“Diving headfirst into life” has (almost) always served me well. I have also been fortunate to have an arsenal of lovely people in my life who play devil’s advocate to some of my more cockamamie or impractical schemes (You know who you are!).
They gently remind me that maybe I should rethink opening a new restaurant just because I stumble across a 1920’s vacant gas station for lease on a Sunday drive to Port Townsend. Or that maybe I should reconsider booking that San Juan Island wedding for 250 guests when we already have five big weddings that day…just because the couple is so darn sweet.
On New Year’s Day of any normal year, I literally dive headfirst into life by jumping into Puget Sound with a couple hundred of our friends and neighbors. We all gather minutes before noon for the Polar Plunge at a beach near our house on Bainbridge Island. About half of the people jump into the Sound and the rest steadfastly standby on the beach with cameras and dry towels waiting for their Polar Plungers to emerge.
One of my favorite parties of the year immediately follows The Polar Plunge at our house. Our open house involves vats of chili made with braised shortribs and three kinds of beans with a plethora of toppings & hot sauces, buckets of champagne and pedestals full of miniature chocolate chip cookies. My husband and I have it down to a science, and I cannot think of a better way to start out the year than having 40+ friends pop by for a hot bowl of chili and a “Cheers!”
This year, we had to forgo our time-honored Chili & Champagne Party because of Covid. But that 53-degree water was still ready and waiting to wake us up and wash off 2020, socially distanced with a much smaller group.
This renewed hope, however, was quickly squashed by the reality of all the challenges that still lay in front of us. The many months of trying to find the bright side to this situation finally just felt exhausting. The wettest January on record in Seattle also didn’t help to get me outside where I do my best head-clearing. I basically spent most of January trying to swim back to the eagerness that I felt towards 2021 on New Year’s Day.
I have finally emerged out of my fog of hopelessness and dread. I have my trusty “Diving Lady” to thank for it. I have treasured her for over 12 years, and she is solidly in the “Grab-in-the-event-of-a fire” category of my possessions. She hangs smack dab in our living room and makes me smile every time I see her. I not only envy how she rocks her red swimsuit, but how she travels so peacefully and confidently through the air into whatever comes her way.
Last week while working in the ‘Living Room Office,” she spoke to me much in the way the cornfield spoke to Kevin Costner in “Field of Dreams.” She looked down at me with that tranquil face of hers and whispered, “Dive in. It’s all going to be ok.”
For almost an entire year, I have been so busy providing life-support to my shuttered catering business that, on at least a few occasions, I lost all hope of coming out of this with an intact Radish. “Create Strategic Plan for Radish to make it through Global Pandemic” was definitely not on my to-do list. It did, however, teach me that there is nothing I would rather be than be a caterer. A good friend asked me on a walk last summer if I would ever change careers or start a new company. After thinking about it for a long while, the only thing I could come up with was “I would totally start a catering company!”
This realization that I’m neither suited for nor want to do anything else has made my resolve to keep the Radish going even stronger. The pandemic has given me some much-appreciated head space to feed my creativity. It has also given me the time to explore ways to make the Radish even more ravishing.
Cue the bubbles…
On February 1st (today!!), we officially enter Phase 2 and the restrictions on events will be partially lifted in Washington State. This gives me great confidence that our industry will be able to finally start rebuilding. It also gives me real hope that the Radish will make it through all of this with a new, effervescent spring in our step.
Most of all, this past year of working from home and spending an inordinate amount of time with my “Diving Lady” has reminded me to continue to close my eyes, dream big and continue jumping in (with lots of people to make sure I’m safe where I land) to make a big splash!
Happy (belated) New Year!
Owner, Ravishing Radish Catering