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The most important lesson I learned from my chef husband

February 1, 2013 in Expectations, Learning, Life

Before you begin… read here. *Caveat: This is a long one. Get your coffee.

Something BIG happened to me a few months ago.

Something I had never imagined happening.Truthfully, I didn’t even know it was possible to happen to me and ever since it has, I feel like I’ve been constantly in a game of tug of war in my head.

I’m still in shock I even comprehend whats happening and I’m somehow envisioning that I’ll wake up and find out that I passed out somewhere and realize that this is all a crazy dream.

The reason why I am even telling you this is because of my hunch that you too, RIGHT NOW, are struggling just like I have/am still, and if you have the chance to experience what I am, I predict you will feel the same way I’m feeling now.

It’s something that, before experiencing what I experienced… was the SOLE cause for my copious arguments with my chef husband. It’s what infuriated me about him,  was the reason why “How old are you?” passed through my lips, and when the tide was high, still had me wondering if we REALLY had what it took to actually make it, long term.

It’s what kept me on MY side of the fence… and him on his. Without a bridge to connect us.

I wish I was kidding you.

It’s something that I was so… unwilling to budge on; something that I NEVER saw any other way but my own, that the fact that I am sitting here, typing this out is still sorta freaking me out.

It’s probably the same situation going on for you and when you hear what I have experienced… I only HOPE that you will take me seriously enough to maybe give it a try sometime. *Note to self: ha ha, just did it there… keep reading.

Because, my dear significant others, It is starting to change my life.

Let me WARN you…me telling you what I’m about to tell you is not going to magically make all your frustrations with your restaurant man/woman disappear.  What I discovered is SO engrained in the fiber of who I am (probably you too) that I am still struggling to let go of my belief in it, right now.

Ever since experiencing this… It has changed my understanding of my husband, why he does what he does, and has actually brought us closer together, because of it.

I know… “Enough already, Kerilyn… you gonna keep us hanging forever?”

No. I just want to make SURE you’re paying attention because for 90% of us… this is going to be BIG for you as well.

I want to warn you this is going to push your buttons.. you might not want to continue reading. But please do.

This is the ROOT of your frustration.

Are you ready? *I wish I could pinky swear you before you continued reading.

Okay… I never understood why my husband was seemingly OBLIVIOUS to things around him. I always felt like he’s never been concerned with the future… he never really thinks about the past… and is just here. In the moment. He doesn’t really think about much other than what’s going on… RIGHT NOW. I have always felt like he’s walking around with blinders on… only seeing what’s right in front of him.

That said, he’s told me and I’ve heard from some of his staff that when he’s at work, he’s got to be and is ON TOP of everything that happens in the kitchen. Since he is responsible for everything that comes out of the kitchen, I guess he has to take a wider view of what’s going on. Everything coming at him at one time, making on the fly decisions, in order to make the kitchen run smoothly.

You know… donning the CAPE and all.

But as soon as he gets off the line, he’s back to living in the moment without much thought about what’s happening next or yesterday.

Then there’s me.

I’m always thinking about whats ahead for us, the future, my next goal or project or what to cross off my To Do list. From grocery shopping, to planning a family, considering how I plan to grow my mission here, I am constantly considering the steps it’s going to take to get to point B… and am regularly taking action to get there, as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Frankly, it’s a full time job to just do that… consider the past and the future.

It has always frustrated me that my husband is always seemingly happy. He lives in the moment and is happy to just go with the flow of many things in his life. He’s rarely upset and is just happy to spend time with me when he can… and since he enjoys what he does, and where he is, he is never thinking about a next move.

 I call him my Happy Buddha.

Source:  Pinterest

Frankly, I never got it and it frustrated the hell out of me.

I mean, there is always tomorrow to think about. Tomorrow and next week, and next year. You know, forward movement, right?

Hell, that’s why I became a coach, for Petes sake.

But no, he’s not concerned about that… he’s just happy to be wherever he is. NOW.

Honestly, It pissed me off. It caused arguments. It easily frustrates me.

It left me feeling like why isn’t he thinking about what’s next? About what we’re doing on our ONLY day off together?

Why isn’t he knocking things off his “To Do” list?

I mean, this house isn’t going to clean itself, man.

Of course he couldn’t really see what I was saying, except to continually ask me to look at which one of us is happy or not.

He’s happy, I’m not.

I’m not happy. He’s right.

I’m so focused on what’s next on my agenda, that I have twisted myself up in a KNOT. And as you know when you comb your wet hair out..

KNOTS are not fun.

I don’t know how I got to this point, but somehow I thought I was “happier” to continually focus on what is next, instead of even contemplating about what’s happening NOW, that where I was here today was no longer an option.

And add to that all the limiting beliefs that are mixed in with thinking about the future… vs. being happy now.

I mean, focusing on myself in this very moment, doing what makes me HAPPY right now means that I’m:

  • Selfish
  • Self Centered
  • Immature
  • Irresponsible


And that’s EXACTLY how I felt my husband was. All those things above.

But he was right, I spent more time unhappy than happy. Frustrated than at peace.

I realized this wasn’t working like I thought it would. Something had to give.

I don’t remember the exact moment that it hit me…but when it did, I had a flash where I thought about RIGHT HERE… NOW. Not tomorrow.

Ironically… placing all my energy on where I am right here in the moment, I surprisingly found myself…. Happy (er)

It was sort of amazing. I felt happy first, then instantly on its coat tails, were also the same adjectives that I listed above.

Mostly selfish and irresponsible. Like “must be nice.”

I find it interesting that I wasn’t able to be happy for long. That I naturally and quickly went back to my default,

Futuristically frustrated.

I didn’t understand it but I wanted to. I was determined to.

So, with a little help from my own coach, I’ve discovered that I, am a HOPE ADDICT.

Yep, you heard me. Someone who is addicted to hoping.

I’m addicted to thinking about the next thing and the next thing… because somehow,

Until I achieve/acquire/attain all these goals I’ve set for myself, I believe I don’t deserve to be happy. WHA????


Let’s dive into this. Are you always thinking about the future? The next thing and the next thing?

Are you always frustrated with your restaurant man/woman because they seem not to even care about whats happening around him/her?

Do you have a hard time relaxing and being in the moment? Can’t even watch a movie without thinking about cleaning up after dinner?  *Psst, most of us are.

When you think about being in the moment, do you naturally gravitate toward thinking you are being irresponsible? Immature?

Do you think that only RICH people have the luxury of being frivolous with their time?

Why is that? Can you pinpoint the root of why you feel that way?

I betcha that it comes from believing that you too… don’t deserve to be happy UNTIL…

You don’t have time to be happy. (sound familiar?)

Happy is for other people (while secretly, it’s all you ever wanted.)

I told you, it was going to push your buttons. I know it pushes mine. For now, we’re going to just focus on experiencing another way, trying to dig out the root of why we feel we don’t deserve to be happy is a post for another day (I mean look how long this baby is already, right?)

Maybe you heard it from your parents, your teachers. *99% of what we believe comes from OLD conditioning.

THAT is the root of the weed we need to search out for and remove to allow for something healthier.

There’s a phrase from a course I’m studying, it says…

“Do you want to be right, or happy?”

If you only had to pick ONE… which would you choose right now?

*I know. It’s okay if you want to pick right. Most of us would.

I know this is sensitive. I know you don’t REALLY want to talk about this.

That’s why it’s the most important thing to me. I want to be happy so in order to be happy, I have to look at why I believe I don’t deserve to be so.

The answer is always at the root, but digging at the root can be messy. Need some different tools.

Then I thought about my husband, on the line during a busy dinner service. Once mise en place is done, stations set, and reservations start to roll in, I realize…

All he has is the moment.

The minute he starts to think about last nites service, or what’s coming next, he loses his flow and tickets start backing up. Right? *I’m not even in the industry and I know this much. I’m sure you do too.

Being someone in the restaurant industry, lends itself nicely to someone who naturally more in the moment.


Which is why… they choose someone that is not like that way to be their mate. (YOU)

Two people who live for today would not not make for a balanced life, wouldn’t you say?

He needs me to be thinking of our next step but I need him to help remind me to be happy today. (even in my resistance to it) BALANCE.

I have been practicing this for a few months now, and when I am able to remember where I am, right here in the moment, even for a few seconds… everything I’m worrying about sorta goes away. At least until I start thinking about the future, worrying about the past again.

The best place I have found to do this, driving. Sitting in the drivers seat, holding the wheel… I am able to focus SOLELY on the moment. It’s actually kinda cool.

Since I am a mere infant in this philosophy, doing this naturally is not something that comes easily at this point. I’m so unconscious about this very moment that I feel quite uncomfortable in it, to tell you the truth. And it only lasts seconds.

One of my coach friends told me that focusing on where we are in the moment… takes the same amount of energy (and the time) to get a puppy to STAY.


Want to try it? Just for a second?

Alrighty. Put ALL your energy on where you’re sitting right now. Focus on how it feels, the seat under yourself. Look at the room you’re in. What is the light situation like? Listen to your breathing. Is it shallow? Look at your hand on the mouse (or on your phone), focus on where you are right now. Just where you are sitting is the only thing that’s important. Can you see yourself in this moment? Anything wrong with it? Say to yourself, “I am here. I am here.”


Stay in that moment as LONG as you can. If you’re like me, as long as you can STAY in the moment, everything else drifts away.

Even if it’s for few seconds.

How does this feel to you? Can you see how important this is to our happiness? To our lives? While I’m pretty sure I’ll never fully embrace being totally in the moment, I’m positive that adding this philosophy to the recipe of my daily life WILL allow me to be happier more often.

Nothing wrong with achieving, attaining, pursuing… but remembering to be happy NOW, while we are in process, is almost the key to enjoying the ride.

I vow to keep practicing everyday, and in doing that hopefully the present moment will last a bit longer.

Maybe you want to practice this with me?

While yes, living on the frustrated side of not understanding my husbands way of being has not always been fun, but I can see how, by getting to a point where what I was doing was no longer working, I see the gift that he’s given me, just by being himself. When I am able to be in the moment, even for a second, I can feel that happiness is already there, inside me. I don’t have to look anywhere else to find it. I have taken to texting my husband “I am happy”, when I have these moments, it’s helped us enjoy each other more when we do spend time together.

I know he can see a difference. He is happier (if that’s even possible) because he has a generally happier wife.

The best gift I never knew I wanted.

How about you? Is your restaurant man/woman oblivious to “the plan” you’re always working on? How do you feel most of the time? Happy or not so much? How is that working for you?

Climbing the ladder

September 7, 2012 in Coping, Dreams, Expectations, Learning, Life

Source: via Jennifer on Pinterest

First off… could this photo not be ANYMORE appropriate? Okay, maybe it’s a bit severe, but in your experience, hasn’t the journey up the ladder for your restaurant man/woman been seemingly pretty severe at times?

I’m not usually a betting kinda woman but I BETCHA that your beloved restaurant man/woman didn’t have a clue what he or she was about to get into when they started climbing the culinary ladder.

Most likely it started out with a genuine interest turned carefree statement of “I like to cook”, that lead to a life changing decision to to go culinary school.

Okay.. let’s be honest. It was more than a statement. It was a pursuit…a destination…someone might call it an


Packed with their brandy new knives and chef whites, off they go to culinary school to learn the SKILLS… to hone in on their focus, found out what they enjoyed,  felt the pressure of being on their feet for long periods of time, maybe had a glimpse into what they will soon experience as an extern.

Maybe this was years ago… maybe it is happening right now.

Either way… Even after they graduate, I’m sure they had NO IDEA what they were getting themselves into when they first started out on the line.

They probably got a huge dose of it, their first week on the job.. just how LOWEST MAN ON THE TOTEM POLE they really were.

But in the end…if they don’t know… YOU don’t know either.

Brings me back to a time on my then chef boyfriends first day at TenPenh, a well known asian fusion fine dining restaurant (now closed) in Washington, DC.

Remember it like it was yesterday, actually.

I was SO excited for him…like first day of school excited. I remember when I came home from work that day, I baked him a chocolate cake and bought a bottle of champagne to celebrate with him when he got home. I was so proud of him for so many things… for making the leap to move to where I was so we could be together, for almost instantly getting this position without much effort, it seemed SO serendipitous. This first day symbolized so much for me, for us. Our future. I was excited at what was to come.

I waited for him to come home…

Waited and waited and waited. It soon got dark, and hours went by. I had to work the next day and at this point, I had NO idea when I was going to see him, so like in the movies, when one person prepares a nice meal and then waits in vain until they give up and go to bed.

That’s what I ended up doing…  I went to bed.

Reluctantly, I shut out the light and tried to sleep, unsuccessfully, until I heard the key in the door.

I think it was midnight, honestly who knows. I ran up and grabbed the champagne and uncovered the cake… ready to say “Surprise!” and was shocked at what I saw.

My excited when I left him, then chef boyfriend came in looking like he was just in a street fight.

He was exhausted, wincing, and moaning in pain.

I tried to be happy for him, to maintain that celebratory energy but he quickly said “Honey I had a really hard day, all I want to do is sit down.”

It was like he too.. had NO idea how hard that first day was going to be and was almost in shock at what he experienced.


He had worked at other restaurants before this… but I don’t think he expected to feel such drain, especially on the first day.

My first glimpse into what my life would look like, going forward, along my first experience with that feeling of resentment.

My celebratory action was quickly dismissed as I sadly covered the cake back up, I remember telling myself as I placed the champagne back in the refrigerator,

“We’ll celebrate when he has time. Maybe this weekend.”


I ended up never opening that bottle of champagne. Remembered I wouldn’t open it unless I could share it with my chef. That day never came.

I remember attempting to pull from him information about his day… he telling me just how he ended up running around helping everyone else on that first day, mainly butchering. I remember thinking,  “But you’re a CHEF…. why are you doing all the grunt work?”

Seriously I had NO idea. Maybe you had no idea as well.

This went on QUITE a while… as he learned something. I learned something in his wake.

And let me tell ya, I wasn’t happy with everything I was learning.

  • LIKE… I have to stay out after the kitchen closed in order to commune with his fellow chefs on the line, just to name one.
  • Like the time he came home with his hand in a large cup of water, now warm, because he had burned himself so badly.
  • *Why do they just deal the pain unless it’s severe?
    Like… you know.. how to deal with the stench of those damn clogs.

And not all bad either…

  • Like how he and everyone else on the line, knew exactly where I was sitting when I went to eat at the restaurant.
  • Like how I never had to actually order anything and yet, the food came out in abundance.
  • Like that it takes really WANTING TO KNOW  (and understand) what I wanted in my life, what I wanted in my relationship, so that I could figure out if I had the strength, after all, to withstand the ins and outs of all these lessons learned.  *This lesson took a LONG time. Years.

 Twelve years have passed since that day, and I can tell you I’m STILL learning what to expect as he continues to climb that culinary ladder.

As he learns more… I learn too.

I spent those early years BLAMING HIM for not explaining the ins and outs to me… how sometimes the lessons I was slow to learn made me feel like a fool. (Whew, the arguments we would have.)

I have, over time, learned that I cannot expect him to explain it to me, and even if he did, I’m not sure I would even understand what he was trying to say.

Cause whether I like it or not, he’s figuring it out too.

I’m sure there were times when he didn’t WANT to go out drinking with everyone, but wanted to come home to me.

I’m sure there were times when he wanted to take a break instead of going, going, going for 16 hours/day. Giving his tired legs a chance to recover.

I’m sure that he felt dissapointed at the beginning that he wasn’t the one doing the cooking like he thought he would’ve when he graduated from school.

Later on… I’m sure he was sad that he wasn’t chosen to be EC, but instead someone else was chosen to fill that position.

Your restaurant man/woman might not tell you everything she/he’s learning as they climb up their ladder.

You might find that frustrating. *Most likely you will.

But just KNOW… that that’s a PRIME opportunity to find out that you have what it takes to climb your OWN ladder.

Taking the precious (and sometimes more than you want) time to figure out what steps YOU can take to move up the ladder WITH him/her, instead of waiting for them to pull you up.

Like for ME… Climbing the ladder means understanding that being a planner doesn’t mean I can plan to expect to know how everythings going to go ahead of time, even in my resistance to accept this as true. *Secret: I have serious resistance here, let me tell ya.

Climbing the ladder for ME means that I have to put in the work to understand what I can and will accept in my restaurant relationship.

Climbing the ladder means knowing what is and what isn’t okay for me.

Climbing the ladder means knowing I can change my mind.

Climbing the ladder means knowing not to expect that things will always be the way they currently are. That YES… just when I think things are going smoothly, they inevitably will change. (Change restaurant locations, change his schedule, etc…) 

Climbing the ladder means knowing that I have what it takes to get through whatever he goes through. And knowing when to reach out for help. *Ahem, another reason why I wanted to find YOU.

Where I am now (just to share) – Climbing the ladder means reaching for my OWN dreams, even if he isn’t ready yet. It’s having faith that he’ll catch up to me and meet me where I am when the time is right. It’s being okay that I’m a few rungs ahead of him, doesn’t mean we’re not together but that we help push each other upwards. He does that for me, I do that for him.

You will inevitably find out the ins and outs of what being in a restaurant relationship is like. It is my hope that by creating this space, I can help ease some of the pain that most of us feel. That you will have a place to go to when you don’t know HOW to continue climbing… or even if you want to. *And that’s okay too.

You will hear of those exceptions to the rule, and those who enjoy being connected to someone whose become celebrated, by way of their unsatiated obsession.

You might’ve found out the hard way too. For YEARS… there was no place to go to find relief. You had to climb that ladder on your own. Inspire your own way upwards.

That’s how I know you’re strong. That you can do this. That you have what it takes.

I assure you… if you put all your focus on his/her own ladder, staring intently on where THEIR ladder leads, and not focus on where you are reaching, you will find the answer to why you instantly feel lost and out of step.

Grab a hold of your OWN ladder… and CLIMB IT for YOU.

*I can almost guarantee that your restaurant man/woman will stop climbing long enough to take notice of how you’re achieving your own goals, climbing your own ladder. Celebrating and encouraging you to keep going…

One rung at a time.