Cookin’ up a storm

Been a while since I wrote anything here. But trust me, I have been around. Just not in here, unfortunately. Well, sometimes you generate a new passion and it steals all of your time you don’t have any left to write about it. In my case, I have been cooking a lot lately. Not necessarily pigging out, just… cooking, that’s all. Funny thing happened yesterday… I cooked 3 dishes in 6 hours. Man, I was so tired I felt I needed some food. So, I treated myself to a little fish filet sandwich at McDonald’s.

Just to back track a little… Last year, I went to the doctor for the first time since… well, since my mom dragged me there when I was a kid, actually. I’m not kidding you! So at 45 years of age, I naturally thought, wow, I must be in big trouble now. Well, I was lucky I almost got a perfectly clean bill of health. I did say almost, yes. That’s because at the last minute, I was prescribed a cholesterol lowering med to be taken in the next six months. Just for precaution, the doc affirmed.

At the start of this year, I vowed to be a lot more health conscious and try to do as much as I could to not be given another round of prescription the next time I visit the doc. Well, it’s been a fun ride, actually. Back in January, I weighed in at 152 lbs. Not terribly bad for a guy standing at a towering 5’6″. But still a tad overweight, I guess. Golly, when you’re in your forties, your body’s not very forgiving. I should’ve learned this early on. Anyhow, so I began counting calories, being mindful of fat intake, nutrition, physical activity and all that good stuff I never thought existed before. I started walking a lot. At work and everywhere else. Ditched the elevators and took the stairs. I purposely missed my floors so I could walk even more. Started experimenting with vitamins and bought as much organic food as I could. Fat-free this low-fat that, you name it. I spent half of my time in the grocery store just reading labels.

But mind you…I didn’t obsess! 🙂

Okay, maybe, just a little in the beginning. However, as the months passed by, I realized that trying to develop a healthy habit shouldn’t be about losing weight or because you’re afraid of the imminent bad news your doctor might have to break. It should be something you’re meant to do. So, as an artist, I found that as I labored in the kitchen, the joy wasn’t coming from a health perspective. Although it was definitely a bonus, my satisfaction came from an artistic standpoint. It was creativity that made me want to cook. I cook even when I’m not hungry. It’s not about eating as much as it was about creating something. Well, I knew I was gonna get hungry sooner or later so it’s not like it goes to waste, right? Now, this is probably what filled in the void that my songwriting and music playing has caused in the past couple of years. I had to channel it somewhere as art is what keeps me functioning. But it had to be meaningful, somehow. And cooking was.

Now, I’m not a vegetarian. I don’t like to label myself. But I try to be sensible and responsible, as well as practical, about food and nutrition. I believe food is something all humans have to be consciously grateful for – in words and in action – at all times. Food is a gift that nature abundantly and freely gives. There’s a lot of respect that needs to come from that alone. But I’m not going to elaborate on this anymore as I’m sure you already know what I’m talking about and that we all have our own little ways of translating this into our own lives anyway.

Though for me, it definitely has been very inspiring. For one, I have lost 20 lbs. and my waistline went from 34 to 29. All in 10 months! I feel so much better and I have more energy. I’m only shouting this through the rooftops because I’m not young anymore. If I was in my twenties, it’s probably moot but when you’re over the hill, it is something to be  celebrated, I think.

Okay, what I’m trying to say here is (Yeah Chris, what are you trying to say already?) that cooking has become a true passion lately. One that brings me joy and fulfillment. I mean, I’m a fan of cooks and chefs on TV, too! They’re like my new found rock stars and I watch their shows as much as I did all those hair bands back in the 80’s. I get inspired, not necessarily by their recipes, but by the passion they invoke into their craft. It’s infectious! That passion is what builds my own. The only difference probably is that I try to be as consciously responsible as I possibly could. Towards nature and my health. And without being snobbish. 🙂

Oh yeah, I also started a food blog, lately. Check it out.

Show, don’t tell

“We don’t need no education. We don’t need no thought control.”

Someone came up to me the other day asking how much I charge for guitar lessons. Happens a lot, actually. Usually, after some sort of goofy performance I did. Unfortunately, I have to be a bearer of bad news by saying I don’t teach. Not anymore, that is. But not because I don’t want to. I just don’t think – and this from experience – that mere “teaching” is effective and productive in a real world situation. Just because I graduated from college doesn’t mean I’ve got it all figured out, does it? Some people who never went to school are more substantially successful than the ones holding a degree.

you can do it

You see, I don’t want my “students” to do stuff simply because I said so. I expect them to challenge me and prove to themselves that they can do better than what I’m telling them to do. I expect them to step outside the realms of the norm. To carve out a distinct identity for themselves. An identity that flaunts progress, not nostalgia!

So, what am I talking about here? Intense motivation and passion. We can read all the books in the world and spend half our life in school, but if we’re not willing to die for something, we’ll probably either quit at some point or simply dwell in lukewarmness and mediocrity. And what a waste of time that is. How boring that makes for one’s life, whether ours or that of the ones we could have a chance of making a difference towards.

Most of what I am today is, in fact, a product of inspiration from people I’ve personally decided to look up to, over the years. These folks didn’t try to walk me through life, I simply chose to watch them in action. Heck, a lot of them failed many times. Yet, I followed and learned from reality instead. I guess, they must’ve been doing something that’s hard to ignore, whether in the form of words or deeds. Nonetheless, it was definitely effective.

I’ve never been a fan of learning by-the-book. I’m not saying we can’t get anything from it or that we shouldn’t. It’s just that when the book becomes the be-all-end-all, we become a slave to someone’s own thoughts and opinions. Our mind cannot, or rather, will not “break the rules” because we’re not able to see beyond those “rules.” And beyond is where the unknown universe lies. Beyond is where we find our true and unique selves.

A recipe calls for a clove of garlic. I put in five… so, sue me!

When one is not aware of the consequences, neither will the benefits be obvious. We learn truly from our own mistakes, not from that of others. We can’t possibly understand someone’s pain until we feel it ourselves. Why limit someone’s imagination, then? Why be the judge of what is “right” and “wrong?” Don’t we all have the capacity to make that decision for ourselves? What is the real issue here? Trust? Fear? Control? Insecurity? For instance, I’m not for abortion. I don’t recommend it. It is against my beliefs. But I certainly won’t think less of someone who decides otherwise. I may not agree, but I accept. Whether there are consequences or rewards, my only business in it is acceptance. So, why do we impose our man-made laws as if our opinions matter more than that of others. Why do we shove our morals down people’s throats… and call it love? Good luck gaining converts that way.

What I believe is that people need to inspire, as well as be inspired. We need to be heroes as much as we need heroes in our own lives. We need to show examples as well as we need to be shown examples. Real world examples. Ones that produce results. Because results are effective. We’ve all heard the cliche – We should be the change we want to see in the world. It’s true. But in the same token, we shouldn’t expect anyone to follow our lead. We can only be sincere in wanting to do our part without expecting anything in return. Yet, if we’re motivated enough, passionate enough, persevering enough… maybe, just maybe, there’s a chance we’ll turn some heads and raise some eyebrows. And to me, that’s a job well done already.

Just my 2 cents…

Oh by the way, still insisting on guitar lessons? Well, if you can handle a boot camp and promise not to quit, no matter what… rip me off for $30/hour.

Otherwise, stick to RockBand.