The work day was coming to an end. I was at my home office working on an article, and any moment I expected to hear my husband put his key in the lock and walk through the front door.
I adore this time of day.
I used to dread it, but I’m in a honeymoon phase. Dinnertime is almost here and I’m so in love with cooking.
Oh, sure, I’m thrilled to see my husband too. I enjoy hugging him and kissing him and sitting down together to talk about our days. But not that long ago, early evenings felt a little burdensome. Inevitably one of us would look at each other and ask: “So what are we going to do for dinner?”
Ugh! What a dilemma. We were usually at a loss because our cupboards were bare and besides, we were sick of the two recipes that we rotated through night after night after night after night.
Ever since we committed to making fresh, wholesome meals from scratch (or mostly scratch), our evenings have changed drastically. Our kitchen, for the first time ever, is abundant. We have fresh fruits and muffins, ingredients for homemade pizza, and spinach lasagna ready to reheat. We have a refrigerator full of red lettuce, apples, cherries, and tomatoes. Also we have a huge bowl of salsa because I’ve been on a salsa kick. (Basically, for the salsa I use the recipe from this book, combining corn, tomato, onion, pepper, carrots, black beans, parsley, garlic powder, and paprika. Then I add a little lemon juice, raw honey, and Dijon mustard for the dressing. I use it on everything – on top of mixed greens for a nice salad, as a topping to a veggie sandwich, on top of brown rice, as a dip for baked tortilla chips, etc.).
This week I’m experimenting with a variety of homemade salad dressings. When it comes to salad dressing though, my forever favorite is simply balsamic vinegar on top of baby spinach. I usually throw in pine nuts, sun dried tomatoes, goat cheese, and sautéed shitake mushrooms. The original recipe (which I copied from a menu in a restaurant whose name is slipping my mind) also called for bow tie pasta (I use tri-colored).
Tonight for dinner we’re having taco salad, and I’m going to mash up some avocados to make guacamole as a veggie dip. I’m excited about this.
People! How come no one ever told me cooking can be so fun?
Lately, I’ve been giving them a lot of thought.
First, my yoga teacher is always including toes in her instructions. Lift them off the ground (one at a time). Spread them. Plant them back on your mat (one at a time). It takes awhile to learn to control them – they’re so often ignored. Second, I was reading a book about a woman who had a stroke and was paralyzed on her left side, including all her toes. She was explaining the rehabilitation process and talking about the fact that she realized – once she could no longer use them – how important toes are for balance and for pushing off of when walking. Third, I just so happened to be reading the book passage while I was getting a pedicure (a gift from my husband).
So toes were on my mind.
For most of my life I didn’t pay attention to them. And when I got older I would shove them into cold, hard pointy shoes. In turn, that led to foot cramps. The cramps would attack in the middle of the night and hurt so bad I’d cry. But when I started practicing yoga, I noticed my foot cramps disappeared. I decided to give my feet the love they deserved. In addition to yoga, I began wearing comfortable shoes. And from time to time, I’d get a pedicure. I stopped painting my nails awhile ago (to avoid the harsh chemicals), but today I made a special exception.
I picked a color – Dutch Tulips – in honor of spring.
When they were red and shiny, I wiggled them and smiled. Thankful for my toes.
The staple of life.
Now that I’ve gotten used to making my own fresh vegetable juice, I’m thinking of bread. I recall reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle a few months ago and coming across a passage by the author’s husband (Steven Hopp) who makes a fresh loaf practically everyday.
He says, “I know you’ve got one around somewhere: maybe in the closet. Or on the kitchen counter, so dusty nobody remembers it’s there. A bread machine.”
A bread machine? Nope, don’t have one in the closet or on the counter or anywhere. I’m lucky if I can find a spatula in our kitchen. During a party this spring, I was talking with the host’s mother. She’s in her late 80s and makes her own bread. I told her I wanted to learn so I could make homemade pizza dough, whole wheat, pumpernickel, etc.
“But I don’t have a bread machine,” I said.
She practically fell out of her chair laughing. I guess if you really know how to make bread the old fashioned way, you knead the dough. By hand. For a long time.
“You have to feel the dough to make sure it’s right,” she said.
Call me crazy, but kneading dough by hand actually sounds fun. I think I’ll try it (although I have no idea what it’s supposed to “feel” like, so I’ll have to wing that part). In the meantime, I’ll keep my eye out at garage sales for someone else’s barely-used, dusty bread machine.
A few weeks ago I was in Tulum, Mexico for a week of yoga, meditation and silent beach walks. I arrived at night after everyone else had gone to sleep. Inside my cabana two flickering candles revealed a comfy bed draped in mosquito netting with a welcome card on the pillow. I picked up the card and read what was written. Holding it next to my heart I smiled. Then I crawled under the covers and drifted off to sleep.
The next morning as I was journaling in my notebook, I thought about the card and scribbled down what it had said: You are worth loving. I had a funny feeling that what I wrote wasn’t quite right, so I went back to my cabana to double-check. Sure enough, I had misquoted the card. It actually read: I am worth loving.
Notice the difference?
Why is it so easy to believe others are worth loving, but so hard to believe it about ourselves? Why is it difficult to say? To know? To live?
This isn’t a narcissistic kind of love; rather, it’s a “love your neighbor as yourself” kind of love. Eating mindfully, treating ourselves with kindness, practicing yoga — these are ways we can love ourselves by being stewards of our body and soul.
I began practicing yoga years ago after watching my then-boyfriend (now husband) ease into a backbend with grace. To this day I still can’t do that, but it doesn’t matter because self-love is about accepting myself for who I am, not what I can achieve. I will be blogging about yoga twice a week for the Eat Wasa Feel Good team (my partner, Zandria, introduced herself yesterday as the vegan blogger).
So here’s a warm welcome to you, loved one, and an invitation to join me on this journey. Feel free to post comments, questions or ideas. You can also e-mail me or visit my personal blog, Roughly Speaking.
Oh, by the way, my name is Jenny. And I am worth loving.