I love watching babies as they shift from scurrying on their knees to toddling around on their feet, and I find it not only adorable, but inspiring, to see them diligently rise after every fall, though they are clumsy and awkward in their efforts. The older I get, the more I find new things to be challenging or even daunting, but I seldom give myself grace to be clumsy in the transition.
The first step toward anything new is often a shaky one, and this week, I have been reflecting a great deal on my original purpose for Comfort du Jour. It has been a year since I launched my little blog, and I am aware of how easily I lose sight of my own goals. My perfectionist tendencies are notorious for hindering movement on personal projects, as I noted in my first post on CDJ, the day I announced to the world—or, more accurately, to about three people—that I finally took the first step toward starting a food blog. I shared the news initially with one of my girlfriends, who loves me, despite (or maybe because of) my insecurities and who also knows and has tasted my passion for cooking. I shared it with a cousin, whose love for food was nurtured in the same “Grandma kitchen.” And, of course, I shared it with my husband, who edits every story (except this one) for grammatical correctness and content flow. He is a trained former journalist and news editor, so he knows best on such things (and I am grateful). I did not ask him to review this post, because he might suggest that I am rambling (and I probably am), but I promise that I will bring my point full circle.
In all my review and pondering, I feel that I have lost my way somewhat in my original intention for Comfort du Jour, to be not only a creative outlet at the onset of stress resulting from a world pandemic, but also a place where I could be free to put my love for food on full display. I wanted to share what I have learned along my journey, which began in my Gram’s kitchen, picked up speed during my three-year stint in a commercial catering environment, and manifests today in my desire to simply appreciate and share all the flavors of the world for the greater good. In my panic over “page hits,” I become prone to compromise what I do best in favor of what I think everyone else wants. And that, sadly, is a theme of my life, and my therapist agrees.
Comfort du Jour is a virtual expression of what I had imagined might have been a cozy, diner-style restaurant, where guests would be transported in time to a table in their childhood, just like the fictional food critic, Anton Ego, in the Disney-Pixar film, Ratatouille. In my imaginary diner, my own “dish of the day” would be some combination of family-inspired comfort food and modern elegance. But there is more than that. I also want to share the many ways that cooking has taught me about life, and helped me to grow as a human being. It is no surprise to me that I am often more proud of my “leftover” creations than of any exquisite, perfect dish I have made. The sense of accomplishment in transforming unwanted scraps into something fresh, new and interesting is one of the best feelings ever. And that, happily, has also been a theme of my life, and one that I intend to continue.
So, as much as I had intended to roll out an exciting, “One-Year Awesome Anniversary” kind of post, filled with images of mouthwatering, “why-didn’t-I-think-of-that” creations, I am offering something else—a real look into what drives me in the kitchen. It is not only the love of cooking that my grandmother instilled in me, but also my experiences in the catering world, which were brimming with high emotion, exquisite foods and naughty adventures. I was invited into that world by their events manager, a dear friend who recognized that my passion for cooking was a good match-up to their need for extra hands during busy seasons. Sadly, my friend is not here to appreciate or enjoy Comfort du Jour because we lost her to cancer almost three years ago. Let me tell you, she would have loved this. It is difficult to relive some of those memories, but I promise I will share them because there was plenty of joy in that part of my journey, and laughter is still the best medicine.
And that brings me, full circle, into my title for this post: “Watch that first step—it’s a doozy.”
Every adventure begins with a single step, and I’ve made a specific commitment to walking during the month of April, which I am secretly hoping will carry on into the months beyond. Walking is great exercise and affords me the opportunity for reflection and “resetting” my mind on goals, expectations and direction. It begins with the simple decision to get out of my chair and into the world outside myself, away from the computer screen and the TV and the smartphone and all these recipes and everything else that distracts. After a year of sheltering-in-place, it feels awkward to get out there, but the view is quite exhilarating.
It helps, of course, to have a walking buddy, and I am lucky to have a few of them. My husband, Les, and I took our dog, Nilla to nearby Tanglewood Park on Easter Sunday. It was our first time there in ages (maybe ever, together), and the walking trails were busy with families and couples and singles and dogs, all enjoying the same glorious day. Nilla met some new friends, including one of the beautiful horses who allowed her to get close enough for some socially distant sniffing. The hope of spring and fresh beginnings was visible all around us, and it was exactly what I needed.
Last week, one of my new blogging friends shared about her commitment to walk 40 miles during the month of April, as part of a fundraising movement for the American Cancer Society. I cannot participate by means of the Facebook group associated with the effort—oh, let me count the reasons I hate Facebook—but I will be walking, alongside my new friend (though she is many miles away), and in memory of my departed friend who will oversee my steps. Walking is a small effort, but it’s a start, and it is something I can do without concern of whether I’m getting it right. I will donate to the cause, and I will proudly wear my “Team Tammy” bracelet as I work toward my goal, and I encourage anyone who has lost a loved one to the dreadful disease of cancer, or cheered them on to victory over it, to do the same—donate, walk and raise awareness as best you can, so we can keep our traveling partners beside us for the long haul.
Gotta go lace up now, because Nilla reminds me it is time for our walk. And here begins my second year of Comfort du Jour. May it be even more adventurous than the first…
Find out more about the American Cancer Society
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