Finally it’s here … 2014! I cannot remember when the last time was that I wanted the old year to end so badly and the new one to begin again. I have pinned high hopes on 2014. I strongly believe that you carve your own path and take the journey you design for yourself. 2013 was not the kind of year I had designed for myself. Somehow I stumbled on my path and allowed others to take control of my life.
As I do every year, I am starting the new year with a look back into the old year before I put it to rest. I tend to be extra self-reflective during this time of year and like many of you, I have been thinking of the things I want to improve and goals I want to achieve in the new year.
Although 2013 was really not my best of years, I have taken very many positive aspects out of the lessons I have learned over the period of 12 months. Lessons that I plan on putting into effect more positively this year.
My year started with a skiing accident in February putting me out for 6 weeks, after which I basically was forced to deal with that one part of my body and preparing for my surgery in June. After surgery I was out for another 8 weeks healing and recuperating, focusing on physiotherapy and getting my strength back. Physically, I was drained and as a family we had to re-think even the shortest of family outings or trips. There were no bike rides, hiking or swimming weekends in the summer or anything that would put stress on the knee.
While tending to my knee issues I also had to tackle some nasty affairs at work, which depleted me mentally and emotionally. Not having the outlet of working off the steam with some kind of sport or training and not having the experience of dealing with such kind of controversy, I became a bag of nerves and tears – I turned into a wuz in my eyes. I was having a hard time accepting the fact that I was not able to deal with the issue on my own. During this time, I saw my vulnerability as a weakness on my part and I often beat myself up for not being strong enough. It was difficult for me to grasp that there seriously are people who instigate trouble for the fun of it, enjoy hurting people as a sport and cause chaos for the thrill of their own pleasure.
Today, as I am writing this and looking back I do see how kismet somehow weaves itself through our lives. After taking a step back and reviewing a lot of what happened I see how some of the puzzle pieces fit together. Lucky for me due to the knee accident and later the surgery I was out of the firing field and had time to gather my strength and get my bearings again. I had time to think and work out my own plan. This helped me to stop being the wuz and get back to being me again … slightly jaded and a bit worn-out but wiser and stronger. What I did was take action and speak out, bringing attention to the behavior and incidents. The person was relieved of the duties and in many ways I won – at least it seemed so on the outside.
Inside, I was still having trouble understanding and grasping much of what happened. Maybe I am naïve but, put in simple words, I have never had to actually deal with really mean people in my life. I’ve always been able to find solutions by using my diplomatic manner and my happy demeanour even with the most strenuous and demanding of people. It was important for me to get out of the negativity so I decided to leave the institute. As I work 50-50% for two institutes I decided to focus on the other institute which provided me with more challenging and creative projects allowing me to unfold my abilities more positively. Reducing my work week to 3 days a week, I was left with more time to sort my chaotic inside and focus on me. It’s what I have been doing the past several weeks.
I still have unanswered questions but I am happy to box them up as I am moving on. I have taken the positive from the past year and am using that to channel my energy and drive me forward.
So although I was dealt out some bad cards in 2013, it is the positive and productive aspects I am going to keep. It’s OK to have weaknesses: they make us stronger when we accept them and work on them. Coming face to face with my vulnerability has made me learn where my bounds and limitations are … and you know what this was liberating in so many ways.
During this chaotic time, it was this space – my blog – that often provided solace. Although I would so often sit in front of my screen staring at a blank page watching the cursor blink, not knowing what to write as every cell in my brain just wanted to give up and go into hibernation, it was my blog that gave me my familiar sense of structure again.
I forced myself to blog – the writing gave me focus, the posts granted me organization and I was committed to follow through with the process involved in blogging but most of all, the positive vibes and comments from my readers lifted my spirits and rubbed my confidence in all the right ways.
2013 was the year I posted the least amount of posts since the close to 8 years I have been blogging. Each post was a herculean act to get published but from my side of the screen it was my therapy and one of the things that was giving sanity and structure. Does that make sense?
2013 was also an extremely sweet year with 14 sweet recipes compared to the 9 savory recipes I shared with you.
My favorite five savory recipes in 2013:
- Roasted Beet Parsnip Apple Soup with Hazelnuts and Sage
- Beef Kofta Curry
- Lemon Thyme and Fennel Risotto
- South Indian Inspired Sambar Vegetable Curry
- Dal Fry – Lentils The Punjabi Way
My favorite five sweet recipes in 2013:
- Greek-Style Creamy Custard Phyllo Pie
- Rhubarb, Ginger and Quark Strudel
- Kanelbullar–Swedish Cinnamon Buns
- Spekulatius Spiced Madeleines
- Dark Chocolate Ginger Almond Cookies
2013 continued my food photography and styling workshop series, which took me to some fantastic locations and allowed me to collaborate with some great friends. Early in the year I flew to London, spicing it up with Sumayya and my dearest sister Jeanne , in March it was a sensational workshop in my hometown Weimar with my dear friend Sandy . I then headed to Dublin, Ireland meeting up with my favorite ladies Ilva, Jeanne and Jamie for our annual Plate to Page workshop. In September Sandy and I packed the car and headed to Amsterdam for our exciting workshop together with Simone and finally October took me to Dubai again where together with Sally I wrapped up my workshop year. Dubai is always a great way to end the year!
In between the traveling, I shot an entire cookbook with 150 images for Dima Sharif, which will be published this Spring. I am very excited. Part of the cookbook was shot here in Germany in my studio and part of it in Dubai with Dima. We had a blast and really have made some extraordinary memories. If you follow me on Instgram then you probably had a ball keeping up with us.
Talking about Instagram: one of my most surprising moments last year was when Masable selected me as one of the "75 Tasty Instagram Accounts Every Foodie Should Follow". It was a surprise because I’ve never really thought about my Instagram images. It’s just an outlet for me to take snapshots of my daily life, things that move me or stuff I am currently doing or enjoying.
I was also extremely thrilled to be featured more often in the German press this past year. Germany has become my home and when I see that the interest for my international blog rising here in the press and media, it always leaves a massive smile on my face. Whether it was a feature in the very popular Couch magazine or a selection of my meals for the “Sonntagsessen” feature on the famous Zeit Online, or answering 10 questions for the trendy Essen & Trinken or a whole page feature in my regional newspaper to mention a few of my favorites, 2013 was a great media year in Germany for What’s for lunch, Honey?
Every year I give myself one main goal related to my blog and photography to follow. For 2013 my goal was to start giving e-courses on food photography including styling. I did not lose sight of that goal throughout the year. Once again it was kismet that brought David Bathgate of The Compelling Image (TCI) to my inbox fairly early in the year. In September I joined TCI as their instructor for food photography and styling. The courses are progressing nicely and I have some pretty amazing and diligent students. You will find more details including the January dates for enrolments on my e-courses and workshop page.
Thank you to everyone who is a part of this space, for reading and sharing my stories and images. As readers you are a vital source of power and energy, giving my posts life with your valuable feedback and thoughts. As friends you are great support and source of inspiration and motivation providing me with a space to speak freely without judgment. Next month What’s for lunch, Honey? hits 8 years!
I look forward to what 2014 brings and wish you all a very Happy New Year filled with joy, health and happiness.
Next week I’ll prepare a comforting risotto recipe to kick-off the year properly and share my goals and thoughts for 2014 with you. See you then.
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