Two years ago, my older sister gave us all the same gift at Christmas. It was a white binder filled with a collection of interesting recipes she had discovered over the past year. It was titled “The Year of Cooking Dangerously” – culled from what she called a year of “free time, fresh produce, Top Chef marathons and most important, a reconnection to my family, friends and the art of simple living.” The pages detailed roasted winter vegetables, soups, cookies, and even a brine for turkey. But along with the recipes were the stories of the meals. A weekend with friends, a potluck Thanksgiving, a woman who made the best sugar cookies.
My sister’s life that year was one big transition. She was downsized out of her job as a magazine editor, so she sold her swanky city townhouse and moved up to a mountain town in Colorado with her husband and baby. She had to navigate a new life of “what now?” and “there’s a moose in my backyard” and “why doesn’t this town have a Target?” (can you imagine? Life without Target?!)
So, the “Year of Cooking Dangerously” binder really translated to a “Year of Living Dangerously”. Being pushed out of your comfort zone and making it up as you go along. Since then, I’ve equated new situations to “living dangerously”. And 2011 was really my year of living dangerously. I didn’t sky dive, climb Everest, find a new religion or shave my head. (Those things actually may have been easier. Except the hair thing. I would look terrible bald) I left my old job, wanting still to be a TV journalist, but on a schedule that made me and my family happy.
Those first months of not knowing what came next were strange. Slightly scary, even. I felt like I was hopping around on one foot. But the freedom fired off parts of my brain that had cobwebs and made me think in different ways.
I met interesting people, connected with old friends and worked on new TV projects I never would have if I didn’t take the leap. I started writing this blog. I took up piano again - what used to be a chore as a child, the practice, the “do I have to play the piano?” is now such a treat. Music really does something for the soul. I started horseback riding again. Fell off horse. Broke pinky. Stopped horseback riding. (there’s a reason why it’s called living dangerously) Celebrated my 10th anniversary, saw my daughter ride a two-wheeler for the first time, taught my son to read, potty trained the toddler and danced at my sister’s wedding. Wow. What a great year! Especially the potty training part.
But “Living Dangerously” is not easy. It’s not always fun. It can be confusing, frustrating and make you question yourself. But I’m closer to my gut – I listen to it and trust it. And I know happiness is just as important as a job title.
My sister is now the editor of another magazine and works on projects from her home where she’s free to corral two children, find new recipes and chase the occasional bear out of her garage. (like a bad episode of Northern Exposure). I’m still trying to enjoy the now, instead of the “where am I going to be in 10 years?” So as I look back at 2011, thank you for walking along with me in my Year of Living Dangerously. Maybe you’ve had a few moments of living dangerously yourself – congratulations!
And may 2012 be the best yet!