Can You Boil Water?

The greatest dishes are very simple. Auguste Escoffier, French chef, restaurateur and culinary writer who popularized and updated traditional French cooking methods. 

Yesterday I quoted Alice Waters, a famous, leading-edge U.S. chef. Today, I want to share with you her two favorite recipes. An advocate of fresh and local, her first favorite recipe is: “Go get some perfectly ripe figs in August, put them on a plate, and eat them.” Her other favorite is: “Go cut some mint from the garden, boil water, pour it over the mint. Wait. And then drink.” No kidding. These quotes are from her book Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook. 

You can do this—or some version of this. On Marco Island, where I live, our Farmer’s Market just opened selling fresh, locally grown, organic fruits, vegetables, and much more. I’ve written about it before because I love fresh food. The famous French chef, Alain Ducasse, says 85% of cooking is shopping. Waters says, “Find what’s ripe and beautiful and alive and in season.” Don’t think you can cook? Start with boiling some water—you’ve got this!

Affirmation: I can cook.

Coaching questions/requests: If cooking intimidates you, start with something simple. Slice up some veggies (fennel is my new favorite, carrots, or colored peppers), put on a little olive oil, salt and pepper, a piece of fresh fish and roast about 20 minutes. A beautiful, gourmet meal. What will you make for dinner? Start with something fresh.


Celebrating Beauty

When something is beautiful, everybody realizes it. It’s like walking into a grove of old-growth redwoods or witnessing an extraordinary sunset. Alice Waters, American award-winning chef, a pioneer in locally grown, California cuisine

I’m quoting Waters today as I think about our neighbors in California who are experiencing unprecedented fires. Such a beautiful state. I’m so sorry for your losses.

California beauty, like beauty everywhere, enriches our lives. When I was a social worker, I visited a single woman who lived with many children in a dirt-floor hovel. One daughter was deaf and I was helping her obtain hearing aids. When I showed up unannounced at Fanny’s, the floors were always swept, clutter put away, and a jar of wild flowers sat on the scarred table. I knew Fanny over 50 years ago but I’ve never forgotten the beauty of her home. She literally had nothing yet she found a way to create beauty in her surroundings. She inspired me to do the same. 

No matter how humble, everyone recognizes beauty.

Affirmation: I recognize and share beauty.

Coaching questions: How important is beauty to you? What difference do your surroundings make in how you feel about your life? What can you do today to create more beauty around you? 



Three Steps to Grief Recovery

When you throw your bread out on the waters of life, it comes back buttered. Rev. Stanley Weems, Presbyterian Pastor

As I spoke with daughters who had experienced profound mother loss, I heard three things that seemed to be universal in their grief recovery.

  1. Focusing on others while moving away from your own troubled and grief-stricken mind, is a key to recovery. Nearly every  daughter with whom I spoke, felt a revival of their spirits when they began to reach out to others. 
  2. Gratitude is a key. As we look at the glass half full, expressing gratitude for the time we had with our loved one, gratitude for the inheritance we received, gratitude for the comfort that came our way, grief begins to dissipate.
  3. Seek professional help if you need it. All daughters who sought help said it made a profound difference in their recovery. Life is short. Don’t wait too long to seek help if you need it.

Whether we are generous with our stories, our empathy, our talents or time, the flow of energy into the world enables it to return in abundance.

Affirmation: I can recover.

Coaching questions: If you are struggling with grief, what one step can you take to move toward recovery? Do you want to move forward? If not, in what way is grief serving you? 

God’s Best Idea

From regret-riddled to better-because-of-it. From afraid-to-die to ready-to-fly. Grace is the voice that calls us to change and then gives us the power to pull it off. Max Lucado, author and pastor

My Girl Talk God Talk group is reading Grace by Max Lucado. If you think the turning of the leaves, the first snowfall, a new born baby, or the Grand Canyon are evidence of God’s greatest work, wait until you experience grace. Lucado explains it this way, “God’s grace has a drenching about it. A wildness about it. A white-water, riptide, turn-you-upside downness about it. Grace is the voice that calls us to change and then gives us the power to pull it off.” 

For me, grace is more than forgiveness, more than the power to change and move forward. For me, God’s grace changed my heart and enabled me to forgive myself. 

Affirmation: I am changed by grace.

Coaching questions: What do you know about grace? How has it changed your life? Are you in need of grace? Consider reading Grace. Lucado’s books have been read by over 100 million people around the world.  


Thank a Veteran

The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war. Douglas MacArthur, United States General 

Tomorrow is Veterans Day in the United States. This annual observation honors military veterans and coincides with similar days celebrated in other countries that mark the anniversary of the end of World War I. Major hostilities of WWI were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. 

I’m honored to have many veterans in my family including my dad, ex-husband, former husband, step granddaughter, and ancestors going  back as far as the Revolutionary War. Join me in honoring our veterans the world-over. Our freedom is precious, military veterans make it possible.

Affirmation: I appreciate our veterans.

Coaching request: If you know a veteran, thank them. If you are a veteran, thank you. If you no longer want an accumulation of veterans, work for peace.


Are You Someone’s Hero?

True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. Arthur Ashe, American professional tennis player.

Bobby Cox is an American former baseball third baseman and manager of the Atlanta Braves and Toronto Blue Jays. He holds the all-time record for ejections in Major League Baseball with 158 plus an additional three post-season ejections. I recently heard about Cox from Molly Fletcher, the female version of Jerry McGuire. 

One might think Cox was ejected so many times because of his lack of disciple or anger but, according to Fletcher, Cox was always all about his players, never himself. His attitude was, “You matter more than me.” He was willing to be ejected on their behalf, defending what he thought was fair or stepping in between an umpire and his player if the player was on the edge of rejection. He is in the MLB Hall of Fame and was honored by a statue and retirement of his number 6. He continues to be much admired and a hero among athletes.

Affirmation: I aspire to be a hero

Coaching questions: Who is a hero in your life? Why? Who would consider you to be their hero? 


Values vs Differences

Our shared values define us more than our differences. And acknowledging those shared values can see us through our challenges today if we have the wisdom to trust in them again. John McCain, American statesman and military officer who served as a United States Senator until his death.

One of our greatest challenges in the U.S. today is learning to get along in our divided political landscape. For me, shared values and true friendship trumps (sorry for the pun) political differences. Yesterday, one of my best friends called to acknowledge how I’m using prayer for our president as a way to bring about change and inner peace for myself. She knows I’m taking action in other ways as well and supports my need for involvement. 

This is what friendship is all about! Overcoming our political divide has actually brought us closer as we have had to talk about the hard questions and define our common values. To her credit, it is my friend who has called me, not the other way around. Although our politics can occasionally be the “elephant or donkey in the room,” our friendship has survived and even thrived in spite of it. 

Affirmation: Shared values define my friendships.

Coaching questions: Do you have relationships that need repair in this environment? Are they worth it? If so, what will you do to heal in spite of your differences?