I know the exact moment when my life turned full tilt. I can feel it and taste it, as though it were yesterday. A cold, crisp day, where your cheeks go numb, but the sun shining upon you, carries you through like a snowflake finding its way down. And because it was in Paris… well, Paris has a way of warming you in spite of the temperature.
It was nearly two years ago, in December actually, when things really started to shift for me; during that in-between period after Christmas and right before New Years. That time of mental endings, of letting go of the disappointments of what didn’t happen, while forming new ideas, goals, hopes and dreams of what is to come. I was walking down the Boulevard Beaumarchais in Paris with John, facing the busy traffic, while telling him about a recent job posting that I had found on the Internet for an online resource site for women. The job was for a travel editor, and as I said to my husband that brisk winter day, while little white clouds formed from my words, this was a job that I could really see myself doing. Something that I would actually LOVE to do… And we talked about it, like we do all things, and tried to come up with ways of actually making it happen. I decided that I wanted to start my blog up again, and that I would write about our travels along with other such things. This could, perhaps, be a start. In spite of our optimism, I knew that we weren’t really supposed to have taken this trip to Paris, even though we were celebrating our very special wedding anniversary, that we were supposed to be saving money for our “big move back east,” and that any other vacations abroad that year, were out of the question. We were pushing it as it was. So, what would I have to write about if we were grounded to the circumference of home? How could I be interesting, and worthy of sharing my story? How could I make something like this actually happen? It was crazy and unrealistic; a pipe dream. There seemed to be too many obstacles, so I just allowed myself to indulge in the moment, filed the ideas away for another time, and then continued to walk away.
To my surprise, when I returned back home, I found that the same online resource had also posted a need for a food editor. That file in my mental cabinet ended up getting pulled out, investigated, and a lot heavier that day. A travel AND food editor! What a concept… What an idea! I love food and all that entails culinary, just as much as I love traveling! The wheels began to slowly turn again. I printed out both job descriptions, and started to study the skills that the company was seeking in a person. Wondering if maybe, I could be that. I eventually returned these ideas back to the drawer for a later time again.
Those first months of the year passed quickly, and eventually, I went back to my original goals made prior to our Paris anniversary celebration. I had planned on spending the year in creativity. Or so I called it. After dealing with my father’s illness, and having to let go of both school and our little creative agency to help with his needs, dealing with the emotions while facing the realities of aging parents, trying desperately and unsuccessfully to move back “home,” and other such challenges, difficulties and obstacles, I decided to take some time off to consider a more artistic path of my own. It was to be a time to heal, and a time to explore. A time for placing myself back as priority. I was determined to find happiness again, despite my current clouded surroundings. I wanted to put together a new portfolio and see where that might lead. Unfortunately, this idea only lasted so long, and I found myself distracted and pulled in other areas. That file of collected “what if’s” and “what could be’s” was finally pulled out of the cabinet, and placed prominently in front of me.
As I said, I love food… That summer after our winter anniversary, while continuing to deal with those greyed emotions and disappointments, I lost myself in cooking. It was a way for me to escape for a moment while trying to cope with my father’s cancer. In spite of the dark pool of depression that I found myself immersed in, I found these moments of pure joy and happiness in the kitchen; an elation that I had never quite experienced before. An entire day making gorgeous meat lasagna with a béchamel cream sauce seemed like absolute heaven. Preparing my own dough for pizza’s with rosemary and figs became every day. I had posed the question, somewhat halfheartedly, “Is going to culinary school really too lavish of a hobby?” The response I received when I actually put myself out there in question was overwhelmingly positive. I started to research the idea a little more seriously and found that going to Le Cordon Bleu Paris, would actually be less expensive and a shorter time period, than getting a culinary degree within the states. Shortly after I shared this information with John, he was sitting beside me saying, “If you want this, we can make it happen.” We’ve talked about moving to Paris at some point in the distant future, even for just a couple years, but for some reason, this idea solidified something in him and made it real. That’s when the doors really began to open. Le Cordon Bleu Portland was calling me, we started taking various cooking classes around the city together, and people were placed on my path to discuss these options, encourage me and share their own success stories. Within this cyclone of possibility, we somehow made it happen and found ourselves traveling back across the seas to Europe again, taking a tour of Le Cordon Bleu Paris… you know, just to see, and then shortly after, we found ourselves on culinary tour, traveling throughout Italy! I suddenly found that I had more than enough to write about; that I actually had something to say. And it was all very interesting, and everything seemed to involve both food and travel.
And so The Simple Chefista was reborn.
I was all set to go and ready to launch this site at the beginning of 2016. My pockets were packed full of motivation and enthusiasm, but unfortunately, the past year hasn’t gone exactly as expected. You desire a smooth transition into your hopeful new place in the world, but sometimes, life just doesn’t see it the same way that you do. Instead, it sometimes decides to spin you around and around in the tumbler for a bit longer, smoothing the rocks of your soul into something a little more polished. And so life decided to chose this for me… I found myself, once again, “back on the potters wheel,” so to speak.
The traveling and exploring of foods continued at the start of this year, while I gathering stories, recipes and photos, but upon arriving home after our trip in April, I was given the news that my father’s cancer had returned. A few months later, we found that it was no longer responding to the treatment. My father is currently stable, but he is inevitably on the path towards the end. And this. This has been very, very hard. Although I don’t feel that my current walk is special or unique in anyway, it is mine, here and now.
In spite of all of this, as I look back on the past year, I am extremely grateful. As Charles Dickens writes, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, …” I feel as though I have lived through the year of extremes. While my heart continually breaks for the inevitable loss of my father, I have also somehow remained focused on these unyielding goals of mine. And although I have yet to actually start this vessel of exploration, I have been gathering all of the tools that will be needed in order to make this project a success. I have traveled, tasted, learned, and pushed the boundaries of what I believe my capabilities to be, again and again. Along the way, I have met the most amazing and inspiring people. Food Bloggers, chefs, restaurant owners, event organizers, photographers… and just incredibly beautiful humans, from all over the world. I am so grateful for these newfound friends, and the beautiful placed oases positioned throughout my recent journey. As if lily pads spread throughout a dark pond, I travel from one to another, resting and rejuvenating, filling myself with inspiration and wonder, between each visit back home to care for my father.
It’s challenging to find a balance with taking care of a loved one while attempting to move forward with something new in your own life before the routine of it has sunken in. Sometimes it’s just plain hard to find room for yourself at all. I will be the first to admit that at times I haven’t always been the most graceful… but I continue to work hard, always trying to improve and grow from my mistakes. This blog is a look at my journey. I don’t always expect what is here to be shared will be uplifting, but I can promise that it will be reflective and truthful. I always try my best to speak from my heart.
I’m not sure where all of this will eventually lead. I am not as concerned with what is to come, because I know and trust that inevitably it will, and it will change and evolve, just as is has over the past months. But the one thing that I do know, is that whatever it is, it will be good. And I plan to enjoy the process, and document this amazing passage as it continues to unfold. My hopes are to continue to inspire others around me by sharing. I know that this is already the case, and I hope to continue to do so.
A friend of mine wrote to me and said, “You’re forward thinking. (Management rears its ugly head). Flippant would fail to describe your dedication to growth. From everything I’ve read, you master the task at hand and then move to the next opportunity. That is what I find so inspiring. Pouring everything you are in to what interests you is the most impressive facet of your effort. You fall in love with what you want to do and then do it to the nth. It’s Renaissance. It’s beautiful.”
And so I hope to continue to be this person that he see’s me as. If I can achieve that, then I will know that I have succeeded.