I believe in making choices guided by the heart.
I believe that when we listen we are able to make heart-centered choices.
I was a good kid, didn’t get into much trouble, excelled in school and was enthusiastic about my competitive dance and gymnastic schools. But I was not a quiet kid. I always had an opinion and had the infamous name of Mother Marti, for my overzealousness to put everyone and everything in their supposed right place. Listening for me was not as natural as a back somersault. Maybe because I had to be so disciplined at listening in the dance studio, I rebelled outside, especially with my parents. Like many children I thought I knew more and that my parents’ job was to simply be annoying. “Marti, would you just listen instead of talking back?”, was commonly asked by my father. For years my father just sounded irritating. But as I’ve grown older his message has sunk in and I hear my father’s words now as sage advice. I now understand the deeper meaning in his asking me to listen more.
My father was not asking me to simply listen to HIM. He was not trying to suppress my voice. Rather, he was asking me to listen inside myself – to hear before speaking, to wait before reacting. I have realized the importance of listening to my heart, most recently, after graduating from a very special culinary arts school that focuses on organic, natural foods as well as cooking for health. Since venturing off as a private chef and consultant, I have worked with many people who are battling cancer, teaching them how to choose natural ingredients and healthful ways to prepare tasty dishes. It has been one of the most gratifying and inspiring paths I’ve traveled. To see a client’s appetite brighten just from the smell of a simmering stock, or to be able to have a favorite food, like buffalo wings made with healthier ingredients and some extra love – I see the power of healing foods everyday.
It can be very difficult to watch clients go through the emotional, physical and spiritual suffering and I have doubted whether I want to work with them. My clients continue to remind me though why I do this work and I remind them that they have the power to nourish their body and soul starting with what they eat. My first client had advanced cancer. There were some days she looked so sick I was ready to run with fear. But the more I returned to listening with my heart I knew what to make for her that would calm her nerves or sweeten up her mood. When all she wanted was a soft cookie, I made her a healthy batch. She took one bite and was smiling from ear to ear. That was the only moment that mattered, that she could taste, feel and enjoy. When we lost her, not too long after we met, I was struck with fear whether I could keep cooking for cancer patients. Then three months later I met a family I couldn’t turn away from. A mother called me to help her 27-year- old son. He was diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer, and the whole family wanted to transition into a healthier whole foods diet together. After meeting this family I was captured by their positivity, the son’s fortitude, and their collective desire to do all they could to beat his cancer by pursuing a healthy lifestyle. Thank goodness I had the ability to listen before reacting to my fears. The more I listened to my heart the only thing I could do was take the job and help this family eat the best foods possible. The fate of the son’s cancer cannot be known. Not I nor his family can know. But what can be known is how he chooses to live. And for this I am inspired everyday to work with him, to give him the most nourishment possible.
I look back at my early years and I’m grateful to have gotten all that arguing and protesting against my parents out of the way. I’m thankful to know how to listen and to hear what is right without saying a word.