Wednesday, February 1, 2017

 And the Winner is ……
It took me by surprise.  I always thought I was made of stronger stuff.  I am, after all, my mother’s daughter.  I always believed the family mantra - you can do it.  You will manage.  You will carry on.
But I couldn’t. 
All it took was a feather of a gesture that came down like a knock out punch in round 1. And my spirit threw in the towel. No more.  I gave up.
I stepped out of the ring.   And then, I took the time to heal. 
Much like the grieving process, I had to go through the five stages – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance.
The first three stages, I have always been aware of but considered them part of life as I knew it. To some, it may seem like denial.  But in my culture or at least in my upbringing, one never questioned authority.  It was not only a sign of disrespect, but also of bad manners.
The anger was always kept inside.  Do not ever let that little devil of a temper show.   Keep your head down.  And every thing will be all right.  It will pass.
Except the anger stays, and festers.
So I bargained with myself - if you hang in there, things will get better.
Yet, some times, they don’t.  They don’t escalate; but the problems stay.  Lingering.  Coloring every decision made or not made.  Leading to insecurity and eventually creating actual physical illness - allergies, insomnia, diarrhea.
There is a feeling of defeat.  And depression sets in.  Like carrying a load that one can not lay down.  A cross.  But to where?  There is no Calvary.  Just a long, long  road to no where.
Healing for me meant accepting all of the above and conceding the fact that I had allowed all of it to happen.  That I was a compliant participant in the whole affair.
At 64, I should have known better.  I should have seen that feather coming. 
I can see it all clearly now.  But it did not come easily.  It took many talks and walks with friends, a caring doctor, a non judgemental mediator provided by a social system which believes that employees as well as employers have rights, the support and love of a man who protects me even from myself, a parish priest who made me realize how much I am blessed.   And finally, time.  Time to learn to be kind to ME. 
In my previous blog, I borrowed the words of Bob Dylan.  Today, it’s Michael Jackson’s :
I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place   
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change.                                                   
I have made small steps in this direction.   Yes.  I feel so much better, so much stronger now. 
And the real winner is …. Me!! 

Creating a new dish out of the leftovers and bits and pieces from the fridge gives me such a great sense of achievement. The recipe below is one of them.  I know that each time I make it, it will never quite taste the same.  But it is still worth doing again.

Pasta for 2 with Creamy Leftover Salmon Sauce

Cook 250 gms of your favorite pasta al dente.  Set aside while you prepare the sauce .
The sauce :
2 tbsp. butter
1 garlic, chopped fine
1 small onion, chopped
1 -2 pieces baked, fried or smoked salmon, flaked
100 gm. Fresh or canned mushroom, sliced  (optional)
1 cup milk
4 tbsp. cream cheese or crème fraiche or a cheese similar to boursin
1tsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. of the water with which you boiled the pasta (optional)
1 tbsp. catsup (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
Melt the butter, sauté the garlic and onions until the onions are soft.  Add the mushrooms and cook for about a minute.  Pour in the milk.  Let it boil and then add the cream cheese.  Add the lemon juice.  Season according to your taste  with salt and pepper.  If you want to put a bit of sweetness and color into the sauce, add in the tomato catsup.
 I also add a tbsp or more of the pasta water to the sauce to thicken it and to make the pasta cling better to the sauce.   
Mix the pasta into the salmon sauce, top with parsley or rucola and serve immediately.  A glass of wine on the side makes it even better!