Perfect was apparently not in the cards when I extended an invitation to the crew that helps me in my business. My goal a nice meal together to give thanks! If anything could go wrong this was not the night for it to happen – please! But as we all know, life tests us at every moment. My ego came into direct fire as happens so often when I’m counting on a specific outcome.
Paella is a meal I’ve prepared before with no glitches. And I just love the reactions it generates from the beautiful presentation and its heavenly aroma. Paella is my standby when entertaining a group. Do what works! Keep it simple and the outcome will be successful – right?
The first stop was the food itself, as the key to great Paella is fresh Ingredients. Thankfully my local farmers’ market is loaded with such key ingredients for the flavorful stock. On the day of the dinner, my local fish guy – Steve from J&R Lobster, was eager to satisfy my whims and my fussy pallet and filled my fish order with ease. The mussels, clams, scallops and shrimp were fresh and without a doubt the best in our area. With the best seafood in my hands, my anticipation for a successful evening was heightened.
Next step – the setting. The house was clean and ready to receive guests. The front porch was set to perfection to create a beautiful alfresco environment which would shimmer throughout the night with votive candles. The ferns, wicker chairs, linen napkins and table looked inviting and created a delightful setting for twilight dining.
Now for the drama! If you know me at all, you know I’m one for avoiding drama at all costs. Drama creates chaos, which is derived from fear, which leads to inertia, leading to major clean-up in one’s life. Now having said this, watch what happens.
Really, I was doomed from the beginning. Why? It was doomed because I doubted myself as a hostess, all driven by fear. It seems so silly now looking back. Would my guests find me as stylishly interesting as I had hoped they would? After all my business is all about style. Not only did I doubt myself, but I was focused on impressing my guests. My main goal was to impress. If you are focused on making an impression, then you aren’t acting out of genuineness, thus not being true to yourself. So then comes the insecure thinking.
Now, I know, I have my own sense of style. We all do for that matter. That’s what makes us so uniquely special. I’ve learned to harness it and enjoy who I am, and hope that I can share it with others that find it likewise appealing. For some reason, this event put me into a tizzy. As you all know, once a seed of doubt is planted, it takes amazing amounts of work to recognize it, fix it and then do the hard introspective work to get through it. Sometimes it is easier, though rarely wiser, to not deal with it – until it’s too late. Am I good enough? Now I laughingly ask, good enough for whom?
I could go into the details of what made the Paella an insipid disaster but I won’t. What’s important to learn from this is that I needed to trust myself. Once you have a clear vision, work your bum off to make it happen. What happened to me was that I relied on my comfort zone. I didn’t push myself anymore than I would because of my past experiences or the entitlement from those experiences. I thought the evenings meal was in the bag.
There were two other challenges of the evening, though none the true culprit.
The first is that one of our guests had asked for a simple change – to not make it too spicy. I didn’t ask myself the critical question – can one still make successful Paella by not adding the spice? Perhaps I could have been less stubborn and changed the meal, rather than trying to adjust the Paella.
The second challenge was that my grill died at the last minute, so the heat source was not the same as usual; heat being extremely important for a heavenly Paella dish.
So there you have it – and it was awful!
My point in sharing this story is just as much of a self analysis as to help you see that there are many components in creating a simple and beautiful life, just like creating amazing Paella.
So what did I learn? I was reminded that I need to be more mindful in everything I do, as I have said many times before. For this dinner party, the one basic ingredient that was missing to make it a success was not the spice or the lack of high heat from the grill. What crippled my Paella’s outcome was me. My energy to create was not aligned with my vision. I made the mistake of relying on past experiences, which in turn gave me false confidence in my expertise at making Paella.
Every day for us is new, whether we pay attention to it or not. So I need to constantly strive to improve and push the envelope. The ignorant notion that ‘if we’ve done something before we’ve mastered the technique’ is so false. Think of the excitement as we challenge ourselves to bring any task to a new level, that exhilaration one feels when a projected exceeds expectations. We feverishly should be doing this in all of our work. That is the joy. That is living with Slow Style.
To my guests I say: Please let me try again. I have learned many lessons from that fateful evening!