Essential Ingredients


We spend a lot of time thinking about ourselves. We revere self-reflection. But that image you see is devoid of consciousness, lacking a soul: warped, turn, and colored by the mirror you look into.

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I watched my Ballet students many days staring, searching, looking for that element in the mirror which would lead them to grace. I told them to look away. I told them to feel. I told them to ask. I told them not to think quite so much. I told them not to be afraid. Reflection teaches only small lessons; dancing teaches larger ones.

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If there is one quality that I would define as maturity it is having the self confidence to ask questions.

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No longer in a relational universe, can we study anything as separate from ourselves.  Our acts of observation are part of the process that brings forth the manifestation of what we are observing. – Margaret Wheatley

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“He lived at a little distance from his body, regarding his own acts with doubtful side-glances. He had an odd autobiographical habit which led him to compose in his mind from time to time a short sentence about himself containing a subject in the third person and a verb in the past tense.”  – James Joyce, Dubliners

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“They walked back to the chopping block, Claire carrying the crab in her hands. Helen paused. “You know, I’d like to ask you something a friend asked me once, if you don’t think it’s too personal.”

“What is it?”

“What do you do that makes you happy? Just you?”

Claire looked at Helen for a moment and thought, the crab resting on the block beneath her hands.

“I was just wondering,” Helen continued. “No one ever asked me when I was your age, and I think it’s a good thing to think about.”

Claire nodded. Then she took the cleaver and cut the crab into ten pieces.”
― Erica BauermeisterThe School of Essential Ingredients

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Once a month, eight students gather in Lillian’s restaurant for a cooking class. Among them is Claire, a young woman coming to terms with her new identity as a mother; Tom, a lawyer whose life has been overturned by loss; Antonia, an Italian kitchen designer adapting to life in America; and Carl and Helen, a long-married couple whose union contains surprises the rest of the class would never suspect… 

The students have come to learn the art behind Lillian’s soulful dishes, but it soon becomes clear that each seeks a recipe for something beyond the kitchen. And soon they are transformed by the aromas, flavors, and textures of what they create. 

Available at Amazon.com, of course.

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