I’ve been thinking about gratitude a lot lately. I’ve been feeling a need to stop and take stock of the many things I have to be grateful for--in more than a perfunctory, 30-second, Instagram sort of way.
Of course, the Thanksgiving holiday has had something to do with this. The whole holiday season, with its unique blend of stress and joy and complicated family dynamics, puts me in an introspective mood. There’s something about the year drawing to a close, too, that compels me to look back and assess how the whole affair of my life is coming along. (And my Christmas birthday throws an extra layer of self-examination and existential angst in the mix!)
Talking about gratitude can feel a little corny though. The “Attitude of Gratitude” has been pretty much trampled to death in the popular media. But there remains something very real about the power of gratitude to improve our lives.
In an attempt to stave off a Seattle funk, for example, Beau and I started calling out our “gratefuls” every evening before bed: A great meal. An exciting work project. A glorious sunset. A roof over our heads and food on our table.
Through our days, then weeks, of paying attention to them, these “gratefuls” have knitted themselves into a sort of forcefield that helps keep self-pity and bleak moods at bay. They remind us that no matter how shitty the day seemed, we have an embarrassment of riches in the gratitude department.
So as we head into the festive chaos of the holiday season, I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve been especially grateful for this year and that have had a big impact on my life:
1) All the talented, interesting, creative people surrounding me. I’ve written before about being an introverted hermit who could happily spend hour after hour at home cooking, reading and watching BBC period dramas. But, from my incredible husband to the gifted chefs, makers, and artists I got to work with this year to those of you who joined my retreats and workshops--you are my number one source of inspiration and energy. I’m so grateful for that.
2) Travel. I’m going to get a little vulnerable here and tell you that, as someone who spent a chunk of her childhood living in a trailer park and knows what government cheese tastes like, I often feel twinges of guilt that my life now includes multiple trips to Paris and other amazing places each year. There’s a piece of me that feels like I don’t deserve it. I obsess about whether I’m going to come off as some sort of snobby, jet-setting, champagne-swilling person who takes for granted all these special experiences when I post about them on the blog.
But then I remember something: I believe travel is one of the most soul-satisfying things we can do. A trip--to the next town or the other side of the planet--opens our minds to new ideas and exposes us to people we’d never meet in the comfort of our daily routines. It shifts our perspectives and connects us to other human beings like nothing else. If I can encourage others to experience that connection and openness, I feel like I’m doing something necessary and important. When I think about it all, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude that I get to have such a rewarding job, discover new places and meet cool, creative people all over the world.
3) Photography. I kicked off 2017 by taking a life-changing photography workshop in Oaxaca. I’m wrapping up the year landing exciting commercial photography gigs, which leaves me feeling like a competent professional instead of an impostor. It has been a huge confidence boost. If you are contemplating getting serious about your side-hustle or creative hobby, I say do it, do it, DO IT. It is so rewarding to invest in a creative pursuit and feel yourself growing and making work you are proud of. I’m overflowing with gratitude for this one!
4) Taking it easier on myself. I’ve written a lot about this over the past year. (You can read more about it here, here and here.) So I’ll simply say I’m learning to tame my inner dictator and extend a little more kindness to myself. Sometimes I forget and get caught up in over-working and self-criticism. But I’m finding it easier to step off the perfectionist treadmill. The result is less anxiety, more happiness and more time for things that actually matter (see items 1, 2, and 3). So that is without a doubt something to be grateful for.
5) This blog. I don’t want to get all meta on you, but I’m super grateful to have this space to share favorite recipes, my photography, my travels and my thoughts with you! Sharing these things makes them feel more alive and real somehow. This blog has also been the source of many IRL connections and friendships, which makes me think this whole internet thing is pretty awesome after all.
This seems like a good time to let you know that starting around the beginning of the year, I’ll be taking this blog in a new direction. I can’t imagine a world where sharing food won’t be important to me, so there will still be recipes I love. But there will be other stuff, too. My interests and creative energies have shifted a lot in the past year and I want this journal to reflect that.
I’m still exploring what exactly the “other stuff” will be, but I know there will be more photography, more Small is Beautiful features on local businesses I love, more travel guides. Basically, I plan to share whatever I find compelling: An art exhibit in Paris. A new restaurant in Seattle. Travel tips. Fashion and design trends I’m feeling. My thoughts on how to live a more beautiful and artful life.
I understand that the new format won’t be for everyone. If you’re a diehard recipes fan and decide to unsubscribe, there will be zero hard feelings. For the rest of you, I’d love to hear in the comments below what sort of content you’d be especially into.
I can’t wait to head off on this new adventure. And I’m ever grateful to all of you for being a part of it.
P.S. Big news! I’m teaming up with the super talented Yossy Arefi to bring you another Paris food photography workshop! We're finalizing the dates and details this weekend. But I can tell you that it will be in the second half of May and that in addition to cooking, styling and shooting, there will be all sorts of Paris deliciousness. Stay tuned for details and click here to sign up for the First To Know list and get early access to registration!