Lessons Learned From Slow-Cooked Oatmeal.

Many know that I do not cook. Like really…do not. For the 29 plus years we have been married, Chris has done the majority of the cooking. If he didn’t cook, one of the kids usually did. After all, we homeschooled and cooking was a great way to learn multiple skills. ?
Every once in a while, I would get a great wave of motivation and decide I was going to cook there by contributing my solution to the great cooking dilemma of our family…what shall we eat.

Instant Pot Love…and Loss

A couple of years ago, I purchased an Instant Pot and I stuck with cooking a bit. Then I got distracted by life and my husband started to use the Instant Pot more and more. I regressed back into oatmeal being my one contribution to our eating regime; and that was even a rare occasion.

In September, our Instant Pot broke and my cooking days went back to nil. However, December came and an undeniable desire for a traditional holiday season swept over me. Cooking was going to have to happen.
Without the help of the Instant Pot, I had to stay in the kitchen and actually monitor what was cooking. The strangest thing happened…


Cooking Up Joy

I enjoyed it! I get bored with the everyday kind of cooking and fancy myself as more of a creative cook. Being vegan, recipes that have interesting ingredients intrigue me and it is fun to alter traditional cuisine with foods like jackfruit, agave, and nut cheeses.?
As much as I have been enjoying cooking, especially with the fabulous purple cookware Santa brought us, it wasn’t until yesterday and today that I realized there is a bigger lesson to take away from stirring something at the stove; stirring steel cut oats to be exact.
My signature (Lol) dish of strawberry oatmeal was put on hiatus since our Instant Pot broke. Of course, there has been the instant oatmeal in a pack that our children seem to enjoy, but I have never been a fan of that stuff. Yesterday, I discovered the neglected canister of steel cut oats in the pantry and decided it would be the perfect base for the cranberry peach sauce I wanted to make.

Everything Cooks Better in Purple

Do you happen to share this habit I have? I tend to not fully read the directions for anything before I start; even the three line directions on the back of an oatmeal container. Once I had the water boiling and the oats stirred in, I finally read that it would take 25 to 30 minutes to make. Definitely not instant; not even quick. It was to cook uncovered with occasional stirring. With my kitchen wisdom that I have recently discovered at my ripe age of fifty, I realized that if I left the kitchen, this oatmeal would sure to burn and my new purple pot would be scorched forever.

You could probably say I really stayed to prevent the purple pot from an early demise. So, in essence, everything does cook better in purple since I won’t leave the kitchen and take the chance of burning something in my purple pot!

During the 25-30 minute span of stirring occasionally, I reflected a lot and learned a few things…

Embracing moments is as simple as sharing love with our (four!) dogs in between stirs. (Milo thought he could get a taste. Picture above.)
Nurturing myself in mind and spirit can be done by occasionally stirring while writing in my journal.

Fresh cooked food puts healthy eating on a different level than grabbing prepackaged items even if they are geared to be healthy like packaged vegan yogurt.

Our current culture of “being busy all the time” has skewed our perception and fed the notion that convenience foods are necessities.

It is refreshing to take the time to do something so simple yet so satisfying.


It is energizing to live slowly.


My epiphany came when the words I have been trying to vocalize about my art and the inspiration I hope to relay through my plant-stained papers and pottery were realized during those moments of stirring, petting, writing, and pouring my delectable yum into one of my favorite purple pottery bowls…

Slow down. Connect with moments. Savor each day.

And the oatmeal with homemade sauce made of fresh cranberries and jarred peaches, was so absolutely delicious, I made it again today.

When Your Battle Plan Needs Changed.

Seven years ago, our life changed with a literal heartbeat… my husband’s. Health-wise, most all is better now, but it has taken a very long time for us to get back on our feet. His heart event and subsequent job lay-off effected our whole family and our security as we knew it. To this day, we are still unsteady.

But, it is time. It is time to embrace our reality as it is. Holding on to the idea that our life is about climbing out of the metaphorical hole in which we seem to dwell has held us back.


Facing Reality

The reality is…this is our reality.
The more we thought that we needed to get back to where we were, that our lives were supposed to look the same as they did before these two events occurred, the more we were held hostage to the notion that we were the same. As fluid, ever-changing beings, we grew through these unwelcomed events. Just like a piece of art I could never make twice, we evolved through the process and came out changed from who we were. 

Being on the wrong path doesn’t mean there aren’t good parts to embrace.

Sure we have had some highlights over the last several years. We moved back “home” to Lakeland, Florida. I am an invited artist to Walt Disney World. Two of our children graduated high school (homeschooled all the way) and are now in college.  We have enjoyed family days at the nearby gulf coast, traveled to art shows and teaching engagements all around.  We got to spend more time with my folks before my dad passed away.♡

It’s the low parts that we have let define us though. My husband and I realized a couple of years ago that things were happening that looked good but they were not necessarily good for us in the long run. Things that looked good to the public came with a lot of personal sacrifice and financial burdens. The “magic” we thought we were embracing turned our world upside down and dug us into a deeper hole.

So, we regrouped, changed our focus, invested in ourselves, and went forward with better armor.


Warrior Pose


This “warrior artist” photo is my current profile picture on Facebook. It seems fitting for entering this new year. My caption reads…Entering 2019 with fierce determination to succeed in my business, finally climb out from this seven year hole that continues to try and swallow us, reclaim joy in my personal life, embark on serendipitous adventures, and bask in the here and now. My word is…steps.

Onward.

With all the necessary elements in place, it is this year we finally can take the steps forward. Hence, my word for the year… steps.


Good Plan, Wrong Goal

I thought I had the battle plan organized and was executing it with all the right moves. I had done my research, zeroed in on my desire and foreseen potential, and hired the right people to get me to the winning side. When my plan began to come to fruition, I realized the actions were not wrong, the goal, the one that I had been working toward for years, was wrong.

It would be easy for me to label the experience as a “crash and burn” episode, but I feel that would belittle it. The experience was an eye opening education and just like my degrees I worked so hard to attain, this learning was invaluable. It lit a fire under me and not only is sending me down a path I feel I am meant to be on, but brought me back to the roots that continue to hold me tight to the ground.
I am more in tune with myself than I have ever been and, in turn, feel I have more to give to others than I have ever had. I finally feel what other women in their fifties have described as a “coming of age.” It is not only a realization about myself, but the fortitude to live it authentically.

Steps to Take When Your Plan Needs Changed

So, here are the specific steps I can offer when your battle plan needs changed.
1. Take a moment, or two, or many.
It may be cliché but truly press pause. Take a breath. Try to find a place of peace and tranquility to reflect. Life can be overwhelming, especially when trying to change directions.

2. Go toward the next step, not run away.
Going toward something different for the sake of it just being different is often a form of running away from what has been going on instead of going toward something that is actually going to benefit you. Reflect, plan, act.

3. Listen to your gut.
You know that achy, sometimes jabbing, feeling in your stomach that gnaws at you until you either listen to it or you move on in spite of it? Listen to it. You know your situation better than anyone else. Advice is grand, but only you know deep inside of you what you should do.

4. Imagine scenarios. Play out possibilities
I am a visual person and it helps me to create scenarios that may occur on the paths of various options. I write, draw, paint these possibilities. It’s not about the writing or the art, but about releasing the thoughts that are filtering through your head. You can talk out these possibilities too. Find a friend who is going to be honest with you and talk out “what may happen” depending on which path you take forward.

5. Be flexible in your plan.
Set a course but allow opportunity for wonderful serendipity along the way. Often it’s these pockets of the unexpected that end up bringing you to where you are supposed to be.


If you run into set-backs in your new plan, as you most assuredly will, realize the difference between obstacles in a road worth taking versus the cliffhanger on the road you were on. “Should’ve, Would’ve, and Could’ve” are not invited to this plan. They were lessons learned and your growth from them guides your next moves.

Oh and number six is the most important step…

6)Take a picture of yourself! Get dressed in something that makes you feel empowered. Strike your warrior pose and snap that shot. I promise you that will be a visual that will bring you back to your plan if you fall wary and need reassurance. I even had my “Artist Warrior” made up into cards that feature my mantra on the back.

Create • Journey • Inspire

Onward.