Working Hard to Find Beauty

April 18, 2022

We work harder now to find beauty, pleasure and even satisfaction in food, cooking and in life in general. I am tired of hearing about pandemics, past, present and what might come; Russia is still actively decimating its neighbor Ukraine while the world watches the heartbreak, suffering and literal murder in real time. We see genocide in other countries that is devastating, along with famine and poverty. People are murdered in cold blood every day. Our politicians are mean and petty for the sake of seeing their names in headlines. It’s harder to find joy now, but maybe that’s ok.

As a cancer survivor, I grow deeply weary of perky Instagram influencers (whatever that actually means) telling me to celebrate joy every moment of every day. Really? Every moment? Personally, I draw my strength from the surreal piece of my life when I had cancer so many years ago. Believe me, I wasn’t worried about finding joy in each moment. Some days I wanted to curl up and die. And it was okay to feel that way. I was fighting for my life every minute of every day as so many still do today. So finding joy in every minute? Sometimes that just wasn’t on the menu.

America seems to have an addiction to that “ra-ra” spirit that causes us to chant “USA” over and over at events and cling to an almost manic optimism. We like to say that we are cynical now, but we’re not. But as great as we are, I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to hit a wall and be terrified. I don’t let myself wallow in it, but I think it’s only human to feel un-nerved for a little while in these times in which we live. As lifestyle diseases once again replace the pandemic as modern plagues and Russia continues to threaten world war, it becomes more challenging to find beauty and joy in our days.

But while we may not find beauty in every minute, we must not lose hope.

For me, beauty and comfort are found in my kitchen. It’s the true heart of our home and I can always find solace and joy there even on the darkest days. When I was cooking to recover from cancer, I knew the answer was at my stove, even when I felt weak and sick and held out little hope. I have always found my joy in the kitchen and not the silly unicorn and rainbow kind of joy, but the ‘I am saving my ass by cooking’ kind of joy. I think that we all can find that, if we allow ourselves the brain bandwidth to do it.

To cook as though our lives depend on it, because they do, is where it’s at for me, because that is where wevcan always reliably find the key to life…to joy…to wellness. Ditching junk food and take out, meat, chicken, eggs and dairy, you can proactively cook to create a strong immune function with whole grains, beans, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fresh fruit and good fats.

I am reminded of so many pharmaceutical ads that use the disclaimer that taking this drug or that for various lifestyle diseases can “lower your ability to fight off infections.” And while we need access to medicine (and modern medicine played a huge role in bailing us out of the pandemic mess), don’t we agree that if we lived healthier lives and ate healthier foods, we might give our immune systems a leg up? Maybe we wouldn’t need quite so many drugs? Maybe?

In the end, cooking is something I do almost daily, three times a day. I run my online bakery. I adore my husband and I love our little home. It’s our sanctuary. And after all this time of living on edge, the continued uncertainty of our days troubles us. I know we have lived in uncertain times before; maybe it’s 24-hour news cycles and social media that take everything to incomprehensible heights of hysteria around…everything, from war to the weather.

I want to return to my simple life without dread; I want to hang with my people, gathered around the table. I want world peace; I want us to stop hating each other simply because we have different views. I want…so much for this fragile world.

So I cook. I cook and work, engage in activism, pray and play. And in the end, all we want is to be fine; for us all to be fine.