About six months ago I did a “clean up” of Proactive Bridesmaid, taking off much of the personal content and switching the focus primarily to food writing. I’ve started making some of those old posts public again. No part of my life exists in a vacuum. When I cook, I cook for friends, from my garden and community markets, and using recipes and tools handed down from various family members. I don’t just prepare food, I live. I’ve decided all of that belongs here, with my name emblazoned on it. I’m taking ownership of every choice that got me to this point, and, lucky you, I like to share.
I got laid off, for the second time in two years, about six months ago. While that scared the hell out of me, what scared me almost as much was landing in another job where I was a bureaucratic cog. Soul searching ensued. Now when someone asks me what I do, there is no short answer. I work in a community grocery store a few days a week. I take on freelance graphics projects that I am, for the most part, passionate about. I own a calligraphy business that I started just out of college and am now breathing life back into. I run. I garden. I worry about money and health insurance. I finally remember what it is like to not be invisible and not want to be.
Shortly before New Years, I went out for a beer with an old friend I hadn’t seen in about eight years. There’s something wonderful about those friends you can pick up with like no time has passed. He made a comment about my lack of confidence, or as he put it, “the swagger you used to have.” Hmm. As much as I hated to admit it, there was something to that statement. Even at five foot nothing, my twenty-year-old self had a sassy, hand-on-hip presence that I rarely bring out to play any longer. Well, I’ve left twenty in the dust, but the thirty-year-old version is, I think, becoming more confident if less loud. At some point you realize the only person you need to impress is yourself, then the rest follows.
No one volunteers for the bad things that happen in life, but that they bring good effects is undeniable. There is grace to be found in mistakes. Strength that comes from failure. I’m reminded of a story a professor favorite professor of mine used to tell about grace…and grits.
When a Northern gentleman made his first trip to a small Southern diner, alongside his entrée was a white mass topped with melting butter. “What’s this?” He asked, sounding appalled. “I didn’t order this!”
“Grits” said the waitress. “You don’t asked for grits, they just come.”
To Norb, this was a metaphor for grace. To me, it now seems an appropriate analogy for many things. Life constantly serves up unexpected circumstances – the good, the bad, and the buttery. Grace is like grits, you don’t ask for it, it just comes.
For six months, I’ve been attempting to answer the question that everyone keeps asking me. “What are you going to do?” Well, a little bit of everything, it seems. For one, I’m writing again. My life is at loose ends right now, and I’m unsure of how to tie it up. Many people write to change the world. I write to change me.
Maybe I am asking for grace. In the mean time, I think I’ll make grits.