Last updated on February 26th, 2023 at 12:48 pm
My cats, Yin and Yang have been very unhappy with my absence from our home and the fact that they are stuck in an apartment without a yard, or any freedom.
None of us have been feeling on top of the world ever since I started working in a hotel restaurant.
When you dream, life is not so cut-and-dried. Many times it’s confusing and exhausting. You wonder if you should continue full speed ahead, even when you feel burned out.
I say: NO.
Follow your gut and do what you know in your soul is best for your sanity.
Last night, I got a text from my best friend and assistant chef that said “call Michelle.” Michelle is his wife, so I called. She was at the movies with their daughter and I asked her if anything was wrong.
“Aaron texted me to call you. I’ve been texting him and I am not getting an answer.”
She told me she would call me back.
Aaron had called 911 due to severe chest pains. He was in the ER.
He’s still in the hospital and his prognosis looks good, but it made me re-think everything I’ve been doing lately. I’ve been unable to shake the feeling of fear and sadness his health scare brought racing into my life.
It’s been clear to me that this is a message from God (or the universe) to move forward with my culinary dreams in a healthier way and to make sure that I care for myself in the process.
Sometimes we’ll do just about anything to make our dreams come true, even when it means that our health will suffer. We can forget that dreaming is supposed to be fun. What is up with that?
This coming Monday I am traveling to San Diego, California.
One of my best friends from high school has been living in that Pacific coast town ever since Hurricane Katrina destroyed the life that we once knew.
We’re embarking on a road trip to Phoenix, Arizona for another “bestie” high school friend’s 50th birthday.
Two other high school friends are flying to Phoenix from New Orleans, Louisiana to celebrate Donna’s half of a century on this earth and friendships spanning a quarter of a century.
This new birthday tradition started last August with my 50th birthday when everyone came to Northern California.
There is nothing that can compare to having loving friends and family in your life, so don’t let working on your dreams get in the way of spending time with those that you love, who love you unconditionally in return.
Make sure that these people who support you 100% in your everyday life are included in your dream plans. Don’t keep your dream life and your everyday life separate. Don’t sacrifice one for the other. And don’t pick dreams that force a choice between who you love and what you love doing.
The culinary industry can be one of the most harrowing, cut-throat, dishonest, and manipulative industries in the world. But it is my belief that there is a way to have an honest and rewarding career in this industry.
When I teach, I feel rewarded. When I help people heal through food, I can feel happiness radiate to the depths of my soul. When I have to play games with dishonest people to earn respect as a chef my spirit dies a little more each day — especially when I know that I am good at what I do.
Tears roll down my face as I write this. I am tough-skinned, but I can also be tender a hell of a lot of the time.
Maybe you shouldn’t have to be so tough when you are pursuing your dreams. Maybe having to be tough is a sign that you have traveled down the wrong path to get to your dream life.
My toughness was tested by a couple of people in this industry. I completed their tests and I passed.
But did I really need to be tested? Should I have to prove who I am as a chef, as a person, and my commitment to creating an environment in this industry that supports all of the people involved who work their asses off to bring quality food to your table when you decide to part with your hard-earned money? Isn’t it enough that I care with everything in my being that your dining experience is one that you won’t soon forget?
Does it have to be so hard?
Food should heal everyone who is involved with it, from the farmer we trust to cultivate it to the people who lovingly sweat over a hot stove to bring it to you. It’s an honor to prepare good food. It’s an art and it’s my calling. And the entire process should ooze health — even when we are working ourselves to death.
This week I stepped away from my new executive chef position. It’s OK, it’s part of the dream journey.
You have to demand a healthy environment that will support your dream. Do not settle for unhealthy or toxic situations just because they make you feel safe or like you are doing something about your dreams when really all you are doing is biding time.
Do not trade your health for the allure of living your dream. No one wins in that compromise. It’s like cooking with stale food.
When I experience strong emotions around this dream path that I am on, I contemplate the kind of chef life that I want and I am immediately drawn to prepare my mom’s Sicilian Lentil Soup. Many of my dear friends and family know the taste, smell, and feel of this soup.
It will ground you and help you relax.
Cry while you make it — if you must. Put on some new-age music because that’s what goes best with this soup. Put yourself into the process of preparing it. Use only fresh, quality ingredients You will feel the warmth and love from it when you eat it and share it with the people who are important to you and your dream life.
Remember to choose health, love, and friendship above all else — peppered with some of Mimi’s Sicilian Lentil Soup.
– Maria Vieages
Be Your Own Celebrity Chef
Mimi’s Sicilian Lentil Soup
• 1 lb. dry brown lentils
• Olive oil
• Lots of garlic
• Elbow macaroni
• Black pepper
Put the lentils in a pot and cover them with water. Boil them until they are slightly tender. Throw in a handful of elbow macaroni. In a separate skillet put a good amount of olive oil and garlic. Sauté it and add it to the soup. Salt and pepper it and taste. Let it cook a bit longer to incorporate all of the flavors.
Maria Vieages packed up her kitties and moved from California to Florida where she is a featured celebrity chef on Celebrity Cruises.
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