Listening In the Kitchen

January 4, 2016

I spend a lot of time in the kitchen.  It’s my job. I love every second of it.  Having worked as an artist in my earlier years, I love the creative outlet I have always found in cooking–developing recipes, creating beautiful presentations, discovering new combinations of food and of course, always discovering how the energies come together to create the dance of life. In truth, I love everything about cooking and nourishing.  I love planning each menu–even if it’s just in my head as I wander the produce section of the market, checking out what’s in season.  I am always struck by the beauty of fresh fruits and vegetables as the colors complement and coordinate with each other in the kind of splendor that only nature can provide. 

It always makes me pause in wonder–even on those days when I’m so busy, I can barely stop to take a breath.

I love the action of the kitchen; every step in the process of creating a meal.  I love watching clear water sliding, glistening, over the vegetables I am about to prepare.  I love the feel of my knife in my hand as I slice and dice my way through the ingredients.  I love the sputtering of the pressure cooker, as it softens my grain and beans.  I love simmering stews and bubbling casseroles.  I love the sizzle of a sauté as I move the veggies around the skillet, shiny with oil.  I love seasoning and the variety of flavors I can create with a pinch or a sprinkle.  I love the fragrances of a meal in progress.

I love the challenge of creating meals that will help us meet our goals. I love the variety of ingredients, techniques and cooking styles that I have available to me. I love the daily self-discovery of seeing how the energy of food works in me to make me the person I am. I love playing with the energy of food as I cook and seeing how we differ each day.

I love serving meals each evening, setting the table and deciding which serving bowls will look best with each dish.  I love the social aspect of our meals, as we catch up with each other after our busy days.  It’s a time for us to slow down and reconnect with each other and what’s really important in life.  It’s the most rejuvenating time of the day.  If you haven’t done it lately, give it a go; you’ll be amazed at how splendid it is.

I love cleaning up.  You heard me right.  I love cleaning up after dinner.  Now, I’m not some new age ex-hippie, lost somewhere between Earth and Mars, zoning out over the kitchen sink, staring at soap bubbles.  Cleaning is meditative in its symbolism.  It signifies, for me, the end of the day.  As I wash and rinse dishes, it’s a quiet time that I use to reflect on the day I’ve had.  It’s the beginning of a restful evening, cleansed of the day’s challenges.

I tell you all this for a reason.  For me, cooking is a complete experience, not a chore to be endured at the end of a hectic day.  I am convinced, down to the very core of my being, that in order for us to create the life we want, we must begin to see food and cooking in a new light.  We must remember that the act of cooking is the act of nourishing ourselves, of listening to what our bodies reveal. 

Have I had to re-think my priorities to create the space in my day to cook meals?  You bet I have.  I face daily challenges just like everyone else.  I have bad days, tough days, cranky days and low days just like everyone else.  Through the preparation of daily meals and the ever-continuing observation of how food affects us–by listening–I have helped create the life that we live.  We work very hard and have the strength for that work.  We face business stress every day and handle it with grace and balance.  We are able to let go when the day is done.  The way I choose to eat has opened many doors for me, not only in maintaining my health, but in every way.  It gives me the clarity of mind to see my way through any situation, making decisions and being responsible for the outcome.

I think that understanding the energy of food–and how that energy behaves in our bodies, creating the people that we are–has given me freedom.  Being responsible can be seen as either a burdensome load, as guilt and blame.  Or we can view responsibility as it is defined–as the ability to respond.  Isn’t that a liberating thought?  Just think about it–the food we choose to eat can either enslave us to its energy, dominating our thoughts and actions, or we can choose to eat foods that will serve us as we strive to achieve our dreams.  We live in a world that can crush our desire.  We get caught up in the day to day routine of survival in a world that seems to move faster and faster, threatening to leave us behind. 

It’s time to stop, think and care for ourselves, so that we have the strength to step back on the roller coaster of life each day, so that we remain an oasis of calm in the maelstrom of daily challenges.

Cooking can open your eyes to the wondrous being that you are–and then you can discover the way to nourish yourself so that you can create the life you want…if you’re listening. So skip the resolutions that you know you won’t keep and commit to a bit of self-care. It begins in the kitchen. Who knows where it will lead?