Birthday Musings

Today I turned 34. Birthdays are usually introspective for me. When I think back on the past year, of course, it is completely dominated by MasterChef…which has taken up almost every bit of time and brainpower since late Fall.

While I fully plan on delving into the changes I’ve undergone from MasterChef after the show has ended, the most important impact I notice is this vast new family I’ve gained, from the contestants to the production crew…even down to Gordon Ramsay. No, we don’t talk on the phone or trade emails or anything, but when I talk to the producers, they always tell me that he has mentioned me to them recently, or said for them to tell me hello. It’s kinda fun to know that.

But the people who really made an impact on me are my fellow contestants and people from production who I lived with for weeks and weeks. Food and cooking have always been an important part of my life, but now my culinary life has BLOSSOMED thanks to the relationships I maintain with these people. I laugh and cry when I hear from them or think about them.

MasterChef also caused me to turn the microscope inward and ask hard questions, like “What do I want to be when I grow up?” I know it sounds silly for a 34 year old to ask a question like that, but deep down inside, I think it’s unusual for people in their 30s, 40s, even older, to NOT be asking that question. Our country is so work-oriented that we often are rushed into a career, either because it’s lucrative, or it’s what our family expected of us, or it’s the only career we could find…and we wake up years or decades later, wondering what we did with our lives and why we made those decisions.

MasterChef has taught me that the LAST THING ON EARTH I want to be is a chef! Ironic, huh? But a chef is stuck in the back of a commercial kitchen, turning out plate after plate, not having a clue WHO he is cooking for. To me, that’s a lifeless, joyless task. I cook because I love PEOPLE. So perhaps the inner voice that has always told me I need to have a B&B or a chalkboard café is the voice that has been right all along.

I also can’t help but maintain a perspective on my 30s, compared to my 20s. I was ferociously depressed when I turned 30. “My life is OVER!” I thought. “The good times are long gone, and it’s all down hill from here.”

How much more wrong could I have been? My 30s have been light-years better than my 20s. My pseudo-TV career started with Rachael Ray the year I turned 30. I’ve taken some amazing trips with amazing people. The most prolific publishing period of my life began when I turned 31 and got a semi-staff position as a travel writer with the Seattle Times. My relationship with my partner Christian, which began almost 9 years ago, gets better and better. We have a wonderful house that I’ve had the pleasure of renovating from top to bottom, learning how to become a handyman in the process. We got our puppy, Oliver, who has completely changed my life and brings overwhelming joy and love to my heart literally every time I look at his scruffy face. A new neighbor, Sharon Moore, moved in next door to me and has become an incredible combination of second mom and best friend.

Yes…my 30s have been incredibly good to me. Particularly age 33. I am so blessed to have an amazing group of people in my life. Thanks to ALL of you for making me the happiest person I know!

May 34 be even better!

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