"12 Layers Deep"

Well, as you can see, I've been a little more quiet than usual on the recipe front.  Last week we were met with yet another snow day (and a half) and three sick kiddos.  Thankfully, my in-laws were here the weekend before and had us STOCKED with all kinds of goodies.  So, we basically ate out of the fridge/freezer and enjoyed some pimento cheese sandwiches, chicken salad with crackers and grapes, macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets, and homemade lasagna. 

I have to tell y'all, though, that despite being hunkered down at home for a few days, I had some wonderful experiences this past week.  I got to work with Julia Chandler of Julia's Takeaway Gourmet in her commercial kitchen and be on the "tart line" as she prepared dinner for 100+ people for an event Friday night.   It was amazing to watch her in her element, and she was kind and patient with me as I needed instructions on even the simplest tasks of slicing tomatoes and adding cheese to the tarts.  If you'd like to see a picture of us in all of our tart line glory, check out Julia's post about it, HERE on her blog.

I got to enjoy Julia's wonderful meal on Friday night while having the privilege of eating dinner with an amazing group of women and hearing Glennon Doyle Melton speak on the 5 most asked questions that she gets from women on a daily basis.  After dinner, we headed to the sanctuary of our church to hear her speak again (to a much larger crowd) while raising money for H.O.P.E., which is a non-profit whose aim is to feed hungry children here in the Winston-Salem area.  The next day, I got to hear Glennon speak again at the women's retreat at our church.  My head was truly spinning after all of these events, and I learned so many things that I can start implementing right now.  Out of everything that I heard over the weekend, the two that rang the most true were (1) leaving margin in your life and (2) being your authentic self.

When she was talking about leaving margin, she basically was saying don't "reap" to the edges of your life with your time, your energy, your talents, because, if you do, there won't be anything left for you to give.  I think most of us can relate to this.  Our days are filled with what is mostly good stuff...children, jobs, families, volunteerism, bettering ourselves... BUT, too much "good stuff" can leave us weary and with nothing left to give.  What good does it do for us or for our family/friends/strangers who can benefit from our gifts and talents if we're left pushed to (or beyond) our limits everyday?

I was the recipient of two friends "leaving margin" this week.  My very closest friend here in Winston is an incredible fifth grade teacher who has two small children and a husband to take care of when she arrives home everyday from molding the hearts and minds of her school kiddos.  Well, guess what, even she leaves margin...the other night, she left enough margin to make a meal special enough for an anniversary, birthday, etc just because she wanted to do something kind for me.  She had dinner prepared, the wine poured, the table set, and was dressed to the nines when I arrived at her house for what I thought was a late afternoon play date.  Seriously?  Another friend took the time during her day of racing three kiddos all over (along with all of the other kiddos she helps other mamas out with everyday) to drop by my house, in the rain, with some cookies we had been talking about.  What?  How in the world do these women find the time or the energy?  They leave margin, that's how.

When Glennon was talking about being your authentic self, she said that basically on the surface we are all so different, but if we go "12 layers deep," (Glennon's phrase) we are all more similar than we think in terms of our hopes, our fears, and our dreams.  This got me thinking about a challenge I recently read about "telling your story," your true story, and having it posted on the Momastery blog.  (See link below if you're interested.)
Well, here's the thing, my story doesn't involve anything that is totally outrageous and that would become a New York Times bestseller because of crazy, unpredictable plot twists, and there are lots of people I love involved in my story whose permission I would have to get before throwing everything out there into the great unknown.  With that said, mine is a story of great love, joy, heartache, loss, hope, and redemption much like, I am sure, a lot of yours are.  So, here's my thought...rather than posting my story out on the web for all the world to read, (okay, maybe the handful of strangers that would read it) I am going to start writing my story for just me, and I'm going to ask a few of my close friends here if they'll do the same.  Then, my hope is that we will share our stories with each other...or at least parts of our stories...the whole story, our story today, our year's story, our hope for the future story, whatever they're comfortable with today.  Now, I haven't approached them with this yet, but we did have a meeting the other night recapping the weekend where we all opened up about SOMETHING, (struggles with children, struggles with balance, struggles with loneliness, deep thoughts about starfish) and it was powerful.

I have an amazing group of girls that already knows my story.  We all met in college and continue to have a reunion at least once a year and continually catch up on each other's lives via our email banter that we constantly have going.  I can tell them ANYTHING, and when we get together we talk about EVERYTHING.  And when I say everything, I really mean EVERYTHING.  These are the deepest, most authentic relationships I have because we let ourselves be vulnerable with one another...and this is my story with all of my best girlfriends...from Augusta, from Nashville, from Scottsdale, from Winston and beyond. They are the ones that have let me into their hearts and have allowed me to do the same.  These people are so important because they can see things in you that sometimes you, yourself can't see. They look into your soul and know when you're elated, when you're thriving, when you're floundering, and when you're drowning...no matter how you may appear on the outside...believe me, I've tried to hide behind a smile, and it's exhausting, and I've gotten caught in my own headspace, and it backfires...terribly.  It is so much easier to live with your true self out in the open than to hide behind insecurities, anger, fear, rejection, shame, drama. This is what leads to "real" friendships.  Authentic friendship is the only friendship I really know how to do.  The other stuff makes me nervous and makes my closet-introvert self very uncomfortable because I don't really know how to do small talk over long periods of time. (Right, Star?)

We all have a story to share.  We all have hopes, fears, dreams, disappointments, things that overwhelm us, things we'd rather hide, and things we have found to make us stronger.  We all have something others can relate to.  We all have gifts to give through our words.  We all have reasons behind the way that we behave and relate to other people.  We all have blessings to give by opening up and being vulnerable.  And this is why I want to keep the chain going.  Now, I'm not saying to start complaining and to just air your dirty laundry all over the place, but I am saying to find someone you trust, whether you've known them for a while or whether they're a newer acquaintance that could use a friend.  Share your story and ask them theirs. I am going to continue sharing my crazy self with friends both old and new knowing that this is the way to truly live life..."12 layers deep."

Happy Cooking!

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