In the same way we celebrate light as a sign of life and hope, we come together to share special meals made from traditional recipes. Sharing food is an affirmation that we live. The food gives nourishment and vitality to our bodies and the sharing of it allows us to witness to each other’s growth and success. We continue on together.
So, we pull out the recipes and make the food that is traditional to our family, our heritage, our culture, and our spirituality. These recipes are sometimes much more complex than the food we make on a daily basis. They take more time, more spices, and often have more steps to get them just right.
When I was younger, I used to look at those complex recipes and roll my eyes. My thought was, it’s all going to end up in the dish anyway, why so many steps? I would throw everything in the pot and let it cook. I couldn’t see the point in following complex directions because I couldn’t perceive the difference in the end product. Why take the time to sauté some parts first, then add ingredients and simmer, finally finishing off with other ingredients at the end if it all tasted the same to me?
Over time, I’ve come to appreciate the depth of flavor that is developed when some ingredients are sautéed in butter first allowing them to soften. They change in texture and taste during this process. Next, additional ingredients are added and allowed to simmer and add body to the buttery elements. Finally, the lightest ingredients are added at the end, sometimes after the pot is taken off the fire. These ingredients add delicious tastes and textures that would otherwise be destroyed by extended exposure to heat.
So now that I’ve made your mouth water, what does this have to do with weight management, self-esteem, or finding joy? It’s all about the balance and the technique. In the beginning of this journey, parts of our psyche need to be softened and buttered up. We are so hard on ourselves and we’ve set such high expectations for ourselves that we can barely see a way to begin changing our habits. So, we start with softening our self-talk. We lighten up on ourselves, treat ourselves with kind words (the buttering up) and allow our thoughts to ease into a recognition of our abilities. We find our thoughts changing from shame and accusation to kindness and encouragement.
Next, we add new behaviors as natural extensions of our thoughts. These are the ingredients that become the body of our ‘dish.’ These behaviors need to simmer and lend strength and flavor to our lives. We need to ‘cook’ these new behaviors for a while to make sure they are well done. That is, we want to incorporate our choice of behavior into our lives, strengthening habits and reinforcing positive choices. We spend as much time developing habits as it takes for us to feel confident and secure in them.
Just as the main ingredients to a recipe become the basis and eventually the name of the dish, our new behaviors give us a new pathway to an identity we have longed to claim. We align our name and our truth with the habits that we have consciously chosen. We live with these habits and allow them to develop so that they become our go-to choices. We allow them to support our personal truth and strengthen it in every aspect of our lives.
Once we become confident in our new thoughts and habits, it’s time to add some final touches. We find our lives coming into balance and alignment, so maybe we have more time to try something we’ve always wanted to do. Maybe we can explore a talent and take lessons just for the pure joy of it. Maybe it’s taking a weekend excursion more often than before. Maybe we just lighten up with our friends, family, and co-workers.
No matter how you ‘finish off’ your self-recipe, you are adding spice and flavor to your life. You have created the life of your dreams. You have developed deep flavor in the form of confidence and joy. You embody the tradition that you want to offer to your friends and family at holidays and all year long. You are the special person who shows up at every gathering, sharing your gifts, your talents, your laughter and your quiet confidence.