I wrote the following post 18 months ago, and never published it. Now that I’m nearing the end of an extensive PR campaign for New Prairie Kitchen, I feel the need to publish it. I hope you don’t mind the delay.
Today is my first official book signing. This is the part of the book I never thought about. It’s the part where I feel terribly exposed and incredibly grateful, and in awe of everyone who helped New Prairie Kitchen come to life. I know it’s one book. Some people will like it, some will not. Some will champion it and others will push it to the side. I know this. I also know a cookbook is not curing cancer or part of some scientific breakthrough, but it’s my contribution to this place.
If we believe that personal interests are really gifts — road maps to who we are intended to be, as I do, then its our duty to foster those gifts not only in ourselves but also in others. I feel the love and support of so many people right now that my joy is palpable. Not because a project that lived in my head for years finally exists and I can touch it, and share it, but because of the character I had to develop through the process.
New Prairie Kitchen gave me a good lesson in persistence, trust, love, leadership and humility. Through it, I have divorced so many of my former selves, not the least of which was a doubting, pessimistic insecure dolt that showed up about the age of 30. I’m amazed anyone tolerated that version of me at all, and I’m thankful to be rid of her.
Unfortunately, for my children, specifically my son, that version of me was his first mother. I distinctly remember thinking, I don’t how to guide him because I don’t know what guides me. At the age of 30 I took a risk and quit my job to attend NYU’s Publishing Institute, then in the weeks before my planned departure I hurt my back. Many doctors visits and drugs led to a final decision of surgery and bed rest. Rather than attending class on a Monday in June, I walked into a surgical clinic.
When I hurt my back and all of my carefully constructed plans landed in one defeated pile at my feet. Rather than continuing my path as a writer in New York City, I found myself unemployed, with a body at odds with itself and me entering the transformative upheaval known as motherhood. I fell hard and fast for years. I didn’t see the path, but worse, I stopped believing there was one.
Then I wrote a story or two about some chefs, then a farmer and an artisan. Some, like the cheese makers, were trying to revive a dairy industry who many thought was all but dead. Others were launching restaurants with young wives and new babies giving it every hour they had with the hope that the time to play would come later. I rose and brushed myself off a bit every time they trusted me with their stories and shared their vulnerabilities. They reminded me that jumping is always worth the risk even if you don’t land on your feet at first.