September 1, 2011 Leave a comment
September always feels like a time of new beginnings for us. Even though autumn doesn’t officially begin until the 23rd, the Labor Day weekend is like the last blowout party of summer. Perhaps that feeling overwhelms me because I first arrived in Cincinnati in 1999, just in time to join a crowd of nearly half-million people for a day of family entertainment at the P&G Riverfest and the truly awesome Cincinnati Bell/WEBN Fireworks display. That also happened to be the weekend I forged some of my strongest friendships with people in the area.
But even as children, the first weekend in September was a time to take a last-minute vacation, go camping at our favorite state park (like Big Bone Lick State Park in Kentucky), or simply grill out at home with friends. Regardless of the activity, this always seems like a moment of transition, a time to get together with our favorite people and wrap up yet another summer of fun in the sun. This is when we send the kiddos back to school, brace ourselves for another year of hard work, get geared up for fall festivals, and reflect on how this summer changed us.
Last month, I wrote about a good friend who died, Nelda Paschal, and I later posted a recipe in memory of my great-aunt, Editha Hayes Spencer. When writing those dedications, I thought that even though these women are now gone, the impact they had on those who knew them was transformative. Both women were the epitome of grace, and when they smiled at someone, it was as if they sent out rays of positive energy and love that enveloped the recipient. Memories of people like them, people who truly impacted our lives for the better, make times of change, months like September, seem like the perfect time to focus on what is truly important: reassessment and fortification of our authentic selves, and the ultimate redirection of our life’s path.
Recently I read a quote by Maya Angelou that really resonated with me. She said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” The more I’ve thought about those words, I realized that what she said is true. There are many instances in my life where the particulars of a situation are foggy, but the emotion surrounding it still burns within me, whether someone made me feel special, loved, inspired, or motivated. But I also remember those times when someone made me feel embarrassed, frightened, appalled, guilty, or angry.
Angelou essentially raised a question that makes each of us accountable for how we treat others. We all need to ask ourselves, ‘How do I make others feel when they are with me?’ Am I hospitable, empathetic and compassionate? Or do I criticize when I should praise? When I’m unsure how to best handle a situation, do I err on the side of kindness? Of course, none of us are immune from saying things we shouldn’t from time to time. But for the most part, is love the basis of my modus operandi? These are questions we all have to answer sooner or later. Doing so now, will help us improve our lives, ease stress, find contentment, and truly feel loved.
For as long as there have been writers, filmmakers, musicians and other artists, creative people have also focused on what brings true happiness. One of my favorite songs delivers a message I’m sure Angelou would approve of. Originally featured on Broadway in Do Re Mi in 1960, “Make Someone Happy” was composed by Jule Styne, Betty Comden and Adolph Green. I first heard Jimmy Durante sing this song on the Sleepless in Seattle soundtrack in 1993. Most recently, Barbra Streisand recorded it on her Love is the Answer (2009) and One Night Only albums (2010). You can watch Streisand’s performance of this tune at New York’s Village Vanguard below. I’m willing to bet that the lyrics will haunt you too.
There are countless ways to make others happy though, and they usually boil down to putting others ahead of self or doing something special for someone else. At work, we can give the best customer service possible and make everyone’s day a little better. In our personal lives, we can give a gift or make ourselves available to others by freeing up our calendar. For Heather and I, our favorite way to make others happy is by demonstrating hospitality, cooking for friends and loved ones and dishing up something a little extra special when we do. If you want to try making something memorable for your favorite people, try one of August’s many featured recipes, including our Banana Crunch Muffins for breakfast-on-the-go or Mexican favorites like Chicken Enchiladas Salsa Verde, Toasted Flautas, and Jalapeno Creamed Corn.
Want something a little more traditional? Make our healthy Ya-Ya Chicken, dished up with Spinach Béchamel and Pasta Rouge. In the mood for Italian? Our Rotini with Sugo Fresco Giardino is light and goes great with Neapolitan Green Beans. Complete your world tour with Asian-inspired dishes like Kung Pao Chicken with Peanuts, Chinese Celery Cilantro Salad, and Cold Sesame Ginger Noodles.
Need a little comfort food? Jathan’s Split Pea Soup and Skillet Cornbread are awesome at lunch or dinner. And if you want something yummy to drink, pour our Hawaiian Breeze or Blueberry Mojito. They both go down smoothly and seem to make even the harshest day a little easier. Finish off your meal with sweet treats like Banana Cake or our gloriously pink Strawberry Dream Cake.
Not in the mood to cook? Visit our favorite new restaurant, French-inspired It’s Just Crepes, a revolutionary dining venue in Cincinnati with three locations that pack both savory and sweet goodness into a paper-thin crepe. So good!
Whatever you’re doing this Labor Day, have a marvelous holiday weekend, be safe and remember that September isn’t just the end of summer, but the beginning of what can be the best year of your life!
Jathan & Heather
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