change, cooking, creative process, nurture

Beautiful: Nurture Transformation

10928772“We are what we nurture.” – Jonathan Dixon, Beaten, Seared, and Sauced: On Becoming a Chef at the Culinary Institute of America

We are always in a process of becoming.

I could read cooking memoirs all day, every day. There is something so human, so sensual about food and its preparation. There passion in it and it’s relatable. Everyone eats, and therefore at some point every one learns to cooking something. Ultimately cooking and eating are about transformation.

At 38, Jonathan Dixon left behind his work as a writer to enroll at the CIA to become a cook. He gave up all his earthly possessions, moved from Brooklyn to Hyde Park, NY (across the Hudson River from my own hometown), and threw himself into his new vocation. He wasn’t a cook when he started, but he made it his goal to become one. And so he did.

We can do the same. We can reinvent who we are. We can grow our current skill sets and create new ones. We can take up new hobbies, interests, projects, and careers. We can make a new home in a new city. Newness is never beyond us.

nurture, sleep, work

Leap: A Needed Balance Between Working and Resting

From Pinterest

“When one foot walks, the other foot rests.” ~ Indian Proverb

I used to look down on the very idea of rest. Who needs rest when there’s living to do?

I do. A few years ago, I put my lifelong case of insomnia to bed and never looked back. On a rare occasion I will have a restless night, but rather than that being the norm, it’s often brought on by some infrequent and specific external stress. 99% of the time, I get at least 7 hours of rest so that I can recharge and be ready for the day ahead.

Rather than harming my productivity, the rest has actually enhanced it. I like the feeling of being able to lay down after a good day of work and know that I’ve earned the rest. It helps me to focus. It helps me to live in the present moment and to appreciate the busy times as much as the slow times. The rest has also made me more mindful of my own energy levels and it’s helped me to recognize when to call it quits. Rather than fight it, I revel in the need and ability to rest.

As I make these big changes in my career and my life, I feel more confident than ever that I can be both productive and nurturing of my body, mind, and spirit. I used to fear burn out. Now, it’s not even up for consideration. At the slightest twinge of discomfort, I’m able to take a breath or two or three.

Recharging isn’t something that needs to be done on week-long vacations, though I highly recommend those. Every day, we have the choice to come back down into our bodies, into the very depths of who we are, and rest there. Quiet. Peaceful. Free.

care, nature, nurture

My Year of Hopefulness – Peace Lily

I’ve killed every plant I’ve ever tried to care for. Even a cactus. I overwater and pay too much attention to them. They actually make me nervous. I obsessively nurture them to the point of killing them. It’s odd really – plants make their own food. They really don’t need me and as I force myself on them, I see them wilt before my eyes. Caring for plants brings out all my insecurities.  

I thought my peace lily, one of the three plants on Earth that my local florist tells me I cannot possibly kill, had kicked the bucket. It was looking sad and pathetic. Limp, yellowing, and with one foot in the chlorophyll grave. I was about to throw it out and decided to give it just a bit more water to see if I could revive it. And I sang to it. Seriously, I belted out a few songs because I heard a long time ago that plants respond to music. Why not give it a shot?

By some miracle, I was able to revive the peace lily and now it is thriving. I only water the plant when the soil is dry. No fertilizer. No special treatment, aside from the singing. I do sing to it every day. And it’s working. This plant taught me that it might not be the amount of care that you pay to something, but the kind of care. Give everything only what it needs.