Lessons on Chasing a Dream
June, 2014 · By Coryanne Ettiene
30 Days ago I watched the movers load up the last of our boxes, mopped my Seattle kitchen for the last time and had a US road map tagged with a handful of “must see” attractions between Washington and Texas. 30 Days of license plate bingo, eating out, packing and unpacking luggage, and watching the weather inch up a degree with each mile we drove. Not just a move, our road trip was a connection that I so desperately needed. There were no emails, no meetings, no deadlines, and more importantly, I was present in the moment, not distracted by this or that, not watching the clock; I was a complete blank canvas where time stood still in a cocoon of laughter, connection, and embracing the free spirit inside me.
When I started this journey 3 years ago, there was no goal, it was simply a form of expression that allowed me to share my love of kitchen living; and then like a light switch I found my groove, fell in love with my journey and decided to build it into a business. Like a game of Where is Waldo, the Ettiene family has packed and unpacked 2 times since landing in the US 4 years ago…. It would seem that when you chase the American dream, you literally do chase it. Not just in the hours you spend working towards that goal, but also in the location, because when you chase a media dream, you chase the location too. There are no guarantees on this path, only dreams; and very few of us see them come true. Which is why I am so very grateful for the support of my friends and family that are cheering me on. Those close to me know that this journey is unpaved, often rough and frequently overwhelming…. but it is that moment of celebration, encouragement and recognition that make every bump worth while. For those eager to chase their own food media dream, a few words of advice:
1. Be who you are, never compromise. There is no room for anything other than who you are. Embrace your quirky side, celebrate your skills, share your human side, laugh at yourself, and stand tall in the face of critics. Being yourself is hard enough, it creates a vulnerability that can cut to the core and also rise you to the top…but not being you is impossible, and no matter how hard you try to be an edited version of yourself, you will fail. Your audience will follow, anyone following you for not being who you are is not your audience.
2. Create a business. Start thinking of yourself as a business and others will too. Chasing a dream is expensive, no matter what your business is. In food media you need props, cameras, lights, printers, computers, smart phones, food…..the list goes on. Create a business plan, a budget, a target revenue, formulate a strategy for reaching your goals and start making connections. Only 5% of food bloggers work full time as a food blogger, find those 5% read them, get to know them, learn from then, and go out and find a network of like minded people to share ideas with.
3. Time. Time is your most valuable commodity. The moment you get on the dream wheel is the same moment you give up all access to free time. The reality is, every moment not working is a moment not growing. Hours are long, exhausting, sometimes overwhelming….but if you love what you do, those small successes along the way make up for your total lack of free time. And when you do make a stand and try to arrange a moment of pure laziness… the guilt sets in.
4. Parenting. I used to be the mother that hung on every word, kissed every bump, and never missed a game. There is not a day that goes by where I wish with all my might that I could be that mother again and chase this dream at the same time…instead I carve out hours where I am present, involve my children in my work and set aside days where family is a priority. Truth be told, when I choose my family over my dream, my business suffers, but I am okay with that because when I am working, they encourage me, support me and cheer me on. I’m at peace with where I am as a mother, but it has been a head journey of understudying that I can’t have my cake and eat it too.
5. Road Blocks. There will be road blocks, lots of them. You have to put your big girl pants on and take them as they come, climb out of bed with a smile and keep moving. You can start the day with an amazing accomplishment spend hours on a high while you grin from ear to ear, and then finish with the tiniest road block only to feel like crap when you climb into bed. That is the nature of the beast, so celebrate every tiny victory, remember them and try with all your might not to let those road blocks rain on your dream.
6. Surround yourself with people who understand. Sounds funny to say, but my dearest friends are those that are chasing the same dream. Why? Because they get me, they know that if I don’t call them back I still adore them and that I don’t always have time for coffee. And those dear friends that are not chasing the same dream know that my absence does not mean that they are forgotten, only that time is not on my side. They get that when I do have free time, I want to be with my family, and they forgive me when what time we do spend together is brief and infrequent.
Reading these 6 tips I can’t help but fear that I have done nothing-less than put anyone off of chasing a food media dream and have painted a picture of nothing but tiresome, lonely hours spent licking your wounds…. but that is not the case. I get up every morning excited about what I do, but know that it is not for everyone. I get countless emails from people asking advice, and most importantly telling me how easy I make it all look. The truth is, I choose to put the happy out there, and to take the struggle of this path and make it private. Like everything in life, reflection is the key to moving forward. I look back on the last few years and have learned the hard way what is needed to chase my dream and now have the experience to understand what is needed to take the next step…in Dallas where the TV market is bigger, and the opportunities endless.
Today we move into our new Dallas home, and finally I can unpack my kitchen and cook a meal for my family. Despite all the fun we have had this last month, the one thing missing to the complete the experience has been a kitchen table. Over the coming summer months, I will be infrequent in my posts while we settle into our new home, connect with our new friends and build the foundation for my next chapter of Kitchen Living with Coryanne. Thank you for being there these few years and for allowing me to be apart of your kitchen experience.