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The nourishment I had no idea I needed

I was coming off the stage at an event when I noticed my friend Biet Simkin grinning at me and calling me over to her. She had just watched me dancing in the most ridiculous of ways in front of 100 people to demonstrate how to move emotions through and out of the body and ground in physical form. “You need to connect with my friend Jules.  I’m going to put you in touch.”  Biet is one of the more intuitive, tapped-in and tuned-in-to-spirit people I know, so when she recommends something, I listen. 

A few weeks later there I was, having virtual tea via Zoom with Jules Davis, a woman who calls herself the Kitchen Healer ( just like the title of her book). I had no idea who she was or what she did, although it turned out I had been following her on social media for years, loving her pink hair and energy, and the messages of ease with which she talked about motherhood, creation, and self-nurturing.  The stuff about the kitchen healing I kind of ignored. That was about to change. 

After we spoke for a little bit, Jules asked me a question, “What were your mornings like as a kid?”

I was immediately shot back in time to those mornings of my early childhood, rising in the bedroom I shared with my sister in our New York City apartment, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes as I got dressed and ambled to the kitchen.  The house was silent; my dad would have already left on his rounds at NYU Hospital, and my mom was still asleep. She had left cereal, bowls and spoons on the kitchen table, and the milk on a shelf where I could reach it in the refrigerator.  Morning nourishment was something I did on my own. In fact, nourishment was not a value in our house, unless it was linked to accomplishment. As I got older, my mother would indeed emerge from her slumber to make me eggs or French toast on exam days so that I could perform well on my tests. 

My mother seriously disliked cooking. She was a stay-at-home mom, and although she had an undergraduate degree and a master’s in finance and investing, my dad didn’t want her to work so she didn’t.  But she really didn’t like being a housewife.  And she definitely didn’t like cooking.  Every day I’d come home from school or wherever I had been afterward and usually find her on her bed with her giant checkbook system, paying bills and balancing the books for our home and my dad’s medical practice. Sometimes she’d be reading a novel or playing solitaire in the living room. She’d greet me with a smile and hug and ask about my day. But then, after chatting for a bit she’d sigh despairingly and say, “Ugh, I guess I have to go make dinner.” Then she’d drag herself to the kitchen and blast Phil Donahue or whatever show was playing on the television she’d set up in the kitchen and get to her work. 

When I was 10 years old, I became a vegetarian and have been one ever since. It’s a longer story for another time but suffice it to say my father took me on a hunting trip and that was it.  When I came home and told my mother my new dietary intention, she told me I could eat however I wanted, but she was not going to make me any accommodations in her meal planning so I would have to fend for myself or subsist on the side dishes she prepared to accompany my father’s carnivorous preferences.

So I did. I made baked potatoes in the microwave and pasta with Prego sauce. I had no cookbooks, no internet, and no model of what cooking could or might look like other than drudgery. And as I moved into adolescence, food became laden with shame as well. From the time I was in 7th grade, my mom started putting the diet pressure on me. She barely ate herself, subsisting on Dexatrim weight loss pills (aka over-the-counter speed), diet coke and a few wheat thins with thin slices of cheddar cheese. And by the time I was in 9th grade, she was offering her Dexatrim to me. There began my lifetime of body shame and yoyo dieting. 

I think I was quite young when I decided I would never cook for my own family. It seemed clear that it wasn’t anything anyone would choose to do, certainly not as an empowered woman. I decided that I’d be so successful I’d hire a chef, or my husband would cook for our family.  While I did have a chef for a while, the main chef in my life has indeed been my wonderful husband. But he, like my dad, is a carnivore. So, at the time of my first conversation with Jules, I was still mostly eating side dishes, and now that we were empty nesters, Grubhub and Postmates were my private chef. 

Jules didn’t show any judgment in response to my disclosure but said something that I can already feel has started to change my life, “You know, you don’t have to just settle for the side dish.” She went on to explain that because I never had an organic and joyful model of what a kitchen could feel like and what nourishing myself could be like, I didn’t know how much ease and yumminess could come from doing so.  She invited me over to her home a few weeks later to show me.  

During that morning I spent at Jules’s house, she showed me what a joyful and easeful kitchen could be like.She quite literally taught me to cook some basic dishes, infusing love into the food. She even demonstrated how not to watch a pot boil and instead dance around the kitchen or drop into some yoga poses while I waited. She coached me to start cooking way before I’m hungry, leaving things gently slow cooking on the stove or reheating them when ready to eat.  It was all so simple, but I never knew it could be.  Watching Jules in the kitchen was like watching the earth mama I’d never had and now wanted to be to myself. 

I went home armed with recipes and a newfound dedication to nourishing myself in a new way. That first night in the kitchen, simply reheating on the stove what Jules and I had prepared, I felt the chills that came on when one of my loved ones came through from the other side. And there was my mother, who hadn’t come through in ages. It was so powerful that I had to turn the stove off to focus. As if she was whispering in my ear I heard, “I wish I’d had experience or guidance like this… it would have changed everything. I’m going to do this with you, every step of the way.  And by the way, stop saying I never cooked for you. What about my French toast recipe? The Oreo cakes I always made for your bake sales in school? The matzoh ball soup you loved??” I giggled as I turned back on the stove, tears of grace falling as I did.  Since then, every time I’m in the kitchen cooking, there my mom is with me.  She makes me laugh and cry, and I feel her love, the kitchen-healing love I never received growing up, flowing all around me. 

Over the past few months, I have found myself cooking the majority of my meals, making exactly what I like.  I’ve even perfected the 3-minute egg, which let me tell you, is not easy! My husband chuckles as I repeatedly and proudly show him my dishes, proclaiming, “Look! I’m nurturing myself!” 

But I haven’t just been eating better…

I’ve been eating a lot more, and yet losing the 30 pounds I gained since losing Sammy.   

I have a lot more energy in my system for dancing, playing with friends, and working. 

My friends are astonished as I produce amazing cheeseboards and meals when they come over. 

I have heaps more creative inspiration.

I’ve been getting up before the sun, meditating and writing (now that’s really a miracle)

I’m noticing I repeatedly approach my husband for a kiss or cuddle (which he loves ;-).

Abundance is flowing in a new, beautiful way. 

I’m experiencing so much less anxiety and stress in my body and mind.

Projects are coming easily together.

The only way I can describe it is that it feels like a divine feminine aspect of myself that has always been buried is now emerging. She is the part of me who knows how worthy she is of love, nourishment and receiving.  Is it all because of my willingness to fully feed myself? I’m not sure, but Jules claims that’s also what she sees happening with almost all her clients as she starts working with them. 

Next Jules is coming over to my house to actually “heal my kitchen.” I have no idea what that will mean but I can’t wait to discover it and I will keep you posted. I don’t know what Biet saw that day that made her want to introduce me to Jules, but I need to ask her and thank her.  

Visit Jules’ website to learn more about her work, and make sure to grab a copy of her book, The Kitchen Healer: Journey to Becoming You

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