To you it may look like refrigerator shelf of languishing rigatoni, forgotten mushrooms, and past-their-prime scallions.

To me, I’ve just become a Food Network “Chopped” Champion.

Except the countdown clock is Noah and Jude’s dinner tummies (and I prolly forgot the afternoon snack.) 

⏰ The race is on!

🎙️ What WILL Dan DO with a cup and a half of leftover brown rice, a suspect red pepper, and rotisserie chicken? Oh! He’s got the sour cream! 

Now he’s got the Sriracha. What’s he planning to do with… No, he’s putting AWAY the Sriracha. Wise choice.

Taking meh-sad looking fridge food, throwing it in a pan with some stock and chopped garlic and whatever half-a-bag of veg we’ve got hiding in the freezer satisfies me.

I rescued the food from an orange Town of Ashland trash bag and made a surprise—

Something delicious came together from disconnected, unsexy ingredients.

There’s also something deep in me that says: 

“Come on. Give me the least advantageous scenario. WATCH what I do.”

Give me the bottom-of-the-list resources and see what I make! 

Give me the singer who heard they “should just pursue acting,” and listen to the beautiful sounds this artist is gonna set free. 

That one really fires me up.

There’s something about people being forgotten, dismissed, or things being tossed aside that grabs my guts.

I remember a dream I had over 20 years ago —

💭🎵💭🎵💭 (harp sequence) 

I was in an artist’s grotto. There was soft green grass — like those impossibly carpety lawns you see in English gardens. And there was an open-air white wooden shed.

Inside were mosaic frames made from shattered glass, sculptures crafted from scrap metal, and furniture reformed from discarded tables and chairs. 

All these things that someone threw away, a kind and loving artist rescued, brought together, and made beautiful.

That’s what we get to do in musical theatre. 

We’re the island of misfit toys, and we find a place where everyone says: 

“Yes! Of course we should dress up like other people, pretend to BE them, and stop the narrative action for 3 minutes to process our inmost emotions accompanied by motivic orchestrations.”

Terrific art bringsTOGETHER things that human brains consign to separate cubbies.

And that’s the surprise of love’s truth — seemingly disparate things DO indeed go together. They are connected whether or not we see it.

That’s why folks can’t get enough of those unlikely animal friends videos. I mean, I can’t. 

You’ve got ingredients in your life that you’ve forgotten about or decided to ignore. 

You’ve got stories and truths sitting in your cupboard waiting to be stirred into the most delicious risotto. 

What may look old and used up, even borderline expired (an ongoing debate in our home :)) —

with a little “I wonder, what if, let’s try,” you’ve got a love-seasoned meal that’s a surprise and a delight — AND something you can share.

I invite you to sit here at my table and say to yourself the following:

You’ve got ingredients no one else has, and if you don’t share them, folks won’t get the nourishment that can only come from your kitchen and your heart.”

Can you remember a meal that not only tasted yummy but also healed you a little? A meal when you could taste the love? 

We always ask the boys when we cook together — what’s the most important ingredient?

Jude always says, “WUV!”

(I’m gonna be so sad when he starts saying [L]s.) 

They stretch their hands toward the pan and say loooove looooove looooove!)

Let that be you. Stretch your hands toward your work and the world and to YOU, take a deep breath, and say “WUV!”

Because seriously, there is only ONE YOU, and folks need to hear the story only you can sing. 

Wuv much,