Should I Stay or Should I Go Now

It's been awhile since I've sat down and started to type. As always life gets in the way, and something always takes precedence over words. Whether it be the kids, the chef, the restaurants (that I am now director of), or just the humdrum of everyday life, writing always gets cast to the side for me. As I get older and things get more complicated, I know I need an outlet. My soul yearns for it. I think about this edit post box daily and at night after I've laid the kids down to sleep, the light of my computer screen calls out to me "Sit down Amelia, type. It will make you feel better, I promise." But I don't listen. I check my emails, I balance my checkbook, I scroll facebook and get frustrated, I do the dishes, or I put laundry away. I do absolutely anything and everything to avoid doing what I love because I know if I do I will realize I am not doing what I love to be doing on the regular. And that will make me sad. It will make me question my life and what I am doing with it. It will make me open the doors that I am not yet ready to open. 

But, here's the thing. No matter how I try to run from it, it's still there. My longing to write is there. You can feel it on some of my instagram or facebook posts. I can feel it there sometimes. My love of storytelling even comes through on my Instagram story occasionally. It's still there, I just don't use it as much. And I am not sure if I will again. I know that I won't be writing daily blog posts about my kids anymore. They are to old for me to tell their stories for them. Sure I share their pics and life moments socially, but they always approve, and if they don't it doesn't go up. I am not sure if I will write about the restaurants or the chef anymore. Writing about it used to be my sanity when I was home alone at night with two small babies and the Chef was working til 1am. But that's no longer the case. We both work days together and usually for the most part spend our evenings with one another. He does travel more now but that's when I find my alone time. The kids go down and I read a book until my eyes get heavy and I drift off into another universe until the sun shines through my window panes. My material for writing has somewhat disappeared. 

And that's been my hesitation.

What do I write about? 

There is so much I want to do, so much I want to write about. But it's all over the place. Somedays I want to share this crazy smoothie I made with strawberries and colloidal silver. Somedays I want to talk about how fucked up America is right now. Somedays I want to talk about how I want to sell it all and run away to an island, open a smoked fish shop, surf all day, and raise my kids on Shakespeare and Vonnegut. Anyone want to buy a restaurant group?

I guess there is no rhyme or reason to this life so why should there be rhyme or reason to my writing. I'll guess I will just write. Let's so how that turns out, shall we?

If a story is in you, it has got to come out.

I haven't truly thought about writing until recently.

It wasn't until I stepped out of my comfort zone that I realized how much I missed writing. I stopped writing because the Chef and I were going through a pretty horrific legal/business/shady/greedy battle with his brother and I just couldn't bring myself to write anything good. Plus his brother, who was actively trying to fire the Chef and steal his restaurant, threatened me with legal action if I blogged, which he eventually did, soooooooo.....the chef's brother, totally not evil. Ha. 

The battle lasted for almost 5 years. Yes 5 YEARS.  It was hard and it was hell, we lost friends, we lost family, we made bad choices and we made good choices but eventually we won. We walked away with the restaurants and the ability to sleep at night peacefully. Not sure if I can say the same about the other side...

So that yearning to write came back recently. It started when I was perusing Facebook late at night and saw a call for Idea Pitches through the Cleveland Leadership Center. I have always had this idea in the back of my head and maybe because I was two martinis in I decided to fill out the application. Low and behold, a few months later, an email arrived that said my idea was chosen as one of the top five ideas for their Accelerate for Change event. I would present in the community change category, in front of judges and they would give me feedback. There was a cash prize that I briefly skimmed over and then had a prompt freak out. What I hadn't realized when filling out the application was that there was public speaking involved. I DESPISE public speaking. Shocking I know. In person I am pretty comfortable with just about anyone. I can talk to the best of 'em. But getting up in front of a crowd? Ummm, not so much.

But the idea that I pitched was an idea that I am passionate about. So I grabbed my laptop and started to type my presentation.

Here it is:

My name is Amelia and I am here to talk to you about a Sanctuary for Addicts and Animals. 
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This is my brother Andy. Andy is a heroin addict. 
In 2006 on Thanksgiving Day my family’s life changed forever. My brother, a handsome, athletic, intelligent college student, came to my dad’s house and announced he was flying to Florida because “he need a break.” He looked skinny, sickly, and grey. Our family was confused and angry, why would he be so brash to leave on a holiday about being grateful for your family? We would later find out her name was was heroin.
After a soccer injury, my brother was prescribed Oxycontin for pain associated with a broken collar bone. We've all heard this story before. Within months, the oxycontin addiction he developed became too expensive, heroin was cheaper, and he quickly became a full blown heroin addict. The past 10 years watching my brother suffer with the disease of addiction has forever changed my family. Addiction is the most devastating disease I have ever witnessed. Watching someone you love lose their self to addiction is harder than watching someone you love die of cancer. 
My brother has seen bright days and he has seen many bad days. In 10 years I have learned so much about heroin addiction. I have learned how far family will go for someone they love. I have learned that heroin steals the person you once knew and replaces them with a complete stranger. I have learned that addiction is actually a disease and should be treated as one. I have learned to value the time my brother is sober but keep my distance enough to know that at any moment the call of the needle could entice him back. I have learned that heroin not only steals someones soul, but it also steals their self worth. This is where the Sanctuary comes in. 
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This is Ladybug. Ladybug is an abused pig who was found in a home that had 49 other animals all living in unsanitary conditions while being neglected. Ladybug was rescued by Happy Trails Animal Sanctuary and is the first smiling pig face you will see when you walk through the doors. 
What does my brother and Ladybug have to do with each other? Last summer my family and I visited the Happy Trails Animal Sanctuary. We were appalled by the abuse stories of the animals but at peace seeing them thrive at the sanctuary. Over the past 10 years I have watched my brother’s addiction consume his life wishing, praying, and hoping I could stop it. He has spent time clean and sober but has always gone back to the needle. Why is this? I believe that his purpose is lost on him. Heroin stole his self worth the first time he put a needle in his arm. Even when he finds sobriety his purpose in this life is still lost. He cannot find a job. Most of his friends, if not all, have moved on. His guilt over his addiction is all consuming and his confidence in himself is virtually non existent. The disease takes everything. But what if something could give him his life back? What if Ladybug could give him a purpose?
 
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My pitch for Citizens make Community Change is a Sanctuary for animals and addicts. The sanctuary would be a non profit recovery farm for both addicts and animals located in Northeast Ohio. Like a traditional animal sanctuary, abused animals would find a new home. Unlike the traditional animal sanctuary, the recovering addict would find themselves the caretaker of these abused and neglected animals. They would find a purpose in themselves by working on the farm, growing their own food, and taking care of the abused animals while simultaneously working on their own recovery. The results of their hard work would be seen in the rehabilitated animals which in turn would give back their sense of self that heroin stole from them. 
In between the time an addict gets out rehab, detox, or even prison, the addict often goes to a sober house. A sober is house is usually just a landlord who is supposed to make sure that the people who rent rooms are sober. The problem is this rarely happens. The houses are usually in underprivileged areas where drugs can easily be found and are often filled entirely of addicts. If one person in the house falls, they all fall. My brother has lived and relapsed in many sober houses over the past 10 years. Recently my brother found sobriety for the longest he has ever been sober. For 12 months he was clean. We had him back in our lives. My kids played with him, I laughed with him, and our family shared joy with him. And then he was gone again. Heroin found him through his roommate at the sober house where he lived. No more job, no more house, no more laughter. 
Sanctuary would replace the Sober House and could not only help my brother but all people suffering from the terrible disease of heroin addiction. Sanctuary would give addicts a place to live, an inspiring fulfilling job, and the opportunity to work on their own recovery alongside some of nature’s most damaged creatures.  They could find their own value  again through saving the lives of animals. Living at Sanctuary an addict will learn skills and tools in both the veterinary field and agriculture field. Sanctuary will help the addict find responsibility and value in themselves. Sanctuary is a place that an addict and an abused animal can find their purpose in life again. I believe that a heroin wildfire is spreading through our country and no one knows what to do about it. I believe that Sanctuary could play an active role in an addict’s journey to recovery both in Northeast Ohio and nationally and is part of answer to this epidemic that is very much needed.
Thank you for listening. 

The day of the pitch I was ready...or so I thought. I had it memorized, I was ready for questions. My squad was attending the event. I had my favorite black boots on. I was good to go. And then it was my turn. And then there were 40 people in front of me and I was about to talk about my brother's heroin addiction. I barely made it through. When I opened my mouth to speak, a flashback of everything our family has been through for the past 10 years hit me and my emotions and fear took over. What felt like 40 minutes was actually 9 and before I knew it my kids were giving me hugs and kisses and telling me how great I did. I didn't win 1st place (a judge did tell me I was the runner-up tho) but I did win something else. I won back the confidence in myself to write again and to share my ideas. That's always been my passion and unfortunately for me I let an unhappy sad man temporarily take it away from me. Not anymore. 

Silenced no longer, I feelzzzzz good.

 

 

Renee Zellweger

Yesterday the internet exploded because Renee Zellweger, a famous actress, went to a party and looked very different. She looked older (because she ages like a human being) and she looked like she had a few cosmetic procedures done, as her trademark cute squinty blue eyes were no longer squinty. She also looked a bit like she just had a facial or gotten waxed as her face resembled the after effects of both. She looked different for sure. 

Twitter exploded.

Facebook melted.

Anger and disdain were splashed on gossip magazine headlines.


3,000 tweets per hour with only 1% being reported. Ummmm thems a lot of tweets. 

Near the end of the day I found myself dealing with some bullshit that I thought was over and when opened Facebook to zone out on mindless pomp & circumstance I lost my shit. "Renee this, Renee that. I don't even know what that face is? Why would someone do that to themselves?" It was like #CLEBOLA all over again only this time an actual human face was the disease.

I spewed:

For me, Renee Zellweger is a perfect example of what a nihilistic fucked view on beauty & aging we have as a society. Renee made they choice to change her face, more specifically the feature of her face that all of us recognize and relate to, but that's her choice to make. You know what else? I am guessing that Renee has probably lived through years and years and years of people telling her that her eyes were to squinty or she looked like she was sleeping.  She probably had casting directors encouraging her to change her look and she most definitely had the entire beauty industry reminding her (like most of us) that we are NOT AS BEAUTIFUL as we should. While those eyes probably got her roles like Bridget Jones, they probably also lost her roles and landed her on the pages of US Weekly and TMZ in a not so flattering light. As a culture we create the doubt that is instilled in all of us about our looks. We support it, we embrace it, and we live by the code that our looks mean more than they really do. So how can be surprised when people drastically change the way they look?

Now I can't speak for RZ, as she is just a face to me like most of you, but I can say that we all could use a reminder every now and then of The Golden Rule. They teach it in first grade to 5 year olds and it seems like the collective internet may have played hooky that day. Let this be a gentle reminder...

Treat others how you would want to be treated.

It's simple for sure, but I have no doubt in my mind that everyone who spewed hatred and judgement towards a woman over her aging face yesterday probably would not wish for that to happen to them.

And if you wanna get botox, get it. If you want to get an eye lift get it. If wearing plaid and stripes makes you happy then by god wear plaid and stripes. Do what makes YOU happy.

Fuck everyone else.

 

Today a blogger, Tomorrow a TV Host

Sometimes the internet acts in the most peculiar ways. Last week we saw the internet raise over half a million dollars for a woman they didn't know who got bullied by the most monstrous children I have ever seen. My twitter friend Alana found herself in the midst of a social media frenzy after a review she posted about a fitness studio was eviscerated by the fitness studio owner on Twitter. The internet is a powerful tool sometimes and it seems that now I know first hand. Back in May I posted this on my Facebook page:

 

A local morning host had resigned and I just happened to be watching it go down on the telly. Without thinking I quickly posted to my facebook and my twitter. I was half joking but had always thought there needed to be more of a highlight on food on the local morning shows. Don't get me wrong, I love seeing chefs cook in the 'set kitchen' but there is SO much more in Cleveland related to food than 1 man or woman cooking. I went on with my day and completely forgot about what I had posted on the internet earlier that morning.

Fast forward a couple days later and I start receiving emails from people at WKYC who had seen my tweet. They were interested in having me co-host the morning show, would I be interested?  Nervously I accepted.

Tomorrow morning I will be co-hosting Good Company at 10am on WKYC. I am nervous as all hell but am kinda excited. On Friday I got an email of the segments and questions pertaining to them that I will spend all night reading and rereading. I am also cooking on the show some fun & healthy summer treats for the kids made with three ingredients. I would love it if you all would tune in and tweet and facebook and shout from the mountain tops about me co-hosting Good Company on WKYC. I need all the backup I can get.

For serious though, I am truly excited about this opportunity. Who knows what doors it will open or what will come of the experience? Maybe next year I'll be co-hosting on The Chew (watch out Michael, I'm coming for ya!). Heh heh. 

 

edible Cleveland

Family Foraging

The Chef and I have loved edible publication since our days in Brooklyn. We had a Sunday morning ritual that often involved a round of brie, a copy of edible Brooklyn, the boy, the dogs, and Prospect Park. We would sit under a tree and spend the afternoon eating stinky cheese, loving our baby, and reading about food. When we first moved back to Cleveland we had the idea of starting our own Edible mag. We even got so far as to drawing up the paperwork with the franchise but it came down to a choice for us financially. Starting a magazine and a restaurant at the same time wasn't the most attainable goal and since then had always hoped that someone would start an edible for our fair city.

This month our hopes became a reality and the first issue of edible Cleveland was introduced to the masses (and features an article written by yours truly!). edible Cleveland is a local food magazine that celebrates Northeast Ohio and the surrounding areas. The magazine feature stories about the food community that highlight everything that the Chef and I love about this state and gorgeous pictures of food, farm, and community life. Love. 

The generous people at eC have offered to giveaway a 1 year subscription of the mag to one of my fabulous Chef's Widow readers. To enter this amazing giveaway all you have to do is one or all of the following (1 entry for each):

  • Leave a comment telling me what you think Cleveland has that other cities/states don't have food wise. For example: The Chef feels that the Cuyahoga Valley rivals the Hudson Valley for food.
  • Tweet this link to this giveaway: Win a 1 year subscription to @edibleCleveland yo! http://tinyurl.com/6vjuku2  Leave a comment here with a link to your tweet.
  • Share on facebook & leave a comment her with a link to your FB.

 

One lucky winner will be picked this Friday! Good luck.