Author: Susie Wyshak

You Get More Fruit Flies With Fruit

“You have a remarkable flair for the obvious.” Sometimes I don’t. And sometimes the Internet doesn’t either. And this leads to my fruit fly story. This Fall I heard I wasn’t the only one for whom clusters of flies mysteriously appeared despite my not having any […]

What’s Better Than an Attitude of Gratitude ?

A practice of spreading gratitude! Yesterday Jason Womack changed my life. (You too can change someone’s life with one little comment!) I saw him speak for two days at Creative LIVE. As with other audience members, he upped my gratitude ante with an easy and […]

Savoring Life With Julia Child’s Abandon

Julia Child gave us excuses to cook with vermouth. How could I resist following her recipe for living with abandon?

Within hours of choosing “Rule #1: Live With Abandon,” I prepared to savor the challenge Karen Karbo put forth to bloggers to celebrate the release of her book Julia Child Rules: Lessons on Savoring Life.

Julia’s abandon would be a hard act to follow, at least according to the titillating Fear and Loathing-esque opener: “In the summer of 1946, Julia McWilliams and Paul Child drove across America. A bottle of vodka and a thermos of mixed martinis rolled around the backseat of Julia’s Buick.” All I could think was: “I want that.” Not the booze, the reckless joy of the open road.
Karbo makes a damn good point:
“My theory is that our real attachment to Julia is less about her cooking, or even about what she did for the cause of serious cuisine, and more about our admiration for her immutable aptitude for being herself…having the confidence to stand in front of a camera, week after week, without trying to change one thing about herself.”
If this “giant” of a woman could live with abandon without one whit of self-doubt, why not me? Why not you?

My Experiment in Living With Abandon

Abandon and freedom to “be” are not the same thing. I’d never really thought about abandon, although I’m no stranger to practicing child-like enthusiasm and spontaneity. However the idea of not questioning myself, ala Julia, would be  the real new experience. Sort of like not thinking during meditation.
“I’m never TOO anything for anything” would be my week’s mantra, as Karbo suggests.
It takes 2 for abandon (not really, but a pot bellied pig never hurts)

What that means is avoiding thoughts like “I’m too out of shape to date. I’m too old to learn guitar.”

Biking home after reading Chapter 1 on a gym exercycle, I switched gears. Literally. The chain came off. How possibly could this happen in the exact same spot the gears had gotten fucked up 6 weeks earlier? Only this time I could not for the life of me get the chain back on. “I’m not too lame to fix this,” I thought, as my first attempt. Hmm probably shouldn’t use a double negative in my attempt to be positive.

Although I did manage to squish two fingers between the chain and gear yet as cars whizzed by, visions of blood mixed with grease. This was not my vision of emulating Julia’s “save the giblets” Saturday Night Live parody.

I did not fix it but walked the bike home, pissed off, rushing to greet a friend on her way over for a lunch. Plan A had been a lovely time making stuffed grapeleaves. As it was, my hands were so blackened with grease I could hardly get my door open. I cursed my handyman while twisting the knob to get the door just right to close, with my weatherstripping-in-progress.

What would Julia do? After all, the book tells about how the day before her wedding she and Paul suffered a huge car crash, getting thrown from the car, only to move ahead the next day, bandages and all. “God I’m a whiner,” I thought. Julia would make the friggin grapeleaves and suck it up. And so I did. Sns vermouth.

The steaming dolmas fed my soul. My friend calmed me down, as we sat in the sun. My week of abandon would start then, post-bike fiasco. Whether due to my intention or coincidence, the week teemed with frivolity, including:

  1. A week full of dinner party house warmings and birthday celebrations
  2. An unlikely video interview and fabulous new food friends
  3. Other lusciousness that shall remain vague yet slathered with innuendo

And as the week progressed, the mantra to really did was help me be true to myself and my desires.

The Real Food for Thought

Karbo takes a few guesses at Julia’s secret abbondanza sauce:

“Maybe it was because Julia was always the tallest person in the room (beginning with her Montessori pre-school class), or because she was old (thirty-seven) when she discovered her passion for cooking, or because she was very old (fifty-one) and very tall and had that cartoon voice when she hit it big as The French Chef. But if she wanted to do something, she did it.”

Ironically most people would use being tall, old or a late bloomer as excuses for not being good enough and not likely to succeed. The experiment to not be too anything must live on. And I can’t wait to read the rest of the book. Carpe aging. Let’s #LiveLikeJulia

Scratching an Itch: How Much Would That Pina Colada Classified Ad Have Cost?

As someone who cut her teeth on classified ads — helping “New Age” gurus place classified ads in the likes of Yoga Journal, followed by a summer stint writing vry shrt ads for the SF Chronicle via the San Francisco Newspaper Association union, then non-buzzwordy […]

Why Own a Home ?

Why Own a Home ?

Redfin asked a simple question on Facebook: What is the BEST reason to own a home? The choices: A. No landlord B. Peace of mind C. Investment D. Decorating/home design I’ve gone through buying, owning, maintaining, paying for two Bay Area homes, the first which […]

How I Got Into the Food Business By Connecting the Dots

Back when California brie-style cheese was exotic, and chocolate truffles were a delicacy not yet spread beyond to Alice Medrich’s Berkeley chocolate shop, my life meandered from writing ads about yoga to writing ads about real estate to writing web sites about web servers.

Then my life changed in 2001 when a California farmer’s market vendor said: “You must be involved with Slow Food.” “Slow what?” I replied, soon shocked that I had never heard of this movement. I joined; met some amazing people; went to the Salone del Gusto the following year…and since then have only expanded my life long delight and passion for delicious locally grown, locally produced foods made by hand or by small producers.

In 2005 with a post about Oaxacan chocolate in Stanford I began blogging about food, still wondering: How and when will I ever seriously get involved with promoting small food producers?

I saw Foodzie mentioned in Springwise’s Trendspotting newsletter, described as “Etsy for food.” My reaction falls into trite: “Why didn’t I think of that!” Then again, even if I had it wouldn’t have been the right time or place. So I emailed the founding Foodzie.com team, we fell in love, and they hired me as the Food Artisan Relations Manager (FARM!). My dream came true, as I helped hundreds of American artisan food makers and farmers build their businesses–gathering a wealth of knowledge and connections in the process (reflected in my Nutty Fig blog).

Chocolate is in my blood, with many chocolatier friends,  a long history in the Bay Area chocolate scene, and an MBA thesis about giving chocolate as a gift. I started the Fair Trade chocolate program, cut my teeth (or got my fillings due to) a stint at Edelweiss Chocolates in Beverly Hills, and as you see here, grew up eating marzipan from a local German chocolatier.

While based in the San Francisco Bay Area, a world of food and sustainable farming draws me across the globe. 2010 found me connecting with artisan food makers and farmer’s markets in:

  • Northern California – SF Bay Area and Davis
  • New York City and Brooklyn
  • Maine – from Portland to Downeast
  • Oregon – the Rogue Valley and Portland
  • New York City (again!) for the New Amsterdam Market and Upstate
  • Southern California for LA Food Fest and more
  • Midwest cities with vibrant food scenes: Ann Arbor, Chicago and Madison

If you’re bringing up children, know that a love for good food starts young. Here’s more on how I became a foodie and locavore while growing up in LA.

Want to Get Into Food?

Start your dots in any number of ways:

  • Talk to folks at businesses or non-profits reflecting your desires.
  • Peruse Good Food Jobs for ideas.
  • Volunteer locally to get a flavor for the kinds of jobs you’re considering.

THEN follow up…and keep connecting the dots using your intuition, while noticing coincidences and things you might overhear.

I can help you with your search or coach you on this process, which you can apply in other walks of life!

Prioritizing What To Do At Any Moment

I was perusing email with the phrase “oh ya that” popping up all too many times. Which made me mull over how we’re so often tugged in many directions, usually with minutiae nagging at us like a hungry puppy. Here’s the quick thought process I […]

2013 World Domination Summit Recap: How I Discovered Adventure, Service, Community

Why the hell was this post so hard to write? The short answer is that I kept changing what I wanted to say. Should I recap what I learned? What I expected? Where I’m going from here? Is it about me or is it about […]

What I Did Instead of Posting My World Domination Summit Update

What I Did Instead of Posting My World Domination Summit Update

If the 2013 World Domination Summit wasn’t overwhelming enough with fabulous people connecting right, left, in parks and at informal get togethers, writing a recap is well…a multi-part process, soon to emerge among the first posts on my very own blog (ending a 12 year trend of writing on other blogs rather than under my own domain!)

So what does one do if not finally complete a recap?

Answer: Live the optimal life of metaphorical world domination.

So what is this so-called “world domination?”

When people ask what this phrase means (as the border guards did more than once with travelers from abroad attempting to enter the U.S.) I usually mumble something about dominating your life, mainly doing what you want.

The official mantra: Adventure ~ Service ~ Community

#wds2013I look at ASC as a homonym (remember that word?) for “ask.” Asking is always so important, whether with strangers or people you know, to:

  • get opinions and reality checks
  • request help
  • find out more about something

Asking and offering was a huge part of the summit and it’s what makes for an optimal life as a free spirited creator, whether nomadic or firmly planted in a community.

“Adventure, service and community”  resonated with me perhaps more than anything specific said at the summit. When I first saw that mantra, I knew I’d found my “tribe,” and I secretly thought of the summit as a Burning Man without the desert and effort.

So how does ASC translate into daily life? Here’s how I chose to spend the day rather than finish my “real” recap of WDS:

  1. Counsel a friend who may be evicted from senior housing.
  2. Write at a great local cafe and visit some local businesses.
  3. Catch up with neighbors on both sides of the fence, one socially and one to majorly glean apricots, raspberries and lemons from the yard.
  4. Deal with email forwarding issues and computer backups.
  5. Plan an international voyage.
  6. Connect with many folks I met at #WDS2013 on LinkedIn and Facebook (Tess Vigeland, future talk show host extraordinaire (just my prediction) liked my post…it’s the little things like nested parentheses that count).
  7. Connect folks with each other, following up on the many promises to help fulfill their quests via introductions to possible team mates.
  8. Call my dad to offer to read an article to him.
  9. Chat with a friend by phone.
  10. Ponder a series of interesting foods for weekend parties.
  11. Prepare for a potentially awesome new assignment.
  12. Exercise via bike (combining fun with a workout).
  13. Write this post instead! It really flowed…and as they discovered in Creativity in Business, doing what’s easy, effortless and enjoyable at any one time is an unbeatable way to live.

apricotsYa my to-do list is giving me dirty looks. Yet who can ask for anything more than connecting with people and for people, communing with loved ones, enjoying each moment?

While picking the fruit, my neighbor and I exclaimed that reaching high into branches heavily weighed down with fruit is the stuff that makes life worth living. If having and taking the time to get acquainted with people nearby and enjoying our fruits isn’t world domination then you can count me out!

susie wyshak at bob's red mill
Bob Moore spoke at the World Domination Summit 2013 about how after the company burnt down he decided to rebuild and eventually make the company employee owned. What an honor to meet him on his stomping grounds, yet as I thought my opportunity had been lost. (I thought of waiting for him outside the hall in Portland, like a concert groupie.)

More to come on WDS. For now if I don’t hit PUBLISH I may just get on with my life of local  domination. 🙂