The otherday I was reading a relationship book. That's what happens, right? After you have bombed out a few times, you start to pick up the instruction manual. So anyway I was reading this book, and the #1 tip for having a successful long-term relationship was "Find a meaningful purpose for your life and make that your first priority." (Love Cards by Robert Lee Camp)
Learning to communicate effectively, learning to compromise, developing empathy - these are all awesome interpersonal skills, and yet we see that the singular most important investment to make in terms of a relationship is in your Self.
This kind of struck me counter-intuitive. If I want to be happy in connection with someone else, I have to take myself - self-knowledge and self-fulfillment as my first priority? Hmm... On the one hand it makes perfect sense. That is how children develop. Small children are naturally self-centered. Only after they have developed a firm sense of self can they interact appropriately with others, knowing where they end and the other begins. You cannot empathize with another if you have not learned to take stock of and deal with your own emotions. And what can you truly contribuute to another if you are not clear on who you are and what it is you have to give?
Because I started that chain of thought with "on the one hand," clearly there must be another hand. If this dynamic of being clear on what 1 is before trying to add another 1 to equal 2 (or more, realistically speaking counting blended families), is in harmony with natural interpersonal development, why does it boggle my brain? Why do I pause and have resistance to it? I suppose it is because societal conditioning has us place an undue amount of attention on that which is outside ourselves. In an effort to counteract the natural self-centeredness of toddlerhood, adults may attempt to drill into children a focus on how those around them are feeling. Women especially, both through nature and nuture, are groomed to be caretakers. We put everything and everyone else first, eat the burnt pieces of toast, try to be satisfied with the scraps of attention that are left after work and children are taken care of. We put off our dreams until all those we take care of are on their own ... Well, guess what? Many times that day doesn't come. After the children grow up and leave, they often come back (yes, self-acknowledged boomerang child here). Sometimes there are parents who move in, or at least require auxilary care, even though living in a nursing home.
In reality then there is no time left to figure out who we are and what our purpose is. I am reminded of Robert Kiyosaki (of Rich Dad, Poor Dad fame) and his strategy for building wealth. His philosophy is "Always pay yourself first." If we wait to save and invest money until after all the debt is paid, it often happens that there is nothing left to save. He advocates saving, investing, and donating 30% of your income FIRST and then paying bills with what is left over. The rationale is that the extra financial pressure will motivate you to make more money to cover the expenses, without ever depleting your reserves. It is a radical philosophy, but one that obviously worked for him and for many others. In some ways, the idea of putting on blinders and honing in on my singular passion and purpose in life, with the faith that I will then naturally attract a truly compatible partner, one whose purpose is in alignment with mine, seems equally radical to me. And yet, if we want success, we have to model success. If successful people tell you what works time and time again, well, even a stubborn person like me has to stop and take a look at it.
Having said all that, I didn't really intend to say all that this morning. I was thinking about talking about life purpose in a more general way. However, I guess I needed to process this concept of personal purpose as a relationship priority before really embracing it. And moving on, we are also really here to talk about food for the body as well as for the soul...
Entree #1 - Pinto Bean Mole Chili. I got the idea for this entree from the last page of the Vegetarian Times where they interviewed Joe Yonan, food editor of the Washington Post. The question posed was "What are some of the BFFs of the food world?" His answer was pinto beans and cinnamon. Then he described a recipe (but didn't actually give the recipe) for a soup with pinto beans and poblano chilies, spiced with cinnamon. After surfing around the internet, I found this recipe with two types of chilis, sweet squash or pumpkin (reviewer suggested change), chocolate, and orange flavors added to the pinto/cinnamon yumfest. *GF, soy-free
Entree #2 - Raw Minty Pea & Spinach Soup. So the family that I work for has a beautiful vegetable garden. In this garden they had planted many things, including peas. Well the peas went CRAZY. They grew 10 feet tall and produced thousands (or so it seemed) of pods. Since the weather here is getting HOT, it was time to pull out said crazy pea plants. I decided to be a good neighbor and help them out by taking at least 500 of the thousand fresh peas off their hands. Fresh produce, yay! Oh wait, we have to pick and shell all those peas... In our world of packaged food it is so easy to forget what goes into growing, picking, and cleaning for-real garden fresh veggies. Hopefully all goes well and we will all love this soup. Fresh peas, fresh spinach, a few cashews, a handful of mint - meet my new Vitamix. *GF, soy-free
Tortilla Chips with Soy Sauce & Lime- $3 I have had a couple of packages of my favorite tortillas hanging out in my freezer for a while. They looked so sad there, just waiting to be made into something wonderful. My usual homemade baked tortilla chips are pretty wonderful. You cut 'em up, bake 'em up, and spray 'em with soy sauce while they are hot. This tastes AWESOME and has zero fat. I just found a recipe that gave me the idea of how to flavor them with a "hint of lime" too. AWESOMENESS squared.
Crispy Carob Nut Butter Treats - $3 So speaking of cookbooks, I broke out another rarely used one. This one is called How it all Vegan! and has a great collection of desserts. I will be using Carob for these lovely childhood throwbacks because I have a couple of customers who can't do chocolate for some reason (must be bad karma!). For those of you who say you don't like carob, don't think of it as a wannabe chocolate substitute, but as its very own and dignified flavor. If a perception adjustment doesn't work for you and you feel like you just gotta have chocolate, email me & we'll talk. *GF, soy-free