Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Spaghetti Sauce

Two years ago I was in Seven Days of Creation and made a commitment to have several hours a week set aside for "creative outlets of my choosing." I worded it that way because I knew it mattered to me to have that creative outlet but I wasn't too sure about what it looked like.

As it turned out, my favorite creative outlet is cooking. I have a vast collection of cookbooks and I can truthfully tell you, I've read them cover-to-cover. When I get a cookbook, the first thing I do is read it all; then I cook something from it.

Since Seven Days, however, I've been spending more time developing my own recipes as well as honing those I have had for years. My spaghetti sauce recipe was handed down from my mother who is a great cook. It's my recipe now, though, because years of adding my special tweaks has made it my own. One of the creative results of all this extra cooking has been "Spaghetti Madness Thursdays," a line stolen from a long forgotten movie. Nearly every Thursday, pasta is on the menu and hands' down, the family favorite is this quite ordinary sauce.

Fair enough, all this creative kitchen time has not ended any wars nor fed any of Austin's homeless. No one will see the results in a gallery nor will a Noble Prize for Kitchen Wizardry (though I think it's a good idea) be awarded. But what is true is that for the last two years, I have had a lingering sense of satisfaction because week in and week out, I've been doing something peculiarly creative and personal. And that, in turn, has sourced my work which is, as the day ends, about something noble. Wheeee!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Wake-up Call

17 years ago last month, a friend of mine (Mike Warren) said, "I think you're ready for Life Training." I had no idea what this training was, but he was a very good friend and I respected him, so off I went. I had no inkling that this one weekend would shape the next decades of my life. Mike told me the weekend was a "wake-up call;" a gross understatement if there ever was one.

This course (and the subsequent ones, especially WOW) have made a profound and lasting difference in my life. I have learned to see all that comes to me in my life as pure gift; an opportunity to wake up, to see who I am, to forgive myself and others, to choose my next step.

When I took More to Life, I was holding on by my fingernails. I was on a self-destructive path through one relationship after another and barely getting myself out of bed day after day. I had surely had my share of hard things to deal with in life-- but that is true of everyone -- isn't it? I had always been a church-goer and while I agreed that I should have faith, I had no idea how to be "faithful." My view of the world, of God and of life was cynical, at best.

Today I have the "how." I am a person of passion and purpose. I wake up every morning with a song in my heart (if not on my lips) and realize I have everything I ever wanted. I am actually living my dream life.

More to Life isn't a magic show or a series of tricks. It isn't a fix-all or panacea. It was the beginning of my journey of waking up to take radical responsibility for my own life and happiness. It's a work in progress. It's about me - day after day -- looking at the people, circumstances, challenges and issues God brings to my life and saying THANK you. And then having the courage to dig deep and find the gift in each of those people, circumstances, issues and challenges.

Today is the 80th birthday of one of the co-founders of More to Life, Brad Brown, now deceased. On this day, I am thankful to him, to his co-founder, Roy Whitten, and to God. I am grateful for "the wake-up call." I am thankful -- so thankful -- that on the occasion of my own last breath, I will know that I have lived my life fully and faithfully, that I have embodied my vocation and that I have done my part to leave behind an inheritable world. Thank you.