“OK, this is what you do,” my Stepmom instructed.
We stood side by side over the increasingly hot stove. On the stove was one single pot. In one hand was Canola oil that she carefully poured oil into the pot until it coated the bottom. She took the bag of tiny popcorn kernels and sprinkled just enough to sink lazily into the oil. Over the covered pot, we watched the oil hiss, fizz, and bubble until the kernels began to slowly and then rapidly pop magically into crunchy and crisp popcorn kernels.
Pop, Pop, Pop went the innocent kernels now transformed into actual popcorn.
To finish it off, she sprinkled some salt over a bowl of the most fresh and tastiest popcorn I ever had. Magic! Fresh and homemade popcorn right off the stove!
I was over the moon thrilled and excited. “I can’t believe you can make your own popcorn! Forget Orville Redenbacher!!” I exclaimed gleefully.
Over the years and all thanks to my Stepmom as the ultimate popcorn instructor, I have perfected my popcorn with ghee, sunflower seed oil, parmesan cheese, and Himalayan pink sea salt. My family and friends clamor for my signature popcorn. My sister claims in between mouthfuls of popcorn: “You gotta sell this stuff!” One Christmas, I even received two popcorn makers because of my transparent love affair with popcorn!
Popcorn has always been my ultimate favorite snack. Particularly when I was on the road to recovery and had to endure pain, procedures, and, especially, prodding from needles.
I know my needles well. Not because I’m some drug addict (some may beg to differ with the amount of pills I pop in my mouth daily to keep the kidney beanie babies going), but, because, needles have always been in my life. I can tell you all the types, sizes, shapes, vials, and can immediately recognize a good straight shooter and even the amount of experience the blood drawer has had with blood extraction or IV input. I love butterfly needles with green wings and am rather indifferent about the longer in length needles attached to syringes.
I know my veins even better. I can brag to you about my best veins, show you the kind of pumped up winning fist you need to make for the veins to pop out, and advise the amount of days you need to wait before your next blood draw or IV input if that’s possible. I’ve had my blood splatter over and shoot out. I’ve had nurses and lab techs stab and jab the needle so far in that I start to squirm and curse. Big welts and bruises as a result of veins that blew from those that did not know any better. I’ve had healthcare professionals blame my veins spouting: “Oh, so you have bad veins…” I retort rather passive aggressively, “No, no one has had problems before.” I have even refused a phlebotomist to draw my blood before because he did not wear gloves or cleanse my arm with an alcohol pad, resulting in a needle with direct contact and without any sterilization to my skin.
Needles that pricked my fingers and injected in my back are not fun, but I hate the needles in my belly the absolute most. You would think with such good cushioning and padding that I possess that the needles would not bother, but they hurt like hell for me. After my hip replacement surgery, I had to get needles in my belly to prevent possible blood clots. My Dad knew how much I hated them and made a deal with me like I was a little girl again: “After you get your needle in your belly, you get a stack of Pringles potato chips.”
My eyes lit up with joy. Oooh…a stack of Pringles potato chips! My fave! As the number of needles went into my belly and the number of bruises increased to the point that the nurses were not sure where to stick the next needle, I focused on my stack of Pringles potato chips. I could not help but smile at the memories of when I was a little girl receiving saccharine crystal clear rainbow-colored lollipops that I sucked on jovially and lifted my band-aid arm in a warrior Wu pose. I was such a spoiled brat, conditioned to receive a little goodie after the needle punctured my vein and withdrew my crimson blood and on my road to recovery.
However, it is popcorn that I have the ultimate love affair with as my reward and all around snack. I have a special place for it because it was the snack that bonded and brought my Stepmom and me close together. The crunch, the crisp, and the almost alien head contortions….yes, It is the ONLY snack I think about as my reward when I am on my road to recovery and for all the pain from needles, tests, procedures, and whatever else that is endured because of this one reason: Popcorn fascinates me that when under hot oil and flames and fire, the tiny and innocent looking kernels burst into something so tasty and yummy. What has been your ‘reward’ on the road to recovery? Have you ever eventually burst so much from pain and pressure that it made you full of clarity and understanding? That it made you better than rather bitter?
I think we all need a little bit of heat, pain, pressure, and even fire to fuel us to be better and to stronger. It is only from pain that we learn about strength, character, faith, and about savoring the good and enjoyment in that certain time and place. I always say to people and I stay true to this that I am immensely grateful for pain for telling us our limitations while teaching us to push boundaries. We all experience places of severe pain that it is up to us to bloom with the better or blame with the bitter. We all have to be at a certain place at a certain time and we all need to be kind, gentle, and patient to ourselves during these times that are filled with more asks than answers.
Do you think pain and pressure are actually necessary in life to grow and even remove ourselves out of our comfort zone? When you are under extreme heat, do you fly and form from a kernel into a crispy and crunchy popcorn?
Keep on poppin' and let the tiny become mighty! :-)
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,