The Twist Before the Happy Ending

When a fairytale ends, moving forward means clearing the past and embracing what you used to love.

— Sonia Soni, Life is a Recipe

For the longest time I didn’t know I had any fears. I had a comfort zone, and I stayed safely in it. I never ventured too far, and everything in my world pointed to happy endings – or at least I thought it did. In all honesty, I wanted to believe my life could be a fairytale. Yet, one day, like so many women who face the end of a marriage, I was mourning the idea of never attaining a fairytale life. Actually, it took me more than one day to realize that.

I had been married for eighteen years, but a series of unfortunate events forced that relationship to end. It wasn’t pretty. I lost my sense of self and mourned for a past that was no more. I woke up every morning tied in knots of anxiety about a future that was uncertain on so many levels.

Fear became my constant companion, but naively, I did not recognize it. Bury any feeling under enough fun and laughter with your girlfriends and it becomes a dull ache; an echo of a past you’re trying to ignore. Yet, each time I’d begin the drive home after hanging out with my girlfriends, the reality would begin to settle in.  Even thinking of the word “home” made my heart sink. I was in that frame of mind for quite some time – simmering, longing for direction.  It was the same feeling I’d get when I was a youth, returning to boarding school after visiting home for the holidays.  That feeling of displacement and that yearning for my comfort zone pulled me into the past again.

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Letting go of an idealized life first takes serious self-reflection. In the next few months, I spent time “going inside” and viewing my thoughts from a calmer, more objective perspective. It took a long time to understand what I was feeling, but it was in this place that I realized my real fears: fear of the future and fear of the unknown. For a time, I tried to mask those fears, but I knew that I could not afford to wallow in despair. I had my children to think of. I had our future to face.

All of that practice reflecting cleared the way for the memory of the things I used to love to do, the things I felt most passionate about. I have always loved to cook and especially for others. From the time I was a child it had truly fulfilled me.  Without questioning that instinct, I threw myself into expressing my personal identity through what I considered “edible art.”  I developed recipes, experimented with flavors, and shared delicious treats with my friends.  My enthusiasm grew, so I began cooking for every lonely, sickly, or elderly person I knew. In that process, my circle of friends expanded exponentially.  Because I was coming from a passionate, loving place, my new life encouraged and motivated me to cook even more.

Cooking brought me closer to people, and helped me form even deeper friendships.  I began to rebuild, replacing an unfounded nightmare with a invigorating vision.  When I looked back, I discovered that the pain from my past and my fear of the unknown eventually drove me to rediscover and exercise my deepest passions.  Cooking became part of my recipe for happiness and served as an armor against anxiety.

I know I’m not the only one who has fears.  We all do.  And whether you believe it or not, I know you can overcome yours too.  In the beginning embrace your fears.  They are trying to protect you.  But after you acknowledge them, let them know that you must say goodbye so that you can go into the next chapter of your story.

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Life Recipe:
Overcoming Fear

  1. Set some time to self-reflect and step away from your day-to-day routine.
  2. take some deep breathes and let your mind untangle. Whenever a fear or thought crosses your mind allow yourself to look at that thought or fear without letting it take over you. Recognize the fears and the "unknowns" that hinder you.
  3. As you began to see these fears and thoughts. Address them with sober judgement and decide what is true and what ideas are inaccurate.
  4. You must now take the fears you have examined and replace them with productive ideas so that they no longer have a foothold on your journey. Think about the changes that must be made for you to be able to conquer those fears.
  5. Next, think about how you can continue to conquer these fears and sustain the changes you have made. What do you need to do or sacrifice in order maintain your changes for the long haul?
  6. Remember: as you continue to grow and conquer these internal giants, more fears will come but don't shy away. Continue this process and continue exploring and replacing the things that prohibit you from seeing your happy endings.

Dinner Recipe:
Branzino

  • 5 Tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 1 Whole rind of lime grated
  • Juice of one whole lime
  • 4 Branzino fillets (deboned and cleaned inside, leave the tale on if you wish)
  • 1 ½ Teaspoons of cumin seeds
  • ¼ Teaspoon Turmeric
  • 1 ½ Teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 ½ Teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 ½ Fennel seeds
  • 2 Cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1.5 Inches ginger (fresh, chopped)
  • Chili powder to taste (a pinch or two)
  • 3 Shallots (finely chopped)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (to taste))
  • Fresh red chilies (to garnish)
  • Cilantro (to garnish)
  • Lemon Wedges (to garnish)

Instructions

  1. Mix together 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, salt, pepper, lime rind and lime juice and mix it well.

  2. Add in the Branzino.

  3. Be careful not to break the fish, do it delicately.

  4. Put in refrigerator and chill until you are ready to cook.

  5. Put the broiler on high in your oven.

  6. Take your Branzino out and place on a baking sheet, skin side down and broil for 6 minutes or until it becomes flakey when you piece it.

  7. On your stove heat the remaining oil that's left over in a wok on the stove.

  8. Add in the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds until the mustard seeds begin popping and the cumin and coriander will brown.

  9. Make sure not to over do it.

  10. Take it off the heat.

  11. Add in the garlic, shallots chili powder, salt, pepper and turmeric.

  12. Squeeze the lemon wedges on top of it.

  13. Garnish with chili and cilantro.

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