Archives for category: Parables

Most details of this delightful love I share with my Traveling Partner play out in our kitchen. Discussions about recipes, cooking techniques, taste preferences, costs and sources of various ingredients, and sharing suggestions, tips, and offering practical help, or even just hanging out to watch and share the experience, are all very commonplace happenings here. We both cook. He’s quite good at it. I’m a perpetual novice, tackling every new recipe as if cooking for the first time. I’ve learned quite a lot from my partner, in our kitchen. Even subtler nuances of love play out in our kitchen; how our dynamic works (or doesn’t, now and then), the search for balance, mutual autonomy, mutual respect, and the way our obvious fond regard for one another eases the strain of occasional conflict. How to communicate. How to follow instructions. It’s all in the kitchen.

I personally have a strange mixed up relationship with “the kitchen”. In my childhood, this was the place women gathered – or were directed towards. “Real chefs” were respected in the world… women in the kitchen were not. I have a lingering fuck-ton of baggage about misogyny, the kitchen, feminism, equality, and what it means to be a woman in the kitchen, in American life. All mine. I don’t think my partner shares that garbage (he’s no doubt got his own to deal with), and this too becomes part of the theater of life – and the kitchen.

…I do love cookbooks. This may seem odd considering my strange relationship with the kitchen and with cooking. I long resented the dishes (as in “dirty, in the sink”) as emblematic of servitude, for like… decades. No idea when I got over that… I think it was when I realized that it was my own desire for order that drove my stress about the dishes, that I was finally able to put some of that down and walk on from it. I even like cooking. I like taking ingredients and making them something more than they once were – something worth sharing, and experiencing. The effort has meaning and value, when I allow myself to wholly enjoy the outcome, authentically, honestly, and fearlessly. I mean – let’s be real here – I’m not the most fantastic cook on the block. lol I’ve got a lot to learn, and mistakes have been made. 🙂 I’ll probably enjoy learning more about cooking for a long while to come.

I’ve learned a few things in the kitchen, in this relationship, and not just recipes or gadgets. I’ve learned more about “the dance” of lovers in close quarters working on separate tasks; kitchens are often small confined spaces, and in some cases even two people is one person “too many” for ease and convenience. Coordination becomes relevant. Communication is important. Acceptance, and understanding, and the assumption of positive intent keep things merrily moving along toward a successful, hopefully tasty conclusion. 🙂 There are some really useful lessons to be learned in the kitchen.

Friday I said I wanted to work on my pancakes this weekend. They’re okay. Not “great”. They’re perfectly good pancakes, but not such that anyone is going to ask me to make them. LOL So, okay. I made pancakes yesterday. Re-learned the lesson that is “make sure your surface is hot enough before you start cooking the pancakes”. Important lesson there. 🙂 In the evening, I remembered my plan to make pancakes and spoke up about my intention to do so again today for breakfast. My partner’s reply? “Waffles?”. Yep. I learned to make waffles pretty well last year, around this same time, I think. At that time, my Traveling Partner was kind, and very clear about it “I don’t really like waffles, but…” he was totally open to supporting my efforts by eating waffles now and then. He just didn’t want me to be disappointed if he just wasn’t wowed by waffles. I appreciate expectation-setting, especially when done with such care and love. I made the waffles. They were “okay”. We ate them. I made more waffles, and the next time or two they were beyond “okay” – we ate those, too, obviously. My waffles are pretty good. Good enough to freeze any excess and using them as homemade freezer waffles for later. lol My partner asks me to make waffles – because my waffles are fucking delicious. 😀 There’s a lesson here. There’s a metaphor here. I think it over and sip my coffee.

Soon, it’ll be time to begin again. In the kitchen. Making waffles. Feeling loved.

We don’t necessarily choose where we start our journey; our starting point is what it is. We can choose our direction. We can choose each step along the way (although we often trudge through our lives more haphazardly than that). We can choose (and embrace) change. We often don’t. I know I too frequently endure what could be changed… endurance has been sort of habitual for me, and often seems “easier” as a result.

Enduring misery seems kind of stupid when choices can be made. If a job or relationship feels miserable, why would we not choose to change it? This could mean walking away, it could be taking a new approach or setting new/different boundaries and expectations. So many choices. So many opportunities to use the power of choice and change…

Choosing can seem pretty difficult, itself. I’m not sure I have good insights on why that is. Change feels scary sometimes. Choosing it brings that fear into prominence, up close, intimately connected with how I see myself, and what I may think I “deserve” in life. Weird, right? I mean… how strange that one might choose to endure misery rather than face one’s fears about change, or reflect on what we can or should do to care for ourselves.

Some weeks ago, I admitted to my Traveling Partner that I am not happy with my current job. Commonplace enough. His response to that, looking back, seems pretty rational and practical, too. “Maybe it’s time to look for something different?” I replied “Maybe. Probably.” I reflected on that conversation, and my circumstances… new mortgage…a desire for stability…fearfulness of change…and a job that I was not finding satisfying because I’m not finding success in it (based on my own definition of success, which requires – for me – that my best work also be effective). Endure? Or… seek change? Could the needed change be achieved where I am? Do I even want that based on all the information at hand?

These sorts of questions work whether the struggle is to do with jobs, projects, relationships… pretty “all purpose” for contemplating purposeful change in life. 😀

One morning, I made a choice.

Anyway. The “tl;dr” of the thing is that I started looking at other opportunities, and found something that suits me better. Time to make that change happen. Time to walk on. Time to live with purpose and time to choose.

…And it’s time to begin again. 😀

I slept deeply through the night, and woke gently ahead of the alarm clock. I sat quietly with my coffee for almost an hour, simply breathing and reflecting. It was a pleasant gentle moment with myself, and a great start to my day.

I found myself reflecting on the yearning to be heard that so many of us feel, so chronically, and the way we once channeled our voices into writing – on paper, I mean – journals, manuscripts, letters to far off family, friends, or colleagues. Letters to editors. Letters to legislators. Letters to businesses and institutions. It’s a slower pace of communication, for certain, and one that presents an opportunity to reflect on our words, and reconsider them. Contrast this with the “shouting into the void” sorts of experiences we find on social media platforms of various sorts; we can drop our remarks into a quick post or tweet, and fire them off into feeds everywhere… so many more opportunities to be really heard! At least… that’s the marketing hype. Be heard. Share your voice. Share your opinion (however poorly supported in any factual way). Share your outrage and your anger (without regard to the completeness of your understanding, or how well-informed your perspective truly is). Likes, clicks, and views are monetized. Profits go to the loudest most “viral” voices. It’s not a coincidence that we discuss such things using the language of contagion; it’s less about the truth, and more about spreading that shit around.

I definitely “want to be heard”. This? Here? It’s not really about that, for me – it’s more about a long conversation with myself (and with you) that I can look back on, refer to for context, and gauge progress over time, or reach back in time for “help from a friend” I can generally count on these days – myself. I still find myself, often, disagreeing with an article or commentator and wanting to “answer them” or reply… I know I’m not alone in that. Twitter is undeniable proof that we’re a society of folks who shout at their televisions when the talking heads on the screen say something we find disagreeable. lol

…Sometimes it’s a better choice to simply “shout into the void” and then just let that shit go. Seriously. I mean… is every opinion I don’t share worth challenging? Is every bit of objectionable content worth actually objecting to? I bet you know what I think the answer to those questions is… Opinions don’t become facts just because a fuck-ton of people share one (or many). Still just opinion. Still no more valuable than that. Too often we allow ourselves to be persuaded to adopt an opinion or stance on some subject without properly exploring the facts – the real facts, the documented known facts – and we’re far too reluctant to accept uncertainty or a lack of knowledge. We’d much rather “know” something… even if it is patently and obviously and demonstrably provably incorrect. No kidding. It’s actually pretty challenging to fight off the inclination to “know” something I don’t truly know, and based on what I see in the news, and on various news-adjacent or purportedly informative platforms, it’s a common affliction among human primates.

We could do better.

I know I can do better… that’s something I’m pretty certain of, and I find quite a lot to support that supposition factually. So. There’s that.

Our emotions get ahead of us so often…

Don’t drink the poison. Don’t pass it around. Don’t practice “being” an emotional condition that could be a moment (instead of a lifetime condition). Just saying. There are other options. 🙂 Share kindness. Be there for each other in difficult times – in the most positive way possible. Assume positive intent. Take care of yourself – and make it a priority worth your time and attention.

I sip my coffee reflecting on other moments. Smiling. Breathing. Ready to begin again.

Once we choose our path, we’ve still got to walk it. The journey is the destination. 🙂

The last day of 2020. There’s no point arguing that, and unless we abruptly change calendars, there’s no turning back now; the year is ending. 🙂 I’m okay with that.

This is a season of change. There are choices and plans to make. There are past mistakes to contemplate, to learn from, to avoid in the future. There are future opportunities (and pitfalls) ahead, on which to build still further into the future. My results will surely vary. There will be verbs involved. Practices to practice. Choices with surprising outcomes, upon which to reflect further. It seems like there is almost always “further” to go.

This blog, this humble instrument of expression, these handfuls (fistfuls? bucketfuls?) of words have been incredibly helpful for me, along this strange journey of healing and growth, as I head toward being the woman – the human being – I most want to be. I sip my coffee, flavored with a bit of the buttered rum batter I made this morning, for later this evening, when my Traveling Partner and I toast the new year together. It turned out pretty good, and I’m pleased with the flavors. Pretty good in coffee, too. 😀

I started this blog on January 8th, 2013, as I teetered on the edge of life’s most final decision; whether to go on living. (Breathe. This is all about hope and promise and continuation – it’s not a sad tale.) Since then,

I’ve published 2232 posts here.

I’ve received 10,020 spam comments (blocked by Akismet).

I’ve received 1060 legitimate comments from readers. (Thank you for reading.)

2914 days have passed.

11,304 views of my page were recorded.

When I look closer, I see that some of my posts are hundreds of times more popular than all the others… by far the most popular (in the history of my blog) is “Be My Valentine? How About I Be My Own Valentine?“. It’s followed closely by my reading list. The Parable of the Barking Dog, and The Parable of Poison have also been very popular. When I re-read these, myself, I still find value in them, and room to grow as a person from reflecting on observations made long ago. (That’s sort of how writing works, I guess. lol)

This year, the most popular posts still include my reading list and The Parable of the Barking Dog. Beyond those, the favorites seem to reflect the times rather a lot. Reflections on this journey-of-self, musings about finding balance in challenging times. Thoughts on the passage of time, and shifting perspective, on a birthday.

I take a look at the recorded search terms that took people to my blog this year (it’s always worth a giggle):

…”Don’t be a dick light”? What does that mean?

I find myself mildly frustrated that I can’t see the “unknown search terms” – I bet they are interesting. lol I take another look – search terms over “all time” (I mean, since this blog started, right?)… It is an interesting look at what drives traffic to my blog, and maybe why.

I’m clearly not the only fan of Rick & Morty. I’m interested in what it is about “inspirational word” searches that bring people here… I hope they find something worthy to sustain them on their journey.

2020 has been a wild ride – one of the most peculiar seeming years of my adult life, as far as I can recall. Right up there with 1981 (joined the Army), 1989 (the fall of the Berlin Wall), and 2010 (it’s complicated). It’s not that other years don’t stand out as significant, it’s just that these were “big years” in some harder to pin down way (for me). 2020? Monster year. Plague (well, pandemic). Election year. Black Lives Matter. Australia on fire. California and Oregon on fire. Presidential impeachment. Climate change slowly stops being debated and starts being acknowledged. The “Me Too” movement. RBG died. My Traveling Partner and I bought a home. I mean… yeah. It’s been a big year. I’m glad it’s over.

What about you? Have you taken a moment to reflect on times past? What will you do with the year ahead? Will you fulfill a dream? Reach a goal? Will you persist? Will you let go of old baggage in favor of a new direction in life? Will you change the world?

…I guess we don’t know until we begin again. 🙂 See you in 2021. 😀

Generally speaking, it makes a lot of sense to cook from the recipe, particularly considering I am neither a trained cook or chef, nor am I an amazing natural talent in the kitchen. I’m just a person cooking food. 🙂 The traditions of my family’s kitchens are not astonishing. They are a fairly commonplace hodge-podge of German, English, French, Slavic, and Mediterranean cuisines, with hints of flavors borrowed elsewhere. Ordinary “American food”. I was fortunate to be exposed to more foreign flavors and food experiences through my military service, and family members who traveled the world in their own endeavors. I enjoy food. I’m less of a fan of kitchen work (chopping, preparing, measuring, cleaning up, doing dishes), but… if I don’t cook, I have far fewer choices of what foods go into my mouth!

…If I want to reproduce a food, meal, or flavor I fancy, I pretty much have to follow the recipe with care, though, is my point…

“Follow the recipe” sounds rather a lot like “follow instructions”. There is, for sure, a time and place where/when not following instructions may be the wiser course, but let’s be real; those times/places are by far the exception. In general, it makes sense to follow directions, instructions, recipes, how-to guides, care manuals, safety warnings… all of that.

I had a powerful lesson in following the recipe over the holiday weekend – and it was tasty and delightful. I (re)learned how to make scrambled eggs (that are actually worth eating)! Doesn’t sound that exciting, I’m sure. It was delicious (but now I can’t say I don’t like eggs). I also (re)learned to make really good waffles. So much yum. 😀 Super delicious, and I got there by reading with care (in this instance equivalent to listening deeply), following the recipe, and practice. Totally worth it!

…Then, I ruined the wire whisk for my Kitchen Aid mixer by throwing it into the dishwasher carelessly (acting on the recollection that it is dishwasher safe – it isn’t – from a much older model that had an all-stainless whisk attachment – that still had care instructions, by the way, that said “hand wash only”). Well, shit. Harsh reminder that “rules is rules”, and in some cases (often with safety instructions or care instructions), those rules are there for a legitimately good reason. In this case, the dishwasher efficiently removed the coating from the zinc-containing base metal of the attachment’s hub (the wires themselves are still stainless), creating a safety/health concern, and also just generally an icky inky mess any time I touch that whisk.

I woke to a polite note from my Traveling Partner, who had emptied the dishwasher this morning. It included a frowny face, and a reminder that he’d specifically reminded me not to put these accessories in the dishwasher, and asking me to toss the ruined accessory and order a new one. Fuuuuuuuuuck. Damn it. Shit. I’m annoyed with myself. Learning new shit sometimes means unlearning old shit – and guess which one of those things does not come naturally to me?? (If you guessed that I may have some challenges unlearning habitual behaviors, you are correct!)

Follow the recipe. Yes, maybe you have a tweak in mind that could be really good… I’m not saying don’t explore or adventure, just noticing how much more successful I tend to be, in a great many circumstances, when I follow recipes – whether those are recipes for waffles or recipes for success is not relevant here. Recipes. Instructions. Warnings. Care guides. RTFM. Even I know that. Here’s the thing; I’m learning that there are elements of recipes one can adjust more or less to preference or with wild abandon… and others that can’t be adjusted without wrecking the result. Some substitutions work. Some don’t. Some changes affect flavor. Some changes don’t. Some changes result in the chemistry of the recipe breaking down completely (go ahead, leave out all the eggs, cheese, proteins and starches from your “casserole” – let me know how that one goes). So. There’s that. One more challenging bit of skillful adulthood to tackle. LOL

…Note: there’s really no version of “changing the recipe” that applies comfortably to actual safety instructions. Just saying, be safe.

So, this morning I’m sipping my coffee and shopping for a replacement wire whisk, and feeling grateful to have a partner who is fairly patient with me day-to-day, and feeling grateful to have reached this place where I am also patient with myself. There’s a ton of practice involved in changing old habits or frankly-less-than-ideal behavior. My results vary. I definitely have to begin again, like, a bunch. It is a process.

Heading into the new year, I’m not even upset over it, just mildly frustrated, a bit disappointed with myself, and eager to begin again. 🙂