Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Safe Havens: Food for thought

We all have places where we can go either figuratively or literally to feel safe. For some of us it is a place that's easily accessible and we live our day primarily in a safe place whereas for others it's only a state of mind or a brief moment that is not easy to get to. For many of us, food provides a sense of safety and security. That is what comfort food is all about. It is food that reminds us of a time or place, usually in our childhood, where we felt safe without knowing there was any other way to feel.

I am writing from a place of privelege. I'm a minority only by being a woman. I have shelter, a healthy family, a supportive and thriving extended family, and the means to provide well for them. However, I still feel like the world I present to my kids and my family isn't the right one. It's safe, but it is hectic.

We're living in a time and a culture of frenzy. I often feel like I was born in the wrong era. I think the hard hands-on work of being a pioneer woman is more "me". Yes, I wouldn't have modern medicine, a car and all the "luxuries" of my life. However, when I really look at those luxuries (except maybe modern medicine) I would happily trade them to be able to feel that I'm living my life. Instead I feel that my family has been tied to a horse and we're being dragged through our life. One luxury of pioneer times was their built in slow food movement.

Back to safe havens. We don't take into account that every family needs caretakers and it's not an "on the side" kind of job. Our grandparents and parents age and our children, in sickness and in health, need us as they grow. Not only are our families spread out across the nation and the globe, but our time is spent at work, thinking about work, getting to work, and unwinding from work. With the recent Safe Haven law in Nebraska catching everyone off guard, a spotlight has been placed on families who have abandoned children that they have raised for up to 17 years. On the news you hear how shocked and horrified people are that children (not infants) are being given up. But if you think about the personal cost of medical care in this country, the lack of support for families of children with special needs in many parts of the country, and the pressures of every day life, I don't think it would be too hard to imagine. Take your life and start stripping away some of the privileges you may have (health, a job, health insurance, a home, family/friends to support you, a car or public transportation, food for your family, self confidence, dignity)add a child or several children and perhaps one tragedy (loss, mental health problems, addiction, medical problem, ailing family members) and you can quickly see that a difficult life could become unbearable and one could conceiveably want more for one's children.

As I said before, I am writing from a place of privilege. My state allows me to be married to my husband. I have all I need, and more, for a good life, but still I don't think I provide a safe haven or the kind of safe haven I would like for my family to have. My needs and wants for my family are about balance and calm. This time of year, especially everyone gets into a frenzy with the holidays. I don't like that my children see their parents over-tired and worn out more often than not. It's ironic because it's their lack of sleep at the moment that is pushing the envelope on that front. I think we have to slow down and adjust our priorities a little bit. It's hard when the rest of the city and the rest of the country, and more and more the rest of the world is moving at hurricane speed around you, but I think it's important for me and for us to find a way to spend at least a good portion of our time in the eye of the storm. My goal this "holiday season" is to start trudging towards that calm still place. I'm going to try to bring as many people with me as I can, but I won't be able to do it alone. A meal is a good place to start. Sit down with someone, family, friend, daughter, son, neighbour and have a meal. Turn off your cell phone and set aside an hour (or if you must half an hour) to just be with the person you are with, enjoying food; feeding your self in the safe haven of uninterrupted time, nourishing food, conversation, and good company.
For more info: On Point with Tom AshbrookS