11/22/2013 02:23 pm ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

Chew! Live the Journey

I remember asking a pal of mine, Wolf -- he looks like one, too, but I've never caught him howling at the moon -- the difference between men and women. He said, "Men always get to the point, and women are all about the conversation."

If this is true, I think I've been heading into the boy zone.

In the busy hustle-bustle of my life, I can become so goal oriented that I forget to inhabit the process. Especially during wedding catering season, I am often the "Get to the point!" queen.

I'm human. Cooking for hundreds of people at a time, I absolutely start thinking about the finish line. Right around that 24th sauce, you can hit some serious tunnel vision. I forget to savor moments like when that shallot sauce came together like magic, with just a drizzle of molasses. Those moments are what it's all about!

My best writing comes when I turn off time and let the words flow like warm water off my fingertips. Two-dimensional, "cute" writing kerplunks out of me when I get caught up thinking about things like, "How many people will read this?"

I paint, when I remember to, which is not often enough. When I was a kid I used to paint all the time -- wild portraits of rock stars, especially Jim Morrison. I loved to paint Jim Morrison. When I came to New York City, I had dreams of being a full-time artist, but there was something about living on 600 bucks a month that wasn't working for me. I get it -- "starving artist" -- but this girl was hungry!

For years, I painted with heart and fury. I once got so passionate that I ripped the canvas I was working on with my palette knife.

Then I was accepted for a one-woman show and starting thinking horrible things like "How will this look in a gallery?" "Will people want to buy this?"


Celebrating the journey, is a lesson I should have learned, growing up.

My parents carted my sister, brother and myself in our white-trash motel on wheels, the camper, from South Jersey to North Florida every year. I guess some folks can do this trip on I-95 in three days, some folks can drive straight through in less, but it took my family a week.

This was a week of stopping at amusement parks, petting zoos, pecan pie stands, the South-of-the-border, Mexico-theme souvenir joint, the Thunderbird Inn all-you-can-eat Southern buffet, and as many rest stops as my constantly having-to-go-to-the-bathroom family needed, which owing to an ample supply of three-liter diet soda, was a lot!

Arriving in Panama City, Florida, was anti-climactic. A summer on the Redneck Riviera? One hundred twenty degrees in the shade, and all the water bugs we could chase out of our bungalow? Not exactly a thrill ride!

But the journey had offered us an adventure!

Sadly, my family as role models offered a mixed message in celebrating life's journey. No one except I indulged in this thing called chewing. We could be served the best pasta with the most sublime marinara, and it might as well have been corn in a pig's trough. My brother would suck the whole thing down without using his teeth once. Ditto for my mom and dad. My sister just pushed her food around and asked for money.

I was the only one who took a moment to say, "Wow, that tomato sauce was really tasty!"

Guess I was destined to become a chef.

The holidays are approaching, and it's not as though I can run out and buy you all a Chanukah or a Christmas gift, but I can give you this little gift, if you will accept it.

Is that cup of coffee you are sipping unusually tasty? With just the right bit of rich, roasted flavor?

Are you rushing to work when you turn the corner and suddenly find yourself bathed in a brilliant burst of sunshine?

Is someone you love sitting next to you and smiling?

Look up, look out, look in.

Embrace the moment.

Now if only I could get my family to chew.