I awoke this morning with gratitude. Gratitude for this business that supports me, allows me to offer financial and time support to others as well as provide a job and avenue for income and creativity for talented women with children and grandchildren who are loving and nurturing by their very nature.
Nineteen years ago, I was a recently divorced woman, who thought she had few skills or gifts to offer to the workplace when I moved to North Carolina from New York State. I started a personal chef business with a simple ad in a small local paper. I knew I could walk into anyone’s house and find my way to and then around the kitchen. I knew I could cook and I knew I could do it with love & creativity and on the fly, if need be. And so it was the beginning of the creation of this other “child” of mine: The Food Fairy.
I spend many years with little sleep, often working late into the night and waking early to begin grocery shopping at 5 am and also working other jobs to make ends meet. I worked at Wellspring (aka Whole Foods) as a kitchen retail manager for $7.50 per hour! I did telephone interviews for UNC Highway Safety. Additionally I did a short stint, also for UNC Highway Safety, walking the college campus from 10pm-2 am doing breathalyzer tests for a study they were conducting. I sold my blood/platelets for a few dollars and then also sold my blood plasma, but that didn’t work out so well. My body seized and I threw-up so I was not a welcomed candidate.
My 20 year old son created a brochure for me during his youthful awake times in the late night and early mornings. I was often getting up at 4am as he was going to bed! He taught me to use his computer and to create my own publisher and word documents. My other two girls, ages 6 and 15, when not at school, were on many occasions left to manage for a few hours at a time while I worked my many jobs, in the home and outside the home. It saddens me as I imagine how many hours I was distracted from their innocent and inquiring eyes and minds. How many hours I was away, even when in the same two bedroom apartment.
A year or two into the creation of The Food Fairy, perhaps 1997 or ’98, I went to a women-in-business conference. One of the prominent themes was about working ON your business and not IN it. I wondered why one would want to do that. A woman sitting next to me said to this overworked mother of school aged kids, “Well, perhaps one day you will want to go visiting your adult children and grandchildren and the business can keep going without you.” My imagination kicked-in and I saw this was an excellent idea! And so began my journey to create a business that was not 100% dependent on my being the “one-and-only”. What was that need of mine to be seen, to be irreplaceable, to be loved? How long ago was that need created and did I still need to cling to it?
As the journey into the unknown future and the complex world of business continued now with the goal of working on the business and not in it, I tried many different routes to achieve that goal. There have been many wrong turns or, perhaps not wrong, but discouraging might be a better description. The Food Fairy has been a primary relationship in my life these 19 years. She is my teacher and brings awareness to me of all that is around and within me. Through these attempts, through the clients and new chefs, through other business owners, through happy and sad, successes and failures, I have learned so very much! I am still “letting go” and as I do I am also receiving so very much, so very, very much.
Gratitude is what I am experiencing this morning. I have been given a gift and that is this opportunity to bring together these woman and their gifts and offer The Food Fairy to our near-by world. I have felt the bond of comradery and the full and deep satisfaction that comes from creating an event, either daily-fare or party-time, and knowing everyone’s wishes had come true, not just the client’s. I am so grateful I have created a business that now allows me to receive the gifts of travel, something I have always loved to do but never had the time or the money. I took my first two week vacation in 2001 at the age of 50. Sad it took so long but true I opened and received this blessing! It was a birthday gift organized by my daughter that brought funds together from many folks so I could visit a rainforest in Costa Rica! In the last 14 years I have had at least one other 2-week vacation, multiple one week trips and five 3-week vacations! I have savored long weekends with my far-away children and recently treasured 10-days with my daughter as she gave birth to my first grandson. I have managed to go back to be a help twice in the last eight weeks and will go again next month and the month after. I am almost in shock as well as very happy that two months from now I will be going away for 4 ½ weeks to Brazil on a soul-replenishing trip.
At times I feel embarrassed or possibly unworthy to be a recipient of so many gifts. I know, I know! I am letting go of that shame, even as I write. I am so very grateful for the gift of time, the gift of five beautiful, generous and loving adult children, step-children and god-children, most of whom have found kind, loving partners and some of whom are bringing more of the same (children) into the world! In my work I am surrounded by food, glorious food, nourished by the earth and tended by her stewards, the farmers. I am graced with a staff of fairies, some who cook and some who book-keep, calendar-keep and web-keep and all of whom contribute so greatly to a more beautiful and balanced world as they keep The Food Fairy flying and gracing our community with loving kindness. I thank you all! And I thank you, Mother Earth, The Universe, God/Goddess, All That Is or Was or Will Be as I ever so gratefully receive, open heartedly, the abundance that must indeed be ours, for who else would it be created for if not for us to savor, overflow with and then share with others?