Tuesday, September 23, 2008

If at first you don't succeed...

Both of my husband's parents were born and raised in Mexico. They moved to the US sometime in their early 20's or so, and Ricardo was born here. It goes without saying that he was raised on some authentic Mexican food - the real deal. Homemade tortillas...lots and lots of them. Beans. Rice. Red chile. Enchiladas.

When I went back home with him for my first visit, I remember being in awe - and a little intimidated - of his mother's cooking skills. I watched her as she moved around her kitchen, throwing this and that into one of her many pots that sat perpetually on the stove. When it was time to serve dinner, she would heat up about 20 or 30 corn tortillas. For the 4 of us. I usually passed on them, and she would eat maybe one or two, and then Ricardo and his dad would polish off the rest. 12 each. At least. My thighs are cringing at the thought of ingesting that many carbs.

We had been married a few months when I decided that I better stretch myself from my firmly planted Midwestern cooking roots and attempt to cook some Mexican food. I was terrified...not that I could not pull it off, but that it would not measure up to his mom's. So I chose the simplest of dishes - beans - and I also chose a day when he was going to be gone for a long, long time. My thought was this; if they didn't turn out, I would chuck them and he would be none the wiser.

But, really, how hard is it to cook beans? Easy, right? I was confident; I could do this. Most of the people I knew made them in a pressure cooker, but I lived in mortal fear of the pressure cooker after my roommate had one explode on her and fling carrots forcefully to the ceiling. So I decided that the crock pot would work just fine.

I dumped in the water and the beans and some seasoning, and sent it cooking on it's merry little way.

Hours later, when they should have been done, I tasted them.

Apparently, I had purchased the only package of non-fool-proof beans, because they were AWFUL. I'm quite sure that they just needed to cook longer, or to have salt added, but at the time I was too nervous to try to figure out what the problem was. And then, with impeccable timing, Ricardo drove up. I panicked a bit as I looked from my crock pot full of those horrible no-good beans to the window where I could see him walking out of the garage. Good....he was going to get the mail, which meant I had a few minutes. I took those beans and gave them a new and permanent home in the trash.

That was 6 years ago. For 6 whole years, I told myself, I can't make beans. They were awful. If I try again, I'm pretty sure they'll still be awful. Awful. Awful. I started to truly believe that I might quite possibly be the only person on this entire planet who could not make beans. Because I told myself that I could not make beans.

2 weeks ago I finally got up the nerve to give it another try. They were on sale at the Mexican grocery store where I get all of the great deals on produce, and so, on a whim, I picked up a couple of pounds.

Same crock pot. Beans. Water. Garlic and onions. They cooked all day and smelled heavenly. I cautiously tasted them at the end of 8 hours and....they were good. Maybe not as good as his mom's, but...good nonetheless. I had successfully made beans.

With fear and trembling, I took a forkful over to Ricardo and waited for his reaction. I noted the look of surprise on his face as he looked up and said, "Hey, not bad!" Which is pretty high praise coming from my hubby.

So this has made me think. I know it's just beans, no big deal. But in what other areas of my life have I debilitated myself, just by saying over and over, You can't do it. You've tried it, it was a mess. You can't. You can't. You can't.

I know that words are powerful, even words spoken silently to ourselves. We build ourselves up or tear ourselves down by what we say. And I know that we are usually our own harshest critic.

But sometimes it pays off to step out of that comfort zone and do something a little different, to try something that terrifies. us.

Because, chances are, your crock pot full of beans will turn out a lot better than you could have ever imagined.

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33 comments:

Rachelle said...

Good Post....Just what I needed to hear this morning! I hope new little endeavoor turns out as good as your beans! Thatks for praying! =)

Casey said...

Wow! This so hit home for me today. I really hate stepping out of my comfort zone!!!! But, if I am honest, when I make that step it is usually so much better than just standing still.

And girl, you are very skilled at taking a story and weaving into something with deep meaning!

mamajil said...

This is good!! I am gonna think of all those things I have told myself I can't to and give it a whirl :)
Have a blessed day! your post inspired me!

Krystal said...

Oh my goodness Jackie...God had you write this post just for me today! THis is exactly what I needed this morning! Thank you!

You see, I decided several months ago to sell Uppercase Living with my friend Jessi. Well, tonight is our first party and for weeks the devil has told me over and over in my head, "you can't do it. Just back out" But my hubby told me last week, "You have to have a NO THANK YOU bite right?" So since then I have sang a song in my heart and mind The Voice of Truth song by casting crowns and guess what! I haven't been nervous at all. Well, now it is the day of I feel a little uneasy but nothing I can't handle!

Sorry to ramble! Perfect post! Thanks for writing it!
Krystal

The Sullivan Sitcom said...

Great post!

It reminds me of the little engine that could! I think I can, I think I can! If we could always think that way!

Thanks for the great reminder!

Chel's Leaving a Legacy said...

Jackie, I really just want to repeat what Casey said: "And girl, you are very skilled at taking a story and weaving into something with deep meaning!"

Ain't no lie!

This post amounts to a hill of really good beans. :-)

ttm said...

From this point on everytime I attempt to step outside my comfort zone, I am going to have this mental image of a crockpot full of beans!

Hirra said...

Good Job on the beans! Now I'm hungry. :) It's a very encouraging post too. Thanks for sharing.

Aspiemom said...

I really liked this post. How you didn't give up and you conquered those beans! And the lesson you learned along with it.

I'm emailing you a blog question.

Lisa said...

What a good reminder, and in such a practical way. I often think of this when I watch my little girls learn new things...why didn't they stop trying to walk on the 101st time they fell down??

You acheived the warm and cozy feel with your new blog page...very pretty!

Lisa@verybusymomwith4 said...

Yay! Great job--what mex food are you going to conquer next?
(I admit tex mex is my most difficult cuisine to cook so your post is inspiring!)

Like everyone said--great post!

Erin K. said...

What a great reminder! Thanks for sharing this with us!

Now I'm intrigued about making beans. I made bread for the very first time this weekend and it was a success (I need to get a post up about it) - surely beans would be easier than bread. Maybe I'll give it a try this weekend! =)

Tracy said...

Great post with a wonderful message!!! A good reminder for me!!

Jennifer @ Taking My Time said...

I just love your new blog design, good job!

About the previous post, would you share the pumpkin cookie recipe? I'm sure I have one in a cook book somewhere, but....

I'm still not blogging much lately for various reasons, but love to stop here when I can to see what's going on with you!

Jenn said...

Great post and so true!

Jodie said...

So so true! I know that my weaknesses and handicaps terrify me. Just like you and your beans, there are things I won't try b/c I've already decided that I would fail. And failure is not an option!

Truly though, failure is not the end. It doesn't have to be. It just means you try again. At least that's what I tell my kids. Why won't I live by that same rule?? Fear can be so binding.

I like this post. It's a simple illustration that proves a great truth.

And you know, well written, as always. ;)

Amanda said...

defintiely a good reminder...stepping out of the comfort zone is so hard..

Smilingsal said...

As a mom with a daughter-in-law, I can't help but think, "Why didn't you ask his mom?" I'll bet she would have been so happy to teach you her secret(s).

But, I like your application. Like the Little Engine that Could.

jamie in rose cottage said...

What a great reminder. We do need to step out of our comfort zone every now and then, and try things we didn't think we could do. Thanks so much for sharing.

THE ROOST said...

You are SO right!!! I LOVE your new look too :)

Carolina Mama said...

Awesome and the thing is you did try again! Try try again! That is part of the whole success. Glad they turned out well.

Genny said...

This was a great post, Jackie! And I love the new look around here!

creative gal said...

Thank you for sharing. . . Often, I am guilty of saying "I can't" or "It won't work out" in many situations. I need to be willing to step out of my comfort zone way more often!

jennifer@love,laughter,and lyrics said...

I love the bean story! So cute!

Love your new layout by the way - precious!

2nd Cup of Coffee said...

Oh, wise words, friend. I'm trying to think right now what it is that I believe, based on past experience, that I cannot do. Parallel park?

Wendi @ Every Day Miracles said...

So you already know I love you. If you've forgotten, let me just say: "I love you!" :)
I have always enjoyed your writing and think you have so-stinkin'-much talent. This post though - it was Super good. I just love the way you share a personal story, then bring in a valuable lesson, in the end bring it all full circle to a sweet conclusion. That my friend takes SKILL. :) I do believe for you though, it comes quite natural. :)
I love that you threw that first try at beans away. Such a move I would've made. :)

Rachel said...

Jackie, I want some of your beans. And some of your mother-in-law's enchiladas. It's been a year and a half since I've authentic New Mexican and mouth was watering after your post.

And thanks for the inspiration, Jackie. Great post!

Andrea said...

Very true...too often we are our own worst critic!! We could and would probably do a lot more things if we were thinking "Sure, I can do that!" instead of "I can't do it!" :) Thanks for sharing....

Irritable Mother said...

Right, you are, Jackie. Or should I call you The Little Engine that COULD?
I am so thankful for my cheerleader husband, who constantly encourages me to try again.

mamachristina said...

I love beans but I don't cook them often, I need some recipes for creative ways of using them so if you have a few you want to share I would love it. Glad you tried again and were successful.

Growin' with it! said...

alright so after reading this post (and drooling for some authentic corn torillas...oh the torture)...
and your reference to trying something out of your comfort zone...i'm thinkin you have no choice but to do the blog video now!

nice to meet you and thanks for stopping by!

Gretchen said...

What an encouragement this post is to the self-esteem challenged like myself. How many lies have I allowed Satan to feed me? More than I'd like to count. Mmmm, I'd love to be at your house having some of those beans and tortillas.

MoziEsmé said...

Great post! I can relate to this in so many ways. There are so many things I "can't" do because I don't meet my own expectations, though others think I can do those things just fine.