Tiny Beautiful Things. Have you read this book? Its subtitle states Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar. It’s a collection of letters submitted to then answered by Cheryl Strayed, the award winning author, who has an advice column.
The book has been around for a while and was passed along to me by one of my best friends. It sat on my pile of ‘things to get to’ for well over two years. I reluctantly started reading the book this summer. I read it like a snail might read... slowly. I read it like a sloth might read... lazily. I just wasn’t invested in these problems of strangers, or the seemingly self-indulgent answers by this celebrated woman. I was annoyed that these people were baring their souls and that they were being made public for my reading "enjoyment". I was annoyed that when faced with life's problems they didn’t know what to do.
Mostly, I wasn’t turned on by the idea of advice. My relationships don’t involve advice. I don’t ask for it, I don’t give it. My friends don’t ask for it and they don’t give it. You know why? None of us need to know what we should do based on someone else’s opinion of what we should do. We KNOW what we should do. We have the answers inside of us. Usually, these answers are hidden away, pushed down, buried deep. We forgot about them or we’re avoiding them. What’s special about having relationships is helping each other uncover those answers and get to our truth.
I can scoop away some sadness from your heart so you can see your true joy inside. You can clear away the cobwebs from my anger to help me find my way to forgiveness. Sometimes we can listen to the experience of others and that holds up a mirror to our own experience that will direct us to a right action or a solution to our problem.
I had the Tiny Beautiful Things book with me while riding the subway a few months ago with my friend who gave it to me. He took it out of my hands and started flipping through it. He wanted to see where I was in the book. I told him there was no narrative to follow, just random letters, so I couldn't really tell where I was in my reading. He ignored me and kept trying to gauge my progress in the book. He seemed to be looking for something.
Not long after this subway ride, I read a letter in the book that made me slam it shut. Aha! This letter is the whole reason this book was passed along to me. This is what my friend was trying to find out — had I reached this particular letter yet?
If I was going to write a letter asking for advice about anything, this would be my letter. It was almost like I’d written it myself. But I didn’t and I would never ask for advice from my most loved people, let alone a stranger in her advice column. You know why? Because I know what I should do. The answers are inside of me. Hidden away. Pushed down. Buried deep. My friend was not giving me advice, he was on a mission to help me uncover my own truth. Sigh.
After that letter in the book, I suddenly was invested in everyone’s story and all of the ‘advice’ given. I could relate to nearly every letter that followed. I stopped reading like a snail or sloth and read like the book worm I am.
I realized that Dear Sugar’s answers were not self-indulgent at all. She was holding up her own stories and experiences as a mirror to help her readers see their own experience more clearly. And who am I to judge their bravery for baring their souls and asking for help? (Well, for starters, I’m a brat... )
Here are some wisdoms from Dear sugar that I wrote into my journal:
“Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you'll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you'll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.”
"Self-pity is a dead-end road. You make the choice to drive down it. It's up to you to decide to stay parked there or to turn around and drive out.”
“Trusting yourself means living out what you already know to be true.”
“But we can’t erase our lives. We can’t change what our mothers or fathers or step-parents were like or what demons or gods ruled them or when they died or how. We can only change who we are in relation to them. We can revise how we narrate those stories of our lives.”
“Whatever happens to you belongs to you. Make it yours. Feed it to yourself even if it feels impossible… Let it nurture you, because it will.”
At the end of the book, I felt cozy and comforted. I felt like I had made a new friend and we had just shared a long dinner of comfort food. Hearty and warming food full of love and nourishment. Like meatloaf! I made this meatloaf with some very special Tiny Beautiful Things: Stoneridge Orchards’ dried cherries. It’s a modern twist on a beloved classic.
TURKEY MEATLOAF WITH DRIED CHERRY GLAZE
- 2 lb. ground turkey
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cup seasoned dry breadcrumbs
- 1 cup celery, finely minced
- 1 cup carrots, finely minced
- 1 Tbsp ketchup
- 1 Tbsp mustard
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 3/4 cup Stoneridge Orchards Montmorency dried cherries
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1 Tbsp honey
Preheat oven to 350˚
For Meatloaf: Mix turkey, eggs, breadcrumbs, minced vegetables, 1 Tbsp ketchup, mustard, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl by hand until well incorporated. Divide mixture between 2 greased loaf pans. Bake for 30 minutes. While loaves are in the oven, make the glaze.
For Glaze: Place cherries, vinegar, and water in a small bowl and let sit for 10 minutes to allow the cherries to plump. Pulse cherry mixture and remaining glaze ingredients in food processor until a smooth sauce is formed.
To Finish: After 30 minutes remove meat loaves from oven and invert onto a sheet pan. Pour the glaze over the loaves and bake another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool slightly before serving.
Tip: Once fully cool, you can wrap and freeze the second loaf for later!