Barbeque and Business

I hosted a barbeque yesterday afternoon at our house. Well, I was the official host–but luckily, I have awesome roommates that helped get it all together, keep it running, as well as cleaning up. It was an Oprah-themed barbeque (of course), so it was both funny and scary to see pictures of Oprah everywhere (not to mention the too tall, stuffed Oprah mannequin that looked more like a scary drag queen than the queen of daytime TV). The BEST part was the planes flying overhead that were making “O”s in the sky–not even kidding…they must’ve been practicing their circles or something–but I like to think it was God or Oprah making that happen for our barbeque.

We had about 12 or so people over. I remember back in the day when the whole point of the party was to get AS MANY people as you could to come and THAT was the sign of a successful event. Slowly I realized, “Wait–I don’t like crowds, I don’t like loud environments…I don’t like annoying strangers.” Now my favorite events are smaller ones where you can have actual conversations & don’t have to be manning the grill the whole time, making sure everyone is always fed. I had been in a bummer of a mood for the past couple of days, so I was super happy to see my friends come over & just be their funny selves. I don’t even remember speaking much, I just know I was laughing pretty much through the whole evening. It was going from about 4-9, which left me exhausted by the end of the evening, but in a good way.

As a kid, we would have family barbeques in Midland & invite cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc–out by our pool. Of course I don’t remember the details, I just remember the feeling of being very safe & surrounded by love. It sounds incredibly corny–to have a feeling because of the smell of food cooking on the grill, and being outdoors, and the sound of people laughing. I just love the reminder to not take things too seriously and to enjoy the people in your life. And to be able to find a home away from my Texas home, I feel like such a lucky girl. To see friends I’ve known for 15 years, 10 years, 4 years, and new folks, too–all be in one space & all making each other laugh–and to be eating an awesome turkey burger (I’ll give you the recipe–google Oprah’s favorite turkey burger)–nothing better. There are many moments, being away from your home & your family & your history, you can feel kind of isolated in your day-to-day life, so I cherish these moment. They both remind me of home and of the fact that I have a home in L.A. now (with lemon/lime trees, no less!). Thank you, barbeque! Thank you, Oprah! I miss you already!!!

And now to the business part. I haven’t updated on here recently, but my new business is in full swing beginning stages. It is literally a dream come true. I have never been one who just had a job for the sake of having a job. I’ve always felt the need to create, challenge, find my passion in my career–and that each step is a step leading to something greater than I’ve done before (OK, maybe not that time I delivered frozen meals to rich people, but really–that was so I could afford to teach kids drama!). I’ve talked on here before about how I always leaned towards the business world as I kid. I sold stuff my mom bought me back TO MY MOM (Mom, who was the smart one there?) I had the lemonade stand, but I wasn’t content with it lasting for 1 afternoon–I made a 3 day business affair out of it (until I could afford that New Kids on the Block t-shirt). Why I went into the world of drama, I’m not sure–I guess because those theatre people seemed weird & I liked weird people–and felt weird myself. I liked the creative aspect of telling stories. But I never felt right as an actor (always thought it was a little silly–me on a stage), and I love teaching–but there’s something missing. I’ve really landed on what it is I do at work–all I really try to do is bring kids’ ideas to life–a “producer” of sorts–trying to do all I can to make it happen (often financing it by myself!), not because I want them to create amazing art, but because I want them to feel validated & like their ideas in fact, do matter. Because I believe it’s their belief in their ideas that will make them AMAZING at life–whether they are doctors or actors or writers or business people.

And then the other day, I thought–wait, I’m doing the same thing for myself right now. I had these experiences that led me to this business idea, and I’m actually taking the time & putting in the work to make it happen. Bringing my idea to life, and I’ve booked some gigs & I can’t even believe it. Something has never come together quite so easily for me, which to me, means it has incredible potential. I’ve haven’t felt so invigorated, challenged, excited & scared in a long time, and it feels amazing. I have no idea where it’s going, but I finally feel all of these different parts of myself coming together (as well as amazing support of friends and family). I’m so used to chasing linear goals (mostly in the form of degrees) that this is strange–I don’t know the outcome, or the steps to get there–just following my instincts on this one (combined with outside advice–but mostly MY instincts) & having faith–knowing that even if it’s a failure, it’s teaching me so much.

From the outside, it looks like a little side-business. For me, though, it came at just the right time–I’ve been in a fairly secure job for several years & security is nice, but it can make you level off in certain ways–because I’m not really “scared” by teaching anymore, it doesn’t hold the same challenge anymore. I still learn, but not in the scary “this might be a huge failure” kind of way. I love those kind of challenges. It’s like my first triathlon–which was also my first ocean swim ever. You have no idea what’s going to happen. You don’t THINK you’re going to drown, but the idea of sharks and waves scare you to death. Those are the kind of thrills I seek.

I wear my Grandmother’s ring on tough days, on scary days, on days where I need a little more support than normal. I’ve been wearing it a lot lately, and strangely enough–when Oprah had her last show on, I watched it and couldn’t stop thinking about Grandmother. It’s a strange connection to make, but I see Oprah as this amazing listener–who really connects to the viewer & makes it seem like she’s just talking to THEM…and this was my Grandmother. Oprah talked on her last day about people wanting to be validated–in the 30,000 people she’s talked to (I’m not good with numbers, but let’s go with that), everyone just wanted to be heard, to know that what they say matters. And I thought of Grandmother–us both sitting at her kitchen table, eating something simple–a hotdog from Weinerschnitzel or banana nut bread–microwaved with a bit of butter–for breakfast. And I would just talk. And talk. (what was I even saying–as an 11 yr old, as a 17 yr old, as a 25 yr old…who knows???) And she listened–she saw me and made me feel like what I said mattered. She did that for everyone, not just me. I hope that this is the kind of person I can be one day (my parents are also great at this, so I’ve had many good examples in my life)–as a friend, as a boss, as a girlfriend (who knows, even one day a wife! or a mother!…but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here), as a teacher. Is it a little nutty to watch Oprah everyday & have a BBQ in her honor—yes! But she is, to me, one of the great listeners, which feels like one of the great lessons I’m still working on learning–one that will come in handy as I continue to cultivate friendships out here in L.A. and as I build my business.

So to Oprah BBQs and new business ventures! Happy Memorial Day (thinking of my dear Papa Tom on this day, I miss him so!).

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