If I had to describe my last week in one word, I’d use, “Impatient.”
I’m impatient. I’m impatient for things to happen, for myself to get stuff done. I’m impatient to see growth, change, more, less. It’s not just in one area, it’s in lots of them.
I hopped back on the treadmill this week, deciding (for REAL this time), that I’m ready to jump back on the health-train.
I’ve been working my tail off this week on my new course that’s coming up — Become Your Own Best Friend.
Carl walked downstairs in the middle of my planning session yesterday and his eyes got huge as he made the sound of an explosion. “Yes, darling, my thoughts have exploded everywhere.”
I feel so ready for bigger, better, smaller, fitter, but each day I wake up to the frustrating knowledge that things don’t just transform overnight, no matter how much I want them to.
Have you ever felt this way? Have you ever looked around your life and thought at it, “I’m working my TAIL off, why aren’t you there yet!?”
It’s so easy to get frustrated, to beat ourselves up, to push ourselves harder and faster, thinking if we do that, we’ll get to where we want to go.
But sweet friend, I’ve noticed something these last few weeks that’s given me hope for all areas of my life, and I can’t wait to share it with you.
These last few weeks I’ve noticed that I know how to cook.
Now, you may be wondering why my culinary skills should provide hope to you as you’re pounding away at the gym. But hear me out.
Just 12 months ago, I was a disaster in the kitchen.
The thought of having to make anything other than sandwiches for dinner made me freeze, and usually made me cry.
If we ate well, it’s because we went out, or because Carl cooked. (He is a fantastic cook which didn’t help my self-esteem any.)
I would help him in the kitchen sometimes, usually fetching things, and cleaning dishes. But every once in awhile, he’d ask me to do something like chop a pepper, and it usually didn’t end well.
I’d take the foreign pepper in my hands, examining it for clues. Then I’d set it down on a cutting board, because I knew that much at least. I’d gingerly pick up one of our all-too-sharp wedding knives. (Must they be that sharp? Isn’t that a safety hazard?!)
And then the chopping would begin.
And by chopping, I mean I’d awkwardly try to maneuver the knife through the pepper, dividing it into smaller, yet hopelessly uneven pieces, while trying not to cut off a finger.
Carl would catch a glimpse of my plight out of the corner of his eye, and he’d laugh kindly, come over, and reposition the knife in my hand. He was loving as he did it, as he showed me the proper way to cut a pepper. But his loving words still felt like a knife to my heart. “You’re not a good wife,” his correction seemed to say. “You’re a failure of an adult.” (Those were absolutely my thoughts, not his at all.)
But still… ouch.
I wanted to quit — declaring loudly that I’m good at plenty of other things — and I did, probably once a week.
But I’d always come back to the kitchen because the truth is, I really like food, and I really wanted to learn to cook. Also, I had the cutest chef in there that could teach me everything I wanted to know — if only I could get over myself long enough to listen.
So I’d quit and stomp out, and then slink back in to watch him work. And slowly but surely, I started picking up a thing or two, and slowly but surely he started handing over bigger and bigger responsibilities to me.
And I can’t believe I’m saying this, but slowly and surely I got better!
Last week we invited one of my sweet friends and her boyfriend over for dinner. Carl had a super busy day, so I decided I’d take care of dinner (win #1). I love Italian food and it’s by far my favorite thing to cook, so I jotted down a few notes and headed to the store.
When I came home, I got to work.
Our main course was going to be baked ziti. It’s something I’ve made a few times (the first time I did it, I freaked out with how many pans were sitting on the stove, and got pasta sauce EVERYWHERE as I tried to transport the simmering sauce from the stove to the dish). But it’s cheesy and delicious, and once it goes into the oven, you’re done.
On the side we were doing a caprese salad with the plumpest, most beautiful tomatoes I’ve seen, and fresh mozzarella, which (I’m convinced) is just the greatest thing on earth.
Then I decided to try a quick side-dish I saw Giada make last week – procuitto-wrapped asparagus. And to top if all off, I made these incredible peach dumplings with bourbon sauce that I found in the Smitten Kitchen cookbook (which is awesome by the way).
Before everyone arrived I had cheese cut up and on one of our beautiful wedding cheese plates (thank you family and friends!), olives in a dish (because I adore them!), and wine glasses out and sparkling in the evening light.
Guys… I nailed it.
The dinner was amazing, the conversation even better, and all of it happened without a single tear, without help (okay, Carly came in and helped at the very end), and without burning the house down.
I hate to say it folks, but I can actually cook.
So here’s why I’m telling you this, and why my accomplishments in the kitchen should give you hope.
I literally could not cook a darn thing one year ago. Not a thing. It was a source of shame, of great frustration, and honestly, it felt like an entirely impossible mountain to climb.
But it happened. A stacked up year of one day at a time turned into a total victory in my life.
So that’s what I’m reminding myself of this week as I’m feeling like nothing can change fast enough in the other areas of my life. I’m reminding myself that things are changing, progress is being made, change is coming, one day at a time.
So if you’re feeling frustrated today, or if you’re feeling like nothing’s changing, happening, growing, shrinking, I implore us (you and me) to keep going. Because things are changing, we’re just too close to see it. We have to take a deep breath, and step forward in faith, believing that if we keep moving, we’ll make progress. And this time next year, we can turn around and be amazed at how far we’ve come.
P.S. Here's a related blog post about achieving all of your goals.
P.P.S. I talked about cooking a lot in this post and I actually have a podcast episode all about cooking and gathering people around your table if you want to check it out: Girls Night #83: How to Host Great Gatherings (You Don't Need to be an Amazing Cook or Have a Huge House!).