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Are You Connected? March 27, 2011

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in Personal Observations.
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girl eating spaghetti pink sherbet photography ccYesterday I made spaghetti and meatballs. So what, you may say. Well, the ‘what’ is that it was a wonderfully comforting and nostalgic experience. That’s because, rather than opening a jar of Ragu and buying frozen meatballs, I decided to use my mother’s recipe. And if you know anything about Italian cooking, you know that it was a little time-consuming. And while I was completing the various steps I had time to reflect.

Passing on the tradition…

My family was coming over for dinner last night and I wanted to make a dinner I knew they would like. I wanted to continue for them the tradition that this recipe represents. And the results were wonderful—my grandchildren reflected on how “‘Grammie is good at just everything.” Now that was worth any amount of trouble I took.

The recipe is written on a stained and raggedy piece of paper

As I was making this very familiar meal, I thought about my parents, both of whom have passed away. The recipe is written on a stained and raggedy piece of paper in my father’s handwriting. Even though it was my mother’s family recipe, it was my chemist father who wrote it down. My mother, like most good Italian cooks, measured by eye and used some sixth sense about how much it took to turn out an amazing dish. So my father sat with her once and stuck measuring cups and spoons under each ingredient before it went in. The result was a recipe that my brother and I both treasure and use.  It calls for Hunt’s tomato sauce (with “no substitutions” noted) and salt pork which I usually don’t put in (because sometimes traditions need to be altered a bit—tell that to the Catholic Church—oops did I say that out loud?)

The recipe is also the basis for an annual spaghetti dinner that St John’s Catholic Church in Borger, Texas, has been using as a fund raiser since the 1960’s and which my parents began. Everyone always referred to it as ‘Bert’s(my father) recipe,’ but it was really my mother’s recipe.( This could inspire a homily about women’s roles in the 1950’s and 60’s but I will spare you that)  And I digress…

My mother’s company

As I was rolling the meatballs and browning them in oil—yep, no healthy baking of meatballs here, I  could feel my mother’s presence at my elbow gently reminding me not to make the meatballs too large and to be sure to drain them well after they browned.  I remembered the many times I had sat with her in her bright 60’s vintage kitchen helping her cook and getting valuable coaching on what it took to make the food wonderful. So even though I was alone in my kitchen yesterday, I had the best company I could have wished for.

The importance of connections

That got me thinking about the importance of connections, not just to me, but to all of us. It is our connection with others that fulfills us and gives meaning and richness to our lives. These connections can be with family, friends, co-workers, pets, or even those who are no longer on the earth. I think the important thing to remember is that we need to be intentional about making connections for ourselves. We can ask ourselves questions such as

  • Do I feel connected enough in my life or do I feel like an outsider?
  • Do I have a tribe? Who are they?
  • What connections/relationships would be most fulfilling to me?
  • What actions can I take to bring the connections/relationships that I think are missing?
  • Am I doing my part to nurture the Important relationships in my life?
  • Are there connections that are not serving me well which I need to move away from?

Acknowledge that connections are important and necessary

The important thing is to understand and acknowledge that being connected through relationships is a basic need that we all have. One of my coaching clients once said to me that relationships weren’t all that important to him. I have known this man for over fifteen years and his actions tell me that relationships are extremely important to him. What he was saying was that he just didn’t want to do the work that I was requesting of him.

And sometimes analyzing what to do about relationships and then acting on it is a pain in the you-know-where. And as a ‘relationship coach’ I would offer that while it may be difficult it’s not optional. (But of course I would.)

–Amara

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