Setting boundaries in our relationships isn’t always an easy task. Nobody wants to say “no” to a friend or a loved one, but sometimes it is necessary. Let me begin by saying, historically I have not been good at this. If my phone rang, I answered. I answered it whether I was elbow deep in a chicken, washing my hair, or hanging from a trapeze in my living room. It was my belief if someone cared enough to take the time to call me, I should reciprocate by caring enough to pick up the phone. These days I can give myself a hall pass on a ringing phone if I am too tired, not in the mood to talk, in the middle of my favorite movie, or simply not inclined to answer it. There is still a twinge of residual guilt associated with such behavior, but I manage to finish the chapter in my book, dry my hair, or simply keep my feet in an upright position and work my way through it. Another step forward is when I do call back I don’t spend two hours explaining why I didn’t answer the phone in the first place.
Taught early in life by the females molding my young character one puts others needs before your own, it was a difficult concept for me to wrap my mind around the difference between acting in a “selfish” manner and taking care of oneself. Once I grasped the idea, at least to the level I have achieved, I found it a most freeing concept indeed. In a world where contact comes in so many forms, it is nice to turn it off, if you will, for a while and find a quiet place for your thoughts and body to rejuvenate and refresh themselves. Cue yoga master, Celtic music, and waterfall here.
It used to be I found riding in the car extremely relaxing. Driving along with the radio playing my favorite tunes, was for me very soul soothing. Even when my son had colic as a baby, taking him for a car ride if he was fussy quickly lulled him to sleep. When cell phones arrived on the scene, prior to laws prohibiting their use while driving, my idyllic drive home after work or when headed for a day off at the beach or perhaps a picnic in the park was often interrupted by friends having issues, someone needing a recipe, requests to pick up dry cleaning, or to settle a disagreement or problem arising at home. My world became a little bit smaller the more connected I became.
In the 80’s my family adopted a “Susie will do it” attitude. If there was a button needed sewing, a game hen needed stuffing, a ride to be given, or a favor to be asked my name was the first one tossed in the hat. My son would announce five minutes before bedtime he had a project due the following day, and often I would find myself up long after everyone else was spooning with the Sandman building volcanoes out of paper mache or making flour and salt maps of the United States. If cupcakes were needed for a Friday school party and notice given Thursday night just before my favorite program was to begin, ten minutes later I would be running around the market in my fuzzy slippers gathering cupcake liners, and ingredients to get the job done. It got so bad on my thirty-third birthday Superwoman showed up on my cake, and one of the gag gifts was a tee-shirt with a big red “S” on the front. Really? Looking back I think I felt if I could do absolutely everything for absolutely everybody somehow the world would sit better on its axis and life would progress wrinkle free into the good night. Not so, my friends. Definitely not so.
Being a working mother I entertained a certain amount of buried need to make up for not being there apron in place taking the Baked Alaska out of the oven for dinner when my children got off the bus in the afternoon. In an effort to fill the gap, I signed on for Soccer Team Mother, Girl Scout Leader, Art Docent, Cookie Monitor, and Ruler of the Free World. if there was a sign up sheet pinned to a wall or attached to a clipboard somewhere, my name was on it. Trying to please everybody and keep them happy can not only be a thankless job often, but rarely is successful on any level. You’re not happy, they’re not happy, ain’t nobody happy.
A side effect of all this doing was rather than being buried in appreciative hugs and copious thanks, the doing became expected behavior by my loved ones going unnoticed until not performed, then becoming a source of contention in the ranks. So, after many years of finding “no” a difficult word to say, I find as I’m getting older it slides as easily off my lips as a pat of cold butter off a hot pancake. Certainly because you are empowered by being able to say no, I am not encouraging you to go about saying no to everything, but it does not mean you always have to say yes either. The world will continue to turn, birds will sing, seasons will pass, and others will find a way to take care of things they need to take care of themselves, if you’re not there to do it for them. Trust me on this.
This does not mean we should not help one another, it just allows for time to take care of oneself as well. When my children reached the high school level I mastered no so effectively I could have taught a class on the word and all the different nuances and intonations involved in saying it to achieve the desired results. Such a little word, containing so much power. It is wonderful nurture others, but also paramount to nurture ourselves in the doing of it.
So, kick back, put your feet up, ignore the pinging of electronic device to your left and breathe.
This recipe falls slightly outside my comfort zone. My other half loves liver in many forms. I do not. As a child my grandmother often made liver buried in sautéed onions and bacon. It was my worst nightmare other than beef steak and kidney pie, often ending up in the folds of my napkin or in the open mouth of the grateful cat waiting under the dining room table. As the years passed I could manage liver if it showed up in holiday stuffing or gravy, and I love a good pate, but just sautéed livers presented on a plate will take me back to the napkin scenario for disposal in the blink of an eye. Saying this, I love this rich meaty sauce with the subtle tastes the livers impart to it. Go figure. Anyhow, I’ll present to you for your opinion.
Three Meat Pasta Sauce with Chicken Livers
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 rib of celery, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb. Italian bulk sausage, hot
1 lb. ground pork
1 lb. ground chuck
3 chicken livers, trimmed and fat removed
1/2 cup red wine (I used Merlot)
2 16 oz. cans diced tomatoes with juice
2 6 oz. cans tomato paste
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 cup water
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried fennel
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
In large pot heat butter and oil over med. heat. Add vegetables and cook 8-10 mins. until tender. Add garlic and cook 1 min. Crumble and add all meats including liver to pan. Cook until meat is browned.
Add wine to pan and cook until it is mostly evaporated. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, water, sugar and all seasonings. Stir well and bring to boil. Reduce heat and cook covered for 1 hr. and 15 mins. stirring often. Serve over your favorite pasta or in lasagna.