Your Life in Progress: Defining Beauty

defining beautyThis is the second guest post in a series called “Your Life in Progress.” In this series we will hear from other women like you and I – women who are learning to love and care for themselves well. They are taking risks, making mistakes, trying new things and letting others go, sometimes struggling, but ultimately living beautiful, gentle lives.

I made a comment one time that cooking makes me feel beautiful. Almost immediately after I made that comment, I was asked the question why followed by suggestions that centered around providing for my family. Immediately I knew the answer was no, it had absolutely nothing to do with providing for my family. Then I was asked to write this blog piece and I excitedly accepted because I love cooking, I love how cooking makes me feel and I love writing.

Ever since then, though, the question of “Why does cooking make me feel beautiful” has been haunting me.

“As she packed up her cookbooks, she couldn’t help but choke back tears. She knew they had to follow the nutritional guidelines set out for the health of her child, but a part of her resented it. Cooking had been a part of her life since she could remember. It had been the one thing to remain the same no matter what was happening. A place of peace. Familiarity. She didn’t know a lot of things, but she KNEW how to cook. It brought her so much joy, strength, confidence. It defined her. The changes in this new way of eating were so drastic that everything she had ever learned from her mother suddenly had no place. A very large part of what made her who she was becoming a thing of the past, obsolete almost. She wasn’t ready to give this up. She wasn’t ready for the battle ahead. She didn’t know who she was without this part of her. She hugged the recipe book her mother had made her and cried.”

My upbringing was centered around incredible food. I remember my mom’s cooking from a very young age. One Saturday, my mom made homemade doughnuts and she let me help. I was fascinated. I remember the smell of the yeast-rich dough, the feel of it between my hands as she taught me how to knead. I can still hear the sizzle the rings made as mom gently placed them in hot oil. I had never tasted a doughnut so good (and haven’t since)! Then Mom surprised me by bringing me the doughnut holes. I remember trying to figure out how she made holes into balls of doughnut. That was 31 years ago and, yet, the memory is still so clear.

When holidays or special occasions neared we would make homemade perogies and cabbage rolls together. Thanksgiving meant mom’s stuffing and her unbeatable pumpkin and apple pies! Christmas called for copious amounts of homemade cookies, chocolates and candy. I remember one year she made these raisin cookies that I just loved, but she never made them again because they were so difficult to make. I tried them one time on my own. I discovered she was right (as moms usually are) and I, too, only made them once. Every birthday mom would ask me what I wanted her to make for supper and she would make it. When I was old enough I delighted in carefully planning her a surprise birthday meal that I would cook with my little sister. When mom had time to make fresh bread and cinnamon buns the house smelled so, so divine. Nothing comes close to a warm, fresh cinnamon bun with real butter. I loved every minute of helping my mom in the kitchen.

Through cooking together, she taught me many things about life.

“Those were words she never wanted to hear. Her mom was sick. Her mom wasn’t going to get better. Her mom could no longer do the things she loved. She had thought she had lots of time left with her mom. To cook with her mom. She had so many plans and now? Now her mom was being ripped away by a disease. Slowly. Painfully. Even though she tried not to let her mom or her children see it, this was tearing her apart. She thought she had so much more time. But she knew this was true. She had noticed her mom’s decline, the slow fading that was creeping in despite her mom’s strong, determined spirit. Again, she found herself in a place where she wasn’t ready to face this obstacle in front of her. She didn’t know who she was without her mom, and she certainly couldn’t imagine a world without her. In grief driven panic, she tore through the house, desperately searching for the cookbooks she had packed a few years earlier.”

My mom always said she never regretted a sacrifice she made so that my sister and I could have what we needed. The hardest sacrifice I made was packing away my cookbooks and walking away from all those things I loved for my child. I remember that day very clearly and I still become emotional. I don’t think anyone realized what that took for me, what that took from me. As mothers we strive to do what’s best for our children even if it hurts. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Everything we were wanting to heal in our child, healed.

“There it is! Joy flooded over her as she pulled out the cookbook her mom made her. She had learned so much that surely there was a way to bring both pieces of herself together now that the strict introductory period of her child’s treatment was over. Surely there was a way to hang on to her mom…”

And there was.

I feel beautiful when I cook because it’s the coming together of who I was and who I am. Myself as a cherished daughter. Myself as a determined mother. Myself as a creative being. It’s the culmination of every loss, every victory, every memory, every hope, every strength, every weakness. As I twirl through my kitchen, singing my heart out creating art through food, I am my best self. My strongest self. My truest self. My most beautiful self.

Thank you, Charmaine, for sharing this beautiful part of yourself with us.


Charmaine Laurin is a doula serving Edson, Alberta and area. She has been described as passionate, intuitive, encouraging and dedicated by previous clients. She believes her role is not to empower women, but rather to guide them in discovering the innate strength, incredible courage and exquisite beauty they have had all along. When Char isn’t working hard alongside clients, she is enjoying time with her two amazing children and her loving husband. You can find her at


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