“Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer.”
― Joseph Campbell

When I was in the eleventh grade I took an Art History class because it was guaranteed to be an easy “A”. Mr. Evelyn (RIP), an artist, bridged the gap between grungy high school kids and the classical art pieces and encouraged us to do the same by assigning us artworks to study and present to our classmates.

He had a real knack for deconstructing the composition of famous works like Van Eyck’s “The Arnolfini Marriage” – that one with the pale ratlike guy in the big hat (looking like Jay Kay of Jamiroquai) holding hands with a beautiful girl in a green dress. He pointed out the little dog at her mistress’s feet and the discarded slippers on the floor and the single lit candle on the chandelier and told us they symbolised faith. Then he brought our attention to the texture of the dress, the furnishings in the room, the choice of fruit and allowed us to imagine what wealth looked, smelled, tasted and felt like in Italy during the Renaissance, transporting us to another world.

So, art… What is it in the modern times we live in?

As I see it, the days of our lives are blank pages. I write to fill them. You may paint, cook, make films, videos or choose to teach or parent your children or lead teams. It’s all art. Don’t believe me?

Anything that touches your heart is art. If you don’t feel anything, you don’t move. There’s no force on earth that will move you from Point A to Point B, to learn to read, to get you to church, or to the dinner table or to school or to work if you ain’t feeling it.

If we are connecting on a human level, doing favours for each other, giving our words, breath, energy, attention then we are painting some sort of picture, emitting sounds to shape thoughts, engineering smells and tastes to stimulate the taste buds, in short, making art.

Thus, to create is human.

Many Ingredients, One Salad

Besides writing, there’s another form of art I bring to the table, literally.

Nur Dagi (Nur Mountain) Salad is passed down to me through my Turkish culture. The salad hails from the Hatay region of Turkey where my friend Menekse’s family is from. Along the way, I’ve added my own unique spin to it and Menekse has become a big part of the salad as you’ll see.

Parsley is one of the main ingredients in my special salad. Every time I find myself chopping up those bright green sprigs, I remind myself that I’m a person following my bliss and not parsley. As delicious and nutritious as parsley is, the reputation of this herb is that it gets mixed up in delicacies, thrown around carelessly as garnish where it has no business being.

The result?

That parsley on your oversized plate of tiny filet mignon ends up in the bin despite all of parsley’s best intentions. Don’t be parsley. Don’t throw yourself in the middle when people are dishing it out. I repeat this in my head as I chop up my parsley for my dinner guests.

Then I  pick up a pomegranate and though I know some claim there’s a hack to whack out all its seeds but for me there are no shortcuts to getting the most out of this queen among fruit. I chop off her head, removing her crown and separate the skin with utmost care so she doesn’t bleed as I remove her seeds gently. Pomegranate’s message to me is to keep my creative gift inside until I’ve given myself space and patience so that whatever story I’m about to tell comes out intact without more blood, sweat and tears than necessary.

The onion is such a powerful ingredient that brings so much flavour and often tears to the one who must chop it up. Like awareness, it has layer upon layer. Its message to me is that when among friends, reveal what’s on the inside. That space in the middle of the onion, that’s the sacred space we all have within us. Keeping ourselves open to others’ views and thoughts, we grow more aware. Drop your attitude and the need to be the best and just take it all in the onion reminds me.

When I reach for the pomegranate molasses I may as well be reaching out to Menekse on the phone. I pour it into the salad, making sure all ingredients are glistening in this dark bordeaux-colured elixir made from the pomegranates Menekse’s family picked, seeded and boiled together. Value family above all else is the message contained in this bottle.

And walnuts? They add crunch to my salad. They’ve always reminded me of brains as a child so when I did a Google search to look up what they symbolise, I found from Northwood rings website that indeed walnuts are a symbol of wisdom. It seems fitting that wisdom should be sprinkled liberally into my salad as none of the ingredients and their meaning came without struggles, failures and many lessons learned the hard way.

And Northwood rings?

Well, they make wedding bands from wood, including rings from sustainably sourced walnut trees. I can’t wait for the day I gaze at my ring finger and be reminded that I’m bound first and foremost to nature and must always honour and obey my own creative energy and Mother Nature before tending to needs defined by the social contract known as marriage.

With those thoughts in mind, my salad is ready as am I for my guests.

Coming Up Lavenders

This year I made no secret that lavenders have become sacred to me.

Why lavenders you might ask? They are found in abundance in my neighbourhood here in Lane Cove. They were the first flowers my toddler Lucy learned to pick as she would often see them and ask me about them.

As a result of my well-expressed obsession with lavenders (thanks to Instagram mostly) I was fortunate to be given a lavender lip balm – thank you Belinda 🙂 so that I can have lavender-scented living room where our diffuser sprays calming breaths of lavender oil and offer lavender tasting lips for those I choose to kiss.

Over to you…

What are some objects around your house that trigger emotional responses (spark joy, ignite fury, tingles up and down your spine, etc…) for you and why?