Food,  Happiness,  Holidays

The First Step to Happiness

There is an epidemic of unhappiness in this world. We don’t want to talk about it since unhappiness is now called “depression.” Depression is a bad word because it now means that we’re crazy and we need to go talk to a psychiatrist or take some drugs.

The stigma surrounding unhappiness makes it hard to discuss openly. Our current social climate makes it almost dangerous to discuss. So what do we do when we feel the darkness encroaching?

I believe that the things that have been programmed into us by society are the major triggers of unhappiness. We’ve been taught from birth that we have to look a certain way, act a certain way, earn a certain amount of money (more is better), and own a certain type of stuff. It is almost as if they want us to feel bad about ourselves to drive us towards impossible goals or simple insanity.

But we can step off of that hamster wheel. We can begin to change the programming. Maybe if enough of us do it we will even begin to change society as well.

The first step to happiness is related to that.

Honesty.

We have to start being honest with ourselves. We have to admit that there are things that we don’t like, don’t enjoy, or simply can’t afford.

In order to begin making changes to the world we need to be open with our honesty. I’ll begin.

Confession

I have an issue with cooking.

When I would get hungry as a child, there were times when I wanted to fix something on the stove to eat. My mother would be busy taking a nap or watching a television show, so I wouldn’t want to disturb her. I just wanted to toast a cheese sandwich on the stove or whatever.

Whenever I would begin, my mother would attack me. I was going to burn the house down. I was going to dirty the kitchen. I was wasting food. The litany was so horrible that I eventually quit trying.

As a result of that, aside from a few simple dishes my father taught me, I didn’t learn how to cook.

And when I reached adulthood, it showed.

I’ve set the stove on fire. I have burned things beyond recognition. When I tried to correct that, I prepared food that wasn’t near done enough on the inside.

I’ve watched people quietly spit my food out in distaste. I’ve seen them sneak it to the animals or scrape it in the trash. I’ve had people vomit after one of my meals. I even shattered one of my teeth after a particularly desperate attempt.

My lack of cooking skills quickly became legend. I’ve suffered from teasing for decades from people who would try to teach me and fail in the attempt.

While I have gotten to the point where I can make some simple dishes, I cringe at the thought of trying to prepare something new. It appears that I am stuck with the limited repertiore of dishes that my dad taught me as a child.

I am almost fifty years old. If you watch television, that means I should be able to cook like a madwoman, taking almost anything in a pantry to whip up something wholesome and delicious.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

This is why I very rarely share recipes on this website or in my books. I am an atrocious cook and I know it.

So it is time to be honest now.

I cannot cook. I’ve reached the point in my life where I don’t even have the desire to try. I am content with eating meals out of a can or a box, supplementing with the simple stuff my dad taught me how to prepare. If I want something more substantial I’ll visit a friend’s house to bum a meal or go to a local restaurant.

I am the woman who can tear your computer apart, fix what’s broken, and put it back together. I am the woman who can change the oil in your car without breaking a sweat. I am even the woman who can take wood scraps and build a sturdy porch.

But I am not the woman who knows how to cook.

According to our society, that makes me a failure. Even worse, in the frugality arena where I roam, that makes me a spendthrift since I spend more on eating out than I do on groceries because I happen to like food–I just can’t cook it.

My first step at achieving happiness is to not only be honest about that fact but to share it with the intention of giving the middle finger to a society determined to shove my round peg into the square hole called “cooking.” I no longer enjoy even attempting to cook and I am okay with that. I am who I am; if someone doesn’t like it they can keep out of my life.

This Christmas my daughter will be preparing dinner. I will contribute with a batch of deviled eggs (dad taught me how to make them) but otherwise I will stay out of the kitchen so she can work her culinary magic.

I accept that part of myself so society can kiss my ass. It’s safer for myself and those around me if I leave the cooking to the experts so I intend to do just that.

I have other things I can be honest about as well. I don’t really care what color my walls are or if my decorations all match. I don’t care if my yard is perfectly manicured or my house is spotless. I have many interests in my life but those are not among them.

If society wants to judge me for that, let them. The clock is ticking on my life so I have decided to no longer care. If someone wants to criticize me for my limitations I will drop my pants and show them where they can kiss. Heaven knows I’ve got the real estate back there.

What do you want to be honest about with this coming decade? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

And if you happen to know of someone who doesn’t know how to cook either, instead of criticizing them, why not send them this link so they know that they are not alone? Even better, why not gift them with a visit to their favorite restaurant or cook them a meal? Once they realize that you aren’t making fun of them they will appreciate it immensely.

8 Comments

  • Linda Sand

    I can’t cook more than a few dishes, either. I also bring deviled eggs to family dinners. Otherwise our holiday dinners are either pre-cooked turkey breast or pre-sliced ham made into sandwiches.

    But the big shock to my neighbors in this very upscale apartment complex is that all our furnishings came from IKEA. They suit us well.

    • Annie

      Hi, Linda!

      I like IKEA furniture. From what I’ve seen, the pieces they design are beautiful! I’ve focused on metal furnishings here since I live in a flood zone. While the experts claim that another flood like the one in 1997 shouldn’t happen again in my lifetime, I am skeptical so I’ve planned accordingly. I may lose some things if this place ever floods but my primary pieces are all wash-and-wear. I’ll drag them outside, scrub them down with a water hose and disinfectant, and place them back in service. It’s the primary reason why I adore metal furnishings.

  • Karen

    My husband does most of the cooking for good reason! When I have to bring a dish somewhere I buy something from the deli and put it in a bowl- or just bring the container. I don’t care about my clothes and dress for comfort. Gave up wearing makeup for my 40th birthday and jewelry for my 50th birthday. My house is set up for our comfort and I pretty much do what I want these days. Been thinking about what I want to be honest about in the new decade and what I want to focus on. Want to do something I’ve never done before while I still can. Not sure what that something is yet.

    • Annie

      Let me know what you come up with, Karen! I’m still trying to think of something new to do with this new decade myself!

  • Deirdre

    Hey, if I could build a porch I’d never shut up about myself! I can’t cook, build a porch or mend a computer so you’re two up on me.

    • Annie

      Bwahahaha! One of these days I’ll have to dig up a picture of that old porch. When I left my husband I moved into an old mobile home I owned; the porch was large and sagging in the middle (as well as becoming wobbly). I tore it apart, scrounged some fresh lumber to replace the rotten pieces, and built a much smaller porch. I passed that trailer the other day and it is STILL going strong.

  • Tammara L Mills

    Honesty… let’s see. I’m feminine but I can’t decorate for shit! I look at magazines with pretty throws scattered about and knick-knacks tastefully placed in key places and for all of about 3 seconds I get excited and think “I can do that!”. No, no I can’t. I really can’t. And I accept that. If I see things like that sitting out in what should otherwise be a clear space, I will fold things up and put them away. I hate knick-knacks. They are lovely in someone else’s home. They really are but unless they also have a practical purpose, I hate them. I’ll hang stuff on the walls but I hate dusting things that just sit there. My tastes are a little Spartan I think. I think I was affected by my 5 brothers and my dad. So… feminine with heavy male influence? Idk. I just suck at decorating and that’s ok. I can live with that.

    I’ve come to accept that I am for the most part a very gentle person. I used to fight against that idea and struggled to prove that I’m a badass. Well, I am but not in an obvious way. I’m gentle, mothering, and I like certain old-fashioned ideas. I won’t shout my opinions from the rooftops because they are unpopular but I won’t apologize for them either. This is me. Love me or fuck off.

    Love, luck, and lollipops!

    • Annie

      Hello, Tammara!

      I guess I’m the one shouting from the rooftops these days lol! I’ve been blogging for over a decade now so I don’t see any point in stopping now!