Something happened in the first week of January 2014. I just decided one morning that I was going to start cooking every night. You see, I’ve been married for 18 years but for most of those 18 years, we ate out. A lot. I would say that we ate out about five times a week. On the days we didn’t eat out, we either ate restaurant leftovers or a rotisserie chicken from Costco or I would make my famous “Chicken Surprise”. That’s what my husband named the chicken dishes I came up with that weren’t very good but edible enough. Chicken sautéed with onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms and thrown over rice. Chicken sautéed with onions and tomatoes and served with French bread. Chicken boiled, shredded, and sautéed with onions then thrown into some taco shells. Chicken simmered in a tomato sauce with onions, mushrooms, bellpeppers, and garlic then thrown over spaghetti. You get the picture.
I have never liked cooking. I have never enjoyed being in the kitchen. It’s lonely. It’s boring. It’s uninteresting. It’s tedious. I mean, who actually enjoys peeling potatoes or cutting the ends off green beans? Not me. Plus, I always had the excuse that my mom died when I was 16 and she never allowed me in the kitchen except to peel potatoes or cut the ends off green beans. (Hey! I just made the connection!) So I could say my mom never taught me to cook. Sounds like a good enough excuse to me!
Truth is…cooking was very scary to me. Very intimidating. Especially because my mom, dad, and brother are all excellent chefs. My lack of culinary skills is the reason I rarely invited anyone to dinner at my house. What the hell would I make them? Chicken Surprise for my husband and kids was acceptable. Chicken Surprise for my friends and family was not. So, if you ever came to dinner, chances are you had some type of meal prepared on the grill by my hubby or I ordered pizza. I lacked confidence and courage in the kitchen so I stayed away from cooking.
I was also ashamed to admit that I didn’t know how to cook. I would only admit to not liking it, but rarely to not being good at it. I thought, what kind of homemaker/stay-at-home-mom was I if I wasn’t making elaborate, delicious meals every night? What have I been doing for the last 10 years staying home if I wasn’t cooking like Giada?
I have heard Brené Brown speak a lot about how you can be scared and brave at the same time; how you are never more courageous than when you are doing something scary. I always thought of it in terms of the big stuff in my life – speaking out about something I believe in; telling my story; standing in my truth; admitting when I was wrong; taking responsibility; apologizing; etc. I never thought about courage in terms of the little things I’ve accomplished…until last night.
In the past year, I have learned that utilizing our creativity is essential to our emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being – whether through art, photography, writing, cooking, scrapbooking, crafting, etc. We all have creativity in us. It’s just a matter finding what it is that is calling you and exercising it. Last night I was reading a book by Kelly Rae Roberts titled “Taking Flight”. The book is about listening to the whispers of your heart and giving your creative spirit wings. She discusses how we all have those whispers that we dismiss as being unimportant, insignificant, or just plain nonsense. Instead we choose to follow a life of practicality, security, and safety and squash the “childish” desires in our hearts.
Kelly Rae says that her first creative passion was making art but instead she chose a career as a Social Worker and put her creative dreams to rest. As she was turning 30, she decided to listen to the whispers in her heart and she was shocked to discover that something was telling her to “start running”. She’s never been athletic and never had a desire to run, so she didn’t understand where this whisper was coming from, but she decided to listen and so she began to train for a half marathon, something she never imagined she could ever do. She writes:
“With each and every training run, I discovered that we learn the most about ourselves when we do the thing we never thought we could do. We unearth our potential. Our limits. Our heart’s distance….
When we actually do the thing we didn’t think we could do, something shifts inside of us. We push our boundaries. We find strength in ourselves that we didn’t know was there…
When I started to run, I began to see myself differently. I wasn’t a girl who quit early anymore. I wasn’t a girl who always said yes. Or a girl who felt limited. Instead, I was a girl who had a voice, a joy, a smile, a very big dream and a purpose. With each crossing of a finish line, my spirit soared with the knowledge that I had finally touched down into the root of my very own possibility. I had conquered something I never thought I would be able to do. Now my world opened up: If I could run, then surely I could paint! The only word I can use to describe what I was feeling in those weeks is limitless…
When we challenge ourselves to push our boundaries, we, perhaps without intending to do so, shed layers of muck – jealously, perfectionism, worry, fear, and self-doubt. Underneath all these shedded layers exists a creative spirit that needs freeing. It’s been there all along, buried beneath misguided intentions…My personal journey through doing the one thing I didn’t think I could do taught me the invaluable, life-changing lesson that anything is possible in our lives when we stop denying ourselves the chance to see our own potential.”
For me, cooking was just like Kelly Rae's half marathon. I was able to do something I never thought I could do – prepare tasty and sometimes delicious meals for my family! Meals actually worthy of inviting family and friends over! Meals for which I have received high praise and compliments! Seriously un-freakin-believable! Who knew I had it in me?! It’s now been a full year I’ve been cooking and I am beyond proud of myself for this huge accomplishment. Really. You have no idea how huge this is for me. And for my husband. He's elated too!
I didn’t realize it until last night, but I think cooking opened my eyes to the possibilities in me and gave me the confidence and courage I needed to start writing; to start this blog. And it has all snowballed from there. I find myself often wondering what else I can learn to do. I’ve got a little mental list going…Take a watercoloring class. (This interest stems from my new-found love of art-journaling thanks to Brené Brown – something else I never knew I could do.) Take a photography class. Join a Reiki Group. And take a rock-wall-climbing class.
I got my first taste of discovering my potential in 2012 when I visited Miraval in Tucson, AZ. It was a huge accomplishment for me to climb a 40-foot rock wall because I don’t have an athletic bone in my body. I am weak, out-of-shape and clumsy. Yet, there I was, climbing to the top of the wall and proving to myself that I could do something I never ever imagined I could do. I felt incredible afterward – proud, amazed, and joy-filled! I walked away from that experience with a new skip in my step.
The feelings of climbing that wall have stayed with me. I have often thought of doing it again. I’ve wondered if I actually would be able to do it again or was that first time just a fluke? It’s been a whisper I’ve had in my heart for over two years. So this year, I intend to follow through and listen to those whispers and continue discovering the potential in me.
What have you wanted to try? What have the whispers been saying to you? It’s time to listen. It’s a new year and it’s time for a new you! Here’s to 2015 and the possibilities that await you! Happy New Year!
|One of my new "famous" side dishes: |
Warm Potato Salad with Pesto, Prosciutto, Asparagus,
and Chick Peas
|A new use of my creativity for 2015:|
I am going to make "quote images" (or whatever
these are called) with all of the photos I have taken
of beautiful landscapes over the years. Here is my first!