I’m not a designated food blogger so I don’t always remember to snap photos of the interesting things I eat, so instead you’ll have to imagine the sweet, gooey dessert I ordered last night at The Pop Shop:

• 2 scoops vanilla ice cream.
• hot fudge sauce.
• Reese’s Pieces.
• broken sugar cone pieces (yes, that’s an actual topping on the menu!).

This order was very atypical for me, especially after a day of full eats, which included a carb-heavy lunch with my in-laws at an Italian restaurant, a few handfuls of chocolate peanut butter popcorn from Gourmet Popcorn Creations, and then my pre-sundae dinner at The Pop Shop: eggs, turkey bacon, home fries, and toast.

Normal Jen probably would have ordered one scoop of soy ice cream with chocolate sauce and sprinkles. After all, I am a huge proponent of small, yet delectable treats:

Seasons 52's delightful mini-indulgences desserts

But when I examined the dessert menu last night and saw that combination of toppings, I was instantly transported back to my childhood and the days of the Friendly’s Cone Head Sundae. You guys know what I’m talking about, right?

This dessert was a treasure chest of goodies; underneath that innocent-looking ice cream face was a hot fudge-filled swimming pool of even more Reese’s Pieces. Experienced servers would dump a handful of candy into that metal cup; they were smart and knew that the happier the kid, the more the grandparents would tip. This dessert defined my childhood, and it’s probably why I’m so partial to Reese’s Pieces now. (Sorry M&Ms, your sentimental value is lacking.)

So that’s what I ordered last night, a combination of ice cream and toppings that re-created my beloved Cone Head Sundae. It was probably more than I really needed–and I ate way more than I anticipated–but it’s what my heart called for, and–despite it being ice cream–it made me feel warm and fuzzy.

It is not normally this easy for me to break free of the self-imposed restrictions I place on “fun” foods; in fact, this is probably the first time at The Pop Shop I ordered real, full-fat ice cream and not a soy variety. I probably have Susan over at The Great Balancing Act to thank for this mini breakthrough. She has taught me a lot over the past few months since her lymphoma diagnosis, especially in this post, in which she writes that being a personal trainer, healthy eater, and nonsmoker doesn’t mean you can’t get cancer.

“I ate my fruit and vegetable servings every day. I exercised almost every day. I did lots of yoga. I meditated (sometimes). I laughed (a lot). I got fresh air walking and running, I slept my eight hours a night. I haven’t touched a cigarette since 2005 and I drink maybe once a month. Maybe.

According to Dr. Oz, I was doing everything right. And I still. got. cancer. At 25 years of age no less.”

At the end of the post, Susan is shown smiling, holding a giant chocolate cake with boiled icing made for a special family celebration.

“I will still try my best to eat my veggies and exercise, because that’s just who I am. But I now know that obsessing over it is fruitless. What I do know is that I want to spend my days feeling engaged and enjoying every hour lived. Not slaving over some notion of what I ‘should’ be doing. I just want to be stress free.”

I know it’s hard to see clearly until you’ve been in the middle of the storm yourself. I acknowledge I’m not 100% there yet, but in the meantime I tip my Cone Head hat to Susan and her sweet, sweet wisdom.

It's what's on the inside the really matters.

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