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April 05, 2012

"Cook for Them"

Yesterday I did something a little different. I went to a celebrity appearance at my nearby Sur la Table to see Giada. Yes, my favorite little Italian chef (cheftress?) was in town to promote Weeknights with Giada.

I'm not normally one to stand in line to meet a famous person, but I really enjoy Giada de Laurentiis. She's gracious, gorgeous and seems to have achieved the enviable balance of family, friends, a personal brand, personal appearances and fame.

Anyone who juggles a business and a life of their own can attest to the challenges. But having a young child, a television show and a slew of products (books only being one of many things this petite chef produces) is admirable. She makes it look effortless and I can assure you it is not.

Having small children (even just one) changes your life completely. But rather than seeing this as a challenge it's important to recognize it as an opportunity to really live life as it was meant to be lived.

In an online interview she is quoted as saying:

"...because I have a small child, I have to be very careful as to what I spend my time doing. Because obviously we can't do everything and we can't do everything well. I've been trying to figure out how much can I do and what can I do well. I don't want to wake up one day and say, Oh my gosh, my daughter's 10, where have I been all this time."

This really captures the spirit of my life right now. Until fairly recently I was traveling, making appearances, attending events and powering through projects. Now, I'm prioritizing family and this brief moment in my life over events that require those travel & time committments. And yet my work (and my personal life) is flourishing. What I can accomplish from my laptop and my life up-close is tremendous. I'm actually "in the moment" and enjoying my experience. Somehow staying closer to home has broadened my vision and added the needed depth to my life experience.

When the line finally dwindled and Giada and I chatted while she signed my book, she immediately noticed my beautiful daughters in tow. After failing to suppress that gorgeous Giada gush, she rapidly transformed into an Italian matriarch and leaned in to offer this precious advice, "cook for them."

Cook for them. Such a brief statement that emparts so much wisdom. It means be there. Be there every day. Create for them, provide for them, be present, focus on them, care for them and share with them. It backs up exactly what I've come to realize: my children are an effort and a "project" I'm unwilling to outsource.

This means many things. It means I'm enjoying the pleasant spring mornings at the park with my lovely daughters (one is a newborn) and coming back home to prepare fabulous meals for them. It means my oldest daughter sees me preparing meals, helps me plan menus and assists me in this fun activity. She also sees me carving out regular time to work each day on my laptop and over the phone. It means I'm a better friend, a better wife and a better person than I remember being.

It means I won't be making it to High Point Market this spring, just as I did not go last fall. It means I had to say no to several conferences and appearances during pregnancy. But it is worth it. I haven't been idle. I've been hard at work on furthering my personal brand and embarking on my next professional success. More importantly, my gorgeous daughters will only be little girls for a brief moment in time. And I don't plan to miss a magical moment.

It also means you don't stop going and you don't stop growing. Instead, this is a time to flourish. And as Giada stated above, it's about choosing your commitments wisely because you can only be great at a few things at one time. As a role model I'll be the one showing my children that you can in fact have it all. You just have to choose what "it all" is at any one moment. It means that when I do travel I'll often travel with my posse (because that's how we Durbins roll!).

"Cook for them" may sound easy, but in choosing this path I can assure you I've chosen to wear more than one superhero costume. Rather than seeing myself as part designer, part mother, part wife, part friend - I see myself as 100% all of them. Without the ability to freeze time or clone myself.

Giada, I will absolutely be cooking. Cooking up fabulous meals (many from your book!) for my family and friends, cooking up amazing designs for clients and preparing grand plans for my future. I'll be living in the moment and savoring every bit of this tasty life.

Thank you so much for that much needed morsel of wisdom from one entrepreneurial woman to another. It couldn't have come at a more appropriate time. Grazie mille!

What the beautiful people are saying...

Franki - A beautiful post! I love how such a simple line says so much. At each stage in life, I believe we'll always have someone to "cook" for - be it a spouse, aging parents, a friend in need, etc. What you're sharing with us is that, no matter how many places we can be and people we can see, there's nothing more special than being in the here and now and truly savoring those moments.

We'll miss you at High Point but we know you'll have your finger on the pulse of what's trending and important!

All my best to you!

Wanda, thats it exactly. Thank you so much for your comment! It was a tiny statement but a marvelous epiphany yesterday. It encapsulated so much! You totally get it and I appreciate that!

Franki, your words and vision touched this tuff old soldier's heart. I have a new phrase now. Cucinare per Loro

Beautiful sentiment and what a smart cookie that you are recognizing this important time in your family's life, being IN it while it is happening and being grateful. Your work is there, because these girls are your best project EVER. And your other work will be there too -- whenever you want it. We will be even more delighted to see you in person when the time comes (and in virtual world --you are near all the time). Bon Appetit!


Thats it exactly. Best project Ive ever been assigned! Thanks goodness Ive been preparing for this for years (unbeknownst to me) by building up a laptop based business model. Interesting when I go back and look at how all pieces fell into place perfectly.

I love that quote and it is so true. I adore her now even more than I already did. It is so difficult to try to juggle everything and for me it has been a real relief to accept that I can't do everything all the time. I have learned to manage my time so much better since becoming a parent as well as patience and acceptance. It must have been a real thrill to meet her. I'm like you and would probably not wait in line like that for anyone but she is great and so accessible and honest.

Monica, Ive learned so much since becoming a parent, too. Its such a big deal to focus on them fully and be in the moment. Cooking real meals is somewhat of a foundation for that kind of daily and granular connection.

I wish I could have conveyed the intensity in her eyes when she said it! She truly meant it.

Thanks for the comments, Monica!


Something to say, gorgeous?

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