I know that to those of you who read this blog on the regular will probably call bullshit on this next statement – but… That doesn’t make it any less true.
I play my cards pretty close to the chest.
Despite my “Live Large! Live Life Out Loud!” chest thumping, saber-rattling, and ROARs to the contrary – I’ve been keeping a really important piece of myself buried and hidden and “protected” for… longer than I care to admit.
Don’t get me wrong, I live life pretty large, and I’m pretty damn true to myself. But there are a few places, the most dear places, that I’ve let fear win.
There are certain passions I’ve had, certain dreams – the ones that meant the very most to me, the ones I hold closest, that I’ve been afraid to live out loud.
There are lots of reasons for this. And I know I’m not alone. I know I’m not the only one.
So – in an effort to reach out to anyone else who is on the path that I’m stepping off, I want to take just a moment to talk about some of MY whys.
I hid these loves, these passions, these things that make me tearful happy because…
I was afraid that they weren’t worthy things. I was afraid that if I shared them out loud I would be told that my dreams weren’t good enough for me – that I needed to reach higher, stretch further. That anything that was this easy and brought me this much joy couldn’t be the thing I did, because we’re supposed to WORK for it, struggle for it, suffer for it.
I was afraid that if I took something that brought me so much joy and turned it into a JOB, it would kill the joy and take away the deep down, soul quenching fulfillment that I got from it.
I was afraid that if I tried… I might fail and that would CRUSH me. Because… If you fail at your biggest, deepest, truest dream… Well, what’s left? Just sorrow and regret and pain, right?
Well fuck all of that.
So – some thanks to the people who have helped me get past that load of fears.
Erika Napoletano aka RedHead Writing, who WAY back in July wrote a post where she admitted that she too had allowed herself to get stuck in a rut that was leading her away from what she loved, and announcing her intention of getting out of that rut and back to the things that filled her soul. That post woke up something inside me and sent me searching deep inside myself for my greatest truths. They were well hidden. It took a while.
Along the way, I got additional encouragement from Amanda Fucking Palmer, who also lives her life out loud. The ups, the downs, the dreams, the attempts and failures, the getting back up and dusting yourself off and trying again. And again. And who recently said something along the lines of “If I’d waited until it was perfect, I never would have done it.” She was talking about a poem she had written that she’d gotten a ton of shit for, death threats even. She felt it, wrote it, hit publish on her blog and BOOM! HATE!! But also LOVE. And it made me realize that so many of us spend so much time waiting for the right moment – to have kids, to ask for a raise or a promotion, to quit our soul sucking job and do the thing we REALLY love, to propose, to take a bike ride, to… Do the things that make us happy. We wait. How stupid is that?
Why are we waiting to be happy?
A guy named Blake Morgan who argued with a teacher on career day when she cautioned students interested in becoming artists that they better have a Plan B. in case art didn’t pan out. He told the students, “Unfortunately, in one way or another the world is going to tell you every day that you shouldn’t try to be an artist. But for three minutes here today, I want to tell you that you should. I hope you do it. With everything you have. I hope you don’t listen to those other voices. I hope instead you listen to your own. That voice from inside you that guided you here today. I hope you go for it, with abandon and furious joy, and that you do so without a Plan B.” As he said, we don’t tell engineers or accountants or doctors to have a plan B, we tell them to bust their asses and do what it takes and expect success in exchange for their effort.
So – those are the strangers who helped me reclaim myself.
But… I also owe thanks to a few of you. First – Juan, who won a jar of my Cherry Jalapeno Jam forever ago and sent me an email telling me I should go commercial and sell it next to the ice cream! And who helped shine a light on the buried dream waiting to be rediscovered. (Please click on his name and check out his blog. He has some deep thoughts going on over there.)
My friend Meagan, who I consider to be one of my dearest friends even though we have never met in person. She is a fount of encouragement and connectedness and awesome. And who I hope to have the chance to host soon.
Melissa Fabello, who caught my eye as a remarkably astute feminist speaker and writer, and then made the happy mistake of asking twitter if any home jam makers out there felt like sending her a jar. (Or three, and counting…) And who always celebrates when she gets a new flavor and tells me the ways she’s enjoying it. (Pineapple lime marmalade in a stir fry!)
My husband, who has supported me through so many dreams, so many false starts, and who, when I asked him about this said, “Of course!” as in, “DUH! What took you so long!” but with ALL the LOVE. And who has been tirelessly supporting and encouraging me ever since and making sure that I make at least a little progress every day. (He also helps beat back the fear demons when they threaten to swallow me up and paralyze me.)
My awesome, amazing friends and family who echoed my husband when I told them the new plan.
My kids who know the way to my heart is to tell me you like my food, and ask for seconds – and who have been doing so enthusiastically for many years now, and who ask at least once a week when I’m going to start a restaurant. (And who fill me to bursting by requesting home-made sushi dinner and Ethiopian feasts for their birthdays!)
All of the people who have made special food requests, who take me up on my twitter invites to dinner, who tell me that they visit from out of state just for my food (and the kids are cute too) – The people who have known all along that making wonderful, exotic, fun, flavorful food and sharing it is my One True Thing and who have been waiting *mostly* patiently for ME to figure it out.
And now… The big announcement.
While I am not (yet) starting a restaurant, I am taking the first step in that direction with my new business.
The website is up in a preliminary form – but as Amanda said, if I wait until it is perfect to launch, I will never launch. And I am tired of waiting to follow my dream. I am tired of living Plan B.
I will still be keeping my ranty pants on here – talking politics and books and feminism and social justice and editing, because those are big important parts of me too – but I’ll be also be playing over at Kitchen Bravada. (Where I hope to get that blog updated more regularly now that I’m launched!)
I have also done my research and discovered that I can sell my jams and jellies in Colorado under the Cottage Foods Act, so I am looking into scaling up my production this spring and summer and offering those to Colorado clients along with my cooking services. In the meantime, I am experimenting with new flavors and testing them on anyone who will let me.
So – if you’re in Colorado* and need a personal chef for a special event or party, or you thought you needed a caterer, but want something more personal and custom – Look me up.
If you hear of someone who might need my services, please pass on my name and website.
And, if you know me and have enjoyed my cooking in the past and want to send over a testimonial – well, I already love you if I’ve fed you, but I’ll love you even more (if that’s possible)!
*If you’re not in Colorado, but you want to pay for me to travel to you to cook… Well, let’s just say I find it very hard to turn down plane tickets…
Here’s to a great 2014 – to slaying fear – and to REALLY, TRULY living our dreams out loud! May you all find the courage, strength and support to say YES to your happiness!