I’m known as a curious person. I ask a lot of questions. I like knowing things and the answers make me feel more connected to the person I’m asking. As annoying as I’m sure it probably is to be on the receiving end of my badgering, know that I’m well intentioned.
Many years ago I stopped asking people how they were doing or what they were working on. Often times we’re not working on ANYthing, we’re in between things, or hustling for the next thing. And then of course that answer leads to a notsogreat answer for the ‘how are you doing’ part.
It’s so easy to wrap our value and worth around what we’re working on. Or NOT working on. It defines us. You know the whole ‘process isn’t as important as the product’ thing. Now I’m all for accomplishing stuff. I’m the first to tell you my good news. But I also know that the actionable steps, the planning, the checking things off the list - that’s the real work. And should almost be celebrated more than the actual accomplishment.
I digress... In my accosting friends and family with my queries, I started with a new tactic to get information. I say, ‘tell me something good. You’re happy and healthy?’ I kind of only give good options. (I know this is totally annoying too.)
I think it’s important to offer someone a lifeline in conversation. I lead with a positive because we all have problems. Just like we have skin and teeth and hair. We all have something going on in relationships or work that is bringing us down. Oftentimes, the retelling of it just makes it worse.
And yes, I will be your best friend and listen to you complain about it as long as you need me to. And you better believe I have a list of complaints, so get ready to hear mine too. But let’s look for something good to take our mind off the problems first. Once we get to the bad stuff, we’ve disarmed it a bit. Released the grip of gloom and doom with a little bit of joy.
Well up until five months ago, my healthy and happy lifeline conversation game took on a whole new meaning. I now ask about someone’s health in a whole new way. My empathy and compassion muscles have expanded. I wanna know about your doctors appointments and test results. But I also pay close attention to the happy part.
Interestingly, through my whole five months of tests, diagnosis, surgery, and recovery - I remained my happy self. Was I scared? Yes. Was it a drag? Yes. Was I in pain? Yes. Did this whole process of THIS or THAT and organ removal get to rob me of my inherent joy? Abso. Lutely. Not.
Now I know there are so many of us that don’t have inherent joy, can’t access it, fight clinical depression, and really suffer. It would be irresponsible and cruel for me to try to push happiness and positivity onto anyone, especially these precious souls. I don’t push it ON to anyone in fact. Instead, I try to draw it OUT of you.
The thing I learned about my summer of health issues is that it didn’t define me. It happened to me. How we react to what happens is who we are. We are not what happened. Make sense? We don’t always have control of what happens, but we do have a say in how we want to feel about it, what actions we want to take, and where we want to go from here.
Just like we aren’t defined by the product of the ‘what are you working on?’ Even if it’s the best news ever, it’s not us. It’s happening to and for us. That’s it. When someone rejects us in a breakup, fires us, sentences us to a disease, or whatever rotten thing you can think of, it’s just a rotten thing, right? I’m still alive. Living. Breathing. Sun shining on my face. Eating and drinking delicious things. There are a ton of not rotten things happening to me too. I just have to remember them.
A few months ago we moved our dad into a nursing home. He was such a good sport about it and the transition was better than we could have hoped. My dad and I speak nearly every day. Usually in the mornings. It is the sweetest thing. And something we had never ever done before.
As you can imagine, his health is not great. Literally from the tops of his ears to the bottom of his toes, Daddy Sam is in chronic pain. You might also imagine the newness wearing off and there are less good things happening around him, so yeah, his happiness levels are not always that great either.
So I greet him everyday with ‘tell me something good.’ I know he’ll have a litany of complaints; what aches, how he felt forgotten or perhaps mistreated by a care giver, that he’s worried about our mom, etc. I want to hear those too to know that he’s alright, but sometimes we cut the bad stuff off at the pass. We get to laughing about something else or caught up in a sweet story and then it’s time to hang up. And I leave my dad smiling about something. The bad news never even got to see the light of day!
I make a joke all the time saying, ”There’s no good news.” I mean, the actual news just bites these days, right? Plus, the older we get and the older our parents get, there is definitely less good stuff happening in our fields of health and wellness. So isn’t it kind of our duty to scramble for light and goodness wherever we can?
Try it out. Throw someone a conversational lifeline and cut the bad stuff off at the pass. “Tell me something good. You’re happy and healthy?”
I have had the great good fortune of cooking for new mothers who are nursing this last month. I’ve also taken on some new families with young children. Part of my job is to keep my clients actually happy with my food and healthy and nourished as well. This recipe takes care of that on all fronts. It’s a health(ier) snack with betterforyou ingredients, that tastes like a real treat. And don’t treats make everyone happy?
Date And Almond Butter Balls
1 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup almond butter (or whatever nut/seed butter you like)
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 tablespoons ground flax
1 tablespoon chia seed
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Place the dates in the bowl of a food processor and process until the dates are broken down and form a sticky ball.
To the food processor, add in the nut butter, oats, flax seed and chia seeds, cinnamon and salt. Process again until the batter becomes crumbly, which may take up to 2 minutes.
Add in the coconut oil and maple syrup. Process until smooth and sticky, but still firm.
Scoop the dough with a spoon then roll it between your hands to form balls. Place them on a baking sheet, and then transfer the pan to the fridge to help them firm up, about an hour.
Keep them refrigerated in a sealed container until you’ve eaten the last one!