I've been on the edge of burnout for awhile. Don't worry – I'm not going to bemoan this rough patch. Everyone has issues now and then and I'm aware that ours aren't particularly uncommon. Health stuff, shifting family dynamics, work challenges.
Nate and I are pretty good at battening the hatches when we need to. It's a simple matter of downshifting, refocusing, stepping away from everything except what is required to survive. “Neutral” is an easy place to be. What's truly scary is the part after that. For people like us, the quiet eventually becomes suffocating. The air is thick with fear as we dance between inactivity and hastiness.
The fact is that we've misstepped before, but that can't halt us in our tracks.
We're both trying to rediscover our drive. That unyielding, burning, constant desire to achieve our personal definition of success. Not giving up is the name of the game right now. For my part, I'm trying to see the joy I used to find in little things: learning, storytelling, creating. Those things matter to me. I've buoyed myself with people who understand the struggle of being a creative person. That all sounds very Sylvia Plath, I'm sure, but it's true that sometimes we all feel overshadowed by our own industry. We need to re-immerse ourselves in the beautiful, intriguing, meaningful details.
So I went up to LA a couple weeks ago to a conference called IACP. Awhile back, I joined a mastermind group of professional bloggers through a company called KitchenPLAY to help myself gain some new perspective. They invited me along to get me out of my usual groove and show me the awesome things happening in the publishing and culinary world. I got to connect with a bunch of different brands to hear the latest-and-greatest about gadgets and technology, which my inner nerd always gets giddy about.
More important than all that, though, I got to hear from fellow businesspeople like myself who have gone on to found movements that have made a huge difference in the world. People so passionate about a subject that they've impacted the lives of other people.
It reminded me that I once wanted to impact people.
Probably the most memorable part of the experience, honestly, was when I hopped on a bus and headed to a five-square-mile concrete strip called Vernon in the middle of Los Angeles. Vernon is actually its own city, a renowned governmentally-corrupt spot with a population of 112. True Detective‘s second season was actually inspired by the corrupt gangster-flanked mayor who was known as early as the 1920's for pocketing money from drunken prizefighting and gambling. Today, it is composed almost entirely of meatpacking plants and warehouses. Melissa's Produce is there, and I got to see how they take all sorts of exotic fruits and vegetables from processing to packaging, storage and distribution. They have a full team of corporate chefs – one of whom runs the infamous LA eatery Zapien’s Salsa Grill and Taqueria. Chef Marco Zapien grew up relishing his grandmother's Mexican food so much that he went on to attend culinary school, pursue a career in high-end sports food service, and eventually return to his roots.
Chef Marco shared his Cilantro Caesar dressing recipe with me. You guys, this stuff is THE BEST EVER. It was seriously my biggest takeaway from the entire weekend.
Marco Zapien's Cilantro Caesar Dressing
- 1 quart mayonnaise
- 1 1/4 cups milk
- 2 bunches cilantro
- 2 Tbsp chopped garlic
- 2 ounces worcheshire sauce
- 2 Tbsp tabasco sauce
- 1 1/4 cups grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 ounce rice vinegar
- In a blender blend the milk, cilantro, chopped garlic, worcheshire sauce, tabasco , lemon juice, 1/2 of the parmesan cheese and rice vinegar. Blend until smooth.
- In a mixing bowl add the mayonnaise, remaining parmesan cheese and whisk in the cilantro mixture.
- Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper if necessary.
I've been putting it on lettuce, topping tacos with it and using it as dip for chips pretty much nonstop. My preggo belly can't get enough of the stuff.
It's a strange tangent, ending a whole “what does it all mean?” kind of post with a recipe, but I guess that's kind of the point. The simple things are what will bring you back when you're struggling. One day at a time, one intriguing new thing discovered, one tiny little project that you build on to get to the next step.
One foot in front of the other.