I don’t like to cook. I think the reason is that nobody in my house likes to try new things. It is not very motivating to try a new recipe when there isn’t an audience that will appreciate it. My boyfriend and my step-daughter don’t like anything with spices and they like everything fried. It’s just no fun when they turn their noses up at my endeavors. Every now and then I do try new recipes because I am so bored with eating the plain old meat and potatoes theme.
One day I found a new recipe that I wanted to try. It had simple ingredients such as chicken and potatoes and the spices were simple like salt, pepper, garlic, onion, paprika, chicken broth and sour cream. I knew that it sounded friendly enough for my tough audience and thought it sounded easy to make. I gathered all the ingredients and made my dinner plan. It turned out to be much more difficult than I anticipated. The preparation was time consuming because I had to make long noodles out of the potatoes. At that time I had never heard of a vegetable spiralizer, which would have made it so much easier. Then I had to cook up the garlic and onions on the stove and then brown the chicken. I hate when you have to cook on top of the stove and also use the oven. Haven’t they ever heard of a Crockpot? After all that preparation it took another 40 minutes to bake in the oven. The entire day it took me to make this casserole. I was exhausted but also a little excited for my boyfriend to come home to his surprise meal.
We sat down to dinner and I told him how I had worked so hard all day to make this special dinner for him. He was hesitant and asked what was in it and I told him simply chicken and potatoes. He gave me an approving look as if ready and willing to try it out. This is the kind of audience I want to have after making a home cooked meal. I was so excited. I put the casserole on the table and it sure did look good even though it had this red hue to it. I spooned it onto our places with great anticipation of success. After all, I did spend the entire day making it and I followed the recipe to the “T”. We started eating and there was silence but we kept eating. I finally asked him what he thought and he said “it’s okay”. He did his very best to be kind but after another bite he pushed his plate away and said “I am sorry. I know you worked on this all day but I just can eat it”. I looked at him and said “it feels like we’re eating sand”. It was absolutely awful. It was like eating a pile of sand with your potatoes. I checked the recipe and confirmed that I had done everything that it had called for. I just couldn’t understand what happened. It turned out that there must have been a typo regarding the paprika because since when do you use 1/4 cup of paprika in anything? We both laughed because I couldn’t even defend it and thus the name “Red Death”. Of course that turned out to be night of ordering pizza.
After that debacle he has always been afraid when I say that I am trying a new recipe. It’s been years since the “Red Death” incident but it is fresh in the minds of the occupants of this house. He now has a mental aversion to the statement “new recipe”. So it makes it even harder to try new things around here.
I can completely understand his aversion to a new recipe but it was only one meal. In his mind he now has to be very wary of any new foods I make. But because of who he is the same thing applies to other situations. One bad experience causes him aversion and caution in all subjects. I think that this can resonate with all of us at different times of our lives. One bad experience sticks to us and can define who we are. It’s hard to enjoy life when you are constantly worried that something will go wrong. Bad things happen to all of us and it truly sucks but if we can’t be open enough to experience new things we will never know the joy that is out there for all of us. We are as the saying goes “cutting off our nose to spite our face”. While on the subject of bad things happening to us, we can always use them to teach us. It is guaranteed that life will be full of ups and downs for everyone. Nobody has a perfect life and some have had absolutely horrible past experiences that need in depth work and healing. There are different ways of looking at them. We can see them as defining moments in our lives which they absolutely are but how we are defined by them is our choice. I have had to come to the brink of a nervous breakdown in order to open my heart and soul to the work of healing past traumas. It is no easy task for anyone and we need each other to help us through the journey. I would never belittle any person’s traumatic experiences that define them but I offer up the fact that with help we can heal and feel joy and peace.
I ask you to be brave and try to take that tiny step forward with one thing at a time. Try a new recipe. Try taking a new route home from work. Try listening to your friend without judgment. Step out of your routine today and go to a movie. Stop by the Library and pick up a good book. Keep moving forward each day with just one new thing being introduced toward a positive outcome. In time you will feel safe enough to try to open your mind and hear the voices of the past and accept them for what they are. They are the past and they did happen but you are stronger than they are. Feel your feelings about them. Scream and cry and jump up and down. Just let that darkness flow right out of you and finally give yourself permission to feel peace. Throw away that “Red Death” casserole and feed yourself with something new and refreshing. Don’t allow one bad experience to steal your sense of joy and adventure. Life is meant to be lived, enjoyed and embraced. It’s safe now to be who you are meant to be and not that hurt child from your past. Allow the child to come out and feel free to live a full, expansive and joyful life with ups and downs and good and bad times. The bad times are our teachers. Let’s together be students of life and allow the lessons to enrich us to the fullest. We are all in this together and there is freedom and hope in the fact that we are not alone.