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Archive for April, 2010

Find Your Passion. When I heard this phrase for the first time, I thought, gggeeesssh. Then I began to hear it incessantly. At conferences. On the morning news. In the newspaper and in magazines. It seemed ridiculous, clichéd. It was the kind of thing I’d expect to hear in a made-for-television movie, on Oprah or in California. So why did I keep hearing it here in chilly, no-nonsense New England?

Simple, I was in the midst of starting over, of reinventing myself. I’d done the teaching thing and loved it for awhile. Then I’d done the corporate thing. I’d loved it until finally after one too many reorganizations, I ran out of energy and enthusiasm for the corporate rat race.  Now, it was time for the entrepreneurial thing.

I confess my ideas were pretty vague. I only knew that I was really tired. Not sleepy tired but worn down, fed up, wrung out tired. I returned to my childhood vacation home and spent a lot of time with family and friends. I did a lot of running, hiking and kayaking. Before too long there were bills to pay and I needed to find something to do on rainy days.

My initial goal was to do interesting work but as little as possible. An unlikely aim, since I was a self-confessed, card-carrying workaholic. With that in mind, I did what any self-respecting, unemployed executive does and became a consultant. I was and still am pretty good at it, in fact better than pretty good.

However, I thought a lot about cooking. I love cooking and pretty much everything about it. Food, cookbooks, cooking tools and gadgets, restaurants, farmers’ markets, growing herbs, you name it I love it. I kept consulting but I started a little hobby business, teaching cooking classes and catering.  

I began to promote this new business. Among other things, I started a newsletter. The newsletters were warm and friendly.  They started with a story about cooking or entertaining and ended with a recipe. On the fourth one, my mother’s friend Jane told me, “Susan, you’re a really good cook but a WONDERFUL writer. Forget the catering, you should write.”

And so I did. I sent a few of my friendly little stories and recipes to the editor of my local paper. She said she loved them and gave me a weekly column, she even paid me. Before I knew it, my friendly little column was in three newspapers. Soon I was writing for a magazine, then two, then five and then eight or ten.

Now I do more writing than cooking or consulting and  I’m back to being a self-confessed, card-carrying workaholic. It still sounds clichéd, I still cringe a little, but now I understand all the fuss about finding your passion.

Do you have a question? An idea, a few thoughts or an opinion you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

To subscribe to Susan Nye’s Other Blog just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive new postings. 

Feel free to visit my food blog Susan Nye – Around the Table or photo blog Susan Nye 365. Browse around my website for more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope you will take a moment to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

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My mother has Alzheimer’s disease. We found out last summer, two months before her eightieth birthday. It wasn’t a surprise. We had suspected for months, maybe years. She was the first to realize something was not quite right. In the beginning she laughed and called it her senior moments. She was sixty-five. Over time these senior moments became more frequent and weren’t quite as funny. Both my mom and my dad began to talk about her problem more seriously. They labeled it short term memory loss. Yellow sticky notes decorated their microwave, kitchen counters and bathroom mirror.

It got more severe. The doctors began to call it dementia. We learned that there were lots of kinds of dementia and lots of causes; old age is only one of them. Even with the serious Latin name and formal evaluation, we knew it could be worse; it could be Alzheimer’s.

When people asked, I went from saying that my mom had memory issues to significant memory issues. I was one step behind the doctors for a long time. I eventually began to use the word dementia.

People would ask about Alzheimer’s. As her memory problems got worse, I would insist the diagnosis didn’t really matter. Her memory was fading and the label wasn’t all that important. It was oddly comforting to assure them and myself that she had not been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Every village has a kind and loving, slightly batty old lady. As long as she wasn’t diagnosed, my mom could be that lady.

And then on June 30th 2009 the doctors broke my little bubble and told us she had Alzheimer’s. We were all there with her, husband, daughters and son. It wasn’t a surprise but it was still frightening and heartbreaking.  I was wrong the diagnosis did matter.

We drove home. The car would have been quiet and solemn except for two extra passengers. My brother had brought two of his girlies with him, not to the meeting; they stayed in the waiting room. School was over and they were going to spend a few days with me. Thank goodness. The girls were full of life and fun and nonstop chatter. They were happy to be on their way to Pleasant Lake to see their summer friends and spend time with their grandparents and auntie.

Lucky for me the next few days were terribly busy. With work and two young ‘tweens, I didn’t have a chance to stop and think about my mom. Or at least I had lots of excuses to avoid thinking about her. Eventually, I had to go to the supermarket. The girls were with their friends. Alone and quiet for the first time, I took the exit onto 89 and began to sob.

Does Alzheimer’s run in your family? I’d like to hear from you. Let’s get a conversation going – just click on Comments below.

To subscribe to Susan Nye’s Other Blog just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive new postings.

Feel free to visit my food blog Susan Nye – Around the Table or photo blog Susan Nye 365. Browse around my website for more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope you will take a moment to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

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Why another blog?

Why another blog? I have one, shouldn’t that be enough.

My first blog, Susan Nye – Around the Table, is sort of a seasonal food blog. Sort of because I take liberties. Yes, sometimes I write about food or ingredients or entertaining. But mostly I write about growing up in New Hampshire and Massachusetts and living in Switzerland. I write about myself, my family and friends. I have written about sweet corn, zucchini, risotto and pesto but I’ve also written about antiquing, bad hair and poison ivy.

In spite of the freewheeling approach I take to my food blog, there are some things I don’t cover. Did I mention the blog is also printed in my local newspaper? It was in several newspapers until most of them decided to go bust. So I self-censor and exclude many topics, even if they are discussed around my table. In addition to the blog, I write for about a dozen regional, local and city magazines. So far they’re not interested in my self-censored tales.

So what are they, these untold stories? Well, I’m interested in reinvention and change. I’m a corporate drop out and would like to write about this evolving adventure. I’ve been itching to work on an essay entitled It’s hard to be hip when you’re having a hot flash and other truths about middle age. Although my mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s is a reminder of her grace, charm and courage, it frightens me. I’d like to give voice to her courage and my fear. I have written about Mrs. Obama’s victory garden but really wanted to write about her right to bare arms. I think I’m the only person in America who doesn’t watch reality television and I might like to write about that. I even have some business topics I’d like to cover. The list goes on.

Here goes. If you enjoy it – subscribe, leave a comment, tell your friends. And if you don’t, well maybe you’ll stop by again later and see how things evolve. Or not.

Do you have a question? An idea, a few thoughts or an opinion you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

To subscribe to Susan Nye’s Other Blog just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive new postings. 

Feel free to visit my food blog Susan Nye – Around the Table or photo blog Susan Nye 365. Browse around my website for more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope you will take a moment to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

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