Friday, January 23, 2015

A Slow Cooker for the Soul, by guest blogger Don E. Smith Jr.

Don & Laura Smith
c. Don E. Smith, Jr

Brooke Musterman is a part-time philosopher and she shares these thoughts in her "Reptilian Rantings" web site. This wonderful blog is dedicated to chronicling stress and how people react to it in the work place. But what about the "out of the workplace?"

Life became a bit trying for me this year as I found myself unemployed.

Employment news and unemployment are a bear unto themselves.

Besides the obvious, "What do we do about income?" "Y'know bills can't be paid with empty promises?" "What do I do?"

I am going to lay it out there - unemployment, mostly, is a mind game. I mean that kind of annoying "The person I liked smiled at me - is it love? Wait! They're frowning in my direction! Does that mean they hate me?"

What was I to do? The answer came in an unusual way - a crock pot. 

One weekend soon after my unemployment, my friend Peggy said randomly, "It's never been used. Interested?" "What the heck?" I responded.

Another thing happened, upon hearing about my issue, a friend bought me a bag of groceries. In the bag were apples and apple juice. Also, while reading a coupon circular, my wife found a crock pot recipe for apple sauce.  

When Monday rolled around my patient "missus" was at work and I was left alone. Sure I could watch TV, read or surf YouTube, but worries of the future set in!

Then an idea hit, "Crock pot!" I forced myself out of the chair, grabbed the recipe Laura found and I grabbed the apples and began peeling and cutting! In about 45 minutes, the crock pot was beginning to heat up with a cup of apple juice, lemon juice, some Stevia and vanilla.

It helps to understand that before I was unemployed, my wife did all the cooking or we would go out to eat or fast food. The idea that I could cook was alien to me! But by doing this simple act, something kicked in.

For the next five hours, while the apples "slowly cooked" (hence the name SLOW COOKER), I found myself attacking each room of our apartment. The bed got made, the dishes got washed, the laundry was done and I made dinner (grilled hot dogs - I could do that at least).

By the end of the day, I did not have that feeling of "Boy, am I useless!" What I found was a feeling of accomplishment. My wife came home and found she did not have to clean or cook.

That was the day I learned "Cooking was a distraction!" And any distraction that will keep "the gates of despair" from opening and emptying out on you is a good thing!
Within weeks, I was teaching myself crock
The crock pot that changed it all
c. 2015 Don Smith

pot recipes like chicken, beef and, of course, lots and lots and lots of apple sauce! I began posting the photos on Facebook and began experimenting with regular dishes. Just this past Christmas I got a garlic press, cutting boards and cook books.

Now I did not become the next Emeril or Julia Child, but what could've been a bleak and discouraging mindset, became overshadowed with confidence and a new creativity. Confidence and creativity are skills and tools needed as I find a new job.

I was sharing all this with my friend Peggy and she said, "Do you know why you have this new sense of confidence and creativity?" I said, "Not really."

"Because as you learned how to feed your body," she said. "You really learned how to feed your soul!" 

I thought about this, and I realized Peggy was right. It turns out that Peggy is also a part-time philosopher.

Like Brooke. 

c. 2015

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