It must have been four years ago now, or maybe five. I was a newbie blogger, still in my infancy and green as can be. Family was coming into town, but I heard about the Eat Write Retreat being hosted in DC and with little more than "Wow, that sounds like a great opportunity!" registered, apologized to my guests for the two-day absence I'd insinuated into their visit, and promised that our Cinco de Mayo party would still be had.
At Eat Write, I met some fabulous people. Jess, Casey, Evi...I'm so happy to know you, even though our paths have hardly crossed in the flesh since. Monica Bhide challenged me to define Em-i-lis in one word. I immediately said, "authentic." "Good" she said. "Now write down your concrete goals for the next year."
Write them down. Hold yourself accountable. Trust in yourself enough to believe that they could come true. You don't need to share these. No one might ever know.
"Write them down," she said.
And so I did. They happened. Successfully.
Inspired by what can happen if you see something and simply jump towards it, I attended BlogHer the next year and also took a photography class. Later it was writing classes, more conferences, the opening of Em-i-lis Catering, teaching classes of my own, and a greater involvement in the Food52 community in DC.
Many of those ideas and plans were once nothing more than brain dust and day-dreamy what ifs. What brought them to fruition was little more than a leap. It didn't occur to me not to try, and for that I'm grateful. Such fearlessness has not always been a defining trait of mine. I'm not even sure "fearlessness" in any way defines me now.
More, it's that comfort and confidence in ones own skin makes taking chances hardly seem like risky business. Don't get me wrong; I'm still really nervous sometimes but the angst comes after the blissfully un-angsty leap.
Do y'all know that when I took my first big catering job (for 50!), I'd never before cooked for more than 15? I'm not even kidding. It's distinctly possible that naive woefully under-describes my state of mind then, but I'm awfully glad for the jejune perspective that prompted me to say "100 hundred tea sandwiches to start? You got it!"
It really didn't occur to me that I couldn't cook for 50. And it could have been disastrous. But I did and it wasn't. On the contrary, that meal was a roaring success.
Not everything has gone as swimmingly, but by and large, I'm wholly satisfied. Not least because it's been a long time since I said with regret, "If only..."
My 40 in forty for today: Set goals (big and small; literally, what do you want to do today/what do you want to DO today), write them down (critical step; don't cheat), read them aloud (whispering in your corner or screaming into the winds are both acceptable means of reading aloud), and get busy. Jump.
What's the worst that can happen? Really! Go!