Living in the Moment

Last week, at the Culinary Vegetable Institute, we hosted one of the biggest events that has taken place at CVI to date: a Bocuse d’Or fundraiser dinner supporting team USA. (For those unacquainted, Bocuse d’Or is, “the most prestigious gastronomic competition in the world” and takes place on a biennial basis in Lyon, France.)

Six chefs flew in to prepare a six course dinner, preceded by eight canapés passed during cocktail hour. We were joined by close to eighty guests and two extraordinary culinary legends of honor, Chefs Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller.

One week later and I’m still struggling to wrap my head around it.

Nine months ago, when I first entered the world of culinary, a friend told me to stop and look around. Take it all in, they said, really try to grasp the big picture of what we’re doing and enjoy it while you can because there will be a point – and it’s coming – when you will be so deep into it you’ll have to consciously pull yourself out for a moment to realize the magic that’s happening around you. And wouldn’t you know… that day came and went and now it’s September 19th, one week and a day after our Bocuse dinner and I’m still processing.

On numerous occasions this week I was asked if the significance of what had taken place and of what I had had the opportunity to be a small part of had sunken in yet. My initial reaction was, of course, but then as the days passed, I realized I had never truly slowed down, paused and fully digested what had transpired. I was very aware that we had been a part of something special but it was surreal.

It’s the nature of the game. No matter how great it is, there’s always something else ahead to prepare for. We rolled into Bocuse off of the heels of a 3 day team building event. We’re already in prep mode for a private event on Thursday and a wedding on Saturday. On it goes. Head down, work hard. Occasionally, play hard too. Learn all that you can, anything and everything. Keep pushing. Onwards and upwards.

And we are fortunate. While we work very hard and put in the occasional 14 hour work day, we also get days off and there is a measure of flexibility in our schedules. We’re surrounded by people who care – about our work and about us – a whole lot. People who are constantly challenging themselves and those around them to push the boundaries of what is into what could be.

Despite everything, it’s easy to get caught up in the daily hustle. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s a natural byproduct of pursuing anything in life. Most of us feel if we’re not constantly in that state of hustle, we’re losing ground. And, often, we are.

I’ve found journaling to be an effective way to not only track my own progress but also record any nuances of the day I don’t want to forget. If you’re diligent with it, journaling can become a built in opportunity to stop and reflect daily, even if only for a few moments. However, even that, if you’re not careful, can turn into another “item on the list” to cross off instead of a tool for reflection.

As I work to consciously increase my own awareness in the moment, I encourage you to do the same. This life has already taken me further and in more directions than I thought it could and I want to be fully present for as much of it as I can.

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