You are in for such a treat with this beautifully written post from Kendra of My First Kitchen! I don’t even remember how I first found Kendra’s blog last year, but I have read every post since, both because the recipes are so approachable and because she is a true kindred spirit. She shares a passion for the important stuff—you know, like back-and-forth e-mails discussing LOST episodes, of which we have traded many. Side note: if you are in the North Carolina area, she teaches cooking classes (!), and I envy everyone of you who goes. Kendra, come to Chicago!


I used to take myself way too seriously. Like waaaaay too seriously. I made lists about everything. I made lists about what I should make lists about. I documented how well I did on sticking with my list and berated myself if I didn’t completely follow through. Everything was quantified and justified and rationalized. Then the guilt started.

In all honesty, it’s not terribly calming to live life where you experience some measure of guilt everyday from self-inflicted tasks and self-inflicted consequences. It’s pretty exhausting actually. I got tired of being the drill sergeant to myself… and yelling in my own face proved to be quite difficult. I lived most of my life that way, and it’s a tough habit to break. I didn’t leave myself any room to fail, and anything close to not doing what I arbitrarily intended equaled failure.

The one place where I seemed to allow myself freedom to fail was in my kitchen. When I cook, I can’t go wrong. Sure, I make food that doesn’t taste as good as I had hoped, but I don’t beat myself up over it. I laugh, eat it anyway, and think about the next thing I get to cook. Why do I give myself such freedom with food? For a long time, I didn’t experience that anywhere else, but I knew that was the feeling I wanted to permeate my life.

Cooking is about more than just the food for me. It’s spiritual somehow. It helps my soul rest and gives me freedom to just be me. It’s okay if my waffles burn or my chicken dries out. As long as I’m in the kitchen, everything is okay. There’s freedom in food, and I’m okay if that sounds a little crazy. And as time has gone by, I’ve started to see that same freedom in the list-making areas of my life. I’m not my own drill sergeant anymore… as much, and it’s such a happier place to be.

I hope your soul finds rest in something. Food, music, the outdoors, people… whatever it is, capture those moments and enjoy them. Hopefully you’ll begin to see that freedom in other places, too.

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Vicki

    Thanks for sharing this one. I have realized too that the only place I seem to allow myself to make mistakes is in the kitchen! It is good to know that one cook found a way to apply that forgiveness in error with a recipe gone wrong into errors made outside the kitchen.

  2. Fran

    What a great message! I need to find a way to bottle the calm I find in the kitchen and bring it to work.

  3. Jacqui

    i’m glad that you can find calm and freedom in the kitchen. something about creating and sharing and finding inspiration in food and cooking — i get that. and my soul is constantly searching for more. great post!

  4. jessiev

    wonderful. i have learned calm from accepting my disabilities. even though life isn’t what i’d expected, after all, i can find calm in cooking, nature, photography. aren’t we lucky?!

  5. The Leftoverist

    I relate to this so completely. Thanks for this.

  6. Shannalee

    I love that so many people related to this because I did, too. Thanks again, Kendra! This was beautiful.

  7. marci

    This was a great piece Kendra, thanks for sharing! I can relate oh so much! I worked in the corporate world for 12 years and this summer decided to leave the corp. world and focus on being an at home mom, gardener and dairy producer’s wife. Many of the things I do revolve around the kitchen, there is such peace and serenity there. I can also touch many by making and taking them meals, volunteering goods for bake sales and fundraisers and having others over for dinner. I have had so much fun getting back to my roots and sharing my love of cooking with others. We of course have a tighter budget on one income, but the rewards and opportunities outweigh the paycheck. I feel more rich in what matters. Cheers to all that we learn and live in the kitchen!

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