"Hi, Black Woman Blogging. This Is the Universe Calling."
There are times when I feel like the universe is calling, leading me in a different direction. Now is one of those times.
During the holidays, I received a call from a dear old friend. We studied for the bar exam together, struggled in misfit jobs early in our careers, and attended each other's weddings. We talk from time to time, and we pick up right where we left off without missing a beat.
I told my dear fried that I wanted to invite him and his family to dinner at my home. He paused and then said, "Wait . . . I remember . . . you can cook! You made some dish with chicken breasts, pine nuts, and sun-dried tomatoes . . . "
"And ricotta cheese," I added. "It was a baked Italian chicken dish."
"I remember," he said. "And that chili you make is off the chain."
Mind you, I made these dishes for him over twenty years ago.
I also had the pleasure of cooking Christmas dinner for my family this year. We moved the location of the dinner to my sisters' home, so I sent my husband ahead with the food while I showered, changed, and came later. I told my family to start without me.
When I arrived, they had eaten. The food got rave reviews, with my oldest sister telling my husband that it was "caterer quality" food and that he should find a way for me to be a stay-at-home wife so I could cook that way every day. That's high praise. My oldest sister is an excellent cook.
I've always discounted my cooking skills because, unlike my mother, I don't cook many recipes from memory. I'm heavily reliant on cookbooks. I guess that doesn't really matter if the food tastes good. For the most part, I enjoy cooking. It requires creativity and trusting your instincts, like when I had to decide between using the Pioneer Woman's recipe for scalloped potatoes for my Christmas dinner or recreating my mom's recipe from memory. I chose my mom's recipe and it came out quite well, judging from the response.
Going into the holidays, I was tired and exasperated from the never-ending demands of my work and the ever-increasing expectations of stakeholders. I've struggled for years with being a lawyer. Even in the best of legal positions, which I think I have at this time, I tire easily of having to think hard and be right all the time. My successes don't satisfy me as they did when I started the job. My failures, no matter how small, shake me more than they should.
I'm a big fan of Paulo Coelho's "The Alchemist," and the following quote from the book: "When you seek your destiny, the universe will conspire to help you achieve it."
What made me think the universe might be calling with its conspiracy was what my oldest sister said to me about my Christmas dinner: "You should do this professionally." Cooking that dinner was a lot of work, but I enjoyed planning it and deciding which dishes would compliment the meat entrees and so forth. I had all my cookbooks and recipes gleaned from the internet spread on my kitchen table before deciding to modify my Thanksgiving menu, substituting scalloped potatoes for macaroni and cheese and keeping Tiffani Thiessen's Balsamic Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta in the lineup.
The week after Christmas, I had to furnish and decorate a family member's space in four days. It's a long story. Since my hobby is budget decorating and interior design (think "Trading Spaces"), I pulled together much of what I had on had -- comforter set, curtains, pillows -- and shopped like a madwoman at high end and discount stores for furniture, linens, and the like. I fired up my printer and made copies of family photos and framed them in picture frames I'd bought on sale long ago. The room came together quite nicely, judging by my oldest sister's response, which was this: "You should do this professionally." It took a lot of time and effort and left me exhausted, but I had a blast pulling that space together. Then, my older sister asked me to decorate the home she shares with my oldest sister. Talk about validation!
I long to upholster headboards, make ottomans out of thrift store coffee tables, and make seasonal door wreaths out of grosgrain ribbon wrapped around Styrofoam rings with hot glue. I'm excited about pulling paint samples from Home Depot and hardwood flooring samples from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for my sisters' decoration project. I buy decorative plates from the Goodwill and give my other sister instructions on how to hang them decoratively. I fervently believe that slipcovers and decorative pillows can make all the difference in the world. I'm always eager to share recipes, with the Tiffani Thiessen Brussels Sprouts recipe and Paula Deen's Sour Cream Poundcake recipes at the top of my list as of late.
The TV shows "Fixer Upper" and "Rehab Addict," as well as Pinterest, the Cooking Channel, the Food Network, and Young House Love websites, are my porn.
Creativity and autonomy are my drugs of choice. Long before I started blogging, I've had this struggle between my creativity (which, at its best, has paid about $150 total from placing in two short story contests) and my analytical abilities, which, although not as satisfying, have been more remunerative.
But, like many people my age, I'm running out of time. I don't know if I want to go to my grave not as fulfilled as I could have been if I'd just given my creativity the chance to flourish. I enjoy my successes in the legal arena, but not nearly as much as I once did. What it takes to achieve them takes more and more out of me.
When people tell you that you should do professionally something that makes you feel alive, is that the universe calling with its conspiracy to help you achieve your destiny?
All I know is that Howard Thurman's quote is ringing loudly in my mind:
"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because the world needs people who have come alive."
I think coming alive when you do something is just the universe calling, conspiracy in hand. Excuse me while I take this call. . . .