The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Enid Features

March 11, 2014

Taking risks or accepting challenges?

Do you take risks or accept challenges? Think about it.

Some people think accepting any challenge is a risk. They are afraid to try anything new or different. If in doubt, they don’t do it. If it is new, they don’t try it. These people miss out on a lot of exciting adventures in their lifetime. A good rule of thumb is: Accept challenges. That is how we grow. Take risks only if we can afford them.  

I often wonder where would I be if my grandparents had not taken the risk or challenge or gamble to come west to settle in Oklahoma. I know it was no picnic to face the dangers of living in this new, virgin countryside, but they came anyway and took each risk and challenge and gamble as it presented itself.   

They believed in their hearts that everything would work out and make a better life for them and their offspring. It did — because they persevered. They may have had fears of the unknown, but they had no real fear of their future. They met each other after they had both settled in Indian  Territory (eastern Oklahoma), and  together they believed that life would be rewarding in this new land.

Too often, fears (unnecessary fears) keep us from trying something new. It takes a lot of courage and patience and determination to start any new venture, whether it is to relocate to another state like my grandparents did, or to a new country as Jim’s grandparents did. Or, to venture into a completely new way of life.  But we will never know until we try.

I am not much at taking risks unless I feel pretty sure of the outcome. I do not risk investments. I do not take health risks. I do not take traffic risks (driving on our streets and highways is enough of a gamble for me and the other drivers). I do not risk my resources by giving information on the phone or Internet. I am fairly conservative. However, I do like a challenge.  

I took a risk when I wrote my cookbook, “Homemade Food for Thought.” Would they sell? Would I make a lot of mistakes and ruin readers’ ingredients? Would they think every chapter was the same as the last? Would I make enough money to warrant the time and energy involved in selling my book? The “what ifs” went on and on.

I did take almost a year to write, edit, proofread and publish my little book. And even though it would  never make the New York Times Best Seller list, it was a success for a reserved farm girl who grew up during the Depression era. I enjoyed the contacts I made from book signings and     speaking around the state. Lovely people were kind enough to wish me well. After two printings, I decided to not print it again.   

Although I had a wonderful time doing the book and “hawking” it, I don’t think I would do it again. I do want to write one more cookbook, but that will be just for those I love.   My granddaughter said I had to write “Grandma’s Cookin’ Book,” and I will, but I will be very low key and include only favorite family recipes and stories.  

I do find a challenge interesting.  Just recently, my manicurist was talking about French macarons. She said they were made with almonds and no coconut. Well, I looked and looked and found two recipes (although the spelling was different) and tried them both. They both tasted wonderful, but she said they were still not the same as those she purchases on the Internet. I will keep trying. I had fun trying new recipes.

Another friend was talking about English tea cakes her grandma made.  That also was fun to try, and she said they tasted just like those she remembered as a kid.

Occasionally, I get calls from friends and readers who have a question about cooking or a particular ingredient. I enjoy talking to the people and also enjoy the challenges they present. I learn a lot from them.  

I lived with challenge during the Depression when I was growing up. Mother and Daddy never complained, but I know each day was a special challenge to make ends meet and to keep us fed and clothed, and to give us stability for those hard times. We never got blue or depressed nor bothered.

We just kept on doing what had to be done daily, and day by day, we came out of a slump and survived the Depression and tough times. Those lessons have stayed with me throughout my adult life. With any problem or setback, I land on my feet!

Jim joined the Marines as a challenge, never thinking about the risks involved. It did not occur to him that his life was at risk until he got into actual combat. Then it all became very real. By then, he had trained enough that what he did was almost automatic and he was ready for whatever came his way. He went from challenge to risk to ready in a few short weeks.

I think for kids, school is a real challenge. Learning is a challenge. Being social is a challenge to pre-teens or first-graders. Their many activities are challenging. Isn’t that enough challenge without having to risk their lives at school? We never had those worries when I was a kid. We always felt safe and secure. We never faced the risks that kids do  now. How very sad that kids cannot just be kids and feel safe in any environment. They should be free from fear. Growing up is challenge enough without their lives being at risk or feeling anxious.

Cooking anything is a challenge for some people if they are not accustomed to it.  

Almost anyone can master this risk-free simple recipe, and it makes a pretty good, quick, easy meal.

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