09 November 2010

Empowerment meals

What do you do when life literally becomes unbearable, and it's near impossible to enact your daily routine?
What do you do when you mention that the past two days have been great, only because you can't imagine that any alternative course of events leading up to them could be any worse than what you experienced?
What do you do to bring life to your aching bones that call out for mercy?

Make soup. And bake.

Unfortunately, the aforementioned statements were not a use of hyperbolic narrative, though everything in me wishes they were. I am in a proverbial "life has handed me lemons" state of being--though at times it seems like life is scraping at the bottom of the lemon barrel to find all of the putrid and rotting ones to toss on over to me. Redemptive lemonade does not even seem possible, most of the time. I have no control over these things that have been handed to me (trust me: my efforts to seize the reigns have been catastrophic failures); nor does it seems that I really have control over my responses to them on most days. It's been fun to watch that motivational saying fly shamefully out the window.

However, what I do have control over is my fridge. (Sort of--there must be some month-old left-over pasta dish with legs that keeps moving positions on the shelves, because I can never seem to find what makes it smell so rank). I can control the rice on my pantry shelves, spoons and ladles, my spices collection, and my fresh parsley that needs to get eaten up. I can control my ability to successfully pair tastes and texture together and create something delicious. I can control myself from feeling discouraged and scared when I mess up, or if the meal didn't turn out the way I imagined it would. I can clear my busy weekday schedule to make an improvisational dinner with a dear friend. I can allow myself to enjoy something that's tastes good, and to give myself credit for creating it. I can make a mean Kale, Tomato, and Rice Stew on the fly.

There is something so cathartic, so healing about taking what you have in front of you and making it work. I think most people thrive on being successful, in some capacity. Or, at least, watching things come to fruition in the way we imagine it by our own hands. So, when the course of events in life are thrown off the axis and we no longer know which way is up, we desperately grope for something to reinstate our center of gravity. (I usually pick smoking. Or chocolate.) When our insides don't know how they are supposed to sit in their own body, and when our bodies forget how to move about in space, how can we possibly feel like we are capable of doing anything worthwhile? Coping mechanisms are simply devises for reaching out, grasping for control, and sticking everything back where we remember them previously being. Usually very ungracefully, as our hands are shaky from shock and our vision blurred by constant tears.

When I was plowed over by a semi a week and half ago (figuratively), I had to brainstorm on what to do with myself--what instructions to give my body. I decided to make a pizza with my boyfriend and watch High Fidelity. Tonight, I made soup with a friend and baked banana bread without spending any money. I even have left overs for lunch tomorrow! The past two days have been the first time in awhile when I feel my insides straightening up again, my head clearing, my thoughts more coherent and concise, and my hands feeling empowered to produce once again. I'm recognizing the places in my life--as little or insignificant as they may be--where I still have control. I'm learning to not grope and grasp and cling to it, but gracefully and respectively step in, allowing myself to remember what it feels like to be OK, even if for a moment.

The banana bread didn't turn out as sweet as I wanted it too. I add brown sugar and cinnamon on the top, and that didn't do the trick. I'll still sleep peacefully tonight, I think.

**And, if you are REALLY interested as using baking a means of empowerment, please check out my dear Danica's blog! Not only does she chronicle the life of a new, super cool and creative mom (that's her) living in Pasadena, but she bakes pies on a regular basis. Further proof that women gain super powers when they have babies, if you ask me.