Saturday, June 1, 2013

That Which Nourishes Us

LLF Birthday Collage_JPEG{A few memories from six years of blogging about life, love, and food.  Original posts clockwise from top left: Texas Fudge, Roasted Black Bean and Tomato Soup, Green Peach Salad, Coconut Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies—recipe coming soon!}

Life, Love, and Food turned six this week.  This is one dinosaur of a blog I’ve been writing!  I think it might be a brontosaurus—they were vegetarians, right?

Six years is a long time, particularly in a young person’s life.  A lot can happen in six years.  To be honest, I have a case of whiplash about everything that has happened in the last three months, let alone six years, but maybe taking the long view is a good antidote to the too much, too fast feeling in which I’ve been boiling.

When I started writing this blog in 2007, I was a graduate student living in Evanston, Illinois.  I didn’t know if I’d finish my PhD.  I didn’t quite realize what a long, hard slog the path to a PhD can be.  Writing this blog gave me a healthy outlet in which I could write about my joys and sorrows in work and play.  I will always be grateful for the way in which blogging brought writing back into my life in a real and meaningful way.  Blogging can feel like a chore—there’s always another post to write and more photos to organize.  You never really get “done” with blogging unless you decide to quit altogether.  Sometimes I get frustrated by the way my ability to generate post ideas is not matched with the time, energy, and mental clarity to write posts, but mostly I try to be grateful for the way blogging lets me flex my creative muscles.  It lets me write.

In 2007, a peripheral friend came back into my life in full force.  That person was Matt.  Our friendship blossomed into romance and changed the way I think about love.  He inspired me to be a better version of myself.

Between 2007 and 2009, the puzzle pieces of my PhD work came together, and I was able to defend my thesis in 2009.  Immediately after that, I moved to College Station, Texas to start a new job.  My move to Texas brought me much, much closer geographically to Matt, and we enjoyed the new convenience of our locations.

2009-2010 were, in retrospect, the honeymoon years for me.  As a newly minted PhD, I felt triumphant.  As my romance with Matt deepened and matured, things felt calm, easy, and happy.  I enjoyed living in Texas, with its big skies and hot weather.  Life was good.

LLF Birthday Collage 2_JPEG{Life in Texas is beautiful.}

In late 2010, I began to seriously struggle with my work.  I never wrote about it much—I couldn’t, for political reasons.  Nevertheless, 2010 was a turning point for me.  It led to the challenges of 2011, and I met those challenges head on.  I will always be proud of the way I (thought I) turned things around that year.  It gave me the sense of strength and conviction that I needed to continue on with my work.

2012 was, by far, the worst year of my life.  It feels very far away to me now, in 2013, but it was a dark and terrible time.  Matt and I went through a six-month-long breakup that left me feeling, quite literally, broken.  All of my grant applications were rejected.  Worst of all, my brother Scott killed himself and shook my family to the core.  2012 pushed me to the absolute limit of what I could handle, emotionally and professionally.  It turns out that the only thing that really mattered was surviving that year.

But all was not lost.  By the time 2013 rolled around, things were starting to feel better.  Matt and I had managed to remain friends, even though it was hard at times.  I remain grateful for his presence in my life—I find his perspective, kindness, and appreciation to be invaluable.  And lucky me, I met someone wonderful in February this year, and he is my new favorite person.  It surprised me to find Paul so quickly in my search for a new partner, but I’m so happy to have a companion and confidant again, especially one who makes a killer pie crust and brings me groceries.

Professionally, 2013 has become a year of transitions.  After one last grant application was rejected, I had no choice but to resign from my position.  Worst of all, my project crashed and burned in its final stages, which broke my heart.  In hindsight, that may have been a blessing because it gave me permission to make a clean break.  Without a manuscript-in-progress hanging over my head, I was able to make plans for a summer filled with friends and travel.  And then, oh THEN, a new job materialized!  I’ll tell you more about that once the hiring process is complete.  I feel so blessed that I am able to take some much-needed time off from working to travel, and I have a job waiting for me when I return.

Though I am not a religious person, blessed feels like the right word to describe my life.  I am one of the lucky ones.  I have so much love in my life—good friends, a quirky and caring family, a new romance, intellectual challenges, healthy food, two blogs that I love writing and that other people actually(!) read(!).  Those are the things that nourish me and sustain me—they are the things that make me excited for each new day.  I am lucky to have so much abundance and so many opportunities in my life.  In writing this blog, I’m able to remember how very lucky I am.  That’s why I’m still here, yammering away, after six years and lots of bumps.

Thank you for being here, too.  You are all so kind and wonderful, and I’m tickled that you care to stop by and check on me.  I was going to share some cookies with you today, but I think I’ll stop here and save that post for tomorrow.  I’m too overwhelmed with gratitude to say anything else.

(Thank you!)

(And happy birthday, little blog.)


Chrissy (The New Me) said...

Happy birthday to one of my favorite blogs! It's always a joy to read your words and peek in on your life. You blog is thoughtful, positive, funny, and delicious, and I'm grateful that you've kept it going for so long. Here's to six more years! :)

Shannon Grande said...

Six years has brought some amazing (and often challenging) things!! Looking forward to see what this year has in store ;)

Rosiecat said...

Aw, thanks, you two! xoxo!