Remaining Open: Even to Kale?

Pema Chodron, the well-known Buddhist teacher, writes that coming into awareness brings us over and over again to moments when we realize we have a choice. “We have a choice to open or close, whether to hold on or let go, whether to harden or soften, whether to hold your seat or strike out. That choice is presented to us again and again and again.”

In every grocery store I go to these days: Stop and Shop, Fresh Market, Balducci’s, Mrs. Green’s, I stare at the healthy, vitamin–laden, leafy greens and I am presented “over and over again” with a choice to make--about kale. 

I have written in the past that as far as I am concerned, the only effective way to tenderize kale is to drive a tank over it.

 If you were really desperate, on a day like the one of this writing, in Connecticut, where the wind chill has rammed the temperature into the teens, you could line your shoes with those thick, ruffle-edged leaves and your feet would be warmer. 

At the same time that I have been expressing my disdain for this popular green that supposedly will grow your fingernails and hair, improve your eyesight, up your kid’s SAT scores, stimulate your digestion and give your skin a youthful glow, I have tried to keep my mind a teensy bit open. I’m not adverse to the idea of stronger bones and a youthful glow. The kale press is really good. I scrutinize baby kale—thinking that a far less intimidating product. 

A couple of months ago I actually bought some baby kale that was mixed in with other spring greens. I found myself chewing that salad endlessly, knowing that if I didn’t reduce the resistant stuff to mush in my mouth, my senior citizen tummy would let me know how foolish I had been to try to be faddish. 

But! Two days ago at Mrs. Green’s shop there was a small bunch of Ocean Mist Farms Organic Lacinato Kale Chou Frise.  (Truly, that is what the label said.) I haven’t a clue what that means, but the kale leaves were not ruffle edged or cardboard-thick and were shaped like Romaine lettuce. 

“We have a choice to open or close.”  

I bought a bunch.

I made a puree of fresh carrots and parsnips with a bit of butter, some Janie’s Mixed Up salt and organic veg stock. I sautéed finely chopped kale in some olive oil for about fifteen minutes—I wasn’t taking any chances—and stirred the softened kale into the pureed vegetables. 

 Amazing: Pretty to look at and delicious.

Choosing to remain open instead of closing, to let go rather than hold on and choosing to soften rather than hardening, is probably more life enhancing than all the kale we can eat. Nonetheless, all those green vitamins? They can’t hurt!
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of those who were recently killed in the shocking attack in Paris.

Those of you interested in expanding your understanding of living mindfully, in particular living mindfully with a chronic disease, take a look a my good friend, Jennifer's, new blog:


Written by Cecily Stranahan, our companion on this journey of reflection and self-discovery. Visit Cecily's Blog at