"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive, and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style."
That quote is my spirit animal.
I fell in love with writing when I was really young. I loved to write before I loved to eat. Along with being an expert photographer and gardener, my late grandpa wrote best-selling books on how to write. We would sit in his basement on the weekends and he'd read my seventy page "book" about Tanya and her unicorn, smiling and assuring me that this was the one. I like to think that his gifts, spirit, and passion live on in me.
Like all things in life, that passion ebbs and flows. There are times when I can't wait to feel the keys beneath my fingertips and there are times when the thought of opening my laptop gives me a migraine. In the early years, it was far more the former. The blogging world was less saturated, less competitive, and less serious. I felt little to no pressure to make the titles of my recipes searchable on Google and to make images that everyone and their brother would want to pin twice. I felt free to curate content around what made me happy.
The beauty of growth is the opportunity to turn your hobby, turn what you love, into a career. The downside is just that---it's no longer your hobby. I love it just as much as I always have, but I'd be lying if I said it was the same.
Moving on! Anyone that knows me knows that I'm a really emotional person, almost to a fault. While I have a good sense of humor and an affinity for sarcasm, I'm equally as sensitive. I know how to read people. I'm compassionate. I've always prided myself on being a leader, on having an unwavering sense of integrity, on making doing the right thing "cool." While I love to have a good time, I've always been the moral one, the one that doesn't drink more than I can handle, the one that makes sure everything gets done. I don't pretend I'm something I'm not. I know 100% who I am and I'm completely comfortable with my identity. That's rare, and it's surely not something I take for granted.
But when people ask me what I do, I still have to pause and think about it. Ummm, I'm a...food blogger? I have this website with...healthy recipes? And we have this cafe...and I'm a dietitian.
"Food blog." Is that what this is? Is that what I am?
Sure, I love food. And yes, I love inspiring others to embrace food in a positive, healthy way. But I also love writing in general and talking to you about inanimate objects and clothes and music and my personal life and the places I'm going. To say that I'm a food blogger does not do me nor my dreams nor this space justice.
The whole blogging as a business thing may be a nice perk, but it's not what I nor many bloggers I know set out to do when they started out five years ago. I've said it before and I'll say it again. It is not easy to identify myself as a plant-based food blogger when I have so many friends and clients that suffer from disordered eating, often fueled by an internal need to go vegan. I also feel at odds balancing the need to generate an income that validates the time invested in this space with sponsored brand work that I'm not sure my audience will fully understand.
With all the moral challenges that presented themselves this year, it was still a great one and I know it made me stronger. I'd say it was the best year yet both for me and for Alchemy. I was named a Tastemaker, Slow Food Delegate, and Top Ten Dietitian. I spoke at FNCE on behalf of balance and entrepreneurship. I traveled to Florence, Turin, San Francisco, Boston, D.C., Louisville, and Nashville.
Alchemy is thriving with another location or two on the way. We were chosen as a top 100 Yelp business and made the 2016 list of top 100 places to eat in Columbus for the second year in a row. The blog could sustain me on its own if I ever wanted to go that route, but I don't. All of that is fine and dandy but what I hold closest to my heart about this year is that this brand and myself as a dietitian (are those two different things?) have become known for inspiring others and for preaching balance and joy. That is my success. Why? Because being that person to you is honestly the highest reward I can imagine coming from this platform. I feel more connected to my followers than ever.
What do I want out of 2017? I want to put less pressure on myself. I want to rediscover all the joy in this again. I want my Instagram feed to not be three million pictures of food. I want my content across all platforms to be driven not by what's expected of me, but by what compels me. I want to talk about what I want to talk about, damn it!
I want to work with fewer brands and put quality over quantity. I want to find the magical balance of running a successful business without it sucking my passion dry. I want to dive deeper into my relationships, be more present, and not be a giant stress ball. I want to put my heart and soul into Alchemy more than ever before and share more about what that journey has been like with you. If my growth in terms of page views stunts as a result, that's okay with me. The goal for this blog has never been and never will be world domination.
I want Hummusapien to be a brand known not just for plant-based recipes, but for inspiration, for entrepreneurship, for balance, for positivity, for humor, for travel, and maybe even for fashion. Because guess what? I like my new booties just as much if not more than the flourless cookies I posted last week. And I want to TRAVEL! I want to explore the unknown, photograph turquoise doors, and inspire you with visuals that don't involve kale or coffee or donuts.
There is so much more to me, to Hummusapien, than food. This is not just a food blog. I am more than a food blogger. I'm here to inspire, to motivate, to teach, and to make you laugh. If you find a new recipe on the way, that's stupendous.
Times change. Trends change. People and passions evolve. At the end of the day, if you feel an eighth of the excitement that I feel when I share with you a restaurant, a scarf, a destination, or a freaking notebook, then I'm doing my job right.
I don't think blogs will live forever. And that's okay. My only hope is that what I transcend to you along the way in words and thoughts and pictures will.
Thank you Photo 243 for the beautiful photos. Fashion details coming soon!