The timing of the summer ORM cycle has hit my life with spot-on accuracy for the first two weeks, and I remain in awe of the lessons that come to me everyday just by remaining present to this thought practice. This year the Fourth of July was the first day of Food Week and with everything I have on my plate, I don’t see this week drifting far from the intended course either! Food Week takes an objective look at the ways we have and have not been nourished in our lives. If we examine this question from four separate perspectives (emotional, spiritual, mental and physical), we can begin/continue to recognize and untangle the roots of the deep places which exist at the heart of where we each get personally triggered. Identification of our individual wounds, the ones that began early in our lives (maybe even before we were born) is the first step in clearing the space around those roots so they can breathe. In an ego-based attempt to keep us ‘safe’, we develop behaviors to cover our vulnerabilities so that they are hidden from others. Keeping us safe often equates to keeping us separate, and feeling separate often depletes the energy stores that help us feel nourished in ways that aren’t just physical.
Important questions that we don’t often think through: Where in our lives did we first begin to feel under-nourished? Did it exist from birth? Did it show up in our early socialization? Which roots connect to our teenage years and all of those undernourished feelings that we, literally or figuratively, left in a box in our parents’ (Mentors) environment? At the top of Food Week lies the primary question, “Have your basic needs always been met?”. Whether you have spent all of your life, or just a portion of it, trying to gain access to the very things that you watch others take for granted - water, nutrition, climate-appropriate clothing, shelter, utilities, love, physical safety, access to information, etc - those memories and feelings will continue to need acceptance and intentional breath in order to bring them into scope of our individually-celebrated wholeness. This may seem like a tall order, but I can assure you that if you are taking the time to learn about or dive into the practice of Our Raw Material, your inner chef is up for turning whatever ingredients you offer into a power-packed plate of Ego/Soul Balance nourishment which helps heal the spaces where we have experienced a lack.
When you examine life (first your own, then the people around you) from this viewpoint, the roots of addiction, depression, self-judgment, and equally debilitating conditions are more easily spotted as they connect directly to the places where we didn’t/don’t feel nourished. Being overnourished in one direction or another can also create attachments to these same conditions since shame and guilt are often two sides of the same coin. Having ‘everything’ and producing ‘nothing’ carries its own imbalance within the self, unless the ego energies are left in charge and unchecked. A child born into abundance, inherently aware that they have a great deal more than the people around them, can take on the ego-focused characteristics of entitlement and/or feel a lingering sense of guilt for their existing conditions, especially when they themselves did nothing to earn the abundance. Depending on where or when you were born, the ego saturation level plays a big part in what we determine to be ‘feelings of nourishment’. Feeling nurtured, feeling nourished, and feeling whole are the feelings we strive to elevate as we practice Our Raw Material, not by changing our conditions, but by allowing them to teach us something about our own journey and strengths.
I mentioned having a full plate this week, and it began with a large serving of family time. Aunts, uncles and cousins gathered for several days at various places around Kansas City for food and festivities. We were well-nourished on most levels, even revisiting some older sticking points with a fresh dose of humor and a lot of compassion. Cousins who hadn’t spoken in years came together and talked while sharing food, offering an opportunity to truly digest the fundamental shifts that were happening within the family. We listened to each other in ways that maybe haven’t even seemed possible in the past. We told stories and recounted experiences from all different perspectives, taking in what the other person was saying, rather than the usual, “that’s not what happened - Let me tell you what really happened”. We allowed our differences in taste to exist as part of our collective wholeness as we were all seeking some form of nourishment from the gathering. I can’t speak for everyone, but it appeared that we all had a lot of opportunities to heal things from our past and make peace with a future where we might not all be here.
My grandfather, patriarch to the ‘Carduff Clan’, was born on July 1st and Fourth of July was his favorite holiday. Even though he passed away many years ago, we keep his memory and traditions as we come together to celebrate each year. Jack Carduff was a perfect example of being an incredible, imperfect man. He built a family with a very strong sense of what they like and don’t like, and the gumption to express it - loudly and boldly - no matter the circumstances. From my earliest memories, my grandparents spent time each year in Mexico. Their back porch was decorated like it WAS Mexico, and other than breakfast, the food I remember them making was all mexican. If we went out to eat, it was almost always mexican. It’s among the first things I learned to cook and the food I will name when asked “if you could only have one kind of food for the rest of your life…”
That being said, our family's 4th of July menu was mexican. We had a spread that would have made Jack Carduff very proud. We have all become great cooks (or at least learned a few good dishes), and I’d say we knocked this one out of the park. Tipping the scale was the fruit-infused tequila that my parents had prepared for the occasion - delicious! We have a tendency to over-nourish on holidays, so there was enough food left for several of us to gather for another round the next day and say final goodbyes to those who were headed back home. We all have our differences, of course, but our similarities allow us to each have a seat at the table, whenever we want it, even if we have rejected that very seat in the past. The raw material of family dynamics will continue to weave through time for as long as there are families. As we navigate Food Week, breathe deeply, drink extra water, and take time to consider your own upbringing... Trace the roots of nourishment through your life’s stories… See where it takes you...