2017 and 2018 may have been the most challenging years of my life to date, but 2016 was the most transformative. If I had to pinpoint that moment in my life when I went from being normal to being completely insane, 2016 would be it.
Who I Used to Be
That was the year I started cooking. Before then, I didn’t love to cook. In fact, I saw it as something of a waste of time. It wasn’t tangible to me because the meal cooked didn’t last.
I wasn’t a “lazy” cook, I just didn’t see the point in focusing much energy or time on something that was going to be consumed and expended immediately (I could have learned a thing or two from the Buddhist sand mandalas!). – me, September 27, 2016
I would always have rather spent my time on projects I deemed more worthy of it. To give you an idea of the person I was 2011-2015: I spent a lot of my free time sewing functional items like diapers and backpacks that lasted for years. I would enjoy crafting pretty much anything beautiful, but functional items were my absolute favorite, because I felt they made use of my time better than things that were just pretty to look at.
I spent my time making lasting connections, relationships, community projects, and brilliant ideas come to life. Pretty much on principle, I did not spend my time making food.
“Dinners at our house no joke used to be boxed macaroni and cheese and hot dogs like 3 nights a week. A box mix pasta salad if I was feeling ambitious. I cooked a home-cooked meal from scratch about once a week.” – me, September 27, 2016
The shift didn’t happen until I had reached one of my lowest lows. In November 2015 I was unhealthy and unhappy. My life wasn’t going to get better unless I chose to make conscious change in it. So in January 2016 I resolved to do just that. I self-diagnosed myself with a gluten sensitivity and decided that I would experiment with not eating gluten and see how I felt.
I started making recipes I had never made before. Pinspiration struck me as I fell in love with Pinterest all over again and dove head first into colorful boards full of pins about health, food, and food photography. A whole new world opened up before me.
“It boggles my mind to think that I could literally transform from a person who hated to cook, into one who would be happiest practically living in the kitchen. People don’t just dramatically change like that. I did.” – me, September 27, 2016
It wasn’t long before I realized with some astonishment that I was having fun fulfilling my resolution to become a healthier, happier me through food. But I was discovering a whole lot more than just some new recipes to bulk up my cookbook. I was curating a whole new cookbook, and through it I was curating a whole new me. For the first time in my life, food was more that just something I had to eat to live.
I saw the connection between good food and good health. I saw how the best food was transforming me into my best self. I saw that food could even be a metaphysical sustenance that deepened my spiritual practice.
I became obsessed with whole foods, and because of that my meals were always prepared from scratch. I spent just as much time at the farmer’s market and local natural foods store as I did in my kitchen.
Food Nourishes Our Bodies, and Our Souls
As food is taken into the body, it becomes a conduit through which we can take in what we need to nourish our souls. Cooking food with love became a regular practice. The food I prepared in a bad mood tasted sour. The food I prepared with the utmost attention were the best meals I had ever had in my life.
“Cooking a meal became crafting a new creation. It became, literally, feeding my family Love.” – me, September 27, 2016
Try this. While you are preparing your next meal, focus on clearing clutter out of your mind. Think about nothing but what you are doing. For all intents and purposes, this is awareness mediation. You are preparing nourishment for your body, and maybe for your loved ones as well. Give it all of your attention.
In awareness meditation, once a practitioner spends some time focusing on the breath and clearing away mental clutter, they add in a mantra. You can use this mantra, or make up your own: This food is made with love. I love my body, and I nourish it with love. I love my family, and I nourish them with love.
Continue to think happy, positive, loving thoughts about your task at hand and the food you are going to eat and share. Be in the moment.
In 2016, I discovered food like I had never tasted it before. I discovered a joy and a love for cooking I never knew I was capable of. I realized that the best thing I could do for myself and my family was to nourish us with Love. If nothing else got done that day but we ate well, it was still a good day.
But What About the Bad Days?
I often think back to those days and wish that I could revive the conviction with which I felt my new revelations. Lately I have been feeling exasperated with food prep. I feel like it is a full time job to plan, buy, prepare, and feed my family food.
It isn’t always easy to get into the mindset of food prep as meditation, as prayer, and as a creation worth every second of careful, deliberate, loving attention I put into it.
My parting advice is that if you want to fall in love with cooking, or fall in love all over again, get your butt into the kitchen and get creative. Try a new recipe today. Maybe it’s that super colorful super fun-looking yummy thing you saw on Pinterest. Be fully present in the kitchen, and your food will be full of love. 💗 Love makes everything taste better.
How have you nourished your family with love today?