It’s a Disease

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Six years ago I was in a much different place in life. I was a military wife living in Mannheim Germany with my husband on an army base. Six years ago is also when I posted my very first Instagram photo which happened to be a picture of this vegan pumpkin pie. Yes, I was also once a vegetarian. I guess i’ve been just about everything at some point in life. I’ve been a student, a housewife, a vegetarian, a runner, a crossfitter, an omnivore, divorced, a lesbian, a cook, and a man all before the age of thirty.

Through all of these things, cooking was where I found my escape. Especially in those lonely times as an army wife in Germany. I can still appreciate this photo because making food was the only time I felt I had any sort of worth. I made my food with love, and filled it with dreams of better things. I felt it was all I could do to please people in my life… in this moment, my husband.

I have often said that anyone who goes into the food industry has a disease. Some may also call this passion… but the reality is it is a disease to please. No one else in their right mind would work long hours with low pay and most likely no breaks. (unless you smoke). You put your heart, sweat, and soul into the food, and it is all for that first bite. For a cook, it is that first bite that makes it all worth it. The moment when someone takes a bite of your food and a slightly or not so slightly sexual sound escapes from their mouth. A “mouthgasm” they might call it. That is the moment you successfully pleased. It is an addiction really.

I will be honest. Lately I have been feeling burned out with cooking…but seeing pictures like this reminds me how it has always been there for me as an escape in my darkest times. I may not be a chef at a five star restaurant, or a cheftestant on Foodnetwork ( hey but there is still time right? )but it still has the same reward it has always had and that is not only providing an escape, but a way to show love, and a way to connect people from all walks of life. Nothing brings people together quite like food.

It may not be the most glamorous of careers. I will never be rich, I may grow frustrated or burned out, but as long as I can feel like I can contribute a good memory or moment in someones day with a bite of food, I think everything is going to be okay.

 

 

 

 

 

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Finding Strength in Pain

Life can certainly be a roller coaster. I feel like I have been riding one hell of a ride since I moved into my new place. I’ve had some ups, and some downs…and then some more downs. It has brought on a pretty good amount of pain. More pain than I thought I could handle. The past few months has led me to develop a bad habit of anticipating pain with fear, and sometimes I let that fear defeat me. I have always been a dare devil when it comes to physical pain. In skateboarding, I would only let it intimidate me for a short time until I remembered that pain was temporary or until I got too pissed off to care. When it comes to emotional pain however, I am a complete pussy. It terrifies me. Fear is something that has nearly crippled me in the past. Lets face it, pain sucks. As humans our natural instinct is to avoid pain. It hurts, it could be damaging, and it will certainly never be forgotten. You may still remember the first time you fell off your bike as a kid, or the first time you experienced someone at school saying something hurtful to you. Pain can scar you, but you also learn from it, and it can make you stronger. No pain no gain right?

I am starting to realize that some of the most painful times in my life have also brought on some of the greatest periods of personal growth. Pain has forced me to step outside my comfort zone, it has taught me how to be vulnerable, and that showing emotions is okay. ( Alright, still working on this one ). It has also shown me that pain is temporary, and with time you begin to heal. Your scars will fade…they may never completely go away, but it is a good reminder of how much deeper your wound used to be, how far you have come, and how much you have learned from it.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that not only do the lows allow you to feel the highs, but that feeling anything at all is a blessing. Back when I was married I felt so numb. I didn’t know what love was, what heartbreak felt like, and I had completely numbed myself from feeling anything but the physical pain I brought on myself from running mile, after mile…after mile. I ran away from reality, emotions, and pain. Looking back now, I feel very lucky to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all. Can you imagine a life without knowing what love feels like?

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Tattoos wouldn’t exist if scars were not meant to be reminders. They are merely a fancy scar that we can mold into what we want it to remind us. This is my most recent tattoo. The lyrics of a Lumineers song. “It’s better to feel pain, than nothing at all, the opposite of love’s indifference.” These lyrics have gotten me through a lot, and it now reminds me everyday that pain is just part of living that you should allow yourself to feel, and embrace. Shit happens, you learn from it, you grow stronger, and you move on.

 

 

 

 

Never Stop Dreaming

Here I am, looking out the window of my new apartment while drinking my morning coffee. It feels a bit surreal. I know… moving out into a small apartment in downtown Auburn hardly seems like a dream come true but to me, this small 70’s style apartment feels like a mansion. Okay, maybe not a mansion… but it feels like the coolest tree house on the block. Complete with tire swing and a secret entrance. ( and you are so not getting in without the secret password ). I have waited a long time for this moment, and it feels just as good as I imagined.

Unpacking things is never a fun venture, but as I started to unpack I felt like I was rummaging through remnants of a past life.  I hadn’t touched any of my belongings since I left Germany. As I pulled things out of their boxes I was transported back to some dark times in my life. There were so many memories being unlocked as I continued to go through the boxes filled with previous belongings. My chest felt heavy.  The feeling of being trapped became real again. What would life be like if I would have stayed in my marriage? Where would I be? Who would I be? Life would certainly be different. I have come a long way. Living life honestly is a very powerful thing.

Unpacking the kitchen was probably the strangest room to unpack. I was unpacking the very items that kept me dreaming. My chef knife, my cutting board, pots and pans, etc. I created both meals and dreams with these items.

Same pots and pans, new reflection.

Same pots and pans, new reflection.

I dreamt about going to culinary school, being independent, having a job I enjoyed, living life honestly, and being free.  It is amazing to look back and see how these dreams have come true. It just shows that all you really need to make a dream happen is a little action and a little patience. I still have much more to accomplish within these dreams, but dreams are a journey. They don’t just happen all at once.  Dreams are not wishes. There is a difference between wishful thinking and dreaming. Wishes are things you don’t want to work for. Dreams are thoughts you can put action and effort into making come true.

I know it is important to “be present and live in the moment” but it is okay to dream too. I have been a dreamer for as long as I can remember and have always had high expectations of life. There were times when I started to feel impatient and wondered if my dreams were just childish, unrealistic, and a waste of energy.  I realize now that life is so much more meaningful as long as you allow yourself to dream. I feel lost without them. If you want something go get it. Make it happen. Never settle for anything less than what you deserve. Chase your dreams, and don’t let anyone, or anything stop you.

Fear and Failure

I had the privilege of leaving work early yesterday. Well, I guess you could say it was less of a privilege and more of a “you are a bad lesbian” reality check. It started snowing around 5pm… only 3 hours into my shift and I chose to leave because I have never driven in the snow before. When it comes to driving and cars… I did not inherit the ability to fix them, or park them. ( I am probably the worst parker you will ever meet ). The only thing I inherited was the ability to look super gay driving my dads truck while wearing my token piece of flannel. The flannel enhances the facade that I could bust out my tool box or jumper cables at any moment and perform my butch fix-it magic. Nope. Unfortunately, I am a fraud. I think my 3 years of being a domestic goddess are to blame.

Truth is, I have run many more miles in the snow than I have driven.

Miles run in the snow = 100+

Miles driven in the snow = 0

I lived in Germany for nine months. Most of those months being winter months. It’s not like I have never seen snow before.

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I used to love to run in the snow. There was something about it that was so peaceful. I could step out my front door, off of the military base, and into the German Forest. It was like entering my own Narnia.

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When it snowed, the forest was completely silent. All I could hear was my breathing, footsteps, and the loudest of all–my thoughts. It was one of these snowy days that I broke down in the middle of the forest. Leave it to me to save my tears for a time when they would nearly freeze my eyes shut. I fell to my knees and asked God why I was here. Why couldn’t I just be happy, and how was I going to get myself out of Germany let alone a marriage. I was so scared. Thinking about it still gives me goosebumps.

Sometimes when I feel fear creeping up on me, I think back to this day and see how different my life is now and how everything has worked out. I had never been so scared in my life but somehow I made it through. God took care of me, and I survived. I made it home and followed my dreams into culinary school. I forget sometimes that there have been so many things that I have been fearful of but I haven’t yet experienced a time where tackling the fear has brought out more negatives in a situation than good. Where would I be now if I had let my fear stop me? Failure is probably one of my biggest fears, but when I think about it…failure doesn’t really exist as long as you learn from it and pick yourself back up. Like a good friend once told me. “Failure is the best teacher.”

I Couldn’t Change

OH, where to start. So much has changed in the past couple of years it is hard to know what to cover first. Well, I guess I might as well start with the biggest life changes. Lets get this shiz out of the way.

You may or may not recall that I was once married. Yes, to a man. The problem: I’m gay. Yep. Gay. and unfortunately I couldn’t be straight if I tried. And boy did I try.

It has been a little over two years now since my marriage ended.

A little back story:

I grew up in a Christian home. I went to church every Sunday and went to a Christian school from Pre-K all the way up through high school. I don’t recall learning a whole lot about homosexuality in church but it was a pretty common topic at school. We had a Bible classes devoted to homosexuality and how it was wrong. We watched videos on it, how it was a perversion, a sin, unnatural, and how God did not approve of gay people. I remember sitting in class watching these videos feeling like all eyes were on me. My hands would clam up, my heart would beat fast. I was terrified someone knew or would find out I was gay and I was so ashamed. I was pretty paranoid throughout high school that someone would think I was gay. It consumed a lot of my mind and it made me withdraw even more than my introverted self wanted to.

I think the most common question I get is well, “if you are gay then why did you get married?” This is not only the most common question but it is also the most difficult to answer. There are a few reasons. Number one: Considering my upbringing actually accepting being gay was never an option to me. I was taught that it was a sin that God would send me to hell for. I didn’t drink, smoke, do drugs, or have sex for the same reasons. I was a good kid. I wanted to please God, and be everything I was taught he wanted me to be. Because of this I also saved myself for marriage. This brings me to reason number two: I thought that attraction to my husband would come after marriage. Perhaps after the wedding night if you get my drift…but it didn’t.

I spent the next year of my married life confused, frustrated, and depressed. I became so angry at God. I had done everything I thought he wanted me to do. Why couldn’t  I just be like my friends, why wasn’t I attracted to men or able to love my husband the way my friends loved theirs? Needless to say there was no real honeymoon phase of our marriage.

A year after we were married my husband joined the military. Off to bootcamp he went, and back to the parents house I went. We were apart for about 6 months. During the time that we were apart it forced me to take some time to process what was really going on with me. Unfortunately I was still unwilling to accept being gay and followed him to his first duty station in Germany. This is where I spent some of the darkest moments of my life. I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t pretend to love someone. It wasn’t fair to me, or him, but I was also too afraid to tell him what was wrong. I had found support in message boards while I was in Germany. I was told, “you are still young, go enjoy and live your life.” So that is what I decided to do and enrolled in culinary school. I was still too much of a coward to tell my husband that I was gay, but he could tell how miserable I was and allowed me to go back to the states to attend school. The “plan” was that I would go back after graduation but I knew I was never coming back. I was secretly running away.

A couple of months after returning home my husband unknowingly gave me an easy way out. He found someone else. Although this was an easy out for me, it also allowed me to stay in the closet and delayed the fact that I had a lot of things to deal with and process. As usual I pursued support through the internet. This is also where my support turned into a relationship. I had met someone who had also been previously married and was in a similar walk of life. This is also when I experienced love for the first time. I fell for a girl.

At the age of 25 I experienced love for the first time. My whole world changed and so many things finally made sense to me. Love songs, cheesy chick flicks… the excitement, butterflies, and joy. It was like I was able to see the world in color for the first time. I was in love and it felt so natural. My anger towards God disappeared and instead I was so thankful to finally be experiencing these feelings that I had never felt before. I have also realized that since experiencing love I now have a new understanding of what God’s love for us means. This is where I have a hard time believing that being gay is a sin. How was I ever supposed to understand love if I had not experienced it? And if God is love, than why would he ever want to take that feeling from us? I don’t believe God would ever be that cruel.

Unfortunately at the age of 25 I also experienced heartbreak for the first time. It is definitely something that I was not prepared for. I never really got the phrase heartbreak or where it came from. Your heart can’t break…that’s just not possible. I was so wrong. I never knew emotional pain could be so physical. It was another painful time in my life but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I learned so much about myself and about life. I have made some pretty awesome new friends in the meantime that have helped me in this new aspect of life and actually being able to feel. “It is better to feel pain, than to feel nothing at all. The opposite of love is indifference.” — Lumineers.

It has been a crazy two years but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I am finally living true to myself and no longer feel ashamed of who I am. I feel no shame from God, and am so thankful for the life he has given me. It is hurtful to me when people tell me being gay is a choice. In my experience the only choice I had was to be miserable or happy. You only get one life, and I chose happiness. It is true what they say. I couldn’t change even if I tried.