Passion: Learning and being creative in cooking for her family

Background: Cheyenne shares her story of learning and growth in her relationship with food, and how it eventually led to a passion for cooking. She has a calmness about her that is a result of not taking life too seriously, while also valuing each and every day. It can be easy to think that we constantly need to excel in our passions, which can lead to a perfectionism that is counterproductive in relieving ourselves of stress. Cheyenne loves to learn about her passion and continue to develop it, but she also understands that she doesn’t need to be an expert or a master chef to enjoy her passion of cooking. 

Cheyenne also shares a self-awareness of when she needs a break from day-to-day stress or monotony, which gives her a motivation to spend time cooking in her kitchen. Cheyenne taught me something about my own pursuit of my passion. Sometimes, I can get in a rut of not pursuing my passion, because I don’t have large chunks of time to shoot, edit, and write; so I end up going days and weeks without the relief of pursuing photography. Cheyenne talked of how she seeks out books and shows related to her passion, sometimes in the place of actually cooking a meal.

These types of media don’t have to be distractions; they could actually be the opposite. If used in the right way, these types of media can be helpful in the moments that I want to be pursuing photography, but I don’t have the energy or time to commit to a photoshoot. It was refreshing to speak with someone who genuinely desires to learn and grow in their passion, without expecting perfection. As always, I am grateful to share some pieces of our conversation that I am sure will help you in your journey of finding your passion, enjoyment, and creativity in these inconsistent paces of life.

“Cooking is my creative outlet, and it’s practical for me, because I need to do it every day anyways. So, I might as well make it enjoyable. I don’t always feel like being creative in the kitchen. Sometimes, it is just a time to fix a simple dinner for my family, but there are times where I sit down and make a meal plan for the week and think, ‘This week I am going to make something fun, because I need that this week.’”

“The best way I can think to summarize my passion for cooking, and why I pursue cooking, is one of my favorite quotes in a cookbook, ‘Then, and today, food continues to keep me connected to nature, to my past, and the people I cook and eat with.’ - Amy Chaplin, At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen.

“I’ve been in a relationship with food my entire life - we all have. Just like any other relationship, it ebbs and flows throughout the different seasons of my life. There are times when I’m more connected, creating and experiencing food in a way that brings me immense joy.

There are other times when food is at the end of my list, the back of my mind, and I hurriedly slap ingredients together, or swing through a drive-thru or the frozen section of the grocery store. And that’s okay, because life is consistently inconsistent, and different seasons have different needs. But giving myself time to unplug, to be in my kitchen and connect with the process, that is what brings my soul to life.”

“Am I an amazing cook? I don’t think so. Maybe someday, with practice. The real art lies within not only the ability to make a phenomenal dish, but in bringing people together to create and share it with. That is the true magic.”

“My relationship with food has often been complicated in the past. Due to health issues/food allergies I’ve done a LOT of different diets, tracked macros, counted calories, and labeled food as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ When I started getting into the fitness industry, it was challenging for me to avoid certain foods that were viewed as ‘unhealthy,’ especially because that list is always changing.”

“I’ve been there, with the food-fear, ‘I can’t have that, because it’s bad for me.’ But, I also feel that if you try to eat pretty well on a regular basis, then it’s okay if there are times where you are just getting something easy, even if it’s not the healthiest thing available. At this point, I can trust myself. I know that I can start over with intentional eating, and that it really is okay to need to start over once in a while.  When I get into a rut of not eating the best, I know that I will get myself back again. Our bodies and eating habits fluctuate during our lives. It’s not realistic to expect to always be at a perfect place with food and what we are eating.

“I remember noticing food when I was 15, and back then, everybody just wanted to be super skinny, so you just counted every calorie and ate as few as possible. Later, I reached a point where I was working a lot, under-eating, working out, doing the classic ‘running on coffee all day,’ hustle, grind it out, etc. I was super stressed, not sleeping well, and I was just totally burned out, and my system was shot. I started to get really sick. Feeling nauseous, crummy, and just miserable all day. I tried anti-inflammatory diets, and other ways to try to get myself back to feeling well again. I ended up seeing a doctor, and I did some bloodwork and found that I had food allergies and intolerances. Once I started paying attention to what I was eating and began eating well.. I could feel my body and metabolism healing itself.”

I love the concept of eating with the seasons. Berries and fruits in the summer, citrus and squash in the fall… eating food when it’s at the peak. Focusing on the quality of your food. The nutrient density of the food. A lot of people in the dietary industry will tell you to focus on your macros, proteins, fats, carbs. You may hear things like, ‘It doesn’t matter the freshness or quality of your food, just focus on the numbers.’ But, I think food can be more than that.

I really believe that God intended for us to enjoy food! Why else would He have given us taste buds? And the fact that you can create 1,000 different things with one food item is really cool, and I feel it also points to the fact that God loves creativity.”

“My mom has always canned a lot of different things. Throughout the seasons, we would go out and get whatever was fresh at the time. Sometimes we were canning green beans and vegetables… and then in the fall, we were making applesauce and preserving pears. 

I don’t think I knew what a gift it was to be expected to help out in the kitchen as I was growing up. Looking back, I’m just so grateful for it. The fact that my mom took the time to do things like gardening, harvesting, canning, and freezing. Nowadays, a lot of people don’t even know how to do those things. And that’s something that I hope to pass onto my kids.”

“Personally, I can tell when I am starting to get to that place of just mentally ‘checking out’ in life. I begin to feel like I'm in a cluttered mindset, because I have a lot going on. Maybe I’m on my phone, but the TV’s also on, so I’m not really doing either one. I’m just kind of sitting around. 

I am grateful when I notice it, because then I decide to tell myself, ‘Okay, I am going to pick one type of media to consume, and I’ll put on a cooking show.’ Not just any cooking show, but one that I love. One that showcases the process of food being made and it is an enjoyable show to watch. I intentionally pick something that I would be sad if I realized that I missed part of it, because I wasn’t paying attention. It helps me to focus on the moment, and it also inspires me. It gets me to a place where I think, ‘Now I feel like cooking.’ Then, I get back in the kitchen. It’s inspiring to see someone else do it, and even do it better than me. It’s like a lifelong learning experience."

“When you asked me to do this… I thought, ‘My passion is not worthy of this project..” Because, I felt like you were catching me in the middle of it still. I feel like I haven’t fully discovered why I have this passion yet. Not every passion is for every season of life. Sometimes, a passion is something that gets you from one part of your life to another. Sometimes, a passion lies dormant for years until you pick it up again.”

“We would rather consume than create, living our lives on autopilot as a result, existing in a state of numbness. There is a reason people resonate with the saying, ‘You were created for more than a 9 to 5 job, followed by four hours of Netflix and crashing into bed to do it all again the next day.’ It’s not just about food for me, it’s about living my life awake. That’s what having a passion does, it wakes you up. Living your life awake is uncomfortable, especially at first. But as you turn down the dial on the noise in your life, one thing at a time, slowly your senses will come back to life, and you will be amazed at what you see, hear, taste and smell.  

That’s what unplugging and spending a few hours in my kitchen does for me.”