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Life Lessons from a Memorial

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Life Lessons from a Memorial

When you attend a memorial do you take the opportunity to learn from a family member’s, friend’s, or even a stranger’s passing?

Recently I attended a memorial for a man I’d never met. He was the husband of a co-worker of my husband; neither of us had met him but we wanted to be there to support her through this rough time.

I am no stranger to funerals or memorials: I’ve been to many to celebrate the life of someone who passed, including my own Mother’s passing 13 years ago. Via this event and others I’ve found many life lessons work learning.

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Life Lesson #1: If your “stuff” is causing you stress, clean house!

News of this man’s passing came on a day when we were preparing for a garage sale. I was overwhelmed by all the stuff in the garage, which looked as though an explosion had happened inside it, and I felt my husband wasn’t spending his time wisely as he built shelving in rather than get sale items ready.

When I saw the email about this man’s death—and the memorial arrangements for a man who was only 49, had two kids and a wonderful wife—it brought clear focus into was really important. I apologized to my husband and told him if our “stuff”  was causing stress and unhappiness we needed to get rid of more of it (ruthlessly).

What to do: Is your stuff causing stress in your life? If so, it’s time to clean house. This will allow you to focus on what is truly important by getting rid of the stuff that you really don’t need.

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Life Lesson #2: Make Time for Major Life Events

The memorial was scheduled for the day that we were actually to participate in that neighborhood garage sale. We had been looking forward to this for a year and had a lot of stuff to let go, but there was no question that we were going to the memorial and not participating in the sale. The passing of someone brings into sharp clarity that our relationships with others is ultimately what is most important.

When my mother passed, I was grateful for the many people who came to the funeral, sent cards, flowers, food and were there for us. My father said that the event had showed him how important it was to make it to birthdays, graduations, anniversaries and funerals himself. He resolved to attend more of these events in the future.

What to do: Have you attended important events from family and friends, or do you find life getting in the way? Make these events a priority in your life.

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Life Lesson #3: Learn from Another’s Life

While I never met this man, I was very touched by his memorial and the love that poured out from so many during the event. He was a man who built deep and lasting friendships, who gave much of himself and loved to travel off the beaten path. I am sure he had no regrets and had a very loving tribe around him.

What to do: What do you most admire when you take a moment to appreciate the lives of those you have lost? Take a moment to write down 3 things about each person you’ve lost.

Life Lesson #4: Take Time to Re-assess

Events like this make you stop and reassess your life. Are your priorities in the right place? At the time of our passing no-one is going to care what kind of car we drove, how much money we made, or how many extra hours we put in. What matters is the friendships and family we have, how we chose to help others, and the type of person we were. I certainly stopped to re-asess if my priorities were in line. Thankfully they are close. I still have areas that I struggle with and I find it beneficial to look at how I am spending my time occasionally to be sure it is spent where is most valuable to me.

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Ultimately, attending someone’s memorial makes us appreciate life even more. We are all gifted with a finite number hours in this lifetime, and I hope to use mine as wisely as this man did.

What to do: What would you like to be remembered by? Make a list of 5 things you want others to remember when they attend your memorial. Now look at the list you wrote for life lesson #3. Would you like to be remembered for some of those things? If so, add them to your list. Are you living your life in such a way that you will be remembered for the items of your list? If not how can you adjust your priorities and the way you spend your time?

The time is now to start living the life you want to be remembered for.

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Last Updated on January 27, 2022

5 Reasons Why Food is the Best Way to Understand a Culture

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5 Reasons Why Food is the Best Way to Understand a Culture

Food plays an integral role in our lives and rightfully so: the food we eat is intricately intertwined with our culture. You can learn a lot about a particular culture by exploring their food. In fact, it may be difficult to fully define a culture without a nod to their cuisine.

“Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you who you are.” – Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1825).

Don’t believe me? Here’s why food is the best way to understand a culture:

Food is a universal necessity.

It doesn’t matter where in the world you’re from – you have to eat. And your societal culture most likely evolved from that very need, the need to eat. Once they ventured beyond hunting and gathering, many early civilizations organized themselves in ways that facilitated food distribution and production. That also meant that the animals, land and resources you were near dictated not only what you’d consume, but how you’d prepare and cook it. The establishment of the spice trade and the merchant silk road are two example of the great lengths many took to obtain desirable ingredients.

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Food preservation techniques are unique to climates and lifestyle.

Ever wonder why the process to preserve meat is so different around the world? It has to do with local resources, needs, and climates. In Morocco, Khlea is a dish composed of dried beef preserved in spices and then packed in animal fat. When preserved correctly, it’s still good for two years when stored at room temperature. That makes a lot of sense in Morocco, where the country historically has had a strong nomadic population, desert landscape, and extremely warm, dry temperatures.

Staples of a local cuisines illustrate historical eating patterns.

Some societies have cuisines that are entirely based on meat, and others are almost entirely plant-based. Some have seasonal variety and their cuisines change accordingly during different parts of the year. India’s cuisine is extremely varied from region to region, with meat and wheat heavy dishes in the far north, to spectacular fish delicacies in the east, to rice-based vegetarian diets in the south, and many more variations in between.

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The western part of India is home to a group of strict vegetarians: they not only avoid flesh and eggs, but even certain strong aromatics like garlic, or root vegetables like carrots and potatoes. Dishes like Papri Chat, featuring vegetable based chutneys mixed with yoghurt, herbs and spices are popular.

Components of popular dishes can reveal cultural secrets.

This is probably the most intriguing part of studying a specific cuisine. Certain regions of the world have certain ingredients easily available to them. Most people know that common foods such as corn, tomatoes, chili peppers, and chocolate are native to the Americas, or “New World”. Many of today’s chefs consider themselves to be extremely modern when fusing cuisines, but cultural lines blended long ago when it comes to purity of ingredients.

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Black pepper originated in Asia but became, and still remains, a critical part of European cuisine. The Belgians are some of the finest chocolatiers, despite it not being native to the old world. And perhaps one of the most interesting result from the blending of two cuisines is Chicken Tikka Masala; it resembles an Indian Mughali dish, but was actually invented by the British!

Food tourism – it’s a whole new way to travel.

Some people have taken the intergation of food and culture to a new level. No trip they take is complete with out a well-researched meal plan, that dictates not only the time of year for their visit, but also how they will experience a new culture.

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So, a food tourist won’t just focus on having a pint at Oktoberfest, but will be interested in learning the German beer making process, and possibly how they can make their own fresh brew. Food tourists visit many of the popular mainstays for traditional tourism, like New York City, San Francisco, London, or Paris, but many locations that they frequent, such as Armenia or Laos, may be off the beaten path for most travelers. And since their interest in food is more than meal deep, they have the chance to learn local preparation techniques that can shed insight into a whole other aspect of a particular region’s culture.

Featured photo credit: Young Shih via unsplash.com

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