Note: I am talking today. Talking A LOT. So in between all the talking, I thought I'd throw in some recipes to entice you to get all the way to the bottom of my incessant talking. But if you click away, come back, okay?
People's opinions and thoughts matter. But not as much as your own. This is a mantra I have to remind myself of daily.
I'm a people-pleaser from way back. I was the kid always striving to get my parents to shower me with praise by trying to do well in school, or joining orchestra and learning to play the violin, or getting into baseball card collecting because that was something my Dad enjoyed with my brother, or putting on some sort of show for them to entertain them or trying really hard to always keep my room clean and doing chores that I thought would be helpful.
But what do you do when the praise is hard to come by? When you aren't the prettiest girl or the smartest girl? Well, if you're like me, you keep doing those things that I mentioned above until you eventually burn out and are completely lost and finally come to terms that it's not going to come when you want it and you can't live your life for someone else. That, no matter how hard you try to be the person everyone wants you or expects you to be, it never happens.
Heck, I was going to college just to be the first one in our family to get a college degree and I didn't even know what I was going for or why. It's because I didn't know my own self. By the way, I totally flunked out. I sucked at college. I knew what other people wanted of me. But I didn't know ME. I spent SO much wasted time and energy trying to get praise. Stupid praise. I craved it! I think it must've been hardwired into me at birth.
I sorta wish there was Facebook back then. I see parents now (including myself) taking photos and giving so much praise for stuff that I did on the daily when I was a kid. Seriously. I was a helluva kid. So much potential! Potential that I looked back on for a long time and thought I had wasted. Because what kid does stuff like that and doesn't become something and someone, right? Look at my baby playing baseball! Look at my baby doing cheer! Look at this beautiful dress she made all by herself! Do you see how much she reads? And so advanced for her age! She's gonna do something big with her life!
We praise absolutely every little accomplishment of our children like they are the first ones to ever do it and we, in turn, consider ourselves pretty dang amazing by raising these pretty dang amazing offspring. "Behold the awesomeness that I have created!"
It's important, you know? It's important that every kid has their own personal cheering section in their corner. That no matter how much they flub up later on, that someone is always rooting for them. Because, they will flub up. And we won't be posting that on Facebook. It's important to praise the big things and the little things. But it's important to know that love is not conditional. That our accomplishments don't act as a badge that says "Love me! I'm a lawyer! I make lots of money and all of my kids are perfection! We all volunteer at the food pantry each weekend. Love me. Love us because of all that we are and all that we do!"
But we all know, in the end, that's not love. Not real love anyway. That's adoration. Love is the kind of thing that sees you at your worst (and that worst may last a long time!) and is right there anyway.
There is so much hate and judgement and criticism "out there" that we sure as heck don't need it at home too.
Life will beat us all up at some point. No one is immune. Home should be sanctuary. Where we are amazing to this other small group of people who are our tribe. Because let's be honest, most of us and our children are not going to do anything big. They are going to live their lives just like us and be completely normal and not known to a huge audience.
So, why the deep thoughts today Brandie? Well, ya know Brandie, to answer your question, I do my best thinking in the shower. I really do. I also talk to myself. In my head, of course. Because talking out loud to myself would sound crazy, even to me.
Recipe ideas, existential thoughts, chores that need to be done - nothing is off limits. But it's my sanctuary for a few minutes to just be and exist and no outside world intrudes. And I started thinking about what I do for a living. I get asked that question - a lot. It's what people talk about. "So, what do you do?" The sarcastic side of me wants to say "I do Brandie." That's it. I'm just me.
And sometimes I feel like if I don't answer to their satisfaction that I will somehow be lessened in their eyes. I have fought this my whole life because I've never held an occupation, in perhaps the eyes of others, and perhaps in the eyes of my own judgement, that has ever been enough.
I'm a blogger. I'm not a published author. I am not a television personality. I am a blogger. There ya go. That's it. The follow up questions are usually: "So when are you writing a book?" "Have you been on television?" "Are you going to open up a restaurant or bakery?" "Do you do catering?" And my answers to all of those questions are "Um no." And sometimes the look of disappointment appears and sometimes they just lose interest and we move on.
I have lots of friends in this field - thankfully! Many are becoming successful cookbook authors or successful do-it-yourself authors. They are going on television shows and in general, becoming kinda famous. And I know them! How crazy is that?! And I'm honored and thrilled and (insert amazing adjectives here) to be in their world.
But....there's always a but, right? Not me. I don't want that for me. Some opportunities have come and gone and each time I kept finding a way to not make it happen. And then I realized something. An epiphany, if you will.
I am bucking the system. Opportunities have come. This isn't just the talk of a raving woman (ok, slightly raving woman.) But there has been a part of me, maybe subconsciously, that is fighting back against what others are telling me I should be doing. My whole life, I've heard about what is considered "successful" and what isn't. Going to college: successful. Becoming a doctor, lawyer, entrepreneur (insert job that gives you a title and keeps you financially secure here): successful. Becoming a published author (like on paper, not on the internets): successful. Being on television so all of the world knows how amazing you are too: successful.
Here's the thing. I have no desire for any of that. I really don't. It might not sound real, because so many people would LOVE that. But it's just not for me. I have no desire to be on television or have a cooking show. Not at all. I have no desire to spend every waking day and night trying to write a cookbook. And I really do not want to open a restaurant or do catering. Do y'all know how hard those jobs are? So much work, effort and sacrifice for not a lot of pay. I am honestly, and truly happy just doing this right here. I don't want to psychoanalyze myself too much (because, ick, scary) but I imagine a part of me started blogging to get some of that praise that I desperately wanted for many years. At the time, I didn't know it would come with lots of insults too. Who knew people would get so upset over sweet tea? Not me.
These are words and terms that are in our vernacular. Doctor. Lawyer. Teacher. Author. Business Owner. We know them. We love them. They are warm and fuzzy words of success to us. But blogger? Isn't that just what some kid in his parent's basement does? Even us bloggers do it. I've done it to myself for heaven's sake. It's a word that most of us have a hard time using to describe ourselves. We didn't grow up with this word. Shoot, most of us were in our twenties when we got our first computer. Back in the dark ages when Microsoft didn't even have Windows yet.
Some of us press hard to become "authors" so we don't have to use that dirty word: blogger. Ick. Blogger. No darling, I am an author and television personality. Because author? Successful. Blogger? Not so much. We want to prove to the world and ourselves that we are more. More than what everyone thinks we are.
It's so weird out in the world having to explain what I do. What I *love* doing. It's exhausting if I'm being honest. "What do you do?" "Well, I'm a blogger." (dramatic pause, listen for crickets) "What is that?" "How do you make money?" "So, you just work on the internet?" "Are you going to be the next Paula Deen?"
And the questions continue...and usually I am looking forward to when I can go back into the cocoon and safety of my house. Because I'm an introvert and I don't like to talk about myself. And I do my best work alone. In the darkness of my parent's basement. And I speak sarcasm as I second language.
I like people. I really do. But I feel like I've spent a lifetime defending myself. Defending why I am not doing this that or the other. Now it's answering why I haven't published a paper cookbook. Why I won't become an "Author?" (said in my best snobby, British accent.)
Here is what my snobby, terribly rude, inner voice has said to me my entire life. She's a bit of a twit, so be warned.
"Darling, you just aren't successful and are not bringing honor to your family unless you do these things. You have to have a title that people understand. How do I explain to everyone what you do for a living? I can't tell them you're a blogger. No one knows what that is. They'll think you live in your parent's basement. They'll think you do this as a hobby and your husband pays for everything and you just sit at home playing on the computer with your cute little hobby. Must be nice! Wish I could do that! For goodness sake, you aren't even a trained chef. You're just a cook. A college dropout. You have no experience. No proper training. You've bounced around from job to job your whole life because your husband was in the Navy and you moved all the time. Give us something we can work with? Become an author. Then I can show your book to everyone with your name on it. Then you'll have really done something with your life!"
Please note: none of these things have ever been said to me by a family member. These are the thoughts I have put on myself from years of being a people pleaser. And trying hard to earn praise that just didn't come often enough for me.
So here it goes. My reasons include: because it's expensive, you have to go on television a lot and I'm actually okay being on television but it takes too much time away from the blog and my family. You have to travel a ton to promote it and as stated in my previous reason: I don't like being away from my family and my daily routine (because hello? I'm a hermit and an introvert) and to be honest, most authors really don't make that much money from it to justify any of my other reasons.
Again, these are my reasons. I can't speak for anyone else at all. I would be doing this for a title: author. Nothing more. I would be doing this to make other people feel more comfortable about what I am doing with my life. I would be doing this for praise I have so longed for my whole life. I would be doing it for my own ego.
And no matter how much I said to myself "My readers have been really wanting me to write a cookbook and I want to give the people what they want!" I would know, deep down, in my soul, that I would be doing it, once again, to please everyone else and finally get the praise I think I deserve. And I just can't. I'm exhausted y'all. Exhausted of justifying myself to the world. To others. The need to feel like I have to show everyone my bank account to say "See? I make money! I pay for our mortgage and I pay myself so that I can retire one day and I pay the government 28% of all my earnings and they suck the life out of me in the process and I pay for our child's needs and I pay! I pay! I pay!" See world? I am successful! And I try to convince myself, once again, that I am enough. I am enough without the titles.
And then I go back to my corner and wonder why? Why do I feel the need to answer anyone's questions about my life and what I choose to do with it? It's no one's business or concern but my own. And you know what? I am super proud of myself. I may not get the praise that I have desperately wanted my whole life from others.
But in my forty years on this earth, I am finally learning who I am. Who God created me to be. And I have to know that it is enough. To be fulfilled with this blessing He has given me. To reach so many amazing women (and there's a few guys in there too) through the internet. I mean, how crazy is that?
I may not have a title that people are comfortable with. That sometimes I am still not comfortable with. But I know I love what I do. I love that I can finally be comfortable (most of the time) with being a complete failure in college, being a marginal employee out in the workforce and saying "I'm a blogger."
It's not all of me.
I'm a Momma. I'm a wife. I'm a helluva supporter for women. All women. I like sharing recipes. Simple ones that makes that gal on the other side of a computer screen (who is busy living her life and following her dreams) feel like a rock star. Even if just for a moment. That is our connection to each other. And maybe. Just maybe. She'll come back and give me that little bit of praise that I crave (that I hate to admit that I crave) and she'll keep me going another day. And hopefully I'll keep her going too.
And ya know, I'll make some money from "just being a blogger." Because a few folks out there in the world came to my blog. Just a blog. Not a cookbook. Not a television show. And they supported this other woman out there just trying to live a life that makes her happy.
Advertisements will pop up on their screen when they come to this "just a blog" and maybe they'll click on it and maybe they won't. And I make a few cents off each of those advertisements. And companies will sometimes come and ask me to try their products and either I'll love it or hate it and maybe they'll pay me to create a recipe if I love it.
And each day I will pinch myself that God brought me here. I failed at so many other things in my life. I tried so hard to impress others and I failed time and time again. And yet, He brought me here. To live a life that is me. Not the me that is the little girl trying to impress my parents or my husband. Not the me that is always looking for the nod of approval from others.
And I don't go to church. And I want to go to church because I want people to approve of me for being a good, church going girl. But I don't. And I don't know why I don't. Wait, yes. I sort of do. Because I have a hard time being around large groups of people (again: introvert) who may or may not want me to cook because they heard I have a cooking blog. And that's a lot of pressure, ya know? Because church ladies can cook!
But I love God. Man, do I love God. I'm a HUGE supporter of God.
But I fear people will look at me as "the one that cooks" and maybe they'll expect me to be much better than I really am and honestly, I can't take the pressure. I just want to be me. Brandie. And I want other people to see that is enough. To not expect me to be anything more. To not want me to bake a cake or bring food. Because that is the first question that almost always comes up and why I hesitate to tell people what I do. "Do you cater?" "Can you make food for all of our bake sales?" "Can you bake a cake for my daughter's birthday." And then I'll have to disappoint them, and as I've already discussed in previous paragraphs, I will have to disappoint them many times and I really hate disappointing people.
I just want everyone to accept me as me, and that has been hard to come by, if I'm being honest. Because it's not how the world works.
Isn't that what everyone wants? To just be accepted for the imperfect, hot messes that we almost always are?
Because I'm an over-thinker. And over-analyzer. I mean, hello? This post says anal retentive, right? I'm a people pleaser from way back. I don't want to disappoint. And I'm learning that folks, out there, in my real world, on this side of the computer, are just gonna have to be disappointed in me. There I said it. And I need to be okay with that.
I can't bake for every single bake sale. I don't have the time or the energy frankly. I'm over here doing my calling. And just because I'm at home doesn't mean I am not working. And to be brutally honest, chances are, I will be using a boxed brownie mix when I do volunteer to bake brownies for the bake sale.
And you know what else? I make food sometimes that totally sucks and my family tells me so. Did I mention I am not a chef? I am hardest on myself. I overseason chicken. A LOT. And in the back of my mind I know people are expecting better. They are expecting more. Because hello? I am a food blogger. That is what I do, right?
But I am more than that. I am an imperfect hot mess and I hope that's why folks keep coming back to my blog. They will know that I went through a recipe 5 times before sharing it because it sucked the first 4. Or maybe I'll get super lucky and get it right the first time and we can all high-five each other. And they will know I work so hard to get pictures of everything I did to make the recipe so that they can rock it in the kitchen and not have to go it alone.
I'll be there. Walking them through. Strangers...yet not. Helping them not make mistakes like I did the first four times I made it. And I will remind them to GRAB A POTHOLDER because that pan is HOT and don't burn your thumbs like I did.
And I hope I will never make them feel "less than" because they really wanted to make something yummy for their new boyfriend but they can barely make ramen noodle soup. And they will know, out there in the world, that there is another hot mess, just like them, trying to get through a day in this life with a little bit of happiness and joy in whatever way we can find it.
I get hit hard by comments sometimes. People can be cruel, right? But other times I am lifted up by this little connection I have with other people.
Maybe someone made a recipe I shared and they enjoyed the simple process of making the food and eating it and enjoying it and it brought a little, small, teeny tiny bit of sunshine that they needed. And they don't mind that I start my sentences with "And". And they don't mind that I use run-on sentences.
I know that behind every comment there are maybe a hundred more from folks that just didn't have the time or want to say anything but I know they are there. Because they come back.
They come back.
And I come back.
And that is enough.
I am enough. Just me. Just Brandie. Just this blogger that makes food. Nobody special except in the eyes of God.
There are many things I am not: I am not a chef, I am not a professional writer, I am not a college graduate, I am not that great at parenting (or at wife-ing), I am not good at dieting, I am not a runner, I am not great at eating healthy and I'm not above using swear words when the need arises.
But I am enough. The world is great at telling us what we are not. It's up to us to tell ourselves what we are. I am a loving Momma. I am a supportive wife. I am really good in an emergency. I will always be there for the people that need me. I am good at creating recipes. I am fulfilled in blogging. And that is enough.
You are enough. Just you. Not you with a fancy title. Just you being you. Who you were created to be. It's odd that we have to "fight" to be us. But that is the truth of it.
Thank you for being you.
Thank you for coming here. Helping me to be me and do what I love. For letting me be enough with these humble little recipes.
And that's why I don't have a published cookbook. Because this blog is enough. You, being here, grabbing recipes - it's enough.
I also don't know what the future holds. I do know that I am planning on writing an e-book. I know everyone is waiting on the edge of their seats for that (sarcasm, it just won't quit.)
And yes, it will be something published on the internet, not an actual book. Because that is something I can afford to do and will have time to do and want to do. And it won't bring me fame or fortune or be on a best-sellers list. I won't have anything to pull out at parties and show everyone. Besides, I don't host parties anyways. But it will be totally me. No editors. No filtering. Just me. And that will be enough.
And by the way: blogging is totally cool to teenagers and twenty-somethings. They grew up with the word. So I'm thinking by the time I am a Grandma, I will be like the coolest Grandma ever to my grandkids. So, there's always that to look forward to.