The Boxer & The Punching Bag 

This week, I lost my temper with my kids.  I raised my voice.  I hurt their feelings.  But the lowest moment?

Telling them Santa Claus wasn't coming next year.

That's right.  I swore I'd never become 'that kind' of mother, but here I am: Ebenezer Hurd.

After I was done killing Christmas, I apologized.  Sincerely.  I told them why I was wrong, how I'd try not to lose my cool in the future.  Then I asked them if they could forgive me.  They didn't know what that meant, so I had to explain it to them.  In the end, they understood what forgiveness was, and that yes, they did forgive me, and maybe next time I could give them chocolate after I got mad.

(Warning: my toddlers may one day sell you used cars.)

Anyway, it was a rather beautiful moment. Teaching kids to release somebody from feeling bad was truly moving. 

The next day, I went to work, and began getting down on myself.  Which is sadly normal.  Every time I don't meet an arbitrary standard that I've set for myself, I feel guilty.  On Wednesday, I felt bad that I didn't recycle everything I could at the restaurant.  On Thursday, I felt bad that I threw out the ends of loaves of bread that I could've fed to our birds.  On Friday, I felt bad that I didn't get our staffing schedule done on time, and then I felt bad all weekend that I took a little time off work to heal from a sinus infection.

You read right: I am the boxer, and also the punching bad.

Reader, why is it that we ask forgiveness of others, but we never ask it of ourselves?  Why am I so eager to teach my kids how to release somebody from feeling bad, but I won't release my own heart?  I honestly don't know, but I know I'm going to try a hell of a lot harder to forgive myself this week.  Walking around in a constant state of guilt is no way to live.  If you're also beating yourself up, I invite you to join me in acknowledging when you've made a mistake, asking yourself forgiveness, and then letting the damn thing go.  

I'm heading to spend a little time with the family.  Have a happy Valentine's Day this week, all you lovebirds.  See you next Monday. -Em




Wanting What You've Got 

My daughter turned 2 this weekend.  Today, I'm turning 39.  My husband asked us both what we wanted for our respective birthdays. My daughter asked for more toys, wrapped in pretty paper.  Me?  

I just want time.

Time to write.  Time to sing.  Time to cook.  Even just time to check my watch.  The last thing I want?

Toys, wrapped in pretty paper.  

Don't get me wrong: I loved getting toys as a kid.  But as an adult, I really don't like receiving packages.  While I can appreciate a friend taking the time to put an item in a box for me, I'd much rather just enjoy a night with a friend.  

Which got me thinking about life and desire, and realizing there's truth to the old adage:

Everybody wants what they don't have.

As a kid, I'd want a toy.  My parents would get one for me, and I'd play with it until it lost its luster, and then I'd want something else I didn't have.  As an adult, I want time.  Eventually, I'll have it, and I'll enjoy it until I get bored, and then I'll want something else I don't have.

The moral?

Enjoy what you've got while you've got it.

Reader, life moves quickly. I don't know that we'll ever be truly happy with the exact lot we're given, but I do know that the more we take time to appreciate the gifts we've got, the less we'll make time to long for what we don't have.  Today, this birthday lady is grateful for her family, her music, her restaurant, and her friends.  Whatever it is you've got, I hope you're figuring out how to love it for as long as you've got it.  

I'll leave you with this picture I took last night from the parking lot of our local grocery store.  What a gorgeous sunset.  Love each moment out there this week.  See you next week. -Em


Permission to Get High 

Without me asking them, Prairie Street Brewing Company brewed a beer for my restaurant.  Which is hands down the coolest thing that has happened to me in a long time. It's a juniper beer called Einer Øl, and we're releasing it to the world this Thursday.  I've wanted to ride the high all weekend.

But I tend to get nervous when something good happens to me.  Allowing good fortune to elevate my emotions feels dangerous.  I've always thought that--if something outside of my control can make me so happy--then it can also bring me crashing down.  I'd much rather run my own show, allowing myself to feel happy or sad based on my own actions and merit.

Yes.  I am my own buzz kill.

As I reflect tonight, I can't help but think about what a sad existence I'm living.  Am I really limiting my joy to only what I can control?  Jesus.  Life is far too short not to let ourselves feel good, no matter the reason. Reader, these are some hard times in our world. If you've got cause to feel great this week, feel it damnit.  Get high on your good luck and let it stir up every piece of love in your heart.  I'm going to allow myself to feel every ounce of glee inside this bottle tonight.  See you next Monday. -Em

Enter Smørrebrød 

Every day for the past month has felt like Groundhog Day.  

I wake up at 4:30 am, try not to rouse the kids. Throw on my least dirty clothes, brush my teeth in between sips of coffee, then I hit the road. I write music on the way to my restaurant. Then I set up a commercial kitchen for service, cook for nine hours, then clean a commercial kitchen. I then go home, clean house, play super heroes with the kids for an hour, and inevitably pass out on the couch holding an action figure and a dram of scotch. 

Repeat. Over and over. 

And I’m not complaining. It’s a great life. But for a person who likes spice in my life, it’s a little vanilla. 

Enter the smørrebrød. 

The smørrebrød is an item on my restaurant menu. It’s a rotating trio of open-faced sandwiches. Everyday, we come into the restaurant, look at the same ingredients, and find new and exciting ways to put them together on top of a piece of rye bread. One day, we whipped leftover smoky hot sauce into butter and topped it with goat cheese, venison, and bull’s blood micro greens. 

Adios, vanilla. 

No matter how hum-drum my life may get, there are usually ways to shake things up by rearranging components. As a musician, I make different songs out of the same notes by putting them together in a fresh way. As a mom, I keep things exciting by reading books to my children using different voices and accents.

And my kids shake up their lives by turning the components of our living room into a fort.  

Reader, if you too are feeling a little bleh, try putting the elements of your life together in a new way. We don’t have to keep things in their same predictable order. Stay creative and inspired out there. I’ll see you next week. -Em

On Becoming June Cleaver 

After work last night, I had good intentions of sitting down to write a blog.  But then a few of my employees asked me to join them for a beer, and the idea of drinking outweighed the idea of writing.

While throwing back a few, one of my staff asked me about my life.  They were intrigued about how I went from being a bad-ass musician to a June Cleaver-esque mom in just a few years.  The question rattled me. I wondered internally.

Sweet Jesus. Have I really become June Cleaver?

Don't get me wrong: I have nothing against June, the archetypal suburban parent from the 50's. But my inner touring musician cringed.  At first, I felt defensive.  Then I felt angry.  Finally I felt like jumping on the bar an rock-belting from my gut, just to change their mind (and prove I still could).

In the end, I just slugged back the beer and drove home, stewing.

I kept thinking all night: why do we care so much about our persona? I know who I truly am.  I'm a short-fused, hard-working, entrepreneurial artist with a fierce love of nature and a penchant for flying off the handle.  But the idea that other people see me as a simple house-wife?

It was more than I could bear.

Which is of course ridiculous.  Reader, we cannot change what people think about us.  They will perceive based on what they see.  Only we know who we are.  There's no sense trying to prove ourselves to the outside world. 

And besides, what others see might actually not be so bad.  Episodes of 'Leave It To Beaver' usually had a pretty solid moral and some quality cinematography.

With that, this rock-mom is off to finish making glögg for her venue.  Let's get out there this week and not give a damn what people think of us. See you next Sunday (or Monday, if beers happen again). -Em


Jazz Dream Come True 

Today, one of my lifelong dreams came true. 

Jazz brunch happened at my restaurant.

I walked out of the kitchen at 10 am to a room full of diners listening to the sweet sounds of the Joel Baer Trio.  Glasses were clinking, toes were tapping, and my heart was melting.  I took a mental picture that I'll keep in my mind forever.

Today was worth more to me than all the money in the world.

Reader, I'll keep it short tonight.  The longer I live, the more I believe in the importance of letting ourselves daydream, and then working towards realizing those dreams.  It's easy to lose sight of those deep desires that stir us from within, especially as we age. But I'm here to tell you, those dreams are essential to keeping us going. As we go through our week, let's all remember to keep our hungry hearts young by listening to them and chasing down what moves us. See you next Sunday. -Em

Letting Others Step Up 

Sunday night blog turned into Monday night blog this week.  These things happen. 

Anyhow, as I sit down to type on this New Year’s Eve, my usual state of reflection has been replaced with anticipation.  I’ve done more this year than I ever thought possible, and all of that activity whet my appetite for what’s to come. 

One thing’s for certain: what’s to come won’t involve me as much. 

For the past three years, I was given the opportunity to restore an old building into a restaurant called The Norwegian.  I had no experience.  But the success of the place depended on me, and so I had to step up.  I had to tear out what was there, rebuild and refinish what remained, and transform it into a functioning restaurant. I carried the weight of the project on my shoulders, knowing that without me, the place wouldn’t have made it. 

Except that it did. 

Last week. I got so sick that I couldn’t stand.  I told my husband we’d have to close the restaurant for the day. But then he reminded me. 

I’m not the only one who knows how to step up. 

Reader, sometimes we don’t know how much we’re able to accomplish until we absolutely have to do it.  When I got sick, my fellow chefs at the building blew me away. They carried the weight on their shoulders, and the place ran without a hitch.  

As I enter into 2019, I plan to lean harder on the people around me, allowing them to feel the same rush of responsibility that I did, letting them know how important they are. Not only will I enjoy watching them shine, but maybe I’ll actually get a day off from time to time. 

 Wouldn’t that be nice. See you next Sunday. -Em

She lives 

Well Reader, it's been a hectic month, and I'm finally back.  Over the past 28 days, I've opened a restaurant, lost 6 employees, been the victim of a hit-and-run, released a new album, and come down with the worst stomach virus I've ever had.  I've lived on just a few hours of sleep a night, keeping a toothbrush in our office for the nights I have to sleep at the restaurant.  I've been making meatballs until 2 am every other day, living on coffee and adrenaline.

I'd say I don't know how I'm doing it, but that would be a lie.

I'm doing it because I'm surrounded by the very greatest people.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, which is a time of reflection for me.  I'm so incredibly grateful this year for the friends and employees who stood by me through the chaos.  Most nights this month, a friend stopped by to help, making food with me until the wee hours.  Their optimism and enthusiasm carried me through my dark hours. I can't imagine how I would've held up without them.

Reader, as we give gifts in a few days, let's not forget to give our positivity to those who need it most.  It saved my life this year.  We cannot be too generous with our joy.  I'll see you next Sunday! -Em