Restore yourself! - Jane’s Challenge for 2015

Have you ever found yourself feeling like you are looking through, and putting on someone else’s clothes? I have. I know that person looking back at me in the mirror, yet there is something different about him, me. It’s like waking up and feeling as if I had been victim to an alien body snatching; only the genetic transformation from me to the pod somehow went awry. My hairline has receded a bit. The skin under my eyes is more pronounced and puffed-up. My face is fuller and I am much heavier. I’m slower. The usual body aches are getting worse. I’m in constant pain. My mind keeps insisting that I’m okay but my body screams out with a different analysis.

When I first met Jane I was in the prime of my life, a head full of curly brown hair. (Some would argue a bit too much hair. It was an actual hairstyle characterized as an Afro, a tree in human form.) My body was trim from running track and pole-vaulting, muscular from lifting weights and working out. I felt good, worked hard, and had no regrets.

Jane and I loved to camp and hike. We spent a lot of time outdoors exploring new places and surroundings. Everyday became a new adventure. We were growing up fast. Finding out what made us who we were and what we wanted to do in the future. It felt as if life would never catch up with us, we were constantly moving, evolving, energized, and ready to see what tomorrow would bring. We were deceived into believing that we were unconquerable.

One day, I was talking to Jane’s father, John. He was reminiscing about his childhood and told me of the things he loved to do. He spoke about his neighborhood and how some of his brothers would always get into trouble. How they would sleigh ride down one of the steep streets not far from his house. He laughed about how it would have to be closed off because of how treacherous it was after it snowed. Their Everest to conquer! But you could tell from the way he spoke, that ice-skating on the Hudson was perhaps his favorite activity.

I wanted him to experience that feeling again. I suggested we take a ride up to Harriman State Park one day. I told him there was an area that was cleared away just for ice-skating on Lake Welch. It would also be the perfect time for him to teach Elisa to skate. His eyes widened and his lips formed a smile as he thought about it. He agreed. He found his racing skates tucked away in some remote location in the basement and cleaned them up for upcoming weekend.

On the way up to Lake Welch, I remember feeling everyone’s anticipation and we all laughed at the thought that we would soon be on the ice. The further north we traveled, the more snow we encountered. When we got there, we got out of the car and found ourselves surrounded by a winter wonderland. It was like being in an unshaken snow globe. The setting was pristine. It glowed from the filtered white light reflecting from the snow-covered landscape. It set the mood for the perfect day.

Well much to my dismay and his, the reality of getting older and the affects it had on him sunk in. He was no longer that agile youth, able to swiftly and gracefully slice across the ice. That’s when I realized that time is fickle. It turns on you unnoticed and unexpected. It makes you feel invulnerable when you’re growing up, and it forces you to see your vulnerability as you begin to age.

Now I find myself as much a victim of time as he was then. I feel betrayed by my will to endure. Blinded by pride, ego, and a conscious need to falsify my state of well being in order to be able to stand up to the struggles life presents and muster up the strength to conquer the daily, never ending, challenges that a each new dawn brings. I am at the crossroads.

Mindful of this, Jane came up with this year’s challenge. “Restore yourself,” she said. “You have to find a healthier and more nutritional way to prepare your recipes. However, do it so they still taste great.” So, this year’s challenge is to explore new and familiar ingredients in ways that will help slow time down. Possibly allowing me to reclaim some of what seems to have been lost.

I hope that this will not only help me, but inspire you as well. I need all the help I can get, so please chime in with your comments and recipes. Let 2015 be a healthier, happier, and restoring New Year!

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