Same as the old year

I blinked and -voila!- it was a new year!

 A new year should give us new goals, new hopes, and new dreams.

2022 came quick, and not too quiet, making the last two years seem even more blurry, confusing, and surreal than I would have thought possible.  From where I stand, 2022 is not so different from its last two predecessors. It came with the same look, a familiar smell, and unchanged character. The year started with still many unknowns about what today is, as well as what tomorrow will bring. Many of us still feel unsafe. Most of us are still anxious and afraid. Smiles are still hidden under masks. There is still 6 feet between us. There is still a feeling of isolation even though we see each other more now than we did the last 18 months. I don’t know about you, but even I, a misanthrope and an introvert, really miss community. I miss dressing up (although sweatpants have given me much comfort in the last two years). I miss going out to dinners with friends. I miss cooking for people. I miss the simple gatherings. I miss all of you.

Life has been so challenging for everyone, pivoting in so many directions. We have to adapt. Are we moving forward today, or are we taking a few steps back? Mask on? Mask off?
This pandemic is exhausting, and I feel beat.

However, I cannot give in to the limitations this pandemic brings to my life. I may feel beat, but I refuse to be defeated. While this year arrived in a gloomy style, I want to think that a new year still presents many chances to renew, to grow, to nurture, to love, to hope. Pandemic or not, I want to think that in some way, I can steer the year into the path I choose…at least for some things that are under my control.

My New Year’s resolution is not to have a resolution. I used to reflect and write down things I want to do and improve in my life only to give up on my “how-to-better-myself” list before spring has even sprouted. I realized that I grow and develop so much better on my own pace…without a timeline and without the attached pressure and burden. I resolve to continue to work on creating a better version of me for the rest of my life. I admit, I am a work in progress that will only be complete once I am finished living.

My goals have changed over the years as well. The “list” also gets more grown-up as I get older. Instead of aiming to lose 10 pounds, I will make an effort to be healthier and fit. Leaving the number out of the equation gets me to the resolution faster. I was never good at math anyway! I will still shop, but I will be more thoughtful about how often I reach for my wallet. I don’t want to deprive myself of the things I love. I just need to work smarter. I will walk two miles a day so I can sustain my love for cheese, chocolate, and sauvignon blanc. I am kinder to myself by being honest and accepting of change. And of course, gratitude. Gratitude. And more gratitude.

So, the year started slow but I can feel its motor revving up gently in a distance. I can be impatient. I need to appreciate this time, when I get to rebuild my team from the ground up. I need to recognize the opportunity to start fresh with new people and new ideas. I have the time to develop the concepts I had been too busy to start. I have time to think. I have time to do. I will embrace the rhythm for self-discovery and continue to work on my evolution.

I know that this year is going to be a work in progress with an unknown timeline. It will be complete when time permits.

Because we aim to please our diners and motivate our employees, we started our work year with a chili cook-off contest for the chefs and managers. This event was an attempt to bring back some sense of normalcy at work for the team. It was a fun and healthy competition with eight chili contestants.

There was a vegan entry, a Thai version, and one that was spicy enough to challenge the toughest palate, but today I am sharing with you the winning recipe. I am proud to say that in a blind taste test, yours truly took home the championship trophy (and a $50 gift card to Chili’s!). I call my chili “The Godfather,” because it was inspired by my go-to Bolognese recipe. It contains ground beef, hot Italian sausage, and pancetta. For the first time in our 15 years together, I followed cooking advice from my husband…He said “no beans” and “nice and thick.” He was right.

I hope you get to cook it for people who are in the same self-progression with you and who loves you regardless of when you reach the journey.

Click HERE to download the recipe.