Pardon the Pun!

Posted by in Blog on Jun 29, 2014

African braidsA common question that is posed to me these days is, “so, are you still having fun with Humble Beginnings?”  It’s like when you’re in a new relationship and everyone is watching…still going well?  The resounding answer is YES, not only am I still having fun but this venture continues to feed me (pardon the pun!).  Indeed, I do get to eat the food that’s being cooked (I am so lucky, that gal is a really good cook!), but it feeds me in a way no other vocation has. It’s smooth, calm, joyous, void of angst, stress, and generally a remarkably gratifying experience.

Back in the day when Joseph Campbell coined the anthem,  “follow your bliss”, I felt the world expected me to figure this out. That I should identify my purpose/passion, follow it and the money will come.  imgresDon’t know about you, but this put loads of pressure on me.  I made lists and lists of purported passions.. reading, traveling, walking, contemplating, hiking, photographing, doodling, sleeping…  What the heck was my passion? and how could I create a career path out of it?  This 21st century expectation burdened me to no end and worse, it made me question myself.  I was so confused and there were times that this inability to identify  my passion and implement it as a career path made me feel even worthless.  Everyone had a passion, right?  What was mine?

Fortunately, somewhere/sometime along my life I dropped this expectation and began to appreciate the variety of work experiences I was having as, indeed, I have enjoyed and ventured into wonderful, engaging, and interesting paths through work. Following my bliss was accepting and embracing “what is”.

So, it is as much of a surprise to me as maybe to you that “cooking” not only showed up on my doorstep but barged right on in!   If you re-visit the above list of passions, cooking is not listed (although I should have added eating as a passion).

I actually had a strange relationship with cooking.  When I married PB (the butcher) in 1975, it was a traditional union. We both worked full-time and I did all the cooking, shopping and cleaning.  For one year (that’s how long I stayed married/we dated for 5 years), every single night when I got home from my secretarial job I cooked a remarkable Italian meal.  On weekends, my job was to make my “gravy” and “soup” for the week.  This was my life at 20-21 years of age.  I made every Italian meal I grew up with and so these were not quick and easy but elaborate and time consuming.  Funny side note:  when I left the marriage and we were cleaning up the apartment preparing to move out, there were bags and bags of frozen chicken bones!  I actually would buy chicken and debone it so I could use the bones for soup!

It took only one year to realize, “this ain’t for me”. Shocked my community and did an about face and began to finally live the life I was meant to live with all of it’s perfect highs and lows. Not only did my parents give me their blessing, they acknowledged that maybe I knew how to do my life better than they were guiding me.  They saw that I did not fit into the get married, have kids and move to the suburbs template.Nothing wrong with this, just not for me. This was HUGE!

I seemingly rebelled by not cooking for about the next 25 years (and I stopped wearing push-up bras too!)… especially, with the expectation from the men I dated that as an Italian woman I “would” cook!  Not this one!

IMG00001-20100502-1715Now mind you, my reputation was that I cooked well, just not often. I really got burned back in 1975 and it took a long time for me to put that ax aside and realize that I actually enjoyed cooking because as my mother once said to me, “Nan, if you like to eat, you’ll learn to cook.” And my family was well aware that I liked to eat! She is my guru for following one’s desires.  She would have a craving and voila, it was served that night.

These last few years have been unique in that I never did return to the 9-5 work life that had been so much a part of my identity but was blessed to venture into a virtual work life.  I had time, maybe not so much money but time, and I think I used it well.  During these last few years mostly, I ‘allowed’ all that needed to rise within me to rise, no real agenda, not real plan just to remain open and receptive.  Within this period, I also explored Human Design and was guided to practice my strategy of “wait to respond” and to really understand what it meant for me to “BE in response” to my life. I know this is how my desire to eat well moved into a desire to cook well. I was responding. Lil would be proud.

Not sure Joseph Campbell meant for “follow your bliss” to be lumped into a career strategy as so many modern day gurus are applying it. I think following one’s bliss is a delightful road to take maybe having nothing to do with one’s work life…finding one’s purpose may not be some grandiose idea but rather the simple act of paying attention or listening or loving or being generous, patient and present.  Sure, follow your bliss to wherever it leads but maybe leave the pressure piece, expectation, money, strategy out of it.

Pay attention, respond and who knows what will come knocking on your door.


p.s. don’t forget to check out this week’s Our Humble Beginnings newsletter.  Menu, recipes, points of interest for your delight. Click here.


  1. Jun 29, 2014

    Well said Natalie! Thank you for reminding people to follow what their hearts call out to do, no matter when it life it happens. You are right, if we just keep listening – we know exactly where to go. You are bringing so much love to your community through your food. I only wish I was close enough to enjoy it!

    Peace, love & blessings!

  2. Jul 11, 2014

    Love reading your story, Natalie.

    You are right on about “following your bliss.” It’s such a comfort to know I’m not the only one who stressed about this one for years, and finally just realized that, if we follow our bliss, we’ll always have our bliss, even if we don’t have the other stuff (like a fat bank account.) That’s the second half of Joseph Campbell’s quote that’s been conveniently forgotten.

    Love your blog — and love your Paleo Breads! (How do you say “delicious” in Italian?)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *