When it’s effortless

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I’m sitting in a small corner coffee shop. I’ve just ordered a deliciously frothy yet strong cortado. But it’s not ready yet. So neither am I. My head is just a little foggy and I do things gingerly, each keystroke ever so gentle lest I misspeak. Like a true caffeine junkie.

Everyone who walks in this place is stylish. It’s funny how you can walk from one neighborhood, one street really, to the next and the people change so drastically. There’s a girl sitting next to me in high-waisted denim shorts and a fitted royal blue sweatshirt. She’s wearing little red ankle socks with her white sneakers. She looks impeccable. I wish you could see her. So polished yet casual.

Another woman ordering her coffee is wearing a loose black jumpsuit and black leather slingbacks. Her hair is long, blond, and still damp from a shower. She is going for effortless and nailing it (not in the ironic sense).

I love how inspired I feel by the people in this city. I myself am wearing the same denim swing dress and long drapey grey sweater cardigan I’ve been wearing for exactly one week, every time I step out of the house. You see I had a very minor surgery that required a few stitches on my tummy, and to be extra cautious I haven't wanted to wear pants. Okay fine, I admit it, I never want to wear pants. Who does? I will add though that I am wearing white ankle socks and white keds, and feel I am striking a delicate balance between mom-ish and girlish, which I find quite feminine and dare I say a little sexy in a demure way?  I, too, did not bother to style my hair before leaving home but I am not sure I am pulling off the look the way the woman who is just ordered her coffee is. I’ve only been in New York for a few years and these things take time.

I did not come here today to talk about surgery (boring/ew) or effortless fashion (hahaha/not my forte). I wanted to talk about some other effortless thing. That thing is the magic that happens, in (for me) not the closet, but the kitchen, when you least expect it.

The other night I walked into the kitchen without a plan, and produced a perfect meal a few minutes later. I used what I found in the kitchen, rather than making a special trip to the grocery store in order to follow a specific recipe. I surprised myself by how easily and skillfully I was able to get garlic and ginger sizzling in a pan and cucumbers quick pickled in a rice vinegar dressing. I enjoyed every minute, all twenty of them, until I had in front of me seared salmon with a soy-mirin glaze, veggie fried rice made from leftover takeout, and a pickled cucumber salad. It tasted delicious and I was proud to serve it to my little ones, who were happy customers.

Contrast that experience with one I had the other night when I made something else that shall not be mentioned. Sure it turned out fine but I was following a recipe too closely and making things more difficult than they needed to be, and felt a sense of obligation to finish it rather than a desire - and I certainly was not in the moment; instead I fretting about the end result needing to be perfect - and the end result was that it was not.

It’s easy to see the lesson here, and to apply it to your life in general. What made my meal work makes other things in life work, too.

  • Be resourceful; often you’ll find the right ingredients right in front of you.

  • Don’t underestimate yourself, you know more than you think and have valuable skills you’ve acquired over the years that will contribute to the success of your endeavors.

  • Stay present and engaged in the process, for worrying too much about the end result before you’re there will only trip you up.

  • Finally, put love into it.

Don’t worry if it doesn’t always happen just the way you want it to. Sometimes it will, and when it does it feels pretty awesome.

Also, I got my cortado, and it’s perfect!