I called a girlfriend I hadn’t spoken to in a couple of months.  “I have breast cancer,” she said. “This s a bump in the road. I’m having surgery next week. We’ll see what happens.”

I hung up digesting the weight of that call.

Next, I called my cousin. She just had surgery to avert worsening glaucoma, but her surgery provoked the very thing they hoped to avoid.  A surge of pressure now threatened to blind her. With love and prayers I hung up.

I then called my daughter at college who was having an angsty moment of overwhelm and uncertainty. I listened as best I could, refraining (as best I could), from reframing her situation and coaching her.

“I don’t want you to be a coach mom.” she said.  I offered love and support and hung up.

Each of these situations was out of my control, and I felt a deep sense of fear, anger, sadness and vulnerability.

When I don’t know what else to do, I make chicken soup.

It’s more than just a “can’t hurt” remedy. It’s a moving meditation.

I’ve been making a lot of soup lately.

Making soup allows me to channel energy.

The gathering of ingredients brings order to chaos.

Control is the antidote to vulnerability.

Chopping helps dissipate the anger. A sharp knife thrust against a wooden cutting board delivers a percussive thwang (perhaps my inner scream) and vegetables surrender for the greater good.

I get out my biggest pot, my ladle, and my spices. Methodically as a mantra, I gather the mundane seemingly insignificant ingredients: carrots, celery, parsnip, parsley, dill, onions and garlic and unite them in a collective cauldron of powerful purpose.

I bless them and thank them.

Truly the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

And then I confront time.

In all situations, Waiting equals Uncertainty.

Uncertainty is that limbo space–the free fall or the free float. It’s the truest lack of control.

But soup has a finite time. Chunked down to two days.

Waiting with purpose accompanied by expecting something good.

I see, hear, smell and feel the evolution of goodness.

I transform waiting into joyful anticipation instead of gloom and dread.

I visualize healing and love.

In a fixed period of 48 hours, I know I will have created a nourishing, soothing and healing elixir. I will bottle, bag and bring it to share as an act of solidarity, love and a deep knowing that our response is truly the only thing we can “control.”

Difficult situations, ebb and flow in a constant dance of yin and yang.

And as much as I don’t like it, I know it’s how I respond to those ever-changing currents and conditions, that matters most.

I haven’t always gotten it right, but I know by how I feel, if I’m at least on the right track.

When my mother underwent quadruple bypass surgery in Florida, I was in Italy teaching aerobics. I channeled my fear and lack of control into teaching the best classes I ever taught. Years later when both my parents died, I felt compelled to live doubly. I sensed an obligation to live bigger, as a means of seeing things through their eyes, in addition to mine.  By including them I transformed my grief into love. 

There is no one right way to manage difficult situations (yours or someone else’s) and this soup gig is new for me.

But for now, it is what I do when I believe there is nothing else for me to do.

Make Believe~ Make Belief Affirmation:  Today I find a way to transform fear into love.