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Lura Jane's only cookbook

(post, Cynthia Lair)

My mother-in-law, Lura Jane, was a risk-taker. She was undaunted by any “no” that crossed her path. This was lucky for me (you'll see why in a minute). After 88 good years on this earth, she died several weeks ago. Family surrounded her in her Leavenworth, Kansas, apartment, as her breath grew slower and slower until it faded. 

Rain poured at the pretty Midwest graveyard where we gathered with umbrellas after the morning church service. No one said much. I felt a desire to speak, but the legacy I wanted to share didn’t fully form until I was on the plane back to Seattle.

Lura broke free from her wife-mother role in Leavenworth when she was in her late 50s. She moved to San Diego and started a small publishing company called LuraMedia. She wanted to publish books about women and spirituality, and she simply proceeded to do so. 

As a student in my third year of nutrition school, I was required to do a project. During my tenure with this particular program I had focused my study on maternal and infant nutrition, and my project was a mini-book on the topic. When I graduated from the program I was married, pregnant, and bursting with ideas. By the time my daughter was three, this more fully formed cookbook was occupying space in my brain. 

I wasn’t sure why. 

[%image reference-image float=right width=400 caption="Cynthia and her first publisher."] 

I had never yearned to be a writer of any sort. But I just started writing my cookbook, or it started writing itself, using me to type. 

Wait. I didn’t even know how to type. It was such a leap. Despite all the odds, I wrote Feeding the Whole Family, and then started looking for a way to publish it (which is backwards, just in case you are thinking of writing a book). I was clueless, and I got lots of rejection slips.

Then Lura stepped up to the plate. “I’ll publish it," she said. 

That was crazy. What would this cookbook for new moms do in a stable of books on women’s spirituality? Well, the truth is, not much. It sold about 3,000 copies in three years. But when Bastyr University needed a teacher to teach about food and cooking, I got noticed and invited to apply, because I was — yes — published.

When Lura sold her publishing business, she granted the rights to the book back to me — quite a gracious gesture. I ended up publishing Feeding the Whole Family myself and sold 35,000 copies out of my garage before Sasquatch Books put out a new edition in 2008.

So the lesson from Lura I want to express is this: Offer opportunities to others. If you see a glimmer of firelight in someone that you think could use some fanning, don’t wait, don’t worry; throw a log on it. Extend yourself in bringing someone else’s talent into recognition. 

You never know whose life you might positively shape with your willingness to take a risk.


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