Enjoying the Beauty of Becoming

It has been 374 days since my last blog post.  I have continued on with the writing program at SCAD, expanded the weekly meal program to more than 50 families, gotten engaged, gotten un-engaged, catered many fun social events including a Buckhead roof top social of 300 people, catered the most beautiful wedding, my strong beautiful daughter graduated from high school and my sweet Lauren May left G&H after almost three years to work at a great internship.  This has been a fun-filled and heart breaking year, to write the very least.    I have so missed sitting down and writing about it.

I went a little off course, again.  The roads that led to beautiful moments only lead to more roads with the journey that is never-ending.  I lost sight of what I wanted out of life.  I had gotten to a point where I felt angry and disgust for so much – politics, murder, bigotry, oppression, family dynamics, traffic, cancer, my own mistakes and even simpler things such as burnt toast.  These things are black in my soul that follow me unless I write about it.  I was putting so much pressure on myself to be the best mother, the best partner, the best personal chef and business owner, the best student, the best friend, the best daughter and sister.  I hated myself and this beautiful earth we live on.  I hated who I was trying to become, this little miss perfect.   Trying to be the woman everyone else wants me to be- gross.  Or at least what I thought they wanted me to be- even grosser.  She isn’t the woman I am destined to be, but I know her and I hate her more than anything.  My stomach hurts by writing the word hate- such a nasty word.  And, I’ll not kid myself, I was so far from perfect.  I fought with friends and family.  I snapped at annoying but, harmless business calls.   I screamed at the girls.  I continued to bury myself deeper out of sight so that when it was forced upon me to look at myself, I had no idea where or who I was anymore.  The humiliation of this person I had become is, well, excruciatingly painful.  Everyone seemed to know what I refuse to see.  I wonder if there is no wonder.

As we were catering this beautiful wedding back in May, only a few days after my own engagement ended, the question was asked if the yard had been sprayed for mosquitos and I thought for a brief moment of rolling around in the grass to see if I could be eaten and taken off by them.  This event turned out to be such a gift.  The universe will not let me go my own scared way. It was a peaceful union of two people who adored each other and they certainly aren’t perfect in everyone’s eyes but they are authentic and loving and so imperfectly perfect in my eyes.  I am so glad I got to be there to see their union and feed them well.  The positive energy and love was palpable.   Everything about it was the opposite of what I was living and that gave me the truth to start living differently.

Grief, as every emotion, is relative to whom is feeling it. My biggest loop in my head has been “it is my fault this is awful” and I have gone over and over how I could have changed the inevitable.  But, there is no way and god and everyone else knows I have tried.

Now I am trying to flow with the current that is the least resistant.  I have been known on occasion to believe I have to struggle like hell instead of just flow with the nature of things.  Haggard and disheveled, I kick and scream against my own current and for what?  To feel absolutely beaten down.  Everything is easier said than done.  So glad that my friends are not quitters and want to throw in the towel with me.  This does not mean that I don’t have to work hard to evolve.  As M. Scott Peck says love “requires the extension of ourselves, love is always either work or courage.  If an act is not one of work or courage, then it is not an act of love.” But as I start to let go, stop the struggling internally, have faith in myself again, it does feel easier to trust.  It feels so much easier and I think I may even be loving myself a little bit for it.

Where do I go when I feel I have hit the bottom?   I look up and kick like hell the glass ceiling to get out.  Through one tear (or three), one smile, one laugh, one friendly chat on the phone, one weekly meal, one delivery, one hors d’oeuvre, one dinner party, one movie night with the girls, I get up and brush my knees off.  Sometimes I surprise even myself.  Mosquitos would have been a long and painful death.

I have seen in some eyes that they wish I would stay down.  Or we see in some eyes, “you deserve what you get”.  Someone just recently told me I should get a “real job” instead of my “dream job.”  It’s funny, that was always his encouragement and why he is where he is in his own journey.  This job isn’t my dream, yet.  It is still forming and molding.  My children will not need me at home when I can live my dream job.  For now, it is my value.  I can live no other way without that.  There are people out there that do not want the best for others.  And those people, we have to ignore and let go.  I work like hell to have compassion for those who want to harm and hurt just to make themselves feel better or for their “justice”.  I must forgive them, move on, know that I am still loved, so loved and love those who want to be loved.  This is so difficult for me to do.  We can not make people like, love, understand or accept us. I have tried and so desired it but only getting hurt in the trying.  That is my struggle I must let go of.  Accepting that putting my eggs into a basket for it only to be thrown on the floor to break just hurts myself.  So, I choose not to do that.  I give my egg basket to those who want to handle them with care.  What a corny metaphor!  My professors would have a field day with that.  I am so grateful for those professors that encouraged me to keep going this last quarter.

As I went into a yoga class yesterday, my mantra was to love myself so that I can love others.  I said it over and over through deep breaths.  I felt it through my rib cages sucking in just a little more air to fill the cracks.  I could not help but notice and admire this woman who was fit, beautiful and graceful in her movements.  I quickly wished her love and went on about my practice, not wanting to wish myself to be her.  After class, I grabbed my things and noticed she was leaving in front of me.  I chuckled to myself because I noticed she looked like me but with blonde hair.  Then I noticed when she got into her car, it was the same as mine except a different color.  I smiled again at the universe showing me my mantra.  I drove around to leave when I passed her and noticed she was born in April, like me, from her tag.  I didn’t know this woman and who knows what her story is.  But I know me, and I want to really love and admire fully who I am, the dark and the light.  I could admire this strange woman and not even know her, but admiring myself has always seemed selfish.  This was a little moment of self-love to me.  I have always confused that  self-love was selfish but I do know if we don’t give any to ourselves we are empty.  And empty to give anything to anyone else.  I believe this is an epidemic amongst women, not just in me, that I would love to see gone, forever.  If anything, I will try my damnedest to not pass this on to my own daughters.   I will claw tooth and nail to omit it- really.

One of the biggest things that fills my heart, and I get to share it, is having dinner parties and writing.  I’ve known this but I wasn’t doing it.  So a couple of weeks ago I invited a couple of girlfriends over to sit on the front porch and have dinner.  I had forgotten how much I loved having people over.  I had forgotten how much I loved cooking for people.   My home isn’t big or extravagant.  Since I sold my house I think I have been holding back because it isn’t perfect.  In fact, my neighbor has put a couch out in our front yard that the city of ATL has yet to pick up over the last 3 weeks.  My neurosis are totally kicking in but allowing my imperfections to be seen at the front of the driveway is so much easier than hiding them under my pillow or worse, my heart.   I think the last time I blogged was the last time I had someone over for dinner.  My writing is also so imperfect but it is imperfectly me and that feels so good.

I made a most wonderful, healthy, summer salad with organics from the farmer’s market and grilled chicken breast for our dinner party.  This is my ultimate favorite food, fresh out of the garden.  Can’t you just taste the sweet sun ripening the tomatoes?  We sat outside with a citronella candle to keep any mosquitos from trying to take us away.  If I could encourage others to do one thing, the thing I wasn’t doing, is to do what you enjoy, do what you love and share that light.  Don’t put negative people in your life that want to squash that.  Enjoy moments with loved ones over a meal.  Go write.  Call me if you want to have that dinner but don’t have the time to cook! 😉 I will do that for you and love myself very much for giving you that moment.  Here we are full circle.  My wish is for you to enjoy this summer with friends, a good meal, and sweet peace of mind.

 

Summer Salad with Warm Shiitake Mushrooms and Lemon Mustard Dressing

 

For Salad

Red Leaf Lettuce

Radiccio

Canned Artichoke Hearts in water

Cherry Tomatoes

Cucumber sliced

Shiitake Mushrooms

Grilled Chicken Breast or Grilled Shrimp

Goat Cheese

 

For Lemon Mustard Dressing

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

¼ cup Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 cup good olive oil

 

 

For salad: Sauté your shiitake mushrooms in a little olive oil, salt and pepper.  After 3-5 minutes take of heat and allow to cool for a few moments.  Pile your other ingredients as big and high with all your veggies and protein that you desire.  Top with shiitake and goat cheese.

For Dressing:  Whisk everything but oil.  Then slowly, while whisking, add oil.  You can add as much or as little dressing as desired to your salad.  Toss, serve and enjoy.

 

This journey of life is far from over, ups and downs, over and under, but I am so glad I can share it with you.  Please feel free to send me your story so that together we can share it with those who may be looking for answers.  May your summer be a glorious one!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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To All the Momma’s Out There

Potato Salad

Potato Salad

I was wondering what I should write about this week.  And then I remembered.  It’s Mother’s Day this Sunday.  This time of year always brings with it a great many feelings.  Gratitude is one.  I am so grateful for my mom and to be a mother.

My poor mom had to put up with a wild child.  I was a free spirit who demanded attention (and possibly still does).  When I think about how tired I am, I think about all the mothers before me and around me.  I want to give a group hug to all the mothers out there.  Here’s to you!

My mom would always share this story about being in a Rose’s Department Store.  I began running away from her and she couldn’t catch me.  I was running around and around those circular clothes racks.  My mom asked a gentleman to grab hold of me so that she could catch me.  The gentleman told her “children will be children” and walked away.  I think she wanted to hurt that gentleman more than she wanted to hurt me at that moment.

My third little princess was a screamer.  She would scream at the top of her lungs when I told her no.  She would then throw herself onto the floor and it was always a real scene.  If her head could have spun around, it would have.  I swear I thought she was possessed.  My friends, to this day, will say “remember when Gabby used to have those fits?”  Uh, yeah, I lived them.  And gratitude comes to mind again… I am so glad she has outgrown them.

My grandmother, who is German, used to always make a wonderful german potato salad.  She has Alzheimer’s disease now and I am not really sure if she remembers me or her potato salad recipe.  Today I want to share a similar recipe to hers.  She used to put sweet pickles in her recipe, but I do not.  I never have liked those sweet pickles.  Granny’s mom died when she was three years old.  Gratitude comes to me again.  I am 39 years old, and I have gotten to share many years and memories with these wonderful women.

Southern Potato Salad

Ingredients

12 Medium Red Potatoes, boiled whole with skin on

5 Hard Boiled Eggs, diced

1 Medium Purple Onion, diced

2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard

3/4 cup of Hellmann’s Mayonnaise

1/2 cup Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

You will first medium dice your boiled potatoes.  You will know the potatoes are done when a fork goes through easily.  This takes about 10-15 minutes.  In a large bowl, mix potatoes, eggs, onion, mustard, mayo, parsley, salt and pepper.  If your salad looks a little dry, add a couple more tablespoons of the mayo.  It’s as easy as that.  In the summer, I love this side dish with a grilled hamburger and corn on the cob, just like my mother.

As I finish up, I am remembering those sweet chubby hands of all three of my girls when they were little. I am feeling gratitude again, for the memories of yesterday and those to come.  And most importantly, I am thankful for the honor of being a mother and for my own Momma.  I love you!

Cheer’s to every mother!  And a very happy Mother’s Day to all of you!

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Granny and Grandaddy with My Mom and Aunti Chrissy


Me, Mom, Allie and Em

Me, Mom, Allie and Em

 

 

 

 

 

My GPS Guardian Angel

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Patricia Wells – Monday Lunch

I have flown for over 8 hours, been on a train from Paris to Avignon and rented a Fiat that I am driving to Vaison la Romaine.  Not only am I unsavy on technological stuff but I don’t speak any french.  I am really just now getting comfortable saying Bon jour and Merci.  So when I set up the GPS to guide me 40 miles to this beautiful place that I can’t pronounce, I was a little frazzled.  I just began doing everything the GPS said to do.  She directed me in with no problems.  She even spoke english!  I am forever grateful GPS Angel.

When I say, I hope I make it back home in two weeks, I really hope to be coming home.   If for some reason I am not home when I should be, please know I am lost.  Please call reinforcements.  I must look like a deer in headlights but frankly, I don’t give a damn.  I am having the best time and meeting some of the most wonderful people.  This experience has already surpassed what I could have imagined.  Tonight, I dined with 10 of the most amazing people from all over the United States, Canada and France.  Patricia and Walter Wells are two of the most down to earth people I’ve ever met but yet they exude brilliance and authenticity.  I want to absorb every word they speak like a sponge.  I love the fact that they are teaching these cooking classes as a team.  Both of them used to be journalists which I also find so magnificent.  Another one of my own aspirations that one day I will write something worth reading.  HA!   For now, I will do it for fun!

One of the things we all have in common here at Patricia’s  is the love of great food.   And, we get to sit under the Provençal Stars with a breeze of the Mistral and bottles of fabulous wine and talk about how we all came to this one spot in Chantanduc.  One of the students said what I was thinking – “it is like our souls have known one another and came here to congregate under the stars”.  This whole experience really is spectacular.

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Selfie in the Fiat

I personally wish that I could freeze frame moments because I don’t want to forget or miss any of this experience.  It is more than I could have wished.  I am super proud to say, I am doing it even though I have doubted my decision.  I have felt I couldn’t afford it, that I couldn’t get away from the girls, that I couldn’t leave my cooking in the states.  The list was long but I didn’t listen to the nah sayer in my mind (and some who said it to me) because I am doing it.

I can’t imagine how foolish I look here in Vaison la Romaine trying to pronounce anything in French.   But everyone has been so helpful and kind.  A father even hopped on his daughter’s bike as his family was walking and he led me to the driveway of Patricia’s home.  Her driveway is almost a mile long.  And, don’t believe a word people say about snobby french.  They may be in Paris but they aren’t here in Vaison la Romain.  Again, warm hearts all around.

I want all the Mom’s and women that may be reading this to please give yourself something wonderful.  Whether it is a trip by yourself for a weekend, a week trip with your significant other, a two-week trip with your children, a month summer trip with all the family.  This trip took three years to make happen and the planning and anticipation of the trip was just as much fun as the trip.  I know I am a better mother and person for it.  Not to mention, a better cook.  Here’s to saying  “Life is too short, I am doing this!”   Au Revoir!

 

 

Through Thick and Thin

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Pasta with Pesto and Chicken

My girlfriend called me early Saturday morning.  I knew something was up because she doesn’t usually call on the weekend.  She was crying.  I had never heard her like this.  My heart sank- what was wrong?

Her son had a melt down about doing a Saturday activity.  He didn’t want to go.  The whole family was rushing around to get the son to his boy scout commitment and the daughter to her soccer game.    The temper tantrum had affected the whole family, negatively.

As my friend continued talking and crying, she said “I lost it, I cursed at him”.  I couldn’t help it and I started laughing.  She is one of the best mom’s I know.

She began laughing too.  We as Mothers carry the weight of the world on our shoulders to be perfect even when our little angles are not.  I do not have enough fingers and toes to count the countless mistakes I have made as a mother.  I sometimes feel like I have won the worst mom award.  But, I haven’t.  I make a mistakes, apologize, and my daughters and I learn a good lesson.  We make mistakes, recognize them and move on, trying really hard not to make the same mistakes again.  We are human, with human emotions.

That was the beautiful lesson in this.  They did go to the boy scouts event and they both apologized for their behavior.  The mother to the son and the son to the family.  We are not perfect with our emotions.  And that is the perfect lesson to ourselves and those we love.  We will act certain ways in life.  People may not like it but those that truly love us will continue to love us unconditionally.  I believe, and I know not everyone does, that yelling and getting angry when someone has hurt you is healthy.  What is not healthy is a continual hurt and a continual yell.  I know there is a huge difference.  There is that word again that comes up in my life a lot…balance.

So, for dinner with my family, I decided to throw some pasta on the stove.  The greatest comfort food in the fall, if you ask me.  I didn’t have a lot in the fridge so, I used what I had – some grape tomatoes, some capers in a jar, some kalamata olives in a jar, left over pesto, and frozen chicken breasts.

I thawed the chicken and sautéed them.  I then added all the other ingredients minus the pesto to the pan and put a lid on it while all the flavors cooked together.  I added cooked penne pasta and the pesto and mixed it all up.

Viola!  Our dinner was served and, we sat at the table this particular night-  all of us, talking about our day, eating our meal, and living one day at a time through thick and thin, loving each other, unconditionally.