Be Nobody-But-Yourself

e e cummings (Image:

“To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle
which any human being can fight.”

~ e e cummings (1894 – 1962)
American poet, painter, essayist, author, and playwright

Related: The Adventures of Being Me


Musings and Impressions
Self-Care 101: Be yourself, love yourself.
You are your own great adventure. 

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The Definition of Discipline

Gavin Kaysen (Photo: Brent Herrig)

Discipline is about having a sense of routine, order, and control.

Discipline is doing things the right way, even when circumstances vary,
and even when you may not feel up to it.

~ Gavin Kaysen (1979 – )
American chef
Chef and owner of Spoon and Stable Restaurant in Minneapolis
Former executive chef for Daniel Boulud in New York City

Musings and Impressions
I read plenty of food literature and one of the books that’s sitting on my night stand presently is a revised edition of Daniel Boulud’s Letters to a Young Chef, which he first wrote 15 years ago. I’m not a chef, and I’m not 19, but the lessons of the kitchen and hospitality from this perpetually smiling chef are grand lessons in life as well. 

The tail end of this fine book captures an equally fine compilation of letters from some of his friends. The first in this august cast of chefs is Gavin Kaysen, who has chosen to give his letter the title, Discipline

It’s interesting how Kaysen chose to define discipline first and foremost as routine, which feels like the most mundane of words. But routine is everything. Gustave Flaubert, the French writer and the man behind Madame Bovary (a Boulud favorite), once said this too about routine: 

Be regular and orderly in your life,
so that you may be violent and original in your work

Kaysen noted that discipline was “a way of life” in Chef Daniel’s kitchen, and what struck me most was how he has come to embrace discipline as
“a tool for perfection.”

Tool for perfection. That’s powerful. 

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Every Day, I Try Very Hard

Every day, I try very hard to make the best cake I can.

~ Pierre Hermé (1961 – )
French pastry chef,
named World’s Best Pastry Chef 2016
by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy,
appointed Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur in 2007

Musings and Impressions
Pierre Hermé is a giant in the world of patissérie, the king of sweets. I am a big fan.

I got this quote from the November 25th FT Weekend Magazine, a “Q&A with pastry chef Pierre Hermé” by Hester Lacey. Two other responses struck me from this interview: 

Who was or still is your mentor? 

[Gaston] Lenôtre will always be my mentor. He gave me the values I still work with today: attention to detail, work well done, the handing down of knowledge. He showed me what quality is and how to achieve it. Every day, in my life as a pastry chef, I think about him. 

Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?

Talent is the most important. But ambition is a good support. Génie [genius] is made of 80 per cent–even 95 per cent–work and 5 percent talent. You need both.

I had the good fortune of meeting him last December at a bistro in Paris. There was an air of bashfulness about him. I was bowled over by this and his soft-spoken ways. You can find him in my Boxing Day piece, On Boxing Day, Oysters, Champagne, and a Brush With a Star.   

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What’s Really Holding Us Back

Denise Keller, host of Travel and Living Channel’s ‘Passage to China’ and ‘Passage to Malaysia’ (Photo: TLC)

It’s not what you are that is holding you back.
It’s what you think you are not.

~ Denise Keller 
Discovery Asia Channel Host, Eco-Advocate, Yoga Instructor
Winner of the ‘Best Entertainment Presenter’ at the 2011 Asia Television Awards.

Musings and Impressions
If you ever followed Denise Keller on her Instagram, you’d find photo after photo of herself either in the fitness studio, some exotic place or a familiar locale, on stage hosting an event, or against some sleek, stark backdrop striking a pose with elegance and élan. From time to time, it’s neither of these, just a candid, madcap portrayal of herself, doing a duck face, for instance, or revealing all her teeth and trauma at an orthodontist’s chair.

But all these photos are mere photos. There’s more to the gloss and the person her photos capture. What I love are her words. Sometimes, they warm the heart; sometimes, they nudge you; sometimes, they shake you up a little, like this one from her post on November 14. I couldn’t help feeling that she had written it for me. But then again, I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. 

Imagine, followers by the thousands, when all I have are 19 likes on average! The numbers speak of something deeper: the hard work, the dailyness of keeping at it, of never giving up, of tearing herself out of bed even when there are days when she just doesn’t feel like it. 

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Ambition, the Reese Witherspoon Way

Reese Witherspoon (Photo: Instagram/Draper James)

Of all the nasty words I’ve heard that are used to describe women,
the one that has the ugliest connotations is ambition.
I don’t know why that’s declared conniving for women,
because I’m constantly inspired by Reese’s ambition.
You have a dream? She makes it happen.

~ Laura Dern
Witherspoon’s friend and co-star in the 2014 film
and this year’s seven-part HBO series Big Little Lies


All we’re asking for is 50-50.
A lot of women procrastinate or say, ‘I’ll do something,’
but Reese is a doer.

~ Nicole Kidman
Witherspoon’s co-star and co-producer of Big Little Lies, citing a 2016 study for the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University that reported that only seven percent of filmmakers in 2016 were women. The Motion Picture Association of America found that women accounted for 52 percent of moviegoers in the same year.


I always say to her, ‘You don’t understand how rare this is!’ To her, it’s like, ‘Yeah, now what?’ She can do it all standing on her head.

~ Nicole Kidman
who finds it thrilling to watch Witherspoon bounce between her duties as an actress, producer, designer and mother

Musings and Impressions
Reese Witherspoon has never been in my radar very much, but since coming across a recent article in the Wall Street Journal Magazine, I’ve been following her on Instagram. It’s not just hot, it’s inspiring and breezy, especially that one cool GIF where she’s parked herself at the stern of a yacht, her eyes closed as she luxuriates in the salt-kissed winds, her fingers running wildly and madly through her hair.

How Reese Witherspoon is Changing Hollywood for Women
by Derek Blasburg
WSJ. Magazine, Nov 1, 2017

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