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Breakaway Laughter
How to Lighten Up—Despite It All
by Nan L. Crockett


Soup's On

Research shows 97.4 percent of all household disasters are initiated by children. At least my research shows that. Still, chaos can erupt even when the nearest child is miles away. The kitchen is for me a particularly dangerous place.

Friends were coming over for dinner. I cannot recall the main course. My crowning glory that night would be lettuce soup. I know, it sounds terrible. You will have to trust me. It is delicious.

The soup’s preparation requires many steps. There is boiling, transferring to a blender, heating again, and so on. One prepares this soup minutes before serving it. This being the case, only professional chefs and ignorant fools serve it.

Due to some time constraints, we would eat soon after our guests arrived. My timing was impeccable. I boiled the ingredients with ten minutes to go. At five, I poured the boiling soup to the blender’s brim. I hit the “liquefy” button.

Scalding dark green soup escaped the lid and flew out in all directions. It took a few moments to get close enough to hit the “off” button. This lava-like mess covered me, the wall, the counter, and even made its way into a couple of the electrical outlets.

I shrieked, “Fred, quick! Naked lady!” (I needed him right away, so I had to get his attention.)

Fred, man of steel in emergency situations, remained calm. “Okay, Nan, you just take care of yourself,” he advised. “I’ll handle the soup.”

Grateful, yet still frantic, I started mopping up. Fred, a pitying glance directed my way, carefully emptied half of the soup from the blender back into the saucepan. “We’ll blend half at a time so the blender will contain it all,” he reasoned. Why didn’t I think of that?

The proper amount now in the blender, Fred pressed down firmly on the lid as he hit the “liquefy” button. Unfortunately, in his zeal to prevent leakage, Fred pressed too hard on the plastic piece in the middle of the blender’s lid. It fell through, grinding plastic into the soup.

Seconds later, the doorbell rang. Our guests had arrived.

This incident offered a great lesson in the importance of releasing expectations. The greater and more cemented down our expectations, the harder the fall when something goes wrong. The more we cling to our expectations, the more stress we internalize as well.

I expected culinary perfection. I got something less. That gap caused stress and anger.

Life is full of imperfections. If upon waking each day I acknowledge this, I will not feel so blindsided when the inevitable mishap occurs. My internal messages will be less inflammatory.

Some people call these internal ramblings self-talk. When the soup starts flying, our first leaning is often toward self-talk that is not especially helpful: “Dinner is ruined and now everyone will think I’m an idiot! (sigh) I’m such a moron.”

We can always substitute something better. “Hmmm . . . all of those green flecks kind of camouflage that ugly stain on the wall. I think I’ll leave them. Take-out, anyone?”

We make the messages. The choices are ours. And there are consequences either way. Excessive, unresolved stress exacts an emotional, psychological, physical, and spiritual toll. We may not see the harm right away. It builds over time, which makes it rather insidious.

Expectations management and a healthy sense of humor will diffuse most of life’s challenges. We can look for the ludicrous. Seek out the irony. Laugh and let go.

And, oh yes—stock up on canned soup.

Excerpt is from Breakaway Laughter
Copyright ©2005 by Nan L. Crockett
All rights reserved.

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