Today at the end of my yoga class our instructor led us into a few moments of meditation. This yoga thing is new for me. The restaurant world is a stressful place, and between constant pressure, my unpredictable schedule, an unhealthy diet and the physical toll my body was screaming for exercise and relaxation. Being the over achiever I am, I found a way to kill two birds with one mat.
Within seconds of my first lesson I discovered that my body does not stretch like it did in 8th grade basketball practice. It’s not even a bend, more of a rounded lean. Thank goodness there are no mirrors in the studio though because in my mind when I do yoga I look like Laura Croft. So that’s pretty therapeutic and worth every penny!
Today, while I was supposed to be resting my mind, I was instead taking advantage of a few quiet moments for some premium planning. Hey, I’m a control freak, and I’m busy! I’m sure Laura Croft didn’t waste time meditating. She’d have been eaten by a mummy.
Anyway, in my peripheral hearing I catch something about a happy place. Before I can reroute my mind back to work I find myself searching through Mo’s greatest hits for my number one happiest memory. I didn’t have to think longer then a second. With total certainty I allowed myself to slip back to a morning in the summer of 2002. Tom and I were on a study abroad trip. It was our first morning in Basel, Switzerland after an exhausting whirlwind of airports and trains. My husband is 6’6” so any hope of extra leg room while traveling is squashed by his size 16 feet! Needless to say, I had little appreciation for the first few late hours we experienced in Europe while hunting for our hotel. After a much needed night of sleep I found myself stirring awake at an outrageously early hour for a college student without the assistance of an alarm clock. Even stranger, Tom was waking up too! Awake in bed yes, but there is something about fluffy white duvet covers that make getting out of a bed before you have to nearly impossible. So we snuggled and let the sun, sounds and smells drift in through our open second story window. Our hotel was a tall and narrow inn located on a small cobblestone alley perpendicular to the Rhine River. Along the alley hid a few restaurant and pub back doors. The busy bustle of clanging dishes mixed with the scent of baking bread was intoxicating. I was nearing the end of my college days. I had struggled through math and science classes, late night study sessions and was already working on pieces for my Senior art show. Graduation was less than a year away, but at that very moment all I could think about was how could I hear and smell this everyday for the rest of my life.
We got out of bed and made our way down to breakfast. We had bread, butter and jam. That was it, and it was the best breakfast of my life. So simple and so perfect.
Fast forward past graduation, wedding and a few spells at jobs that never really mattered to me and my life is now loud noises, extreme temperatures, grease, grime, paperwork and a constant struggle to maintain a healthy balance between my personal and professional relationship with my husband/business partner. I stay lost in a to do list. Every day is similar to the last. I forget the compliments and choke on the complaints.
I forget to breathe.
Today I took a breath.
Apparently, without our being aware, occasionally lessons slip in for safe keeping and only after a particular event, situation or deep breath does our brain allow that lesson to surface.
In my breath I realized I do what I love. I make simple food. Not because I lack the ability to make more, but I make food that matters to me. It doesn’t have to be fancy or complex or expensive. Today I realized I make someone’s bread and butter.
Lying on that mat, eyes closed, I heard the clangs of dishes and the yells of cooks, and I smelled the delicious hints of today’s flavors floating in the air.
Then… I opened my eyes…
and I was home.
Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you. It is my true belief that we make the world a better place and our experience in it richer if we share our experience together. I do that through food at my restaurant, Smoking Mo’s in Shelton, Washington, and through my story telling here. I deeply thank you for joining me on this adventure, and for giving me the love and encouragement to keep moving forward.