delicious journey


"People are people through other people/ I am what I am because of who we all are"
- meaning of the Bantu word, Ubuntu

In high school, I was a hardcore basketball player. I played on my high school team, I played on a year round "select" team, I worked out 8 hours a day. When I think back on that time of my life, I don't think about the endless hours of drills, practice or even games. I can't remember which important shots I made or missed. I can only vaguely recall any of the details I felt were so incredibly important then. I don't miss basketball at all and I am a completely different person now then I was then (though who I am is hugely informed by who I was). What I look back to, reflect on and miss about that period of time is my teammates.

My teammates from my select team and I were a community of like minded individuals, working for a common goal. We pushed each other to be better, we lifted each other up and supported one another. Even though we each were trying to develop our own careers, we were partners in each others success. We raised each other up, knowing that we could all succeed and helping one another did not change that. In my entire life it is those bonds that we shared that define for me what it means to be a part of a community. I was who I was because of who we all were.

Those girls and I unconditionally, and sometimes blindly, supported one another. To this day, I still consider some of them my closest friends. Britt, Natalie, EP, AB- all of those ladies and I have weathered more than just well played hoops and basketball dreams. We share a bond that goes far beyond time and distance. It goes beyond powerful individual friendship to a space of power group conscious. That community is something I long mourned. It was such a powerful thing to be a part of- people working together for the betterment of one another, depending on one another, supporting one another completely, unconditionally and selflessly. In my adult life, I searched for that kind of community but found it lacking. I started to wonder if being disconnected was the way of modern adulthood and that I would never experience a community such as I did then.

This year I feel the tides of change. I suddenly feel like the tipping point has been reached and I tumble, laughing head over heels, into the depths of an amazing, special community. I know that this community that I am wading deeper and deeper into is something that all of us have been cultivating for a long time. I feel connected and I feel inspired. Waking up at 4:30 am or psyching up for a 30 mile run is easier when you know that you will have 10 friends in the trenches with you. But it goes beyond having running buddies. I have been a part of the "ninjas" for almost two years and for a while it was a rag-tag bunch of runners who wanted to sneak in a trail run before work or have company on the trails on the weekends. In recent months, I feel like it has transcended that. We have grown in size but I think things have changed. Our lives, both off and on the trails, are becoming intertwined in a way that has all of us partnering in each others success.

I have long felt that the word "network" and "networking" were dirty words that described that act of trying to cultivate something strict for yourself. That someone how knowing the right person might be your ticket. I have long refrained from actively "networking" for my business or for my brand or for myself. As I see this community develop, I realize that I have a new definition of "networking". That is - "community building". Every day my community is expanding in the most brilliant and unexpected ways.

Our running community is built out of  a huge spiderweb of 1st and 2nd degree connections. I invite someone who invites someone who invites someone else and each one of those individual is folded in to the community and loses that tag "you are so and so's friend". The group expands exponentially in every direction and there is room enough for everyone. This community that we have built absolutely inspires me. Instead of being afraid to "network", I am learning to put myself out there and connect with others for no other reason than to meet inspiring rad individuals and in an incredibly short amount of time, I went from feeling lost and confused to daily inspired and motivated. And motivated not just for myself, but for the betterment of all of us. It is not even a conscious move for any of us. We are pushing each other to be better, in life not just running, we are partnering in each others success and supporting one another. We are sharing our skills with one another and infusing each other with passion. It has been an incredible thing to watch- someone says "I want to do this" and the group responds by saying, "here's how I can help", "I have someone who you should meet", "I have some experience with that", "I think that is a fantastic idea, I am fully supportive".

As I watch the community that I am a part of grow and change and build momentum and I am reminded of my time in South Africa. A community philosophy I learned  there is known as Ubuntu- "People are people through other people/ I am what I am because of who we all are". I always believed it was a beautiful idea and something that I wanted to have again (after basketball), but I honestly had not felt it. Until now. And I am deeply, truly grateful for that. Human connection and community is one of the foundations of all of life's joy and happiness. It costs nothing and only exponentially enhances our lives. Share, love, build, connect and be happy.

Pen and paper

A phenomenal view from Mt. Tam. Definitely not today.

This morning when I woke up I was not motivated. My body was sore and tired. My mind seemed even less motivated than my body. It was a stark contrast to bounding out of bed on Thursday at 4:40am to go meet up with the Ninjas for our thursday morning run the day before. I then heard the driving rain pounding the window outside and I threw the covers over my head and hid. I knew I needed to get out there for a tempo workout, a workout while intimidating, in no way worried me enough to produce the complete lack of enthusiasm for running I had this morning. I worried for a bit that I might be pushing myself too close to the edge and burning out. I wondered if marathon training and its more tightly regimented nature was weighing too much on me. I decided that, whatever the reason, I was not going to run first thing this morning. The Baker came back to bed, sharing my lack luster enthusiasm, and quickly suggested coffee as a pre-run motivator. Since we don't routinely drink coffee before runs or even regularly, it sounded like a nice warming rainy morning treat. I was into it for sure. Anything to put off actually getting out there to run. The coffee was so delicious with a splash of coconut creamer and the caffeine perked me right up. I realized that I have been pushing myself damn hard and that if I can't get it together some mornings, then I need to listen to those messages from my body. If I ignore them and press through them, I really do run the risk of burning out.

Ultimately, the waiting paid off. I had a nice breakfast of my usual oats to power me up and the rain disappeared and I was able to have a nice sunny dry tempo run, knocking out 14 miles and hitting some great intervals in the mid 5 range, even on a really blustery day. I felt pretty good, even though my legs are definitely not as fresh as I might want them to be. When I was running, between tempo intervals, I was doing some thinking about my life and my career and my direction.

Back in 2009, I wrote a blog called "The Delicious Journey" it was a way to separate out my more personal thoughts from my running ones on this blog and my food ones on my fast foodie blog. Ultimately, I brought them all back together to this blog but have taken the observation that I can be "too confessional" under advisement. On "The Delicious Journey", I put it all out there, my goals, my plans and my struggles. Since eliminating that blog, I have hesitated more about the full on "wow, I can't believe you just put that out there" posts. I don't really think this blog is too confessional, I think it is reflective of my life and journey. It is personal, yes, but anyone who thinks it is confessional, probably doesn't know me, yet. I know this because when it comes to writing I am very judgmental of myself. I don't just put things out there without thinking them through. I am highly critical and try to always be complete.  Of all the things in the world that I see myself as, a writer is not primary amongst them.

Once upon a time, that was not the case. Once upon a time, I was a writer. And let me tell you, if you think I am confessional now, you should try and get your hands on one of the many  100 page compendiums of poetry I wrote in high school and gave to family and friends as gifts for the holidays. Those were confessional. And teenage angst riddled poetry aside, I was actually quite a good writer. I loved it, which was more important and I did it without any hesitation or thought of whether or not it was good enough, worthy or some day would be considered something special (by someone other than my mother).

Through a series of unfortunate events, I stopped believing in myself as a writer. The particular death knell was my high school graduation dinner. Several family members rallied together and denounced my dream and goal of being a writer. As is usual at these events, my family asked "what are you going to do now? What do you want to be?" I told them, a writer. Their response was to completely and totally attack my dream, my goal, list all the reasons it was a stupid idea and stamp out the fires of my passion until not even an ember remained. They were successful. While I left mid-meal, fleeing the restaurant in tears dragging my poor best friend Erin with me, the damage was done. Just when I was taking flight into my future as an adult, my dream was taken away from me. I didn't understand at that time how powerfully that night changed me. It would be easy to think that I should just be able to brush it off, but it was injurious and I didn't address the wound it caused fully for a long time. The irony of that conversation was that I was on my way to college to study pre-veterinary medicine on a full basketball scholarship. Not exactly your typical, I am pursuing my dream of being a writer path but I was a very practical teenager, my mother taught me well. I KNEW that being a writer was something I could and would do no matter what my career was and I had other career interests. Being a writer was something I considered to be a personal passion that might someday take shape into something more. I wasn't banking on it or being impractical.

I can be much more timid than you think.

Ultimately, I didn't become a vet and did ultimately complete my undergrad in English, Creative Writing. However, even going through that program, I rarely wrote. I struggled with the words every time I set down to put them on paper. I wrote one brilliant undergraduate thesis under professor Linda Bierds who had, only a few years before, won a "genius" grant. It is the only time in my undergraduate career that I ever felt like a writer, the rest of the time, I felt like a pretender. Like someone would soon call me out on being an impostor. I had full on F.O.F, I was paralyzed by it.

From the television show Family Matters:

Steve: “You don’t wanna take that test because you have F.O.F.”
Carl: “What is F.O.F?”
Steve: “F.O.F is fear of failure. Even the most confident people have moments of fofnoscity.”
Carl: “Are you calling me…a fofnoficator?”
Steve: “When you’re feeling nervous, when you’re trapped in that emotional pit of doubt and despair, that’s when you dig deep into your character; and, peel away the layers of cowardice, self-doubt and nay saying until you get down to the raw steel of yes-can-do; and, then, you hot dip that steel, and fortify yourself.”
I never got back to the feeling of "yes-can-do". I saw my thesis as a fluke, a reflection of a time (my time in South Africa) which was so emotionally charged, I couldn't help but write. I kept it and value that body of work. But I soon gave it up completely and moved on. I don't write in a journal, I don't write short stories, poetry or books. 
Therein however, deep seeded and undeniable is the desire to write a book. Last year, I thought I wanted to write a book about my time in high school but realized that that was uninspired, that I didn't actually have any desire to write about that at all. But the feeling doesn't go away. Clearly from this blog it is evident that when I find my inspiration, I can go on and on and on.
For a long time, I have had this sense "I want to write a book" but every idea that comes to me, I freeze with terror before I even have the first paragraph written. I flash back to that high school dinner and I give it up "knowing" it is futile. How ridiculous is that? It has taken me a lot of mental energy to even get to the point where I can really even understand my fear. Simply, I developed this sense that if I am going to write, it must be a success, it must make it. I never start because the idea is never fully formed from inception and therefore my insecurities are fed. 
I do want to write a book. In the past few years, I have really decided that I want to write a cookbook. But like my business, I was sitting back and waiting for things to unfold on their own. I was waiting for my big break but was doing nothing to create that reality. And that is backwards anyways. I want to write a cookbook, so hell, I should just write a cookbook. I don't need some publisher to give me the go ahead, I don't need my family to tell me it is ok, I don't even need to care if it ever exists except to myself. Its not a vague idea I have, it is a concrete one. I believe in my food and I believe in my desire to want to share it. So why not try?
I am going to try. I am going to pick up pen and paper (ok, I'll type) and write. I think there is a place in this over-saturated world for my voice too. I think runners and athletes who want to eat healthy but gourmet food would love a cookbook designed for them. I think people trying to bridge the "eat real food" with "ok what do I eat then" would love my recipes. And even if no one does care, I surely want to remember the amazing things I am throwing down in the kitchen (clearly I cannot be trusted just to blog them). I feel driven and motivated to not let one night define this part of who I was and who I am to be. I feel that I want to foster my own courage in life by defeating my biggest foe and biggest fear.
No more fofnoficating.
What are you a fofnoficator about?