Persistence

Today, I spent the day making dog treats! I made a dinner and dessert variety of Grilled Chicken Biscuits, Almond Butter Brittle, and After Mints, and yes… Curtis the Pug was thrilled to taste test and approved of my creations! I made the treats using all natural ingredients and they smelled amazing while they baked. So, I had to try them too! I don’t normally eat dog treats, but I’d certainly eat these again. Not only did I enjoy them, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the kitchen - time trying something new, hanging out with Curtis, and taking a much needed mindful moment to process the last month of my life...

My favorite quote written by Oswald Chambers says, “Never live for the rare moments; they are surprises.” Well, let’s just say the last month granted me an awful LOT of surprises. Everything from realizing my blog has business potential to being offered a full-time baking job from a well-known San Diego Pastry Chef, receiving a year-and-a-half-overdue apology from a friend that I had long-since forgotten I wanted, encountering unexpected and supportive people from the past, deepening connections with long-time acquaintances, having difficult conversations with friends in order to maintain peace, and finally reaching common ground with someone I’ve struggled with for years. All of it has happened in the last 44 days - the same days I wake up at 3:00a.m. to serve lattes, the same days I work on my feet for 16 hours going from one job to the next and then home to bake, the same days I try to build and maintain a new small business.

Does it sound like I’m complaining? I assure you I’m not. I sincerely love my new journey, so much so that I’m often brought to tears at the most random times because of the joy I feel. In addition, I recognize all of the last month-and-some's happenings as positive and feel grateful that so many “rare” moments have occurred. At the same time, I feel tired and overwhelmed. This gives me two choices...

Choice Number One: Throw in the towel and go get my steady job back so that I can get some damn sleep and know exactly what each day will hold.

Choice Number Two: Press on. Clear the distractions. Find the will that lies deep within my soul to transcend the overwhelming feelings and settle in to my new way of life - a way that is tiresome yet satisfying, fast yet free, and unpredictable yet extraordinary. 

Life has many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once.
— Paulo Coelho

Obviously, I choose Choice Number Two. I cannot, and I will not, look back.

Each day presents us with a choice... To give up or to show up. It’s easy to show up when the days run smoothly, but what do you do on the rough days - the days you feel overwhelmed?

Don’t give up. Persist. Persist until you succeed. Show up. Show up for yourself. Show up for other people and for your dreams, and they will show up for you.

Let it bake,
Allison

Visions

What started as a childhood vision has become my new reality, and what started as a blog intended to keep me accountable for following my dreams has quickly turned into a baking company – an additional income, an opportunity to be now what I have wanted to be my whole life: A BAKER.

I recently partnered with a local BBQ company called Bandit BBQ that serves up the most mouth-watering-ly delicious Texas Pit BBQ (I'm not joking... You have to try it.). They’re a mobile catering company who set up shop at various events in the San Diego and Orange County areas. As of late, they landed a residency every Saturday night at the Surfside Tap Room in Oceanside, CA. When this happened, they asked if I would make cornbread and desserts for them, and I said, “Yes!". They also asked if I'd like to join them every Saturday and sell my goods myself, to which I also said a big YES. 

Last Saturday was my first day on the job, and it was awesome! I went and sold mini pies and pie slices to the taproom patrons and the BBQ company bought a double batch of my Buttery Cornbread to serve with their meat plates. By the end of the night, I had made my first $72.00 as a Baker and received the best feedback from the strangers who tried my goods for the first time! Not only that but I got to meet and get to know amazing and generous people, and I got to be the person behind the table with the tasty food – the person who is having fun doing what they love, the person I have always envied. 

While I was there, a friend of Bandit BBQ’s came to hang out and asked who made the pies. I told him that I did and then proceeded to tell him the short version of my story which I ended with the statement, “I’m trying to become a Baker.” Then he looked at me and said, “You mean, 'You are a Baker.'” I followed with, “Well yeah, but I’m trying to make it like, a career.” Then I looked at him and we looked at the BBQ Chef, and we all started laughing at the irony because there I was… Being a Baker and making it my career. In the joy of that moment I realized that I am a Baker and it is my new career. I am not becoming. I am doing, and there are no words to describe how great it feels.

Since then, I have already fulfilled my first catering order of 100 mini pies that were taken to an open house event in Newport Beach for a realty company. I also have two birthday cake orders in queue for the coming months. I have purchased commercial grade containers for baking ingredients and designed business cards and promotional materials. I have started researching sole proprietorships, catering licenses, liability insurance, and Public Health Safety regulations. So, I guess what I’m saying is… I’m open for business!

When I started this venture, I had no intention of selling baked goods or starting a business. In fact, I was planning on selling baking supplies and mindfulness goods through Amazon on the blog. I needed products to help make up for some of the income that I lost when I left my job. I guess I didn’t realize, though, that I already had the products. I also didn't realize, or honor rather, the fact that I already have some skills. While I still plan to go to Culinary School, I'm gathering that my path may look different than the traditional school-restaurant worker-Prep Cook-Sous Chef-Chef route. As they say, it is not so much the destination as it is the journey...

Steve Jobs once said, “If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.”

I could not find this to be more true… I always envisioned being a Baker, and I never pursued it because it seemed too hard, too unstable, too scary. Now I’m here and it’s not scary at all, stable enough, and extraordinarily easy because I’m excited about it and really care about it; I absolutely love it. It seems like each week brings a new opportunity to keep expanding my passion, and the vision is most certainly pulling me. It’s pulling me to the right places and the right people at the right times, without me doing anything at all - anything beside baking that is.

So with all of that, it is time for my #thoughtfulthursday question: What vision do you have for your life? Are you living that vision or have you gotten tangled in the fears of it? If you have, I encourage you to follow your vision... Take one step toward it, whether big or small. Let it draw you in, and I imagine with some confidence that it will begin to pull you too. You may not get to where you want to be overnight, but with each next step you will get to where your vision needs you be in order for it to work it’s magic.

Let it bake,
Allison

Gratitude

“We hold the key to lasting happiness in our hands. For it is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”
—David Steindl-Rast

For the first time since working random jobs in college, I have had weekdays off! Not because they’ve been holidays or I requested the time, but just because I wasn’t scheduled to work at either of my two new part-time jobs. Regular ol’ weekdays… Off! Admittedly, after working the Monday through Friday, nine to five routine for the last two and half years, this felt strange at first. It’s been a little over a week now though, and the only way I feel is grateful.

We all know the age-old idea of having an “attitude of gratitude.” At the same time, how many of us actually know how to cultivate it? We can get so busy in our daily lives and so wrapped up in our frustrations or uncertainties that we forget to remember what we feel grateful for. We forget to stop for a moment, look around, and see that in the midst of the world’s negativity there is a lot of peace and wonder, even magic. 

So today I just want to stop for a moment and share some things that I feel grateful for, things that have brought me joy over the last couple of weeks, and encourage you to do the same.

I feel grateful for…

  • Encouraging words from friends and strangers both near and far.
  • Seeing a boy and his dad laughing while playing Ping-Pong in their driveway.
  • Hearing my adult neighbors have band practice in their garage.
  • My pug, Curtis, who helps me figure out my life plans without ever really saying much.
  • Taking Curtis on a walk and getting my own workout in before the sun goes down.
  • Meeting creative and complex new people at my new jobs.
  • Connecting with old friends.
  • Kind hearts who have offered to teach me small business skills, hooked me up with catering events, and want to buy cornbread and Hawaiian buns from me to sell with their BBQ.
  • Making my first $3 as a baker.
  • Mini pies and Newport Beach.
  • Phone conversations with my best friend before 5:00p.m.
  • Morning coffee dates with people that I don’t have to impress or wear a sheath dress around.
  • Mimosas at 2:00p.m. on a Monday.
  • People who have birthdays and need cakes.
  • People whose children have birthdays and need cakes.
  • Old-school monthly planners that help me remember what job I’m suppose to be at when.
  • The homeless man who’s a regular at my Starbucks.
  • The guy at AutoZone who replaced my burnt-out headlight.
  • The hustle.
    AND
  • The mental freedom that has come with following my dreams.

With that, may you too contemplate what you feel grateful for and experience the joy that comes along with it.

Let it bake,
Allison

 

Uncertainty

wilderness
"Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark."
– Agnes de Mille

Over the last few days, I have felt an enormous amount of uncertainty… Was quitting my job to pursue my dream the right decision? Do I have what it takes to honor my passion and follow through? Will I make enough money to pay to my bills? Am I living in the right place? Am I focused on the right things? When the questions come, I feel stressed and anxious. In these moments though, I recognize that my feelings are quite normal for someone who just up-and-changed her entire life path. I also know that I’m not alone in feeling uncomfortable with life’s uncertainties.

So many of us question our circumstances and decisions. We spend so much time worrying about and wondering what our future holds and not enough time enjoying the journey. We can never really know what will happen a year from now or tomorrow or even in the next moment. Life is fundamentally uncertain. Things are always in flux, always changing. We can feel happy and then sad in an instant. We can have everything under control and then everything can fall apart. We are alive and then we are dead.

What if instead of being crippled by our uncertainties we just accepted them, found the beauty in them, and lived more wholeheartedly through them? When we can recognize that our feelings and circumstances don’t last, we can better appreciate our journey and the moments we share with others. We can live our life in each present moment. We can embrace the changes and let them carry us. We can feel the satisfaction that comes from being fully alive.

There will be hard days and easy ones. Sometimes you will feel more uncertain than others. The trick is to just keep doing the next thing... Keep working toward your goals. Keep loving with your whole heart. Keep laughing like the joy will never go away. Keep dancing like nobody's watching. Keep living. Don’t waste your life in fear and worry; experience it. Strive to find every beautiful thing in the uncertainty of it all, and know that you’re not alone in your quest.  

Let it bake,
Allison

Rest

I QUIT. Have you ever said these two words? I imagine you have, and I would also venture to say that when you did you felt mixed emotions...  On one hand you may have felt relief and on the other, you may have felt guilt. Quitting – whether we quit a project, a job, a relationship – can often trigger shame inside of us and cause us to feel like we are not enough. We are not doing enough, not being enough, not committed enough. Ironically though, we generally don’t quit things that are good for us or are working. We quit things because they’re not good for us and not working, which is why we feel the relief.

Last Thursday, I quit my job – my first “big girl” job, my first attempt to pursue a “real” career, my first salaried income. Okay, I didn’t just up and leave... I put in my two weeks notice. Over the last two and half years on the job, I have met extraordinary people, made life-long friends and gained invaluable skills. At the end of every work day I could always say that what I did helped someone somewhere somehow.

At the same time, an element of the work always felt dishonest - not that the organization’s work was dishonest; it wasn’t - but dishonest in that my specific job did not align with my passion. As I carried on working through the years, I continually searched for ways to incorporate my passion into my work with no avail. Eventually, I became exhausted… Exhausted by the day to day, exhausted by pretending to care, exhausted by convincing myself that the dishonest feeling would go away if I just kept at it.

In her audio series The Power of Vulnerability, Brene Brown talks about exhaustion and how it has become a status symbol in our society... She explains that because society places so much value on what people do for a living, we tend to brag about how exhausted we feel as if it relays the message that we work hard enough. We are busy, and when we are busy people think we’re important. Exhausted, but important.

So when does the need for rest take priority over the need to feel important? When can we say that we want to stop working so hard for other people and do something for ourselves? When can we quit what we’re doing and follow our hearts, our passions? The answer… Whenever we want.

Maybe you do feel passionately about what you do every day, or maybe you have found a way to incorporate your passion into what you do every day. Maybe though, just maybe, you’re exhausted… If so, it’s okay to stop what you’re doing and not have your life consumed by dispassionate hard work. It’s okay to say that something doesn’t work for you anymore, that you don’t want what you used to want. It’s okay to quit. It’s okay to rest.

You will find the next thing. The work you let go of will either never get finished or get finished by someone else. The people you leave behind will be okay. You are doing enough and being enough. You are committed enough. You are enough. You have just changed. So take the lessons you learn through your changes and allow them to shape you, grow you, and throw you into your next chapter. May you find rest in the process.

Let it bake,
Allison

Collisions

Haven’t we all collided at some point in our lives? In a car accident, with a stranger walking out the door as you walk in, a collision of minds — a true brainstorming session where creativity flows and new ideas surface, or maybe a collision between heart and mind — feelings you are uncertain about acting on? At some point, we have all experienced some type of collision.

If you already read my About section you probably realize that my most recent collision resulted in this blog, but there is more to that story... After a series of fortunate and unfortunate events last year — the Bumble date and other relationships that didn’t work out, family moving to another state, meeting an inspirational character, and a drunken tumble that resulted in a concussion — I felt compelled to take a good, hard look at my life. I wasn’t doing what I wanted to be doing and wasn’t becoming who I wanted to be. Stuck in the grind, adopting unhealthy coping mechanisms along the way. Sound familiar?

I did not pioneer this line of thinking — many of us feel stuck, wishing we had different jobs, better relationships, more time, more energy, more money, more happiness, more peace, more wonder. I also know that many of us struggle to do anything about these desires because we cannot get past our fears, our insecurities or our comfort zones. Maybe some of us aren't even aware that our fears, insecurities and comforts keep us in our unhappy places. When we can develop that awareness, we can begin to change. But how? How can we develop this awareness?

We can start through the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness practice can heighten our moment-to-moment awareness, making it easier to recognize the negative parts of ourselves just as we recognize the positive. The more we practice, the more we learn to accept both the negative and positive and see ourselves as whole beings, worthy of the lives we desire. 

What do you want to change? What collisions do you experience? Take inventory of it all. Challenge it all. Accept it all. Trust it all. Because these collisions happen for a reason and can lead us to hidden treasures within ourselves. 

In her book Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert writes:

Creativity is sacred, and it is not sacred.
We make matters enormously, and it doesn’t matter at all.
We toil alone, and we are accompanied by spirits.
We are terrified, and we are brave.
Art is a crushing chore, and a wonderful privilege.
Only when we are at our most playful can divinity get serious with us.
Make space for all these paradoxes to be equally true inside your soul, and I promise — you can make anything.

So take your life, with all of its negative and positive paradoxes (or, as I call them, collisions), and make it whatever you want it to be. Only you know how to find the treasures that lie deep within your soul and live the life that you deserve and desire.

Let it bake,
Allison