Friday, July 20, 2012

Sign, What Sign?

Somewhere, just below me - or all around me, the strains of the 70's song, 'signs, signs, everywhere there are signs' is bouncing against the rocky precipice that forms the house's platform and coincidentally upon which I am, metaphorically, perched at this moment. For those of you who don't know I live in the beautiful BVI. 
It's been a year of great discovery and what once felt like I was dropping out or escaping became a place of awakening for me - and if you've never been here, lemme tell you it's about as dense as any third world country. 
So again, I'm presented with a dichotomy, not necessarily a polarity. I've seen relationships come and go and somehow in this particular shade of darkness, I've found my light- that which burns within me. 
I also found my own self love, something I never thought would happen - after all I've been the man of many faces, and facades - none of which where every wholly me and although fun to play with always, and ever, marginalized my self worth
But I digress...... 

So, what was presenting was to leave here.

Looking back I can easily recognize that my time here was because my higher levels wanted - inviting me really -  to heal; not with any type of mitote or shamanistic ritual but rather it was simple as having the guts to go direct, that I was, indeed, worth it and equal to the task at hand - which as it turned out was forgiveness.
So, I could, in fact, leave here with 'my' head held high and reinvigorated by my life and it's possibilities.
Now know this one very important thing about me, I've spent my life being the rescuer, protector and spent most of that time carrying those that I love (as opposed to simply caring for them and the slippery slope that that choice presents)

So for me to make this decision, at this point in my life is HUGE.
The last time I did something like this based solely on what will bring me joy was the night I left home after my high school graduation.
Now before any you start congratulating me, I just wanna say that :

Right now I'm kinda freaked out.
Ya, kinda - lmao
Cause before today it was all talk.
Last night I went to sleep asking my higher levels to show me, just freekin show me... I mean I have had conversations around this and prospects but, in my life before awakening, I never made a move unless there was a job waiting for me - right now I can here my mother's voice 35 years - maybe a hundred years ago - 'Adam, don't make a move until you have something secured' 

Fascinating word, 'secured, secure......scared' I wonder what it really means.

So, in 'the I absolutely have no f****** idea club' I declared that it was time for me to move on; way out on the very tiny, thin branches - without a plan, job, exit strategy, on a wing and a barely whispered prayer.
So, this morning, listening to someone - the higher me?, I stopped in to office of the warehouse manager to see when I had to drop my personal effects (affects?) at the port for shipping. He told me, after a phone call confirmation, that TODAY was the cut off, cause the boat to the good ole USA only sails once a month. 

So I filled out the paperwork by noon, then went home to finish packing.
Now I had been 'dawdling packing'
You know the type - kinda maybe sorta packing but not so in deep that if something happened, one could very easily just unpack - right?
Still everything was staged just so, that if the call did come, it could be completed easily enough But by 4pm? 
Fer cryin out loud......
Now I had someone come down with me, which didn't work out but the break up was amiable enough, but now II had the additional chore of executing the physical separation predicated by the emotional one......not a big deal, just another detail.
I was struck by how little was 'mine' and how much was 'hers'
I got it all down to the port before the deadline - how? I have no idea....
So now, sitting here, bathed in my own sweat, I am surrounded by nothing that is really mine; was any of it really mine or was it an illusion that my ego became attached to?
I have no clue
The only thing I think I know is that there is nothing separating me from my inner guidance and even though my ego is completely apoplectic - he might even need an epi-pen before this is all over, everything WILL work out perfectly, especially when I don't know - or can not even barely conceive of what that will look like.
Shit, gotta run - the warehouse guy just called and told me that there is still a document that I need to sign before they can ship my stuff...
Has anyone seen my passport?

A Meme of Panic

update -kinda sorta
last night I dreamed that I lost all my teeth
I can still feel them laying in my hand as I spit them out then scattered them on the earth, like johnny apple-seed but not really sure what I was planting 
Couldn't quite make out what the dream meant, if anything
Today it was whispered to me, not long after I remembered the dream, that this was a metaphor - or my reality now - for me to start discarding all of my old paradigms, ways of being, personalities and ego conversations; that they will, indeed, no longer serve me - and as useless, need to be exorcised (my word)
And I get to 'grow' new ones to replace that which will not serve me any longer moving forward - forward and out beloved, for what choice do we have?
We're all headed out, either as a willing, co-creating participant or dragged along kicking and screaming.
RIGHT after that my ego piped up, 'you're not that easily rid of me, b*** - how about these feelings????'
And then they descended - fear, panic, loss, negative self worth - the whole kit and caboodle - can anyone relate?
I was struck at how beautiful they were - the feelings, even the negative ones; so complete, convincing, conniving, calculating...they were so intricate - really a wonder to behold.
Yet separate - but wait how can that be?
Are they not me?
Are they not a part of me?
Who am I without them?
Dammit, this was a conundrum....I 'saw' them, 'tasted' them, I even crawled inside of them to see them from inside out and finally came to the conclusion that,not that I know anything of course but maybe, just maybeI can live my life, and this incredible adventure before me...without them - or more appropriately a new one:
I know I'm not out of the wilderness yet, or maybe will never be but the fear does not define me, not anymoreI know now that I can find, and enjoy playing with, the middle ground - neither completely gagged by my emotions or so removed from my experience that I am above them - I mean were's the fun in that?
Let's Rock!

Friday, March 16, 2012

"And now for something completely different..."

   So I've been diligently compiling material for a book in progress for the last couple of years. I was so proud of myself, including quantum mechanics, arcane references that only a few would get and nifty quotes from historical figures that no one remembers.
  It got away from me and became this cumbersome tome that, try as I might, eluded all my efforts to make it readable.
  I sent drafts to friends, who sheepishly told me weeks later that they hadn't been able to get through it.
  Rare praise indeed.
  Not their fault at all.
  I felt like Andy Kaufman, creating jokes that only one other person in the room gets.
  I, like many others, are influenced by others that got there first.
  I had to get over my own self judgement as someone who couldn't possibly have something more profound to say than others already had; what could my voice possibly add to the discourse that had already taken place.
  Did I really need to be more clever than the rest and if I did, how would that water down the spirit of what I was trying to get across?
  As someone who prides himself as verbose I was uncharacteristically quiet, dissuaded by my own criticism to continue to try.
  Then I met Gabrielle Hamilton.
  We met at Kimball House in the DR at a social function and based on everything I had learned about her, I was eager to get her advice.
  If you've never seen this house check out this link:
  She asked me one simple question, "Adam, what's your book about?"
  And in that moment I realized how far I had overreached; stammering and blabbering about this and that, vainly trying to convince her that it was worth her time even speaking about it.
  She was kind as she gently stopped me.
 "Adam, just tell a good story"
  Good story, hell I got plenty of them, I thought.
  In that place, in less time that it took me to explain my book to her she had slashed through the bullshit to the core of the matter.
  I had gotten away from the story - my story, and no one can tell that story better than me.
  So Goodbye to "Kanji in the Kitchen" and Hello to 'The Dream of the Dance, the lifetime pursuit of one perfect culinary moment"
  Thanks Gabrielle for your insight, can't wait to come to Prune and eat like the hedonist I am

Friday, January 6, 2012

P in P #6 - Be Where You're At - Have What You Have

 I've been struggling lately until someone forced me to remember that "all is, essential, well" and sometimes I just need to get out of my own way.
      excerpt from 'Kanji in the Kitchen'

11 ~ Be Where You’re at, Have What You Have
Or, no matter where you go, there you are.

“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”
                                                                               ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

It’s always works out perfectly even if we don’t know what that looks like, especially when going through a particularly stressful situation, like the one I experienced early in my career at Charley’s Crab in Ft. Lauderdale back in the early 90’s.

             Back then it was a highly regarded operation that was all about balancing quality with volume. There was a special kind of madness that ruled this very busy restaurant as will happen when young men have a little too much power and not enough common sense. Greg had come from Colorado with his young family for a fresh start and he was clearly over qualified for the position but to my amazement and relief he accepted the position. He worked for me as my Sous Chef and it was, all in all, a grand time for all involved.
At one point as I was cutting fish in the cooler and as Greg was counting out his line stock for the night he quietly said to me that I was the first Chef he had worked with that he hadn’t actively tried to burn down. He hadn’t stopped counting his fish as he spoke matter-of-factly, never really explaining why but I somehow got that it was some sort of compliment. I didn’t say a word and he kept right on setting up his line,
Somewhere between expediting 300 early birds, doing shots of tequila at the service bar, stripping naked at the beach and Alan Zimmer playing a Blues in E on the piano in the dining room for his Sunday night guests dressed in just his underwear and clogs, three years went by and it was time to part ways.
Greg had finally got the promotion to his own store that he so richly deserved. By that time Zim had washed out, Sparky had been canned and Doc did just what he had to do to get by each shift with his sanity.
Greg left at the beginning of the busiest quarter of the year. It felt like we were getting divorced and I got the kids and yet life, funny enough, went on. The restaurant needs went on unabated and there were still guests to be fed, crew to lead and owners to satisfy. Simply said, the show still had to go on albeit at a disproportionate disadvantage. 
            The separation had been a potent and effective force within the little social laboratory that was our kitchen; Greg had an excellent skill set, a mystical sense of taste, a great sense of humor and a tenacity to get the job done regardless of the circumstances unlike any I had been party to before.
            A man, I’m sure you would agree, that would be sorely missed, by none more so than me for I drew strength from him as a professional and a sense of community from him as a person. Into this breach I found myself, a little less sure and a bit more stressed. His absence necessitated a drastic shift to the game plan, crew schedule and major changes to the priority list of things to keep an eye on, which egos to massage and practically anything else required getting through the next shift.
            The person most affected by this change was me but not in the ways I might have previously thought. Sure, I’d worked seven days for the last three weeks but I had found myself somehow mysteriously charged and energetic; able to knock down twelve hours in a single bound although my body moaned inwardly a little more than in the past when I used to throw myself around the kitchen with wild abandon, sacrificing all else for the sake of that last plate up banquet.
Perhaps more painful of all was the sacrifice I made to my wife and children, short lived as it may be. While my career situation changes from year to year their presence in my life does not and all that they require is merely my presence, nothing greater or less. Even they found constructive ways with which to use their new found time together.
            It had been a challenge day after day; keeping focused on the most immediate need while somehow coming up with the solution of how I would staff two carving stations at the same time when I had no one available, save a dishwasher or two.
            I had always appreciated all that Greg had done and shifting his responsibilities onto myself as well as working at accomplishing all that I had to do those past weeks was a frustrating white knuckled experience given that we were up 15% over the last year and up 15% each and every year for the past three.
While the increased revenue makes for happy owners, crew with overtime and guests who get to experience an operation on its game, those kind of numbers puts an incredible burden on staff morale, physical plant integrity and FFE inventories.
            So much so that one wonders if the damage done could be repaired to heart and hearth until, that is, when you hear the echo of honest laughter coming from the pantry and in that raw moment you know, it’s all going to end up fine.
            Suffice it to say that there was more irony apparent here than I wanted to look at then, but look, I did.
            As much chaos as a change like this can breed it can also be fertile ground in which plant the seeds of greatness.
            Changes such as these often become highly charged catalysts, bringing about a positive change with far greater ramifications than had only been dreamed of. Suddenly the possibility to move the mission forward in significant and substantial ways loomed just over the horizon, more attainable than ever before.
            Crew who had been chomping at the bit to show the true measure of their mettle now had the opportunity to make their voices heard. A chance to reconcile attitudes and abilities; entering into a commitment of creating real growth through coaching or mentor-ship, to really show them just how valuable they were to us by increasing their value through training, both on site and off, a plan that would get them to where they dreamt to be. Systems that heretofore had been merely acceptable could now go through an evolution so that they, not only, could quantify the information but make it accessible and, low and behold, understandable.
            We are all too often simply human and with all things being equal and given just enough time to make anything a ‘routine’, we fall into a place of comfort. Comfort being different from complacency though both can be dangerous without careful consideration.
Several months later I stood on a Saturday night and marveled at the man/metal organism that was that kitchen, alive, organic, pulsing, as it danced its way through the night’s reservation list with a grace and effectiveness that made short work of orders and special requests; precision incarnate.
            At that moment I knew that this was going to be the crew that took us through season, breaking numbers without breaking a sweat.
The crew had changed, not for the worse, but for the better. Nobody’s fault, none right or wrong, it just was. The loss of one of its leaders had not deterred this group of individuals brought together for a common purpose but instead reunited them, reinvigorated them, recommitted them to the mission that they, together, chose to make manifest every day that they punched the clock and donned their aprons.

Be where you’re at, have what you have.
Never had I heard more valuable words for I knew there were times when I was, and when I wasn’t. Then I knew, at any moment, I could choose to be present and connected. Sometimes it isn’t pretty but it’s so much better than arguing for your circumstances.
            New blood and renewed exercise can bring back damaged muscle and repair it; maybe not to what it was but it often builds into something new. It becomes capable of things that it never could have accomplished before, regardless of the effort used to bring it about. I could have easily slipped into melancholy about what I had lost or how things could have been different but in the end I chose to have what I have, be present and look for the opportunities that existed right there before me.
            Something to be said for change, hard as it may be for the heart to bear at times; or so some of us would have us believe. ¨

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pilgrim in Paradise #5

Today I feel stronger, steadier - more grateful.
Grateful for the work, for the moment - lighter and moving with more purpose.
Phone calls to the family help; the music I crammed into a 500G hard drive is proving to be a balm for sore nerve endings. How can it be that music, for some people, is an incidental pleasure - like supermarket muzak; emotional wallpaper that merely dresses and not defines the moment?
Today I feel like I can make a difference, I can sense another shift within; one that will support me in breaking through all my doubts and fears.
A Food & Beverage Director without the title, a Chef with not one kitchen but 4 - a leader without an expectation of followers - I can see the right in it and that will be enough for me to take some small action, every day; in order to make the lives of these people a bit better - if only for this moment.

That will be enough.

I must take a moment and give my thanks to those in my life who have stepped in to show me another way of being, and by their clear example have given me something to grasp onto, in order that I might pull myself up - one rung at a time.


Stand Tall & Frosty My Brothers and Sisters because we all stand together - even if apart.
Never Doubt It

Blessings, Beloved

Monday, November 7, 2011


Well, I've been on island for about 3 weeks and I wish I could say that it's been smooth sailing - I find myself missing my loved ones, my family and friends very much. I'm working on making new friends but no one can ever replace the family that I've been blessed with.

Work is a good remedy for my weakness and I'm reminded of a story that I know well but was reminded of by my mother:

My father, after discharge from the Coast Guard, got a job with a meteorological company in Boston. Little did he know that once hired, the company would send him packing to 1957 Cuba. After a couple of weeks he called his mother complaining that he was lonely, couldn't eat the food, couldn't speak the language and the water had him running for the latrine every half hour.

The Grand Dame, freed from a selfless life with a demanding man who had done the only right thing by dropping dead, was living her life large and didn't really want her youngest son around to dampen her groove. She told him, I'm sure in the kindest way, to suck it up - be a man, stand up and step in.

He did, and in the doing, found a love - several really, that would define his life and fill him with a joy of laughter, that he would change the course of his life in such a profound way that it;s impossible to think of the ole man any other way.

So, with his example in mind, I'll quit my pining and bitchin; and look forward for a change - forgetting for the moment what lay behind me; after all I don't want to fail to recognize any opportunity for joy that may present itself in this moment.

And, in doing so, may I serve as an example to my children and my friends that life is worthy of risk.
Lord knows I love you all so.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pilgrim in Paradise #3

   Waiting, waiting, planning, revising the plan, going to sleep with no other thought bouncing around, excpet the plan,  only to wake up in mid conversation about how this could all go wrong, and, how it all could go so massively right.
  Unable to take another step forward because of government bureaucracy there seemed to be a new path layed out in the apartment every day as boxes and bins started to fill the space where furniture had once sat, given gladly away to anyone who would brave the three flights and forty stairs to retrieve it - what would come, what would go and what could stay, at least for the time being
  An essential question started to be bandied about - jokingly at first, then as each day passed the answers took on more urgency, more introspection, more stress but the rationale offered were no less any clearer:
  What does one REALLY need in order to make an apartment feel more like a home than a vacation rental? How far is the trip to the nearest big box store and how much toilet paper should be used as stuffing against the fragile items placed in the bins?
  Heated arguments spilled over into unsuspecting conversation where it became apparent that asking the question felt more like a critique - a judgement then simple physics.
  There's only so much room to ship, to store and to display; how can one make a decision based on a space sight unseen?
  Certainly comfort is not too much to ask for when one senses that the job at hand will require much mental and physical effort but really - what is important - non negotiable?
  A great pair of shoes, check
  Monkey Butt Talcum Powder - how does one survive a kitchen shift in the tropics, neat the equator without it?
  Iron, spray starch - purely mechanics; what about something that feeds the head - art, music, incense, yoga mats - how are they any less necessary than your favorite fruit mix or pictures of family and friends?
  In the end, I felt like having a good old fashion bon-fire because once the flames consume old menus, song lyrics that don't make sense any more or reams of notepads, calculations, inspiration and solutions - surely they worked once, couldn't they be counted on again in the another, yet unforeseen crisis -there would be nowhere to go but forward, the fire having consumed the past.
  Or was it all just clutter?
  Maybe the real treasure, the one worth keeping, feeding and building was what resided in my mind, my spirit - my soul, all of which could be counted on to come up with a new solution, to a new problem, in a new age.
  Boxes were unpacked and rearranged - some begrudgingly, even bordering on the bitter - some because it didn't make sense to fight over one more box of memorabilia. There would be battles ahead that would require much more effort than this - this was, after all, not really important.
  Our health - now that was important
  Our spiritual quest, our daily sharpening of the saw - that was really important
  Nourishing our body and our spirit - at last compromise was met
  The path through the apartment changed daily, really confusing the cat - me, I just wanted to make it to the bathroom without a minor mistake occurring.
  That's how time was spent, waiting.
  And then came the call; several really - one right after the other along with blazing scenes of deja vu; so strong I had to turn my head in the moment and question whether I was imagining it or not - but I knew better.
  And then, there was no more waiting; time, it seemed, was a premium - and one not to be wasted on trivialities - now I had to get moving..
  After a month on I got an email from someone making an offer on the Vibe
  My first response of any kind - email, phone call - or shout over the back fence for the entire time it was listed
  My trusty blue 2005 Pontiac Viberator GT, who had sat dormant  - unheeded and uninspired in the want ads for a month with nary a bite, nothing, zitch, bubkuss - suddenly had become a hot property.
  It sold in a day.
  I had three payments left
  6 years and 16% interest and suddenly - it was gone
  And so was my last key

 Those of you who have been following my progress as a Pilgrim in Paradise know that, by now, I have winnowed down my possessions to a single key.
  One last key remained of my attachments to the life I had previously known, and lived and now when  I had given it away, willingly I might add at my asking price, I felt...
  Relieved, at the reality of no more car payments - no, I had gotten good at budgeting
  Jubilant at the end of 6 years of usury - not exactly, I had signed on the bottom line after all

  Mainly I just felt......
  That's what I felt, completely and utterly naked -
  Not the nakedness of someone stripped and laid bare without their consent; this was a freeing nudeness - one taken on willingly, joyously, one to be celebrated with a romp, a dance and maybe even a song
  Well maybe not yet - I have one or two steps left before I jump this rock and emigrate to a new and exciting land - one where an apartment awaits although I have no idea what it looks like or what's in it.
One where a car awaits for me, although I have no idea what make and it didn't seem too important to ask; I, after all, now need a car - and right now, any that works will do
  I have a job waiting for me to fill with enthusiasm, intelligence, good humor and the energy of a novice.
  Yes, this time, I'm going in celebrating that which I do not know, reveling in that fact that there is much to learn and I am an eager student.
  All that awaits me but for now I have several more days to love my friends and family up and make the most of the moments I have left here.
  Stay Tuned my Friends - tomorrow I promise to tell you where I am going - your gonna love it!
  Tall & Frosty now
  Yes - all my love