Following Whims at VegFest

Here it is nearly the end of the LiveLikeJulia project as well as VeganMOFO, and the two blogging challenges just came together for me at VegFest last weekend where I was rewarded for following my whims.

This couple is my modern-day Julia Child inspiration to follow your whims and to be courageous:

Sam & spouse of Mariam Foods

Sam & spouse of Mariam Foods

Look at their exuberance!  After meeting them very briefly on Saturday at VegFest, I followed a whim and returned to their booth to take this picture on Sunday.  My reward?  Inspiration.

I was inspired first because they look this way even after two full days of standing on a concrete floor for eight hours each day giving samples of their lentil dips to thousands of delighted people.

And second because they’ve created a business inspired by family and love.  Sam and his wife started their company Mariam Foods to share the “simple food” from their Ethiopian and Eritrean heritage.  The dips they make (try the jalapeño one!) are inspired by a lentil salad their mothers used to make.

And finally because these two could be working secure jobs as accountants or lawyers or doctors, but they ventured out and created a little family company.  They must have faced the fear of failure, the fear of not being able to pay the rent or mortgage, the fear of “what if.”  And yet, here they are smiling with pride.

They’re an example of the courage it takes to follow a whim and the joy that can follow.  They’re also an example of Bill Watterson’s advice from my last post, to “invent your own life’s meaning.”

David Gabbe via Google images.

David Gabbe via Google images.

Similarly, I ran into David Gabbe, a local vegan rockstar known for his incredible cooking classes and books.  I was just going to say a quick hello, but the way he looked captivated me.  He looked like someone who had just climbed a mountain: at the top of the world.

So, I asked about what he’s working on, and it turns out he’s been taking a break from teaching classes to work on another book, a mostly raw recipe book.

He said it’s good to step away from the busy stream of work and assess what you’re doing and where you’re at.  It would be self-indulgent, he said, if you quit your job and sat around all day, but if you’re exploring your life and considering your options and what will be best for you and your family and your future, it’s important work.

I felt like he was reading my mind.  He may as well have had a crystal ball in front of him.  His story confirmed that I’m on the right path, that following the big, painful, scary “whim” to take a year off from my job is not crazy, lazy, or a swift path to failure.  What it’s a path to I have yet to discover, but I’m more optimistic that it will be something good.

Miyoko Schinner VegFest 2013

Miyoko Schinner VegFest 2013

Lastly,  I followed a whim a few weeks ago and boldly asked the VegFest coordinator if I could introduce celebrity chef Miyoko Schinner.  I dashed off the request before I could fret about stage fright or whether or not I was important enough to introduce such a dynamic artisan.

I got the job, and introduced Miyoko Saturday and Sunday.

Between you and me, I’d hoped she’d be so touched by my introduction we’d become fast friends.  She’d ask me to do some writing for her and fly me down to California to visit her kitchen and attend some of her cheese parties.

Well, that didn’t happen.  She’s already a superstar, hardly needed any introduction, and was totally focused on connecting with her audience.

It’s not that she ignored me, but her attention was on the packed room (maybe 150?) and getting herself ready for them.  I don’t think she’d be able to pick me out of a three-person line-up, and that’s okay.

As Karen Karbo says, you never know what you might find at the end of a whim.

When I arrived on Sunday before Miyoko, another woman was there waiting to set up.  We glanced at each other, confirmed we were both volunteers, and then launched into a conversation as if we’d known each other for years!

We talked about our vegan journey, about balancing work and family, and about our unlikely ability or desire to cut all oil, salt, and sugar from our diets as the previous speaker had recommended.

As this woman talked, I thought to myself, “She should write about these things.”  She spoke so well about striving for healthy meals in a realistic way when you’re working full time and raising a kiddo.

Turns out, she is a writer!  As of a few weeks ago, Beth started a food blog.  She’d wanted to write about food for years and VeganMOFO provided the final kick-in-the-pants to get it started. Her latest post at Veggies for Vida is about having breakfast for dinner.

What I’ve learned this month is that there are big whims (leaving something familiar and secure) and small ones (talking to someone new).  And, you don’t know where a whim might lead or how long it might take to get there.

However, it seems to me that while a whim’s journey is not trouble-free, happiness, satisfaction, and joy are likely end points.

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9 Responses to Following Whims at VegFest

  1. heatherseattle says:

    Dude – I teared up when I read about David Gabbe’s convo with you!! PERFECTION! 🙂

  2. joyweesemoll says:

    What a terrific experience! Love reading about all the connections you made by listening to your whims.

  3. Great post Trista! Sorry you got dissed by Miyoko. I thought it was standard procedure for speakers to thank the person who introduced them. Poor form I’d say. You’re quite generous in saying she was totally focused on connecting with her audience. I don’t think you connect well when you fail to thank or recognize others. Love what you say about taking a year to evaluate and find your own road creatively. You’re being courageous and smart as usual.

    • tristac says:

      I’d not even thought to see my introduction of Miyoko that way, Jeff, but you’re right — at least at more literary events, it’s custom to thank the person who introduces you. Still, my fantasy that we’d become best friends was a tad extravagant! Thanks for the support about my year off — creativity is starting to come back, and it feels fabulous.

  4. Tristac, if I didn’t thank you then, I thank you now for introducing me. Thank you also for teaching me a valuable lesson. I’ll try to remember it next time!

    • TRISTA says:

      Hi Miyoko!! No worries at all. I enjoyed getting to introduce you and watch both of your cheese-making demonstrations. All of the recipes were delicious, and you were an engaging presenter.

  5. Pingback: Live Like Julia (5): Savor Life Lessons and Write About Them

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