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“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson

About a third of the blogs in my feed are food blogs. Joy the Baker, Local Milk, Shutterbean, Sprouted Kitchen, and Oh, Ladycakes are at the top of my favorites. While I’ve never been opposed to cooking when it came to sweets and such, I’ve never been interested in the sport in general. I always said I didn’t have the patience for it. And now – well, things are different.

Upon entering my last year of college, I moved off-campus into an apartment nearby – literally across the street from all my work and classes. This was the first time I had a home with which to entertain and enjoy guests. It was not entirely foreign, as, even in a dormitory, there is plenty of opportunity for gatherings, even when most of us are seated in bean bags and floor pillows, eating pizza and easy mac, and enjoying the beginning of a new season of The Office on a tiny television that was a hand-me-down from my grandmother’s time in the nursing home. It was always our room. It revealed the truth about our gathering times – that the flatware, linens, and decor are of little value when compared to the friendships that are created and strengthened when food is the instigator of a communal event. However, when one has an entire unit consisting of more than one large room and shared bathroom, the opportunities to enhance gathering are increased when you have a REAL COUCH and a coffee table and can wash dishes in a sink other than the one in your bathroom. Friends would come over and we would cook together. We would study and watch movies. Some of them would even sleep over. And during this year I realized that keeping a home was as much for any one who would walk through my door as it was for me. And I  began to realize that while good times can be had regardless of the environment, when we have the fortune of a home, a table, or the tools with which to create an experience, it is our duty to make use of that. That is why I took an interest in cooking. When you cook, people will remember you.

This is a rather large explanation to offer in trying to get to my point, but I say all this to make known that I do not have what some would call a natural talent for the kitchen. I do not believe that necessarily determines one’s success in the kitchen, but that does mean that, for me, I have to work a little harder than others to attain excellence. And that is how my lack of patience for things leads me to most of my culinary mistakes. But I will learn. Because I want to.

And I have to say that I also experience a great deal of envy when it comes to the grand creations of the writers and cooks I mentioned above. And when I read something like this, I feel even more drawn to the journey of culinary creations:

“There is a kind of sorcery in all cooking; in the choosing of the ingredients, the process of mixing, grating, melting, infusing, and flavoring, the recipes taken from ancient books, the traditional utensils – the pestle and mortar with which my mother made her incense turned to a more homely purpose, her spices and aromatics giving up their subtleties to a baser, more sensual magic. And it is partly the transience of it that delights me; so much loving preparation, so much art and experience put into a pleasure that can last only a moment, and which only a few will ever fully appreciate.” -Joanne Harris, Chocolat, p.51

My mother has this natural talent. As does my brother. My sister has it in her own unique way. I do not. But I have chosen not to be discouraged. And I have given up trying to be like those who can devote their lives to the kitchen and writing about it. However, I still follow their journeys religiously, not because I want to imitate them, but because I want to learn. I may not be able to make honeysuckle cordial anytime soon, but if I try, I will have come one step closer to owning this thing in my own hard-earned way (not to say that those who are naturally talented don’t work hard, but you get my meaning).

But there is another more valuable reason I appreciate their work so much. It is because they have found where their passions and their talents meet. They have received the blessing through their various life paths of living what they love and offering themselves to the world through that. My talents may not be to cook, but I know what they are, and when I see people reaching their dreams and working toward a full life with what they know they can do, I find endless inspiration in that. When I hear The Civil Wars, pre-hiatus, sing their magic into the lives of their audience, I want to turn off my iPod and write. When I see Joy Wilson, of Joy the Baker, release her first cookbook after years of hard work and early morning baking, I want to knit something new. It can be all too easy for me to say, well, they’re lucky, but I’ll never get to where they are, but I have chosen to do what I know just as they have. Maybe I will have an audience that extends my family and friends, maybe I will not, but I have to create for me as much as for anyone else.

And you know what else? I have learned that I can create more than words. I can create knots out of yarn into the shape of something to keep you warm or something with which to wash your dishes. I can combine simple ingredients to make a lip gloss or sugar scrub. I have learned that hospitality happens in the home, but it also happens in a note that someone hand-wrote and paid postage for. It happens in a gift of something made with care. The quote that opens this post shows me that what I have is no less valuable than someone of a different path with different passions and different talents. I may not be able to make a gourmet meal with unheard-of ingredient pairings, and I may not be able to find my way around the kitchen in my sleep, but I will learn. And in the meantime, I have work of great value that I can already say I own to the fullest, and I will let these celebrity bloggers be great with theirs.

I believe in hard work.

I believe in working with hands.

I believe in our fingers speak prayers as well as our voices.

And I believe that whether my tool is clay, yarn, paint, strings, words, wires, grease, dirt, seeds, needles, or recipe cards, the world will receive me and my craft because I had no choice but to create. When love of the world is so consuming, there is no other way to express it than to create. Who could turn down such a love?

bits and fragments

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The days have blurred for me recently. In this period of waiting, slow hours, and long stretches of cold, January has once again proven itself faithful in making me feel like it will never end.

I promised myself I would really take time to read and write this year. And I’ve made more progress than I thought I would. Currently I am working my way through Joanne Harris‘s “Chocolat” series having completed Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage by Allison Vesterfelt and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern this month alone! Night Circus was that book I had been waiting for awhile. That one that makes you feel slightly taken from reality to the point that when you close the book you feel as though you’ve awoken from a deep sleep. Since Harry Potter, it’s been hard to find a book or series that made me feel that way. Adventured yet rested.
Writing is a bit slower. And yet I’ve made progress I haven’t made before. 500 words a day. We’ll see how that goes.

I’ve also knitted my first dishrags and sponges. I found cotton yarn by accident for $.49 a skein at Goodwill, so naturally I had to buy them all. I’m getting through a lot of Parenthood episodes with this knitting.

Last night, Nashville’s Public School buses were offered to the homeless so they could sleep indoors in the 9 degree weather. *all the gushing*

Orange spice tea is becoming my favorite. I’m really wanting to make my own herbal teas. I’m really just itching for my own kitchen so I can pretend to know what I’m doing when I finally get to tackle all my Pinterest endeavors.

I feel like I’m waiting for things to happen. Ridiculous, I know. But I do. I feel like since I’ve yet to gain an income or our own place, my life is just about waiting. And I can’t decide if that’s good or not. Naturally, we’d all like to say that nothing should prevent us from being productive. So I try to write, read, knit, plan, cook, etc. I have my walks, when the temperature permits. And sometimes even when it doesn’t. For fifteen years, my walks would not be hindered by heat, rain, wind, or cold. Even if I don’t make it as far as I’d like. I’m going to walk. But I want to find a church and a family of friends. I want become a vineyard member so we can have discounted wine. I want to have monthly supper clubs and weekend travels. I want to bring pie and bread and jam to our new neighbors. And I want to believe that possibility is endless. I feel hindered in these things as my life becomes an awkward in-between. I hear all the voices, including my own, telling me that this time will be missed once it has passed, and I believe it. But while we are creatures of habit who enjoy the comforts of what is know, we are also aching and reaching and searching to find what else there is.

Why do we dream? Because while contentment is a necessity for a life well lived, curiosity is what keeps us alive. Perhaps we are meant to exist in this tension of what is and what can be, grasping both, loving both, settling into what we’ve been given and still ever reaching for what can come.