I often find myself being drawn into a discussion of what’s normal and what’s not. Granted much usually comes out during regular psychotherapy sessions, but people are often just talk to me and voice their innermost desires or secrets. Having an invisible “Talk to me” sign on my forehead is my long standing joke, and a topic for a different discussion. During these talks I get to find out about a whole range of human behavior, personality traits and associated emotions.
So the notion of “what’s normal” becomes a narrow line mediated by different cultures, life views, prior experiences and beliefs and even some cognitive distortions. Yes, technically we can open up a Diagnostic Manual of Psychiatric Disorders and a long list of all possible physical illnesses ever discovered, but even that is open to interpretation, as there are no absolute truths in this matter and only some collected evidence, sometimes anecdotal.
Walking a thin line of “normalcy” is not how I ever envisioned my life, even though I still crave all the ordinary things that most people desire. All the colors outside the lines create an unforgettable and often much more meaningful journey than the intricate designs already outlined inside the given pattern. You just never know how a spark of divine inspiration or even a much needed truth may present itself in a wild concoction of all the things that the “outliers” might bring.
I rarely see life as just black and white combination, I rather say it’s composed of all possible shades of grey and pink and iridescent sometimes with a heavy layer of sparkles on top. Knowing that not everything is the way it seems, and only after a thorough exploration and further understanding a true judgement should be imposed, helps me navigate life without major resentment and bitterness (and I’d surely had plenty of things to complain about, you can say I’ve seen my share of grey way too many times, but it was up to me to bring that pink back on and layer it over with yet another silver lining, all which did ultimately help me to heal and move on).
People sometimes tell me “You justify others too much”! No, justification and explanation are two different things. Justification means some kind of a judgement or weighing in is involved, knowing an absolute distinction between what’s right or wrong, good or evil. Who am I really (or you for that matter) to claim to know that absolute truth?! Unless we are talking about a serious mental illness and keeping truly evil acts as separate, all human behavior is explainable and can be deconstructed to the core beliefs, fears, raw emotions and subconscious motifs that govern and propel us to act in a certain way even if later on we may regret that particular action. So why not approach people with the utmost compassion and give them a gift of understanding, even if not condoning their behavior. We are all human, most of us are bound to make the same mistakes over and over again, but each and every time we are given an opportunity to try a hand at it again and hopefully one day ultimately win, over your own fallacy, and get it right at the end.
Then maybe you get to live in a new “normal”, whatever it may be, but if deep inside it feels right for you, don’t ever look back to “inside the lines”, enjoy your own true pattern of life!
What’s Cooking This Week
Speaking about things plain and normal vs a little bit twisted. The recipe below is really whatever you want it to be, it’s a plain cookie full of an old time favorite fruit, apples, with a bit of spice and twist on top. Reminiscent of the best Christmas candy and winter itself, it’s a cookie that “colors outside the lines” for sure.
Candy Canes Apple Cookies
Makes 20-24 cookies:
2 cups of flour (I used King Arthur gluten free mix plus 3/4 tspoon of xanthan gum)
1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
2-3 small to medium apples
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 Tbspoon of vanilla
1 tspoon of cinnamon
1 tspoon of baking powder
2 Tbspoon of water
A pinch of salt
2 cups of powdered sugar, divided
4 tspoons of milk (I used almond milk), divided
3 drops of mint flavoring
3 drops of red food color
Optional: pink sugar
Start by gradually incorporating soft butter into flour /salt/cinnamon/baking powder mixture, it will be crumbly. Beat the eggs with sugar then add vanilla and water. Mix together wet and dry ingredients, the batter will be sticky.
Cut the apples into small pieces and combine with the batter.
Using a spoon or a cookie scoop drop the cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for about 12-15 minutes, depending on size. Cool completely before icing.
For the vanilla and red mint icing, put a cup of powdered sugar in two separate bowls. Combine each with 2 tspoons of milk, then combine one with mint flavoring and the other one with red food color.
Ice each cookie with both icings and sprinkle pink sugar on top.
They are soft and definitely sweet, but how twisted, you decide.
A couple of these? Oh yes please! Happy Holidays!