Hallelujah Highway

Celebrating the Journey

Dana’s Kitchen ~ Kristi

on December 10, 2012


One of my greatest pleasures in life is helping another person who really needs help. When I am able to help another person, I feel warm and fuzzy.  I love warm and fuzzy! When helping another, I feel deeply connected with that person and I believe that deep connection is a basic human need.  Humans love to feel like we made a difference. Humans love to make an impact.

Recently, I had the pleasure of helping Dana unpack her kitchen. Dana was 38.5 weeks pregnant and was moving into her new home. Both endeavors are overwhelming enough on their own, but together…tremendous stress. (Let me just say that Dana is Wonder Woman as she seemingly handled these huge, stressful life transitions with grace and strength. I would have been a gnarly mess of frustration and panic.)

 As Jen and I were unpacking the kitchen, Jen commented on how unpacking another woman’s kitchen is a very, very intimate act. Dana was letting us see the heart of who she is as a domestic goddess—her kitchen. I felt honored to help put her away her pots and pans, to find the perfect spot for her cute little red Dutch ovens, and sort out her spice drawer. Dana showed us the platters and crystal that had been given to her from significant matriarchs in her family. In fact, we sorted through her junk drawer. As we did so, she told us this cute story about when she and her husband.  On one of their first dates, she bought a toy from the quarter vending machine. The vending machine gave her a couple getting married toy. She thought that would freak him out, so she threw it in her purse and bought him another. What a cute and endearing story!

Unpacking another woman’s kitchen may be an act of insignificance to some, but to a woman like me the thought of another woman organizing my kitchen causes fits of uncontrollable anxiety.  My greatest anxiety: I wouldn’t know where anything was (Control Freak– Party of One, please!) What impressed me the most was Dana’s willingness to be vulnerable and ask for help.  What a gift to me her vulnerability was.

There is this unwritten woman code where women don’t ask for help. Asking for help is an act of weakness or a sign that life isn’t all pulled together. In addition, there is this (mostly) unspoken competition amongst woman.  We try to make it look like we are the perfect wife, mother, room-mom, gift-giver, co-worker, friend…the list goes on and on. The Internet and Pinterest are amazing tools in this unspoken female-on-female competition as we find amazing ideas to give us the upper hand.  

Our quest for perfection is an attempt to gain the approval of women whose opinions may or may not matter.  In our attempts at perfection, we unknowingly create a facade that actually blocks intimacy and connection with other people. 

My best friend and I text about a few women from high school with whom we are both Facebook friends.  These women seemingly have the perfect life.  Their Facebook pictures look like Gap commercials.  Their houses are perfectly decorated.  They get together for crafting girls’ nights with wine (and their crafts actually turn out).  They still fit in their clothes from high school and are able to wear leather pants out on dates with their husbands.  I am intimidated!  I don’t feel connected to them.  I envy them.

Dana and her kitchen revealed this to me:  my soul sister, Dana, epitomizes the “pulled-together-female.” I still remember her amazingly feminine outfits when she taught with me. Her cute off-white cardigan that perfectly complimented the darling red pencil skirt that hugged her tall, lean curves.   The matching panty hose with the feminine seam that ran down the back of her long legs into the matching heels. She and her outfits are smoking hot. Additionally, she is an amazing cook. Her food is healthy, organic, homemade, and simply amazing. Her house is decorated to a tee, from her Tiffany blue bedroom suite to the Parisian themed baby nursery.  On top of her “pulled-togetherness,” Dana is funny and sweet.   She is the most compassionate person I know, yet she is not afraid to tell it like it is. 

If I am bluntly honest, Dana’s “pulled-together-femaleness” intimidates me.  I envy the way she can pull off those hot outfits or the amazing dishes she whips together.  Most of the time, I am trying to find outfits that are cute enough and hide the lumps and bumps of my own overly voluptuous figure.  Or, I am trying to figure out how I can make a healthy-enough dish in the hour between getting home from work and my daughter’s practices.  I am not pulled together.  I am a blend of attempts at organization and chaos.

When I compare myself to Dana and her womanly perfection and I decide that I do not live up to my image of her, our friendship changes. I may shrink back and berate myself for not being enough or I might devise ways in my mind to be “more perfect.”  Either way, I am not being authentic.  How can another person, or Dana, truly connect with me when I am in this state?

Going in and helping Dana with her kitchen helped me see she is just like me. We all have a junk drawer. We all have expired medicines, little bags of rice that we cling to because we can’t waste it the 1/4 cup of rice, and unmatched Tupperware. When she lowered  her “I-can-do-it-all” facade and let Jen and I help, I was able to connect with her on a deeper, more personal level. This deeper connection had nothing to do with Dana and it had everything to do with my perceptions of her. This experience taught me that being vulnerable and asking for help breeds connection. Maybe the “I-have-it-all-pulled-together” facade and pathetic attempts at perfection hinder relationships. It makes me ponder how the female community would change if we stopped the comparison game and just were authentically ourselves. 

Like the quote by Theodore Roosevelt suggests, maybe competition steals our joy.  If women quit competing with one another and supported each other instead, women would be happier.  Think of the impact we would have on the world if the female population was more joyful and happy.  We could raise the vibrations of the planet!

Hallelujah for Dana, Dana’s kitchen, and for intimate connections through vulnerability.

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