creation.

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I love watching the painful process of people creating things.

The “making of” on TV shows and movies. I love watching artists, directors and producers thinking their work is garbage and having to question everything about where they are.

Mostly because it doesn’t make me feel so alone.

I do not consider myself an artist. I do think that I am someone who creates. Not sculptures or things made of glass. Honestly most of the things I make turn into shit, eventually.

However, I do think humans are persistent animals. A lot of us are stubborn. A lot of us have always been our own worst enemies.

Self-love goes out the window when I begin to work on something. I often think it’s the worst thing I’ll ever do.

“Why do I keep doing this to myself?”

No matter how good a thing is and no matter how many people tell me how good that thing is, I go home and I doubt myself into a corner where I really don’t want to turn around and face it. I wish I was being dramatic, but there’s not a dinner that goes by where I imagine I did everything I could to make it my best.

And then the pendulum swings back the other way. I take a step back and look at the things I’ve helped create. I look at the sweat and blood and bones of a thing. Hard work doesn’t often pay off for people, but it so many ways it has for me.

I’ve had some luck.

There have been more than a few times in my world where I have left a thing when I’ve needed to leave, and maybe times that I’ve should’ve stayed longer.

You don’t always get the opportunity to know these things in a lifetime.

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Most recently, I received an award for being ‘Best Local Chef’ in my city, and other surrounding smaller cities. It was an award I had been nominated for a few times in the past years, but lost to folks who had bigger followings.

I got kind of lucky this year. Granted, most chefs believe they deserve it and they do. We all work hard. We all sacrifice for the things we want to create. I wish people knew the creative process that has to unfold for us to make things happen.

There isn’t a lot of self-love in the industry. I think maybe that’s why we do it sometimes. It feels good to love others and sometimes it’s harder to love yourself. After all, we don’t know the minds of others.

It’s easier to take care of others than it is myself. That has always been true.

That’s why burnout happens so much in my world.

Lately I am thinking about other ways to be creative with the things I am made of. Perhaps this ooey-gooey heart of mine won’t always be able to stand up to the stresses of a kitchen or the weight you have to carry.

I would love the words, “I’m tired” to not always be the first thing out of my mouth when catching up with a friend.

Being tired is like a coat.

It is just a thing that I wear. (more often for other people to see.)

When I won that award, it was fun and terrifying to speak in front of all those people. But it always feels good to win, right? It feels even better to shake hands and receive hugs from people who told me “You deserve this.”

My sister was with me that night, and as we drove home I put the windows down and put on the Cranberries, “Dreams” – because it felt a little like heaven. My sister has seen me at my darkest and I was so happy to share with her in my light.

Perfect things rarely occur, but for a moment, it felt good to have my mind rest on the things that were good and that I was good.

It all takes time.

In fact, life is harder as it goes by. But there are plenty of surprising moments where a pure joy exists and things feel elevated. Lighter.

There is breath and forgiveness,

and in between,

the creation of all things.

 

finding your voice (when you already have it)

Food

Whether it’s your writing, your art, or your food; there is something powerful about someone discovering their voice.

Yes.

Voice.

It’s been on my mind a lot these days.
And you know what it’s like to see other people who have found theirs. It’s what makes them drive their point deep into your belly. And voices, like people, come in all different shapes.

One of the hardest things about writing is voice. In any form of art or creative thinking — finding your voice is usually the most frustrating. We tend to emulate others we respect and in doing so, sound a lot like them. But people have already heard them before.

You want people to hear you. You want people to understand. Getting that across to those not in your head is hard.

And this is something I’ve been talking to people about lately.
I’m not really for those kind of blogs that give you step by step solutions to things, which is why I don’t really post many recipes. I’m not that skilled of a cook or a writer or a person, so I don’t want you to see me that way.

But there are some things that have helped me in discovering a voice for myself.

Regardless of what you do, do it a lot. 
If you want to sing, sing a lot.
If you want to write, write a lot.

If you want to cook,
I think you get it.

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I think it’s important to copy things you like, but only for a little while. Start adapting things to how you work. If you like Stephen King as a writer, you’ll probably find yourself writing short stories in the same tone. (None the less, terrifying and brilliant.)

It goes the same with cooking as we copy recipes out of a book and with time, add more of this and more of that. (Or less!)

Use your intuition.

In all of these things, you are creating your voice.

And people will see that. People are already seeing that in you. Especially when that voice becomes confident and fierce.

You will be unstoppable. (Within the means of law, unfortunately.)

Have fun with it.

You probably aren’t pursuing meaningless work. Maybe you are for the sake of a good salary and benefits. No one is to blame you for that. But it’s important to also do something you love. My Paw-Paw has this saying (which I’m sure he got out of Reader’s Digest) that if you enjoy what you’re doing, you’ll never work a day in your life.

But that’s also not really true. Because work is work. It will suck sometimes. But when you are in pursuit of your voice, it’s refreshing. It drives you to be better. It helps the fact that you stand on your feet for over 10 hours a day. Or ball up paper and start over again and again.

You will mess up and struggle with it. Don’t expect it to be perfect.

But at some point, we all have to move. And to do that with intention and drive is what makes our voice louder than others.

Even for us quiet people, our voices can be loud.

It’s also not something we necessarily have to create, but something that, for lack of more profound words, defines who we are.

We are moms and dad and grandparents. Your voice is who you are as a teacher, how you treat and teach your kids. How you work and what you put into it.

It’s how much you want to learn and what you want to do with that knowledge. And like I said before, it’s about moving forward with that knowledge. It’s about what you give back.

Don’t think of it as something that is far off — you’ve always had a voice, and you always will.

You don’t have to go far to find it.

Just pull out a sheet of paper.

A pen.

A pan.

An instrument.

An onion.

 

…And make it yours.