I hope we are all finding new and improved ways to live our life during quarantine. I thought I’d start keeping a journal of my own journey with the hopes that it either resonates with you or serves as a way to document my feelings so that I can revisit them if I get off track again after all of this is over.

Personally, I’ve realized MANY things that about myself that needed adjusting. I was running in a rat race – work work work – no time to do the things I want to do – pick up drop offs with kiddos – meetings meetings meetings – no time to read or answer texts. I knew deep down that it was unhealthy and not a responsible way to mirror behavior and expectations to my 8-year-old and my 4-year-old, but the world kept moving and so did I. That is, until the Universe sent us all to our rooms (because that’s how I’m choosing to look at this). There’s only so far you can push yourself, your resources, your stamina, and your health and it is clear we were not listening. Some folks are still not listening, but we can’t let that noise interrupt the larger message. THE PEOPLE – families, young people, older folks, communities, restaurant owners and employees, teachers, non-profits, child care teachers and employees, first responders, nurses, doctors, and every single person risking their lives to save ours – this is where the power is right now and we have to claim it. I’m choosing to focus on how my life should and will change after this. I’m choosing to focus on who I plan to remove from public office after all of this. I’m choosing where my money and support will go after all of this.

Now is this journey as easy as the paragraph above sounds? No. Am I completely overwhelmed by despair at times? Yes. I can’t stop thinking about how hard this is for me when I have SO much help and resources. I can’t help but think about parents who have to leave their kids with someone because they have NO choice but to be at work. I can’t help but think of SINGLE PARENTS trying their best to make this work. I can’t help but think about kiddos who rely on school to be their one safe place. I can’t stop thinking about the individuals who have always lived at or below the poverty level – who already didn’t have the resources needed – and what this does to their sources of food and assistance once everyone else piles on top of the already massive need. I can’t help but think about the people who will simply NOT eat during this time. It haunts me most days. I can’t help but think about my friends – my dear, dear friends in the restaurant and service industry who have helped me over the years by raising money for Jones Valley Teaching Farm—and I have limited ways to help them now. I can’t help but think about the broken food system and how intertwined and broken it has always been. I can’t help but think about all of the other systems I know less about that have been also broken in ways I never paid attention to. I can’t help to think about people who are sick and can’t be close to loved ones or are literally dying all alone. I can’t help to feel overwhelmed by the need to keep a non-profit alive while also responsible for my kiddos who need structure and education and enrichment. I can’t help but wrestle with my own doubt, concern, and optimism for what this “unprecedented time” means for all of us. There’s my brain, folks: full of worry and hope.

Speaking of hope, I have found some bright spots in quarantine time and I’m going to link them here. At the end of the day, this is where the hope and optimism can squarely challenge all that worry (at least for a few moments). Here’s hoping you are in a situation where you can find these glimmers and for those of you who are having a hard time finding those glimmers, I am holding you in the light and sending love. YOU ARE LOVED.

First item of hope: BAREFOOT CONTESSA!  
In a world that feels less and less comforting, there is still one person who continues to bring me comfort: The One and Only Barefoot Contessa. Over the last few days she has been sending me (okay, okay…all of us) recipes to follow. They have the Barefoot Contessa swagger, but with things already in the pantry. Last night I decided to make her Tuscan White Bean Soup using carrots from Jones Valley Teaching Farm and rosemary from my yard. I didn’t have pancetta – go figure – so I skipped that step. I also didn’t have celery or leeks (gasp!). I just used onions, carrots, garlic, and rosemary as my base. Then I followed the rest of the directions. The kiddos helped with chopping and pouring and stirring, which helped with quarantine life. Once it was ready, we had it for dinner and it was a huge hit (even by my picky kiddos’ standards).

Second: Massimo Bottura is filming his dinners from his home in Italy most nights. This has been such a HUGE source of inspiration for me and a powerful example of how to infuse ENERGY and SPIRIT during a crisis. I’ve been watching him on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/massimobottura/

Third: Chef José Andrés continues to help heal our communities through World Central Kitchen. If you haven’t read his piece about mobilizing restaurant workers to feed America now, please do so. He is an inspiration for all of us and I feel like if we do NOT do something this drastic, our community will NOT be fed. Plain and simple. Let’s be bold locally and find ways to be as bold as Chef AndrésAnd by the way, he is ALSO cooking from home on Twitter.

Fourth: In Birmingham, our Pepper Place Farmer’s Market Drive-Thru is thriving and supporting local farmers and it makes me so happy. Simply order online here: https://www.pepperplacemarket.com/drivethrumarket

Finally (for this post): There are so many restaurants that are doing whatever they can to survive while also feeding us. Incredible examples of perseverance and drive and determination and survival. Wonderful examples of talent and creativity and a desire to take care of our community. There are too many to name, honestly, so I’m going to start with just a few and each week continue to highlight others.  Don’t forget to buy gift cards or donate to these restaurants! Shout outs to:


Eugene’s Hot Chicken
Post Office Pies
Rodney Scott’s BBQ(offering 50% off meals for first responders)
Hero Doughnuts (also offering 50% off meals for first responders)
Sol y Luna
Bandit x Essential
Automatic Seafood
Naughty But Nice Kettle Corn

Space and Grace,