Thus far my blog has been about trying new recipes, and sharing my life experiences old and new. My previous blog “Cookie of the Week”, (http://chris-cookieoftheweek.blogspot.com/) started for one reason, and then quickly morphed into something else…therapy. In retrospect, I firmly believe that writing that blog aided me on my journey with grief over the loss of my Mom. So far, this blog has felt a bit more lighthearted. This entry is different. This time as I thought about a new recipe, I was intentionally seeking solace in the kitchen. I was seeking a reprieve from all the chaos that has invaded my life. It’s been a crazy week. To start, January 25th marked the 2 year anniversary of my Mom’s passing. I cannot believe it has been that long since I actually had the opportunity to be with her, but it has. Thankfully I was super busy last week organizing “Family Fun Night (FFN).” At the elementary our parent group, of which I am the President, hosts FFN every February. So aside from the regular stuff that fills my week, I had to devote a TON of time to that event. FFN was on Friday, and as the week came to a close, I received 2 phone calls that affected me very deeply. To protect the privacy of the people involved, I will not disclose the actual events. Suffice to say, there is much sadness and heartache involved in both situations. This lends exactly to why I cannot and do not read the newspaper, or watch the news on television. When I hear or read about sad or bad things happening to people, I immediately over-empathize and personalize the situation. In my opinion, this is a huge character flaw. Of course it is not my only character flaw, but it is the most difficult one to deal with on a day-to-day basis. I am effectively dealing with both issues, but I find myself thinking about the issues, and about all of the people involved. I think about loss. I think about sadness and grief. Mostly, I think about stolen innocence…I think about the children involved.
It makes me so sad that kids have to deal with things like loss and separation from the people that they love. As if being a kid isn’t hard enough. So I spend time thinking about the kids and then of course I think about my own kids. This is what usually gets me. I cannot bear the thought that Victoria and Ryan will eventually have to bear what I am bearing in terms of the loss of my Mom. Someday that will be me…I’ll be the one who is missed. Someday Victoria and Ryan will be struggling with their feelings of anger and pain, just like me. I completely understand that this is the inevitable cycle of life, BUT I fear that much like my Mom and my Grandma Ann, my time on this planet will come to an end way too soon. My Grandma Ann was only 59. My Mom was only 60. My Dad had a massive heart attack at 52. I have the genetic predisposition for heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and diabetes. I already have a myriad of health issues that I am forced to manage on a daily basis. All of this leaves me feeling like I am destined to die young. I do my absolute best to correct the mistakes that I have seen my loved ones make. I am a vegetarian and I try to eat healthy. I do not smoke. I try to get enough sleep, and I wear the damn headgear (that I hate) to correct my sleep apnea. I try to exercise even though it literally makes me sick. I subject myself to iron infusions to correct the iron deficiency anemia that I also inherited from my “Mediterranean ancestors.” I am compliant with the medications that I am prescribed to combat all the health crap that I have going on, and I try to keep stress in check. I realize that I am doing a lot of things right, but I also realize that some times it just doesn’t matter. It is what it is. The truth is I am assured by my family doctor that I am doing a lot of things right, but that unfortunately does little to assuage my fears. I don’t want to sound like a victim or martyr, but coupled with my health crap, I also have crap luck. I wrote about this in my “Cookie if the Week” blog week 43, (http://chris-cookieoftheweek.blogspot.com/2011/09/week-43-lemon-cooler-cookies.html) and I was able to spin it in a positive manner. That said, if it weren’t for bad luck, I would have no luck at all.
After reading my blog, my good friend (Dean I mean you ☺) gently reminded me that luck probably had little to do with my blessings in life. Dean reminded me that I was giving “luck” credit for the things that I had indeed worked for and created for myself. I so needed to hear that. I don’t want to sound smug AT ALL, but I have worked hard for all I have. I work hard to maintain and foster healthy relationships in my life. I work hard to maintain my happy marriage with the love of my life. I work hard to keep my children healthy and secure. I work hard to take care of my family, and the friends that I consider my family. I just wish that I had the foresight to affirm that all my hard work regarding my health would really pay off someday. I wish I could see around that proverbial corner and then rest assured that I am on the right path. Such is life right? We do the best that we can with the knowledge that we have at the time, and hope that we did it right.
This week as I pondered what new recipe to try, my goal was two-fold. Yes I wanted to try a new recipe and then share the experience, but I also wanted the sense of peace that I usually get from time spent in the kitchen. I am happy to report that I was successful with both endeavors. The salad is really yummy, and I feel like I gained a little perspective as well. The truth is, all any of us can do is our personal best. Then we need to surrender to the fact that no matter how hard we try, there are certain aspects of life that we cannot control. We need to make the most of everyday as “tomorrows” are not promised. We need to do our best to show our love and appreciation for the people in our lives. Most of all we need to find peace. Peace comes in many forms. Sometimes that peace is found in prayer or meditation. Sometimes peace is found by surrounding ourselves with loved ones and laughter. For me this week, that peace was found in the kitchen. As I made the salad, I reflected on all the good I still have in my life, and I felt grateful. Those of you who know me, know the struggles that I have with religion and faith. I am happy to report that in lieu of those struggles, I have found a prayer that actually brings me solace. It’s more of a quote actually. It goes like this “… If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is ‘thank you,’ it will be enough.” So “thank you” to all of you who support me and love me. “Thank you” to all of you who read my blogs and then take the time to comment. “Thank you” to all of you who love my family and my children. “Thank you” to all of you who loved my Mom. “Thank you.” “Thank you.” “Thank you.” ♥
Here is the link to the recipe that I used: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/quinoa-with-chickpeas-and-tomatoes/
I did make a few changes. First, I had no fresh tomatoes on hand, so I used a handful of sun-dried tomatoes. Second I added 1 cup of chopped celery to the salad. Lastly, I decreased the cook time to about 12 minutes. The recipe indicates to cook the quinoa for 20 to 25 minutes, but the bottom of the quinoa burned after 12 minutes or so of cooking. Even though I followed the recipe exactly, it burned anyway. Fortunately, I was able to salvage the quinoa from the top of the pot. Thankfully the salad turned out yummy, and it didn’t taste burned. See I wasn’t kidding about the bad luck statement! ☺