Photographs by Meadow Linn

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Making Room for the Future: Recipe for All-American Potato Salad

I can’t believe I’m actually doing this, but I’m going to confess something that hardly anyone knows about me. My mom, my dad, and a few others have discreetly kept the secret that I’ve successfully hidden from friends, family, and boyfriends for years, but now I’m going to blow the covers off the whole thing. Hidden on my bed, under a pile of down pillows, designer pillow shams, and decorative throws, a well-loved and well-worn Gund sunbear hibernates each day until I crawl into bed at night and hug him tight. I am 33 years old, have a Masters degree from an Ivy League school, and own my own business, but…I sleep with a teddy bear.

This much-loved member of my family has traveled the world and has seen me through most of my life. Sweets, as he is fondly known, has slept with me nearly every night since my seventh birthday when I received him as a gift.

I’m a strong, independent woman, yet I sleep with a teddy bear. I am confident and frequently courageous and no longer need the security that he may have once provided me as a little girl, but sleeping with him has become a habit that I haven’t been willing to outgrow.

And unfortunately, the older we get, the more set in our ways we are. I generally fall asleep quickly, but…Sweets must be underneath my right arm.

The other day I was thinking about this and how with each passing year, I become increasingly accustomed to a specific routine, and the more challenging it is to open myself to change. I dream of meeting a wonderful man and starting a family. It’s easy to say, “I want. I want. I want.” But the truth is that people and opportunities only come to us when we make room for them in our lives.

One corner of my garage
In an effort to make myself more available to life’s possibilities, I’ve been going on a clutter-clearing binge. By making more physical room in my life, I’m hoping that in turn I’ll be making more spiritual and emotional room.

There was a whirlwind of dust and cobwebs as I pulled boxes from my garage. Among other things, I found a deflated leather volleyball that has moved with me across the country and back multiple times. I stopped playing volleyball when I was 17, half my lifetime ago. Yet I’ve held onto this ball, perhaps erroneously believing that one day I would once again be that teenage girl who made up cheers and ran laps with her team. I also found a pair of cleats (haven’t played lacrosse since I was a sophomore in college), two pairs of ski pants that I’ve long since outgrown, and piles of slides, negatives, and prints from my days as a photographer. The artwork I will keep, but what is it about the other things that I haven’t been able to release?

At first I saved the volleyball because it had been expensive, and I assumed I would one day play again, but after awhile I think it was more out of habit. I dream of the future, yet here I am holding so tightly to the past. Is it that I’m yearning for the endless possibilities of my youth, the idea that I could do anything and be anything? Or is it like sleeping with my teddy bear, and I just don’t know any different?

1995 Varsity volleyball yearbook photo (I'm #15 top left)
I had actually forgotten about the deflated volleyball in my garage, which made me wonder what other stuff—both physical and emotional—we carry with us from place to place, without even being aware of its existence.
I can say, “I want,” a million times but until I make room in my life, how can I expect there to be space for new people and opportunities? I’m not yet willing to release my old friend, Sweets the sunbear; however, the cleats, the ski pants, the volleyball, and a whole host of other objects that have been gathering dust for years are on their way to Goodwill. There is wisdom in the adage, “Out with the old, in with the new.” New doors are opening and I will step through them lighter and freer.

What in your life have you been holding onto? What could you release today? What steps can you take to make room for new opportunities and embrace your future with open arms?

Here’s to abounding possibilities!

As we welcome the future, may we smile like this dragonfly!

Meadow’s All-American Potato Salad

As I move forward into my future and discard the things that no longer support who I am today, there are, however, many things from my past that I will carry with me. The recipe for my signature potato salad is certainly one of those things. I’ve been making this dish longer than anything else. It had its debut around the time that I played volleyball, and I’ve been making it the same way ever since. The secret is marinating finely diced onions in the pickle juice. What summer picnic is complete without potato salad?!

serves 8-10

3 lbs. gold potatoes, boiled and cut into bite-size pieces
6 large eggs, hardboiled and cut into bite-size pieces
½ cup yellow onion, finely diced
¼ cup dill pickle juice
1 cup dill pickles, chopped
a scant ¼ cup mild Dijon mustard (like Grey Poupon)
½ cup mayonnaise (plus a bit more if the potatoes are dry)
freshly ground black pepper

Boil the potatoes (skin on) in a large pot until tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes for small potatoes.  In a small pot, boil the eggs until hardboiled. While the eggs and potatoes are cooking, dice the onion. Combine the onion and the pickle juice in a large bowl and allow to marinate while you cut the pickles. Add the pickles to the onions. Drain and rinse the potatoes and eggs. Chop the potatoes and peel and chop the eggs. Combine with the onions and pickles. Add the mustard, mayonnaise, and black pepper. Stir. Enjoy.