Thursday, January 13, 2011

Feeding Time

January is the month of resolutions.  Change this, try that, cut calories, get stronger...and by January 17th most of us have failed at one or more of our resolutions.  According to "experts" January 17th is the most depressing day of the year.  Holiday bills come due, the aforementioned resolutions fizzle, and more often than not, we find ourselves isolated by the cold and dark of winter, stuck in the confines of our own homes.

So I was thinking that a perspective change might help me.  January will always be the time for new beginnings, but rather than resolving to change, why not work on developing that which already exists.  Diets are designed to starve the body...many fads and exercise gimmicks stress the body and hurt it...we are often convinced to buy something to fill a need, a void...the magic bullet that fixes everything.  The only thing that loses weight that way is one's wallet.

This year, I have decided to focus on feeding; nurturing that which exists to develop, to grow, to be more.

My focus is feeding my mind, my body, my spirit and my relationships.

Feeding my mind means reading more, watching less TV, creating and concocting from the resources already contained within.  Thinking more first before acting...there is something to be said for spontaneity, when you are 25, but at 50, research and development makes use of  a lifetime of experience. I admit that as I approach 50, I am a bit chicken to go back to is not that I don't have anything to learn...on the contrary, there is so much to learn!  For real, as I watched in shock and horror at the bombings in Mumbai in 2008, I did not know that Mumbai was some point that name change happened and I missed it.  I don't want to be ignorant...I want to learn, but it has been a long time since I was a real I will find suitable ways to educate myself and to learn from others...but sitting in a classroom, I am not sure about that just yet.  I do plan on visiting museums, aquariums, cultural and social events on a regular basis. I am blessed to live in a community that offers so much...lectures, movies, presentations and some of the best organizations dedicated to learning, from our incredible public library to one of the region's best symphonies...there certainly is plenty of food for thought.  I will be traveling more and hopefully taking a few more calculated risks...that fear thing is a bad habit to break after a lifetime of feeding it...but I will look for those opportunities that will serve to feed my inner explorer.  Right now, I am being challneged to learn to scuba dive...I'll need to hit the books and that lecture circuit for sure!

Feeding my body.  Hmm.  I have struggled with weight issues all my life and probably will continue to do so looking at family history.  But, I am not going to let this diet or that dictate what good health is.  I plan to learn about the foods we grow, the foods we buy and the processes used to create them.  While in France, I learned to respect the products I used in cooking.  I mean, how often here in the US do we buy a chicken with feet and feathers still attached?  How often do we really get our hands dirty selecting our produce and then caressing the fruits and vegetables, and as we clean them, embracing the potential? I lived in a country that produces 324 recognized cheeses...and the French claim that there are well over 1,000 types of cheese...whew!  That's alot of cheese, but it is also a profusion of creativity and potential for feeding one's mind, body and I can assure you, to a cheese maker and you'll know what I mean.

I developed a philosophy that I should try to honor the integrity of our food as God offers it to us.  I appreciate the idea from the farm to the plate, from the hands of the artisan to mine...and I hope my hands will create dishes that respect the integrity of nature's bounty and feed my family and friends.  I will continue to shop more frequently, using the freshest products available.  I find that exploring the markets and food outlets three or four times a week helps feed my creative side.  I may develop a new recipe.  I may research how to use a "new" product.  Recently I bought some farro, an ancient grain, but one that is new to really is an awesome product.  I also tried a prepackaged chickpea product and was not a winner...but I learned and relearned...remember that honor the intergrity of the food to plate...well the chickpeas were diverted to a factory where too many spices, preservatives and funky packaging ruined, in my opinion, a really great little legume. 

As I write this, I am seeing that feeding oneself...mind, body, spirit and relationships are beautifully connected.  I hope that as I focus on one area, I am wise enough to see those connections and be open to explore them and follow where the roots go.

For quite a few years now, I have struggled with feeding my soul.  I have and will continue to be a person of faith.  I was a very involved member of my church until a crisis in the Church led me to a crisis in religion...not faith...religion.  I was really wounded by how my Church reacted to the worst in human behavior and how, as I experienced it, continued to sin and vicitmize the wounded.  My Church wrapped itself up in history and canon law, hid behind infallability and skittered up a hierarchical ladder that further disenfranchised the voice of the faithful.  I decided that my faith and my religion were coming apart at the seams and I needed to attend to one or the other...I focused on faith.  This year, I hope to continue to build my relationship with God and recognize the work, the purpose driven life that will sustain my spirit.  I hope to end each day having made it a little better than when it began...and in so doing being a better person for that work.  St. Therese of Lisieux has always been a model of faith formation for me.  It was her way to dedicate every effort to God and in many cases, she endured pain, frustration and diappointment.  But rather than let these stop her works, she dedicated these endurances to God as well...if my knees are going to ache while scrubbing the floor Lord...then let them ache for you.  It may seem corny, but bad stuff happens to us all the time.  I hope that if and when it happens, I can find God in that moment and direct my discomfort to bring His will to those who suffer even more.  After a year in Paris and attending Mass at Notre Dame, I found that I enjoyed the community but because I had to really concentrate on the readings and sermons as they were offered in French, I really, really enjoyed that inner intimacy with the Word.  I was challenged and fed in a unique way...a private way.  I hope to continue to develop the nurturing Word in my life this year.

Feeding relationships...this focus may prove to be the most challenging of all...after all, you can only control what you contribute to the relationship and respond accordingly to what is reciprocated.  As I had said in my Paris blog, I find myself at an interesting place in my life's journey.  I am a wife and mother approaching my fiftieth birthday.  I stopped my routines short to follow my husband to Paris for a year.  My children are living on her own in Washington, DC, the other , a college student, well on her way to independence.  My networks at home and abroad have been disconnected, reconnected, rewired, dropped...I dunno.  I am back home with few network connections still sparking.  So I am focusing on ways to feed the stream...chum the waters if you will and find the relationships that will sustain me and that I can nurture into the future.  I realize that the bulk of this sustainability falls with me.  I need to make efforts to connect.  I need to be open to others, their ideas, gifts and talents and I need to be glad to have all sorts of characters in my life and pray they want me in their lives too!  So, from dropping a line via snail mail or on a social network to finding the right volunteer work will hopefully build a bridge to a friend.  Examining the relationships with people who are in my life, whom I often take for granted or regard through historic lenses are especially hungry and need feeding.  I need to examine too, what the feed it fodder for growth or the ground fertile or fallow?  I also need to recognize what is valuable and what is extraneous...invest time and emotion wisely. 

I am hoping that by feeding these foci, I become stronger, happier and wiser.  I hope feeding time is lasts a long time.

I am looking forward to seeing you at the table.

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