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About a week ago I made stew.  Norm likes stew.  I like stew, too. I haven’t eaten much beef in the last 10 years, but I could enjoy the vegetables in the gravy and Norm could eat the rest.  So, I got the crock pot out of the cupboard and began to make the stew. I wanted it to be special, so I was careful to follow all the instructions I think I have ever heard on how to make it. I added herbs, onion, garlic etc.  Somewhere along the line, I remembered that Norm liked steak spice, so I also added some of that.  I also remembered that he liked the battered fish I made when it had more salt and pepper, so I added more salt and pepper. He had shared some tips from other stews that he had enjoyed like adding a bouillon cube. I had bought beef broth even though I had never used it in stew before.  I thought it could replace the bouillon cube and add flavour. I let the stew stew all day and when I did the first taste test I was confused.  It tasted horrible.  Too much of something or too much of everything.  It was bad.  I thought I had heard that you could add baking soda to counteract over-spicing, so I added that and a couple of cups of water and prayed.  It was still bad. I served it up, in small portions so we could taste it before we had more.  Norm bravely cleaned his plate.  I ate mine all the while apologizing for the spiciness.  I wasn’t just spicy.  The blend of the spices was way off.  I mean it was bad. A couple of days later the leftover stew was still in the casserole in the fridge.  We were out finishing up some Christmas shopping when Norm reached for my hand. “Are you listening?” he asked. “Yes,” I answered.” Okay, because this is important and could change our relationship, so I need you to hold my hand and pay attention.” He had my attention.  What could this be?  A revelation? or a confession? I waited for him to search for the correct way to tell me whatever it was.  Finally, he said “I can’t eat any more of your stew.  I think it needs to be thrown out. I don’t want you to be upset with me, but I think we should go out for supper tonight.” He announced sheepishly. “I agree,” I said, squeezing his hand. I was so relieved.  I started to laugh. I confessed that I didn’t want to suffer the same heartburn I had had after the first dose, and I was ready to toss it. We reaffirmed our pact to tell each other the truth even if it’s difficult to hear. Then we started comparing the offending stew to other not-even-close-to-delicious dishes we had eaten in the past and agreed to try again in the future. There is a lesson in there somewhere.  The stew seems like a metaphor for my life.  I am rarely satisfied with sticking to a formula or a recipe and always think that more is better. It’s true in my writing.  A lot of words get edited out on the second and third read. It’s true in my wardrobe. I have so many pairs of boots and sandals. Until recently I didn’t understand the wisdom of downsizing, of cutting back, of having enough … no need to buy more.  I know that I can survive comfortably with less furniture, less clothing, and fewer food choice in the fridge.  I have been adjusting. Fewer new books, fewer new shoes, reusing older items or buying second hand.  Decluttering is important, and I have been discarding and shredding documents and getting rid of things I really can do without at this stage in my life. I have also learned to NOT replace what I give away. Sometimes adding things, words, and ideas just complicates matters. I say I want a simpler life and I do. There is simply no need for as much stuff as I have collected over the years.  I knew that … but I don’t think I saw how destructive “more” could be until the stew. Keeping it simple has new meaning for me today. Meat, vegetables, a little water and time.  That’s all it needed.

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As an Executive Coach, a Professional Speaker and an author, Dr. Love gives the gift of courage and confidence to her clients... courage to make a change and confidence to make a difference. Learn more »
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