I Am Not Becoming, I Simply Am

To all of those who are so focused on becoming-becoming an artist, a writer, a teacher, a musician, whatever your bliss may be-that they fail to recognize that they already ARE.

We are all creative souls, in one form or another, but many of us are unable to acknowledge, and therefore unlock, the freedom required to express our creativity. It took me a long to figure this out, until I realized that my stumbling block was very simple; my definition of an artist and a writer was bound up in my comparison of other’s talents with my own. Once I accepted the truth, that my end product would not be a mirror image of the ones created by those that I admire, I was able to re-write my own definition.

A creative soul is not one who is able to mimic someone else’s vision; instead, it is the person who embraces and explores their own unique brand and shares it honestly with the universe.

Every day I remind myself that I am not becoming an artist and writer. I AM an artist and writer. And so it is.

Falling Off the Path

Early in our lives, we choose a path to follow that we feel will lead us to our destiny. When we get derailed from that path, as we often will, we struggle to get back on that same path again.
But what if, instead of spending countless hours looking for the trail of breadcrumbs to lead us back to the familiar roadway, we simply relax and wander into uncharted territory?
If we only follow one trail, we will never know what lies on all the others. One of those may take us to places we never imagined. Or it could, in fact, be yet another byway to our original destination.
Life is too short to enjoy the scenery from only one vantage point. Hop out of that car and ride the rails for awhile. Take a chance and see where it will lead you. If you don’t like it, you can always catch the next flight home.

Morning Musings

Sipping my coffee in that quiet slot of the morning just before the sun comes up, pondering on the business of living our lives, of moving forward. How blessedly peaceful it would be if we could simply burrow into the safety of familiarity, never having to experience that pit-of-your-stomach lurch of uncertainty. But then I remind myself to look past that gut-clenching moment, to the other side of fear, because what we always seem to forget is the subtle transition into wonder as our blood begins to whoosh wildly through our veins as we discover new scenery and take that exhilarating first breath of fresh air. This is life as it is meant to be lived; not sitting in the same spot, safe and cozy, sheltered from the rest of the world. Once we cross over into new experiences, once we push the timid tremors aside, this is when we begin again. Yes, I’m afraid; I’m afraid every day. But the thing that scares me the most is the thought of waking up one morning wrapped in blankets of false security and wondering “what if.” This is how we grow.
So, I will start, I may fall down, I will probably whimper quite a bit, but I will keep going

Hand on the Ladle

I recently stepped up to reclaim  my title as Soup Diva-master of mirepoix, sorceress of stock, musician in the kettle-spoon band. Soup is magical; it is, in and of itself, an entire meal served in a bowl; a feast with the addition a green salad and crusty bread. Soup loves to socialize, simmering over a low burner on the stove or in a crockpot on the counter, surrounded by family and friends as they fill their bowls, theirs stomachs, their hearts. It listens as they share stories, fueling the conversation with a fragrant breeze.

Soup loves to be savored, appreciated, and acknowledged for its contribution. I know this because, in our house, soup makes an almost daily appearance. The love that radiates from our bowls fills the room, as my son and I share the first samplings of a fresh batch. Today we are savoring a garlic and herb laden Italian vegetable potage, put together this morning after discovering that he had finished off the corn chowder last night after I turned in. After the first bite, he looked at me and said, “This isn’t gonna last very long,” smiling as he ladled a bit more in his bowl (he says that every time!). That’s okay, there’s always another batch formulating in my head. Hmm, maybe chicken?

 

 

Falling Down

The first time I had it “all figured out,” I was twenty. I had landed a position as a full-time baker/pastry chef in an institutional venue with decent pay, big corporate benefits, and a weeks paid vacation. I chose this over the part-time opening at an adorable, privately owned bakery because it was the smart thing to do. I could indulge my  foodophile obsession in the safe confines of a corporate security blanket. Five years later, the vendor contract had run its course and my employer chose  to downsize and not renew the contract. My benefits package was sliced up like a cake and I was left with a tiny sliver. Determined to hang on to the modicum of security they were offering, along with being newly pregnant, I turned down their offer of a layoff deal. After learning I was pregnant, they began piling more physically demanding duties on me and finally, out of exhaustion and frustration, I took their offer and stayed home until after my son was born.

Seven months later I re-entered the workforce, confidant that I had it all figured out once again when I took a lower level management position with a local fast food chain. After eighteen months of closing shifts, arriving home (from a job I detested) at 2 am and getting up at 5 am with an infant, I put in my two-weeks notice and hit the want ads once more.

Sheer luck led me to a small (forty bed) nursing home, which was both beautiful and sad, and also corporate. Yay benefits! Fast-forward five years and I once again became the victim of downsizing and restructuring.

My son now in grade school, I decided to apply to the school corporation as a substitute dietary assistant. They called me a few days later, out of desperation, to fill in for a teaching assistant in a special needs classroom. After three months of moving from classroom to classroom (and sometimes from school to school), with occasional stints as a health assistant in the front offices, where I administered band aids, breathing treatments and meds while filling out attendance slips, answering phones, and performing lice checks, I was invited to take a permanent assignment in a classroom at my son’s school. The pay was minimal, the work physically and emotionally exhausting and I loved every minute of it! My work schedule matched my son’s and during summer breaks, I worked as a one-on-one aide with a young boy with autism. Bliss…

…until my fourth summer, when the funding for the summer program was cut and I fell in love with the culinary arts all over again. Not corporate level stuff, no this was the real deal-pure, unencumbered by rigid structure, just hours of blissfully baking and creating, engaging with customers, and learning new skills in a nurturing environment.

And it was this bliss that brought me around to the true definition of having life “all figured out.” I realized that, for myself and many others like me, having a safety net built into your career does not lead to a serene, secure life. There’s so much more to living and working that just paying the bills and creating an impressive financial portfolio. Granted, there are ways to combine the career of your dreams with financial security, but for me, beating myself to a pulp over the search for such an opportunity is simply not worth it.

I also gained a fresh insight into each one of my so-called setbacks. I left each one of those jobs feeling as if I had failed. Once I discovered the joy of a job based on the work I did instead of the compensation I received, I came to understand that none of those past jobs and all of the bouncing around from one to another were a mistake; each one was a well-time opportunity, a chance for a do-over. I held each one of those jobs long enough to either thoroughly love or completely detest them; long enough to glean viable skills, form friendships and business contacts, and discover something new about myself.

I take this newfound outlook with me every day as I (yes, again!) start all over in a new city and a new part-time job at Winn Dixie. No glory, no glamour, just a cozy work environment. Another opportunity artfully placed in my path, another interesting tale to add to my story. And the best part, besides working with some fabulous folks, is I get to give cookies to the children that come in to shop with their parents. Benefit package- their precious smiles. I think I’m getting this all figured out.

Walking the Grid

We all perceive time differently. Some of us exist on the outer realms of time, observing and monitoring its passing in frantic increments. Others live inside their own bubble of time, rarely ever glancing at a clock or calendar.

Either way, we all pay homage to time. Time holds us accountable, it moves us forward and, occasionally, if we pay close attention, it will stand still just long enough for us to inhale, exhale, and evoke gratitude.

Time does not care if we ride it like a street car or walk along silently beside it.

Time will not be ignored.

Just a Clip of Unfinished Work

I wake on Thursday morning to the sound of the dog snoring and rain tapping the gutter outside my window. While waiting for my coffee, I make the call; muttered excuses, remorse, a brief moment of guilt-induced doubt. I hang up, sip my coffee, and stare at the small canvas bag sitting on the floor underneath my worktable.

Leaving my second cup half finished on the counter, I slip a sweater over my head, clip the leash on the dog, and go through the mudroom to the back door. After he’s done his morning business, I fill his bowl and head back upstairs to shower. Just before I step under the hot spray, my cell buzzes. I let it go to voicemail, already knowing what he’ll say, my monotone answers coming without thought.

Dinner? Not really a question or even an invitation for that matter.

We have leftovers that need to be used, I’ll tell him.  I may be running late,  I add.

I always pull out the late card as a way to stall the inevitable.