Posts tagged ‘Inspiration’

December 31, 2018

Leave the Past Behind

It’s the last day of the year and time to leave the past behind! Aren’t most New Year’s resolutions about change? Doesn’t change mean leaving something behind? So, maybe keeping those resolutions is as simple as focusing on the past rather than the future.
past
I know that sounds counterintuitive, but paradox reigns king in the world of personal growth. Not to mention, looking toward the future seems to work for less than 10% of us so there can’t be much harm in trying something different. But how does focusing on the past help us leave it behind?

It helps us define what we’re leaving.

Let’s say my resolution is to brush my teeth the full two minutes that are recommended each and every time I brush. If I pay attention to how long that two minutes seems, I’m likely to cut it short. If I think of the gritty teeth, bleeding gums, and pain in the dentist’s office I’m leaving behind, it’s easier to stick out the full amount of time.

Many of us resolve to save money in the coming year. When you see that next cute pair of shoes you don’t need but want to buy, looking back and thinking of that sinking feeling you had last time you looked at your retirement account balance can help you remember why this resolution is important. Leaving behind that sinking feeling may just be more important than another pair of shoes adorable though they may be.

Looking back allows us to honor and appreciate those things that served us well at a previous stage of life.

If you enjoyed your job and colleagues while getting a degree, you may be hesitant to follow your resolution to look for a new job once you graduate. Your coworkers have been partners in preparing you for this next step. Allowing yourself to express appreciation for their contributions can help you realize that you are honoring their efforts by pursuing your dreams.

Perhaps you have gradually recognized that you and your fiancé are no longer a good fit, but you still love him. If you keep looking forward, it will be tempting to only see the regret you have that the relationship didn’t turn out as you had hoped. This places your attention on pain and regret rather than on gratitude and joy. Once you find a way to honor what the relationship has given you, it will be much less difficult to let it go. And you can choose to hold onto good memories.

Looking back lets us reassess.

Sometimes we have wanted something for so long, we fail to recognize that having it now would no longer improve our lives. If we got that national sales job, it would mean weeks away from our newborn son. If we purchased that huge house now that the kids are gone, we’d just have more rooms to clean. If we open a bed and breakfast, we’ll have lots of cleaning and cooking every day at a time when we’d rather play with our grandchildren. We may still be tempted to pursue all of those goals unless we look back to see how our situation and feelings have changed.

Looking back gives us an opportunity to review our attachments.

Attachment to the feeling we had when we ate our grandmother’s cookies may interfere with our resolution to limit cookie consumption. Attachment to the comfort we felt when our mother fed us mac & cheese when Dad had to work late can send us searching for unlimited pasta during lonely or disappointing times. Once we know what we’re looking for is a certain feeling, we can explore different options for generating that feeling. Perhaps the smell of cookies baking is enough. Perhaps painting, drawing, or writing provides a comforting shift.

Looking back with courage can let us see what we already know is true.

If you have resolved to treat yourself better in the New Year, you must first recognize those ways in which you are not kind to yourself. Perhaps you don’t ask for help when you need it. Perhaps you don’t make enough time for rest. Perhaps you never give yourself credit for your accomplishments. When you look back, you may spot patterns of behavior that are so deeply ingrained they feel normal.

Healing the wounds life has delivered is a valuable resolution for any new year. For those of us who grew up in chaos and dysfunction, looking back with a realistic eye can require great courage. It can be much easier to press frenetically forward in avoidance of lingering feelings than to stop, engage, and begin to process what you know on a visceral level. But going back to re-engage with your body, emotions, and spirit is the only pathway to lasting change. You cannot white knuckle a better life for yourself. Your subconscious (the part of you that knows what you refuse to see) will keep you stuck.

Focusing on the past gives us a chance to forgive ourselves, say goodbye, and allow ourselves to be different.

Hopefully you are not currently defining yourself by something that happened in your past you believe is unforgivable, the way someone else views you, or what’s being said on social media. If you are, all things can change! You can learn to forgive yourself, say goodbye to the old, and allow yourself to shift toward becoming your best self. It is never too late!
2019
Whether we make New Year’s resolutions or not, most of us think about how to improve our lives. We seek fun, excitement, security, contentment, and joy to balance the weight of our responsibilities. Taking a moment to focus on the past can be the key to leaving it behind for good. That’s a moment I’m willing to take so I’ll be ready to move joyously into the New Year.

I wish you peace, calm, inspiration, and playfulness in 2019!

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kevinkruse/2016/12/26/7-secrets-of-people-who-keep-their-new-years-resolutions/#735e7ea27098

https://www.shutterfly.com/ideas/happy-new-year-messages/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/answer-the-big-questions/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/stop-struggling-start-thriving/

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June 4, 2018

Make Sure You Get Your Share of Prune

When you’re in New York City, make sure you get your share of Prune! When I was reviewing this year’s James Beard Award winners and saw Gabrielle Hamilton’s name, I was reminded of my first visit to Prune.
prune
It was 2003 or 4. My boys and I were traveling together. It was their first time in New York City. We had a memorable limo ride from the airport to the Algonquin Hotel. Our driver was a boxer who had sparred with Mike Tyson, swore his father had illegally entered the US in the wheel well of an airplane…twice, and asked the stranger with whom we shared a ride whether she liked threesomes. There were a couple of moments that I questioned my judgement during that ride, but ultimately it was one of the highlights of the trip.

Another highlight came a couple of days later at dinner. I don’t remember exactly where I heard or read about Prune. It seems like some publication had listed it as “the place to be seen” a few months before our trip. Nonetheless, I became aware that a reservation was very hard to get.

The boys and I decided to make ours in person. We walked miles and miles down through Greenwich Village to Battery Park, up and over to Little Italy and Chinatown experiencing the city, then on to 1st Street and 1st Avenue to secure a seat for dinner. Ben was tired. He hit the subway headed for the hotel to take a nap.

James & I continued exploring the city. We arrived at Prune on time. They agreed to seat us at a table by the large front windows where we could enjoy the night air even though Ben wasn’t there yet. The menu at the time included sardines & crackers and overcooked southern vegetables.

While we were perusing it and discussing our options, the landline phone rang (remember those?). Someone behind the bar said, “Cheri?”. I looked back and raised my hand. “You have a phone call.” This was unexpected! I made my way to the bar.

On the phone was Ben. He had gotten off the subway, turned the wrong way, and walked away from the hotel hours earlier. He had finally arrived at our room and realized it was almost time to meet us. There was no way he’d make it. He wanted to know if we could bring him something to eat later. I agreed feeling bad that he was missing dinner with us and amused at his lack of navigational ability. He and his brother are exact opposites in this area.

James & I focused on choosing our food and absorbing the atmosphere. Prune is small. It brings an odd tension between high end and intimate cushioned by a sense of humor and ease. It thinks too much of itself to be a hole-in-the-wall, but not so much that it won’t serve sardines & crackers or fetch a customer to the phone as if all customers get phone calls. It’s the sort of place I love.

Looking at the current menus, the dish descriptions read a bit fancier. I don’t know if the food itself has changed; it has always been simple and upscale (another dichotomy that’s not often done this well). The overcooked southern vegetables I chose from the menu all those years ago may have sounded like the description of typical soul food, but lacked a good 20 minutes of cooking to reach the texture I grew up with in the South.

Over time, I’m sure the restaurant has evolved as all businesses do. Owner and chef Gabrielle Hamilton has written a book, won at least 3 James Beard Awards including Outstanding Chef this year, and is writing a second book all while writing a weekly column for the New York Times magazine and running her restaurant. As her experience has grown, I’m sure it has been reflected in the restaurant. That’s what keeps a small business vibrant.

And vibrant Prune still seems to be. When you visit, expect to sit close to your neighbors. When James and I were dining, the table arrangement was so snug our waiter stepped out the front window onto the sidewalk and then back in to serve the table next to us. There simply wasn’t room to walk between them. That step out the window wasn’t awkward. It seemed perfectly natural and added to the charm of the whole experience.

Some people just draw you in. Some places do the same. These are the people and spaces in which you just may find inspiration. Prune could be one of those places. When you travel to NYC, make sure you get your share of Prune!

prunerestaurant.com

https://www.jamesbeard.org/blog/the-2018-james-beard-award-winners

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/19/dining/prune-review.html

http://www.algonquinhotel.com/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/?s=restaurant

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.”

October 20, 2015

Feeling Inspired?

This week I’m feeling inspired, are you?

I was inspired by bunches of leftover celery, broccoli, chicken, and parsley to make soup.
Soup

I’m inspired by the incredibly blue sky and moderate temperatures to spend more time outside.
I’m inspired by my increasing strength and flexibility to continue adding weights to my yoga workout.
I feel inspired to create a new bread recipe because I can visualize the taste and texture I want it to have.
I feel inspired to continue to do work that I love rather than choosing a more traditional path.

Where does this inspiration originate?

I don’t really know the answer to that. I believe we all have the capacity within us to be inspired at any moment. I also know that I value the feeling so I am open to it. I put myself in environments that support it. I seek out lectures, poetry readings, concerts, movies, computer programming crash courses, waterfalls, meandering routes, good books, amazing coffee, and tasty morsels that have the potential to stimulate my mind and arouse my creativity.

Last week, I took a few hours away from work to attend a documentary film festival. I love that festival. It’s been providing me with incredible experiences for more than 20 years. This year, I fell in love with the movie, “The Man Who Saved Ben Hur”. I felt especially inspirited by the aliveness of 102-year-old Max in “Love at a Certain Age”, and I was fascinated by the audience patter throughout, “Mission Control Texas”. I appreciate the filmmakers desire to illuminate their subjects and share them with us.

It would have been easy to decide I was too busy to drive an hour to watch movies that most people have never heard of. With virtually no effort, I could have convinced myself that it would be more responsible to spend my time working. I could have squelched my happy anticipation, put my nose to the grindstone, and knocked out another project. But here’s the thing…the work would have felt like drudgery and I would have deprived myself of something that feeds me, and thereby, my work.

As I listened to a lecture a day or two later by Anne-Marie Slaughter regarding the need for family leave and flexible workplaces, I was struck by the truth that many people fear they will be penalized for acting as if they care about anything besides their career. That can’t be healthy for us, just as not caring about our jobs can’t be healthy for our businesses. But the quickest way to get us to stop caring about our jobs is to send us the message that we must sacrifice our family or ourselves to do so.

What is the balance point?

I don’t know that I have the answer to that either, but I am certain that filling a day with nothing but drudgery, fear, stress, obligation, and monotony does not yield the best quality product let alone the best life. Some people seem to inherently grasp this and find a way to play, enjoy, and transcend the environment, but many others do not feel as though they have the luxury.

If you feel stuck in nothing but drudgery and unable to see the possibilities that might inspire you…

Maybe you can begin to feel inspired by a tiny rebellion or two! Rebellion suits my contrarian nature. I’ll eat dessert first. Throw away (donate, or gift) something that I thought I just had to have. Follow the 5 second rule. Watch an episode of South Park. Read “Runny-Babbitt”. Walk backward for a block. Wear flowers and stripes together. Eat on paper plates for a week. Keep my fork in my left hand after I cut my meat and eat European style. Impersonate someone new every day. Tell the truth when someone asks how I am.

How does this help? These small acts remind me to challenge my own beliefs and not to take things so seriously. The world will not end if someone looks at me funny for wearing stripes and flowers together (really mom, see the world is still spinning). A sense of perspective helps me see past my immediate concerns to the greater possibilities.

If rebellion doesn’t work for you, try safety and comfort to get you started. I like to dig out my favorite afghan or microwaveable pillow and get snuggly warm. I’ll drink hot tea, repot my houseplants, carry a book with me, cook biscuits, say no, and binge watch a TV show with a strong leading character who makes me feel safe.

The point of all this is to remind myself that I can change my internal environment by making very small changes to my external environment and that I am always in charge of my choices. From this position, it is much easier to shift into better balance in my life. It’s like placing ball bearings in a tall building in earthquake prone California. I give myself the ability to shift with outside forces without threat to the structure of my well-being.

That is the point from which I’m most open to embracing life and all of its incredible inspiration.
Speaking of, I just watched the most beautiful sunrise! What inspires you?
sunrise

http://www.manwhosavedbenhur.com/

http://loveatacertainage.com/

https://www.facebook.com/missioncontroltexasen

October 22, 2014

Man cannot live on bread alone…or here’s what I learned last week!

Man cannot live on bread alone…or only food for the body for that matter. Our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being are closely intertwined. Starving any one of those will result in an imbalance that affects our quality of life.

Nonstop work has been wearing on me, but last week provided an interesting mix of lectures, documentaries, and presentations around here. I attended enough of them, I should be a lot smarter than I was two weeks ago. Am I? Probably not, but at least I enjoyed some interesting distraction and I can share with you what I took away from the events:
Dr. Rodney Ford
Tuesday – Dr. Rodney Ford presented the story of his journey to believing that gluten-zero is the best alternative for many, if not most, of us.
Observations: His tone and approach have softened in the two years since I last visited with him. Always informative and able to present complex medical information in an audience friendly way, Dr. Ford brings compelling evidence from his pediatric practice that many patients who test high in Anti-Gliadin Antibodies (AGA) improve on a gluten-free diet even if they are not celiac and yet the medical community and many parents remain resistant to adhering to the regimen.
Takeaway: Dr. Ford poses the question regarding our beliefs about the importance of socialization vs. the importance of health when it comes to making decisions for our children. It’s a subject that we focus on often here at Cooking2Thrive. We love his bravery in asking the tough questions! He’s done it his whole career and his patients are better for it. I’m better for it having read his books.
Comment: At Cooking2Thrive, we continue to observe that it is rarely a lack of information that keeps us from making healthy choices. It’s not even necessarily a lack of desire to be healthy. More often, it’s a lack of social and emotional support for a healthy choice in a given moment that leaves us with the overall feeling that being healthy will mean giving up too much.
garden_gun
Wednesday – Rebecca Darwin, CEO of the Allee Group and a founder of Garden & Gun magazine spoke on the advent of the magazine, the organization’s expansion into books and events, and the importance of dedication to quality content and thinking big.
Observations: If Ms. Darwin had not been willing to leave her high profile New York job as marketing director of Fortune magazine and move with her husband who had decided to attend the seminary, Garden & Gun would not exist.
Takeaway: Dedication to quality content and thinking like a big player can take you far.
Comment: Sometimes we become so focussed on what we’ve achieved, we are afraid to let it go and move on to something different. It is inspiring to know that Rebecca Darwin resisted that temptation and the result was an incredible new publication.
Hoop Dreams
Thursday – Arthur Agee, Jr. (one of the subjects) and Gordon Quinn (artistic director) discussed the making of the 20-year-old documentary Hoop Dreams.
Observations: This lecture was held in the same room as the Garden & Gun lecture. The crowd was much smaller and the discussion more intimate, moving, and compelling.
Takeaway: Arthur Agee, Jr.’s desire to do his parents proud brings him to tears and makes it easy to understand why he can support himself with a role model foundation. Gordon Quinn’s extraordinary story of how the producers of the film voluntarily, without legal obligation, cut the subjects in on the profits once the film made money shows that some organizations do the right thing just because it’s right.
Comment: The display of authentic goodness in the room was the feel good story of the week!
Just eat it
Sunday – We made a quick drive on a beautiful, crisp morning to a screening of the film, Just Eat It.
Observations: In the film, a couple lives for 6 months on only food that has been discarded. While some of the food comes from dumpsters, they’re kind that are parked behind food wholesalers and filled with thousands of packages of unexpired hummus, not the kind full of partially eaten scraps. The couple rescues enough food ($20,000 worth) to let their friends come shop from their pantry.
Takeaway: The waste built into our farming and food distribution system is so huge as to boggle the mind. Part of the waste is because of our expectation of uniformity in fruits and vegetables and our failure to understand freshness labeling.
Comment: I live in a state where 19.7% of households experience food insecurity. There has to be a way to rework our expectations and reroute perfectly safe and edible food away from dumpsters and into homes where it is needed.

I love weeks that leave me feeling inspired, challenged, and a bit more informed. If you have recently learned something exciting, please share the source with us in the comments section.

For more information, visit these sites:
http://drrodneyford.com/
http://gardenandgun.com/
http://www.arthuragee.org/
http://www.foodwastemovie.com/

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be god for my readers. 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.”