Welcome to Life, Inspired — The Weekend Review. This is the weekly column where I take a step back from the recipes so you can have a wider look at what’s been inspiring me, moving me, or just catching my fancy out there in the life beyond my kitchen.
What Happened Last Week
I had this post 95 percent written last week Saturday, ready for finishing touches and publication on Sunday. Then, life happened.
My telephone rang at 4:30 am on Sunday, January 18. It was my daughter, Jenn, wishing me a happy birthday. Nice, but a little early, don’t you think? She then informed me it was time to go to the hospital, as baby was on her way almost four weeks early. I learned that I can get fully dressed and out the door in five minutes, and joined my daughter and her husband at the birthing centre. After a long 24 hours Miss Baby H was born, another beautiful little girl who’s already stolen my heart. She’s doing well, but has had a few issues and is still in hospital, so I’ve been busy supporting her parents who are spending every minute they can with her.
This has been a week of joy, concern, running on empty, meal delivery, wonder and love. I have to tell you, I’m already smitten with this little marvel! The beauty of love is that it’s infinitely expandable. No matter how many grandchildren I have, each can have my whole heart. I’m so blessed to have these four little girls in my life!
While blogging was out of the question last week (I did try, but functioning brain cells are a requirement), I did take some time to enjoy breakfast out with my other daughter, Meredith, and her two younger children. I spent some time holding Miss Baby M, who was 18 days old at the time. Here she is, holding hands with Nana. I hope I’ll be able to do the same soon with her new cousin!
Can We Talk About Age?
(My original plan was to publish this on my birthday. As I explained above, something much more important intervened.)
Age is a subject that’s been on my mind for a few years now. I’ve done a lot of things at a young age in my life, like learning to cook, getting married, having children and advancing in my career. I’ve been fortunate to be gifted with grandchildren at a relatively young age, too. Then there are the experiences that didn’t happen for me until much later than the norm, with the result that each was like a burst of youthful excitement. These include my first rock concert in my thirties (I know, really?), and a host of adventures once I entered into my fifties: canoeing, my first warm-destination winter vacations (Arizona, Cuba and Florida), renting a summer cottage on the beach, motorcycle touring (except for a couple of best-forgotten rides as a teenager), boating and, of course, blogging.
I’ve been lucky to have good genes. My mother looked young for her age, as do her sisters, and so far I seem to be following in their footsteps. (I think those high Flemish cheekbones have been holding up the rest of my face.) Yes, the visible signs of aging are there, as they should be, and I’m okay with that. I don’t need or wish to look young, and I certainly don’t want to be plasticized. I just want to look good for my age, crows feet, gray hairs and all. In fact, when I look back at photos of my much younger self, I seem somehow unformed, like I hadn’t yet grown into who I was meant to become. And of course, I still haven’t.
I’m fortunate to be in good health and moderately fit (hmmm, need to see what I can do to ramp that up a bit). If occasionally I feel every one of my days, for the most part it’s not an issue. I decided a long time ago not to be one of those people who piss and moan about their age. I don’t refer to myself as old in that self-deprecating way that so many do because, to use a cliche, what you think about you bring about.
So why is it that I’ve felt so reticent about sharing my age, that number that doesn’t have any particular bearing on who I am and how I feel? It’s partly because I don’t feel it’s a label that really fits me. And it’s also because of a negative experience.
Unfortunately, a few years ago I encountered some ageist attitudes in the workplace; they weren’t necessarily directed at me, but they stung all the same. While this didn’t change how I think about myself, the experience made me wary of being arbitrarily dismissed as irrelevant if I were to make my age known. I know this isn’t reasonable for a few reasons:
- why would I care about such narrow-minded views?
- it’s not as if you couldn’t figure out my approximate age by looking at me and hearing me talk about my life. And,
- I don’t consider myself irrelevant. Anything but, in fact.
While our emotional responses aren’t always logical they are powerful, and the experience had a greater impact on me than I care even now to admit.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not in denial about my age or the effects of aging. As someone said to me last week, why should ‘old’ have any different value than ‘young’ as a descriptor? ‘Old’ should just be a fact, not an attitude. Sadly, ours is not a culture that honours or celebrates aging or elders. Perhaps, due to the influence of the demographic bulge known as the Baby Boom, of which I’m part, this will start to change. Maybe it’s time that I do my part to help make that happen.
So, I’m making a change in attitude, starting right now. I’m going to step right up, claim and celebrate the vibrant, vital, engaged, energetic, optimistic, wise(r), dreaming-for-the-future, adventurous, learning-new-things, slightly-wrinkled-on-the-outside and girlish-on-the-inside age that I am.
Today, I own 57. Happy birthday to me!
Around the Web
I just saw This Girl Can on a friend’s Facebook feed, and had to share it here. As this video shows, there’s nothing especially glamorous about working out. Love how they keep it powerful and real. And how many of us can relate to “I jiggle, therefore I am”?
Getting back to food (I think that’s what this blog is really about, right?) I absolutely must share my friend Redawna’s recipe for homemade vanilla extract. Let’s see, it starts with a bottle of vodka. Check it out at Nutmeg Disrupted!
Janice, of the must-read blog Kitchen Heals Soul writes the ‘Kitchen Geekery’ column over at Food Bloggers of Canada, sharing all manner of kitchen tips and tidbits with the science behind them. Having had a few spectacular cake fails due to improper cake pan prep, I thought I’d share her column on this topic so you’re not left facing some pieces of cake on a plate and the rest of it stuck in the pan, as happened to me at Christmas. Oh yes, real life strikes in the kitchen at the most inopportune times!
I know I’ve talked a lot about podcasts recently, but I thought I’d share a list that the popular site The Kitchn published lately. (And yes, they spell Kitchn with no ‘e.’)
This is a small recap for two weeks, as I didn’t get a single post published in the past seven days. And I’m okay with that. because sometimes life throws more important things our way. Looking back to the previous week, there were two posts focusing on health (hmmm, is it January?). Although I talk a lot about entertaining and hospitality in this space, the first post was all about being inhospitable to a cold, with Kale Soup with Ginger & Lemon. That was followed up by how to have a staycation on a plate by serving summery salads in winter.