Thank you all so much for entertaining me while I ducked away for the past week. I don’t think I quite realized how much I needed to unplug. Of course, Sandy Hook was the tipping point, but I think maybe my need to disconnect and reflect has been building since way before the events of December 14th. Maybe it’s par for the course leading up to the Big 3-0, but something in me lately has been interested—obsessed really—with living a meaningful life. I know how cheesy and inauthentic that sounds, but everyday I find myself questioning why I matter (and, on a micro level, why my everyday actions matter). I’m assuming it has something to do with the fact that as you get older, you are increasingly aware of your mortality, and with that awareness comes a deep-seated desire to make your time here mean something. Whatever it is, I’ve been feeling anxious about my life and my work.

Of course, “meaning something” is a totally subjective concept. What I think is important might not be important to you, and vice versa. If I’m being totally honest, I’ve struggled a lot over the past few months about writing this blog. This, combined with my day job, seem so inconsequential in the grand scheme of the big world problems. This is not at all a commentary on all the wonderful bloggers out there, but I’ve often felt like if I devoted half the amount of time I do to this blog to some “bigger” cause, maybe I could make a difference. Regardless of how much I loved writing about food or complaining about how I have to workout or talking with friends I met through blogging. I’ve constantly struggled with it not mattering. And when Sandy Hook happened, the weight of that pressure hit a critical mass. We were all so overwhelmed with emotion (and still are) and I think, for me, that translated into a desperate need to reevaluate my priorities. I found myself feeling so…selfish. I spent hours and hours doing this relatively shallow work (both on BTHR and in my day job) when, as an intelligent, philanthropic-minded person, I could have been doing something more worthwhile, couldn’t I? Maybe I could have made a difference if I wouldn’t have spent so much time in the kitchen playing with butter and garlic.

Taking this past week off from blogging gave me a chance to really think about who I am as a blogger and what I want to accomplish. And, maybe more importantly, talk with friends, family and co-workers about what it means to them for me to be a blogger. The reaction I got from those closest to me was exactly what I needed to hear—they told me I was making a difference. Maybe I wasn’t curing cancer or figuring out how to end hunger or stopping a shooter from entering a school, but I did help some people understand that healthy eating can be fun. And you don’t have to beat yourself up if you don’t like exercise. And it’s okay to be happy at a size 16. And it’s possible to love cookies, butter and kale. Logically, I knew this. I read your comments and I pore over your emails, but hearing it in that way from those closest to me really helped put my work here into perspective.

No, a healthy version of coconut cream pie won’t bring those kids back, but it might help someone (even just one someone) have a little bit easier of a time living a healthy life. And that’s nothing to be ashamed of. If anything, maybe that coconut cream pie is something to proud of? Go figure.

Can you tell I’m working on that whole accepting compliments/tooting my own horn/not being so self-deprecating thing? It’s not easy. I think there is something romantic about the classic Midwestern Modesty, but, just like with…anything…too much of it is a bad thing. I’m pretty bad about giving myself credit when credit is due. And sometimes I’m so bad at it that I can’t even see when I have a great thing going.

And gosh, writing this blog is such a freaking great thing. I literally start tearing up when I think about the people I’ve met, the opportunities I’ve had and the stories I’ve heard. I am so fortunate. My life is absolutely blissed out, and quite possibly the best way I can try to counteract a small portion of all the suffering this world (in Newtown and beyond) is to live the best, happiest and most full life I can. And along the way, try to do what I can to help out. Maybe I’m not on the path to cure cancer, but I can do my best to help out those organizations and people who are. And that combined with living with as much joy and optimism and hope and love and happiness as possible is going to have to be enough. And maybe living that kind of life is contagious and it’ll inspire others to live the same kind of positive, healthy life. That’s meaningful, isn’t it?

This post has turned into a navel-gazing, awkward, rambling mess. So, long story short: I’m a work in progress (aren’t we all?). And you aren’t getting rid of me just yet.

Merry Christmas Eve, my friends. I’ll be back later today to share with you a not-so-healthy, but totally delicious holiday cocktail recipe that has absolutely nothing to do with the meaning of life or any other existential questions, I promise. We seriously need a dose of light-heartedness up in this joint, don’t we?


  1. says

    I actually just did a blog last week on a “Happiness Map” I created for myself. I’m also nearing 30 and spending a lot of time thinking about what it is I really want from life. It can be exhausting at times to think about! I hope talking to your friends and family gave you some peace on the subject.

  2. Gretchen says

    Wonderful post. You absolutely make a difference — especially to me, and I’m not just being cheesy. ‘Tis true. Love you. :) Merry Christmas!

  3. Shelby says

    You are by far my favorite blogger! I appreciate your honesty and sincerety. I sure hope you stick with it. Merry Christmas!

  4. says

    Beautiful post. I think all bloggers struggle with this feeling at least a few times during their writing career. Sometimes it’s hard to stay in perspective when lots of bad things are happening in the world.

    Remember that even if we don’t comment as much as we should, we are here to read and you make a difference to us!!

  5. eden robinson says

    “I did help some people understand that healthy eating can be fun. And you don’t have to beat yourself up if you don’t like exercise. And it’s okay to be happy at a size 16. And it’s possible to love cookies, butter and kale.”
    For me, your blog did all this and more. Stumbling across this blog was the beginning of my journey towards enjoying food (instead of seeing it as “just fuel”/an enemy) and appreciating my body in all its strengths. Thank you for all this, and for being a role model in your optimism and enthusiasm for life and self-growth. You’ve made a big difference to my quality of life. Thank you so so much. :)

  6. Alana says

    I definitely missed you while you took a break last week — what I’m trying to say is, reading your blog is one of the things I look forward to regularly, and you inspire me, because I am a size 16 and I am happy and healthy at my size and it’s just nice to have someone else writing who understands that, so thank you :) And Merry Christmas!

  7. Lori says

    I totally understand what you are feeling. I feel I ponder the meaning of life more and more as I get older. I always thought it was just me, as I lost both my parents within the last few years. But please realize, you do make a difference.

  8. Jen in MN says

    I totally relate to your meaning-of-life feelings. But I really agree that what you do here DOES matter. It’s all relative anyway! I mean, honestly, it’s not like every last one of us has the know-how to cure cancer, you know?

    Besides, as your readership and web presence grows (because hello, that’s inevitable), you have a platform to share causes you care about. Maybe a fundraiser opportunity here & there. You have a “megaphone” here that not everyone has! And I am sure you have, and will, use it for good (-:

    Keep on, lady! Loving it.

  9. cheeznchips says

    Thanks for sharing this, I did get a little like “oh no!” in the middle of this post when I thought you might be saying this blog is ending. It brings a lot of joy, insight and a-ha moments into my little ol’ life, so I’m glad you decided to stick around and keep sharing your life. It matters. Thanks :)

  10. says

    You have made a difference to me, Cass. You’re not waiting until you’re a size two to live your life and take your adventures. The pictures you post of you and The Faces at the top of hills/mountains, hiking in vibrams, working a farm, taking chances and loving it. You inspire me to live life and to enjoy it instead of constantly zooming in on the size of my “x-flaw” in photos.

  11. says

    I am so glad you are continuing your blog! I look forward to reading your updates (on both sites) every day! You have totally inspired me to stay positive and accept myself… just the way I am.
    You ARE making a difference in this world and as small as I am in the big picture, you make a difference in my life. :)
    Happy Holidays!!

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