Love: The Things I Learned In My Grandma’s Kitchen

Wrinkle and muck free, I find myself anxious (eager not worried) to wipe my dough filled hands for the first time on my pretty new apron. A rights of passage, if you will. With my new uniform on I feel legitimate in my kitchen, a true and “real” cook and baker. Don’t misunderstand me or my skill, for I am not a chef nor a professional baker. Nor are my creations particularly creative or something that would inspire a culinary review. Yet, my kitchen is the one place I turn to (besides a dance floor) when I am feeling introspective or sad.

IMG_5908IMG_5689Sometimes I wonder how things come to be. How did it come to be that the kitchen would prove such a comfort and place of solace? When I close my eyes and image my favorite moments in a kitchen there is one image that comes to mind over and over again. A small girl, maybe 4 years of age, perched upon a metal stool, feet swinging in pure joy in the dead space between her feet and the floor, a smile adorning her face, eyes wide as she watches her grandma, mesmerized by the magic performed by her hands. In awe she watches as her grandma takes flour, water and shortening to create piles and piles of homemade tortillas. Her grandmas face wearing a slight smile, her hands flying in effortless motion turning over the dough, over and over, the sound of the dough pounding the cutting board with each turn, using her weight to push out and spread the dough evenly into perfect round shapes, her skill unmatched by anything this little girl has ever witnessed.

I haven’t the time to describe to you all the amazing meals this little girl had the honor of watching come together in that kitchen. For everyday this dedicated and loving woman created by hand breakfast, lunch and dinner for all those she loved. With 12 children and a growing number of grandchildren, she spent much of her day in the kitchen doing what she loved, feeding all those she loved. Every single grandchild can tell you about that moment, the sweet moment when those two hands would reach over and take one of those freshly made tortillas, still hot, steam rising from its surface as she spread butter round and round as it melted with ease, sprinkling cinnamon and sugar and passing it to you. IMG_5690There are no words for the pure joy that moment would elicit, the way the tortilla sat in your hand, warm and soft, the way it seemed to melt in your mouth,  your eyes would close as you sought to savor the moment. Everyone of us can tell you about that moment, that moment when you felt the love from that warm tortilla, the tortilla she made with intention of sharing all that she had. As a woman who grew up in extreme poverty, making simple foods with great love is what she had to offer. It is one of the greatest gifts she passed on to me and all those she loved. And oh how she loved us!

As a little IMG_5724girl, I sat witness day after day, every morning I could get myself up early enough any way, to learn what she knew about food and love. I learned so much in that kitchen, lessons that I carry with me every day and every time I step into my kitchen and put on my apron. I will do my best to honor all she taught me:

  1. An open door is an open heart: welcoming all into your home with a smile on your face is the ultimate act of love, simple yet profound.
  2. Sometimes the only thing you have to offer is a warm cooked meal, yet with love in your heart, even this simple gesture has the ability to warm the coldest of hearts.
  3. The sounds and smells from the kitchen have the ability to elicit healing. Warm homemade chicken noodle soup really has no healing properties, it is the love and concern that went into the creation that has the real healing power.
  4. Make enough to share. Grandma always cooked as if she was feeding an army, though the number of people who would stop by and be fed sometimes equaled the size of a small army. It is the warmest of feelings to be able to feed those who stop by.
  5. You can make a delicious meal with the simplest of ingredients. I learned to use my intuition when creating a meal, I learned to use what I have on hand, and that I don’t need a recipe. I learned to cook from the heart.

The kitchen is the one place I know I can turn to to reconnect to all that she taught me. I know she looks down on me now, with that smile, that smile that says she approves.

In honor of Valentines Day I challenge us all to think of love beyond romantic love, encouraging us all to spread a little extra love to those in need, even if it is just a smile. It is in sharing love with others that we find the secret to happiness, as I learned from my grandmother. For real love, in it’s purest form, is giving what you have. Sometimes the best kind of love is in the smallest and simplest of gestures.

Here’s to love dear friends.

Remember this life isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.  Take it slow and steady, be gentle with yourself and stay hydrated.

Your DelightfullyUrban Blogger~


Confronting What Terrifies Us: Fear Is Only As Real As You Make It

Once I had children a real set of phobias kicked in, aeroacrophobia (heights), claustrophobia (small spaces) and thalassophobia (fear of large bodies of water). Maybe it’s the awesome responsibility of being a parent, perhaps the new understanding of just how fragile life is, I don’t quite know. Yet, the fears became so debilitating that I knew I needed to do something before my fears consumed my life. In my usual fashion I decided the only way to confront my fears would be head on. And that is exactly what I did.

On a recent trip to Honolulu Hawaii, I arranged a two hour surf lesson with the wonderful staff at The Ty Gurney Surf School. Despite a restless night sleep I woke up early and found myself making the short walk to the surf school, Danielle’s directions were impeccable. As  I walked in the front door, the quaint door chimed alerting my arrival. I was greeted by three friendly faces all quite reassuring for this very nervous mama. We made our way down to the beach where Kenui (K-New-E), my surf instructor for the morning, did all the work initially. He carried the boards and eventually paddled us out a quarter mile out where we would catch many a GNARLY wave.

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Easy….easy….steady….

 

You got this Angie!
You got this Angie!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kenui and I chillin', waiting eagerly for that next wave.
Kenui and I chillin’, waiting eagerly for that next wave.

The moment I caught that first wave my fear dissipated and I couldn’t remember ever being afraid to begin with. What this experience reminded me about fear is that fear is something we create in our brains, usually from some real experience in our life, an experience that our brains build upon. We allow that fear to grow and multiply until it is much larger than the original experience. So what to do? Confront it, look it straight in the eye and give it a big ol’ wink. Wink at it, smile your grandest smile and tell it that it can not reside in you any longer. That is what I did on that wonderful morning. I looked my fear square on and winked at it….and it vanished!

Here is to all of us taking small steps to confront the fears that keep us from those experiences we might never have otherwise. I will never forget the moment I stood up on that board, the force of the wave propelling me forward in one glorious exhilarating motion. One experience that I plan on living and reliving as often as possible. When you find yourself on Waikiki Beach, Honolulu Hawaii, take a surf lesson at an amazing surf school with some of the best in the business: http://www.tygurneysurfschool.com

Here is to all of us living the most fulling lives possible.

Remember this life isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.  Take it slow and steady, be gentle with yourself and stay hydrated.

Your DelightfullyUrban Blogger~

 







New Year Visions: Putting Ourselves First

I put a great deal of thought into my debut DelightfullyUrban blog post. It seemed only fitting with a New Years Day launch date to share a little about how I move into each new year. So many have the tradition of New Years Resolutions. I too have a similar tradition, though much less specific and more about how I want to see my new year unfold. Moving into 2016 I spend time thinking about, first, what I need to let go of. How can we learn and grow if we don’t first let go of what causes us pain or keeps us from moving forward? So moving into each new year I choose the hardest thing in my life to let go of. For the last few years I have chosen very difficult things, and I am so glad I did. In letting go I’ve learned to how to move foward fully and live the life I can hope for myself in the new year.

Secondly, I spend many a reflective moment thinking about what it is that I currently love about my life. Highlighting what we love helps us to be conscientious about carrying forward those aspects into the new year. For me that includes:

  • Financial freedom that allows me to be home with my children
  • Traveling: both independently and with my children
  • Writing about the things I love
  • Volunteering for organizations and causes that mean something to me
  • Cooking/baking and sharing it with as many people as possible
  • Moving my body as much as possible, mostly through small dance parties in my kitchen and walking 5-10 miles a day

These are all the highlights of what I focused on in my life in 2015 and that I hope to carry forward into 2016. Yet, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t stretch myself to do a bit more in the upcoming year. In 2016 I imagine myself:

  • Focusing more time on my writing endeavors
  • Putting more time into projects aimed at easing the challenges facing the homeless
  • Finding more opportunities to dance: maybe finding a dance class?
  • And remembering that I have more than I need: I will build a bigger dinner table in 2016,  mine isn’t big enough! My hope is to fill our table more often in 2016. Will you join us?

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This last one is one I have thought about a lot over the last 10 years. My community has grown immensely in the last 10 years and many amazing people have come into our lives. We hope you will join us for more dinner, dancing, and baking parties. Our home and our hearts are more than big enough to invite all of you to share in 2016 with us!

In 2016, I will dance, travel and host more parties. All of us have more to offer when we put ourselves first from time to time and when we cultivate things that bring us joy and fulfillment. For me that is dance, travel and hosting. I am ready to make time for just me, filling up my own cup, for when my cup is full I have more to give.

Here is to a new year, one where we all put ourselves first from time to time and where we find time to bring into our lives those practices that bring us a sense of delight and fulfillment. What brings you joy? What will you let go of in 2016?

As I often like to say “Remember life is a marathon not a sprint. Take it slow and steady, stay hydrated and keep your eye on the finish line.”

Your Delightfully Urban Blogger~