Monday, March 29, 2010

Keeping it Simple

Yesterday, I made good use of the Al-Anon slogan Keep it Simple.

We had invited my stepdaughter and son-in-law over for dinner to celebrate his birthday. We asked the birthday boy what he wanted for dinner. His requested menu was simple: grilled pork chops, green beans and whipped sweet potatoes. What threw me was what my stepdaughter said he wanted for dessert: pineapple upside-down cake.

I had never made a pineapple upside down cake, so I had no idea what was involved, except that I had an idea that it somehow involved pineapples and inversion.

To quote an Al-Anon acquaintance: I can complicate a ball bearing. So the old me would have tried to make things as difficult as possible.

It would not have mattered that he said not to go to any trouble. Or that we had spent several days doing construction on our house before attending a dinner on Saturday night followed by a long drive home and getting to bed in the wee hours the night before.

Nor would it have mattered that that it was Sunday, a day I reserve to rest.

No. I would have picked the most complicated recipe I could find. I might have decided that we also needed to have jalapeno poppers to start, even though they have told us that they are trying to lose weight and aren’t much into appetizers these days.

I would have insisted that we drive to the store across town that has the best jalapenos instead of going to the market in our neighborhood. I would have spent the afternoon making a cake, and deseeding and stuffing 44 jalapenos, refusing all offers for help.

The old me would also have spent every minute in the kitchen thinking of the book I’d rather be reading. If my stepdaughter and son-in-law passed on the poppers, pleading calories, I would have resented it. After all I had done for them.

Instead, I left my husband with the breakfast dishes (something else the old me never would have done) and went upstairs to research recipes. There was one that involved making a caramel sauce and a cake from scratch. And there was one that involved cubed butter, sprinkled brown sugar and (gasp!) a box of yellow cake mix.

I chose the cake mix. I asked my husband if he would mind going to the store, the one on the corner. He didn’t mind at all.

We had a nice, relaxing dinner. The cake was a big hit. During the day, I got to read some of that book. My husband and I took a short nap, and spent time visiting with some neighbors we hadn’t seen for a while. I enjoyed our dinner and didn’t feel drained.

I didn't miss the old me at all.


  1. Progress. Good for you. I too make pineapple upside down cake with yellow cake mix. Takes about ten minutes to get it into the oven and then when the timer goes off we have upside down cake. Easy peasy. Glad your day was relaxing. I didn't know the old you, but I truly like the you today.

  2. Keep it Simple.
    What a concept!
    I could relate to so much of what you wrote - about refusing help and always have to have more than anyone expected and being resentful when someone didn't like what I'd made... I made it so hard on myself.

    I have begun to lighten up, as well, but I haven't reached your level yet. Part of the reason I have been able to let some things go is the time constraints I have because I go to therapy once a week and meetings twice a week and if I'm ever going to finish writing this book I just don't have time to be perfect anymore!

    Reading this post led me to look at the AlAnon documents you have linked to your site. I think I will link some CoDA docs to my site. I loved reading the promises, and comparing to the ones I've come to know.

    My parents were not alcoholics, per se. Not that my father never used anything... he often drank and abused prescription drugs. I guess I don't think of him as an alcoholic because that was not the primary concern in our house. He was the focus, just as an alcoholic often can be, but it was because of mental illness. His personality disorders and detachment from reality are probably what drove him to drink and drug and certainly were the cause of most of my childhood trauma.

    Thanks Kathy. I'm struggling today, and this made me smile throughout and I heard "Chariots of Fire" music at the end. Just what I needed.

  3. Here, here. Ain't it great when we see our program working. Want a miracle? Just look in the mirror! Have a great day!!

  4. lol......... I can so relate..

    I used to get all nervous even when a dear friend was coming over. Today I have a dear friend coming over and it's been raining.. the kids can have regular bread with hot dogs and chicken burgers.. I'm not running in the rain (I don't drive) to get buns .. bread is bread.. and it is the fun of getting together. I have a box cake I made and a scratch banana cake. Plenty of food.

    I love this post.

  5. Oh what a good post today Kathy. I am learning to try and keep it simple. Ugh. Thank you.

  6. it works if you work it :-)))) it is so great getting caught by ourselves doing things differently. After a while it turns into falling in love with oneself. Love from my heart to yours.

  7. I love this post Kathy, just love it.

    I love a delicious quick recipe, and I love keeping it simple. I'm glad you got to do some reading and most of all it sounds as if you enjoyed all of...the cooking, the baking, the reading, the asking for help, the giving, and the simplicity. It sounds relaxing, balanced, and full of the good life.


  8. just beautiful....
    love it :)


  9. Good for you!! I need to copy you!! I always get stress..... out even if it is just my kids coming over.........when a meal is involved!!