I once was in a relationship with an aristocrat...er...man who was handsome and, at first, very charming. Spoiler alert: it ended badly. However, all was not lost because I learned some very valuable lessons along the way. During the course of our association, we were asked to a dinner party one evening.
"Can I bring anything?" I asked the hostess over the phone.
"It would be lovely if you could bring some sort of dessert," she replied.
The Baking Force runs strong in my family, I thought with a smile. I have it and my mother had it.
I laughed to myself as I decided to make my not-your-everyday chocolate chip cookies. My very French mother, who had passed away just two years prior, had been an unbelievably magnificent chef pâtissier. She started in her mother's kitchen with recipes handed down through the years. Years later, from her own kitchen she created treats that would've rivaled Chef Pierre Hermé ‘The Picasso of pastry’. When I was still a teenager, my mother was called upon by local restaurants who wanted to purchase her delectable pies and cookies. In my memories, I can still see her in the kitchen with her apron on and powdered sugar floating in the air all around her.
I had many of her recipes and I knew these cookies would be a hit. Nestlé Tollhouse had nothing on me! Mom used only the freshest and finest ingredients in her confections. She was often heard saying "The fresher the better" and "Real is best". Which is probably why she raised her own hens and grew a gigantic garden each year.
The aforementioned (ahem) gentleman offered to run to the grocery for my ingredients which included real butter, Nestlé semi-sweet chocolate chips, fresh eggs from the dairy, pure vanilla extract, vanilla beans, cake flour, dark brown sugar, and white sugar.
I gave him two twenty dollar bills from my purse because those ingredients tend to be expensive. I thanked him for his help and he was on his way. About an hour later he returned and I began to unpack the goods he bought and placed them on the countertop.
Margarine? Whaaa..? Imitation vanilla flavoring? Imitation chocolate chips. Do they even make these? Regular flour, not refined. Generic sugars, both dark and light. No vanilla beans and egg substitute? What in the actual history of the world have you done?
"Just what in the Sam Hill am I supposed to make with this pile of garbage?" I challenged.
He handed me my change, his eyebrows imitating Spock.
"Aren't you glad I know how to shop better than you? I mean, come on! Cake flour is almost twice as expensive than regular plain old flour. And vanilla beans are like seven bucks just for one. For one! Don't even get me started on the cost of pure vanilla, and there's no way I was driving all the way across town just for eggs laid this morning! Eggs are eggs, but egg substitute isn't so fattening. Neither is the margarine. You don't really want all that fat in your recipe do you? Geeze! Ingredients aren't going to matter that much and believe me, nobody will notice the difference. Besides, I just saved you a lot of money! At least one of us knows how to shop! And don't worry, I can teach you how to shop the right way."
Although I had plenty to say, in silence, I quickly stuffed the sewage he had just purchased back into the brown paper bag, marched out the door, and returned everything to the store. I then proceeded to get everything on my list for the cookies.
Later on at the party, the cookies received such accolades I felt like I was at the Oscars! Between complements, I observed him. He smirked and slightly cringed every time someone gave me kudos. Throughout the evening, I saw things clearly. The blinders had come off. Way off. I saw that not only was he shallow and pompous; He was as phony as the imitation ingredients he had purchased. The jaunty, forced laughter at jokes, that knowing him, he would not find funny in the least. How his voice suddenly became deeper when an attractive woman joined his little clique. However, the deal breaker was when he didn't know I was on the other side of a wall, close enough to hear his every word. It was then that he told another dinner guest there how much he wished he could sleep with her that night, but doggone it, he was stuck with me.
I informed him in no uncertain terms that he was hereby "unstuck", and left the party.
That night, I learned that what my mother always said wasn't only true for pastries.
The fresher the better. Life is too short to waste your time in staleness. If a river doesn't run, it becomes lifeless and stagnant. Life is too beautiful not to enjoy it's sweetness. I won't allow myself to become stuck having to settle for milk-and-water love, work, activities, friendships, or food for that matter.
Real is best. Oh Mom, you've no idea how right you were! The fakers, the phonies, and the counterfeits, I've come across them all. Mom taught me not only to be transparent, honest, open, and genuine, but to never accept anything less from those I allow into my world.
I've taken these life truths into every area of my life, including how I fight for my life due to having Lyme disease. I choose to be completely open and transparent regarding this battle. Not for attention or pity, but because Lyme is the fastest spreading infectious disease in the world. It's highly misunderstood and often misdiagnosed. There are countless people walking around sicker than sick, some are dying as I type this. They are without answers, having no clue what in the world is the matter with them. Maybe, just maybe, being vitreous about it all will not only bring awareness regarding prevention, but save lives as well.
Sometimes being this open is risky. There are those who will choose to misunderstand. Others will hate on you for no earthly reason. Let them. I will stay true to the love and passion in my soul, to just be me, to be fresh and real.
For me, living authentically has always been worth it. Just like the cookies were.