When You Need To Pause and Nourish (a necessary clearing) by Leslie Forde

“Ouch!” I looked down and removed the sharp Lego® from my foot. I winced in frustration and surveyed the room. Toys and papers were everywhere. I returned to clearing the shelf and noticed the recipe box. I had received it quite a few years ago, yet untouched, it still looked new. I remembered the cards from my cookbook project and became determined to find them.


Earlier this month, I started clearing the clutter from my home, intent on removing it from my mind. I had been operating in default mode for quite some time. Trying (and failing) to stay one step ahead of my crowded schedule. The busyness continued to envelope me. When I lifted my head up for air, all I could see was wreckage. Debris from racing through life as fast as possible. The result of convenience thinking and neglect. The opposite of thoughtful building and pruning.


It’s draining to consistently fight against the wrong infrastructure. By spring, I knew I needed to rebuild and create the right supports. Ignoring this was somewhat intentional because rebuilding means pausing. It requires reflection and the energy to fine tune. It requires knowing what’s needed to heal.


I found the recipe file in my son’s closet. Reading the cards was like listening to music. They held some of my dearest memories. My mother’s kitchen and her feisty interpretation of everything food. I grew up surrounded by love and care. I was aware of it then, but am extremely grateful for it now. Mum’s chicken soup recipe, on colorful faded paper, was at the top. It’s not just any chicken soup, my mothers version is bolstered by split peas and is rich, like a stew. The broth, a silky-thick vegetable medley, satisfies. It’s luxurious. It’s restoration on a spoon … exactly what I need.

Self-care can take many forms. It can be active or quiet. Big or small. I’ve known I need more care in my life. That the external pressures have become internal worries. That rushing, everywhere and all-the-time, goes against my fabric. Where I come from, people were and still are, steeped in the magic of now. Emotionally and physically attuned to life’s subtle rhythms. Everything begins with breezy trees, the scent of sugarcane and the lilt of steel drums. My family members engage in lively debates that last well into the night. Where I come from they limit vexation and favor celebration. Even amidst pain they find the joy.


As a child, Bajan-speed felt too slow. Each trip, initially, I struggled to quiet my inner-clock. After the adjustment of waiting for Mini-Mokes and waiting for family, sometimes just waiting to wait, I would let go of the need to rush. I would relax, savor and play.


I’ve strayed too far from my roots and need to make some adjustments. I value the learning and growth that comes from reflection. Even when it’s hard. I review outcomes from my decisions and try to see them as they are. Especially when they differ from what I expected. During this time of clearing, as I make space for what’s next, I can replenish and let myself slip easily into something known. Something good. Something exactly like this soup!


Tasting it reconnects me to my core and the time when Mum, always emotionally strong, was also physically strong. When I was her eager apprentice, learning how to make sense of things, long before starting my own family.


Mum, now back in Barbados, still makes this soup once a week. I sometimes hear the faint chopping when we talk across the miles that separate us. When I make the soup, it’s evidence, the torch has been passed. That her hopes and dreams for a legacy, of children and grandchildren enjoying our version of her vision, has happened.



Leslie Forde.

Leslie Forde.

Leslie Forde is a full-time marketer, former pastry chef, freelance writer and Founder of Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs, where she conducts research about stress and advocates self-care and growth for Mothers. For weekly updates in Mom-power and Leslie’s Ultimate Guide to Making Family Dinner, join the Mom’s Hierarchy community.



Chantal Miller