Happy New Year to all of the beautiful souls that take a few minutes out of busy calendar lives to stop by here in my little farmhouse on the hill in New Hampshire to say a warm hello and extend greetings from so many beautiful spots around the world.
2016 had been a year of much soul searching. I do feel that I am in a bit of a crossroads this past year. I imagine that I will continue to be in a state of contemplation as we move into 2017. I’ve dedicated my life to being a mother with the double addition of being a homeschool parent for a bulk of those years. Patrick and I had children young, which is marvelous, because it means as long as we stay healthy, we have two decades of living before us before we even hit retirement age.
I tend to be a person who carefully plans out days, months, and years at a time. I love to organize and plan events, projects, and ideas within the creative realm. I started “Thyme” when I was at the height of planning out every minute of every day. I was in the high school years of homeschool and I can guarantee you that from sun up to sundown and every weekend, the work of organizing, planning, stressing, and hoping never stopped.
Cooking, photography, and blogging became a way to retreat into somewhat of a personal venue. I needed at the time to give myself an identity apart from mother and teacher. I also wanted to push myself to explore cooking more than just the pot of pasta or occasional platter of brownies. Photography ended up being a surprising new endeavor that I never anticipated. Taking online courses, practicing this art form, and picking up job opportunities from it was a bit of a heady ride that I enjoyed immensely.
But, I’ve struggled this past year. I’ve been blogging, photographing, and cooking up a storm for the past 5 years since I started “Thyme”. I readily admit that I am competitive by nature. I’ve been guilty of wanting my blog to be bigger and better as the years turned over. Whereas, I’ve enjoyed modest success from the production of this blog, those achievements have fallen far from the bar that I set for myself. I became confused. Is this blog an open diary? Is it a means to employment in the field of food photography? Is it a hobby that helped me form a diverse identity so needed during a stressful period of life?
I’ve hopped from one question to the next from one month to the next. I powerhoused my efforts and marketed my work to major magazines as well as local ones soliciting my food photography portfolio in order to readily jump on board and begin contributing to a team effort on a regular basis. Throughout the process, the questions kept popping up like bubble emojis floating over my head. I’ve become known here in New Hampshire as “Sarah the food blogger”. Without consciously realizing it, I balked a bit at this description. Why wasn’t I proud of this newly declared title? I honestly don’t know why I winced a little bit each time I heard the description of who I am at present. Is it only me who feels this way? Do other bloggers struggle to accept this title? If so…why?
So I’ve been moving through the past couple of months in a bit of a fog, really. The bubble emojis filling up with questions and pop pop popping right over my head the same way my big pom pom winter hat bounces up and down as we trek through the snow. Who am I? A food photographer, a mom, a marketer, a teacher, a freelance writer? I am keenly aware that I have the luxury to ponder these questions without the demand that I answer to each of them at the same time. So if I sound rather petulant in even proposing these questions, knowing I don’t have to make hard and fast choices, that is because I am asking myself that question too…”Am I petulant?”
A few seedlings of possibility have been vying for some nourishment way deep in the back of my mind. After the tumultuous election cycle, the political realm of change looms ever more present and worrisome in our household. I see a growing lack of compassion for others in our society today. Has it always been there and am I just noticing it? I have always been sensitive to the injustices in our culture but feel that I have done little to make an impact there. I’ve been asking myself what can I do to directly affect the lives of those not born to educational and parental stability.
Many questions are bobbing around upstairs lately. I am feeling compelled to act on some of those musings. As we all know, change is hard. Acting on motivation to change is challenging.
Thankfully, we leapt into the holiday season full force. From fall festivities to New Year’s fun, we’ve been non stop busy with cooking, planning, traveling, and enjoying the exhilarating ride of the season. We had our own wonderful quiet family holiday filled with good books, good music, and good conversation before the 4 of us whisked off to Missouri for the merry making feasting and revelry with extended family.
However, the unrest in the world is a constant force to be reckoned with amid lavish celebrations, overindulges, and constant merry making. The air vibrates with nervous tension from airports to subways and large festive gatherings. The polarization of this world from country to country and family to family is worrisome and unnerving.
No longer can we all continue our lives in a scented bubble peering out of it at the hazy craziness that filters in through the soapy film. The ability to disconnect from catastrophes resulting from bombings and attacks to large groups of disadvantaged people all over the world as we continue at the same time to revel in holiday celebrations has unnerved me in the past year. Hearing in casual conversation phrases uttered like “those people don’t deserve this or that…” or “don’t be so sensitive to hate speech, it is just a means to a better end…” make my eyes bulge out of my head and my heart race with confusion as to what my ears are witnessing.
I choose not to enter 2017 with lofty dreams of a better world. I consider it ridiculous to think that as a culture, we have prescribed and condoned certain immoral behaviors in our leadership choices. And after this revealing aspect of our cultural disposition is exposed for all to consider, we are pressured instead to consider those choices necessary to fulfill nationalistic concerns. I don’t subscribe to the submission of a “wait and see” mentality or even to a guise of tolerance to hate speech, bigotry, and racism is ever acceptable..never. One only has to show true colors once in order to understand the inner pinnings of a moral compass. I truly thought we as a world learned from history. But, I am now forced to consider the reality of this as false. Each generation born begins again with a new blank slate. The horrors unfolded in history are securely tucked into the pages of history books…like fables or fictitious tales.
So our holidays were filled with boisterous mirth we all gathered from the north, south, and midwest; it was full of travel, celebrations, gifts, indulgent meals generously offered to one another. But my mind repeatedly pondered the mood of our country at present. I couldn’t help but wonder what undercurrents of opinions and impending decisions were in the minds of the world during the mid 1930s and 1950s and also 1960s.
I’ve barely been troubled by global horror on an every day level. I read about the fallout of civil wars resulting from the chaos of WWII and the civil strife that ensued in former colonized parts of the world. Even though I grew up in a very racist southern culture, I didn’t really reflect that the Civil Rights Movement had much to do with my every day life. Now, I think that my mindset was so ridiculously naive. The culture that I grew up in was the living example of everything that the movement was fighting against. Normalization of current events is something that I was fortunate enough to be able to disconnect myself from and make major changes to my future actions and outlooks.
So instead of hoping and wishing for a better 2017, I feel compelled to step up to a higher position in this world. I have no idea what that position is…the emoji bubbles keep popping and even though I peer into the soapy film, I don’t see clearly yet anything that is decipherable.
Since we are all about conveying wishes during these first few days of the new year, I’ll add mine into the cosmic waves of good tidings. My wish is for every person who feels righteous in their own thinking to stop and pause just for a little bit. Ask yourself if it is at all possible to evaluate and contemplate the diversity of thought swirling around us in this fresh year. This wish includes one for myself, too. I am determined to pry open my own hard and fast opinions about current events and attempt to expand my evaluation of others. My opinions may remain firm, but I believe it is worth the effort to dig deeper underneath the polarization of our culture at present to evaluate the basis for those opinions. The why’s…the origins…the reasons for such differing world views.
So along with good tidings to all of you in this world, I also write this food blogging post with a call to action of sorts. My narrative in life is shifting from the inward absorption of my own self-centered bubble encompassing delicious food and exciting travel to a narrative that compels me to step out into the world and seek a position of higher impact. What will that be? No clue…but wise words of advice have always worked…baby steps, baby steps.