Dear 17-year old me

February 22, 2020: Last day of your first culinary arts course

It only took us 10 years before taking our first culinary class at an actual culinary school. It was worth the wait! It only goes to show that oftentimes the thing we always wanted, truly wanted, will come with patience and faith. 

Looking back, had you taken that road defiantly would have changed your passion and appreciation for food. You had to learn over the course of ten years why it matters, how cooking makes you feel, and what about food makes it a big part of your identity. The uncertainty of waiting, yearning for the thing you wanted to do only made the experience that much richer. 

Wearing the pristine white chef’s coat, top hat, and apron for the first time became a proclamation to genuinely and openly put yourself into the world with confidence. 

This is me. This is the woman that God is making me to be.

And what an exhilarating feeling it was! The 6:30 AM wake up routine during cold winter Saturdays won’t matter. Showing up was more important. Acting on your values with integrity matters. 

Though the next 10 years of waiting for this moment may seem too long, frustrating, and most of all exhaustive, the day will come at the right moment. You will feel with every bone in your body that this moment is the right moment. So simmer down. Take time to discover. Making a master stock requires the right ingredients, time and patience to marry all the flavours together. So do you. 

Always, 

K

P.S. Faith is the salt that will help you heal, bring you hope and determination. Sprinkle it in every aspect of your life, generously. 

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To my future husband

I don’t know where you are, when we’ll meet or whether we’ve already met. But I do know that I will always choose to love you and have faith in you when the time comes. Every single day. Until then, this is an open letter I’ll keep close to my heart.

Dear K, 

You will fall deeply and unconditionally in love with a man who cares to understand and accept you. He will show his empathy towards you through his speech and actions. He will love you unconditionally and faithfully, the same way you’ve fallen in love with him. He knows the value of a good woman and will choose you, and only you, especially in moments of fear, anger or disappointment.

When it comes to his time, he will show you that you are a priority. No work could ever be big enough or more important. Nonetheless, you will show him respect as work and his ambitious goals are equally important as yours. He will similarly treat you with respect and admiration. And he will not be ashamed, but proud of you as his partner and best friend. 

Over time you will grow together and align in values. You will have beautiful children and build a home together. This man will not only want you to be a part of his life, he will build and cultivate a Christ-centered life with you. A choice he is not hesitant to make because having a family is something he has truly wanted for himself. He will never leave you or make you feel alone. He will protect you and care for you and your family as a symbol of his appreciation and gratitude for your life together. He will not take you, your commitment and love for granted.

You will grow old and have wonderful squishy little grandchildren running all around the house. Each day may not be perfect but always filled with a grateful heart and a joyous smile. 

Stay hopeful. Have patience. 

Love always,

K

P.S. This letter is to those relentlessly putting their hearts on the line with the hope of a happier ending. Loving someone is the most courageous choice and action any of us can take. It requires trust, hope, friendship, integrity, vulnerability, commitment, and most of all, faith. 

Your day will come, just be ready to receive and accept the love freely given to you.

Re: 10 lessons the last 10 years taught me

With a brand new decade coming very shortly, I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been feeling extra reflective lately. A lot has happened over the past ten years, as they should. Life moves along regardless of whether or not we realize that another decade has come and gone. It’s our duty to live in it, learn from it and be grateful it happened. 

Distilling all of the lessons I learned over the past decade was easier than I initially anticipated. Frankly, because most of these lessons I haven’t fully understood. So here they are:

  1. Grief changes you. It changes you in a way that you never thought sadness could. After enough time passes by, grief also propels you to move on to the next chapter because your life persists. 
  2. Sometimes conflict is necessary for progress, but it is not an excuse to regurgitate accumulated anger. Address conflict with the goal to forgive. 
  3. Your definition of success changes. And it will continue to change as life changes you. 
  4. Understand your core values and stick by them. They will help guide your decisions and who you want to invite in your life. 
  5. Stand up for what you believe in. Even if the circumstances may seem daunting. Though this may not sound revolutionary, there’s a reason why it’s a popular expression. 
  6. Always keep a grateful heart.
  7. Assume that everyone is just trying their best. 
  8. Let yourself accept and claim love. God’s everlasting, pure love is not something you need to earn neither is it conditional. 
  9. Trust in God’s plan, and trust that He will be by your side every step of the way. You are on His time. 
  10. Love deeply and courageously. Beyond the gooey warm feelings. Beyond the arguments and disappointments. Beyond the fears and anxieties. Because loving someone is a commitment you make with yourself and the other person.  A choice you make everyday.

Always, 

K

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Dear Lisbon, Portugal

I had a lot of reservations before landing at your front doors as a solo traveller. English is not your mother tongue, and I knew very little about you. In fact, all I knew about you were: great sardines, coastal region and somewhere in Portugal. In some odd way, it felt liberating to know nothing yet nerve racking that I knew nothing. My expectations were nonexistent. With my bright green backpack, comfy running shoes and a heavy heart, there was no turning back.

Walking along your uneven mosaic tiled streets it felt like something was missing. I don’t know whether it was the abandoned buildings with new grass sprouting in between the concrete slabs or the empty Moorish castles once adorned with the finest of furnitures. It all felt sad. Fortunately, somehow I found solace amidst the melancholy floating like dense humid air on a summer’s day.  I was forced to sit in the sadness. An experience I never had before. It didn’t feel right at first. I was used to bucking up and not letting sadness phase me. Sadness used to be like an enemy I had to conquer. Not anymore. 

Going to Lisbon taught me that it’s okay to feel sad or angry. Lisbon, you taught me that feeling anything else that’s not happy or positive is as much part of our human experience as joy is. You taught me that just like those little broken tiles, everything comes together in the end somehow. All the cracks and distress between the edges are just earmarks for stories of people’s lives once lived. No tile is perfect. No life is perfect.

The culmination of our imperfect lives is what makes it real

Truth be told, going to Lisbon forced me to sit in the sadness I was feeling long before my trip began. The same sadness I carried across the North Atlantic Ocean with me. I thought that if I kept burying it with work it would eventually fritter away. Boy, was I wrong! It actually grew, and grew over time until everything just couldn’t be soaked in anymore. Sitting at the foot of my hotel bed, I started to weep. Lisbon, you taught me that it’s okay to feel sad for a moment or two or more. It’s okay to feel loss…to feel grief. 

They say that time heals all wounds, but what’s left unsaid is that wounds also leave scars. A tangible reminder of what was lost and what is missing. 

Always, 

K

P.S. This blog post is dedicated to a dear friend. Thank you for being a part of my life, then and for always. 

Though she be but little, she is fierce!” -William Shakespeare, Midsummer Night’s Dream