Through the Fire
“Writing is an extreme privilege. It is also a gift. It’s a gift to yourself and it’s a gift of giving a story to someone.” Amy Tan
I’ve been writing this blog in all its variations for about 10 years. I started out simply ( or at least I thought it would be simple) sharing recipes from my personal chef days. In its current form, I am writing once a week covering topics of body positivity, personal stories of struggles and triumphs with body image, and related issues, nutritional information, and I continue to share recipes. I self published a book last year, and have produced several e-books. (Information about those can be found on another page of the website, here)
I’ve had thoughts of a second book roaming around in my head for quite some time. This winter I challenged myself to just begin! Just start writing and see where it all goes. I joined a writing group. The focus is on book completion . I sit weekly with 5 other authors and our teacher, Andy Couturier. We write, read our work to each other, and get feedback, We also have time for more in depth coaching and consulting with the writing teacher. I just finished a 3 month stint and signed up for another. My manuscript is now almost 100 pages. Each week, I find myself learning something new about the writing process, from opening the mind and letting the magic out to editing to sentence structure. Check out about the various classes here. I’m loving hanging out with other writers. Their works in progress are fascinating and I look forward to their completion. I’m loving having a teacher who is so passionate about writing and incredibly supportive of my work.
The working title of my book is “The Woman Who… ( an exaggerated memoir)“. It’s in the style of a memoir. While most of it is true stories of my life, some of it is not. Some parts are glorified and some parts are left out. I see it all as a grand experiment. I’m still working on some of the basics ( plots and story arcs and such things). As with my previous book, I am including some posts from the blog through out. In group,I read the post, Your Last Meal, and asked for feedback. My fellow writers had some helpful comments ,and the teacher decided it would be a good lesson for me to work on re writing it with him. We spent a few weeks reading, rewriting, editing, discussing, and rehashing, during which time I learned much about sentence structure, grammar, etc. I write the way I talk and that doesn’t always work in a book or writing format. I’m not putting myself down or anything, just a truth. I was able to be open and non judgmental, accepting the criticism in the spirit in which it was given.
I invite you to go back, follow the link I gave you above, and read the post. Then, read the following new version.
Your Last Meal
During one of my visits to my parents about 15 years ago, we had a number of disagreements and were getting on each others’ nerves. One afternoon, I was down to my very last nerve, when my father launched into some sort of unwanted advice. I don’t even remember what it was about, but I had had enough! I gave him an ugly look, swore at him, and stormed off, slamming the door of the guest room as my closing statement. I sulked and moped for awhile, then had a revelation. My father was rapidly aging and what if this was the last conversation he and I had. What if those harsh words were my final memory of him? My father, whom I adored. My father, who adored me. My father, from whom I learned about unconditional love. While he and I did not share the same religious faith, because of him, I have always seen the value of the search for life’s meaning, and the need for a relationship with the divine. Dad was always loving, even when he felt he had to be severe. So, swallowing my pride, I quietly went back out to the living room. I sat next to him on the couch and put my arms around him. I kissed him. With my head on his shoulder, I said I was sorry, and told him how much I loved him. We both cried a little.
I vowed I would always end each conversation I had with my parents with “I love you”. And, for the most part, I did. I think of this often. Both of my parents have since died. I still keep this vow with all my loved ones as best I can.
What does this story have to do with eating and cooking ? One of the last sections of my book, Through The Fire, cooking our way into a new relationship with food, teaches about bringing the sacred into your kitchen and your cooking. Much healing can come from acknowledging the divine, and from having a sense of reverence in the kitchen. In the book, I write about a “last meal” and how that relates to our feelings about food and eating. I don’t know what brought it to mind, but recently I was pondering about my final meal. What would I have ? Rather than look at this as a painful choice of a last meal on death row, I like to approach it as a celebration. It could be a statement about my life, a chance to have whatever I wanted, whatever would give me the utmost pleasure. Would I be adventuresome or would I go for something known? Would it be something simple ? Maybe I would want some comfort food, or some childhood favorite. I could see myself going in any of those directions. Would I want to cook this meal for myself and invite others to join me ? Would I want someone to cook for me ?
Today, I am in the mood for something simple. I see myself putting it together and inviting some close friends. I want a beautiful platter of bread, cheese, some charcuterie,and several kinds of olives. We’d need butter and fig jam as well. I’d accompany it with some fabulous Champagne from France. Typically, I avoid gluten and dairy. On my last day,however, I could happily indulge in that bread and cheese,as the phlegm and crankiness the next day would not be an issue.
The truth is, not many people know when that last meal will be. What if we take this idea of the specialness, the celebration ,and, yes, the reverence of that moment and use it in our everyday cooking ?
I could apply those same ideas to eating. What if the meal I just ate was my last ? Or, if I woke up tomorrow and had lost my sense of taste or smell? Would I want my memory to be of something I didn’t really enjoy or had some shame around? Was I able to eat it thoughtfully, and with appreciation ?
If I served a meal to a loved one, knowing it was their last, I would want it to be absolutely memorable and pleasurable, a meal that is exactly what they want, and beautifully presented. I believe we all deserve this pleasurable meal, beautifully presented. This means listening and getting to know what it is that our body is truly asking for, what our soul needs in that moment. Sometimes, it can be hard to do for ourselves what we easily do for others. We are perfectly imperfect, so when we check in with what we need, that meal can appear in many forms from the fancy meal in a restaurant to something on the go, and everything in between. It’s all good. The power is in being as conscious and loving about it as we can, just as we try to be in our relationships with those close to us.
So, dear readers, you can look forward to seeing some changes in my writing as I spend more time editing and re writing. Thanks for your continued interest and support. As always, reach out to me with any thoughts.
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