Cavalier about Croutons: A Reflection on Cooking, Food and Family

FullSizeRender I just finished my first Blue Apron meal – have you ever tried it? This is the Spiced-Rub Roast Beef with collard greens and potato salad. This is not a review of Blue Apron or cooking – as anyone who follows me knows, I don’t review recipes or food. 🙂 But the experience of trying this service got me thinking about food, cooking and relationships. The writer in me can’t help but think about the life parallels and metaphors.

My relationship to food is – like for a lot of people – complicated. To say I was a picky eater as a kid is an understatement. Nothing could touch on the plate. I had to eat one thing at a time before I could eat something else. I had many rules and rituals. I loved sugar. I snuck white bread with a huge layer of sugar whenever no one was looking. I loved to eat Cool Whip straight out of the tub (and put it back – yuck!!). Sugar is my cocaine. (Which is why I cut out desserts and sugar-laden foods six years ago.) There are many things I haven’t tried – burritos, collard greens until today. The list is long and ridiculous.

I am trying to change that and be more adventurous now. Never too late, right??

Meet my grandma: The woman who taught me the meaning behind the food. Continue reading “Cavalier about Croutons: A Reflection on Cooking, Food and Family”

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What Does Creativity Feel Like?

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View from the writing nook in a castle. Dublin, Ireland. © Christy Miles

It always amuses me when researchers try to pin down the “science” of creativity. Like this Fast Company review of a new book, 7 Surprising Facts About Creativity, According to Science. There’s nothing earth shattering here – 72% of people have creative insights in the shower? Okay. What else you got?

Call me naive or childish, but…why can’t we just let creativity be magical? Can’t we just let it happen and be? Do we have to analyze it to death? I am reminded of my days at Purdue, the starry-eyed writer surrounded by logical, scientific, linear-thinking engineers. One day, sitting outside at twilight on a hot summer day between classes with an engineer friend, a huge plane flew overhead. We sat in silence, watching it pass by. I couldn’t contain myself and said, “Wow, isn’t it amazing that a huge, heavy plane can just…fly??” My engineer friend immediately began to explain aerodynamics to me in pain-staking, exacting, excruciating detail. It’s how he was wired. I get it. 🙂

But I’m not wired that way. I’m wired for wonderment. Amazement. Appreciation. Observing. Synthesizing seemingly random data, words and visuals into new and different ideas. Detecting patterns and playing with new ways of constructing and organizing them. I don’t want to understand the science of creativity. I just want to feel it. Every damn day that I’m lucky enough to be here.

So what does creativity feel like?
Here is my feeble attempt to use words to describe it. I wish I was an artist so I could show you, but even my stick figures suck. So here goes: Continue reading “What Does Creativity Feel Like?”

Dear Bullies, Victims and Everyone Who Bears Witness

Elementary school pupil being bullied

All my friends are heathens, take it slow
Wait for them to ask you who you know
Please don’t make any sudden moves
You don’t know the half of the abuse
All my friends are heathens, take it slow
Wait for them to ask you who you know
Please don’t make any sudden moves
You don’t know the half of the abuse

Heathens |  21 Pilots

Dear Bullies:

I see you.

I know exactly who and what you are. I know you better than you know yourself. You may lack the social skills to interact with others. You may lack empathy. You may have been bullied yourself. And for whatever happened to you, I am truly sorry. But I will not tolerate what you are doing now to someone else.

I understand that underneath your ugly behavior is a sad, lonely, insecure, hurt person who is now lashing out at someone else because you don’t know or see any other way. Maybe you don’t know any better. Maybe you don’t care. You are so miserable with yourself and in more pain than you can even face or acknowledge that you feel the need to inflict that pain onto others. This is sad and pathetic. I see that. We ALL see that.

And we will not tolerate it anymore.

Continue reading “Dear Bullies, Victims and Everyone Who Bears Witness”

Goodbye Macaroni: A Different Spin on Mother’s Day

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July 2013 in Chinatown, Chicago IL on a water taxi just hanging out. Crappy lighting but I love this picture. My kids still talk about this day. No special occasion. Just a regular day in the life. I love this memory. I love their smiles most of all.

Mother’s Day has always been a conflicting one for me. I wish so many things had been different between my mom and me, but she died when I was 25, so I never got to see what might have been. My birth mom and I don’t speak anymore – my choice – another story and another layer of complexity. I myself am a mom to two teens, so I am smack dab in the middle of the “child to adult” transition phase x 2. And I’m friends with lots of moms and non-moms who all have different perspectives, opinions, kids, situations, etc.

In other words, I’m a regular mom with all the regular baggage. 🙂

Then comes Mother’s Day, with the commercial pressure to make the day “special.” I hate that. This brings all sorts of expectations that can’t possibly be met. Well, maybe. Sometimes. Sometimes you end up happy but a little sad for what used to be. What could be. What never will be – ever or again. I am learning to live with this ambiguity. That’s why this year I have a new goal. Continue reading “Goodbye Macaroni: A Different Spin on Mother’s Day”

Engaging Our Teens: Keep Trying

IMG_8572-1291.jpgI don’t know about you, but as a mom of two teenagers (boy and girl), I am always trying to figure out the best way to engage with them and, in marketing terms, ‘stay relevant.’ 🙂 I feel this pressure now more than ever to try to communicate all the last drops of wisdom and guidance that I can as they begin their journeys into high school and beyond.

But I’m old and they are young and of course I have no idea what I am talking about.

I’m not a parenting expert. I’m just a mom who wants to stay connected to my children. I have always tried to parent with purpose and that will never change no matter how old they are. Yet I feel the very nature of our relationship changing every day – I am still the parent, they are still the children. But my son is Continue reading “Engaging Our Teens: Keep Trying”

5 Essential Truths Our Teen Daughters Need to Hear Now

set_kermit_the_frog_425Kermit the Frog once said: It’s not easy being green. Totally with you, Kermit! I would go one step further and say – it’s not easy being thirteen. Especially a thirteen-year-old girl.  I have two teenagers, one son and one daughter, but I find that it is my daughter who needs more help navigating the complexity that comes with the road to womanhood. (Insert collective sigh here from parents across the universe.)

I don’t know about you, but I get tired of the ‘dealing with teen girls’ articles. Continue reading “5 Essential Truths Our Teen Daughters Need to Hear Now”

Dear Dad

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Dear Dad,

I remember fishing with you on piers and docks – never on a boat, because you couldn’t be on the water anymore after shipping out to Korea while serving our country. (I still bait my own hooks but still refuse to take the fish off when I catch them.)

I remember the meatloaf and ketchup sandwich you made me in third grade when mom was sick and you had to pinch hit. The look of horror on my classmates’ faces as they caught a glimpse of the ketchup soaked white bread. (There were to be no trades that day. 🙂 )

I remember the story of how you ran away from home at 13 to be a cowboy – traveling by bus from Chicago to Wyoming, with nothing more than the clothes on your back, sneakers, and a friend. How you had to work all summer there to earn enough money to come home. (I thought you were the strongest person in the whole wide world. Still do.)

I remember Continue reading “Dear Dad”