Laurel Herman
Chef Instructor, Culinary Storyteller, and Culinary Medicine

Valentines Day, Cliches, Hallmark Holidays, and Oneness for the ‘Still’ Single

Benny waiting for me to come home. Photo, by Laurel Herman

Valentines Day, its big business, and in my line of work, we sell love through food.  Don’t get me wrong, I love food and romance. I romanticize food ALL the time in photos and descriptions. I even have an Aphrodisiac class this weekend. I tell the story every year from the movie “Like Water for Chocolate.” My favorite tale of love,  where Tita’s love is all up in her food. Its a sexy class, I love to see  my couples class make out in the kitchen, dance ( yeah they do that, because I’m playing Al Green ), make a great meal, and simply have a fun night. I am by all counts a true romantic.

This past year I’ve made a real commitment to spending as much time alone as possible in my own aura. It’s by far  been one of the best years of my life.  Another Valentines Day is upon us, and I’m what people call “still single.”  So you might read the above paragraph and come out with some spiritual cliche ( BS)/advice about me ( or you for that matter)  or convince yourself that we are not believing we deserve that kind love, that those couples have. You couldn’t be further from the truth.

I never thought I ‘d sound like one of those cliches, but here we are. It really is all about self love.  There I said it.  I recently went on a date. The gentleman asked me what I thought romance was. I replied,” romance is remembering to put the toilet seat down, it’s showing up  when you say you will, its the day to day unromantic things that are romantic, it’s a kind of devotion that’s a rare find.”   I guess you could say after 65 years, I’m pretty jaded. But lets not judge that either. Experience is a great teacher. Comes with the territory right?  So is noticing, I’ve come to  love my alone time. Ah,the gift that comes with age. 

There is this wonderful meme circulating. “I want someone I can share my entire life with, who will leave me alone most of the time.”  

For those addressing loneliness, Krishna Das has a 2012 workshop, on you tube on Love and  Relationships. “What we are really looking for is a hit, we want to be seen though loving eyes. ” I’m paraphrasing here”, We  are fooling ourselves if we think we can find that in a another person.” Relationships are business, give and take. You give me this, I give you that, do your business ” Its my favorite talk in the world to listen to. ” What we are really looking for is a ONENESS.”

Maybe its more about the loves IN your life and not so much” The” love OF your life. 

I’m sitting here typing on this rainy February day, thinking about my dog Benny and how we are such life partners, as most animal companions are. He barks, I get annoyed ( as does everyone else). But he sits in the window waiting for me the moment I walk out the door.  That love doesn’t exist in humans.There isn’t a day that passes, I am not completely besotted with him.  I feel completely loved, and in relationship with everything around me. ( except when I’m pissed off, but I have friends for that too). My friendships, the close ones, that have stood the test of time, the new ones that I cherish, I still have my mother, I have the most wonderful adult kids, one could ever hope for. And I love my work. All to say:

I’m pretty happy .  

The homogenized Hallmark holiday  has a 24 hour news cycle. By Feb 15, it will all be over. The real love story  is everyday, the rain, the dog sitting in the window, the friend who picks up the phone. This  is my “recipe”.   Take heart, in every opportunity to love and  Be” Still”.  Its good.

Love,
Laurel

About the Author
Laurel Herman is Chef Instructor and Culinary Storyteller, and Culinary Medicine practitioner, residing in Richmond, Virginia. A classically trained chef in the European style( Thames Valley University, London, U.K. and The Institute for Integrative Nutrition) Her style is anything but classic, its fun, and relaxed. A lifelong career in food, Laurel had the unique experience of being the only woman in a kitchen brigade of 30 men, ( 40 years ago) earning their respect and affection through hard work and determination. Laurel's passion is bringing people together through food, her joy is to watch people arrive as strangers, and leave as friends. Her workshop and retreat work use storytelling combined with cooking and music to evoke a sense of remembrance. She currently teaches at Mise en Place Cooking School, and various venues throughout Richmond . She is a strong believer that one way we can fight racism and bigotry of any kind is by helping people have access to clean and abundant food, supporting farmers markets and local vendors. Although not a chef himself, her favorite mythological character is Robin Hood, the revolutionary defender of social equality. Her books, The Blissed Out Chef was published in 2015 and the Inner Kitchen, Balboa press in 2011.
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