thing to do… this is the first time in over 20 years that I haven’t had a dog so I haven’t been walking… I miss it….and the talks we’d have along the way,
    I’m a little lost… but still here in the jungle finding a new path
    so maybe that is what I’ll do for 30 days…. will let you know how it goes.

    and if you are eating like a kid.. that means you could have cake for breakfast.. now being an adult eating like a kid… has certain perks :~)

    also dealing with the death of my oldest brother in the next couple of weeks
    just being present….remembering…allowing….letting be…and listening in so that I’ll remember what I need.
    surrounding myself with wonderful people
    doing things I want
    like taking 2 days off from work to just sit, drink and cry… and laugh..
    going back to work today….so it’s perfect that this posting was my first email of the day…. it called out… asked me to participate ♥

    • j on June 28, 2012 at 10:51 am

      I envy you your relationship with food. Most of the time, I don’t really think about how different I am from people who are well adjusted on this subject, but just reading about your love affair with food made me wistful. If ever I had that, I don’t remember it.

      Interesting that you mention cake for breakfast. That same article I read all those years ago said that, left to their own devices, children (especially very young children) will often make healthy food choices. I guess they’re more in touch with their body’s needs. (I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich today for breakfast.)

      Okay, so daily walks? Is that your 30 day challenge? Shall I check in with you periodically and see how you’re doing?

  8. Nuttin' on June 28, 2012 at 7:19 am

    I think undertaking a 30 day thing sounds (in theory) wonderful and freeing and powerful. The thing I would pick would be to stop doing something for 30 days but… I’m not sure I’m strong enough or brave enough to do it. So there lies the turmoil — undertake something you think you’ll fail and so therefore the feeling when you fail will suck (very profoundly) or do it because if I succeed then it will feel great, right? I mean, surely… right?
    So… (thinking out loud in the comments here), my birthday is at the end(ish) of July — so not quite 30 days. Maybe I could try until then. And no, I’m not saying what it is but I’m sure you’ll figure it out.

    I probably should have picked something a little less daunting, like eat chocolate for 30 days. Damn.

    • j on June 28, 2012 at 10:53 am

      You know, I think I did read somewhere that 30 days is how long it takes to establish a habit, so maybe 30 days is the right amount of time to break one too?

      Matt Cutts does one 30-day new thing after another. I love that idea. If this works out, I may try it.

    • Nuttin' on June 28, 2012 at 1:03 pm

      Well then… I will approach this as an educational experiment for the betterment of all the complicated beings in the galaxy (or just to straighten my own shit out, either way).
      I will report back to you in 30(ish) days Professor JCW.
      Wish me luck… and give me LOTS of anxiety meds!

  9. Kathleen Nolan on June 28, 2012 at 11:05 am

    I’m eager to see how this works out for you, J. I happen to be rereading Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth. The eating guidelines she proposes for those of us who struggle with food include eating when you are hungry, eating what you want and stopping when you are full. You’re right, it’s what kids do naturally. Interesting!

    • j on June 28, 2012 at 7:40 pm

      I’ve been curious about that book. I’ll definitely check it out now. That was one of the points made in the article I referenced. Children stop eating when they stop feeling hungry, which is different than being full (or stuffed). As adults, we just override our body’s natural response. (I started overriding early.)

      Cross your fingers for me. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  10. jbjb on June 28, 2012 at 11:20 am

    LOVE your self-portrait! And the 30 day idea, too. Need to think about what to choose. (Suggestions welcome.) Your 30 day challenge is clearly off to a great start – yay! I think you’ve clearly captured the key – to *enjoy* it like a kid. Can’t wait to hear how it all turns out for you. Hugs!

    • j on June 28, 2012 at 7:51 pm

      I sent you a semi-suggestion for 30-day challenge. (Really “semi.”) This diet thing is so interesting. “Are you hungry?” is kind of an easy question to answer. 🙂

  11. Chloe Cook on June 28, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    I love that photo. Love, love, love. LOVE! Really, really, really, really love it.

    And, as an aside, you have no idea how good it feels to suddenly realise that I’m not… (*frantically trying to think of any word but the one that I’m compelled to write, even though I know it’s not true*)…a failure.

    As you may know (or may not know, depending on how many of my blogs you’ve read!), I too struggled with an eating disorder. I describe myself as recovered, and 100% believe that I am. I work as a therapist specialising in helping others overcome eating disorders. And yet, most days I think far too much about food, and still have days where I mentally beat myself up about what I’ve eaten (completely unreasonably). What you wrote – “While I don’t starve myself anymore, I often obsess about eating” – touched a nerve. That hit home – it’s like you were describing me. I’ve known for a while now that I need to do something about this. Because I don’t feel congruent or authentic when I’m working with my clients. And because I don’t feel true to me. I’m building up to a blog about it, which I’m hoping will be the beginning of the next part of my journey.

    I very much look forward to hearing about the next part of yours. 🙂


    • j on June 28, 2012 at 11:17 pm

      I never talked about my ED history publicly before my “Body Math” post, but with people I love, I always say I’m “recovering,” in the same way that an alcoholic is always “recovering.” Truthfully, when I’m stressed or sad or overwhelmed, I still go right to food as the place I can exert control, and like you, I obsess. I know it’s something I always have to watch.

      That said, EDs are so hard to understand. They’re hard enough for those of us who struggle with them and impossible for others. Your understanding is invaluable. The fact that you still struggle makes you… human. That can’t be a bad thing. xo

  12. NM (@echo90803) on June 28, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    Oh J, how I l<3 that photo!!

    I think your food idea is great. I did that this past week while recuperating and napping and then napping some more. I don't know many of us who have never had an issue with food at some time or another. I did not eat well as a child, never left to my own devices about food. Now I try to imagine eating like a child who grew up with parents who had healthy relationships with food would eat.

    That is not, however, my 30 thing day. Lord how the Universe provides synchronicity! I was speaking with my therapist earlier today about a warped schema I have about my lovable-ness (or as I believe too often, lack thereof). I'm going to lovingly ignore that belief and be in love with me consciously and deliberately for the next 30 days. (She also guffawed at my comment that I was going to ponder how I intellectualize everything.)

    Now I need to scoot over to the interview with Samantha who is now part of my daily meditation practice. I don't think I commented last week .

    hugs and smooches,


    • j on June 28, 2012 at 11:20 pm

      This: “I’m going to lovingly ignore that belief and be in love with me consciously and deliberately for the next 30 days” is PERFECT. I will absolutely check in with you, be your cheerleader. I did a version of serious, gorilla-style self-love during the Love Project’s month of self-love. It’s an amazing experience.

      You go, girl! xo

  13. Pam on June 28, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    Love the photo!

    The talk was great.

    I am thinking about what 30-day challenge might suit me. Hmmmmm….

    A couple of years ago I did a make-something-every-day project for a month. It was a good experience. Of course, now I’m in this open-ended doodle-a-day thing, so I should try something different. *wheels turning* 🙂

    • j on June 28, 2012 at 11:21 pm

      Come back and tell me what you pick. I love the idea of all of us doing our 30 days together. (And I love “make something every day.” I may have to try that after I master the eating thing.)

  14. Marcie on June 29, 2012 at 9:29 am

    I love the whole 30-day make or break a habit..and/or try something new ‘thing’. In October – I did a 30-day home yoga practice. Every single day at the same the same space I did the exact same practice. I learned more lessons from that – than anything I’d done before. And – I’m about to take a 30-day break from blogging. For the first time in 5 years. Right now – it’s feeling like free fall…but then – there’s so much more to gain than there is to lose.
    Curious to know what your inner child is craving? All I can think is mac and cheese..and grilled cheese. Is there anything better???

    • j on June 29, 2012 at 10:07 am

      Ha! I want to hear more about doing your practice so… religiously. It feels more like a ritual, and I imagine that does sort of change how it affects you. (We shall talk, partner!) In the meantime, my food choices so far seem unaffected. It’s mostly taking all the psychology out of the choice to eat or not eat. As you know, there’s a lot of bullshit that goes into making that choice. By Sunday, I’ll have had one week of eating bullshit free… first time since I was ten, I’m thinking. 🙂

  15. Thirty Days on July 1, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    […] couple of days ago, Judy Clement Wall wrote a post about being inspired by Matt Cutts’s “Try something new for 30 days” TED talk in which he […]

  16. Andrea Maurer on July 1, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Love the TED Talk and the 30-day idea! I decided to start today and post a picture a day along with a narrative about it on my blog. (I gave you a shout out and link back!) I have lots of other 30-day ideas too and had to restrain myself from launching them all at once. I can be a little overzealous at times!

    In regard to your eating experiment, it reminds me of what Geneen Roth describes in her book Women Food and God. Essentially, you can eat whatever you want but you can only eat when you’re hungry and you have to be fully conscious when eating – no TV, no reading, no writing, no distracting conversations, etc. If you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it. It’s on my top ten list and is less about food and more about the things that we use as barriers between us and ourselves and why.

    Anyway, good luck with your 30-days and thanks, as always, for the inspiration. XO

    • j on July 1, 2012 at 5:57 pm

      Ha! Ever since starting this one (I’m on Day 7 today), I’ve been thinking of ones I’ll do next. It’s such a cool idea, isn’t it? I’ll be right over to look at your 30-day launch.

      I’ve heard all good things about Women Food and God. I’ll definitely check it out. Not sure I can go along with “no distracting conversations,” though I do see the point of it. Yesterday afternoon, I was sitting out on a friend’s patio. There were munchies on the table as we all talked… the guacamole looked delicious but I kept checking in with myself, asking myself if I was actually hungry. I wasn’t. And, when later the pizza for dinner arrived, I hadn’t filled up on chips.

      I’m finding that first part – only eat when I’m hungry easy. But the second part, stopping as soon as I’m not hungry harder, because I eat so fast. By the time my eating registers in my body, I’ve already eaten more than it would have taken to satiate me. I’m learning to slow down… which, come to think of it… is also how kids eat. Like they got nowhere else they need to be. 🙂

    • j on July 1, 2012 at 6:26 pm

      Holy shit! I’m scarred. I hope all your 30-day picture/stories won’t be quite so harrowing! xo

  17. Julia Fehrenbacher on July 1, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Oops! I just totally copied and pasted the wrong thing above! I wrote something that made sense and somehow that went away. Oh well–seems to be just how my day is going.

    Anyway, I love this idea, J. Thank you for the nudge.

    • j on July 1, 2012 at 5:49 pm

      And then I made it disappear, because I can do magic. xoxo

  18. Sandra Belegi on July 29, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Hi, Judy! I just found your website via a link by Connie Hozvicka on Facebook about your latest post. Nice to meet you 🙂

    This post called my attention because I started a “Creative Everyday Challenge” 13 days ago with a friend of mine. We were talking about the paradox of how challenging it is to be committed to be creative every day given that art is our #1 passion. So now we are holding each other accountable by creating something every day for 30 days and posting it in our blogs. And I’m loving it! Like you said, it’s a way to stretch myself, expand on possibilities and who wouldn’t we? That’s what my blog is all about – that’s what I chose the name is has, “The Art of Greatness”.

    I like the idea of “eating like a child”, which also makes me wonder if we shouldn’t do more things like a child, such as PLAY, for example. And LOVE.

    That’s a wonderful concept that is inspiring me to live aligned to my truth. I’ve made some scary changes lately, one of them being leaving a full-time job to dedicate myself to art and finding out what my path is; everything starts with a clear intention, and clarity is something children seem to be all about. We were there once, we just forgot how it feels.

    Thanks for reminding me.

    I’ll be “seeing you” again soon 😉

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