Today I had two different customers mention how they had "read my blog".
Yeesh! I had no idea anyone reads this, coz I never told anyone I was writing, and lets face it, who on earth would actually take time to read my writing, for real? Ha.
There is a quiet serenity in writing for the sake of writing, not because you believe you are gonna be read. Obviously, if you wanted to be a "writer" writer, maybe you'd want to be read, but if you write for the joy of it, or the catharsis of it, its much like cooking for the joy of it, right? Maybe...mmm.
Anyway, I guess it made me just a tiny bit self conscious about how much of a Debbie Downer I have been for months on end, and for that, I feel a little apologetic because I don't want for people to walk away feeling sorry for me, or to feel down about the world in general, or the future, etc.
I guess what I want to share is the upside of everything that Covid19 has brought into my field of vision, my field of awareness, so to speak.
Not sure if I mentioned it before, but I took this course a few years ago, it was what I would call a personal development course, and much as people think it was culty and a hard sell, I was able to get a lot out of it and also to be able to walk away from the course after course treadmill after I felt I had gathered enough knowledge to feel I didn't need more of it, I learned a lot about myself, what made me who I think I am, how none of that is real, how a childhood of abuse and personal hardship doesn't have to be what defines me and how my future actually IS wide open. Many people I took the course may still be in that system, still taking more courses, deriving a great deal of self-worth through their participation, and I ain't gonna say that is a failing in any way, but I would say that they could just as well be fine without more courses.
Its what made me go ahead and open my own restaurant, its what made me a Chef, its what made me a better communicator and what made me feel unashamed for brazenly being myself, my authentic self. It made my life easier in many ways, the aspect of not having to be someone other people expected me to be, to be honest not only with others but with myself, and to take ownership of my mistakes as well as my capacity to succeed without fear.
And its this same knowledge that continues to stand me in good stead, even now, when I face a future that reads like a blank page, and I feel genuinely free. So was it hard for me to get out of the constant "sign up for the next course" bullshit? Well, the short answer is "No".
Why? Despite what their sales push was structured like, it was still my decision on what I do with the push, and if I was confident enough to say, "This is where I get off the train" well, then I was confident because their courses taught me that, I had been able to gain insight into how I think, all thanks to the courses I took, which was about 4 in total. Did they want me to keep signing up for more? Hell, yeah. Did I feel pressured? Its all a matter of "perspective" as they teach ya, how things "occur" to you...but yeah, a spade is a spade, in my world, and in the end, its all about how strong your conviction is and how sure of yourself you are...and even if you aren't, how willing you are to stick to your decision.
Many people, in life, struggle with indecisiveness. Its human nature to doubt, sure. Heck, I have it all the time, but thanks to mindfulness, at least I recognize it as being self-doubt, and I don't let myself get swayed by the hard sell. Sometimes even with the shop, I have had suppliers cajole and even strong arm me into purchasing products I later regret, but that is all part of the learning curve, but life decisions, big ones, they are the ones made with your feet more firmly planted on the ground.
I've been sharing with people more about the future of Confusion, and the more I share, the easier that choice becomes, the more sure of my decision I become, like a Mormon out there proselytizing at some far flung corner of the globe, its not about converting others, its about renewing my faith in my beliefs, in my faith in a better future, for myself and for my family.
Everything I have done, from the start, has been a matter of sharing ALL knowledge with my team. This would mean everyone from my son, who started with us washing dishes and fearful of facing customers and fielding all their queries, to my fellow chefs, every single one of the team was fully aware of the cost of our venture. The cost of rent, the cost of utilities, the cost of Government rates, the total cost of salaries...all of it...they have known what it takes to run the restaurant and this has made them all the more willing to look at the business as their own, as if they were part of a family business, without the blood to bind us.
It would be so easy to think of a 10K day as being "just half of a monthly salary" if one didn't factor in everything else that came into play. If an employee genuinely knew that in order to survive we needed 25 of those 10K days, then they would not view their place in the ecosystem of the restaurant as being "just another job", they would take personal pride in a good day, they would take ownership of their mistakes and strive to be better, they would actually give a shit about their jobs and not believe they were just there to earn a paycheck but that they were there because they were supporting the livelihood of the entire team.
I believe I achieved what I wanted to, it certainly isn't conventional, but its also why my team has been fully on board even with a decision that involves calling it a day. They would have been on board if we went on to another location. They would be on board if we went smaller or bigger, they were all in, and they were all in because they knew they belonged to a whole, they were part of something bigger than themselves. This is the bit I am going to miss, but its also the part of everything I have built that I will cherish forever. The human experience, the hope, the camaraderie, the family that isn't really family, and the way we have all matured together.
Its been a complex mix of emotions trying to put into perspective everything that I have been feeling, beyond just relief that its out there, I have had, for the first time in a long time, the opportunity to actually smile again, to revel in the joy, to appreciate the happiness we have been able to create, not just for each other but for the greater community of people who turn up and love our food, its such a "heart swell" kind of emotion.
I remember how much I used to feel such awe and pride, and like...total shit-eating grin like happiness that welled up in my chest and radiated out to my extremities, I used to feel that so often when we first started, and I think it was because I was genuinely unsure of myself, and the positive feedback helped fuel my journey forward, giving me strength I never knew, giving me confidence I didn't know I was harboring within me, giving me resolve to keep aiming higher. Then at some point, all of that started to change, even though people still loved the food, the reviews were still generous in their praise, and I had no evidence to make me feel like I was failing, the protests really were a huge blow to my ability to experience the same joy and fulfillment that I so easily experienced that first year.
I began to doubt myself, I began to feel angry at the world, I began to get tired of false hope, I began to just stop hoping for better. Hope became a four letter word, it gave me nothing but sleepless nights. Each time I got my hopes up, I would get dashed with another weekend of protests, staff trapped en route, and just that constant nagging anxiety about money and the future.
Just when I thought my hope couldn't be crushed any further, you know, when you tell yourself that "Well, when you hit rock bottom, the only way to go is up!' and all that jazz, Covid19 hit.
At first I laughed it off, coz I was, duh, full of hope!
But then it became a very real case of looking at the future and seeing how scared I felt, actually admitting how scared I was and how helpless I felt. And I will be the first to tell you that sometimes I doubted that it was wise for me to share my feelings with my team, but I cannot pretend, I am a terrible liar, I walk around with my heart on my sleeve (mostly in ink, but hey)...I am who I am, I cannot be anything but who I am, and if one cannot accept me when I am at my weakest and most vulnerable, then they honestly cannot share in my strength.
And strength, resilience, grit, optimism, moral support, I have so much of that to share. Not just to share, to give. My team has seen me at my best and they have seen me at my worst, and they have loved me through it all and have had a chance to experience what many employees can only dream of in life, authenticity.
We are all only human.
I am no more special than someone on my team, I may be older, I may have more life experience, I may have more fight in me for every time life beats me down, but I am not anything special, and the sooner that my employees, my team mates, understand that, the easier it can be to speak their truth and to respect me purely for the integrity I bring to their lives, daily.
Man, I cannot even begin to describe how much my heart swells with pride when I think of each and every member of my team. So proud of each of them. I am not ashamed to say that I love each and every one of them. I have been so fortunate to have had my son working with me for nearly three years. My beautiful boy, who felt so distant to me through his teenage years, the product of over a decade of residual divorce resentment and acrimony between his father and myself, he has really made me proud of how well he has handled everything life has dealt him and how stable and dependable he is as a human being and as a teammate.
In the last three years, I have had the luxury of building a solid adult relationship with my son, a relationship that was fraught with complications and miscommunication in the first year or so, but has blossomed into a phenomenal parent-child, boss-employee, mother-son, friends for life relationship that makes me genuinely proud to know this phenomenal human being and truly bursting with pride that this beautiful young man is my son and that he is his own man.
It took me 40 years to build that bridge with my own parents. So I am truly blessed that I didn't have to wait that long to build that relationship with my son. For many years I would beat myself up about how I was responsible for so much hurt my son experienced, there were times I almost didn't want to look myself in the mirror because I was nothing but a failure based on my overestimation of what my job as "parent" entailed. And yet, I don't think anything is above repair. If it hadn't been for me taking that course, and then my paying for my son to take the course too, and my husband taking that course as well...we wouldn't be where we are today.
Thanks to everything we did, to learn how to see ourselves for who we are and how much more we could be...and how to accept others the way they are and not the way we want them to be...life has forever been altered, our perception has forever been altered, the way the world and all its inhabitants in it occur to us, has also forever been altered.
Its like once you know, you can't not know. There are things in life you know you know. There are things in life you know you don't know. And then there are things in life you don't know you don't know. Once you wrap your head around those facts, you can actually look at the world in a whole different way, with curiosity vs fear. Like those moments when you realize you are capable of so much more than you ever imagined you would be capable of.
The whole experience of these last 3 years, its taught me so much of what I am capable of, its taught me so much about what others are capable of if you give them that trust and support, and its made me so grateful for the opportunities I have been gifted, the human connections I have been fortunate enough to have made, the incredible range of human nature I have had an opportunity to witness and learn from...you learn a lot about people, what makes them tick, what even you are made of, what triggers you into being disappointed, angry, sad, happy...and how to manage all of that.
Running a restaurant, serving people, you truly get to meet a lot of different kind of people and you get to read someone within seconds.
For someone like me, who used to read "cards" before...for fun...its all about reading people. I used to do psychic readings for people, friends, sometimes random strangers, I never took money, of course I never said no to them paying me in beer or smokes, those were the days! Lol. I would read cards for people in bars, coz it saved me the trouble of them coming to my home, and then some random stranger would always get curious and be all, "hey, can you read mine?" and I was always a good sport and I loved to read people, so hey, I would.
Most people, they always have the same questions: Will I find love, if so when? Will I get another job? Is my family going to be ok?
Sometimes I would be able to read that a family member had cancer or surgery, sometimes it was a cheating partner, sometimes it was a new job or a prospective love interest...but most of the time I did it all as a means to give to others, and I genuinely enjoyed reading people and understanding what made them tick.
So yeah, its much the same when you run a restaurant...sometimes people wanna be left alone, sometimes they are open to chat, sometimes they got a lot on their mind, sometimes they are lonely, and many times they just want you to tell them what they really want to eat! Lol.
You know how many times I hear, "I don't know what I want, what do you suggest?"
You know, I actually remember each person who asks me this sort of thing, not only do I remember what they ordered last time, but I know their likes and dislikes...and sometimes with total strangers, I just "get a feel" of what it is they would like. Its like reading cards! So they eat, they return an empty plate and they say something like, "Man, that was EXACTLY what I wanted!"
People all want to feel loved, thought about, cared for, and what better way to do that than through communication. Much like a simple "hello" is communication, food also communicates with people, at least that is how it is for me, I could tell myself I love myself when I feed myself something nutritious and healthy, and I can also secretly tell myself I am unhappy with myself by binging on something quite obviously shit for me. Its how I hope people will remember us, that everything we served, we did so with love. We have been able to serve with love because there is love within us and a shared bond of love and kinship that we partake in as members of a strong team.
And its this bond that has also been the source of the return of Hope.
My husband has been my biggest support and my strongest team mate. He has seen me at my worst and still loved me through it. He has picked up the pieces of my broken heart, my broken mind, my broken dreams, and he has set them carefully, piece by piece, back together again so I can keep loving, keep coming up with ideas, keep dreaming in color, and I cannot say I would have been able to do any of this without him by my side.
I am genuinely so proud of us. Proud of how we have grown stronger for this experience. How we have learned that nothing can stop us, as a team of two. And I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn everything I have the hardest way possible.
I am lucky. I am so frikken lucky.
The future is coming at us like a hurricane, and its all a matter of being open to every possibility and to letting go of the fear.
Covid19 as a pandemic has felt like the crazy fear of watching a loved one die a slow and painful death. In my eyes, its not just the shop, but its also the world we live in. We went through all the stages of grief.
Yeah, we went through them all! And we have come out on the other side so much more self-assured of our purpose in life and our shared philosophy in life, that I am almost grateful for this global shit-storm that brought us to where we are.
I am looking forward to us selling everything we own, buying a mono-hull (yacht), taking our kids out of the education system here and sailing the world. We will home school the kids, we will raise awareness about the environment as and when we experience it, we will show how it is possible to live a sustainable life, and hey, I could share cooking tips and recipes of stuff I create along the way, nothing is going to be impossible if we have each other to lean on.
I know it was a dream we had as part of a 5 year plan, but thanks to everything we have come to terms with due to the pandemic, seeing the economy tank, we've had to consider bringing our plans forward because nothing seems sure anymore.
These next few months and how they play out will be the true test of how we manage our finances, our expectations, and how we plot a future out into the great beyond, the unknown outside the comfort of the Matrix.
The Matrix...that truly is what we all live in. Connected by social media and with big brother keeping our attention captive...its going to be a brilliant thought experiment to see how we can harness the positive side of what is available at the click of a button, to affect some real change, to share a bigger story, and to world school our children without the shadow of an oppressive and exclusive system.
Anyway...I am legitimately optimistic about the future. And that, let me be honest, is a welcome change.
Thank you for letting me share, and I hope to share more positivity in the months to come. :)
My name's Lisa. I love to cook, I love to laugh, I love to write. I don't always believe I have the time for creating, and now I am going to work on simply going with the flow, with the food, the restaurant, the writing...and if I can, for one moment, spread a little joy along the way, well, its worth the effort.