We now rejoin our heroine after she is selected as the entree finalist in The Real Women of Philadelphia online cooking competition for her Mango Chutney infused Pork Tenderloin.
After I was selected in the first round of The Real Women of Philadelphia Canada as an entree finalist, I had a few choices: I could fade away from the posting boards altogether, or I could keep on participating.
This became the course of action I ultimately decided to take.
And the decision was purely selfish: I had made what I sensed were going to be life long friendships, and as part of my original goal to get as much out of the experience as I possibly could, I felt completely invested in the community.
Around this time, our local media became interested in my story and I was invited to cook one of my Cream Cheese creations for a local cable show where, during the taping, a dawning realization began to emerge: I loved this. Not just the cooking and creating – but the presentation itself.
Being in front of the camera, the spotlight on me, smiling to an audience of people somewhere out there, and getting the opportunity to share myself and my passion for cooking with the world at large, was one of those moments of pure joy where you know you are exactly where you're supposed to be - and that, further, you deserve the happiness.
"I deserve happiness."
It only just occurred to me recently that I have lived my life feeling like I owed it something, like I wasn't quite good enough to have the true things my heart desired but that if I kept giving back, and giving back, and giving back, I might somehow earn my ticket to absolution.
I also knew, somewhere deep inside, that the realization of big dreams don't happen overnight and that the the road ahead - if I decided to pursue it - would not necessarily lead to Oz.
Thanks to getting out of my original rut, I, who once fought with my husband on a family vacation to PEI because I so loathed the way I looked when he insisted on taking my picture at Green Gables, was now pandering to the camera like Oprah, confident in the belief that I was okay just the way I was.
And on the posting boards for The Real Women of Philadelphia, we were capturing the spirit of that with catch phrases like The Sisterhood of the Cream Cheese, and “Towanda!” from Fried Green Tomatoes at The Whistlestop Cafe by Fannie Flagg which became the battle cry for us all - Real Women turned lifelong friends stepping out of our own boxes and taking chances - win, lose, or draw.
Throughout it all I was cooking with cream cheese and inexplicably continuing to lose weight so that before I knew it, I was running 30-45 minutes daily and had lost 25 pounds.
Even at that point, I knew I had come a long way from where I had been that black Wednesday in late March and was able to see very clearly in retrospect that not going any further in that first contest actually was the best thing that could have ever happened.
Perseverance is one of those buzz words we hear about in quotes from famous athletes or people who have achieved great things, but in reality we don’t spend enough time teaching our kids the value it has in everyday life.
I can remember as a little girl, my grandma Helen would darn my grandfather’s socks and then when they had outlasted their purpose as a foot covering, she would turn them into mittens.
That to me is perseverance. The willingness to re-invent ourselves as many times as needed, no matter how old, or tired, or worn out we become, always searching for new ways to be useful and never giving up – whether we reach our goal or not because, the truth is, many of us never will.
There will only ever be one Wayne Gretzky, Oprah Winfrey, or Julia Child.
But that doesn’t mean the rest of us should ever quit trying because it is most often the journey itself that yields the sweetest fruit.
Take it from me, all too often the destination we arrive at isn’t what we expected. But the getting there, my friends, that's where the juice is.
After all, there really was no story after the yellow brick road.
When in pursuit of a dream it's up to each of us to find our hearts, and our brains, and our courage, because no one ever gets there if they’re stalled on the couch.
Could have been, and, I wish I hads, are a terrible legacy.
There is no failure if you are on the path- it may not take us to where we think we're supposed to be, but if we stay the course, what a life story we'll have to tell later!
This is what I believe we should be teaching our children. That stubborn tenacity is a virtue that can move mountains and that the person who wins the race isn’t always the fastest runner but is, rather, often the one with the most heart.
Stay tuned for next week's installment: Toronto!
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Stay tuned tomorrow for a post about family dysfunction and my world famous recipe for spaghetti.
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