Rip off the mask, tear down the walls. Show the world your beautiful self!

Cooking Thoughts

The Tomatoes Are Here!

The day finally came when my beloved heirloom tomatoes graced the Underwood Family Farms stand. As usual, I carefully chose the biggest and best, the most solid and the most colorful for my first bowl of gazpacho for 2016.gazpacho tomatoes 2016

Yesterday, I turned those tomatoes along with a variety of other vegetables into that delicious, oh-so-healthy bowl of goodness I’ll happily eat for the next week or so.

Music to Soothe, Inspire and Invoke Brutally Honest Reflection

As I typically do, I used my iPad to listen to a Pandora station which is reminiscent of my younger days. The music of Blood, Sweat and Tears, Chicago, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Seals and Crofts and of course, Simon and Garfunkle filled the kitchen as I chopped, sang, and occasionally danced. The three hours it took me to chop all of the veggies by hand (I chose not to use the Ninja to pulverize the onions, garlic and herbs today) gave me the usual latitude to think and allow thoughts to wander randomly in and out of my mind.

I happened to be listening more intently when Sounds of Silence came on. Thus it was that the words “…people talking without speaking” got my attention and gave me pause. How often, these days do we talk without speaking? Either we’re texting, or instant messaging or emailing. We’re having conversations without saying a word. Though the song was written in the ’60’s, it’s even more meaningful today.

How many times, while running errands has my daughter called me and rattled on about whatever is on her mind, not stopping to give me a chance to speak, and if she does, not hearing what I’m saying anyway. Meanwhile, I’m multi-tasking and not hearing much of what she’s saying either. Both of us might as well be talking to a wall too much of the time. Our phone calls are only rarely true conversations.

Realizing How Far I’ve Come, and How Far I Have to Go

As is often the case when I make gazpacho or any of the recipes which originally came from my mom, my thoughts drifted to her. These days, unlike while she was alive, those thoughts are loving rather than annoyed. I remember the good things she gave me and the incredible experiences she shared rather than all of the arguments and the times she made me crazy. I feel compassion for her and what she became. Such are the products of my years of soul-searching and endless writing. I’ve come to know and appreciate the woman far more in death than I ever did in life.

That makes me sad in so many ways, not the least of which is my lack of relationship with my daughter Jenni and her daughter, Serenity who will be 7 in less than a month. Although I honor Jenni’s decision to keep her distance from me and am glad I kept her from using Sera as a pawn to get her way, there is a place in my heart that’s a little bit broken as a result. There’s also a part of me that resents the woman who took my place in that little girl’s life, even while I appreciate the fact that Sera has someone who, if not a real grandmother, acts like one.

An Emotional Maelstrom

Reading back on this, I’m somewhat amazed at the gamut of emotions raised by the simple act of making a bowl of cold vegetable soup, yet cooking for me is both cathartic and a time to let my mind wander where it will. I’ve never really had reason to put a filter on my thoughts. Cooking, writing and even cleaning are simply places I go when I want to work things out or simply let go of whatever is bringing me down.

Some people garden, but I’ve found I don’t have the patience or perseverance to follow all the steps to a successful crop. Either I forget to water, or let the weeds run rampant, or simply let the produce die on the vine. We all have things we’ll stick with until it’s done. For me, gardening just isn’t one of them.

With a big bowl of soup in my refrigerator and even a bit of reorganization in the process, I’m left with a passel of mixed emotions. Gratitude, of course, for the lessons, the recipe and the inclination to make the soup. Regret for not taking the time to see what my mom hid just below the surface, and for the granddaughter I may never really know. Disappointment in myself for allowing conversations with my daughter Heather to become more talking at than talking to. And resolve to fix the things I can, accept the ones I can’t and let go of the negative emotions they engender.

There Will Always Be Gratitude

On that note, I’ll share today’s gratitudes:

  1. I’m grateful to have a gigantic bowl of homemade gazpacho in my refrigerator.
  2. I’m grateful for the self-love making a healthy batch of soup gives me.
  3. I’m grateful for the time I spend considering how I’m feeling and determining whether I can fix what makes me feel that way or just learn to accept and release it.
  4. I’m grateful for friends, new and old who impact my life every day. In the long run, they help me to become a better person.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, healthy food, healthy habits, my kitties’ devotion (waking up to one purring and licking my cheek while another lays across me, pushing his face into my hand and rattling my rib cage with his purr is the best morning ritual I know), sharing, caring, peace, harmony, healthy, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

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