Anniversary Note: To The Ones I Love

by Maria Theresa Maggi on February 14, 2020

Heart Envelope chalk pastel by Maria Theresa Maggi

“Heart Envelope,” chalk pastel by Maria Theresa Maggi

Today, February 14, 2020, is my “twin” MS anniversary: 24 years ago today, I received the diagnosis of MS, and 12 years ago today, I began my official start on a low fat whole food plant-based lifestyle. I wanted to “remake” the anniversary of the diagnosis into something positive, transformative, and life giving. To make it especially festive, I chose Fatfree Vegan Kitchen’s lasagna, and skinny figgy bars, along with greens for my first anniversary dinner.

This morning, as I reflect back on all the blog posts over the last eight years telling stories and sharing recipes from the last 24, I am filled to the brim with gratitude. This blog has been a sacred space for me to find my voice and write an authentic record of transformative moments in my life– documentation, if you will, of how I’ve been blessed to return to my center again and again, through epiphanies of the moment, grounded in experience and experiment, both with food and with solving life’s everyday puzzles.

For the last few days I’ve wondered what to write about this anniversary, and whenever I did, the image of this simple heart on an envelope would come to me, along with all the cherished support and feedback I’ve received over the years from family and from you, my dear readers. So this is a kind of love letter/thank you note to all of you for making this blog space so special.

I was talking to Susan on the phone recently about changes we need to make to separate my blog and the Fatfreevegan Recipe page into their own entities. That prompted a lot of memories of all the lovely comments I’ve received over the years. I still gasp and giggle when, in rereading my blog posts, I come across a comment telling me how this or that simple recipe is loved and made over and over again. That never fails to surprise me. The comments that tell me how much a post about my life resonated in the life of another  I hold very close to my heart, along with the ones that say they’ve never commented before, but just had to let me know how what I wrote affected them. Then there are the regular commenters, whose wisdom and insight about what I write never fails to uplift and give me profound food for thought. Over the years you all have supported me in my writing, my poetry chapbook and even the cards I made and sold. I’ve been privileged to meet some of you in person. I’ve been honored by being told I’ve made a difference. I’ve met a very good friend who found my blog through a friend of hers.

I think of this friend of a freind, and her wisdom shared with me by our mutual friend. She had broken a glass, and the clean-up was simply too much for her physically in that moment. She had the strength of mind and heart to safely and simply cover it with a towel until someone else could help her with it or she could do it herself. I think of that often when I am pushing myself too hard or I drop something and make a mess. It reminds me how strength comes in surprising and not so obvious packages.

I think of those readers much more challenged with complications than I’ve been, including one in Ukraine who I wrote to for a while. I think of one dear correspondent I met back on the McDougall forum, who, in her own way, is responsible for the fact that this blog has been written at all. She had posted in a place for the Star McDougallers to respond, but no one was responding. “Hey,” she said, “Can anyone tell me if this diet has worked for them with MS?” I knew there were no current Star McDougallers checking in to answer her questions, so I couldn’t keep quiet. I broke the rules (not being an official star McDougaller myself) and answered her.

Fortunately the moderator let her read what I had written before telling me I had to take it down and move it to my own journal page within the forum, a place where those who were really struggling documented their efforts. It was there that my stories took off. It was there that I met a wonderful group of women, three of them diagnosed with MS, who cheered me on when Susan at FatFreeVegan offered to build me this blog so my stories in the McDougall Journal section could gain a wider audience. Those women, first and foremost, “NeverGiveUp,” as she named herself, were my first loving readers. We read each other’s stories and struggles with our health and finding good things to eat–the atmosphere at times was like a slumber party–and the connections I made there continue to this day in one form or another.

Sadly, NeverGiveUp is no longer with us. On top of the MS, she had a recurrence of cancer she was not able to “beat.” But her courage and her humor and our treasured correspondence stays in my heart always, and I feel her spirit push me onward, blow a little wind into my sails, so to speak, whenever I write about my life, or when I doubt there’s any point to doing such a thing.

We all strive for the maximum health and success we can achieve, as well we should. But it’s essential to remember that healing and strength and even success may not always come in the package we are taught to look for it in. I think, too, of  a friend I used to teach with. We found each other again as he was entering a last ditch experimental treatment for an aggressive form of prostate cancer. He’d read my blog enthusiastically and I read his book friends had published for him about his trip hiking in Nepal equally enthusiastically. I’m sure he’s cheering me on from wherever his spirit is now.

This evening my son and daughter-in-law will arrive for a weekend visit. I want to thank them for supporting me through this way of eating and joining me in it in support. Our holidays and time together are always filled with recipes we can all enjoy, and though they don’t always eat as low fat as I do or need to be wheat free, they make sure what we eat when together follows those guidelines. So this thank you love note would not be complete without a loving mention to them. Their support makes a world of difference.

And then there’s Susan Voisin, the creator of FatFreeVegan Kitchen, who built this blog and made it all possible, and who will make it possible for this blog to move to its own domain when we (meaning mostly she) gets it ready to do just that.

So thank you, all of you, for bearing witness, for affirming the unique ways my words and art have made a difference for you–my arms can’t open wide enough to contain you all, but my heart certainly can, and always will.

Maria (moonwatcher)

Leave a Comment

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Susan Voisin February 14, 2020 at 1:16 pm

Happy anniversary, Maria, and thank you for sharing your life and stories with us here on this blog. Reading this, I suddenly became quite sad to think of Slow Miracle not being part of the fatfreevegan site, though I know that your blog needs to soar on its own wings and not be dragged down by aging technology. And I know that your blog and mine will always be related in spirit. Here’s to your next 12 years of plant-based living! ❤️


2 Maria Theresa Maggi February 14, 2020 at 2:58 pm

Thank you so much, dearest Susan! I feel a little sad about it, too, but I also know, like you do, that technology changes, and no matter what our blogs will always be connected in spirit. And that whatever my new technological home is, it will be because you made it possible for me to settle in! I can’t thank you enough for everything! xoxo


3 Rose February 14, 2020 at 8:30 pm

Awe CONGRATS on your 12 Annv. and I hope you the best in the next 12 years! I just started plant based whole foods in Oct. 2019 to reverse heart disease. I have a stent already and do not want anymore procedures or strokes etc. So doing the very best I can to change things with my diet. So happy for you because I have a long time friend whose elderly Mom has MS. so I know some of what she dealt with. Congrats again Maria!


4 Maria Theresa Maggi February 17, 2020 at 9:44 am

Thanks so much, Rose! 🙂


5 Colleen February 15, 2020 at 9:44 am

My life has been made immeasurably richer, not to mention healthier, by both of you and I am grateful beyond what I can express for this space. It is sacred to me and, I am sure, many others too. “We are all just walking each other home.”, as the recently late Ram Dass noted and though I have not met you IRL I feel your presence strongly on this walk and know that no matter where life and technology take us, I always will.
With deep gratitude,


6 Maria Theresa Maggi February 17, 2020 at 9:45 am

Thank you so much, Colleen, for these beautiful and kind sentiments. Yes, we ARE all just walking each other home. I so appreciate your thoughtful reading and comments, always. <3


7 Peggy Bean February 15, 2020 at 9:48 am

Congratulations to you. I’m so happy whenever I see a post from you. Your writing inspires me always. Many blessings, dear Maria. Blessed be!💜💜💜


8 Maria Theresa Maggi February 17, 2020 at 9:46 am

Thank you so much, dear Peggy! Blessed be right back to you!! xoxo


9 Deborah Harris February 15, 2020 at 6:18 pm

Happy, happy Anniversary Maria
Blessed to know you
You are also in my heart


10 Maria Theresa Maggi February 17, 2020 at 9:51 am

Thank you Deborah! Blessings and love back to you!


11 Donna February 15, 2020 at 10:04 pm

Thank you for telling me how this blog started. It is interesting to hear about people that are easy to admire. My journey also includes Dr McDougall and my life is so much better since he taught me how to recover from my MS. I continue to heal with each year bringing new surprises in healing. Thank you for being part of this community and for sharing so many things with us.


12 Silvia February 15, 2020 at 10:50 pm

Congratulations to your double anniversary.
I love that you share parts of your journey with us.
Like Colleen quoted: We are all just walking each other home.

Thank you Maria.


13 Maria Theresa Maggi February 17, 2020 at 9:53 am

Indeed we are, Silvia. I so appreciate your presence here. Thank you so much!


14 Maria Theresa Maggi February 17, 2020 at 9:53 am

So happy to hear this Donna! Thank you for reading along and sharing here in the comments. Here’s to more new surprises in healing for both of us!


15 Donna M. McFarland February 16, 2020 at 3:00 am

Good morning dear Maria! How very poignant and ~Special this writing is. Congratulations firstly on this milestone twin anniversary!!
You’ve more than inspired countless individuals on the path to not only stabilization but real, deep wellness, a sense of contentedness & confidence that no money can ever buy.Thank you thank you thank you and an abundance of health for many many moons to come!!


16 Maria Theresa Maggi February 17, 2020 at 9:55 am

Bless you Donna, for these lovely kind words. I so appreciate them being directed at my efforts. And thank you for following along over the years. Here’s to an abundance of good health for both of us for many many moons to come! I like how you put that. 🙂


17 Veronica February 18, 2020 at 7:27 am

What a wonderful love letter <3 Happy anniversary – and I'm so glad you expanded from the McDougall forums; I probably wouldn't have found you if you hadn't! You have helped me so much through my own journey, getting to read your journal and try your recipes and talk with you- means more than you know.
It's wonderful to have support when you have to be a little "different" – some of my friends make sure to always eat how I eat when we're together, which is a small thing, but has a big impact. My husband changed right with me, and it helps so very much. Your son and daughter-in-law seem like such lovely people, and I'm happy you have them in your life.
I'm excited to see where the next years take you! Sending you much love and happiness. xoxo


18 Maria Theresa Maggi February 20, 2020 at 9:57 am

Dear Veronica–thank you! I SO cherish your long time faithful reading and commenting. And yes, those seemingly “little” things, like friends making sure to eat like you eat when you all get together, are the ones that make a very big difference. Love and happiness back to you, always, my dear!


19 Kari February 18, 2020 at 8:45 am

That’s awesome you have the support of your son and daughter-in-law. I’m so thankful to have the support of my parents, who cook vegan for us and eat our vegan food, even though they are not vegan. I agree with your statement, their support makes a world of difference.

My husband has MS and we know that our plant-based diet is a big part of why he is symptom-free.


20 Maria Theresa Maggi February 20, 2020 at 9:58 am

Hi Kari, thank you for your comment and support! I’m so happy to hear your own family is supportive and that your husband does so well following a plant-based diet. Continued health and happiness to all of you!


21 Gena March 2, 2020 at 4:33 am

Happy belated anniversary, dear Maria! What a wonderful post and tribute to your blog and the community it has created. It’s an achievement to bring people together, and you’ve done that by being the loving, generous soul that you are and also by speaking your truth honestly and enthusiastically.

I’m always impressed by the way you talk about healing, both with tremendous hope and also with the willingness to accept what life gives us. “Healing and strength and even success may not always come in the package we are taught to look for it in” may very well become a motto that I print on paper and hang in my office as I meet with clients 🙂 It’s a phrasing that we could all benefit from, no matter what we’re trying to heal from.

I’m personally so glad and blessed that blogging brought us together as friends years ago. And also happy that Susan had something to do with our paths crossing, since she’s a person I have such regard and fondness for. I echo her sentiment: here’s to another 12 years of your writing, cooking, creating art, and slow motion miracle eating!



22 Maria Theresa Maggi March 2, 2020 at 9:52 am

Thank you so much, Gena! It’s one of the blessings of this blog that through it we have become such dear friends. I’m so honored that my phrase “Healing and strength and even success may not always come in the package we are taught to look for it in” might find its way to your clients as well. And yes, here’s to many more years of writing and creating for all of us! Much love to you xoxo


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