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Cooking Up Peace: Finding Your Way Back to the Kitchen With Joy
By Jan Henrikson

The rumors persist, but Julia Child never actually dropped a turkey on the floor and put it back in the pan on national television. Her unabashed jubilation over food and all kinds of cooking adventures makes it feel entirely possible, though. Keep reading this article >>

The Big Cover Up: How to Stop Hiding Behind the Stories We Create About Ourselves and Others
By Tiffany Meyer

Just weeks ago my partner and I had reached our biggest moment of disconnect, and our relationship was hanging on the brink of disaster. But before we started round number three, listing everything that was wrong with the other person, we decided to stop, take a break and get clear. Keep reading this article >>  

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“We are dangerous
when we are not conscious of our responsibility for how we behave, think, and feel.”

Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D.

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World-renowned author, peacemaker, and conflict resolution expert, Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D. talks about the keys to prevent all forms of conflict and violence in this 10-minute video.


Cooking Up Peace," continued

In the movie, “Julie & Julia,” Child is in ecstasy eating food, preparing it, sharing it. Her husband oohs and ahhhs over each taste she offers him. The same is true for Julie Powell. Powell is the writer who embarks on a quest to create one of Child’s recipes a day for one whole year. Her husband and friends seem to melt the moment her duck or chocolate soufflé rolls onto their tongues.

Appreciation, connection, joy. Isn’t that a common wish, especially for the holidays? Sumptuous food, a smiling, satisfied family. The sense that we’re each contributing something and are appreciated for our creations: whether it’s pumpkin pie or graciousness.

But our most common holiday settings: the kitchen, the dining room table, can easily become minefields. You are happily talking and stirring your special Thanksgiving stew, when Aunt Esther unexpectedly salts it. “Everything tastes better with more salt.”

You smile, but you’d actually like Aunt Esther to turn into salt. You offer to help your sister, the hostess, clean up. She thanks you and then criticizes your every move.

According to Sylvia Haskvitz, author of Eat by Choice, Not by Habit, becoming aware of family patterns around cooking and eating may shift your culinary experiences from frustration, irritation, or anger to real celebration.

Instead of eating your words, Haskvitz suggests saying something to Aunt Esther like: “I feel discouraged when I see you salting the stew without checking in with me first. Some of those eating with us are not using salt and I was hoping everyone at the dinner would be able to enjoy the stew. How are you taking that in?”

As for Sister, how about: “When you say I left soap on the glass and I’m using the wrong towel to dry the dishes and there is still some dirt on the counter, I feel frustrated. I really want to support you so you’re not up until midnight and I want some reassurance that my help is appreciated. Can you tell me how this all lands with you?”

Now leave the Aunt and Sister alone and take a moment to recall some of your own childhood experiences.

Was your brother considered the cooking maven, you the klutz?

Did your mother work and expect you to cook for your siblings? Or did she shoo you out of the kitchen?

One woman’s dad rushed into the kitchen every time she picked up a knife for fear she’d chop off a pinky. He hovered over her, seeing disaster at every stir of the pot. Today she’s anxious when anyone else tries to help her cook.

Healing from such experiences often takes self-empathy. Take the woman with the hovering father.

“I’m guessing the woman would have liked to have been trusted to take care of herself, says Haskvitz. “Likely Dad was wanting safety and well-being for those he cares about.”

In her quest to strengthen our healthiest relationships with our body and food, Haskvitz teaches classes in cooking and compassionate communication.

Ten or so people gather to prepare a meal together and talk about “people’s emotional needs around food. We acknowledge their fears, what keeps them from wanting to be in the kitchen. There is a lot of pain from past messages about food and eating. Cooking, eating together, sharing our food and eating history and receiving empathy helps us heal and makes being in the kitchen fun again.”

Class member Chris Amoroso grew up in a home above the neighborhood grocery store his family ran. “Our meals were with one ear on the store bell while we were eating so it was nothing to wolf down our meals in minutes. Even when I was older. I learned to eat really fast.”

Once while home late, he sat down to eat with one of his five kids. “I was wolfing down my food, talking, when my daughter said, ‘Dad, time’s up.’ That caught my attention. I’d been eating for two minutes and I was almost done.”

For him, cooking a meal with others was revolutionary.

“For me to have the meal be more than feeding the body, more of a soul experience and coming together in a group --it was like a symphony. We had this combined wisdom in the room. Everybody was learning as we were moving along,” he said.

To create your own holiday symphony, “Stop the beat-up from your past memories and connect with your longings, your hopes and needs right now,” says Haskvitz. “Pause when you get triggered. Go inside to get clear on which need is stirred up in the moment. Once you have that awareness, you have an abundance of choices on what to do next. This is true freedom and joy!”

Explore this topic more with Eat by Choice, Not by Habit by Sylvia Haskvitz, or contact Sylvia at 520-572-9295 to learn more about one-on-one coaching to transform your relationship with your body and food.

Jan Henrikson is the editor of Eat by Choice, Not by Habit written by Sylvia Haskvitz. In between writing, editing, and coaching other writers, Jan eats as joyfully and mindfully as possible

Keep learning these vital communication skills with these books and training resources:



"Becoming aware of
family patterns around cooking and eating
may shift your culinary experiences from
frustration, irritation,
or anger to
real celebration.

- Sylvia Haskvitz



























Note to Readers From
Sylvia Haskvitz and
Jan Henrikson:

This movement is a strategy to more fully care for our own health. To empower ourselves to make choices that contribute to our well-being and the well-being of our sacred bodies.

In our desire to have our message more visible and out in the world, we are collecting names and email addresses of those who have read the book, Eat by Choice, Not by Habit. We would also love to hear testimonials of those who have received benefit and want others to read their stories as inspiration.

Send all emails to: silgiraffe@aol.com


The Big Cover Up, continued

What I discovered was this - we'd created the biggest cover-up story in history. I had covered up my heart under the story I'd made up about myself. And worse yet, I couldn't even hear the man I love. Why? Because I'd buried him deep under the story I'd made up about him.

Getting Underneath it All
We've all been burdened at one time or another by the stories we make up about ourselves or the people we love. We can go on as is, feeding our stories and never finding the depth of love and connection we really want. But I suggest a much more enriching alternative: Uncover the needs behind the stories and open up your heart once and for all.

Try This Exercise:
Let's look at how the stories we make up about ourselves prevent us from seeing and hearing what is alive in our heart. Follow the exercise below on your own, or with a practice group:

  1. Download and print out the easy to follow PDF worksheet for this activity: The Big Cover-Up Worksheet
  2. Stand in front of a large or full-length mirror.
  3. Close your eyes, take a couple of breaths, and relax your body.
  4. Using the worksheet, reflect, write down, cut out, and paste to the mirror all of the labels and judgments you believe about yourself — whether positive or negative (for example: "stupid," "smart," "compassionate", "mean", "loser", "winner", "drug addict", "teacher").
  5. Now, write down all of the thoughts about what you deserve ("to be treated fairly," "forgiveness," "to be punished," "to be alone"), about what you should or should not be thinking, saying or doing ("I shouldn't have said that," "I should be more responsive," "I shouldn't react so quickly."). Cut these out and paste them to the mirror.
  6. Now write down any self-blaming statements you say to yourself. ("you're just not cut out for love," "you mess things up," "you cause all of the conflict in this relationship," "why don't you just let things go?"). Cut these thoughts out and paste them to the mirror.
  7. Now look at the mirror. Can you see yourself? Or do you just see a pile of words and thoughts about yourself? Do these thoughts cover up your real self? Is it possible that they are only a story about you?
  8. Now start to remove each thought from the mirror, one at a time. With each thought that you remove, read the word/phrase slowly, and state, " [state the thought] _____ is only a story I made up about myself. I can leave the story and return to who I am in this moment and what is alive in me right now – to the unfulfilled NEED I am aware of as I read this scrap of paper.")

The stories we create about ourselves can be like heavy blankets covering up our heart. Sure, they might feel warm and protective at times, keeping us from that potential pain of getting hurt. But at other times they are more like a lead blanket, a barrier that keeps us from what we want.

And the Stories Continue . . .
The Big Cover-Up works in both directions. The stories we make up about another person can keep us from seeing and hearing them as well — leaving our relationship disconnected at best. Whether an intimate partner, a family member, or even a co-worker, these stories are often the fuel for conflict.

Bring to mind someone significant in your life you think about a lot. Follow the exercise below:

  1. Draw a simple sketch of the person on a piece of paper. (it's ok if you're not an artist, just a simple stick figure will do).
  2. Now, write those thoughts you have about him/her on the piece of paper such that you no longer can see the figure behind the writing. ["He doesn't put me as a priority in his life; he's self-absorbed, he doesn't love me as much as I love him; he doesn't acknowledge my feelings. He treats me like a child."]
  3. Now ask yourself,  "Which of these thoughts am I able to let go of?" If you find one, cross it off the paper. ["Yes, I know he loves me, and I want to trust that he loves me as much as I love him. I'll let that thought go."]
  4. Circle the thoughts that are most in the way of your seeing and hearing the other person in the present moment. ["He's self-absorbed is the thought I circled. That judgment keeps me from hearing about his interests in the moment."]
  5. Ask yourself, "What need am I trying to meet by holding on to that thought?" ["When he makes plans to go do fun things without checking in to see if I'd like to go too, it doesn't meet my needs for partnership, companionship, and acceptance."]
  6. Now ask yourself, "What is one other strategy that I could use to meet that need?" ["Instead of labeling him as self-absorbed, I can talk with him about how I see our interests being quite similar and ask for his feedback.  I can initiate by expressing my needs and wants to him rather than telling myself what's wrong with him."]

As you approach conversations and interactions in the next few days, think about the stories you are making up. Are they covering up your ability to see your needs, and the other person's needs in the moment? Throwing off these lead blankets is liberating. It helps us stay connected to the only moment we can enjoy life — right now.

Tiffany Meyer is the past editor and a contributing writer to the NVC Quick Connect e-Newsletter, the founder of the Help Share NVC Project, past marketing director for PuddleDancer Press, founder/president of Numa Marketing, author of Writing a Results-Driven Marketing Plan: The Nonprofit's Guide to Making Every Dollar Count, and creator of the companion online training program, Results-Driven Marketing Mastery. She has been learning and practicing NVC for more than a decade and remains committed to integrating it into her personal and professional life.

Lucy Leu is a CNVC certified trainer and the author of the NVC Companion Workbook, co-author of the NVC Toolkit for Facilitators and co-founder of the Seattle, Washington based Freedom Project, which supports the transition of prisoners into peacemakers. You can learn more about the Freedom Project at www.Freedom-Project.org.

Keep learning these vital communication skills with these books and training resources:




"The stories we create
about ourselves can be
like heavy blankets
covering up our heart."

- Tiffany Meyer