I Say I Want a Revolution

As my last post indicated, there is so much I want to do in this world for this world. But the one that I keep coming back to is the food. I love food. I love cooking. I love sharing food with those I love. All this from the girl who 15 years ago easily burned toast and didn’t know how to fry an egg. I’ve come a long way, cookie!

Even then, when I often confused the word stove for the word oven (oh, wait, I still have to think of “stovetop stuffing” to remember that the stove is on top) and didn’t know a pot from a pan, I would watch endless cooking shows on PBS. In part because I loved watching people create good food, but mostly because I didn’t have cable, and when I came home from work or lounged away on a weekend, that’s all PBS had to offer.

So what about food do I want to revolutionize?

Nothing, really. Food is great. It doesn’t need a revolution. But our mind-sets toward food need some tweaking. I know we are all crunched for time. I know it’s a struggle just to get everything done in a day that needs getting done. But what if we looked at food preparation and cooking from a new angle.

It doesn’t have to be a chore. It is not a task for just one person in a family to do to nourish all the others. What if we treated it like settling in to watch a family movie or sitting around a board game? What if it was another opportunity to be with family and friends? I don’t have kids of my own, but I watch my good friends letting their kids get their hands dirty to help with pancakes in the morning or getting the bread ready for grilled cheese sandwiches at night. We can teach them from a young age the joy of cooking for themselves and for others.

And it doesn’t have to be a big fancy dinner each night. Even if it’s just boxed mac and cheese, why not roast up some cauliflower in olive oil and toss it in? Once roasted, that bitter flavor disappears, and if it’s broken up into pieces and coated with cheese sauce, no one will be the wiser that they are ingesting a healthy (well, not quite as healthy as it was) veggie.

But what plagues me is how do I achieve this revolution? I’m not a nutritionist. I’m not a chef. I’m not even a consistently great cook. There are hundreds of great food blogs out there already. Will I just be another one thrown into the mix?

Well, I don’t know. For now, I’m just going to do some blog posts about recipes I’ve thrown together when I thought I didn’t have time or didn’t have a thing to eat or just didn’t feel like cooking … only to find that it doesn’t take much time, I often do have enough to eat and, just as with exercise, once I start cooking, I totally get into the process and enjoy it.

OK, so I’ll blog about it. But who’s going to read it? Well, that’s the next, big, scary step, isn’t it? I’ll have to let people know what I’m doing. I’ll have to share my blog with total strangers, as well as family and friends. And then I’ll have to see what happens next.

It’s not a job. It’s not a money maker. But it’s a passion!


Making a Difference

The first time I read each new LYL prompt, I instantly feel nervous and hesitant. These are big questions: what makes you angry, what’s your passion, what are you proud of. For someone who likes to stay in the background and just go with the flow, these are things I tend not to dwell on too much.

But they are important questions. And the fact that I tend not to look too deeply is probably one reason I’m still doing the same thing I’ve always done. How can I figure out what I want to do if I’m unwilling to address these questions?

Today’s question is a biggie: What difference do I want to make? I edit papers that few people other than me ever read. These papers often have things of value to say, but I honestly don’t know who reads them. So even though I help the authors convey their meaning clearly and coherently, am I really making a difference? And does it really matter if I insert a comma or delete a comma or spell out a number or use numerals?

These not-really-existential-ish questions have been plaguing me lately. Effective communication is important, and I’m glad I can help. But it’s not really my passion. (Though don’t get me started on double spaces vs. single spaces after punctuation. That is apparently something I am vehemently passionate about. One. Space. Only!)

But what is my passion? How do I want to make a mark on this world?

There are so many ways. I have no idea how to go about any of these, but here’s what I want.

  • I want to help alleviate conflict and tension on the local level. I want to help all sides see their common ground rather than focusing on all the hatred, anger, and negativity.
  • I want to help families find that time in their busy lives to come together and create good, healthy meals that they can all enjoy … without all the preservatives and fillers and other crap that goes into fast food, prepackaged products, and junk.
  • I want to encourage children to focus on their strengths and find their own passion to help them love learning. Not every child can excel in every subject, and it’s ridiculous that we expect them to. Instead, if we focus on what they love and what they are good at and what they are interested in, we can begin to build a society that works so much better together.
  • I want to work to keep our outdoors clean and pristine for future generations to enjoy–through trail maintenance, raising funds/awareness for open space, using less packaging to keep the trash we put back into the world at a minimum, and on and on.
  • I want to help others learn how to practice meditation, breathing, mindfulness, prayer, or whatever they want to call it or whatever calls to them in order to ease the stress and tension in their lives.

I know I can’t do all these things … or not all of them all the time. But they are what interest me. And they all seem to go back to calming the souls, the minds, the tensions in the world, whether through deep breathing, getting outside, learning more, or just sharing laughter over a hearty bowl of soup.

Proud Moments

Oh, all this introspection and looking back on my life is tough. I have been wracking my mind for days over what makes me feel proud, in what moments I felt most proud, what accomplishments have made me proud.

And I am drawing a blank.

A big part of the problem is that I equate pride and proudness with bragging and posturing. I’m all about staying low key. I don’t usually like to draw attention to myself or to make ripples. Because then someone might see a flaw or, even worse, expect me to do those proud-producing things all the time. I mean, what if I fail?

But back to the question. What in my life has made me proud?

So, let me just list some little moments:

  • I was proud of getting accepted to Smith College on early decision, especially as my high school guidance counselor advised me against applying there, because she said it was unlikely I would get accepted. (Really?! What kind of guidance counselor was she?!)
  • I was proud of being able to use my high school AP credits and a few extra credit hours each semester in order to graduate a year early, thus saving my overly generous parents another year’s worth of tuition and getting me out into the workforce sooner!
  • I was proud of getting a job in publishing so soon after graduating from Denver University Publishing Institute and then moving up through the ranks from editorial assistant to full-on production editor in such a short time.

But in my mind, I tend to taint each proud moment in my life with some kind of disclaimer.

I half-jokingly tell people the only reason I got into Smith was that I was the only applicant from Alabama.

Even though I graduated early, my grades were lackluster, and since I sort of rushed through it all, I still feel like I didn’t get all I could out of college.

But, hey, I don’t have a disclaimer for that first job. I really did get that job on my own merit. And thanks to a fabulous mentor and a super-supportive boss, I was able to learn a great deal in a short time and move up through the ranks, putting me on the road to where I am now. So, hooray for me.

But the point isn’t really to toot my own horn, is it? What deeper meaning can I learn from this little prompt?

Well, obviously, I need to value those proud moments in my life more and stop putting myself down. I did get into a good school, even if I am now the first to (loudly) proclaim that no school is good or bad; it’s what you get out of it that counts. And I did get through that college in three quick years. And my GPA never ever came up in the real world, so who cares if it wasn’t a 4.0. What mattered more is that I learned how to study, get work done, prioritize projects, work with others, make new friends, and deal with difficult situations. All of which come in handy on a regular basis in every day of my life.

So, my task for myself is to look at other moments from my life that I put down and really look at what I have achieved, what I have learned, and how it has all helped me to become who I am and who I will be.


Thank You

Today’s assignment from Live Your Legend’s blog challenge is proving to be difficult.

“What do people thank you for?”

I asked my husband what people thank me for. His response: “Our dog thanks you for rescuing her from the pound and giving her a better life.” Not quite what I was looking for, but I guess it’s better than nothing.

Beyond this, all I could come up with was people thanking me for cooking food for them or clients thanking me for doing a good job. Both are valid. I love cooking healthy, tasty meals for myself and others. It is probably where I am most creative in life. I also enjoy helping authors get the most meaning out of their words. After all these years, I’ve gotten pretty good at it.

But what else?

Then I remembered a situation a few years back, when I spoke up during an increasingly uncomfortable conversation between my aunt, mother, uncle, and grandmother. I often don’t speak up with extended family … at least not when they are discussing serious topics. I’m usually the lighthearted conversationalist who flits in for a week, shares stories from adventures in far-off Boise, and then flits away home. But this time, after listening to everyone express their fears and frustrations and realizing that tensions were mounting, I decided to speak up.

I didn’t have anything deep or insightful to say, but I did have the advantage of being detached enough to see all sides. I could see that my grandmother just wanted the freedom to live on her own. I could see that my mom and uncle were petrified that if she were left on her own, she would eventually get hurt or possibly die. (She is 94, after all.) My aunt just wanted my grandmother to go on the way she always has, independent but also dependent.

I didn’t resolve the situation, but I did help them see different sides to the arguments and discussions. Doing so de-escalated the tension and got them moving toward a calmer discussion and eventual resolution.

Later, my uncle and my aunt both thanked me for my comments and for helping them all to take a breath, take a step backward, and approach the situation from a slightly different angle.


Angry at the World

What a happy way to start the second day of the blog challenge, but it definitely provides fuel for my fire. The “assignment” is to write a few words about what in this world makes me angry. I’m a pretty happy, positive person, but I also have a hugely cynical, angry side, so the options here were fairly endless. And then my good friend posted this quote on Facebook:

The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity. … They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.

—Vice President Henry A. Wallace, April 9, 1944

People, this was written in 1944. I know, it’s not ancient history, but it’s long enough ago that I’d like to think things have changed since then or that we’ve learned a little something about fear and hatred. Especially as this was written in the midst of a war we were fighting against one of the biggest fascist of all. Instead, it just seems to be getting crazier and crazier. The conglomerate media, the rampant partisanship, the fear-mongering and hatred and utter contempt for anything “different” or “new” or “anti-Christian” (fill in with whatever religion each country is fanatical about). It frightens the hell out of me. As much as I try to live my life by my own ideals of acceptance and openness and enlightenment, I fear for humanity’s future.

But I also know this has always been the case. There will always be power-hungry corporations, people, politicians, religious leaders who feed us this fear-based diet to keep us in their control. I know, it’s not always as diabolical and planned-out as all that, but often it is. And whether it’s a deliberate plan or pure “luck” on their part, the result is the same.

The First Day

“The more I write, the more I discover.” – Unknown

A new day, a new blog.

I have many intentions for this blog … a record of what we eat when we say we have nothing to eat, a record of my self-work at figuring out exactly what I want to be when I “grow up,” a record of my general thoughts and feelings in relation to whatever happens to pop up for me that day.

Initially, Bare Cupboards was going to be about our allegedly empty kitchen from which we are almost always able to create a filling, healthy, satisfying, and even delicious meal. But perhaps Bare Cupboards is also about how I often feel I don’t have much to offer or say, when I actually do have my own unique viewpoint–sometimes silly, sometimes lame, sometimes witty, sometimes semi-original, but always my own. And that is what I am here to explore.

I’m starting this today because of the Live Your Legend (LYL) Blog Challenge. I’d been throwing around the idea of creating a new blog that isn’t just for family or isn’t just for my late-night, often-drunken ramblings. This one is for me to see where it can take me. So let’s see how this goes!