I am a thistle killer. Believe it or not this is one of my favorite activities at 9 Miles East Farm. Pulling these bad, bad plants is not easy. It is thorny business. However, the internal rewards are great, and I experience a feeling of supreme satisfaction with this task. At first I thought it appealed to the drop of OCD within. (I sure like neatness.) But upon further consideration, I realized that the task of weeding out thistles has something that a lot of other jobs in my life have lacked–purposefulness.
The simple act of ridding the soil of a harsh and invasive grower-of-thorns is an investment in the future. When extricating the weed from the soil, it is impossible to get the entire root. However, we weaken the structure and the next time he pops his stubborn head through the ground it is with less vigor. The farm-owner assures us that eventually, “we win.” The soil is better. The foot print of the gardens can expand, and we will grow more food.
The idea of purposefulness ties nicely into an other idea to which I have been exploring. Purposefulness in the consumption of alcohol, specifically wine. A wonderful co-worker, Jillian, and I share a passion for food, farms and service. We often converse about Thomas Keller and different recipes that we have tried from his cookbooks or something we would like to attempt. Last week, Jillian brought me Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter by Phoebe Damrosch. This book explores the world of Per Se and the author’s relationship with Head Sommelier, André Mack. As warned by my co-worker, I became very anti-social for a few days, staying up late and devouring the book.
Lately, I have been obsessed—totally obsessed with Chef Thomas Keller. It is not just the man alone that sparks this passion in me. It is the whole world that he has created and what he stands for: the culinary garden, the finest proprietors, sustainability, precision and doing something that you love really, really well. I have devoured every e-magazine that he has published to date and even made a road trip last week to New York City to experience first-hand one of his restaurants, The Bouchon Bakery and Café at the Time Warner Center. While there, I took this picture (above). It is the door for one of Keller’s finest restaurants–and one of THE finest restaurants on the planet—Per Se. I have been planning my 50th birthday celebration at Per Se for a couple of years now, and I still have two years left to wait. Next week, I will be attending a conference about 70 miles from another Thomas Keller establishment, Bouchon in Yountville, California. I have made a reservation at the restaurant with the hopes of getting a feel for the whole environment. I plan to visit the French Laundry culinary garden and the Bouchon Bakery (west), too.
As posted multiple times over the last few months, I have been trying to find my next career adventure. What has been revealed to me through the writing of Thomas Keller is a passion that has been hiding behind thoughts of what I think I want. Gardening, farms, healthy food, the best ingredients for cooking and using creativity to produce something with one’s hands are the things that feed my interests. When I am not working in an office, this is what fuels me. Actually, I could take that thought one step further and state that these are the things that make up for working in an office all week—a balm to my psyche. The realization and awakening of this passion feels somewhat miraculous. I am not a person that came out of the womb knowing my purpose. Mapping out a career has been a journey and a struggle. Now, acknowledging these interests helps me to see what was in front of me all along.
Yesterday was Valentine’s Day and it was one of the nicest celebrations I have ever had with my husband, or anyone for that matter. We don’t normally make a fuss but yesterday was an exception. When I got home from work, Philip made me fabulous dinner of roasted chicken and vegetables (a la Thomas Keller—Ad Hoc at Home) and if that wasn’t enough, earlier that day, he sent flowers to my office. WOW! I was flabbergasted and totally wooed.
During this holiday that is centered on romance and champagne, I found myself thinking of having wine or cocktails after work. The desire for alcohol comes and goes lately more like a puffy cloud that drifts in and out of my mind. The thought does not seem to hold the same weight that it did last month. There is less of a struggle right now. For that, I am very grateful.
Yesterday there were other gifts in my life above and beyond those presented to me by my husband. Twice in the course of the evening I was given the opportunity to gain a little more insight into the reoccurring question of dependency, addiction and habit. Having received the results of the Myers-Briggs test that I took at career counseling, I started to read the summary of my Type—Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging (INTJ). Right in the middle of the page was a little gem of verification that summarized something that I had suspected all along:
When under a great deal of stress, the INTJ may be become obsessed with mindless repetitive, sensate activities, such as over-drinking. They may also become absorbed with minutia and details that they would not normally consider important to their overall goal.
In the last month, it has become clearer to me that my drinking had become a habit and reaction to stress. It has been quiet easy for me to give up alcohol for social events. The real difficult moments have come when I am stressed at the end of the day.