Wednesday, June 13, 2012

When I Wrote a Book

Gypsy Slow Down

When I was fifteen I wrote a book. It was a book for girls about beauty and self-image, something I struggled with. I was 5'11 by the time I was fourteen and very scrawny and shy with glasses and braces. My sisters used to call me Stick Stickly. Right now I wouldn't mind if someone called me that! But back then I didn't want to be the tallest and skinniest person in the room. When we would go to family get-togethers everyone would exclaim to my older sister, "Oh my goodness, you are just so beautiful!" She had long flaxen blond hair (I've always wanted to write flaxen!) and a lovely wide smile and easy charm. I could have had easy charm too, except when people saw me they said, "CLAIRE! When are you going to stop growing? Are you playing basketball yet?"  Kind of takes the wind out of your sails. Obviously, people just wanted something to say. They weren't trying to be unkind. They thought it was cool to have a niece that was so tall. But when you are fifteen, everything is a big deal and to me not feeling pretty was devastating.

I sent my book off. And Focus on the Family wanted to publish it.

Gypsy Slow Down

Publish it! At fifteen! It was a dream. But as so often happens in the publishing world (not that I really know, having never actually been published except in my university's creative writing newspaper) at the last minute they decided to go in a different direction.

Looking back, I totally understand. And I am glad it didn't get published. Because if I wrote it now, I would say something a little different.

I would tell myself at fifteen to be grateful.

I would write a book telling young girls to look in the mirror and write down at least five things they are thankful for about their appearance everyday. My list could have looked like this:

1) I have my legs, they are not amputated
2) I have big, nice eyes
3) I am not sick or have cancer
4) I have a family who loves me, who paid for me to have braces so I will one day not have pirate teeth
5) I have glasses, because without them I would be legally blind in one eye! And pretty much blind in the other!

Gypsy Slow Down

I am not discounting the way I felt back then and others who feel the same way. It was a hard time to go through. I cried myself to sleep a lot of nights. But I wish I could have known that what I really needed was gratitude. Praise. That God had given me so much that I took for granted.

I am thankful for that time, for struggling and for not thinking I was pretty and popular. Because when I look back it reminds me to be grateful now, even if things seem hard at the moment. Even if self-image is not something I struggle with very much anymore, there are other areas of my life where I need to practice gratitude.

And I hope that even in what might feel like the worst of times I can remember to do that.

And of course in the best of times!

Like a delicious meal. Last night, I got off work and came home to find Witt making Green Goddess Dressing. Witt is a big man, 6'3 with a beard and football player shoulders. We barely fit into the kitchen together since the kitchen is the size of a small closet. But when he gets in there alone, I am always pleasantly surprised. He really has a knack for flavor balance. The dressing was lemony, rich with the herbs and so good that we ate it just over greens, nothing else in the salad. It was perfect with grilled beef kebabs.

Gypsy Slow Down

I love kebabs! Growing up my parents would often skewer pineapple, peppers, onions and chicken and grill them often during the summer. It's a throwback to the eighties, and I think it needs to come back in full force. Of course, in Greek restaurants, they are already doing this with meat. One tip that I should have taken from them is to cook the meat and vegetables separately, especially if you are doing beef. This is kind of a no-brainer, since you barely cook beef and you need to really cook the veggies. But nonetheless it escaped me and the meat was a tiny bit tough.

I marinated the beef overnight in garlic, olive oil, dill, lime, basil, and a splash of greek dressing. Here is the yummy goddess dressing that Witt made.

Green Goddess Dressing

1/2 cup White Wine
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Equal parts fresh Rosemary, Dill, Oregano, Basil, Parsley to make about 1 cup
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Juice from one lime

Blend everything in a food processor. Adjust herbs to taste. Enjoy!

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