This is not a recipe post. There WILL be one of those coming your way in a few days (of the Valentine’s Day dessert variety, woo woo!). But today is one of those not-about-food // hell-of-a-lot-of-words posts. So if you don’t particularly like reading lots and lots of words, no worries – just look away now & wait out the word-storm until that recipe appears in your inbox (see you in a few days food-lovers!!). But for those who don’t mind a few (thousand) words coming at them like a freight train, read on and let’s get YEAR-2 of Free Your Fork underway. Shall we…
Hello, dear readers and belated HAPPY 2017!
I’ve been writing this post for a while. Hemming and hawing over the exact words. How many to say. What to say. IF I should say them at all or just start posting recipes again A.S.A.P. But I woke up to an email this morning from one of my blogger pals with the subject line “Long Time No See” and decided it was high time that I post something.
Anything. LAUREN. Just. DO IT.
So here it is. The elephant in the room. I’ve been absent from the blog for a bit and by a bit I mean a month. *CRINGE*
Yikes. Has it really been that long since that splendid sugarplum fairy, snowflake saga that was December? When peppermint brownies were being baked on repeat in my kitchen?#WhoNeedsAbs #WinterBodFOREVER #WhatSummerWedding ??
(Speaking of the wedding. We are in the 140-ish days to go zone. THINGS ARE HAPPENING. I would apologize for the gratuitous use of all caps but I needed you to know that I’m screaming that number out loud over here in a mixture of excitement + pure terror //stress)
If the calendar says it’s been a month, it must be true. Ugh. I’m so sorry to have left you in the lurch. I pinky promise it’s not for much longer.
Yes – it’s partly due to the fact that I’ve been busy with recuperating from all the lovely holiday travel with family and friends. Which was SO fun and SO needed. And there’s just somehow never quite enough of it. Ever.
…and yes – it’s also due to the fact that I stopped working with my nutrition & fitness coach which means I’ve been taking in as much info as I can at all hours so I can start trusting and training myself. EXCITING? Absolutely. LONG-TIME DREAM COMING TO LIFE? Definitely. HARD AF? You. Know. It.
ANNNND YES – it has been harder than I thought to get back into the swing of things because I’ve been busy-busy-busy balancing work / life / wedding planning / etc. But it’s also because there has been a lot happening world-wide lately and it didn’t feel right to be diving back into my happy go lucky food blog world quiiiiite yet.
Not quite appropriate…or sensitive…or demonstrating any sense of awareness of the world we live in. I didn’t want to jump right back in and pretend like nothing was happening when it was very much the opposite situation. I didn’t want to be inauthentic or try to smooth over the stress with bubbly rhetoric, posting when my heart wasn’t truly in it.
I don’t take the blogger-reader relationship lightly. I’m here to give you recipes but also to share honestly about myself in bits and pieces too. And I never want to do so without it being 100% genuine. Because you are real, and I am real, and I want this to be a place where that realness gets honored.
So real talk. I wasn’t feeling up to the task of making pretty food and gushing all about it. I love this blog. This is my happy place, my creative playground. And I wasn’t feeling happy or much like playing. I was going through the motions just making meals, preparing basic food, but not creating anything substantial for the blog. I would like to blame it all on being busy but I was really just unmotivated and prioritized other things instead.
There were big changes happening that seemed to command all of my attention and demand all my energy. After the election, there was a rocky healing process that needed to begin among us – between neighbors and friends and families across the country. People who voted very differently and felt that their interests were (or were not) reflected in the end result. And these months that have followed since November have been well…tough. And tense. And frustrating. Maybe you’ve been feeling a little bit that way too.
There have been plenty of disagreements and uncomfortable conversations happening ever since. Sometimes tough, occasionally awkward, but oh-so necessary conversations. Across the aisle and across the table – important discourse is taking place. Via television, radio, phone, text, and social media. We are all struggling to embrace that uncomfortable truth, which is that as much as we would like to…we may not always effortlessly agree with the people that we love.
Your opinion is not always going to be the same as everyone else around you. And that is okay.
It is hard. It would be much more comfortable and convenient if it weren’t that way. But it is, indeed OK. You don’t have to be in constant, harmonious agreement in order to continue loving, respecting, and enjoying your family and friends. The trick is to try to make as much space for listening to others as we do for speaking our mind.
For most people, one of those things comes harder than the other. If you’re a naturally assertive, passionate, and outspoken person – then listening calmly to another equally passionate person speak about their beliefs & opinions might be the most difficult part. It requires that you dig deep into your reserves of compassion and patience. But for those of us who tend to be agreeable, quiet, and shy – those who tend to be more eager & comfortable listening and more anxious to express themselves publicly…speaking up at all is the hard part. And taking action feels even harder.
I’ve never been really what anyone would term a politically active or energized person. I’m not proud to admit that, but I will freely admit it. And for a little while now, I’ve been working on bettering that part of myself.
As it turns out, being an informed and engaged citizen is in itself a part-time job. There are congress people to write, policies // articles // op-ed pieces to read, and news coverage to watch. Oh GOD. The news coverage. So much to sift through.
A seemingly endless news cycle appears on TV each night. It loops and loops and you feel like you can’t pull yourself away because you’re afraid you might miss something (or everything). Once you’ve read all the articles and gobbled up all the soundbites and scrolled infinitely through twitter, absorbing the collective feelings & voices of the internet, you find that a new day has come. And MORE news stories are upon you. More things that you never even thought about before, legislation you never knew existed, people you never knew occupying job positions you feel guilty that you never knew existed before either.
Who’s that? What on earth is a _______ ? (<–insert term here that I swear I never learned in U.S. History class). Deep breath. Then back to it. But you’re tired and not sure if you want to keep reading, watching, seeing, and experiencing everything. Because even when you do engage yourself in the process, sometimes you’re left with more questions than answers.
Sound familiar? If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by your sense of civic duty, know that you are not alone in that feeling. It’s a lot to take on. But don’t second guess your intentions, it is indeed worth taking on.
The trouble is that you don’t just get to consume news on TV or read an article anymore, you have to question where it came from, who wrote it, and then try desperately to digest what it means. Which can be a bit exhausting. It’s like babysitting a kid that has just learned how to fib to you, you’re always on edge wondering if they really did just brush their teeth or just dunked their toothbrush under the faucet for a sec. Did you really eat all of your vegetables, or did you mash all that broccoli into a napkin that’s now stuffed in your pocket?
That’s not a fun place to be. Constantly policing information when all you really wanted was the plain and simple truth in the first place. But alas, that is where we find ourselves. In that place where we could keep complaining about it or lace up our boots and get busy with the task of taking action. You know when you feel anxious and you know that going for a walk would make you feel WAY better than continuing to sit with your anxiety inside the house? It’s hard to bolster your spirits to get out the door, but once you’re in motion the tension begins to ease itself. You may not feel like you’re doing much, but it feels good to DO it.
So let’s take that walk. Let’s choose to take a few baby steps forward.
Whatever that means to you in whatever way is most comfortable for you. You can make a call, send an email, write a letter, strike up a conversation with your neighbors, contribute to organizations who do work you admire, volunteer your time to a cause (or perhaps even write a blog).
No matter what side of the political aisle your interests fall on, the fact remains that you are a unique person with unique interests and issues you’re passionate about that are unique to you. You are an irreplaceable, one of a kind, important part of this world. Your opinions and your voice are worthy of being expressed and listened to earnestly. The tricky thing is, no one is going to stand up for exactly what you care about in exactly the way that you could for yourself.
And accepting my responsibility that I had to play in making my own voice heard was a tough pill to swallow. It meant acknowledging that for a long time I’ve been more comfortable complaining or criticizing than I have been speaking or writing my own opinions. *Chokes down massive slice of humble pie (while wishing it was real pie)*
So if you’ve been looking for a loving push to make yourself heard or have been waiting to be given permission…here you go. Here it is. I want you to feel good and empowered and valued. For the simple fact that you and your voice ARE valuable.
If you’re feeling at all overwhelmed with the state of things or like you’re just at a loss to know what to do, I stumbled across this awesome post that I’d love to share with you. It reinforces that it’s totally OKAY to feel that way! And better yet, gives you tools to manage those feelings of stress so you can get back to feeling good about all the good you’re doing. There’s also this handy little app called Countable that you can fine-tune so that you’re hearing about legislation affecting the issues that matter to you most. It’s really helped me to hone in on the things I need to dive deep on and pay attention to without being totally inundated by ALL-the-things. For me, that meant selecting the National Parks and Public Land & Resources – if you click on the “Issues” tab and select “view more” you’ll see a whole plethora of specific issues you can tailor to yourself and your conscience.
I hope it brings some clarity and comfort your way.
On a completely separate note, I happily spent all Sunday making an absolute mess of my kitchen so that I can start bringing you NEW, healthy(ish) recipes all year long. No dish or utensil or countertop made it out unscathed. A mess that I’m off to try to tidy up now so I can keep on making even more messes next week too.