Ahhh, the noise, hollering and frenetic cheers of New Year’s Eve have passed, and here (in Australia at least), we can sink into the balm of a few days’ relative rest. Even if you’re working, life should be at a more leisurely pace.
Time to take stock. First, it’s 2015. Wasn’t last year hard for many of us? For some, 2014 was awful! But you know something? Rather than going on about de-cluttering lives, paring back and getting organized, let’s consider the culinary notion of stock: Hours and hours of simmering beef or chicken bones, lots of vegies and a few herbs in a big pot. Cooking them down to their nourishing, health-giving essence. Excellent for people recovering from serious illness or for that matter, the stresses of company life.
Take a few minutes to consider the tough stuff you’ve been forced to chew, swallow and absorb in 2014. Those sometimes scream-inducing experiences of the last year can be excellent calcium for your soul. Yes, think of those “chicken soup for the soul” analogies, except that what I’m saying is that YOU are the soup. Your experiences are the stock, the building blocks for the fabulous unique recipe that comprises you.
Time to take stock
Look back for a few hours in the quiet of the new year, on what you can absorb and digest from the past and from 2014. It may have been a difficult trudge, fierce at times, excruciating maybe, but slowly, slowly, nourishing goodness is being produced from all that boiling. I’m not counselling “letting go”; I’m saying those times in the pressure cooker have actually helped your immunity, just as the calcium slowly dissolving in the stock works miracles for convalescents. Pain has its price, but also many benefits – it’s a matter of seeing how you can turn things to your advantage. Slow your boiling down to a gentle simmer in these first days of 2015. Be open and aware before the pressure builds.
Be your own chef
You may not be in a position to dictate your business or company recipe. But you can bring ingredients that make your working life delicious. You, for a start.
What’s good about what you do? What are those qualities that you started out with, more naively perhaps, when you were young and crunchy? They’re still there; you are less raw, that’s all. Of course there are “raw” devotees out there, but it can be tough on the digestion. Humans evolved through cooking. You did, too, through your many experiences as an adult. Imagine the kind of “recipe” you are – savoury like roast, sweet like chocolate, crunchy like a chip, full of kick like a chilli, or smooth? As a psychologist and filmmaker, I’m seeing so many “recipes” out there, and many don’t even know it. Don’t let life “cook” you; be your own cook.
Build your “soup”
By now, you’re thinking – how can this so-called stock form the basis of most human recipes? Of course, in real cooking it doesn’t – but we are talking about birth, education, relationships, taxes, retirement, mourning, laughter, anger – the whole spiel. That’s the “soup” of your life. Don’t make yourself sick from too much of any base ingredient. No recipe works that way. Who’d want it?
You wouldn’t, either. Use these few days of the new year to contemplate your objectives, and how your life can become delicious once more. Do some therapeutic exercise, eat a bit more if you feel like it, don’t overdo the drinking and stimulants (that’s not the answer!), read and just wallow in some “slow cooking”. Choose relaxation and some fun of your choice, and that recipe of yours by the end of January is going to make the critics sing.
Spice up your recipe
So now you’ve “taken stock”. What will you do to make your personal “soup” sing? What “spices” can you add to that lovely stock? More travel this year? Study? Tidying up your personal affairs/finances? Resolving a mess and clutter? Doing more special things with the family?
New Year’s resolutions – are they realistic? The biggest changes frequently occur during seemingly unremarkable moments. Onions and carrots seem blah, but they are powerhouse ingredients in a stock. Don’t scorn the ordinary. See your life and its many experiences as a recipe. All recipes are a combination of many things. YOU are a unique recipe.
What needs paring back? What needs some ginger, cumin, coriander or oregano for that matter? Only you can decide it. See, you’re licking the spoon already. Have I made you hungry? Good. You’re ready to cook. Mmmmm…
Eve Ash is a psychologist, author, filmmaker, public speaker and entrepreneur. She runs Seven Dimensions, a company specialising in training resources for the workplace.