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It’s my guy’s birthday. Friends will be here soon and I’m in the process of making coleslaw. My laptop sits open on the kitchen island displaying a five-star recipe with 250 good reviews.

The cutting board lies in wait with its faithful companion, the sharp knife, draped across it. Half a green cabbage and half a purple one laze on their sides, gutted, their outer leaves splayed limply around them. My plan? To meticulously slice them into thin little ribbons. Painstaking and time consuming, but it works.

While standing there getting ready to do some slicing, my computer called me over. “Hey dummy,” it said, “why don’t you look up how to use your food processor to shred the cabbage?” My fingers were already typing away on the keyboard before I could even get the words, “What a novel idea!” out of my mouth.  (Okay, so that’s not exactly how the scenario played out but I’m pretty sure it’s a close depiction of what really went down.)

Even though it might not sound like it, I have used my food processor before.  I’ve chopped nuts and other things. I’ve made pesto and other things. I just can’t remember right now what any of those other things were. But I do know that I used the same blade. Every. Time. It was familiar, easy. I knew how to use it. It generally did the trick, it sufficed.

I drag a chair over from the kitchen table so I can reach that one big cupboard above the fridge.  You know, the one where all the awkward kitchen items hide out, the ones that take up too much counter space or don’t get put to use very often.  After a little banging, clanging, grunting, and shuffling, I pull out the food processor and its bag of accessories. Dumping the contents on the counter, I spy an unopened instructional DVD, a stem-like plastic piece, and a few blades still prominently displaying their caution tape. If you’re thinking that I’ve never looked in the bag before, you’re wrong. I have. And each time I did I would just wonder what the heck those things were for, but instead of trying to learn about them I just kept them tucked away.

According to some article on Google, that little stem thing from the accessories bag? That just slides right into the back of those blades that were in the bag with it. You pick which blade you want, slide the stem into the back of it, put the long stem onto the short one inside the food processor, and then feed your veggie pieces, or whatever you’re shredding, through the feeder.  A M A Z I N G. In less than a minute I had a bowl full of ribbons of cabbage. Why, oh why didn’t I try this before?

It works with carrots too! Normally I would have used a handheld grater, gingerly holding the tip of the carrot in an attempt to avoid shredding a fingertip or knuckle in the process. But this time I just stuffed the carrots into the shoot and watched them instantly get pulverized into beautiful little pieces.

I was giddy with my newfound knowledge while simultaneously kicking myself for not having made an effort to learn about this feature sooner.

This phenomenal discovery got me to thinking about people. Myself included. How many tools do we have tucked away, rarely or barely used, their full potential yet to be realized? For example, I enjoy photography. I’m not bad at it but do I know the verbiage, do I know how to use all the tools available to me on my fancy camera? No. Would I be a better photographer if I did? Would photography be easier for me? Well, duh! Of course!

Gifts, skills, interests. You know these things are there, denied, dormant, tucked out of sight. For me, birding, gardening, and spirituality are just a few things I’m interested in and wanting to learn more about. Have I? No. But I am paying more attention now and expect I’ll gradually bring them out to work on them. I find I do better working on one thing at a time. I’m working on writing right now.

Do you have tools sitting right there front and center, waving at you, calling ME, ME, PICK ME? Each time you go to look for something, do you reach right around those waving frantically at you and grab the same old ones you use time and time again?

Do yourself a favor and spend a little bit of time rummaging through those dark, cluttered, hard to reach spaces inside you. Do some poking around in there, do some rearranging. As with all storage spots, there may be junk left over in there just taking up space. Do some culling. Take inventory. Get curious. Examine your tools, all of them. Take a look at the obvious, pay attention to those things that are calling your name, but make sure to shine a light back in the farthest corners for any pieces that may have gotten lost in the clutter.

If something there intrigues you, bring it out into the light of day. Clean it up if it needs cleaning and give it a whirl. Focus on it. Read an instruction guide. Ask a close friend to help you with it. Save yourself some shredded knuckles, or worse. Open up those packages you’ve tucked away and learn to use everything inside. You may just make your own phenomenal discovery!