Life Lessons I Learned in My Kitchen
It’s official: I’m moving! Out of the burbs; into the city. And while I’m excited for this new chapter, it’s definitely bittersweet. I’m ready for change, but I’m also having a hard time imagining my life without my favorite room in our house: my kitchen!
I dreamed up this kitchen back in 2005, and it has been the heart and soul of our home ever since. It’s been the place for good food, even better conversation, and a whole lot of inspiration!
Sure, the copper is tarnished, the counters are stained, the stainless steel is scratched, and the floors are totally worn and faded. But signs of use have only made this special room more beautiful – and more significant. It’s living proof of thousands of meals prepared, hundreds of recipes created, and countless moments of creativity and connection. Not only did I raise my family here, but this is also the place where I healed my own relationship with food – and where I birthed Kale & Chocolate, too!
So, as I prepare to say goodbye to one kitchen (and hello to another), I want to thank you for being on this journey with me. Whether you are new here or have been a part of this community from the beginning, pull up a chair at my [virtual] table. I made you a cup of tea and a colorful salad, too. Join me as I reflect on some of the life lessons that I learned in my kitchen…
You deserve a seat at the table. (Your devices do not.) Your kitchen is a place built around connection: cooking for yourself and others, and sharing meals together. That’s why it’s so important to be fully present and sit down at the table! Take the time to treat meals as an experience deserving of your full attention. Outlaw phones and other devices so that you can tap into the wisdom of your body, engage more with the people around you, and notice all the magical moments in every single meal. Disconnect – and connect.
Color is an essential ingredient. I’m not talking about the walls and cabinets here! No matter what you’re cooking, splashing it with the various hues of the rainbow, changes everything: For a mood boost, add color. If you’re tired of counting calories, count color. When you feel low on energy, eat more color. To crowd out the not-so-healthy stuff, fill up on color. If you want to make food beautiful, toss in color. Basically, there isn’t a problem that bright color can’t solve! Eat the rainbow, every day.
Declutter your cooking (and eating!) space to change how you think and feel. It’s not easy to sit down to a meal (and tune into your intuition) when all you see is a big MESS and tons of STUFF everywhere! While it's fun to acquire new clothes, tech, and (of course) kitchen gadgets, all that “stuff” can ultimately weigh you down. This move has given me the gift of letting go of some of my “stuff,” but you don’t need to uproot yourself to do it, too. When you declutter your space, you declutter your mind... and feel lighter and better as a result! Make room in your kitchen for you.
“Entertaining” does not mean “entertainment.” Inviting guests into your home can be a source of great pleasure – but for too many of us, it’s also a source of great stress. After countless meals among family and friends (and more than one menu that didn’t come off the way I planned…), I can assure you that your guests aren’t there to see you turning your back to them as you pull a perfectly risen soufflé out of the oven, worrying about whether it will fall.
Your guests want to be with you, in your element, relaxed and happy. They’re just as satisfied with an easy meal, capping off the evening with your tried and true chocolate chip cookies and a face to face conversation. So, simplify your planning, whip up your favorite crowd pleasers, and let it go. Be fully present.
Your Food Story should serve your life – as it is right now. Once we decided to move, I realized that I had a lot of staples to go through, especially all that frozen food that doesn’t travel so well. So, I started what I called the "freezer challenge” to minimize food waste and use up our ample supply of fruits, vegetables, and prepared foods. And somewhere around the eighth cauliflower pizza crust, I realized that I was still stocking my kitchen to feed a family, even though my kids have moved out. I no longer need back up food for an army, and with fewer mouths to feed, buying on autopilot no longer serves me.
You may find that the same is true for you! Check in with yourself and take a look at your ever-changing habits. Make sure that you’re not living an outdated means of purchasing and eating. Fearlessly edit your Story.
“Me time” in the kitchen is one of the best kept secrets. The kitchen isn’t just a place to bring people together; for me, it is also a valued place to escape. When I feel overwhelmed, I head to the kitchen for one of my daily non-negotiables: a soothing latte and a few moments away from all of my screens. When I need to destress, I pull out the cutting board and prep veggies for salads and fruit for smoothies, or roll bliss balls. The rhythmic motion of chopping allows me to ease my mind and relax my body, with the added benefit of getting food ready to eat all week.
Make your kitchen a place of respite, even if that just means a few moments alone washing the dishes and looking out the window. Find your peace (and savor the result!)
Thanks for reading and sharing one last [virtual] cup of tea with me during this bittersweet time…
Even though I will no longer physically be in the same space, the memories are forever imprinted in my mind and in my heart. So: Goodbye, Kitchen! Thank you for teaching me about life, and for always reminding me that food is fun – and tastes even better when it’s infused with LOVE!
Now, it’s your turn: What would you say to your kitchen if you had to tell it goodbye? What valuable lessons will you carry with you wherever you go? Let’s celebrate our kitchens together in the comments.