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Teaching Chicken Soup

Dedicated to my first 5 students – and the great teachers that I’ve had over the past few years.

“If I wake up not feeling good tomorrow, can I stay home from school?” asked my 11-year-old son. “No way! I have big plans, and you’re not in them my sweet pea! Suck it up! Mommy loves you. Go to sleep.” I gently explained.

It was the first day of my first class as a painting teacher. I worked hard to plan and study, most of all, to convey. I wanted to teach some basic structure, much of which I have just recently learned myself. But equally as important, and perhaps more familiar to me, is the internal drive and the peace that paint can deliver. I wanted to convey that without babbling… or leaving my students confused and wondering what they signed up for.

“Brrrrr… Brrrr… Ughhhh…Brrrr… Mom, I don’t feel good, my head, my throat, my stomach.” “Not today,” I thought to myself. “No TV – draw, read, write, sleep…got it?” I demanded. “Yes Mom.” “Good, I love you.” I left.

Three hours flew by and I think all of my 5 students will return next week. I loved it. I could have stayed all day but I had a ‘sick’ boy at home. I dashed to alleviate his suffering and my guilt. I stopped at the store and arrived home with chicken, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, onion… all of these good things meant to cure the wee man that I had left unattended.

The big pot sat on the stovetop and stewed for hours. I pondered my day, and the handful of teachers I had sought out over the past few years. I thought of all of them with affection, respect, and gratitude. I thought of the many things they had taught me, and the many things I hoped to teach. I strained my stock and began to pick through all of the pieces that went into this love-induced chicken soup. I concluded their lessons over my task at hand. The big chunks of chicken go right back into the stock. They are easy to spot. Any untrained eye could find them. The delicate pieces require a bit more diligence. They are hidden amongst the stems, bones, skin, garlic, onions… You have to look a bit more carefully to find them. You have to slow down, linger over it and take notice. It requires ‘work’. It takes time. Sometimes it will strain your back, and sometimes no matter how hard you look, something will escape you. Everything that goes into the making of this soup is important and valuable; all of it, is worthy of your efforts. But in the end, some of it you will discard. You will pick through your pile and determine what holds value, and what has been rendered useless, or unimportant. The things that remain are the ingredients that speak to you, the ones you favor and hold dear. They will come together to make your soup – YOUR soup. Some may find it too spicy, others too bland – but if it tastes good to you, and it feels good going down, chances are someone else will like it too. One of life’s greatest pleasures is having enough soup to share. So make a big pot.


4 Responses to Teaching Chicken Soup

Perfect analogies for both painting and cooking chicken soup!

Posted by Robin Lyra Siano · via · 127 months ago

You never cease to amaze me, eloquent, clear and poignant.

Posted by Tom · via · 127 months ago

You’re words are a work of art! Very nice!

Posted by Mary Padgett Duquette · via · 127 months ago

Thanks Ladies. And thank you my Tommy boy – you still amaze me, even from afar.

Posted by kelly sullivan · via · 127 months ago


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