It's officially the New Year and as far as I can tell, or at least based on what social media tells me, everyone is sprinting out of the 2019 gates with one arm raised in resolution glee and the other clutching their new Whole30 cookbook. Or paleo. Or keto. Or a Meditation Guide, or Atlas or whatever new thing they've pledged themselves to this year. And I'm just sitting over here groggy and foggy wondering what day it is and how I'm going to create a blog with interesting content and make enough money to live the comfortable life I'm used to living, and learn new things and meet new people, and be happy doing what I thought I'd be happy doing instead of the thing I was doing and generally down spiraling in my mind while Instagram images of everyone that seems to be doing it better wash over me.
I think, Maybe I'll write about that chocolate peanut butter cookie I really love! I start composing a post in my head until I begin arguing against myself, But you just wrote about a cookie. You're an RD and a personal chef, shouldn't you have something more interesting to write about? More flavorful? More complex? Maybe shelve the cookie for another day. Write about your thoughts on the keto diet instead. So I mull it over and think, YEAH I'LL DO THAT! I actually start writing, but take a too-long break, giving myself enough time to make new arguments about that topic, starting the cycle all over again. Two weeks later, nothing is written and I'm starting to feel like maybe I don't really know what I'm doing. Does this sound familiar? I sort of hope it does; this kind of second guessing self-talk can't just be me. It must be hidden behind the perfectly curated images that we've come to take, at least in part, as reality.
As I sat dazed by all of my unproductive thoughts I remembered a few helpful passages from the last book I finished in 2018, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. (I highly recommend it to anyone seeking even a dash of creativity in their life.) One bit of wisdom was to be of the mindset akin to a "Trickster" rather than a martyr. A trickster has fun with her creativity, sees opportunity and doesn't take her creative self too seriously. It's all a game more or less, she just has to figure out how to play. But the martyr puts all of this pressure on her creativity and takes everything SO seriously and is always in some sort of emotional pain because of her creativity, rather than enjoying the pleasure it brings to her life. Another tip was if you're feeling creatively blocked, follow your curiosity. At times when nothing seems interesting enough, take notice of even the tiniest things that are calling your attention and see what happens when you investigate further.
I thought about these passages and realized, the subject of my next blog post doesn't matter. There are likely no more than a dozen people reading this anyway (thank you if you are!) so why all the worry? Just write what wants to be written, and move on. If the cookies are interesting now then write about them now, they might not call for my attention again. So I got dressed, poured myself some tea and set up my little workstation by the window because I need natural light to be productive. I put on Alabama Shakes to open up my workflow channels, instead of the mellow coffee shop playlist I tend to gravitate towards on slow days.
One of the biggest reasons I decided to start a blog was because I recognized the need for a new creative outlet. Shifting cooking from my therapy to my "money-maker" means I shouldn't rely on it to always give me peace. This has proven to be true, after I finish a personal chef session I'm tired. Usually too tired to stay on my feet to cook for myself, so I would be wise to find a new tactic to release some energy into. I've been writing my whole life, and have always found solace in putting words onto a page, so I certainly don't want to sully the experience by placing a ton of unnecessary pressure on what this space is "supposed to be."
A few years ago I went to a class at Brooklyn Brainery called "So You Want to Write a Food Blog?" The instructor was Sarah Lohman, writer of Four Pounds of Flour, a great blog about food history that has since been retired. She made two points that have stuck with me since taking her class:
1. You can't/won't write a blog unless you want to write a blog.
2. You are the expert of your own experience.
Much like the path to this point in my life, this blog may seem a bit meandering at times, but will ultimately come together as my story with food. Today, it's about me getting out of my own way to feel a little momentum under my wings. It's about listening to what's inspiring me right now and trusting it. It's about becoming aware of the things that help me Do versus the things that make me drag my feet, and which of those things I can actually control. For instance, I know how much less motivated I am on gray days like today, than when skies are blue, which I sadly can't control. It's about working with what I've got, because some days the universe will wink at you and lift the clouds at the exact moment that you're writing about needing a blue sky.
In celebration of fogs and clouds always lifting, let's make cookies!
I'm a Registered Dietitian and Personal Chef in Brooklyn, New York. I grew up around the dinner table, and believe that food is intricately woven through all of our stories. It holds memories of home, childhood, and beliefs; it comforts us, nourishes us, and creates a centerpiece to gather around.