This is a hard business. The world of a restaurant requires an alarming level of flexibility, creativity, herculean amount of work and dogged stubbornness not to fail. I am naturally disciplined, to a fault. I came into this business in the 80’s, in SF. There weren’t many girls in school that would become cooks, and even less working in professional kitchens. I learned very fast that for anyone to listen to me or pay any attention at all, I would have to be great at my job. I would have to work harder, faster, & better than all the boys. I loved the challenge and rose to it. To see any advancement in a kitchen, I was going to have to be better at all of it. All strength and desire. It was the same when we opened potager. If anyone was going to pay attention, if we were going to succeed, we would have to be better and more committed than anyone else.
That dogged stubborness doesn’t often translate well in a personal love relationship. My love relationships paid a high price.
The demands of my job were too big for me to understand or manage anything else. I had been all in, all the time, since the beginning of my career.
Untangling myself was the only way I was ever going to be able to have more.
I’d thought about yoga for years but never really had the courage to go to a class. One night, working on the line with Angus, he told me he’d been to a bikram yoga class and liked it. If he could do it, I could do it. That is how competitive I am. I went and I loved it. The disciplined practice of bikram appealed to me. It was a slow way to introduce me to the practice of yoga. I loved the way my body felt after practicing. I loved the community of people I was meeting and I loved what the teachers were saying.
They spoke of loving, giving, being patient and kind with ourselves. I learned about healing with food. I began to learn balance through physical movement.
I had discovered a place where I felt supported and nobody cared one bit about my job. That was the beginning of a life away from work and recognizing the difference.
Yoga was magic for me, so much more than the physical practice.
I was searching and hoping for something that could help me live in my life differently, more balanced, more fully, more healthy and with less pain.
Both pain I was causing others and pain I caused myself. Adding to an already grueling schedule, I spent 25 hrs a wk for 3 months becoming a certified instructor. Through this process I found my voice and an ability to speak in a group with clarity, from my heart. While I’m not a yoga teacher, I did learn to become a student, realizing that learning in life, as in yoga, never stops if you’re open to it.
People in this business want to talk to me from time to time about how I live so well, how I am so grounded and so balanced.
Awareness, practice, a real desire for change, discipline, years of working at it and then letting it all go. Being open to something different, open to whatever is happening, all of it.
A belief in magic. Truly.
A desire to look for it and create it in my own life. A desire for a more magic filled life. A desire for a happier way of being in the world and surrounding myself with people that help support that desire. When I realized I wanted to live differently, I looked for ways to support different behaviors, people to help. I learned to recognize things about myself that kept me from my best and from my own desires. That became the work. I went back in time and found the things that I used to do as a child that were fun. FUN. I started doing those things again
Here are 6 things I did as a child:
1. I made books & books of house designs. I imagined & drew floor plans. I drew pictures, I cut pictures out of books and magazines filling my notebooks with every detail of a house.
2. I played tennis.
3. I made art.
4. I had my own house painting business.
5. I pretended I had a cooking show as I cleared the table at night.
6. I played outside.
What I know is this; if you want a different life, you have to make different choices. I had to change. No one else can do that or decide it. We are each 100 percent responsible for ourselves.
I wrote down how I wanted people to see me and I started behaving that way. I wrote a list of how I wanted to be in the world and how I wanted my life to be, then I looked for ways that supported those desires.
I wanted to feel grateful. I started a gratitude practice. It is something that I do every morning. I never miss it. I say 10 things that I’m grateful for.
I wanted to feel inspired. I started looking for things that inspire. I started spending time in nature, in quiet, paying attention. Looking at beautiful things just to see beauty. I garden. I read books. I look at pictures. I look at art. I look for beauty all the time, even if it’s just the way the light is shining.
I wanted to be loving and wanted people to know that I cared about them. I started writing cards & notes. I cook for people, inviting them to my home. I look for ways to reach out to neighbors. I look for opportunities to listen.
I wanted to sleep better. I starting turning off the tv, computer, phone at 8. I quit drinking as much. I drink more water. I exercise. I eat better. I meditate. I practice yoga. I breathe.
I wanted to be generous. I started giving things away. I started giving coins to homeless people. I do things for people. I give what I can as often as I can. I let people stay in my home.
I wanted to slow down. I stopped over scheduling myself. I make a pot of soup. I make tea and spend the day reading. I take walks. I take a nap. I spend time in nature. I sit.
I wanted to feel good. I started doing things that made me feel good. I get massages. I take baths. I lay in the yard. I walk at sunset. I sit in the sun. I ride my bike to yoga. I meditate. I invite friends over and to do things together. I cook for people.
I wanted to be a writer. I started writing.
I wanted to be creative. I started creating. I started painting.
I wanted to be outside. I started spending as much time as I could outside. I hike, I walk, I camp, I ride, I sit, I garden. If it’s cold, I bundle up and when it’s not, I don’t.
I vacation in nature without cell phone or internet access so that I am forced to unplug, slow down and be present to my surroundings.
Take the time to figure out how you’re at your best and do those things as much as you can.
Simple, yes. Easy, no.
We get the chance to begin again every single day.