Um… It’s Not What It Looks Like. But Then Nothing Ever Is.
Sometimes I think we forget this is real life.
If we could observe the goings-on in a stranger’s home for a day, I think we’d be surprised by what we see.
If you were to look in my home for a day (but please don’t), you’d see that I don’t actually find it necessary to answer my phone every time it rings. (In fact, I rarely even have it near me.) You’d see that sometimes I eat olives from the jar as a mid-morning snack, take unauthorized rests during my workout, and lose my temper when my dogs bark at squirrels.
And not everything is so flattering.
For example, you might see that, despite last year’s debacle, I spent an unseemly amount of time yesterday spreading coconut oil and lemon juice on my head to relieve winter-and-stress-induced scalp itch. I let my dogs lick my face. I ate an olive off the floor.
And I’m not proud of these things, you know. I share in the vain hope that I’m not alone in my imperfections.
Not the least of which is my (lack of) cooking skills.
With the recent bout of chilly weather, I found myself in a rare mood for soup this week. So I perused my “Skillets, Soups, & Casseroles” board on Pinterest for some dinner inspiration, and ran across this incredible Spicy Kale Soup with Roasted Pepper and Tomato from Cooking on the Weekends. It was chock full of healthy kale, flavorful sun-dried tomatoes, smoky roasted red peppers, and gave me an excuse to use the rest of the potatoes in the pantry I’ve been trying to empty before the move.
To me, it looked amazing. A warm, rust color, shimmering ribbon of red, and a delicate leafy garnish. Perfect for a chilly fall evening. (Seriously — go to her site for more amazing food photography and the recipe for this soup.)
I poured myself a glass of wine and dove into chopping red onion, smashing cloves of garlic, and peeling russet potatoes. Before long, the kitchen was bathed in wonderful soup smells — the kind that told me, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this one was going to taste good.
What I didn’t realize, that is until I started blending it in batches, is that it wasn’t going to look good.
Not even close.
I mean, I had known when I started that photos wouldn’t be great because my kitchen was dark, so I hadn’t planned on blogging about it. But really, in person, it looked like something that had already been eaten — and expelled — by an infant. And it had nothing to do with the dark room.
Where had I gone wrong? Too much kale? Using a jarred red pepper instead of one freshly roasted? Why was I being punished with baby poop green soup?
My garnish didn’t help. The sun-dried tomatoes looked like tiny slivers of lung, and the kale looked like… well… kale. My bowls aren’t cute, my counters aren’t rustic, and Oh, Pinterest — why do you shame me so?
Yeah. I don’t envision this photo ending up on anyone’s “must try” list anytime soon. And I want to apologize to Miss Valentia for making her soup look so… unappetizing.
Especially when the taste? It was absolutely delicious.
Lung slivers and all.
Anyway. I’m a firm believer that comparing yourself to others — difficult as it is not to do — is the fast road to unhappiness. Every day we’re inundated with Facebook status updates that make us feel inferior. Instagram photos that remind us we’re not traveling enough. Pinterest pins that flat-out make us want to crawl back into bed — but only one meticulously hand carved from balsa wood and adorned with 1,200-count allergen free Egyptian cotton peacock blue sheets.
From now on, instead of comparing, let’s make a pact to only let these things inspire. Think possibility instead of put-down. Hope instead of despair. The hard-earned lesson that sometimes, a little kale makes a lot of difference.
The truth is, you’ll be hard pressed to find an Instagram photo of me with coconut oil spread over my scalp. We put so much effort into only showing our best to the world, that we start to think there’s no room for imperfections — for disorganized pantries, undecorated nurseries, or poop green soup.
And my guess is that even Martha Stewart forgets to shave her armpits every-now-and-then.