The only piece of advice I really treasure

Some time ago, inspired by all the lists of tips and suggestions for the new year resolutions I read and heard everywhere, I created my own half-serious suggestions list.

Do you remember?

I do not reject those pearls of wisdom, but I think that they are not as inspiring as I wished.

Today I stumbled upon a Mark Twain’s quotation I already knew, but that struck me as if I read it for the first time:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

It’s a fact that every century has its dreamers, inventors, visionaries. Depending on the time, they are and were treated in every possible way, from torture, derision, to awe, to suppression. But they all had something in common: the ability to go beyond the surface, to dare, to dream.

When Steve Jobs spoke the famous words, “Stay hungry, stay foolish!” he managed to sum up the unique philosophy of life that makes sense for me in a very short sentence.

The hunger for life accompanied by a certain amount of recklessness is not madness, it is the engine that should drive us to appreciate this journey, enjoying every opportunity, no matter who we are, where we live, how much money we have. What is appreciated by someone can be totally indifferent to another one.

Here is my list of what I have “explored” in recent years and that has enriched my life:

  •  create my own blog
  •  sing in a group
  •  practice Tai-chi
  •  practice Krav-maga
  •  discover the free online resources about meditation, energy techniques, motivational courses
  •  publish a household satirical magazine
  •  find resources that have inspired me to take care of my family and my home with no help
  • free myself from “reversed bias” (explanation follows) and learn to enjoy activities that I lived as a duty until a few years ago
  •  not being scared by washing machine and dishwasher breakdowns – yes, that’s right: as long as I can manage on my own, I will do it, screwdriver and clamp in my hand
  •  learn to say NO
  •  learn to let go of friendships that are fading
  • make room for new people, new ideas, new inspirations

None of this is making me rich (at least not yet …), less tired or perfect, but certainly eager to see what awaits me every morning.

And the great thing is that, the more I walk on this road, the longer becomes the trail of influences, imposed thoughts, unnecessary hesitation that I leave behind.

Even the “reversed bias” I mentioned before are terrible. Because of them we refuse “a priori” certain experiences, because we rebelled against them.

Take for example cooking. You already know what I think about it:

But when I try (“explore”) some new recipe, I like it! Just as I like it when the outcome of one of my pieces de resistance is confirmed for the umpteenth time.

Until some time ago I hated to cook, because as a girl I was surrounded by people who gave too much value to this ability. And I thought, “You bet your @$$ you will never see me sweating in the kitchen in this way.”

Life then took me to a certain point where I had to cook twice a day, lunch and dinner, every single day. For me it was a nightmare.

But one day, just for fun, I tried some cake recipes and it felt good. From then on I started experimenting and at some point I realized that after all cooking was not that bad and I could not believe that I had regarded it in this way for my whole life.

Cooking was not tiring, holding on to an idea that no longer belonged to me was.

Have I made you smile with this new article? I hope so, but I also hope that I’ve been able to make you feel the intensity I live everyday life with. This does not preserve me from living dark moments, but it gives me an awareness of the great light we can enjoy every day.

Have a nice weekend!

Grandma Josephine’s sweet treats i.e. my opinion about cooking sites

To risk or not to risk? To provoke or not to provoke? This is the dilemma I had this morning wondering if I really want to express what I think of most of the sites and blogs that talk about food.

It is true that nowadays culinary arts are extremely popular. There is a flood of tv-competitions, stars of the kitchen, programs and sites of recipes, food-bloggers, gurus of healthy diets and appealing formats to sell advertising spaces (please explain why I should give a damn about mini-Spanish or Australian chefs, since I don’t even care for Italian ones?), the media are very focused on this trend which obviously makes money.

I’m pleased for the fans. This is a bit too much for my taste, but I can choose not to watch them, right?

When I need a recipe I am the first to go online and in this kind of situations I appreciate the immediate and useful availability of the network very much. But for the rest of the culinary circus I do not care at all.

However I cannot help thinking about the side dish of conditioning this trend brings with it, especially for women. It subtly plays to force them back into a maternal role of comfort food giver that gets on my nerves.

Have you ever noticed the names of these sites? Most are gooey, playing the emotional card, focusing on a family relationship that brings you back to the good old days when grandma or auntie, rosy cheeks and a happy smile on her face, would get up at 5 am to prepare delicious meals for the whole family, that would reward her later with compliments and leaving the plates with no traces of food left.

Aunt Mary’s little recipes…

Grandma Carol’s good ol’ cooking …

Mom Jane’s heavenly sweets …

Gimme a break!

In addition most of these sites make extensive use of copy-pasting from other sites with plenty of pop-ups and advertising. Sometimes I cannot even find the recipe!

And what about the introductory speech on the main ingredient or the origins of the recipe, often taken verbatim from Wikipedia? I’m not interested! Just give me the recipe! We know what we are talking about, right? More words, more advertising space…

There are people who still give more value to the woman who can cook, who loves to cook, as if food was the only way to show mother love for others and by this I do not mean only for the family.

I do not know why, but when a man knows how to cook, he’s cool. It does not matter that most of the time this is just another way to feed his ego. He is cool.

I never heard a man say “I prepare lunch and dinner for my children every day and I am fed up”.
Nooooo! They invite you to their places, telling you they’re going to cook a risotto, a fondue bourguignonne, but in a week time after you have given them your precious dessert, you can forget about these chefs’ homemade meals.

Unless they are convinced to be the best cook they know. In this case you will have to taste everything they cook and proceed very carefully in giving your opinion about it.

Anyway … sorry, I lost my track insulting all the Gordon Ramsay wannabes, but what I really want to draw your attention to, my friends, is that you do not need to be masterchefs to be smart women.

But for those of you who relate to this: “The kitchen is my kingdom”, I have a suggestion: ask yourself how much you love to cook or how much you need praise and rewards. If cooking for you is a creative process that gives you satisfaction anyway, so be it, but if you feel bad when you do not hear the magic words “mmmmm, delicious, you have to give me the recipe, you’re the queen of the kitchen!”, ask yourself why.

Guess what now? I want to give you some food tips too: do not mess with complicated recipes. To stay healthy and to appreciate the true taste of foods, simplicity is the best way, at least for everyday meals. Vary, buy basic food, no precooked junk food, do not forget the legumes and experiment with new combinations. Create your own diet that makes you feel good, that is comfortable and that is not too expensive.

And if once in a while you binge, enjoy it! The important thing is that this does not happen on a regular basis, because you will be the only one to lose out.