THE BLOG

What's in Your Mystery Basket?

Truth time. I've got a little obsession. And I know I'm not alone on this one.

It combines some of my very favorite things: riveting drama, diverse personalities...and food.

It's the television show Chopped. And I looooooove it. In fact, I record it regularly so I can watch it every morning as I prep for the day.

2015-08-31-1441043830-1927999-blogchoppedmorning.JPG

If you don't know the Food Network show, here's the skinny.

Four chefs compete to prepare a three-course meal (appetizer, entrée and dessert). Each round contains a new mystery basket, which reveals a set of ingredients (sometimes lovely, sometimes whacky) they have to use in their dish. At the end of each round, one person is "chopped". The last person standing gets $10k.

I eagerly anticipate each round, wondering just what the next mystery basket will bring...and how the contestants will make the best of the ingredients to get an awesome reaction.

Or...a not so awesome reaction.

You know the face.

2015-08-31-1441043873-4121847-blogkiddislike2.jpg

This week, right in the middle of a goat chops/dragon's tongue beans/cinnamon schnapps/dark chocolate round (no lie), I realized something.

I've got a mystery basket, too. In fact, we all do.

We're actually given one every single day.

Think about it.

Each day we have our plan. We come into our day prepared with our skills and our tools and our ideas about how the day will go.

And each day, things change up...sometimes a little, sometimes a lot.

  • Sometimes our mystery basket includes a crashed computer or a sick child or a major traffic jam. So we need to switch gears and make the best of it.
  • Sometimes our mystery basket comes with an unexpected success or opportunity. So we need to switch gears and make the best of it.
  • Sometimes our mystery basket includes an emergency meeting with a boss or a family member. So we need to switch gears and make the best of it.

If nothing else our day includes dozens of emails that pop into our inbox, lines that we need to wait on, people we run across at the office or at a meeting...all of which we can't quite predict.

When you think about it, life itself is just one big mystery basket. We're born with a certain set of physical characteristics and family dynamics, and our task is to make the best life we can...switching gears when our metaphorical brioche burns or we under-spice our metaphorical broccoli rabe.

Okay Deirdre...I get it. You might be thinking. My life is a mystery basket. What's your point?

My point is that life might just get better if we look at each day not just understanding that it's a mystery basket...but actually embracing it. Even celebrating it.

We talked in my last blog post about how every thought we have is a choice. And we've got an important one to make when it comes to our basket and how we choose to look at it.

There's something incredibly freeing in realizing we cannot avoid the mysteries of each day...that we can't possibly prepare for every single occurrence.

And, truth be told, they're good for us. It's those mysteries that challenge us, make us grow, make life interesting.

I ask you...what if we started each day wondering in anticipation just what would be in our baskets? If we hoped for the beautiful produce but also knew that stale jelly beans might be on the menu?

And what if we didn't just make the best of it...but instead made the most of it...challenging ourselves to use those mysteries to grow, to add some spice to our lives.

What if we also accepted that there will be days when we might stumble...when our chicken-gizzard casserole might not work out...that we might in fact get chopped?

And...what if we knew that on those rare occasions that we'd actually be fine?

Really. I watch people get chopped on the show - and in real life - every day. I've certainly been chopped myself.

And we survive it. It hurts, it's a blow to the ego, it takes some time and some strength, but we all work through it.

And, in the end, we know that life will give us a whole new mystery basket the next day. And we can kick that basket's butt and make something amazing.

And get that awesome reaction we've been waiting for.

2015-08-31-1441044029-7737940-blogkidlike.jpg

It doesn't really get more delicious than that.

This week...

Embrace your mystery basket. Don't just make the best of it, but make the most of it...use it to let yourself grow.

And know that, if it doesn't go perfectly, your next mystery basket will arrive, right on time, tomorrow.

PS: special thanks to nvainio for that happy kid pic, and to Eric Fleming for that...less-happy kid photo.