Hi! I’m Conner

Conner Middleman seated on the groundWelcome to my blog about nurturing body and soul during troubled times. I have wanted to write about this topic for many years but always felt like a fraud, never having experienced any real hardship. Until about four years ago, that is.

After my marriage of 24 years broke down I lived in temporary housing for two years (with two teenage kids in tow), worked multiple jobs to make ends meet and dealt with intense emotional turmoil far, far from home (Europe). Having come through this baptism of fire bruised but not beaten, I now feel qualified to add my 2 cents’ on the subject of hard times.

I write here about how I take care of myself and my children as I navigate emotional recovery, professional reinvention, a drop in my standard of living, the loss of my middle class aspirations and menopause. Have I forgotten anything? Oh yes, right: Against the backdrop of Trump’s America.

What I don’t want this blog to be: A place where we wallow in self-pity. Or bitch about people who have wronged us. Or celebrate victim-hood. Or spin worst-case scenarios. (If ever you catch me indulging, call me out!)

I want this to be a resource for folks who face seemingly insurmountable challenges and soldier on regardless. I want Recipes for Disaster to be about resilience, silver linings, learning, love, humor, hope, faith, community, honesty, compassion, growth and self-compassion. Especially self-compassion.

When we struggle with life’s slings and arrows, it’s easy to lose ourselves. We stop caring about much of anything, including ourselves. We lose sleep because we ruminate into the wee hours. We stop exercising because all we want to do is curl up and cry. We retreat from our social circles because it hurts to see others be happy, healthy or affluent when we’re not. Or because we don’t want to burden people with our problems. We lose interest in looking good. We stop caring about what we eat and drink.

Indeed, when trouble strikes, we often reach for comfort foods that provide a short-term buzz but later cause regret and self-loathing – sugar, cookies, alcohol and the like. Since I am a nutritionist (here’s my day job: www.modernmediterranean.com) and understand how strongly our emotions influence our food choices, one of the topics I focus on here (hopefully in a compassionate, non-preachy way) is what to do when we feel like drowning our sorrows in tubs of ice cream or bottles of wine. And I post recipes for simple, inexpensive meals that are comforting-yet-nourishing and accessible to almost anyone, no matter how exhausted or brokenhearted.

For me, food has always been a great source of comfort in difficult times. I’m not talking about junk-fueled “comfort eating” so much as about the act of preparing and savoring food. Shopping for beautiful, whole, delicious ingredients and converting them into tasty, nourishing meals has a grounding, calming effect on me like few other activities do. It’s almost like meditation.

But this is probably a personal quirk. Indeed, many people I know fear the kitchen and actually feel more stressed, rather than less, at the thought of having to prepare a meal. So, here are some of the non-food topics we’ll also be looking at (because there’s life in-between mealtimes):

  • How to get regular doses of restorative sleep
  • How to enjoy physical activity
  • How to get practical and emotional support when going through tough times
  • How to manage existential angst, regret, anger, vindictiveness and other demons
  • Personal growth and change (it’s never too late!)
  • Simplicity and abundance (they’re not mutually exclusive!)

I can’t promise simple solutions to complex existential problems; there are usually no easy answers. But knowing that we’re not alone and seeing how others handle adversity may provide some relief and inspiration. It all starts with looking after ourselves and living as well as we can under the circumstances.

As poet George Herbert put it, “Living well is the best revenge.”