Finding Success, Having A Cocktail & Gardening In Memory Of A Friend

"Do what you love, and the money will follow," is what Roger, my friend and best mentor, would always tell me.

He certainly wasn't the first person ever to utter those words, but he was the first to say them to me when I was a younger woman, trying to support my family, make my mark on the world, pay my bills, fund my investments, and just generally be what most of society considers a successful person.

Gardening - another thing I never dreamed
I'd have time for... :)

What he was telling me, and what I was too preoccupied by my misguided ambitions to see at the time, was that money is not remotely a measure of true success. Specially not if it means losing your soul and huge chunks of your life in the making of it.

In hindsight, I think he knew way before I did that I didn't really belong where I was at the time, working for him in financial services. He knew my heart was elsewhere and that I loved food, missed my music, and wanted to write more. But I was good at what I did, I got on well with people, and perhaps most importantly, he was just one of those rare bosses who understood that work, like life, was a collection of human relationships and dynamics, and that everyone has something uniquely good to bring to the table, even if they're not your most dedicated, focused or permanent employee.

And as he encouraged me to pursue those passions that could at any moment have taken me from my decade long tenure working for him, I would think to myself what a dream that would be - to just be able to do what I love and allow the money to follow. That seemed such an impossibility at the time. The life I'd built for myself simply would not permit it.

I had no idea then how much my life would change. I couldn't have imagined then that I would some day have the opportunity to work from home, do what I love, and carve out a totally unique career path for myself without having to worry about providing monetarily for my family, thanks to an amazingly kind, generous and supportive husband, and the choices we make together every day to be able to live well but frugally.

Well, old and bad habits die hard. When you're raised in a culture that largely measures success by money and its trappings, it's all too easy to measure your own success, or lack thereof, by the money you are, or aren't, making.

And that's just what I've been doing these past few weeks. Feeling frustrated, discouraged, discontented, and unsuccessful in my career because, for somewhat complex but well intentioned reasons of my own choosing, I am not yet charging money for what I do. (Which will change shortly, but there it is.)

Here I am, living what I once only dreamed of doing: sharing the food, music and writing that I love, growing a substantial audience through my dedication to the work, making a positive difference in others' lives...

...and cheating myself of the enjoyment of the success I've earned because it doesn't come attached to money.

Don't get me wrong. I want the money. There are places and things our family has yet to experience together, educations and rainy days to save for, parents we want to be able to care for as they age, and many more delicious meals to savor with the people we love ahead of us. And they all require the money I have yet to make.

But for now, I'm choosing to let my perspective evolve and honor the memory of a great friend who taught me one of life's greatest lessons by accepting, appreciating, and enjoying the success I would not have been able to realize and recognize were it not for the gifts of his friendship and guidance.

I'm developing a Thai Basil Calamansi Vodka Gimlet recipe to go with our Banh Xeo dinner tonight - made with homemade basil syrup using basil I proudly grew in my own garden and calamansi I bought while happily wandering the aisles of the farmers market. And then I'm sharing it with a bunch of people who enjoy and appreciate what I share and give me the best support and encouragement for what I do, all the time.

All just part of the work I love and get to do every day.

And I'll be toasting you, Roger.

Cheers to our success, dear friend. :)




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