Photographs by Meadow Linn

Monday, August 26, 2013

Skipping for Joy

As I grow older, I’m becoming more and more like my mom.

Recently I’ve discovered myself doing some of the things that she would do when I was a kid that embarrassed me to death. For instance, a few weeks ago I was at Disneyland for a family reunion. Each morning when we neared the entrance gate and I heard the happy music, without even meaning to, I found myself skipping. Yup. Skipping. This was exactly what my mom would do at Disneyland when I was a kid, and it drove me crazy.

Skipping for Joy
So, what is it about adolescence that makes us eschew unfettered delight and giddiness? Why is it that as teenagers our cool factor is often based on how uncool we find everyone and everything else? Isn’t it more fun to be accepting and joyful?

Although I was surprised and even a bit embarrassed to discover I was skipping down Main Street and humming “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” (Have I really become my mom?), I also realized I didn’t care anymore. There was so much joy in my toes that I couldn’t help but skip.

This reminded me of an incident from a few years ago. I was strolling down a busy street in Santa Monica, enjoying the afternoon sunshine on my way to the Promenade. Behind me I heard a voice say, “Miss.” Assuming the woman was talking to someone else, I kept going. But then I heard again, “Miss. Miss. Excuse me.” So, finally, I turned around. She said, “I’m sorry to bother you, but… your skirt is tucked into your underwear.”

I’d been walking down the street with my entire backside exposed for the world to see! A few years earlier I would have most likely run home and hid under the blankets, but this time, my cheeks didn’t even turn pink. I thanked the woman, casually pulled my cotton skirt from my underwear, and then continued on my way, as though this type of thing happened all the time.

Santa Monica Promenade
In that moment, I realized there was more joy to be had in carrying onward than there was in dwelling on who may or may not have seen my backside. It was eye opening to learn that there was more to be gained from finding humor in the situation than there was by being upset. So, I continued, unperturbed, to the Promenade where I spent a lovely afternoon.

Although the circumstances were different, skipping at Disneyland provided me with a similar decision. Allow myself to be embarrassed or go for what gave me the most pleasure? For a brief moment I thought, “Oh, my God! I’m doing exactly what my mom used to do. So embarrassing!” Fleetingly, I thought about what my extended family would think as they saw me bound from place to place with a Cheshire cat grin on my face, but then I realized that whatever possible embarrassment I might have (or others would feel for me) was dwarfed by the joy I felt when permitting myself to be carried away by the moment.

There were bubbles everywhere at Disneyland!
What brings you joy? Is it worth giving up some of your delight in order to follow a certain status quo? I used to think it was more important to follow the “rules” and not rock the boat than it was to relish the moment, but I’m learning that a lot can be gained from occasionally abandoning the “shoulds” and following our bliss. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather skip than walk when the mood strikes.

  Joyful Japanese Cucumber Salad

Although the food at Disneyland has come a long way (they even cater to food allergies and sensitivities), one thing I found lacking was the availability of fresh vegetables. Luckily, I kept a stash of homegrown cucumbers in the hotel room!

In addition to skipping at Disneyland, you might also find me skipping when I create a delicious dish that stands the test of time. Japanese Cucumber Salad has been one of my mainstays for many years and has delighted many guests at events I’ve catered. It’s an especially delicious accompaniment to seared ahi tuna or miso poached lingcod.

Serves 4

2 cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
½ small red or sweet yellow onion, thinly sliced (about ¾ cup)
2-3 Tbsp. thin slices of ginger (from a 2-inch piece)
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. Himalayan salt

Peel the cucumbers and then either slice by hand or with a food processor fitted with a slicing disc. To get the most uniformly thin slices, cut the onion by hand, though this can also be done with a food processor if you prefer. Peel the ginger. There are two ways to slice the ginger: 1) Run it through the food processor lengthwise (on its side) using the same slicing disc as for the cucumber, then use a knife to cut thin julienne strips from the slices. 2) Use a vegetable peeler to make thin ginger “ribbons,” which you may or may not need to chop smaller.

Toss the cucumbers with the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Like many of us, this salad improves with age, so allow it to sit for about an hour before serving and toss occasionally to make sure the cucumbers are evenly coated. Enjoy! 

Here's to welcoming whatever comes with open arms and skipping for joy!!

1 comment:

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