with Lynne and Leslie
Category Archives: work

This Is 45. At Least For Lynne.

by SweetMidlife

Hi y’all! It’s Lynne. It’s been like a month since we wrote on this here blog, because I started a theater that does shows about kindness for kids and we were doing our first performances, and Leslie has been busy at work writing about the lifestyle stuff in West Palm Beach for the paper she writes for, and we both have been trying to make sure that the little boys that we live with at our separate houses are fed and not throwing themselves off of things in a way that can hurt them. But I have missed you bunches, and missed talking to you and gabbing and maybe you have missed us, too? Well, we’re back, and YAY!  The last post we did was Leslie talking about the milestone of us reaching the age of 45 at the end of April, which we did on the same day, being twins and all. And I have been meaning to write something on my own musings of being this age so far, and I haven’t, so now I am.

I will say going in that this is not a definitive look at what it means for everyone to be 45. This is just my personal experience, but maybe you will find something in it that looks like you!.

So. 45.

Hi!

Hi!

It sounds really old, doesn’t it? Like 40 sounded empowered and stuff (which our awesome blogging friend Fadra just said in a comment on Leslie’s post), but something about 45 sounds firmly planted in middle age. Because it is. And sometimes when I tell people that I am 45 they say “What? You? No, you are lying! You can’t be that old.”, while some people go “Okay.” And those reactions might make me feel some kind of way about them or me, but that is because 45 just sounds kinda old. Like it’s still young, and my Grandma is almost 90 and that lady lives life, and I am exactly 1/2 her age, so I know that I got a lot of living to do, which is also a song from “Bye Bye Birdie”, which is a movie that Leslie and I watched 70 million times in middle and high school (Whattup, Betamax? I miss you), and is also a play that I did both in 7th grade and in dinner theater when I was 26 and I was way skinny even though I ate full-fat everything because that show is all dancing and jumping and fainting 8 shows a week. It feels more substantial.

But I digress. But actually, maybe that’s what 45 is. It’s remembering all of the things that have happened up to this point, that have added up to me being where I am now, and figuring out how that makes me who I am. Like my parents, and my sister, and us living overseas then coming back to the states and not being accepted by everyone, but still finding a niche, and me not finding a job in social work, and going into acting because I could do that and do shows that reached kids, and me loving it and choosing that life and getting training, and now me starting my own business and using all that I have learned. And there is also me getting married at 39 (and not having sex until then) and having a baby at 41 and having the loves of my life later than some might have and loving every minute. Well, most minutes. Because tantrums are not fun. And I miss people, like my dad, and my brother-in-law. That comes with being alive, the grieving, which I actually said to a good friend today who is missing someone she loves, too.

And it brings me here, to where I am writing this in a shirt with pictures of big cats on it and pajama bottoms that I worked out in earlier, and I need to take a shower, and my kid is watching TV from the kitchen as he looks into the family room because he can’t eat in there, so he is standing in the doorway drinking apple cider so he is still technically in the kitchen but he did just put his empty cup in the sink, so that’s good. I have a schedule for today, and I have already missed some of it, but I have moved things around, and I will get done what I need to get done. And I have okay grown-up things to do like get my oil changed, but also fun grown-up stuff to do like make cupcakes for my kid’s class tomorrow and also really awesome fun stuff to do this weekend like celebrate my son’s birthday and eat more cupcakes, this time made by my sister-in-law because she is really good at that. And I am still trying to be more organized with time, and with cleaning things up, and not going out with stuff in my hair, and I was NOT the last person to pick up their kid at school yesterday, and even if I was, at least I picked him up. He is here right now eating blocks of cheese and sticking pens into the salt shaker. Hold on.

I’m back.

And I am working on being more present for my friends, and doing what I said I would, and trying to make them know how much I love them, although I don’t do that right all of the time. And I am calling my mom more, and my sister more, but less when she has to work.

And I am working on owning up to my mistakes and feeling the shame that makes me want to do better, but not living in it and staying there. Don’t have time for that.

And I am loving my husband and seeing where I have changes to make and where we both do, and taking care of my crap, and diving into his love and also knowing that I don’t have to work to earn his love, but that his love makes me want to put in the work that it takes for us to do right by each other. Funny how that works, no?

And I am working on being a woman whose life in real time matches up to who she says she is when she says she is a Christian and wants to love people like Jesus showed us we should.

And I am working on loving me, and giving myself breaks, and realizing that I am kinda cool. I am making time for myself and honoring me. That is a work in progress. But I really like me. That felt weird to write. It will hopefully get less weird.

This is 45 to me. I have grown, and I am growing, and maybe you are younger and have figured this out before I did, and maybe you are older and you still have not, but that it okay. We are moving at our own pace, hopefully, altogether, forward.

I am liking this so far.


Fake it till you make it: Creative widowing, one day at a time

by SweetMidlife

 

IMG_0635

I think you guys know that I (I, being Leslie) lost my husband at the end of July, a phrase that, as I’m writing it, doesn’t make me seize into sobs and hurl the computer across the room, so progress, right? My sister has held down the blogging fort, for real, even though she’s been dealing with her own grief over Scott’s death, cuz her was awesome. So today, for the first time since that horrible stupid thing happened, I’m back blogging. And I promise not to make you cry..

…much.

I am new at this craft I’m having to master involuntarily, because it’s either figure it out or Brian Wilson-ing it in bed for the rest of the year. I’m still working it out, and I got through last week’s challenge of coming back to work. And guess what? It was kinda crappy, mostly because I had to come home and have my husband not be there, and realize that he never is going to be again, but that this is the deal, so I’ve got plug through. I like my job, and also my paycheck, so I’m going back again today, with a made-up face, a smile, and these bits of knowledge I Forrest Gumped my way into:

– Sometimes you have to fake it: The above picture was taken on Friday, which was pretty awful. I actually cried in front of people, which is not a thing I do, and the looming task of going home…again…to start this hamster wheel all over felt like a giant hamster was running the wheel over my head. But you know what? I pulled myself together, wiped my face off, touched up that lipstick and smiled. Always smile. It freaks the hamster out.

– Let people help you: I am bad at accepting help, sometimes taking it as some sort of affront to my strength. This is stupid. I need help, I’m lucky enough to have people who want to help, so I welcome it. Sometimes people are trying to lift you up because you really are sinking, and sometimes because you’re skimming along but they can see the rock ahead better than you can.

– It’s OK to cry. Rosey Grier said so.

I have no doubt that Week 2’s gonna have its own potholes, and I’m gonna run right into them. But I’ll have to dig out of those, too. I can’t get cable in a pothole and “Dancing With The Stars” is on tonight.


Work Should At Least Be a Little Fun

by SweetMidlife

Lynne here! The following post was inspired by the quote below, which is part of “That’s What She Said”, a weekly blogging thing where you write based on a quote by a fabulous woman. This week’s is by Mary Poppins!! I love that movie because Julie Andrews, but also because Dick Van Dyke, who may have had a suspect accent but he was so cute. And if you are my Facebook friend then you would know that I am a little/okay very obsessed with him and episodes of “Diagnosis Murder”, one of which I am watching right now. I am not ashamed.

There are a lot of spins and approaches I can take to this, because Mary ain’t never lied. But I was reminded of one particular piece of my work history.

When Leslie and I graduated from college, we moved to Miami, where my parents had moved that semester, and neither of us had jobs. My parents let us catch up on sleep and spend our graduation money for 2 weeks, then on the day he said he would, Daddy walked out to the pool in our complex with the want ads and said, “Vacation’s over.” So Leslie and I both got jobs at the mall, because we couldn’t find jobs in our majors at that point. Leslie left her retail job before I left mine because she was hired by a weekly newspaper, which you know was her destiny, but I stayed at Payless a little longer (and shout out to Norm, my manager, who I still adore), until I decided that I needed to find something else.

Now, I am not one of those people who thinks that you should only accept the jobs that you want, when you have responsibilities and bills and you need to support yourself. It is good to look for THE job, but sometimes a job will do if it is good honest work. I did leave Payless before I found something else, but my parents (who I was living with) took me at my word that I would try very hard to find something soon. And I did. And it was the worst job experience I have ever had.

I was a customer service agent for a catalog company, and I took orders over the phone. The catch was that the company I worked for actually had 3 different companies under different names that all sold the same thing, and had different catalogs for each company. This was so they could corner the market on what they sold and be their own competition. I don’t think that it was illegal, but it definitely felt shady, because we were supposed to have different names for each company, so if someone called me on the number for Company A, I would say that my name was Jodie, and if they called me for Company B, I was Debbie. I actually had a person call me and say. “Hey, do you know Lynne from So and So company? You sound a lot like her.”, and I was like “Umm, no, of course not! This is really Debbie! (lowering voice).” It was really stressful because I felt so dishonest. There was also the part where I was bad at the job. I get better at details as I get older, but 20 years ago, I was not that oriented with them, and I screwed-up orders on several occasions. Plus,  I was slow. And the manager yelled at me and said I wasn’t worth what her favorite employee was. Eww. I still get hives when I hear “All That She Wants” by Ace of Base, because that was the star employee’s favorite song and I feel some kind of way (Also because I never liked that song anyway).

But Swedish pop groups aside, I was miserable, due to the job and my inability to be good at it. I was actually improving at it,  to give myself credit, but I remember one night going home and literally bursting into tears because I was so stressed out.  I couldn’t take it anymore. So right before we went back to Maryland for Christmas, I gave my 2 weeks notice, and they accepted. They were probably relieved, and actually said that it was fine, and I didn’t have to come back after the new year. Which I couldn’t even be sad about. And when I came to get my last check, they said that I looked happy, and I was. And the next week I auditioned for a regional theater’s acting apprentice program, and that job was the beginning of my life in educational theater and theater for kids, a life I have had in some capacity ever since. And I made one of the best friends I have ever had at that place too. So win.

So the point of this thing is, I guess, that not every job can be your dream job. It doesn’t have to be. I have held positions between acting jobs and such that weren’t where I thought I would be, but I was very, very grateful to have work, and very mindful of that blessing. But it your job is giving you stress headaches and crying fits, and maybe you are good at it or maybe you aren’t. But if it is killing your spirit and not any fun at all, because you can’t have fun with a dead spirit (unless you are a zombie, and if you are you can ignore this because, umm, as you were, zombie), then maybe it is time to move on. Because you need your spirit for all of the soaring it’s going to do at the next thing.


Fabulous ’15! Five resolutions you can keep!

by SweetMidlife
It's a blank slate. You might as well fill it well.

It’s a blank slate. You might as well fill it well.

 

Leslie here! I greet you on this fine New Year’s Day from the Sweet Midlife’s southern headquarters, over a green smoothie and an episode from Season 4 of “The Wire.” My husband is sitting on the couch next to me under an afghan knitted by my Great-Aunt Martha. Many of those details figure into my New Year’s Resolutions…stop rolling your eyes. Yes, yes, I like you have been super stoked about all the stuff I was gonna do on Jan. 1, involving diet, exercise, job, you name it.

And Jan. 27 I, like you, was like “Screw it. Ice cream and couches rule.”

My sister wrote recently about her resolution to be more loving, and that’s an amazing thing to promise. That’s certainly on my list, but here are five more things I think I can stick to. For real. Stop side-eyeing me. You haven’t read them yet!

1) Be specific about my health goals while being realistic and non-sadistic. That rhymes. Almost like a Johnnie Cochran situation. But there are no gloves to fit into this one, just a middle-aged woman trying to fit into the clothes she was trying to be too skinny to fit into last year (and ain’t that a pip?). Last year I had a very mapped-out goal, to dive into a clean eating program, to work out a specific amount of time, and lose a specific amount of weight. This worked out quite well until a kid came to live with us in March, and to paraphrase Sweet Brown, ain’t nobody have time for making tomato soup from scratch. I beat myself up for my failure to fit my previous resolve into our new life, and got fatter for it. This year, I have decided to be proactive about my eating and working out and not use my fatigue as an excuse, because either I’m gonna do it or I’m not. Won’t get done for me. But I also refuse to use a timeline, and to beat myself up if that arbitrary deadline doesn’t pan out. Instead it’s day by day – I’ve got this smoothie, already told the guys at the gym they’ll see me today, and am going to hit my ab work the minute I get finished typing this. If we get lunch I get a salad or something not fried. I keep that up. I feel good about it. I go to bed and don’t tie my self worth into the choices I made. And then start over tomorrow.

Let's do this! Sweaty and set on change!

Let’s do this! Sweaty and set on change!

2) Call my grandmother more: And my aunties and my uncles, and my goddaughter and cousins and all the people I wonder about but don’t always pick up a phone and talk to.

3) Write everything down – I am not the most organized person in the world (understatement understatement understatement) and making myself write stuff down – my grocery list, the errands I have to run, my blogging and work interview schedule my work out goals – keeps me honest and accountable and not slapping myself in the forehead and going “Acck! I was supposed to blah blah blah!”

4) Finish what I started – meaning the novel I’ve been hovering around for three years in various incarnations. This year. For real. Been too long.

5) Be better to my skin: My consistent skin care regimen for the last 43 years, between a Grand Canyon’s worth of products, has basically been “Black don’t crack.” (Ahem) But my family’s excellent genes don’t mean I shouldn’t wear sunscreen, or daily wash my face with….something, and drink lots of water. I need to not be the first woman in my family to look her age.

I think these are all do-able. Sometimes stuff is hard, the stuff we need to do to survive. But it doesn’t have to be awful, or unpleasant. Let’s do it! Who’s with me?


Old Person Poll: Is this parentally-cohabitating couple relatable or ridiculous?

by SweetMidlife
If you're living in someone else's house almost free, you better get to cleaning this, and the bathroom, and start dusting, and shut up about it.

If you’re living in someone else’s house almost free, you better get to cleaning this, and the bathroom, and start dusting, and shut up about it.

Leslie here! I have the day off, which gives me time to read stupid stuff other people are posting rather than work on my own novel, because doesn’t that make sense!

In my Web wandering I happened upon this XOJane “It Happened To Me” column by a young lady who, at 25, finds herself living with her boyfriend at his parents’ house. They’re “broke college grads” although it isn’t clear how much time has passed between now and college, and can’t find jobs lucrative enough to get their own place. So they’re enduring having to be really quiet during sex, and not being able to grope each other out in the hallway, and having to have the mom who lives there and pays the mortgage remind them to clean the bathroom.

Because it’s sad, you guys! If they didn’t live with his folks, they wouldn’t be able to pay their car payments.

And eat out at nice restaurants. And go on vacation. They’re practically living on the street! Can you imagine? They can’t help but spend their rent money on trips, because they’re Americans, you know?

Pardon me while I slap my eye out of my forehead because it rolled way up there and got stuck.

As many of the posters let this young lady know, many people, including both of the women who write this blog, have found themselves living with relatives in their young adult years – us, right after college – and find it sometimes a little hard to exert yourself as a grownup when you’re not making the house rules. And what those posters – and we – would have to say about it is this: Suck it up, save you cash and get the heck out as soon as you can, or thank the adults who own the house for their generosity, don’t eat out or go on vacay so you can either move out faster or pay even more rent, and then shut up about it.

Maybe that’s just me. What do you think?

 


Cook YOUR Food, or Being the You You Were Meant To Be

by SweetMidlife

(This is Lynne writing this)

“God sure is funny in how He uses things in our lives. Even slightly inappropriate comedies.”- My friend Kim

We just watched the movie “Chef”, written, directed and starring Jon Favreau, who directed the “Iron Man” movies, and also “Swingers”, and he was totally the loud roommate in “Rudy”. Stop and cry at the memory of that movie. Rudy, Rudy, Rudy!! You back? Cool.

Photo from Phoenixbites.com

But anyway, I had heard amazing things about this picture, “Chef”, and almost didn’t see it because it was rated “R” for language, and excessive profanity makes me itch.  But I had heard REALLY good things, so we got it from Redbox and I am glad that I did, because it was a beautiful story of redemption and knowing yourself, and when I posted about it on Facebook yesterday and how it had touched me, my friend Kim, who saw the movie and had the same reaction, said the above brilliant thing.

The movie is about this chef (which you probably figured), played by Favreau, who was, at one time, a promising new culinary voice in Los Angeles. He had amazing skills, but also creative ideas. When the movie opens, though, he is in a bit of a rut. He is the executive chef at a well-respected and popular restaurant, but he feels no passion about the food he is cooking. Every time he wants to try something daring, the owner of the place (played by Dustin Hoffman) tells him to stick to the regular menu, to what is popular, to what people seem to like. But his apathy for what he is doing shows in what he puts on the plate. OKAY, SPOILER ALERT (but I will try not to give too much away): he winds up going through some stuff, but finds himself and his passion, and towards the end of the movie, his biggest critic (who is actually a food critic) tells him that the problem was that he had been cooking someone else’s food. And that now that he was cooking from his heart, his passion was coming through in what he made.

And this really struck a nerve with me. I am busy. I do a lot of stuff. I look at my calendar, and I see lots of words, that make up the lots of things that I have to do. I am not passionate about all of these things. Life is like that sometimes. It isn’t all a party, and everything that we do isn’t going to cause us to break out into a dance in the middle of the street. I would like to see that. But what I am saying is that life isn’t always about what makes us happy.

But if you (or I) look at your calendar, and the things on it make us sad, or make our souls feel like heavy and dying, then maybe we shouldn’t be doing those things. I am not telling you to quit your job and dedicate yourself to watching “The Young and the Restless” every day. Unless you are independently wealthy, or you found a way for that to pay you, then this is a bad idea.  But I am saying that if you look at your job, or the clubs you belong to, the things that take up most of your time, and you feel nothing for them, then maybe it’s time for a change. If you are sure that God has you where you are, it could be that you need to pray for that spark you used to have to be reignited. I truly believe that if God has called you to something, be it your job, your marriage or your volunteer work, that He will give you what you need to have you stay there and rock that thing, because it is for His glory, and hopefully, eventually, will bring you some joy, too.

But maybe you don’t feel a divine calling to be where you are, and you have no passion or joy for the things you do. And you know that you don’t because you’ve felt passion and creativity before, and this ain’t it. Maybe you took your eyes off of where you started, or maybe you followed the money, or you didn’t, or maybe you are where you are because you are afraid of disappointing people, and this has been working for awhile, so you stayed where you are. But you don’t know who YOU are anymore.

Maybe you are living someone else’s dream. Maybe you have been cooking someone else’s food.

This is my prayer for you. That you look at where you are. And that if you decide that your passion, your gifts, your calling, aren’t being used, or should be directed somewhere else, that you figure out where that is, and you begin the process of moving those gifts there.

Life is long, and hard. But it is full of beauty. And joy, and love. And when you are using what you have been given, and you are singing the song that only you can sing, and cooking the food that only you can cook, and serving the way that only you can serve, well, amazing things happen. And that’s the point.

Do you. And see what happens.


Target workers (not) home for the holiday: Should we boycott?

by SweetMidlife
target bag

We shop here a lot.

Leslie here!

My sister Lynne can verify that before we were legally able to vote in elections, we were taught to vote with our wallets – even if it was like a Mickey Mouse Velcro wallet with nothing in it but some weird lint that was stuck on the Velcro.

What that meant was that our parents were big on boycotting companies they thought weren’t acting in the best interest of humanity – we boycotted Nestle holdings, including Rusty Scupper, over allegations that the company was responsible for Similac deaths in Africa. When Lynne and I were in high school we boycotted Coke products, and holdings like Columbia Pictures because they had not divested in South Africa (although I admit that we caved when “La Bamba” came out. I blame Lou Diamond Phillips and his cute. I was weak.)

Those boycotts were about practical things that affected the lives of people on a continent far away, but there’s a situation happening in every American town with a Target – and a Macy’s, Kohl’s and Walmart – that affects a lot of our neighbors and their ability to spend Thanksgiving with their families – deciding to push Black Friday into Turkey Thursday.

Gobble gobble…but do it quick, y’all, because you gotta go to work.

Back in high school and college, I remember having to work on holidays at random retail, restaurant and entertainment jobs, and even as a younger reporter I had to work at least one Thanksgiving (at my current paper, even the veterans have to work at least one holiday, although I usually get to pick a non-major one that doesn’t involve family dinners.

Even though Christmas was always the holiday that I most wanted off because that’s when I traveled to see my folks, or they traveled to see me, Thanksgiving is a universal day that knows no religious bounds – most everyone in the U.S. seems to celebrate it. And the dinner is the most important part, which is why it seems cruel for so many stores to expect that their employees will miss it so they can make more money.

(It’s also disturbing to me that shoppers would cut their dinner short to go on an all-out retail assault just to get some deals, but at least they have the option of doing it as a family and their jobs don’t depend on it.)

I admit that I have never been a hardcore Black Friday shopper, and I’ve been in stores that day more as a reporter than for personal retail use. It’s crowded, and people seem justified in shoving, and most deals don’t seem worth not showing up Saturday, or online.

Thanksgiving used to be the holiday I hosted at my home in York, Pa., and now it’s the day that I watch the Macy’s parade and then the dog show on NBC over the phone with my sister and go “Ooh, I want that dog,” before we go eat some pie. My husband and I went to Wal-Mart last Thanksgiving for about 15 minutes because I needed some stuff I forgot for the macaroni and cheese I was making, and because there was a game for his nephews’ Hanukkah present that was on sale that day.

We didn’t linger, but we walked by a bunch of items in crates that were covered in plastic in the aisles, that were on crazy sale but not available till the evening. And I got sad, because even though this store is open 24/7 anyway, I knew that right then there were workers at home making a dinner they couldn’t eat with their families so that people could come back and save money on a Shiny-Whatever-That-Was.

I don’t want to sound like an obtuse person of privilege, however, who doesn’t recognize that everyone doesn’t have the option not to work holidays, and that stores like Target are paying their employees time and a half to work Thanksgiving, and that this could be a great opportunity for employees to make extra money. I appreciate that, and I don’t begrudge those workers for wanting it. They deserve double time. I just wish it wasn’t necessary. I wish that stores didn’t have to feel the need to do this to have to compete. I wish that we could hold something sacred and, I dunno, just offer better deals on Friday.

So I am not saying that I am targeting Target (ha ha) or any of these other stores for boycott. I am not sure how to make my voice heard, other than to not go to them on Thanksgiving. I’ll make sure I do all my food shopping on Wednesday.


And stuff to do before I sleep: 5 tasks before shuteye

by SweetMidlife

Leslie here!

So it’s nearly 10 p.m, on a Tuesday (and you want me to say “The regular crowd shuffles in” but I’m old and the only regular crowd awake around here are me, the TV people and Sweater Bear, although he’s not all that awake. Milk overdose.

sweater bear

This is the time of night where we start – and by “we” I mean you, because I want you to share in the blame – trying to pass tonight’s chores off until tomorrow when I’m fresher, more awake, and it’s not right now. But I will be strong. I was pretty much 3/5 on the Saturday list. So I’m kinda ambitious,

– Wash my face. I cannot let heredity or the “black don’t crack” myth make me cocky. Gonna look old sometime.

– Put leftovers in plastic containers and not just in the fridge with the giant pan.

– Fold laundry and put whatever that is buzzing in the dryer out of its misery. (I assume it’s some sort of garment.)

– Lay out clothes for the kid we live with so I can have a chance of getting out of here tomorrow in time to go to the 8 a.m. Crossfit class.

– Finally throwing out that coffee I bought a day ago at Dunkin Donuts because I’m not gonna drink it, and the Dunkin is up the street and I can spend $2 on more coffee. It’s not even a thing.

What do you have to do before you go to sleep? Sweet, sweet pretty sleep.


Say What? Saturday: The five things I swear I’m getting done today

by SweetMidlife

Leslie here!

It’s Saturday, the one day no one really wants to have a “to-do” list, but whose scheduling fluidity lends itself to doing stuff. And not the stuff I like to do on Saturdays, which include eating leftovers and watching “Blue Bloods” reruns.

OK…I admit it : I’ve already done those things, which leave now the non-fun stuff. So in the tradition of accountability, here are five things that I need to get together today. I want y’all to hound me about this and say “Leslie, did you deal with that well-dressed teddy bear yet?” And hopefully I won’t say “Yes” and be lying because y’all don’t live with me and how would you know?

dishes

1) Calling the dishwasher repair guy. To avoid this situation.

boca

2) Evicting some of these unemployed animals from the “gated community” of the kid who hangs out with us, because of overcrowding.

scarf bear

3) Putting away my laundry and random clothes that are squatting on my couch, including this scarf I just bought, modeled by the lovely and talented Sweater Bear.

rental car

4) Cleaning out this rental car so that I can return it to the shop where my husband’s car is sitting all ready to bring home, so I’m not throwing stuff in bags at the car lot because tacky.

me

5) Going to my Crossfit class so I can keep looking like this and not like a black Oompaloompa.


PJs, tacos and and advice: An ode to my friend Chrissy

by SweetMidlife
This lovely lady has some wisdom for you.

This lovely lady has some wisdom for you.

Leslie here! (the one who lives in Florida)

Several months ago my brilliant sister put out a call for guest bloggers for this here Website, and we got an immediate “Heck, yes!” from one Chrissy Benoit, a longtime friend, chef, Food Network-featured restaurateur and dedicated supporter of the communities to which she serves food, laughs and love.

Chrissy wrote about the things that she wished she’d known about getting what you want, a pinnacle she’d seemed to have reached – working for Wolfgang Puck, opening several restaurants in South Florida for herself and others, and a local and national media presence. Her column was a funny, touching reality punch – written by an adult who knows her stuff -about unsolicited advice, the danger of mixing business and friendship and the facet that you might be forever chasing that feeling you thought “making it” would give you. Turns out that “it” is a journey, not a destination, and you never stop the pursuit.

This weekend, Chrissy closes her Boynton Beach restaurant The Little House, a cozy retreat from the ordinary featuring weekend brunches that were discounted if you wore your jammies, savory bread pudding, live music and adoration. She’ll be headed to the Tampa area to put her stamp on an established hospitality company, giving them her energies and ideas. And they’re so frigging lucky, because this is a quality lady. She “gave back” to her community by hiring local kids from that community, by being a role model to women and young people just by being her. She even gave an untested singer a shot to perform on her patio (and paid me in wine.)

Chrissy is testament to the trope that hard work pays off, although you don’t always know what the pay’s going to be. She left Havana Hideout, her successful Lake Worth Latin street food joint, where she cooked out of a food truck before that became the cool thing to do, to open the Little House and inject a bit of old Florida charm and “yumminess,” as she often says, into Boynton. It had a following but not the one it deserved. So she’s moving on, in the most non-bitter and positive way possible. Her biggest concern was not her ego but the staff she was leaving when her doors closed.

And that’s some good humble life advice for myself, who’s always half-joked that if I ever get fired, I’ll dress up in a satin gown like Bette Davis in “All About Eve,” stand on my desk with a martini and tell everyone off. I guess I’m writing this because Chrissy is an example of how you never have to stop wanting what you want, never have to stop working, never stop building on your reputation and never do anything, however temporarily emotional edifying, to mess that up. I’ll miss her. But I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. Raising a glass to you, my friend.


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