Your heart is a magical kitchen

At the moment, I have a very long commute to work – one hour and forty minutes each way – 25 minutes of winding single lane country road, and the rest on the Pacific highway, navigating endless road works and speed changes from 60 to 110 km/h. What to do with all of this time? I love podcasts, so I’ve been listening happily to them, but this week, I decided to try something new: an audio book, through the Audible app. The first book I chose was The Mastery of Love: A Practical Guide to the Art of Relationship by Miguel Ruiz. Ruiz is the guy who wrote The Four Agreements:

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So wise. I seriously apply these rules to all of the relationships in my life.

Our heart, Ruiz explains, is a magic kitchen where we can cook up any meal that we could ever want. It is self-replenishing and allows us to be completely self-sustainable when it comes to love. When your heart is full, Ruiz explains, if a guy knocks on your door offering you a daily ration of pizza if you’ll do whatever he wants, you’ll just laugh and close the door. However, if your magic kitchen is bare, and you’re starving, that offer seems like a lifeline. But that set up for a relationship leads to a power imbalance, and a dealer/addict scenario, where one person has the goods, and the other partner will do almost anything to get their fix. That is not love, my friend, that is hell. 

So, how do we fill up our magic kitchen and cook up everything that we need so that we can be self-sustaining? How do we have relationships that are based not on lack, but on overflowing abundance?

We identify and tend to our own needs. We take responsibility for our own fulfilment, rather than expecting someone else to do it. We stop looking to our partner to be the magical source from which all good flows, instead,  making our own choices that generate a deep sense of purpose and love. The moment in which we do this, is usually the moment we look back on as a major turning point.  


Like most people, I thought that my partner was somehow responsible for my happiness or unhappiness. I blamed other people and situations for my life, which seemed flat, limited and lacking in conviction or purpose. At the same time, I was paying much more attention to my partner’s pile of garbage than to my own. And then one day, sick to death of myself, I began the process of accepting responsibility for my life,  sorting through my rubbish, identifying my needs and desires, and doing something about them.  

So, some 6 years later, here we are. Our relationship of 17 years is vastly different from the one we had at 11 years. When one partner moves to claim their life , the other either needs to do the same or risk losing the relationship. Our partnership has been lost and found several times over that period as we both dig deep and find new ways of relating to each other within our new parameters. We have become each other’s teachers as we come to know our own strengths and weaknesses intimately.  

This week I was listening to Dani Shapiro talk about her new memoir, Hourglass: Time, Memory, Money, which is a memoir of her and her husband’s 20 year marriage. My first thought was I wonder how she got him to agree to that? My second thought was, what would the themes be if I wrote a memoir about the Bear and me? And my third thought was the first 2 sentences of my memoir:

When I was a child, my parents used to say that I was going to make one lucky man very happy. It wasn’t until I was 40 that I realised that they weren’t being entirely serious.

The Bear is a heart person, passionate and at times intense, subject to greater depths of emotion than I can fathom. When things get tricky or sticky, my instinct is to withdraw to my ivory tower to get perspective, identify patterns and get clarity. Left to my own devices, I want to withdraw into my books, projects, work and study; the Bear constantly drags me back into our flesh and blood life, insisting that I pay attention to him, sometimes to my great irritation :).

The truth is, that I can sometimes be hard of heart and of heart. I am impatient and tend to shut down and shut off emotionally to protect myself. I like to ship, I like to fix, I like solutions, I like to understand, I like things to be tidy and simple. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work like that!

The Bear forces me to climb down out of my ivory tower (my mind) and clamber around in the squishy chambers of the heart. I have been learning both to be vulnerable and accept vulnerability, be engaged and present within our relationship, even when things get hard. I can feel my heart opening, feel it as a physical sensation – and miracles of all miracles, our relationship is getting better and better. 

As Ruiz says, we have to take responsibility for our own garbage. There is absolutely no point in trying to clean up someone else’s garbage, while being surrounded by our own stinking pile. Right? Right. And the somewhat surprising thing is, that when you start to attend to your own rubbish heap, not only is your attention distracted  from that of your partner’s faults and problems, but your partner now has the room to get to work on their own dump. 


So, when was your turning point? What happened when you grabbed hold of your life with your own hands?

Or, if that moment has yet to come for you, what are you waiting for?

16 comments

  1. We have visitors at the moment, and yours is the only blog I am going to read for a few weeks. You always fill me with inspiration. One of the heights of joy in my life has been the evolution of our marriage, getting better each year for 34 years now. Like you we have gone through our ‘opportunities for growth’ and it has not been easy but to realise you actually like who both of you has become is one of the tests of success, not to mention happiness, in my opinion. Big hugs to you and the Bear (bear hugs, of course…)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Ardys, I saw some of your amazing desert photos on Instagram – the treed path was beautiful, and the blue sky/red earth contrast is incredible.
      Thank you so much for that beautiful compliment. I only share my experiences in the hope that they will be of use, and it gives me great pleasure when it is so ❀️
      A 35 year relationship – it makes me wonder what wonderful wisdom will be in store in another 10, 15, 20 years. I agree, being genuinely able to appreciate yourself, your partner and your partnership is such a source of happiness and security.
      Enjoy your friends, and I’ll hear from you on the other side 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love that metaphor of your heart being a magical kitchen. And it really is, because once you gain a different perspective and/or more clarity into your own heart, things really can magically change. I admit that romantic relationships have typically eluded me, most likely because I’ve kept anyone with any potential at arm’s length. I’ve used reasons like being independent, not needing anyone, and not meeting the right person to explain this but I’ve also realized that those reasons have also become excuses for plain and simple fear. Fear of being vulnerable, of being exposed, and of not being good enough. Now that I see my “reasons” as being filed with a lot of crap, I’m doing my best to clear them of it while also staying true to my own core values. I think I’m still in the turning point phase with this, but I’m hopeful that something good is around the corner. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Lillian, this is exactly what I love: people calling out their own bullshit, owning it and making changes. Seriously some of my favourite human behaviour, because it’s so rare. Yes, and fear is usually at the bottom of it! Good luck with cooking up your favourite dishes in your magical kitchen!

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  3. Nothing in practice is ever as easy as in theory, so it’s generous of your to share your experiences and interesting insight into your personal and relationship progression, particularly because you & Bear have been together long enough to participate in one that is real, long term and committed… in these days of “relationship” apps and swiping left & right. Sigh.
    I have walked out, albeit after working to keep them afloat, from 2 dead-in-the-water marriages and not looked back. Now I’m part of a keeper, I’d say our biggest asset is that we were friends first and are still each other’s best friend. While we might get mad and lose touch in the moment with those four useful agreements, it’s hard to be angry at your best friend, the one by rights you’d turn to if you were frustrated with your spouse’s behaviour.
    My turning point personally was many years ago while studying counselling and doing the personal growth work when I realised blaming other people was a waste of time and they did the best they could then, and do the best they can now. A weight lifted off me that day. Hand in hand was realising that my expectations and perspectives are not necessarily valid for someone else.
    I understand I/we’ll never attain perfection, there’ll be times we’ll be tired, hungry, sick, mistaken, misunderstood… but if it’s underwritten by real caring then we have a chance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh gosh, me too – I do believe people do the best they can with the resources they have. A big burden has been lifted from dropping my expectations of people, places and events, and lowering the bar, if not my standards. I remember standing in the shower one day, distressed about yet another disappointing human encounter, and realising with a flash that it was my expectations that were disappointed, not the person’s behaviour. Since then I’ve worked on dropping or at least lowering my expectations, and Lo and behold – less disappointments πŸ‘πŸΌπŸ˜Š

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  4. I love The 4 Agreements! Actually, I found reading the book a bit dull but I discussed it with a book group and it was so interesting to explore our lives and how we relate to these. The main tenets really bring sanity!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Can I tell you a secret? I’ve never read the book 😊 I have somehow picked up and absorbed the actual four agreements, and I think they are wonderful and wise, but simple to understand, so didn’t read the book 😊

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  5. you’re quite an inspiration to me, sara!
    i mean making the most of that time
    in the car, learning and growing
    moreso than road raging as i might
    become inclined to.
    good thing i was able to live near
    where i worked & worked near where i lived!
    may we continue doing our best
    keeping relationships fresh & new
    as they ultimately change with youth πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hullo 😊 Maybe it’s a mother thing, making the most of every minute I mean! I don’t get angry on the road, because that is definitely not making the best use of my time 😊

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  6. Hi Sara! I just listened to Dani Shapiro also, and loved her advice on owning our idiosyncrasies. I feel like this aligns well with the idea that the heart is a magical kitchen. Our genius, eccentricities, or however we define them, are the foundation for true creativity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Elysha πŸ™‚ I love that we can live on opposite ends of the worlds and still be listening to the same people speak. I am sure Dani has been out and about talking about her book – I was listening to her on the Good Life Project with Jonathan Fields. And yes, you are so right – being able to embrace our own idiosyncracies and genius is what stocks our magical kitchen <3. Lovely to read you again!

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  7. I always enjoy reading your posts as I resonate with so much of what to write about – and you have great recommendations too! πŸ™‚ Like Dani Shapiro – I love her books and I didn’t know she had a new memoir. So I’m going to get right on that. It’s wonderful to see you back blogging! ❀ Aleya

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  8. Audio books are fun. Last year I listened to Dirt Music (with William McInnes narrating – he did such a wonderful job portraying the laconic aussie males in the story and the depth and beauty of the landscape). I remember I would drive that extra block to finish the chapter or sit in a friends driveway listening to the next little bit. I was transported – to the beauty of the West Australian coast and the life of the characters so real in TimWinton’s books.

    I loved reading your descriptions and noticings about relationship. You and Bear. Inspiring and real.

    One of our 4 months of travelling depths (of despair and joy) was felt in relation to Dave and I. And it resulted in fundamental earth-grounding shifts. Finally we are beginning to….

    …..learning both to be vulnerable and accept vulnerability, be engaged and present within our relationship, even when things get hard. I can feel my heart opening, feel it as a physical sensation – and miracles of all miracles, our relationship is getting better and better. {Thanks for the quote πŸ™‚

    I am loving being back home and close to the WIFI and a return and a rich options of catch up on all my favorite podcasts and audios. A lovely grounding welcome home gift.

    X Kate

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    • I read Dirt Music as a paper book a few years ago – I can imagine that it would be a completely different experience with William McInnes narrating. He is fabulous. For me, Cloudstreet was so phenomenal that I have never been able to enjoy any of his other books quite as much πŸ™‚
      O yes – if we have the patience and the doggedness to stick with a relationship for a long time – then things really start to get interesting :). I have given up so many times, which felt like despair at those times, but looking back was more like surrender. It’s not for the faint hearted, that’s for sure! Through it all, our core values remained aligned, which is why we’re still here 17 years later. 17 years of unpacking and sorting our shit…adulting is so hard! πŸ™‚

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