By Karen Galarpe

Watching Giada de Laurentiis, Anthony Bourdain, and even the kids on “Junior Master Chef Pinoy Edition” on TV last weekend, I got amazed once more at how they all seem to be so good at cooking. It’s so natural to them as breathing, and they seem to know what to do with food.

I, on the other hand, confess that I always end up confused whenever I go to the meats, fish, and vegetables section of the supermarket. I look at the counters and shelves and ask yet again, what do I do with these?

Pressed for time, I would order a half kilo of this, pick up a frozen pack of that, and grab a sealed pack of salad vegetables (just pour dressing!) before heading to the canned meats section.

Cooking isn’t one of the areas I’m gifted in. I’m not like my friend Meg who can whip up something without the help of a recipe. Oh sure, I can cook survival food and fry something. But still I’d look up a recipe just to make sure I put in the right amount of soy sauce or vinegar in it.

And so that’s my first Note to Self this year: Learn to cook more. The benefits: healthier food for me and my family, plus I need not look so lost in the meat section next time.

I think we all should take steps to do some self-improvement regularly. We are not perfect, and there’s bound to be some area in our lives we need to improve on.

Here are some suggestions on self-improvement steps you might want to take. Make a note to yourself to do any or all of the following:

  • Learn something new this year. It could be as simple as changing a car’s tires or baking a chocolate cake, or as challenging as learning a new language. Commit to learn a new thing this 2011.
  • Start an exercise program, or if you have one already, stay on track and even do more challenging stuff. I was sedentary for many years before I decided to finally again start exercising last year. The huffing and puffing as I climb up stairs has lessened, if not diminished, and I’m stronger now than before.
  • Read the Bible. You read books, don’t you? Why not read the Bible in a year? I found that there is much wisdom in the holy book, and we can find many of the answers to life’s questions there.
  • Travel. Get out of your city this year, and head to a province or another country to take a break and get a glimpse of the world outside. Traveling provides many opportunities for learning. It opens our eyes to how we can improve our lives and our nation.
  • Get involved. Donate blood, help build a house, volunteer to hold the hand of a child with cancer, or collect clothes and toys that can be given to the less fortunate. You may be just one person, but you can do much to help others.
  • Count your blessings. Stop complaining and be grateful for what you have. It’s a great life, one that’s worth living.
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