My baby’s one year old.
It’s been a lot of years since I’ve had a one year old keeping me up at night, but my baby blog managed to keep me up in the wee hours of the morning this day just thinking about our year. Actually, I feel more like the baby and think of the blog as more of a higher self. It has given me freedom, peace of mind, and a purpose to play in my favorite creative field.
I’ve been called a “prep monster” at work and told that I am fast on the line. I love prep work. It is cooking. I love the challenge of working as a line cook. My favorite part is the wondering how I will make it through the next ten minutes and then finding myself on the other side having accomplished so much. But there is little creativity involved in prep or line cooking when you are just a prep/line cook. And at home, when you are a prep/line cook you just get by finding things for your family to eat before you run out the door to…prep/line cook. No creativity involved. I survived by having enormous cooking days at home that ended in freezer stocking. It was all natural, homemade, preservative free, delicious, but my family rotated around and around through the same cycle of foods just to get by so I could get the job done. Boring! On free evenings we would eat out, on my Sundays off, too. Rarely did I sit and plan a week of creative meals and then specifically buy the ingredients to make them as I have done since beginning the blog.
When my husband started a new job that required him to work overtime from the months of September through April, I was faced with the reality that if I didn’t want to leave my kids with a sitter every evening for half the year so that we could both work, I would need to come home. I made this decision. I had to live with it, but I did it quite resentfully at first. I was frustrated for a long time after I left work and, frankly, did a lot of whining. I was not happy, though I had every reason to be. When the first season of overtime for him came to a close and we attended an end of the season party that was catered by the last restaurant I worked in and all my former coworkers were cooking and serving for the event, I felt like the real party was going on behind the swinging doors and buffet tables. A party I wasn’t invited to. As I headed out of the building at the end of the night, there was my old boss and he assured me that I could come back at any time if I wanted to. I had four months in which I could hold a job before my husband’s work would again take over my available hours and I thought that maybe things would be different the following year and I could pull it off. I could have. People do it all the time. Then a friend, who was a former coworker and a single mom, told me that she would give anything to be home with her kids and that I needed to consider that. I did. Her words were what changed my attitude.
A series of spontaneous events– trips to Fort Lauderdale for my husband’s schooling, a few weeks with my grandmother who wasn’t even expected to live through those weeks, a simultaneous series of illness for my husband, my grandmother’s funeral and finally my husband’s surgery that was to correct his health problems and a lengthy recovery following surgical complications kept me in such a tizzy that I didn’t have time to pine for my abandoned “career”…hobby. I don’t ever want to do 2010 again! Good thing I never have to. 😉
I spent the summer and fall focusing on myself and figuring out what it was that I wanted to do, learning about myself, experiencing epiphany after epiphany thanks to a little book by Dr. Elaine Aron and the online mentoring of a brilliant little HSP therapist, Ane Axford . The holidays ended and I was left feeling at peace, happy for the first time with who I am, content with what life had given me, yet knowing that whatever else I wanted I was going to have to get up and get myself.
I have a writing obsession. The only problem is that I’m not very good at it. I don’t know how the two can go hand in hand, how something can come naturally for me, yet feel so unnatural. Most of the time when I’m writing I feel like I’m running with someone holding onto the back of my shirt, but my husband said to me once that if I feel the need to write and that I can’t stop writing that I must be a natural. I guess it made sense, and there was that writing professor years ago who encouraged me to try to have some of my writings published. There was also those two unfinished novels that were getting shuffled from one laptop to another when the last one would experience sudden death.
I had written things, had even had the courage to submit a few articles to various publications. When I wrote about my grandfather’s sailboat, I went looking for sailing publications to see if anyone would accept it. One did, but I was so nervous that when the editor asked for photos to go along with it before she could publish the story, I hemmed and hawed wondering if I had done the right thing in putting myself out there like that, my very GUTS showing for the world (or the ten or fifteen people who would stumble across it over the years) to see. She grew tired of waiting and instead of dropping me, as I think I secretly hoped she would do, she went ahead and published it sans photos. There it was and with my real name on it. I had always planned to never write a thing under my real name and had my pseudonym all picked out and ready to use. We hadn’t made it that far in our discussion, the editor and I, before she published it.
I knew I had a confidence problem and just like the first time on the line in a working kitchen, I knew that the only way I was going to get over it was by jumping in with both feet (and my eyes squeezed shut). Christmas was over and so was my most creative involved cooking season of the year and I was left with a freezer full of cooked, skinless, boneless chicken breasts ready to be pulled out for low fat meals, basically all we had eaten since my husband’s surgery almost a year before; cheeseburgers and pizza thrown in here and there when we just couldn’t take it any longer.
I woke up one morning and decided to start blogging. WordPress looked promising, it was free, and I could design my blog to look anyway I liked. Within minutes, without even thinking my plan through or deciding whether or not I was going to actually start a blog, I was blogging.
A name was very difficult to decide on. Every name I chose was taken. There were some really dumb ideas that weren’t taken, I think Carrot Stew was one of them, and I liked the word bitten but it was used too frequently by other food bloggers. I don’t particularly like the name Edible Tapestry, but that was all I had left by the end of the day and I was tired of thinking about it. So there it was. My very own blog. I could start cooking creatively again with a purpose and work on writing at the same time. If things didn’t go well and I found I that I just couldn’t pull it off, I could pull the plug at any time in typical wimpy me fashion.
We’re still here a year later, me and the blog and the blog’s little sister blog. I love it. I don’t know how much I’ve learned. I know that after only a few weeks of having to meticulously hand write my posts out ahead of time before painstakingly typing them in to the blog, so afraid that I would make a mistake and a complete idiot of myself, I was able to ease up and just do it. Writing lots of wishy washy “articles” for a web content site really helped all around, but I am still writing anonymously. It’s silly, I know. But I am a real spaz when it comes to internet safety and I blog a lot about my kids. I can’t lecture them all day long about safety and then go posting their pictures and our names all over the place. I am also still very shy about it. A lot of my friends and acquaintances, and even some of my relatives, I have invited to follow, but these are the trusted few. Other relatives I could never open myself up to in this way, and if I knew they were following I would simply stop posting.
I am very grateful to those who read my posts and am thankful for every bit of positive feedback I have received. Reposts make my day, I never ever anticipated that another site would repost my recipes and it has been so much fun to see the response. And when someone says they’ve tried one of my recipes? I blush and sometimes jump up and down…like a little kid…and think to myself, “REALLY?!” Fun!
The peace of mind that blogging gives me comes from knowing that my creativity is no longer stagnating (though there are moments) even though I am not line/prep cooking or enrolled in a culinary program, and no matter what anyone thinks of my recipes, I am at least trying to educate myself by playing with food every day, not simply feeding my family.
Something I hadn’t thought of when I started blogging was that the blogs act as a journal for my personal life and a record of activities and events for my kids to have when they are grown. I have written much more personally than I had ever intended, which usually leaves me with my finger hovering over the delete button, but when I go back and read, I can already see changes in myself that I nor they would have seen if I hadn’t written from the heart. It’s hard to admit faults, but by being open I see now that I have been able to do that too. There is another lesson my boys and I can learn from my blogging.
My refrigerator is stocked and my knives are sharpened…ready to jump into year two!