The Best Verb to Keep in Your Notebook

Great living is a lot like great cooking. You want to take the ingredients of the day and create 5 star masterpieces. You want to arrange what’s given to you (like on Iron Chef), and make something so fantastic that you close your eyes and sigh (like the judges) when you think about it. I’m not a great cook. 


Fortunately, I have a chef friend. Today she explained what “braising” meant. Braising something means you apply low heat, lots of time, and moisture in order to soften something hard and unsavory into something delicious. She was braising cabbage, I think. I stood there and wrote in my little notebook the definition of braise (you have to keep a notebook if you are searching for flair).


I like this new verb. I’m going to tell students they need to braise their ideas, break them apart with some intellectual heat, some time, and some emotional juice in order to present that concept the best way. I use cooking verbs like percolate, stew, and saute, but I haven’t used braise ever in my whole life. It’s a great verb for cooking, writing, and now, living.  Everything that happens to me in any given day passes through some intellectual heat, some time, and some emotional juice in order to arrive at flair. I braise the day to get to the good stuff. It keeps the hard parts in me soft. It’s the art of reflection, and it teaches me how to have insight. It’s not as if we wake up and find flair arriving on our pillows in a package we recognize. It takes some work: some heat, time, and moisture. It takes energy and emotion to actively find the larger importance. Insight means to look within the thing, to go deeper.  It’s mining for a new understanding about my day using the common, daily ingredients I’m given. 


People with insight train themselves to see, not just with the senses, but with the mind. In other words, as I live, I think about what something symbolizes or represents. I put a flair lens over my eyes and pray I see it when it comes. Braising my experiences creates steady hope and steady joy for me. It feels so good to have this lens, especially after knowing the dark days of depression and hopelessness for nearly a decade of my life. I want to braise the day and make it all soft and delicious. It makes me live well and intentionally.  Living with flair means writing down the word “braise” in a little notebook and thinking about living (not just cooking).

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  1. The depth in which you explore seemingly minor events or objects in your life makes me really want to go on a field trip in your brain. I bet the neurons of your mind would be strong enough to lift an elephant. I thought of you today – a common occurance which is usually sparked by a more sophisticated event – when Party in the USA came on the radio!

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  2. My take-away from today's entry is that, like most things in life, seeing flair in my day doesn't always come easily. Finding insight and applying knowledge require an effort (or intentional stillness) on my part. I can't just turn the eye of the stove on and expect dinner to cook itself. 😉

  3. @Meg McGinty I know right. Something seemingly insignificant seems so important now.
    What I see in it is not only does it teaches us to meditate on stuff. But also to have patience. Patience to allow time to cook the food or allow time to cultivate/refine our minds that we become tastier/ or become a better person.
    Btw, It's my first time to visit your site and now, I'm eager to see more posts from you.