August 10, 2014

What’s Happening at Cooking2Thrive

Here’s what’s happening at Cooking2Thrive…This weekend I’ve been baking bread. I have new neighbors, so I took them a warm loaf – gluten-free of course – yeasty, hearty, and multigrain. Nothing can make the smell of new paint seem more homey and inviting than the added smell of freshly baked bread.
multigrain bread

Yesterday’s bread didn’t rise quite as high as I wanted, so today I’m going to add a tiny bit more yeast, knead 2 minutes less and allow the dough to rise higher in the pan before it goes in the oven. I’ve baked bread off and on for over 30 years. Today’s exercise isn’t really necessary. I know I can play with the science, get the recipe perfect, and still the bread will vary.

Bread is affected by the temperature in the house, moisture in the air, really everything around it. The best bread is made by feeling your way through the process. Does the dough look moist enough? Should I let it rise a bit more even though I’m past the window in the recipe or does this height feel right? The more you bake, the easier it is to end up with the bread qualities you want even when you change things on the spot. Baking is as much art as it is science.

Nonetheless, we’re dedicated to providing you with recipes that are as perfect as possible. We put all of our recipes through a minimum of 3 levels of testing. The breads and crackers often go through many more rounds to get the taste, texture, and look just right. Of course that means we’re way behind where I’d like to be…way behind where I thought we’d be…in launching our full website.

So, where are we? I’m excited to say that we have several unique products produced and ready for the photo shoot that will give us images for the online store. We’re only 3 recipes away from having or first 2-pack ready to print. Our unique recipe boxes are on the shelves ready to fill with printed recipe cards. We’re designing the electronic version that you will be able to download or purchase on a credit card style USB drive. The educational portion of the site is built. We have several episodes of our cooking show edited and ready to post, and video interviews with a chef, MD, and life coach are ready as well. All of that feels great!
recipe box

And it feels frustrating. I feel like the closer I get to the home stretch, the further away I get. I’m familiar with the process. I’ve been a business owner for almost 25 years, but my other business feels more scientific. My clients originate the projects. All I have to do is finish out a narrow portion of each project in the manner that meets industry standards and pleases my clients. My timelines are based on their deadlines and they are rarely flexible. It is always a juggling act, but with a very routine flow.

This process felt totally organic in the beginning. It evolved naturally almost without effort because we could allow it to grow and evolve away from the public eye. It didn’t feel like a business. Now we’ve hit the point where other priorities enter the picture and I am struggling to get the art and science in balance. I have a vision for how I want things to happen and the sort of work environment I want to create. I know that as long as I keep baking, the bread will turn out fine. I’ll have perfect batches and I’ll throw some in the trash. It’s the process of all things creative.

And while I know that, I feel frustrated and discouraged and annoyed right now because I can’t wait to give you access and I have no idea what the real launch date will be. I feel bad that I’ve been so off on my estimated timelines up to this point. While I believe it’s important to have things working correctly when we launch, I feel like I’m letting you down somehow by taking so much time.

I am grateful for your patience, grateful that I’m excited about what we will offer you from the moment we launch, and grateful for all the hard lessons I’m learning in the process. I am – all foot stomping, silent screaming, frustrated tears included – grateful.

That’s the Cooking2Thrive update for today. How are things going with your endeavors? Feel free to share triumphs and trials below!

August 2, 2014

Why is it so hard to take care of ourselves? A Lesson from Stewart…

Why is it so hard to take care of ourselves? It’s a question I frequently ask myself. Why does it seem like too much trouble to cook dinner when I’m home alone even though I’d happily throw something together for the kids? Why will I run an errand after work for a client while my To Do list grows and grows?
Stewart

This week, I’ve been asking this question a lot. My granddog, Stewart, is staying with me for the first time. He has no problem prioritizing what he needs. When he’s hungry, he eats. When he’s thirsty, he drinks. When he wants to go for a walk, he stands at the door, looks me in the eye, and moves his head forward. When he wants to go for a ride, he runs to the car and stands by the door. If he wants to sit on my lap, he scoots my laptop with his head to make room. He glares when he’s mad. He growls and entices when he wants to play. He’s cooperative when I tell him no, but he remains clear on his goal.
eating

Yes, I know Stewart’s life is simpler than a human’s. Yes, I know that I can choose myself as a priority and say no more often, but watching Stewart proudly stride toward the gate at the Governor’s mansion during his walk as though he has total confidence that he belongs there reminds me that we all come into the world with this sort of belief – this level of presence. Then most of us learn to be less than.

Once we’ve embraced the concept of limiting ourselves, we encourage others to be less than. When they choose their truth as a priority, we often talk amongst ourselves about how they should behave differently. We call them selfish or self-centered and as a result limit ourselves to the shoulds we have bestowed upon everyone else.

Stewart has no concern about how much another dog eats, how far he can walk, whether he barks more or less. He may be curious, but it doesn’t affect how he manages his time or prioritizes his needs. He is happy to accept other dogs and other people as he experiences them in the moment. I can’t help but be struck by the simple wisdom there is in living in each moment and allowing those around us to do the same without condemnation.

I know that my choices are more complex than Stewart’s, but what decisions can I make that will bring me closer to living fully instead of as less than?

In this moment, when I am hungry I will feed myself fresh, delicious food. If I am limited on time, I will feel satisfied to eat raw fruit or vegetables, nuts, cheese, or leftovers. When I am feeling stiff, I will go for a walk or a swim. When I feel sad, I will sit with my sadness. When I feel afraid, I will not bury my fear in busyness, or a To Do list of shoulds. Instead I will sit with my fear with the confidence that it will dissipate before it consumes me.

I will accept the flaws in others because this will give me the capacity to accept those in myself. I will allow myself to be compassionate toward others when they fail me so I can feel compassion for myself when I fail. I will refuse to accept the notion that any of us are less than. I do not accept the idea that making a healthy choice limits my options. I will not use my time to make things more difficult than they are. I will humbly and strongly speak my truth secure in the knowledge that I am contributing to the collective wisdom around me. I will express gratitude because I am truly grateful.

I will practice, practice, practice because I will never be perfect. For that, I am grateful.

As always Stewart’s look says it all, “Are you crazy? I know I’m perfect!”

crazy

July 24, 2014

Travel Tip #8 Speed Up Your Trip Through Security and Keep Your Clothes On!

Did you know you may be able to speed up your trip through security at the airport? If, like me, you feel like you’re always running behind once you’ve packed the snacks and headed out the door, you can benefit from participating in TSA Pre✓™.

TSA FAQ

If you qualify for this program, you’ll walk to a very short line, show your boarding pass and walk though a metal detector while your bag is being X-rayed. No removing items from your bag or clothing from your body. Let me qualify that – you might have to remove a trench coat, but if you want to wear your fancy boots that take forever to put on or take off, go right ahead because they will stay on your feet. You can also manage to avoid the full body scanner.

It’s unbelievable how much more pleasant a trip through the airport becomes when you remove the stressor of the regular TSA line. The requirements as listed on the TSA website are:
Q. Who is eligible for TSA Pre✓™?
A. Travelers that are eligible for TSA Pre✓™ include:
•U.S. citizens of frequent flyer programs who meet TSA-mandated criteria and who have been invited by a participating airline.
•U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents with a Known Traveler Number (KTN), sometimes referred to as a trusted traveler number.
•U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who are members of the TSA Pre✓™ application program.
•Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, including those serving in the U.S. Coast Guard, Reserves, and National Guard.
•Department of Defense and U.S. Coast Guard civilian employees.
•Members of the following U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) trusted traveler programs:
•All members of Global Entry.
•U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents and Canadian citizens who are members of NEXUS.
•U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who are members of SENTRI.
TSA will determine an individual’s eligibility for TSA Pre✓™ on a flight-by-flight basis through an intelligence risk-based analysis of passenger data. A comparison of the four DHS Trusted Traveler programs is available here.

Currently, there are 11 airlines that participate in the program. I inadvertently was approved for a recent trip by using a 3rd party online booking site and leaving a checkbox checked. If I had known how much I’d like the service, I would have been demanding it, searching for that checkbox, and feeling stressed if I couldn’t find it. Serendipity is a wonderful thing!

If you feel enough pressure planning ahead for your dietary, workout, and health routine needs for a trip, you can now get rid of some stress by taking the easy way through the airport. I highly recommend it.

Anyone else use this service? Has it worked as well for you as it has for me?

For more information, visit:
http://www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck/faqs

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

July 9, 2014

Cool as a Cucumber!

cucumber
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression cool as a cucumber; who hasn’t? This cucumber dill salad got my mind rolling in that direction, then I read about a robbery at a local hotel. The woman who held down the victim was clad in a swimsuit. She’s a cool cucumber for sure.

A TV news story yesterday from the town where my sister lives showed a naked woman running across a gas station parking lot. She appeared more hot – I would say under the collar, but clearly there wasn’t one – and bothered unlike a deliberate streaker at a football game. It was speculated that her run, which eventually resulted in her tackle by a police safety, was prompted by a high level of drugs in her system making her behavior run more hot than cold.

These two news stories illustrate our general association of cool as a cucumber with someone who is unflappable, controlled, unemotional, brave, strong, or unaffected by circumstances we feel would be intolerable or unbearable as opposed to someone who can’t control their emotions in the heat of the moment. When a doctor calmly reviews our child’s grave injuries, determines the best course of action, and looks us in the eye as he gives us bad news, we admire this quality. When a predator faces a TV camera showing no empathy, sorrow, or remorse, we feel chilled to the bone. Our minds struggle to understand; our solar plexus tightens in fear; our spirit senses a disconnect.

Detaching from our emotions serves to put us in a state in which we can function under extreme or dangerous circumstances without falling apart. It also removes us from our humanity, our reality, our truth. Hopefully, only momentarily until we’ve pulled the victim from underneath a car, or dressed our child’s severe wounds.

If we are exposed to traumatic situations repeatedly, dissociation from our feelings may become our most comfortable state because to stay engaged would be excruciating. To the casual observer, this can make us look like a cool cucumber. It may get us promoted at work, allow us to perform our duties under pressure or make tough decisions without flinching.

With the prevalence of electronic devices that can capture our image and transmit it at any time, we’re encouraged to wear our work mask any time we’re in public so we won’t get caught acting like a hot chili pepper.

This protects our jobs. This protects our families. On the surface it seems to be good advice, but we must recognize that it has a similar requirement in that to wear the mask we must set aside or hide our real feelings.

Why do I mention any of this? I know it may seem like an odd rumination for a post. Perhaps it is on its own, but the relationship of this content to the process of healing our wounds, reconnecting our bodies with our emotions, and feeding our spirit so we can thrive makes the topic relevant.

When we are distanced from our emotions, we cannot trust our perceptions and this leaves us feeling wary, on guard, afraid. Fear weaves it’s own limiting structure that often keeps us from being able to face the truth we know about ourselves. Without our truth, we question our ability to be brave, to face difficulty, to persevere, so many of us become numb and stuck. We look like the perfectly brave cool cucumber while longing for a connection with a chili pepper so hot it makes us cry.
pepper

Reconnecting with how we really feel is a messy, ugly process. It requires honesty, bravery, self-acceptance, and looking like anything but a cool cucumber. I happen to think it’s worth it.

How about you? Would you rather be a cool cucumber or a red-hot chili pepper?