Cooking Insecurities

Quondam: former; onetime

I used to HATE cooking.

Whenever someone asked me what my least favorite thing was to do, “cooking” was always my prompt reply. Surveys requiring responses for disliked hobbies? Oh, easy. Cooking.  Young men would ask how I would plan on taking care of my future man in culinary ways; I told them to mind their own lives, and I’d cross that bridge when I came to it.cooking-knife-vegetables-meats-cutting boards

Growing up, I was a perfectionist. I liked things to be done a certain way, and I didn’t like to look bad. (Who am I kidding? I still don’t!) Because of these silly fears, I chose not to try out multiple things in fear of failing and being “found out.”

Additionally, I was a homeschooled child. Unlike many of my friends who were one of 5 or 8 or 10 children, I was one of 3. I was four years old when my baby brother was born, so I didn’t have to grow up babysitting or taking on household management to help my mom out. We were all babies.

I watched with envy when my friends could cook up a find tasting meal, change a babies’ diaper, or wrangle kids effectively. Babies would cry the instant I touched them, and I really didn’t know how to cook. Thank God I loved (still do) cleaning though. At least I wouldn’t be a complete lump on a log who just ate and did nothing to contribute.

From those moments on, a soul with mounted insecurity swore to never have children or never cook. It was easy to hide behind my fears and make pseudo-promises to myself. I didn’t have littles in my life, and mom did all the cooking. (Or the nights she was in no mood to whip up a meal, trusty old chips & salsa/cheese & crackers quieted my hunger pangs!)

As time passed, I began digging into the “whys” of my avowed statements. It wasn’t the fact I merely thought cooking took forever, and I was too lazy so no bueno. I realized it was my self-imposed limitations and prides/fears that inhibited me from living out these enriching tasks, namely cooking.

To take a load off her plate, my mom asked me to start cooking several months ago. I initially balked at the request, but since I’m not a terrible daughter and for the sake of her task load, I started. At first, I hated it. But over time, I realized that enjoyment started creeping into my mindset. I actually started looking forward to the process and cooking for loved ones.
Now, I welcome mom’s feedback and corrections. I find joy in the experimentation and the verbalized “yummy!” from my family or friends. It’s no longer about how I look but how I can serve my loved ones. And quite frankly, what does “perfect” look like anyway?

~Lina Marie

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Surprise!

Hotsy-totsy: about as right as can be; perfect

I turned 21 on January 24. A couple months ago, my mom asked me if I wanted to do anything in particular to celebrate  my “official passage” into adulthood. Up until this point, I’ve always had sleepover parties with my girls and often shared the weekend with my younger sister whose birthday is a week before mine. This year, however, I wanted to end the tradition and imagined I’d either work on my birthday. Or sit and read with a latte or glass of wine. Or sleep.

I wasn’t expecting or hoping for anything and quite frankly, nearly lost track of how fast my birthday zoomed into view. When I saw my work schedule for my birthday week, I was pleasantly surprised my boss took into consideration my birthday and didn’t schedule me the first three days of the week. Sweet!

Two days before my birthday, a Sunday, I had planned to go to my sister-from-another-mister’s house to hang out for my birthday, spend the night, and then go out with her sister (also my best friend) for another birthday outing. Super low key, intimate, and filled with quality time. My mom was to drop me off after church and that would be that.

On the way to this friend’s house, a guy friend of mine who had been at church contacted my mom for an address to someplace. I honestly didn’t pay that much attention and didn’t think much of it. My mom is a super resourceful person and enjoys assisting people in whatever the case may be.

Upon driving up to my friend’s house, I noticed there were a lot of cars parked in the driveway. At first, I thought perhaps house church was in session, but for one, it was too early, and I recognized some of the cars that wouldn’t have been part of the fellowship. My mom tried to distract me with some of the neighbor’s goats, but WHO FREAKIN’ CARES ABOUT GOATS WHEN THERE ARE SUSPICIOUSLY TOO MANY CARS IN THE DRIVEWAY. My heart pounded faster than normal, and I jumped out of the car, ran up the steps, the door was opened for me, and I was met with a resounding — “SURPRISE!!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY LINA!”

They had pulled off a surprise party and I had no idea. (I guess that’s the ultimate hope for those sorts of things. Haha.)

I gasped in delight and shock and my hand flew straight to my mouth. I could not believe my eyes. Faces I had seen from anywhere to the day before to several months back were all in the kitchen, smiling at me, and there for ME. What in the world.

I’m a serial hugger, so I gave every person in the room a big ole hug, some a kiss too, and lots of laughter. The evening was perfect, filled with lattes, food, friends, Jesus, and thinking about the goodness of God. I’m still amazed that in spite of all my flaws and blunders, so many people would be there for me to celebrate our friendship and new seasons of life. That’s a gift.

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Humorous Intentions Gone Sour

Gauche: tacky, graceless, tactless, rude, boorish, or awkward and foolish

I’ve always struggled with discerning the fine line between conveying information and oversharing personal information. I’m not a reserved person and though I’d hope to not have secrets or embarrassing moments shared freely among friends, I genuinely enjoy people asking about my life, because I’m as nosey as they come (it has gotten better, most assuredly). I don’t share people’s deepest, darkest secrets, but we all have different boundaries of privacy and security.

This past week, a thoughtless incident reminded once again of the need for tact and social graces, especially among people in the same circles. A friend shared with me a joke this person knew I would find funny. It was about someone else, but not in a way that was degrading or backstabbing, but related to something we’ve discussed and this person knew exactly what to say to pique my interest and get under my skin in a playful way.

I casually mentioned the essence of the topic to the person of interest thinking this person would laugh. This person didn’t and was quite flustered, because it was annoying and something this person had made statements about disliking. If something isn’t directly and firmly spoken to me, sometimes I don’t get the hint and forget that I need to be thoughtful in not only what I share but in what someone would find funny.dsc_8539

The simple, shared statement turned into heartfelt (and not the sentimental heartfelt) texts which morphed into two long phone calls and me feeling thoroughly embarrassed. I’m not good with guilt and didn’t sleep well that night, even after receiving forgiveness (sometimes negative emotions linger). I’ve dealt with situations like this before, but it still took some emotional stamina not to cry or entertain less-than-edifying thoughts about myself.

All that to say, in hindsight, I keenly remembered and realized the need to value what others tell us in confidence or not. Relationships are built on trust and in learning what is meaningful to another person. It is not enough to explain away situations with justifications about your seemingly “insignificant” role but take to heart that we don’t often realize how our words sting and could put someone in an unsavory light.

~Lina Marie

Savoring the Flavor

Cater-cousin: an intimate friend {may have been a word used to suggest “providing service or food for” thus establishing strong bonds over shared experiences*}

During one of my periodic visits to my favorite young, married couple out of town, I was enthusiastically handed a recipe book on desserts, sorbets, and ice creams. Some were uniquely flavored. Some were classics. Some I couldn’t even pronounce. They were all delectable and S (husband) showed me a recipe he and his wife (A) were thinking about making — mango, pepper sorbet.

My initial reaction was a crumpled nose, but when they showed me black pepper vodka they were making and explained the flavor combination, I was intrigued. On the way to Atlanta, S’s parents dropped off an old-fashioned ice cream maker that we were psyched about using. Time to pick up the ingredients!

While A stayed home to prepare dinner, S and I hopped in the car and went to Trader Joe’s to pick up some mangoes. The only ones on sale were giant and green, so we didruby-violets-ortonn’t think they were ripe enough, but we came to find out that Keitt mangoes were the best that color and we later found out how juicy and fibrous they were.

Armed with our brown bag of fruit, we headed back to the apartment to start creating the concoction. We had more mangoes than we knew what to do with, but with messy hands and laughter over our experiment, the pepper vodka was mixed with the mango puree. It was thrown in the freezer and we hoped for the best.

Later that evening, we had several friends come by for an impromptu game night. Of course, we excitedly shared about our flavorful creation hopefully hardening to its proper texture in the freezer. We checked on it a few times, speculating about its readiness and decided to give it go.

The first taste was infused with such rich flavor. Who knew mango and pepper would go so nicely together! Handing out small bowls of mango pepper sorbet, seven people crowded into the tiny kitchen lighted with fairy lights strung on the cabinet. It was cramped but cozy. We all went for seconds and had a blast taste testing our roasted chestnuts collected on a camping trip (which were super disgusting, by the way! Maybe we didn’t roast them correctly. Haha.)

In those moments of laughter, friendship, and food (and the following night of making cardamom, lemon ice cream), life again once reminded me that it doesn’t have to be the grand nights out or extravagant plans that create the greatest bonds and memories.

*http://www.dictionary.com/wordoftheday/2016/06/16/cater-cousin

~Lina Marie

Hiding Exposes

Parry: to turn aside; evade or dodge

A sticky incident with a friend who chose avoidance rather than assertion reminded me of an unwise set of choices I made a year and half ago that backfired. Needless to say, it set the precedent for future change.

During my six-month internship at GE Energy Management, I showed up late, by choice, almost every day. On top of hardly liking being confined in an office, I didn’t see the point of being there eight hours a day when my work could get done in less. It seemed wasteful and unnecessary. {In hindsight, I realize this was stupid and selfish, and God knows what I was thinking.}

I was put on a fair remedial plan that lasted about a month. The requirements included showing up on time, having a one-hour lunch, showing up to SAYU (internship support) after a certain time. Easy stuff. It put me back on track and jolted me toGE Post Pic reality that I could easily be fired. This wasn’t school, and I wasn’t surrounded by people who knew and trusted me for years.

My boss said after the expiration date of this contract, we’d have a meeting to process and assess. In my head, I did pretty well. In order to save face and protect my feelings (all of this was a kind of awkward and embarrassing…), the day after the end of the contract, I sent her an email stating it was the end, I had done well, and stated my new work hours. I breathed a sigh of relief and resumed working. It’s so much easier to hide behind a screen. All was well!

Or so I thought.

I received a meeting request from her that morning that seemed ominous. My mouth went dry mostly because I was nervous if I met the contractual agreements in her eyes. Turns out she was completely peeved by my audacity and fear.  This meeting could have merely been about my remediation. On top of an already embarrassing factor, I further humiliated myself by the way I handled it: avoidance. I was a little intern with virtually no work experience stating to my boss, via email, about my decisions without her say-so? She was my authority and contained the power to decide my fate. I didn’t give myself the chance to negotiate or process with her.

I should have swallowed my pride and fear, admitted to and apologized for my dreadful decision, and faced my fear with courage and humility rather than thinking I could wiggle my way out of it. By focusing on how the sticky situation would make me feel, I made it about me; it wasn’t respectable nor mature. From that point on, I resolved within myself to face anything no matter the consequence. I’d receive the tears, disappointment, and correction from others. At the end of the day, even though it will be difficult, it only builds character and repute.

Although my boss had a reputation for being a mighty influence and force, praise God she gave me more chances than I deserved and understood I was still learning. We need people who are candid about our bad decisions even if it makes us feel uncomfortable. On the other hand, if we are recipients of evasive behavior from a loved one, friend, or acquaintance, we need to lovingly and firmly express our feelings about how it made us feel and offer constructive criticism for next time. Hiding and avoiding anything only builds up friction for the future and reveals inward motives, intentions, and character. For “better are the wounds of friends than the kisses of enemies.”

~Lina Marie