This year, I cooked two turkeys for two separate Christmas gatherings. Consequently, I made a lot of bone broth. Truth be told, until today I thought bone broth was a mystical substance only available to those types of people who encapsulate placenta (no offense to all the lovely people I know who do this). In reality however, it’s not mystical at all – it’s the same thing I have smelled cooking after every Christmas dinner since I was a small child. Did you know that your sense of smell is your strongest memory sense? I find this to be true and I will never forget the way my Grandpa smelled of scotch mints (with a little extra), the way my Nana’s house smelled as every good Asian house should – of rice, ginger and moth balls or the way the aroma of turkey stock would fill our dimly lit home after a Christmas gathering. Essentially, you take the turkey carcass and put you in a pot with water with a few onions, celery, carrots, garlic and herbs and boil every ounce of goodness out of that precious bird. What you are left with is a delicious, versatile and nutrient-rich stock that boosts the immune system, helps brain function and aids in digestion. Who knew right? It was just something I watched my grandmother and mother do, and now I do myself.
As 2016 draws to a close I feel as though my life is like a pot of bone broth. In the past couple of weeks, as I looked to the new year, I felt as though my soul was nothing but a stripped carcass, bare and picked over. We faced many disappointments this year, some we shared while others, we grieved alone: we lost Ben’s mother, I said good-bye to Soren, our Labrador retriever, who was my most faithful companion and best friend and we closed chapters while beginning new ones. As I have given thought to each moment and memory however, I have thrown into the pot lessons learned, promises that I have clinged to and the Truth, which guides me and I have let it all simmer.
When I started to consider resolutions for 2017 and wait for a word or an inspiration that would carry me into the new year, I was discouraged and grim because the truth is, like many years before it, 2017 could be marked by big changes…then again, it might not be and things might remain relatively stable, but in this life of limbo it is difficult to set goals I know I have no hope of achieving or resolve to live a particular lifestyle when there is no guarantee of consistency in occupation, location or financial state. I’m a planner. I love making resolutions, so you can see how this unknown might upset me.
I sat in this tasteless state for a good week or so, but then the flavor of this unpredictable life started to release an enticing aroma and I remembered just why I married my husband and not the guy I dated previous to him. You see, before I started dating Ben I dated a well-to-do sort of guy who had a good job and a nice car. With him I could picture my life in its entirety: a comfortable home, a stable career and 2.5 children. This fellow had given up music and chosen a career, not because of vocational calling or passion but because it was sure to be stable and lucrative, and while I am not saying that this is a bad thing I simply knew it was not something that was important to me in a partner. What was important to me was his faithfulness to God, his commitment to his family and someone who would share my sense of adventure. I started travelling the world when I was only eleven years old. I flew clear across the continent, without my family to join 30 strangers on a mission trip to a country I had never before heard of. I’m a free spirit – I always have been.
Our world fears change but change is what has given us penicillin, democracy and the right to vote. Sure, change demands overcoming resistance, adjustment and a shift in our metal paradigm but it does not always mean that the impending change is bad. Change is always rearing it’s ugly head in our life – threatening the systems I have put in place and the comfort I fight for on a daily basis, but change also moved me to Cambridge, blessed me with three beautiful children and made me see the ability where others saw disability. When I asked myself why I was dreading this impending change so much, I reasoned that while there is risk in change there is also incredible potential and I was filled with an expectant hope.
As I get older, I realize more and more that there was a reason I was so hesitant to map out 5 year or 10 year plans – I didn’t care. I didn’t care where I would be or what I would be doing but rather, I was concerned about preserving the values that guide who I am, what I do and how I live my life. I remember thinking as a preteen that I hated feeling uncomfortable and so would do things that made me uncomfortable on purpose just to overcome the discomfort of newness that most things entail – for example, water skiing for the first time or speaking in public. Both were uncomfortable at first but now I feel quite at home on skis or a stage. On the contrary I never wanted to get so comfortable somewhere that I couldn’t up and move, switch careers and/or make new friends. As an adult these values have shaped who I am. They have helped me be a good friend, wife and mother. They have help me keep in sight what is truly important and they have helped me face the scary unknown with the knowledge that once you get passed the uncomfortable ickiness, most new experiences prove to be good ones.
With this truth hidden in my heart as well as my mind, I enter 2017 with
I don’t know what the future holds – who does really? What I do know is that in this moment not only am I okay, I am blessed. We fear change because many times the details of that change are fuzzy and full of shadows but just like a child waiting with anticipation for the moment they can finally unwrap their gifts on Christmas morning we can have an expectant hope. And even when it feels like we have nothing left to give, there is still goodness in our bones and a truth that gives us strength when strength seems gone. Here’s to 2017.