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.

 

holy ground.

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“She say, Celie, tell the truth, have you ever found God in church? I never did. I just found a bunch of folks hoping for him to show. Any God I ever felt in church I brought in with me. And I think all the other folks did too. They come to church to share God, not find God.”
– Alice Walker, The Color Purple

I think there are a few truths that are certain.
That life is full of pain.
That life is full of joy.
And that life is really funny.

Certainly, you can file ‘funny’ under joy, but I believe that it is its own form of spirituality. I believe Anne Lamott says that laughter is a ‘bubbly effervescent form of holiness.’

You have to understand, that writing about pain is important. I think some folks imagine me sitting, all Poe like, hunched over a dark writing desk with a human skull as my muse.

In reality, I am only exploring the things that allow me to feel shitty.

A mean customer.
A drunken man.

Then there is a group of people beheading prisoners on a beach.
There’s another man testing nuclear missiles for fun.
There’s a woman on death row in Georgia who is close to a dear friend of mine.

Daily, I allow myself to take in the human condition. I hear people talk about money. People with six digits still stressing about the world and their things and I digress. Those are not my problems.

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Yes, I cook.
But I also empty trash cans and mop floors. I have plenty of time to think.

I chose to cook.

I choose to serve, and I keep choosing a life where my hands bleed and my bones ache.

I can’t help but to think these things are hilarious, too.
I laugh a lot.
A lot.

Probably at things I shouldn’t. Whatever that means.
But also at things that deserve a good belly laugh.
I think, if God does reside in the Heavens, they laugh often. And with their bellies.

I also know, that if God resides in the Heavens, they also cry.

I don’t believe you can measure any of this. Amounts of pain or joy. Considering they are building blocks of a day. When we’re not doing our jobs to help grow our businesses or make the places we are, better than they used to be.

Last night, I came home late from a catering job.
I’d say there was a lot of pain in yesterday. Both mental and physical. I wanted nothing more than to forget about it, but instead I came home, sank into my couch and decompressed. Granted, a few episodes of Parks and Rec and another late night wanderer made my world a little softer.

If there’s one thing, among many things that I know to be true, is that dignity covers our scrapes and bruises. It helps to wash away the ever-pressing job of being fully human in this wonderful and heartbreaking world.

At the end of the day, I resonate with those very first words from Alice. That what we are looking for, is each other.

Mother Teresa also said that we belong to each other. More so, that if we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.

So, I am ready.
To dissolve into you, because you are the face of God.

and for all I know, I’m always standing on holy ground.

time and light.

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A few weeks ago, I read a story about a young woman who is choosing a physician-assisted suicide.

I read it a few times, actually.

She is choosing when and where and will be surrounded by her loved ones, after deciding the pain of her terminal illness was getting to be too much. I realize there is a lot in that, and what’s been on my mind, is not so much the politics or the religious aspects of such a decision.

More so, the power of her choice.

I think about how hard all of that is.

And yesterday, I felt pretty whooped — physically, emotionally.

Busy week in the kitchen, mixed with a whirlwind of everything else.

I sat in the deep sadness of this young woman’s situation. Her life, and having to choose something so terribly difficult before her peers and family.

I sat and wondered if I had one week to take all of life in, what would I notice?

I let it sink in a little deeper, and deeper. Until my eyes started to water, and I looked up at a blue sky, with a few scattered clouds. I thought about how beautiful and rich everything was. There were some birds involved, a slight cool breeze and the sound of crunchy leaves blowing against concrete.

I sat for a minute to take it in. To simply, notice.

I let in the good and the bad. My absolute joy mixed with my worst pain.

The faces of the poor and the sick, and the butterflies of having that first kiss.

Everything came flooding back into my world.
How lucky I am.
Though I find myself existing in all sorts of worlds, I think about the fact that I was able to live in such a great love, and to also experience the great sadness of loss.

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You realize that the world starts feeling like a t-shirt that has stretched beyond repair. And when you put it on, it is familiar but it doesn’t cling to you like it used to. You hold loosely to your attachments because time tells you that things come and go. That there are good years, and bad years and in between years.

I’ve personified time as my friend, as of late. I hold it close and thank it for giving me space in this little baby blue world.

I accept all these hard decisions. To move on in this world and the next, and to find that great peace we’re all constantly working to live in.

I think about her, and the fact that she’ll be surrounded by her family and loved ones. My heart breaks. But there is light all over when that happens, pouring into the cracks.

peace be with you, Brittany. sending my love and God’s love and warm and fuzzies your way. Thank you for your light.