Will You Join Me – Home Cooking, a Benefit of Pandemic Coping

“At a scale not seen in over 50 years, America is cooking, a healthy move in the middle of a pandemic.” Hans Taparia/New York Times

The kitchen is my second favorite room in the house. I consider it a place where my creativity and love of delicious food unite to create a combination of ingredients to nourish myself and share great tasting food. Cooking and being in the kitchen gives me comfort and peace in such a strange and difficult time. My mother who created wonderful meals led the way for me, she was my teacher in the process of making food with love. While my mom passed away in 2013 she’s never left my side, whenever I cook she’s right there with me. I cannot imagine a more soul satisfying way to spend days at home then enjoying the process of making delicious, healthy meals that satisfy my intention to eat mindfully.

While there have been many negatives with COVID-19, there are a few benefits, one most prominent is the return to the core of family and cooking and serving real meals at home. Cooking at home isn’t only a means of satisfying our appetites, it is a cultural pillar of socialization that stems from the love of family, friends and the essential human bond of togetherness. This terrible situation has forced people to return to family closeness and better health.

When I was growing up, going out to eat was uncommon, our togetherness and the terrific food were matchless. Did you know that since the inception of the pandemic over 100,000 restaurants have closed, not just independently owned, but many major chains have had to close either some or all of their restaurants? My personal opinion is that eating out has become too common, as ordinary as filling a car with fuel. I see this pandemic as an opportunity for people who treat food as necessary to discover homemade food as a personal link to the care of their body as well as a fun and creative way to enjoy food.

A simple but lovely prayer that I found:

May this food that you provide
and that I prepare
bring nourishment to our bodies
and renewal to our souls.
Amen (Simon Carey Holt)

Cooking at home is a primary element to good health. A few people who have tried to promote the benefits of cooking at home made far less impact then COVID-19. A turn of events that has the potential to improve the overall health of many Americans who had previously relied on take out and restaurants in place of cooking at home. Around 30.3 million people in the US have type 2 diabetes and 84.1 million are prediabetic. making this pandemic a perfect storm to take the time to learn to cook and find ways to improve our health through fresh and healthy ingredients.

The need to home cook has never been higher, since the coronavirus has been most threatening to people with food-related chronic diseases. About 90 percent of those who become seriously ill due to the virus have an underlying condition — hypertension and diabetes being the most common. New York Times

Above and beyond the nutritional and health benefits is the connection with the ingredients that feed your body. We are evolving away from institutional, commercial food to fresh food. A better environment is created when meals are made and enjoyed at home and mental health benefits are considerable. We pay more attention to what goes in our meals and the way we feel when we eat. For instance, I’ve been slowly reducing the amount of sodium in my food to adding no salt recently. So, I’m ramping up the herbs and spices to make healthier food that is full of flavor and it’s a big success. I consider myself a home chef because I am able to create many meals without the use of a recipe, so I followed the chef standard of adding salt to everything, even sweets so this was a big change for me, but one that is driving a new creative path and a new relationship with the ingredients.

I recently watched a show where a group of people, a historian and archaeologists left the 21st century to immerse themselves in the simple and hard life on a farm in the Victorian era for a year. If you think cooking is a challenge now, just consider the life of someone who cooked using a charcoal fueled stove and oven, preparing food from scratch that they gathered from their garden where animals were butchered that they’d hand raised. That is the true spirit of home cooking embodied in a life lived naturally and self-sufficiently.

The act of cooking should be a spiritual practice that fuels the soul. Create a kitchen that is not only peaceful and beautiful but a sacred space. Here are some methods to connect the kitchen and preparation of food to the earth and all of life.

  • Declutter your kitchen, keep it clean
  • Keep in mind that this is a space where everyone will participate in the important rituals of treating their body and heart with special care
  • Make the meal cooking process an event, whether you’re cooking with someone or you’re on your own
  • Turn off and remove any electronic communication devices to increase your consciousness around the food you’re preparing
  • Be respectful of the room, of the food that is created and what the room represents, your loving care will be predominate
  • Organize the counters and cupboards for beauty and ease of use. What I had duplicates of or didn’t need, I donated. Whatever changes you make do it so you feel inspired such as adding candles, pots of herbs or flowers
  • Cook mindfully and with love paying attention to all of the dishes that you’re making. Always keep in mind that your energy effects everything around you including meal preparation

Finally, think about how you show up in the kitchen, just as you do in your relationships with people, be thoughtful and mindful of your relationship with the room and the process of preparing food. Fall into step with nature and the beauty of creating meals whether simple or complex. Enjoy and celebrate the food that you make. Let your imagination soar, with access to millions of recipes on the internet, anything is possible in the kitchen.

When was the last time you played? The positive effects of play for adults

Of all of the personal development or self-help activities we can engage in, fun and play are probably the most underused and disregarded. Contrary to what people think, adults aren’t being lazy or thoughtless when we turn our attention to activities that are recreational and entertaining, we’re tapping into one of the greatest resources for our overall health.

For many adults, letting go of being serious and focused on adult responsibilities isn’t easy or in the forefront of importance. I promise anyone who incorporates play into their life on a regular basis will be much better prepared to handle whatever issues come your way.

Along with the emotional benefits, there are a variety of health benefits by adding play into your life. According to helpguide.com, play:

  • Relieves stress
  • Improves brain function
  • Stimulates the mind and boosts creativity
  • Improves relationships and your connections to others
  • Keeps you feeling young and energetic
  • Helps develop and improve social skills
  • Teaches cooperation with others
  • Heals emotional wounds
  • Boosts innovation

Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Entrepreneur, Motivational Speaker and Corporate Trainer shares his thoughts on the positive effects of fun and play.

For many years I allowed the seriousness of my responsibilities to control my way of being. Then the opportunity arose to make a significant change in my life away from the considerable and weighty issues I had to deal with. During that transition, I felt the need to liberate myself and embrace playfulness and the wonder of life, be curious and have fun. Now, I don’t think twice about being spontaneous and having fun. I’ve created a sense of harmony and balance by injecting play into my life, no matter what’s going on around me, I am always sure to incorporate laughter and enjoyment into my day.

Imagine a billion people pushing for play time, not in a frivolous way or a way that negates progress, but in a way that supplements and allows us to make even more progress. It’s time to put play back into our lives. Jared Keller

According to Dr. Stuart Brown, a play researcher and psychiatrist out of CA, adult play may actually increase our intellect.

“Of all animal species, humans are the biggest players of all. We are built to play and built through play. Most obviously, it is intensely pleasurable. It energizes and enlivens us. It eases our burdens.”

Here are some innovative ideas for you to pick and choose from that incorporates play into your everyday life.

make play a part of your day – from Genuisofplay.com

  • Use unscheduled time to be creative, to daydream, reflect and decompress
  • Appreciate playtime – whether it’s alone or with other adults or children
  • Smile and laugh often throughout the day
  • Try new things and experience the unexpected
  • Participate in a variety of arts/sports/activities whenever you can to expand your horizons
  • Make mental connections (e.g., “how else can I use this,” “what else can this do?”)
  • Sing and dance just for the fun of it
  • Spend time with the children in your life, observing them as they play, listening to their conversation, and following their train of thought
  • Cultivate a happy, joyful, positive attitude, full of gratitude for even the smallest, everyday things
  • Plan to make play part of your day, whether it is indoor or outdoor, solo or social, active or quiet

Finally, the human experience is spiritual, play is spiritual. Play is a time when we take a break from thinking, essentially connecting with all that is. It’s a great way to relax and enjoy life and move away from the grind of work and the pressures of everyday life. Laughter and play are necessary parts of life and a time to reflect on all of the things that make us happy to be alive.

It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” ~ Wayne Dyer

Thank you for reading my post, I appreciate your time, namaste.

Did you Know that Creativity and Consciousness are Connected?

Creativity is a process of transforming the raw energy, information, and material of the universe into something that has never before existed. Whether you are creating a new business, an original piece of music, or a relationship, creativity requires a leap in awareness – a quantum jump from one pattern of thinking to an entirely new one, without progressing through incremental steps. In one moment a creative idea doesn’t exist, and in the next, it is part of our conscious world. In between, where was the idea? It came from the field of pure potentiality, which gives rise to everything in the universe.. Deepak Chopra

I was sure things had changed when I opened up to a life of consciousness because I’m naturally creative, drawn to the arts, photography, music, cooking and creative writing.  Because I am living consciously, I’ve become conditioned to rely on creativity in unique ways.  Part of that process for me is being still to let the vision or idea emerge, it is always fascinating to see what I can come up with.  What we are taught and what we are capable of is miles apart.

I find it interesting that when we’re young, we create entire worlds through our unlimited imaginations. When I reflect on my growing up years, the Beatles, Julia Child and Walt Disney stand out as a unique, creative people who conceived something that never existed before and what an impact each has made.  As some of us reach adulthood, we tend to use our imagination less because we’ve been made to believe that our brain loses its capacity to evolve and transform creatively.  Most adults believe if they can’t draw or sing, then they aren’t creative and that just isn’t true.

Have you ever gotten a great idea or imagined something and just let it go?  We all have unique ideas, use your imagination, you never know what you can create.  Whether we express our creativity through dance, music, art or communication, it is an essential part of who we are. When we are in the flow of creativity, we are also naturally in a state of mindfulness. The benefits of using our imagination is the ability to solve challenges differently and we will live our lives more creatively.  Scientists are now advising that our brain has the ability to form new neural pathways until we are very old, so don’t let old beliefs stop you from creating, go for it!

I live in a state of being open to creatively using my imagination to do things differently. After all, my date of birth is the same as Walt Disney’s, what a mentor to encourage creativity!  A few months ago I volunteered for a nonprofit thrift store.  I began by just processing donations and organizing the merchandise on the shelves.  As I became more involved and passionate about their mission, I intuitively found imaginative ways to display the merchandise which unknowingly helped to increase sales.  I continued to use my imagination to create ways to help the merchandise sell quickly.  The day I left to move,  the manager told me that I made a significant impact on their organization and all that happened was I went with the flow of my creativity and I had fun. A great pairing, consciousness and ingenuity, to germinate any seedling waiting to be watered with creativity to generate something brand new.

Creativity is the foundation for innovative problem solving, new products, inventions, ingenious ideas, new ways to benefit the world, the basis for re-creating a relationship or finding a new way to do something.  When we take the leap to tap into our creativity, we will be an inspiration and a force for using our imagination to those around us. Trust in your innate sense of creativity, change your life and change the world.

I believe in being an innovator. Walt Disney

Thank you for reading my post, I appreciate your time.

Laura