Last week there was no sunshine for five or six days. Only low hanging, gray skies that constantly threatened to drip even more moisture into our already saturated earth. Everywhere I looked it was brown on brown on gray on brown. There was no blue sky, no golden sunshine, no green grass or colorful trees. I felt a little dull, and made a mental note to order some Vitamin D. I lit a few candles and pulled out some cozy throws. I rearranged some green plants to bring a little life into our living room.
I thought of a friend that had just moved here, so I texted her and asked if she would come to have lunch with me one day. We decided on Friday, and I immediately started looking forward to connecting with her again.
GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO ENJOY LIFE
This year I had decided to give myself permission to do a few things I enjoy more. I love to cook, it brings me delight to combine textures and flavors into something that brings joy to others. Last year, I put some other priorities first, and cooking creative meals were fit around everything else — which means that it hardly ever happened.
This year, I chose to allow myself the pleasure of doing something I enjoy that brings life and to fit a few other priorities around that. So, after I invited my friends for lunch, I started thinking about what I could serve. I’d been looking at Mediterranean flavors recently, and love the bright, clean flavors of fresh vegetables against sharply salty olives and creamy, rich olive oil. I planned a meal of grilled vegetables, souvlaki chicken kabobs and of course tzatziki sauce.
All week I looked forward to Friday when I could enjoy cooking a fun dish, then sit down and connect with my friend.
DISCOVER THE JOY OF CREATING
On Friday morning I got the chicken out and carefully cut it into thick cubes. I stirred the lemon juice into the balsamic vinegar, crushed some fresh garlic and minced green oregano, basil and dill. I sliced dark purple eggplants with perfectly white flesh inside, and bright green zucchini along with brilliant red peppers. I loved the play of colors and textures as I tossed it all in a bowl with the marinade.
I thought of how thankful I was that even though these vegetables weren’t as wonderful as they are in summer, I could still get them and not have to rely on canned green beans and frozen peas all winter. I stirred finely chopped cucumbers into creamy, rich yogurt and minced fresh dill to sprinkle in beside the tangy garlic.
I looked outside at the gray skies, but they didn’t feel as heavy today.
When it was almost time for lunch, I pulled out the huge cast iron skillet that my favorite mother in law gave me for my last birthday and drizzled in some Italian olive oil I found at TJ Maxx the week before. I threaded the chicken cubes onto a wooden skewer and laid them in the pan to the tune of a light sizzle.
SHARING JOY WITH OTHERS
My friend came in the door as I started grilling the vegetables. Her excitement over the food made it even more fun, as I charred the eggplant and the red peppers and took the kabobs off the heat.
We talked about how the gray days made it difficult to stay excited about life and wondered if the CBD oil train was worth jumping onto. We laughed and talked some more as I laid the kabobs onto my serving platter, piled the grilled vegetables on the other half, tucked in some pita bread and sprinkled feta and olives on top.
She set the bowl on the table as I poured water into the cups. My sister, Ruby, came in the front door just in time, and we all sat down to eat together while the children played happily. I ran back to the refrigerator to grab the tzatziki, fortunately remembering it before we had eaten everything else. The tangy sauce was the perfect addition to the earthy eggplant, the salty feta and olives paired perfectly with the bright tomato salad and the chicken tasted delightfully of balsamic and fresh herbs. We dipped the pita bread into the tzatziki and popped in a kalamata olive with a slice of zucchini.
It was several hours later before we finally left the table, sitting long with only our water glasses and empty plates as we talked about old memories and new ideas. By the time everyone left, and I was alone with my kids again, I felt re-connected to the world, ready to wait out winter because spring was for sure going to come again.
Delight in building a real connection with others
This time of year it’s easy to feel alone in our lives when it’s harder to get together with others. You may tell yourself you have your social media and virtual connections, but the truth is that face to face interaction with others fills a need for connection that virtual messages don’t.
Brene Brown says, “I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” It’s hard to feel seen when you’re, well, not seen!
So if you’re feeling disconnected from things, the chilly gray days are getting to you, and you don’t want to take one more Vitamin D, set up a lunch or coffee date with a friend. Leave your phone in your bag, and delight in building a real connection with others.
“Loneliness isn't about being alone, it's about not feeling connected.” —Psychology Today Click To Tweet
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