A Piece of the Whole

When I first started catering on my own I lacked a bit of confidence.  If I made a mistake in either following a recipe or if said recipe didn’t come out exactly right, I’d throw it out and start over.  Oftentimes, at events when I was feeling stressed and scared, I defer to the people that worked for me. I will say that throughout the years, I had many extremely talented people come through my business, some with pretty impressive credentials.  However, it was my lack of confidence coupled with some insecurity that led me, many times to do this.  Of course one of the lessons that I learned-over and over and over-was that ultimately it all came down to me.  Anything that was lauded and everthing that didn’t go well, all rested on my shoulders.  I got really, really good at telling a client,“I am SO sorry!” Even at times when things weren’t my fault-say the client had made a wrong call on something.

As time when on-years and years-I gained more confidence, more self assurance. (I will say that anyone who’s reading and has known me over the years will laugh at the “more self assurance” part-because outwardly, I’m a pretty strong person. Oh! How we can cover!) Anyway, while the catering business is always stressful and there are so many dynamics in play with the possibility of a zillion things going wrong at the last minute, I did gain more confidence. The times where I woke up in the middle of the night in a state of cold, dark panic at an upcoming event lessened.  I got to a point where I was able to quit imagining what could go wrong-because inevitably the one thing I hadn’t thought of is what happened.  And at that point, it just had to be taken care of in the moment with no time to curl up in a ball and totally freak out.  Then, by the time the event was over and all was good, it seemed like no big deal or even funny.

I learned how to tell my staff that I was nervous-that I didn’t want to explain why-but that it had nothing to do with them.  Let’s just get on with it, do a good job and get the hell out of Dodge.  It’s amazing what a lesson that was for me!  Because nervous anxiety can be contagious. It can also trip someone elses buttons making them feel scared and insecure.  Which all had a trickle down effect.  I have seen this over and over throughout my years in the food business.  How the head chef or caterers goes into an absolute panic at the beginning-making everyone nervous and tense.  Then, when everyone is totally stressed out and bitching behind the head persons’ back, that head person is laughing and carrying on.  They’ve gotten a high off of their behavior. In the end, in my opinion, this serves no one-not the staff, not the client, not the guests and that energy goes into the food-everything.  So, I learned to control it and to communicate my anxiety in a way that no one felt like it was their fault.  Well, unless of course it was!

Another thing I noticed as time went on was that when I either messed up a recipe or something wasn’t quite right, I didn’t throw it out immediately. I tried to amend it first. I started telling myself that “this is just one piece of the whole.” One component of the big picture-This is not to say that I never messed up again or had to toss something out-but somehow, over time I was able to gain the insight and come to the realization that each step that went into a recipe, or event was but one part of it. That the important thing was what “the whole” looked like at the end.  Somehow I was able to step back and become more objective, more realistic in how I saw things.  I was able to acheive the same desired result that I always had, but in a different way.  In a clearer, less dramatic way.  Oh, I still had to apologize at times.  I still got nervous before a big event. But overall, something changed in the way I viewed things and dealt with them.

Getting sober is kind of like this.  At first, there’s a lack of confidence in the whole undertaking.  A huge amount of fear when thinking about the enormity of the whole thing.  I mean, your whole life is changing! And YOU are the one in charge!  That’s scary.   There’s times when many of us throw out the imperfect product of our efforts, making for numerous Day 1’s.  Starting over again and again.  Trying to get “the recipe” right. BUT! We start over.  We know and DESIRE to stop.  To come up with the perfect recipe for sobriety.  At first-and this can be the first few days or the first few weeks or even the first few months-things are really hard.  We feel like shit.  Maybe we’re snapping at people we don’t mean to-about things that we don’t mean to.

BUT! Given time and nurturing-Self nurturing-slowly things become more manageable.  Self confidence begins to grow.  Things begin to shift and the possibility of a wider, bigger life starts to become a reality.  Of course there’s still times of self doubt and discomfort-that’s life.  But that is a PIECE OF THE WHOLE.  What I am now realizing and seeing is that everything is just that.  A piece of the whole that is my life.  I can really and truely see and understand the trite saying, “Everything you’ve experienced up to now has brought you to this very place in your life.” It’s so true.  And while I certainly am not one to go back and relive all of the drug driven and drunken experiences I’ve had, I do realize that they have helped shape who I am.  I can’t negate them or deny them.  But I also don’t have to dwell on them or let me define who I am.  They are a piece of who I am.  While I can wish that I hadn’t spent years drinking and wish that I had started my sober life sooner, I can also own that part of me. That  past part of me.

My  whole isn’t done yet. The pie is still in the oven.I know that there will be things that come up in my life that I will wish I’d done differently.  There will be times when I will feel that I need to start over and other times when I can tweak something to make it fit with who I am. But, I will do that-one step and one piece at a time. You can do that too!

With Love




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