We all have it. When I was little, mine was peanut butter and jelly sandwiches...on WHITE bread (had to be white)...FOLDED over (not sliced). I ate it every single day...except for that day we were all out of supplies and I had to have bologna instead...never mind - let's not talk about that.
Back to comfort food...what's yours? Maybe it's mashed potatoes, mac 'n' cheese, french fries, popcorn, waffles...the possibilities are endless. But one thing is for sure - it's called "comfort food" because it's more than just food to you. It's something tangible that tells your emotions, "Everything's going to be okay." And as silly as it sounds...you know that it's absolutely true!
For Pati Jinich, comfort food takes the shape of flavorful, unique recipes featuring ingredients from her home country of Mexico. In her own words, she comes "from a family of accomplished cooks and food maniacs...absolute maniacs." Later, as an adult living in Texas, Pati began teaching her neighbors her favorite recipes. Even through all her non-food-related ventures, she could not stop thinking about food!
Her husband encouraged her to follow her passion, and she decided to go for it. Now she has multiple awards, nominations, cookbooks, and a television show - all centered around food!
Pati is a firm believer in comfort food. A theme that comes up in her show is her unique way of navigating homesickness. When she misses Mexico, she heads to the kitchen and cooks. Her recipes deliberately use ingredients that remind her of home with their fragrances and tastes. What a great idea!
So, if you enjoy tasty food and down-to-earth people, you have to check out Pati’s website. She also has a Facebook page and a Pinterest page. AND...you can also watch full episodes of Pati’s Mexican Table on public television or Amazon Prime. You will not regret it - in fact, you'll probably be cooking up something tasty in your kitchen soon after, and possibly discovering something that just might become your own new favorite comfort food!
“Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.”
“That person’s a real diamond in the rough.”
“Neil Diamond’s music is top-notch.”
These are all verifiable and true statements in our culture about diamonds (except that one about diamonds being a girl’s best friend, as it’s actually usually puppies or chocolate).
What was I saying? Oh, yes - diamonds. They’re everywhere in culture, as well as many a chick flick and Pinterest search history and "wedding dream board." But then, there’s also...
I don’t like these words, and I’m sure you don’t either. In fact, for some time I’ve avoided watching the movie about this type of diamond (you know, the Leo DiCaprio one) because I imagine that a lot of tears would be involved. I’ve known for awhile that there are terrible conditions surrounding diamond mining in the world, and I know that when looking for jewelry, people should specifically purchase “conflict free” diamonds.
Hearing the detailed realities about conflict diamonds can be really hard to process. It makes me want to put on my superhero gear and go storming into these places and take out any evildoers in sight. But I don't have any superhero gear (yet), and the corruption in these places runs deep.
So what can anyone do?
Well, recently I discovered the group Diamonds for Peace (DFP). The DFP team works hard and is making huge strides in raising awareness and affecting real change in the lives of diamond miners. Check out their website here, and how they got started here. They have a blog, news updates, and a donation page that are effective in letting everyone know what is happening and how they can help.
The Diamonds for Peace team is hard-working, determined, professional, friendly, and truly making a difference. So even though you and I don't have our superhero gear, we're not powerless when it comes to fighting corruption. I've been doing volunteer work with Diamonds for Peace, and I've felt SO encouraged to hear about positive changes happening (as we speak!) that are getting rid of corruption in the diamond mining industry. Check it out for yourself! You'll see how rewarding it can be to partner with people across the globe to help make the world a better place.
(Oh, and...by the way, Neil Diamond’s music absolutely is top-notch.)
Ah, the one-stop giant shopping center...
So far, since my move to New England, every time I have taken a trip to the local big-brand, one-stop shopping center (I’ll let you guess its name so I can avoid stereotypes), I’ve had unpleasant experiences during the checkout process. From awkward cashier comments about my personal purchases (or their own personal lives), to straight-up rudeness, nearly every cashier at this store has caused me to say to myself afterwards, “Avoid that one next time.”
And I do manage to avoid them next time. I also proceed to have a new round of rudeness or awkwardness with my new cashier choice.
“Just do the self checkout lane,” you might say.
And I understand. I’ve said it to myself and it hasn’t worked. (Those self checkout lanes have people assigned to watch you, you know!) I can just see this store’s employee training program now...wide-eyed and eager to please, cashiers are instructed, “Do your part to make sure no one goes through your line without making them second-guess their choice to shop here!” They have one big group “Hurrah!” and off they go to make Big-Brand One-Stop Shopping Center head honchos proud. (At least that’s how I imagine it in my mind.)
But...a miraculous thing happened the other day. It was so fantastic, I could hardly believe it. What was it? Well...
At this very same store, my newly picked cashier
1) acknowledged my existence (yay!) and
2) efficiently scanned and bagged my items.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you ever think that you couldn’t possibly make a difference in someone’s life because you feel your line of work isn’t that exciting, or you don’t see many people in a day, you are mistaken.
Have you heard the story about the little boy going along the seashore tossing stranded starfish back into the ocean? Someone came along and told him he wouldn’t make much of a difference because there were too many stranded starfish, so he wouldn’t possibly be able to help them all. Then the boy tossed another starfish back into the ocean and said, “It made a difference to that one!”
You can be this person in someone’s life. Take my most recent cashier, for example. She was simply doing her job. She had no idea that nearly EVERY other experience with a cashier in her store had created frustration for me. She simply did her job with kindness and respect, and she MADE MY DAY.
Making the world a better place doesn’t have to be in the form of grand, sweeping gestures. I mean, we can’t all do dramatic rescues or donate tons of money to nonprofit organizations.
We can send a text to someone who’s far away and say hello.
We can sympathetically smile at that mom in the store whose kids are freaking out.
We can be gracious to the waitress who forgot to get us a refill on our drink.
We can set up our artwork for others to see.
We can help a little kid wipe his spilled milk off the table without getting angry at him.
We can make a tasty meal and show others how to do it, too.
We can be the cashier who efficiently and kindly sends people through the line.
We can do SO MANY endless amounts of actions!
This blog is for highlighting people around the world who are making a difference one “starfish” at a time - those who are using their talents and gifts to make the world a better place, whether they have thrown hundreds of starfish back to the ocean or just one. My goal is for you to be inspired to use your gifts to make the world a better place - to understand that you matter, what you do matters, and you can make a difference. And if your talent is being an efficient, respectful cashier, then go for it!
No act is too small.
(Just ask that little starfish!)
Need a little extra encouragement? Download your Affirmation Bookmark Bundle from my online gift shop here!