This post is sponsored by LinkedIn #InItTogether campaign. It’s partners like them that allow me to share my story. Please do show them that you appreciate their support with your time and attention (and a click, if it’s your thing). In this post, I’ll share why I do what I do and how I’m in it for my people.
I’ve been at this food thing for a long, long time.
In 2007, I started this blog–that’s more than 11 years ago.
(Raise your hand in the comments if you remember the early years!)
Ever since, I’ve blogged and written in short and long form almost weekly. I wrote the manuscript for my first cookbook in 2014. And now I’ve written (or edited) more than 1,200 blog posts and two cookbooks. I also write for other publications on the regular.
In 2009, I launched my gift box business and I’ve worked in food and with food makers ever since. My first pop-up food market was in 2011. And now I’ve collaborated with hundreds (perhaps thousands) of food makers and hosted 10 markets for 25,000+ guests.
(Pop-ups markets are so exhausting but so fun. I know I want to live in a market full-time, for real.)
In 2016, I started looking at real estate for a permanent mixed-use food retail space. Since then, I’ve produced financial projections and presentations and met with many landlords and developers. I currently have several letters of intent on my desk for spaces that could (or could not) open over the next few years.
(But I am determined, people. You know me!)
And in 2018, I started coaching women who run creative businesses. After helping more than a dozen clients, I’m launching a new monthly coaching program that makes this a more regular thing.
(You just sign up for the following month–it’s very very easy! We can talk about my kinda’ real wellness too, if you want.)
These are the projects and initiatives of my most recent life. But they’re a lot more than that, too.
This time has evolved into a long period of learning to know me–who I am, who I want to be, and what I have to give. And with each project, many of them dreamed up out of thin air based on a whim or a tweet or a way to make a living, I have been able to hone in on my best parts while I analyze, sit with, and forgive my tough parts. Through the ups and the downs, I’ve learned to finally love and accept me, just the way I am.
Now all this self-love didn’t emerge at once.
Gosh, on some days, I felt like a big fat failure. That’s the stuff of life, right? There have been successes (new cookbooks, new culinary events, new services) and hard stuff (phasing out projects, not opening a retail space yet, etc.)
But I’m exiting this phase of life knowing who I am. Because real love for me did find me. It found me in tiny pieces, through every project lesson. It was like I eventually strung together so many disparate stars in the sky that I could weave them into a blanket of real acceptance.
Now I know I’ll be learning forever. But I don’t need to learn more about why I am here. More than any specific project, even my beloved forthcoming mixed use food retail space, I know I’m ultimately here for just one thing.
Have you ever asked yourself why you’re here?
(I swear, a rainbow just appeared over my shoulder out the window as I’m typing this. It’s very silly but I’m so flowing with this. Forgive me and stick with me.)
I don’t mean “why you’re here” like the stuff you can see and smell–like wanting to be a doctor or wanting to live in Paris. Sure, those are very interesting and very valid (and save me the guest room in your new pied-à-terre), but I’m more interested in the non-tangibles. I mean, have you ever asked yourself why you exist?
I’ve asked myself this question many, many times over the last 11 years. And it’s only in the last year, when I started writing to my inner voice–my soul, my source–weekly, that I can say the following with a lot of certainty (and tears and rainbows).
I am here to love.
I suppose that sounds fairly esoteric. Believe me, I paused about ten times before I typed it. But everything I do is ultimately an expression of love. I love through the words I write, through the projects I create, and through the food I make.
Let me say it again, I am here to love.
I am here to love every part of me–from my big wobbly body parts to my sensitive spirit to my complex mind (at once risk-taking and also terribly cautious).
I am here to share my raw stories so that you may learn to love yourself, too.
I am here to share very good food so you can love yourself with all that good food.
I am here to create community so we can discover more about who we are and each other–and share some real love and appreciation between us.
I am here to love because by loving everyone around me, I receive love and get way better at loving myself.
Now 11 years in, I have wondered why I stay on this path. I have regular quiet conversations with my inner voice–my soul, my source–on whether I should do something else or go back to the start-up tech world (which was, in some ways, a much easier path). But those conversations never go on for too long.
They go something like this:
Me: “Can you see yourself doing anything else long term?”
Inner voice: “No. Next topic, please.”
So… why exactly do I stay on this path? Well, I recently partnered with the LinkedIn #InItTogether campaign to explore that very topic. They asked me to explain what I’m in it for. And the answer is: I’m in it for love (naturally) and the people who have loved me from the start.
I’m in it for my people.
I’m definitely in it for the people with whom I grew up.
I’m in it for my grandmother. She was born in rural Honduras and died when I was in college, but near the end of my mother’s life, I learned that my grandmother had operated a cantina and general store in Honduras. She also built churches to gather and strengthen her community. I really want to continue good work in her honor.
I’m in it for my cousin Vanessa who was a natural foods chef and taught me about plant-based eating years before it was cool and years before I even considered giving up non-plants. She died way too soon from a complex disease. I want to share the “eat all the vegetables” story with her in mind.
And I’m in it for my parents who often struggled with putting food on our table, struggled with raising a big-little girl, and struggled with letting me be who I was (the good parts and the tough parts). I think that continuing my work in love might help them, wherever they are.
If I’m being honest, I’m in it for so many other people, too. But it’s my family–many of whom are gone now–who created the story of me. Because they got me here, I cherish them.
As well, I cherish this relationship I’ve formed with me–my body, my brain, my inner voice. I write a little letter to my inner voice–sort of like a journal entry but with questions–each week. And while I used to doubt my path or beat myself up for my mistakes a long time ago, my inner voice work has changed all that. When I wonder if I should stay on this path, my inner voice is very clear.
Me: “Should I stop doing whatever I’m doing?”
Inner voice: “No. Just flow.”
Me: “Why do I exist?”
Inner voice: “To be love. Just love.”
I’m sticking with my inner voice. Flowing and loving and learning. And taking every day as an opportunity to do what I do with my newfound purpose.
Eat Boutique is an award-winning shop and story-driven recipe site created by Maggie Battista–shop girl, writer, author, and creative business coach. After hosting pop-up markets for 25,000+ guests, Maggie is working to open her first permanent Eat Boutique–a food-retail concept space with a new way to the very best food–as well as coaching women in food to reach life and business goals. Her second cookbook, A New Way to Food: 100 Recipes to Encourage a Healthy Relationship with Food, Nourish Your Beautiful Body, and Celebrate Real Wellness for Life, will be published by Roost Books on February 5, 2019.