Recipe For The Future
Part of the purging in preparation for moving to Panama (wow, I love alliteration) meant it was time to deal with my mother’s cherished recipe box. Food is love, she used to say. And for the past twenty-eight years since her death I have been the faithful keeper of the shoebox covered with blue floral contact paper and bursting from the seams with hieroglyphic written recipes on index cards, newspaper clippings and tattered magazine pages; all of which overstuffed and fanned out from the top of the crammed collection, creating an origami-esque blossom.
For twenty-eight years I have been the curator of my mother’s art book collection, the delicate never-used Belleek China, tear sheets and work samples from her business, Dot Promotions, and even her father’s postcard collection, some dated back to the 1940’s, also illegible to me, in a shoebox.
Historically, I’ve been a person who formed sentimental attachment to just about everything. Seemingly meaningless things, if it was in my mother’s or father’s possession, it became a treasured artifact after their deaths. A perfect example of this are the blue cotton balls my mom had in her Jupiter, Florida condo. The migration history of that bag of cotton balls rivals that of the American Settlers who ventured west into new territories in search of a homestead.
The unopened cotton ball bag had an orange Genovese price sticker which indicated they were originally purchased in Stamford, CT, at the store on High Ridge Road. The store where I was guilty of stealing rollerball lip gloss on several occasions.
The blue cotton balls moved with my mother to Virginia and then three different locations in Florida. In 1991 after she died, I boxed them with her belongings because they seemed important to her, maybe just because they were blue? I stored them with her things for six years in Florida before shipping them to my apartment in California. If I was that attached to cotton balls, can you imagine the food is love recipes?
Treasures like Mom’s Pot Roast, Phoebe’s Rot Roast, Dad’s Pot Roast, all had the same basic ingredients but with individual variations on a theme; like adding coffee or coca-cola to the braised meat, or slightly different measurements of ingredients, tomato sauce vs. tomato paste, onion flakes as opposed to freshly chopped.
Scribbled notes of approval and/or modifications and splotches of food stains added to the flavor of the recipe cards, many of which I could not decipher the handwriting. I did recognize my own writing and recalled the times my mother and I sat at the kitchen table while I was tasked with transferring the data from the worn recipe cards onto the bigger, sturdy ones my mom purchased. It was meant to be a fun mother-daughter activity but I remember feeling an immense amount of pressure. Between the cryptic writing, unfamiliar abbreviations and baking terminology, I needed to make sure all the data was accurate or a valued family recipe dating back to the Stone Age would be forever ruined.
Other than the dessert recipes everything seemed to have sour cream, cheese, mayonnaise, a can of creamed soup, crisco or butter. Even my grandfather’s salmon steak recipe called for butter, cheddar cheese and breadcrumbs. Cheddar cheese? On Salmon?
Modern Salmon recipes include ingredients like fennel and roasted lemon vinaigrette. The recipes today are prepared with fresh produce often gathered at farmers markets or picked directly from a home garden.
In the spirit of creating a lighter recipe for my new life, it was unexpectedly easy to toss the recipe cards in the recycle bin. I took pictures of some, saved a few of the ones that held fond memories and I had a good visit with my departed loved ones.
In twenty days I’m leaving the country to live in Panama. I’m not bringing any of the furniture that has been in my life for fifty-five years. Marie Kondo would be proud of me. The wicker chests with brass fixtures my mom gave me when I was twelve are bound for the estate sale. The silver tea sets - yes, there were two; estate sale. And while it pains me to know people won’t pay what they used to for silver-plated pieces, it’s liberating to be free from the attachment I have burdened myself with over these possessions for so many years.
The cycle of life is scientifically choreographed to beautiful perfection even though it includes decay and death. Those are a necessary part of the process for new life to emerge. Much like the heavy ingredients of past formulas will yield to the lighter, vibrant components, our personal evolution is only possible because of the death of outdated elements that don’t nurture new growth.
There are times in our lives where we have opportunities for great transformation. Often, this comes to us as the natural phenomenon known as a shitstorm. A death, divorce, bankruptcy, job loss, health crisis, etc. During those storms there is often a stillness within we can tune into amidst the chaos to gain insight on what might need to change in order for us to emerge from the storm intact.
Those changes require us to stop reaching for the tried-and-true formulas from habitual use. Could be our habit of thinking, believing and behaving; or relying on substances, people, unhealthy dynamics or attachments out of fear or a sense of obligation.
I’m formulating a new recipe for my life; the ingredients include creative expression, contribution, adventure, fresh ideas, new thoughts and deeper personal growth. I intend to continue lightening my life experience, enriching it and savoring every delightful bite.
Would You Like To Create A New Recipe For Your Life?
Contact me and let’s schedule a time to talk about how you can get unstuck from where you are, get to know yourself and align with your values to enjoy your life.