Working Through Nerves: Go Big or Go Home




It’s time for a tiny break to just feel. Grab a cup a tea or perhaps a tub of wine. Skip the recipes for now. Maybe stare at a sunset above the clouds from last night’s flight. Let’s take a look at the photos from my last few weeks of work, and talk nerves.

My food life is filled with meetings from morning until night. With each meeting, each article I write, each partnership I consider, each little growth spurt for my small business baby, Eat Boutique, I feel lots and lots of nerves – the sort that make my cheeks flush, my belly roar and my eyes literally swell with tears whether it’s good or bad news. And it takes a good brisk walk or losing myself in the steps of a recipe or, let’s be honest, a glass of something strong to stop the nerves. I’ve found myself in a strange tipping point place where each decision forces me to either go big or go home.

I could go home, stay home. Figuratively and literally, I suppose. I could continue to build this business that I love slowly and steadily, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The comfort found in attacking goals at my own pace is definitely easier on my mental health. Going slow gives me time to plant my garden, make Vin d’Orange (recipe soon!) from scratch and enjoy a pint of it while rubbing my dog’s belly as we watch the sunset.

Or I could go big. Big means opportunities that may come with overwhelming payoffs and heart-clenching risks. But big isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be. Sheesh, I took a leap of faith by booking a 5,000 square foot space for our 2012 Holiday Market. It felt big, huge, but we all know it was just too small for the love of small batch, boutique food. So now I have to go even bigger. Your calls and emails are urging me to just do it – you boost me each and every time we talk. Thank you.

But just like the market space decision, there are so many big opportunities that will help spread the small batch food gift way of life. It forces me to consider just how big this Eat Boutique thing will be and, in tandem, how do I want to spend the days of my life. That may seem a little drama queen and it totally is – but even little decisions will change a life. Do I want to find an affordable 15,000 square foot space for an Eat Boutique Market? Do I want to create Eat Boutique Markets all around New England, or the country? Do I want to write a cookbook? Do I want to open a beautiful smaller space where all of you can visit with me and other food makers in a more intimate, hidden way on a regular basis? Do I want to help even more big businesses give food gifts that support small business vision?

I’d be lying if I said “no” to any of those questions. Of course, I want to try. My food life has been made up of piles and piles of urges to just try, just try something, anything. And I’d rather try and fail miserably and publicly, then regret. But it’s a struggle to do it on your own terms making time for repose and awareness, laughter with friends, big family style meals with my close ones, and smiles with my little dog who sweetly whimpers when I return from a trip, who I’m certain is saying “I know you’re trying to do your thing but *we* are your thing!” Kinda heartbreaking.

I think these problems are good problems, right? I don’t have a big plan but I do plan to just continue to try. I’ll just try to figure out how to go big and go home, all at once, and just live through the nerves because the nerves mean that I’m doing something that matters a ton to me, and thank goodness for that. Right? Thank goodness for that. (I’ll have to remember that when I have piles of food gifts to pack and posts to write at 2am. You know, like every single night.)

I’m not home this week. I’m in San Francisco for a food conference and, lucky me, lots of parties and awards ceremonies and blah blah blah. But I’m living like a local in the Mission while popping into the Ferry Building to soak it all up, take in the view, spill red wine on some pretty nifty cookbook writers as I struggle with these darn heels, you know the drill. Still, I’ll make lots of new friends and learn from their journeys because it really is all about the journey, nerves and all. It’s about how you want to spend the days of your life. And I’ve already made a big date with a dog and a sunset the moment I’m home.

I always appreciate your advice so please leave your comments below. Tell me to just buck up. Tell me you’re listening. Or just tell me, please tell me, it will all work out. With thanks and hugs, in advance.

Before you click away, I’d love to share some photos that matter to me…

I love my dog and she really does make looks that have an army of words behind them; my kitchen is a mess but exactly where I want to be.


The mason jar of daffodils placed on my Easter table by Joshua Lewin himself (such a cutie!) at Beacon Hill Bistro; a page of sage advice from Jane Lawson’s Zenbu Zen Cookbook (she is so wise and, sadly, so far away from me).


The view through the fog and gorgeous vegetation of Dolores Mission Park; my breakfast from Tartine Bakery (so worth the 20-minute line).


The 2013 Eat Boutique Market calendar will be in place soon, with a possible location in the suburbs; photos from the 2012 Holiday Market with my friends Marisa McClellan (of Food in Jars) and Brian Samuels (of A Thought for Food).


The moment I’m back in Boston, I’m hosting a lunch for my friend, Yvette van Boven, at the Water Cafe at the Institute of Contemporary Art. Think three courses of delicious food, a view of the sea, cool as hell art all around us, and good times with an iconic cookbook author! (Yes, I did say iconic because it’s true.) Grab a seat at the table now. (It’s Saturday, April 13.)


I took some time to meet the sheep at my community-supported agriculture farm, Clark Farm in Carlisle; the sheep caught me snapping photos in their big beautiful barn.


One of my best friends visited with us for 24 hours and we celebrated sunny weather with a jaunt up and down Cape Ann and some of the best sushi ever at Latitude 43 in Gloucester, Mass.


Work took me to Chicago. It was cold and blizzard-like at one point, but nothing a nice afternoon meal at Avec couldn’t handle – it was my best meal in the city!


A girl has to dream and every time I see an open commercial loft space with good light, I’m smitten. This one is in Beacon Hill of Boston, but I’m open – any suggestions?! Heidi of White Loft Studio and I went to Paris and our story launched on Style Me Pretty last month.


I had meetings in Provincetown, Massachusetts to discuss a possible Eat Boutique Market out there in June. I stayed at the Sage Inn and was impressed; they’re hosting a cooking class out there on April 20, you should go! Call them at 508-487-6424 to register, say that Maggie told you!


My dear friends Richard and John prepared a hearty spring lunch full of lamb and asparagus and cauliflower au gratin; they also designed a table inspired by spring and (for moi) Paris. The doors on old buildings make me smile.


I love, love, love Boston, especially the view of the city from Cambridge (my favorite small city). When in Cambridge, the only bakery I visit is Tatte Bakery; the owner Tzurit designed that light installation.


I made a twist on a French 75 with a local Berkshire gin called Ethereal Gin. The Ethereal 75 was on Snippet and Ink last month, and I wish each of you a happy, happy spring!


All photos taken on Instagram by Maggie Battista, except for the ones by Jacqueline Church, Brian Samuels and Heidi Murphy.

Eat Boutique was an award-winning shop and story-driven recipe site created by Maggie Battista – an author, business guide and alignment seeker. After hosting retail markets for 25,000+ guests, Maggie now supports entrepreneurs as they create values-based businesses through We Are Magic StudioFollow Maggie Battista on Instagram.