Skip to content

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and you will receive our stories in your inbox.

Hanging up my chef’s coat…sort of

Posted in Life & Love

Listening to most commencement speeches, at random, on You Tube, it’s apparent the most oft given advice is: do what you love; follow your heart; do what you are passionate about. No wonder so many newly minted graduates fumble about for some time, trying to figure out what it is they love.

For every graduate who knew since third grade she wanted to be a doctor, a policeman or a baker, there are ten times as many who have no clue what their professional path should be. My advice? Do what matters, what makes a difference. In the process, you might find what you love and fulfills you.

I left college hellbent working in music. It’s what I loved, it’s what mattered to me. I knew enough to know I possessed no musical talent so I focussed my energy in finding a job that would put my skills – whatever they might have been – to the service of those who had talent. I loved it. For a long while, until it took its toll and the negatives titled the balance towards wanting to move on.

Later, I found my inner baker. A bit by chance, and then by sheer will, I inched and burrowed a path in the culinary industry. I loved it. I learnt a skill I can replicate at a drop of a hat to freelance, or just to make my family happy. I loved it until two things happened: 1. the sheer physicality of the job stopped agreeing with my joints and 2. I stopped caring about spoiled Angelenos’ ridiculous food requests. Time to move on.

That is when I realized that doing what you love is not what you might need, in the long run. But doing what matters is. I love writing but I know full well I don’t have enough talent to make a living from it (and even with a lot of talent it is a hard proposition). I turned to what matters. To me but also to society. I ended up volunteering at a hospital. But it could just as easily have been working with dogs or in grassroots politics.

Over the last three years assisting patients and nurses, I learnt more than I ever could imagine. Which brings me to a further point: the ongoing process of learning go hand in hand with long-term satisfaction.

Somehow, again by sheer will and a bit of luck, I parlayed my three years of volunteering into a paying job, essentially doing what I already do in terms of supporting patients, their families and the nurses, combined with some administrative work. On December 18 I will be hanging my chef’s coat for good (mostly – I will still pop up in the culinary world from time to time) and don scrubs. I know I will love it enough to see me through the 12 hour shifts, the Christmas Day spent working and other inconveniences of being employed in health care. The elation will not come from a multimillion seller cd or the developing of a new recipe – the love will have nothing to do with riches, recognition or ego. It will stem from knowing that what I do, somewhere, to someone, matters.

Share on Facebook

29 Comments

  1. How wonderful! You seem to have so much compassion. The patients you deal with will be all the better for having met you. Congratulations and good luck!

    December 3, 2017
    |Reply
  2. So true! I tried making art my career and it ended up destroying my love for drawing. I decided to try teaching English just because I’d be able to travel and ended up loving it! I learn so much from my students and I love the feeling of pride I get when they pass an exam or get the job they wanted! If I hadn’t failed at being an illustrator, I wouldn’t have become a teacher and I’m thankful for it 🙂

    November 29, 2017
    |Reply
    • And now you still illustrate and are creative with your drawings which, by the way, I love.

      November 29, 2017
      |Reply
      • Thanks! It really means a lot, it’s been a while since I got the guts to draw 😉

        November 30, 2017
        |Reply
  3. What incredible news! Kudos to you for finding where you are most needed while simultaneously enjoying it. Wishing you all the very best as you make a difference in the healthcare field. ❤︎

    November 28, 2017
    |Reply
    • The power of persistence (and to dream just a little). Thank you!

      November 28, 2017
      |Reply
  4. Ellie
    Ellie

    I totally agree with everybody’s comments here – I think this is marvellous – you’ve brought something special to everything you’ve done and you’re able to reinvent and use all the skills you have. What is more – everything you’ve done you can take with you – music and food go where you go. Well done !!!

    November 28, 2017
    |Reply
    • True. Although, I don’t know about you, but I am finding it more and more difficult to unearth original music that doesn’t leave me cold. I just read through the Grammy nominations today and, out of most of them, I cheered for a Latin album! I like the War on Drugs but it’s a story we already heard so many times….

      November 28, 2017
      |Reply
  5. Very happy for you! You’re definite proof that one’s path isn’t simply One, and it can change with time. I’m glad we live in a time where we can change our minds or find something else to do after our early 20s (when we’re supposed to choose a career for life, how silly!) May your new journey be filled with joy, friends, and healing.

    I just listened to a Neil Gaiman’s audiobook called The View From The Cheap Seats and there’s a commencement speech I really liked. If you’re interested, here is the original one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plWexCID-kA

    November 28, 2017
    |Reply
    • Now I am so glad I said no to a job today and “wasted” 20 minutes watching Neil Gaiman – brilliant, brilliant man! Thank you for sending this. I am of the firm belief that, like you might fall in love more than once in your life, you can also fall into a different career, just because your priorities change. Nothing wrong with just one love or one job for life – but the variety has led me to where I want to be.

      November 28, 2017
      |Reply
      • Glad I helped! Neil Gaiman is one of my favourite authors. Variety is the zest of life, as they say – nothing wrong with wanting to open new doors at different stages in life!

        December 5, 2017
        |Reply
  6. When I was a kid, one of my many aspirations was to be a baker, but the prospect of ridiculously early mornings put me off.
    I’m not sure if I ever aspired to do anything health-related when I was younger, but I definitely never considered pharmacy until the day before uni applications were due! I think your advice is good. These days I can’t imagine having a job that is not people-focused.

    Best wishes for the new job!

    November 28, 2017
    |Reply
    • A little secret…you might start having to get up early at the beginning of a baking career but then you grow and leave your place to others (although I was always a morning person – still am) and go in after the early baking is done. Judging from some of the things you have written, you are in a job that very much suits you.

      November 28, 2017
      |Reply
      • Thanks for the inside tip 😉
        And thanks for the kind words. I often think I’m lucky to have found a job I enjoy and which suits me

        November 29, 2017
        |Reply
  7. I’d say this post demonstrates that you have talent for writing. But it also sounds like you made a good choice. Good luck!

    November 28, 2017
    |Reply
    • Thank you Stefan! And if you ever decided to take the plunge and visit LA, I will still cook for you!

      November 28, 2017
      |Reply
  8. Congratulations. Those who stick at one career for life and become gurus are admirable and necessary; but too boring for one who likes a new challenge every seven years or so

    November 28, 2017
    |Reply
    • That would be. See my response to Leonor. And thank you!

      November 28, 2017
      |Reply
  9. Well done on finding your new direction! I think it’s true that those of us who do what we love, also find that what we love for the first few decades isn’t always what we will continue to do. At subsequent stages of our lives we gravitate towards things which inspire in us the same passion, but have a different perspective on life in general and our place in that life.

    I always wanted to work in theatre, and I did so for more than thirty years, but the same passion resurfaced in my wanting to write (which doesn’t pay but I still love it). I’m now in retail (which I came to through volunteering for Salvation Army’s retail stores), and loving the daily satisfaction of providing fleeting enjoyment for customers without all the corporate hype and grind of cut-throat hard selling. Maybe what I do doesn’t matter or make a big difference in the grander scheme of things, but I’m enjoying smiling at people and helping them to enjoy their day while they buy basics like food and hardware.

    November 28, 2017
    |Reply
    • Well, it’s the Salvation Army…I would say there is a world of good at the end of the chain of which you are a link. And it allows you to keep on writing.

      November 28, 2017
      |Reply
  10. I don’t just like this, I love it! Having retired from baking myself, I agree about the physical demands and the ridiculous requests. Once I moved back East, I saw a little article about the USO needing volunteers here in town. So I did. And eventually, I became the Admin. Asst. … a paid position. That ended up being my all time favorite job, both volunteer and paid. Go got it!

    November 28, 2017
    |Reply
    • Irene, you are a bit of a soul sister! I hope I will love as much as you do yours.

      November 28, 2017
      |Reply
  11. valerie
    valerie

    BRAVA!!!

    November 27, 2017
    |Reply

Got some thoughts? We would love to hear what you think

%d bloggers like this: