Making every ingredient sing

Thai-ingredients-mainI love my job … some days. Counselling teenagers is tough, not least because they can be so unreliable. Getting a teenage boy to remember to come to his session or to let me know that he can’t make it or at least to realise that he’s forgotten to pitch and communicate that to me is sometimes too much to ask for.

But I also get to do research and this year I’ve chosen as my focus: Building Resilience. There’s a ton of good material out there and the challenge will be to sift through it, take the parts that appeal most to me and to put it together in a meaningful way. I have a presentation on “Building Resilience” to give in exactly two weeks and, in the words of Masterchef, I want to make every ingredient sing. I want to present some stories and some theory but also to get the teachers to reflect on their own lives and those of their students. It’s a tough ask.

On the parenting side, we are lurching along. Our 5-year old is a lot easier to manage these days, except when it comes to getting herself ready so that we can get to school on time. Our 22-month old is a holy terror. “Bleugh!” And “Go away!” being two of her default responses when she sees me. I’m clearly doing something wrong here but I also I know this is part of the terrible twos. Deep breath. Don’t get angry. Walk away.

“I’m going to kill this child!” I muttered through clenched teeth as I passed the T-bird to L at about 8.40pm last night. Tessie was just being naughty but at the end of a long day I just wanted her to go to sleep so that L and I could sit down together and watch Australian Masterchef.

I love this programme. This week I decided to take some of the advice to heart. One of the guest chefs was telling the contestants to “Be bold!” and to have “No fear!” Rose, the contestant with the flapping hands and the tears, who always seems to be up for elimination, decided to be brave and went for the biggest fish in the pantry. She staggered back to her counter with a massive snapper and a look on her face that said “I’m being brave. Please reward me for this.”

The judges quickly gathered round to see what she would do with it. She cut two steaks and whipped together a Thai salad and some other concoction. I was impressed. I was thinking along the lines of “Feel the fear and do it anyway” except this time the version was: What if you can be anxious and bold at the same time? Because when it comes to my own feelings and behaviour I can never ignore my daily anxiety. But it doesn’t need to define my life. What if I was bold and adventurous as well as anxious and tired? What actions would I take instead? Would I be more decisive?

That’s become my thought experiment for the week. Not to be completely fearless and gung-ho but to take a few risks. To be a bit bolder AND also more reflective.

On the cooking front, however, I immediately fell on my face. I was trying to whip up a Thai Red Curry (from the box) while at the same time keeping an eye on the SA vs England cricket match. Unfortunately I took my eye off the pan and managed to melt one of our plastic spoons. L’s response was along the lines of: What the hell were you doing using a plastic spoon on a hot frying pan? I shot back with: “You’re not being supportive!”I managed to rescue the dish but I realised that I will definitely have to re-visit the multi-tasking idea.

And now I’m off to cook up some more psychological interventions. Wish me luck!

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