Welcome to Chicken Whistle, right this way….
My mother was a home economics teacher, and cooking was one of her main artforms. She made sure I didn’t just know how to cook, there is an entire culinary legacy she left with me. And yet, I eat simply or I eat out. Let’s face it, I was single for 30 years before my husband and I ditched school to get hitched on a snowy Wednesday in February. I used to eat fast-fix meals standing in the kitchen hovering over the sink with a book or phone in my other hand and music or the tv on in the background. During the quarantimes we absolutely supported the economy of others by paying the fees for food delivery. Just because I can cook well, doesn’t mean that I necessarily have to and sometimes, frankly, the will, the want, the desire, the time for all that just isn’t there. While I engaged with my mother and her passions and art, they didn’t become all encompassing for me. I am not exactly living to eat, I eat to live. And when I go out to eat, it’s not for the food at all…It’s about the conversation I will get to have with the others.
I have had to relearn how to drink water, because I no longer down a glass while perusing a menu on a regular basis. When I mindfully consider this notion of water glasses, I find I have enjoyed meals over time in a variety of scenarios, and rarely have those meals not been served with a glass of water. Please understand that I know this doesn’t happen in every stretch of our globe, across countries or cultures. It is, however, a pattern in my personal experience. And one that I have grown to appreciate deeply. During lunch several years ago while experiencing Alaska, I found myself taking photos of water glasses on a table setting. I was taken with the aesthetic of the still life. The water glasses shimmered in a light you only find in Alaska in the summertime. I found myself wondering what conversations those beautiful table settings would host later that evening…
Did you know in restaurants that bring you water, if you ask for lemons and a sweetener on the side, you’ve got a cheap lemonade? My tablemates and I had a discussion about this practice at one point years ago, and after that conversation, I never did it again. That conversation changed my proportion and perspective regarding perception. The discourse got so deep, that I made a complete change of lifestyle, cognition, and practice. I learned something from a single, simple, albeit messy, conversation. This is the foundation and formation of the idea behind Chicken Whistle. When we engage with conversations, sharing of ourselves and our truths, we can help each other to become the most authentic, excellent, best version of ourselves, it meets us exactly where we are seated at the table.
Fred Rogers, the beloved host of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” often emphasized the importance of discussing big and challenging topics to make them more manageable for children. Although I couldn’t find an exact quote, let’s examine a summarization and analysis of his views on the subject.
Throughout his career, Fred Rogers aimed to create a safe and nurturing environment for children. He believed in addressing difficult subjects in a thoughtful and age-appropriate manner. By openly talking about significant issues, he encouraged children to confront their fears, develop resilience, and build a sense of understanding. Rogers understood that children have an innate curiosity and capacity to comprehend complex ideas, even if they may not have the vocabulary or experience to fully grasp them. By engaging in meaningful conversations, children could gain a sense of control and agency over these larger concepts. Rogers often used his television program as a platform to discuss topics such as death, divorce, war, and other challenging aspects of life. He approached these subjects with sincerity, empathy, and honesty, empowering children to explore their feelings and ask questions. By acknowledging the significance of big issues and providing a supportive space for discussion, Rogers aimed to alleviate children’s anxieties and help them develop emotional intelligence. He believed that talking openly about challenging topics would enable children to develop coping mechanisms, resilience, and a greater understanding of the world around them. Fred Rogers consistently emphasized the importance of discussing challenging topics with children. Through open and honest conversations, he sought to empower children to navigate complex emotions, foster understanding, and build a sense of control over the big things in their lives.
One of the primary ways that I invest in myself and others is by spending time together in conversation. Because when I am gonna have a conversation, we are Having A Conversation! I am invested in it, from questions to answers, old schema to new information, to plain outright curiosity. Conversations are interesting to me. And I wholeheartedly agree with the work of Fred Rogers in that if we can talk about it, then we can manage it. Whatever it may be.
All gratitude goes to my Dad for his modeling for me as a kid. My Dad never failed to make friends with a stranger. He would talk to anyone about anything. He made it all look so simple and easy. My Dad taught me how to speak to people by speaking to other people and I was paying attention. That little girl learning at his side grew up and decided to start talking to everyone and everything. Ask my husband, he will tell you that I routinely talk to the locals, the cashiers, the waiters, the animals, the plants, the furniture and appliances, the electronics, works of art … everything. That little habit hides some secret in the sauce for me. As a hardcore introvert, I actually work at speaking, I have been working on it for decades, so I practice. It helps me get better at communication with my students, with my colleagues, with my friends, speaking publicly to large groups, and with new introductions. My nature/nurture allows me to sit in silent rooms for hours; this superpower of silence can be debilitating, however, in the ability to make the words I hear in my head come out of my mouth in the appropriate speed, rhythm, volume, pronunciations, clarity, and then has to be filtered and fancied up depending on the station and position of the other people in the room. Y’all, it’s a lot. I am still, at times, at a loss for finding my authentic voice verbally. If it hadn’t been for all the conversations similar to the one about the water glass and making your own lemonade, I simply would not be the person I have grown into being right now flaws and all. I have learned to mix storytelling, humor, current affairs, pop culture, and my own passions of the heart into time well spent with another person. There are times when I still stumble, because anyone who knows me well, will tell you I can be overly verbose. It actually frustrates me to no end when I encounter times when I am not capable of managing my language well. It shouldn’t surprise you that the three people closest to me in the whole entire world all have the capability of sustained meaningful conversation. And my best friend, D has this amazing superpower that allows her and I to have multiple conversations at once. And sometimes it takes all night. There have been many breakfasts in the wee hours because we haven’t gotten down to the bottom of it all after twelve hours of deliberation. Blessings on all the all night coffee shops! And then, there were my very eloquent first words out of my mouth when Elijah presented me with my beautiful black diamond claddagh engagement ring…I mean what would you say if you discovered a sunken pirate ship full of treasure?! Yeah, that’s what I thought, and said aloud, too.
I believe in the power of conversation. It has taught me so much about myself and the world. Conversation is like water to me. It can flow and get us somewhere down the line, it can be shallow or filled with reflection, it can be big and deep and terrifyingly vulnerable, it can be a private shower filled with questions for the universe, it can be tears of empathy, anger, and sorrow. It can leave you speechless, frozen for a moment in time. Conversations can be a refreshing sip, dip, or an all out scuba dive having set sail into the uncharted. It all depends on who you are engaging with on the other side of the table. During the creation of the logo for Kaptain & Krewe and its branding, I purposefully worked from a singular idea. An antique diver’s helmet. An oxygen source for the water you are swimming in. It is important to me to take my time with this side of our conversations. You should know, the water is going to get deep. If we create ocean sized conversations, there will be room for an entire ecosystem to join in. While that matters to me, I also want to keep the safety of others in mind.
Holding fast to my treasure of shop talk, I found a conversation unlike anything else in the collaborationship with my husband, Elijah. Please note, that in all of my personal practice of having conversations with lots of different folks, I have found that not everyone is capable of having all kinds of conversations. Some conversational waters might be too deep for the other side of your table. Nothing against that person, and no offense given, it’s just not a conversation that person is equipped for at that point of time. While I love to have deep meaningful explorations and detailed discourse, others might need to just jump in the shallow end and float around with a daiquiri in hand. So, I must remind myself to just start with one glass. How else would one drink an entire ocean?! One glass at a time, love. As we began collaborating, when Elijah and I both worked at the same school, our conversations began to grow deeper and deeper to the point where my husband could hold an entire aquarium in one glass of water. I married the one person I found that could hold an entire coffee shop conversation every day, all day some days, and over the course of days and weeks and months if we are learning something new together along the way. Trust me when I tell you, that deep water beats barely breathing in stagnant puddles. Darlin, sharks don’t swim in mud puddles. I would rather swim with sharks, learn to be a shark, adapt to that environment, and cohabitate with the dangerous and mysterious. Even if I need to get there one glass and a time… ~T.