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Generosity. #reverb14

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Look back at the last year and consider: how did generosity open your heart? How can you cultivate generosity in the coming year?

My mother was generous. She laughed a lot, gave what she could and when we needed help, help was given to our family. I made it to the age of 13 knowing that people were warm and kind. That when you suffered, that was the best time to help others.

We were one of those families that have their names, ages and a small wish list put upon some random office or school Christmas tree. People fulfilled those wishes for us. It was nice. I remember sitting on the twin size bed that shared a room with my brother’s at my dad’s apartment, playing with the slime lab that I was given. We got some clothes, some toys. People always gave us food.

After my mom died, I learned that not everyone was generous. I remember being 15 and asking my dad for lunch money, $20. Enough for $1 a day, which was the bare minimum to have a lunch, a cup of noodle soup. He gave me $5. My friends fed me and then I got a job when I was 16. This is not new information. I’ve mentioned this many times.  But I learned from him that sometimes when you ask for what you need, the bare minimum, you don’t even get that. I learned the feeling of shame and guilt in asking for anything.

My goal is that whoever comes to me for help, I don’t want anyone to feel ashamed. So, I give. Love, joy, time, concern, sometimes I can even afford gifts. I want Josh to always feel cozy and loved at home. Home should be a safe space. I give big hugs, because people forget how wonderful they can be. I’ve had someone cry in my arms because of how loving my hug was. FOR REALZ. She just burst into tears. She was, incidentally, a big crier. But still. My hug made someone cry in joy.  I want to be that safe space for people.

I’ve been lucky in that my life is full of generous people. I always feel like I take more than I give. It is a perpetual guilt that I feel. My car, my home, even my bed are mine because of my friends’ generosity. There are beautiful things in my life because people have given them to me. I’ve gone to wonderful places and had great times because of my friends’ generosity. I feel grateful to them but also awkward,  because I’ll never be able to give them the things they give me. How can I ever match the joy and love they provide me with?

I try to make the world better in little ways that mean so much to other people. I don’t like talking about it because it’s not about getting a pat on the back. It’s about making a conscious choice to make a difference. When I’m having a hard time in life, I try to give, because making someone else happy makes my day better too.

With all that said, I’m still a dick. I’m still judgmental and abrupt. Making people uncomfortable with my honesty will always be an unfortunate side effect of being me. Awkwardness is embraced and accepted. I just know that I can do small things to make others happy, so I do those things.  Cultivating my generosity is something that I try to do daily. Sometimes I fail, but most days, I can get one or two things done to make someone’s day brighter.

So, thank you. Thank you for helping me through my life.

The pilot light in my heart #reverb11

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Passion – If you could quit your day job and your quality of life wouldn’t change, what would you do?

I did this. Twice in the past 5 years, in fact.

In 2008, I quit/got fired from my job as a computer tech and went to work at a bakery. I had never worked food service before, but its what I wanted to do. Working at the bakery fueled my desire to work in a hot kitchen. In August, I quit the bakery and went to work for a restaurant where there are two cooks.  Now, I am the Sous Chef at a restaurant. That’s my title, anyway. I consider myself a cook. But it sounds impressive, doesn’t it?

I’ve never worked so hard for something and been given such rewards. Its backbreaking, disgusting work sometimes. When you think of working in a kitchen, you think of preparing food. Most people dont think about the fact that you have to SCRUB the kitchen every day. Deck brushing, cleaning grease traps and fryers, hood vents, garbage, drains, etc. It is one of the most disgusting jobs. Every 3 months, we come in on a day off, pull all of the stoves and grills and coolers out, away and apart and scrub those down too. At the end of my day, I’m tired. Bone weary. What do I do?

I come home and cook. Because I LOVE it. Nothing makes me calm and happy like cooking. True, nothing makes me angry, harrassed and annoyed like cooking, sometimes, but damn if it isn’t worth it. I am confident in my ability to improve a recipe. I am confident in my ability to honor the food I’m making by making it to the best of my ability. The times that I get angry or annoyed is when I’m having an off night and burned something or dropped a bowl. Its when I do the food an injustice by treating it with less respect.

I’ve been told that my presence in the kitchen makes our food taste better. Now, this is lofty praise, and I take it with a grain of salt, but damn it feels good to hear that. When people tell me they love seeing my smile as I make their dinner, it makes me warm inside. I am lucky to have found what I love and am good at.

One day, I hope to have my own cookbook. But that’s a while from now.

Just wait though. Just wait.

Bittersweet desserts, perhaps. #reverb11

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Lets do lunch! – If you could have lunch with anybody, who would it be and what would you like to discuss?

If I could have lunch with anyone, at all, it would be my mother. Our lunch would so be full of tears and love and tragedy, Shakespeare would be proud. If I could sit across the table and look into eyes that are blue versions of my own, smile with a smile that is the same sort of crooked, maybe I would find some peace. She would have none for the period of lunch that we share. I would bombard her with questions, seeking the answers to all the things I only half know.

I would ask about the cancer, how it hurt, how she felt and what kept her fighting for so long. I would tell her that I didn’t mind having to bathe her. I would tell her that playing with her tray of perfumes, jewelry and makeup made me feel closer to her after she passed. I’d tell her about the bottle of perfume I keep because it smells like her, even though it smells horrid on me.

I would ask her about her youth and solidify those stories from the wanderings and imaginations of a young girls mind. I would ask her about Robin and Sweetycomes and Joe and my dad. I would ask her about her mother and her father, her aunt. I would ask her about her dreams and why she didn’t chase them. I’d thank her for showing me love and passion and silliness can all exist throughout the pain in one’s life. That those little things were what made life worth living.

I would ask her about when she was raped for the second or third time, this time by a police officer. I’d tell her that I learned about it in a terrifying journal entry I read when I was 15. I’d shed more tears for her than I did that night. I would ask why she felt she had no power, no recourse. I would thank her for teaching me to be vigilant about my safety.

I would ask her about her art. I’d show her my own.

I would ask her what she thought of me and my brother and what we have done with ourselves. I would ask her if she was proud.

I would ask her to hold me. Just for a little while, like she used to. To run her fingers through my hair and trail her nails down my arms. I would give anything to have her arms around me again.

I’d make her laugh, ask her to dance, let her listen to CeLoGreen and Adele and see her light up when she heard the fun and soul in the music.

We’d order wine and crab with pasta and dessert. I’d tell her how I miss her. I’d thank her for giving me a moment. I’d tell her how even as I miss her, my life wouldn’t be what it was if she was alive. That it was okay, because the woman I am now is someone I think she’d like.

I’d ask her to stay, knowing she couldn’t.