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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The Vision: A Little Yellow Kitchen, Candles, Music, Laughter

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home. i’m almost out of k-cups and I really need to throw out those bananas lol, we always forget to eat them.

Four years ago, I had a vision. It was, as my visions tend to be, simple: a tiny yellow painted kitchen with a window over the sink. Candles. Music. Laughter. At the time, I was going through a divorce and there was very little to laugh about. I had no idea where we were going, let alone where we were going to live. And then this yellow kitchen scene appeared in my mind’s eye. I didn’t know what it meant or where it was. I don’t even like yellow very much. But after years of visioning scenes, characters and stories as a writer, I knew enough to tuck it away, trusting that the vision would become clear when the time was right.

Continue reading “The Vision: A Little Yellow Kitchen, Candles, Music, Laughter”

Plan Be: What It Really Means to Be Strong

Crossfit Training Lifting Kettlebell Front

Ever since my divorce in 2014, I’ve thought about getting another tattoo. But I couldn’t think of anything that really “nailed” what I wanted to convey permanently in art on my skin. Something I could look at every day and say – Yes. That.

Maybe I’m over thinking it. One of my strengths is that I’m good at thinking things through, but the flip side is I think too much. 🙂 But as I approach another birthday, I find myself pensive, as usual. Taking stock, looking back, peeking forward.

And then my friend Joe posed a link to this article/love letter/online dating profile for her husband by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, a writer and fellow Chicagoan I adore: You Might Want to Marry My Husband. (Special thanks to my friend Susan for recommending her to me years ago.) I remember reading her witty books when my kids were babies and was heartbroken to learn of her illness. I am in awe of her grace, humility, prose, and beauty. Her strength, even in the midst of a dark time, is touching beyond any words I could muster.

This got me thinking about strength and what it really means to be “strong.” I used to want to be “strong” so badly. Continue reading “Plan Be: What It Really Means to Be Strong”

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”

Enter “Happiness” into Google Maps: Where Will You End Up?

Sunset landscape

 

There is something about
Watching an orange sherbet sunset
framed by weeping willows
Sink quietly into darkness
that soothes the soul
(despite the weeping)

There is something about
Walking on eggshells
that changes you
Cheats you
Damages you
Shames you
Silences you
(did you know you could live your whole life like that?)

Being told
Don’t tell
Don’t cry
Don’t question
Don’t feel
Don’t be you
(how long exactly does it take for a heart to die?) Continue reading “Enter “Happiness” into Google Maps: Where Will You End Up?”

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”