A Window into My World

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Dear Reader,

This past Monday was, I believe, the first time ever I simply said, “Nope I don’t have a blog in me.” And so we ran someone else’s blog. Now Wednesday is coming up, and I’m thinking of blogs, and it’s all still sort of jumbled up in my head. I’m trying to think about what to write, and all I can get inspired about is this: a letter to you! Like a good old-fashioned letter. Allow me to elaborate.

First of all, I’m fine! In fact, I’m great. I’m relatively healthy for a woman of my age, my kids are relatively healthy for their ages, work is good, and I don’t really have any complaints other than the one many of us share this time of year: When will winter leave us? We’ve had snow and ice and snow and ice and layers upon layers of a white crusty lasagna of winter that makes it truly hard to do much other than snuggle up inside, which has actually been rather nice.

In the past month, my family and I have done four puzzles (our favorite come from Liberty Puzzle—they’re pricy, but they’re wooden and truly challenging in the most fun way). We’ve also watched tons of great movies, including The Hundred Foot Journey (twice!), The Theory of Everything, Book of Life, and Strange Magic. It’s a testament to my 8-year-old that the only movie she wanted to see again was The Hundred Foot Journey—a true sign of our love of food and cooking.

I’ve also, in the past month—in addition to my usual New York City visits—driven from Jupiter, Florida, to Key West (Beautiful! Manatees! Roseate spoonbill! Key deer! Alligators!), and flown to London and then to Amsterdam, which I’ve wanted to visit for a long time. All my trips started with a business purpose, and then expanded to include exploring.

I visited Hemingway’s house in Key West, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, and shopped my way through Mayfair—it is always fun to visit all the hunting shops; London excels in hunting fashion. I regret not buying a certain pair of cashmere hunting socks, so I may have to go back. (By the way, I don’t hunt.) I wanted to go see the Rembrandt collection in its entirety (we had a quick tour with our business partners), but came down with a stomach thing and spent my last day in Amsterdam in bed instead of exploring the museums, red-light district, and smoke shops. I’ll have to go back. But at least it was a comfortable bed.

While in Amsterdam, I also announced the Earth Gratitude Wave! It’s exciting to see the response it’s gotten so far. There will be much, much more to come on this wonderful topic. In the meantime, I’m very grateful to all of YOU!

When I travel, I am inspired in so many different ways. Sometimes it’s easy to pull out one or two things to feature in a blog, but this time there was too much to process this quickly. I know coming up there will be a blog about all the windmills I saw in the North Sea when I flew into Amsterdam, and about eating raw oysters that tasted of the North Sea that first night. And bicycles, bicycles everywhere! But to me, what’s interesting today is the idea of filling in the blank spaces of the cognitive map of my brain. I do that after seeing new places, so that what was once a dot on a map and a couple of guidebook photos is now the feel of cobblestones beneath my feet, seeing crocuses popping up in unusual places, and the interesting contrast of a warmer temperature mixing with a hint of arctic air.

I also fill in my cognitive map by reading. I’ve done a lot of press lately—mainly to get the word out about Rodales.com and some terrific new projects at Rodale Inc. One podcast I did had another segment I listened to. It was a conversation with Marco Pierre White, whom I had never heard of before. But he said something I loved: “If something is made with love and care, it’s always delicious.”

So I bought his memoir, Devil in the Kitchen, to read on my trip. Suffice it to say reading about him filled in a few major puzzle pieces of my cognitive map—the origin of the celebrity chef, more details on what I call the arc of affluence (a blog/idea/concept I’ve been working on for almost 15 years), the difference between chefs and people who cook for nourishment, and why it will be very hard for people to learn to cook for nourishment from chefs (although we have a lot to learn from them).

These ideas, I know, all require further clarification, which is why next week I’m taking a week off to start writing my cookbook. I am not a chef and never will be, although I did host a very fun dinner party a few weeks ago for a Very Important Person where everyone helped by bringing something. I cooked the way I cook for family, and I did not stress about it one bit. This is radical for me! Part of our dinner discussion was that “potlucks” are due for a comeback.

I have heaps of blog ideas inside me right now—but I also need time to digest, sort them out, and organize them. It’s like a giant box of seeds that got all mixed together. And now that it’s March, I need to start thinking about planting—except that there’s still two feet of snow and ice lasagna covering the garden! So until things thaw a bit—next Monday, I hope!—you will have to be satisfied with this simple letter of a complicated life.

I wish I could send it to all of you on paper, in a hand-addressed envelope, with interesting stamps—just like the letters that Van Gogh wrote to his brother. Print is not dead, by the way. My coworker’s Kindle broke on the eight-hour flight home from Amsterdam, and he later told me he was jealous of the printed books I devoured—like Hemingway’s The Garden of Eden, which was fascinating, but made me feel like I had alcohol poisoning just from reading it, even though, as you know, I don’t drink!

Anyway, life is an adventure if you invite it to be one, if you embrace it fully and without fear and regret (other than those damn socks). And if you go right to the thought that it’s all about having money, please don’t. One of the most interesting stories I heard this past month was about a young South Korean woman who left home as a teenager because she wanted to taste the part of the chicken that was always reserved for her brother. She has since had more adventures than I can even imagine. And I heard rumors that while I was sidelined with a stomachache, she was out dancing because she makes it a point to dance every place she goes.

It’s really all about creating the story we want our lives to be—dreaming them into reality. And today, this is my story.

With love,

Maria

P.S. Sorry, I didn’t mean to just talk about myself…how are YOU? I hope you are all well, and I do love to hear from you.

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11 Responses to A Window into My World

  1. Yen March 4, 2015 at 6:25 am #

    Oh wow what an enjoyment reading this letter! and you made me long for my journeys i made in the past (pre baby ones) but anyhow i’m excited about our trip to Japan soon with the little one. it will be so much fun!
    i love cooking too and always the simplest meals made with the simplest ingredients were more tasty :))
    lucky you said you didn’t hunt becoz i startled when you said you browsed hunting shops!! :))
    i rarely made comments, only do when i feel so good about what I’m reading. thanks for sharing your stories. and yes i do believe in the power of dreams. so far all my childhood dreams have come true!! 🙂

  2. maria (farm country kitchen) March 4, 2015 at 7:22 am #

    Thanks Yen! I love hunting shops because they make good sturdy and warm clothes for doing outdoor things in.

    And Japan is one of my favorite places! If you ever get to go to Miyajima, it’s so worth it.

    I’m so happy all your childhood dreams have come true! May all your grown up dreams come true too!

  3. Yen March 4, 2015 at 7:33 am #

    Thanks Maria! I hope so too :)) and keep on dreaming
    We won’t be going Hiroshima this time unfortunately, I’ve been to Miyajima and I agree it’s a magical place! Just can’t get enough of this beautiful country..
    Have a lovely day! x

  4. Vanessa March 4, 2015 at 10:43 am #

    Can I pop into Mayfair and get you the socks? I can send them to Maya or Shelbi for re-delivery 🙂

  5. Barbara March 4, 2015 at 12:03 pm #

    This is lovely, Maria. My husband and I fell in love with Amsterdam while visiting there – far too long ago, in my opinion. We always talk about going back .. someday. So glad you were able to experience many of the wonderful historical treats it bestows and shares with us transient beings. 🙂

    Looking forward to your cookbook!! And celebrating Earth Gratitude Wave!! Think spring and less snow/ice lasagna (love that! thanks for the smile!)!

    Warmly,
    Barb

  6. Alice Green March 4, 2015 at 1:04 pm #

    Maria, Thanks for sharing your adventures with us! Wish I had some fun things to share with you, but all I am doing is dealing with eye surgery. One eye was under the knife on Feb. 17th and the other one goes under tomorrow. Right now I can only see out of one eye at a time, so up close I close the right eye, to look far away, I close the left eye. And 4 times a day I am putting drops in both eyes! Ugh! But I look forward to the day, I’ll see better again. My traveling days are over, but I do enjoy hearing about the joys others are having in their travels. Since I live in Colorado, I am very content as of all the many places I have been, it is not only my birthplace, but my favorite spot on Earth. Am so grateful for all the many places I did get to see and now am equally grateful to be Home! Love your ideas, thoughts and energy, wish I had a fraction of your energy for about a week! Imagine what I could do with it! Thanks much, as always, I wish you much more happiness and travels!!

  7. Laura Jo K March 4, 2015 at 1:48 pm #

    I feel the snow resets my brain in some way. I love the forced down time and re-acquaintance time with myself and loved ones. After all that happiness, it takes a couple days for my brain to get back in logical/focused order.

    Loved the post. Makes me feel not alone. 🙂

  8. Donna in Delaware March 4, 2015 at 8:06 pm #

    Love Amsterdam! Need to go back myself. Didn’t you just love scouring through those street markets in London> They have the best clothes for country life that I have discovered anywhere on the plant. Love England, love, love, love England! Love Europe altogether. Glad you had fun. Maybe next time I’ll meet you there. Keep on Traveling!

  9. Jackie Beyer March 13, 2015 at 12:19 pm #

    What a lovely blog post and glimpse into your world. Very inspiring. I love your humble honesty. You have such a lovely voice that I can relate to and it’s so interesting to read about your adventures and the path your work leads you down. Thanks for sharing. Jackie:~)

  10. Jackie Beyer March 13, 2015 at 12:21 pm #

    p.s. when I click on the links for podcast and earth wave, it wants me to open an email not the links to these pages?

  11. Jason Fonceca March 13, 2015 at 11:14 pm #

    Maria, I agree with Jackie Beyer above. I really enjoyed the personal, letter-like flavor of your blog.

    I love that you’re inspired through travel, agree re: chefs & nourishment, and am curious who this V.I.P. was.

    P.S. I lovelovelove 100ft Journey’s gripping story and it’s embracing indian culinary magic, hats off to you and daughter. #keepryzing

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