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?