Hi friends! Please forgive the long gap between blog posts. It's been an exciting and busy past week. As most of you know, we are officially funded on Kickstarter!! And not just funded, but OVER-funded: by nearly $16,000!! After all the planning, all the campaigning, all the traveling and hosting and social media-ing, it's crazy to be on the other side, and confronted with such abundance. I am truly overwhelmed by the generosity and enthusiastic support I've received from all of you – it's just incredible. (Brandon shot a little video of me last week saying thank you to all the Kickstarter supporters if you care to watch!)

I've been absolutely inundated with emails – thank you!! – and I'm slowly trying to plow through them. Please forgive my less-than-prompt response-time, and know that your encouraging words mean the world. In addition to working on the book, I've been busy cooking this past week for several dear friends' events: cupcakes for 50 (birthday party), hors d'oeuvres for 100 (10th wedding anniversary), and teatime goodies for 12 (baby shower). It was all so fun, but by Sunday night, I was absolutely exhausted. So much so that my eyes kept closing as I tried to talk to B during dinner. He sweetly told me to head to bed and that he would do all the dishes (magic words!). I was literally in bed about 10 minutes later and slept for nearly 9 hours straight.


So now what? The Kickstarter's funded and the cookbook is well underway. There's still a LOT of work to be done in the next 5 weeks (from writing to editing to designing) but I feel over-the-moon grateful to be working on a project I love so much. Sound's perfect, right?! "And it all ended happily every after..." But this isn't a movie. It's real life. Which is always messier and more confusing than I'd like it to be.

Truth be told, even though I'm in the midst of realizing a dream, I've still been battling some heavy-duty discouragement. I've always been extremely hard on myself, but lately the chorus of inner critics has gotten out of control. I've felt burdened to the point of breaking with my own expectations to be more productive, more organized, a better friend, a better wife, a more consistent blogger, etc. It's been so weird to receive congratulations from so many people, and yet feel like I'm failing on every single level. So rather than taking time to relax (which I'm desperately craving), I've been beating myself up for the work I should be doing, the emails I should be sending, the people I should be seeing, the chores I should be doing. And so I keep going, pretending that if I work hard enough I'll get everything done. And yet I feel like I'm constantly letting people down, and most of all, myself. Notice the common theme: should. I've let that 6-letter word become an absolute tyrant, and it's robbing me of so much joy.

Can you relate to this feeling? Do you have an inner critic that doesn't let you enjoy your triumphs even for a moment, but instead starts flogging you for the things you haven't done (or did wrong)? It's really awful, and I so desperately want to break the cycle and start showing myself some grace. The worst thing of all is that when I get in this negative loop, it keeps my gaze fixated inward, rather than looking out at all the goodness around me. I struggled with even sharing this because I feel so ungrateful to be dealing with discouragement in the midst of such goodness. But I'm sharing because I believe that these messages in my head are lies, and I believe that if we expose lies to the light, they lose their power. I refuse to stay in this place of shame!


As I was putting together the collage of pictures above, it was almost like a lightbulb went on in my head: this is your life! I looked at these images reflecting the summertime beauty of the past few weeks – afternoon light flooding onto the yellow table, a gorgeous sunset from the rooftop of our apartment, a picnic in the park, simple suppers full of farm-fresh produce, an evening at Tartine with Signe, celebrating the book, and my precious husband who's been such a source of support and encouragement – and realized, yet again, how stinking blessed I am.

Life is not about achievements – what we've done or not done. It's about beautiful moments shared with people you love. It's about lingering meals around the table, with stories and laughter, and maybe just one more glass of wine. It's about creating and dreaming and doing the things that bring you life. It's about snuggles with babies (or in my case cats!), it's about laughter and tears shared with the people you love the most. It's setting down the to-do list every once in awhile, closing the laptop and leaving the phone at home, and taking a long walk just to think and pray and SEE what's really around you. It's about looking out more than looking in. At the end of my life, I'm not going to look back and wish I had had a cleaner floor or a more organized inbox. I doubt I'll care how many Instagram followers I had, or how many books I sold. Instead, I hope I can reflect on my life and say "I loved well. I really listened. I lived out of a place of conviction." I hope can make the world a better place in some small way. And I hope that in the meantime, I can learn to live out of the grace that's been so freely given to me. Actually, can we all start showing ourselves, and each other, some grace? I have a feeling it might just drastically change the way we live.

xo, Anna

P.S. If any of this resonated with you, please feel free to comment below. I'd LOVE to hear from some of you all about how you combat the inner critic, and the negativity that can so quickly steal our joy. Thanks!