a year ago today

thoughts on the past year

As I write this today, I have one thing on my mind – taking risks.

A year ago today, I left my job in finance. Actually, technically that was a year ago yesterday. A year ago today, I woke up, showered, got dressed, and set off to Melissa Clark’s house to work as her interim assistant. On January 31st, I was packing my desk and signing separation agreements, on February 1st, I was chopping garlic. It couldn’t have been a transition with less fanfare, but to me, that was the best way to plunge into the unknown. No time to sit and pontificate – there was work to be done and things to be learned.

Last night, as we were clearing the table, Andrew looked at me and said, “If a year ago, I had told you you’d be where you are today, working for amazing people, finishing one book and starting another exciting project, would you have believed me?”

No, I wouldn’t have. I probably would have laughed and hugged him, grateful that he believes in me as much as he does.

My old therapist says that we should believe in ourselves just as much. She says that if we had a friend who doubted us as much as we, at times, doubt ourselves, we wouldn’t even speak to that person. And she’s right. Who wants to be friends with someone who undermines and second-guesses her?

I don’t want to wax poetic and say you’ve got to do what you love. It’s not my style. Everyone has to choose a path that is right for them, whatever it means to them. For me, it meant jettisoning my career on Wall Street and plunging, head first, into the world of food and writing.

I don’t celebrate this blog anniversary because I’m too lazy to really figure out when it began. And I’m often remiss in remembering important dates. But February 1 will always be a special day in my heart. The day I took a leap hoping that the universe had a net for me to fall into.

It’s been a glorious fall thus far. I can’t wait for more.


  • Radish

    Winnie – in all seriousness, if you want me to share her, I will. She is nothing short of amazing. I love her.

  • Grace

    Congratulations! I’m so glad it is working out for you.

    My projected quit date is July 19, 2013. Deep down I know that I’m not going to make it that long and that is perfectly fine with me. The glorious certainty that my escape from this particular segment of the rat race is near is what allows me to get up in the morning and go to my soul-destroying job between now and then.

    I’m right behind you!

  • charlie

    hi, i read your blog constantly, big fan here :)
    it is always very inspiring visually and culinarily but today it has become inspiring personally as will. thank you.
    best of luck.

  • deb

    Congratulations on your big leap! I left my day job in 2008 and can hardly believe I’ve been nearly four years without a safety net. Still scary, but the most fun I’ve had doing a so-called “job.” I hope you have the same experience.

  • Lys

    So inspired by this lovely little piece. Congratulations Olga! Now, when is Forrest going to follow his mama’s footsteps and get his own site? :)

  • Nicole

    Congratulations, Olga! This is so inspiring to read. I’ll need to remember this post when I take my own leap, whenever and wherever that may be!

  • Brian

    You are an inspiration and it’s so exciting to see everything that you’ve done this last year. I have no doubt the next year will be even better than the last

  • Jess

    Big smiles here today after reading this. Happy February 1st, Olga! I can think of no better thing to celebrate than taking that leap. (And just think about one year from *now!* There’s so much good stuff to come, I bet.)

  • noëlle {simmer down!}

    What a coincidence- tomorrow is my last day of my desk job (but it was supposed to be yesterday), and I’ll be 100% freelance as of Friday! I’m re-launching my blog with a new design and URL in the next few weeks (long overdue, but never had time until now), and I’ve already got a few food writing/ recipe development jobs lined up.

    Although your site is much better known than mine, I’m sure that reading about your experiences over this past year influenced me in some small way to think it was do-able. :) Can’t wait to see what the future holds for us both!

  • Kimberley

    This really speaks to me. Especially your therapist’s wise words about self doubt. I’ve never heard it so well said. I think I need to paste that paragraph to my mirror. I’m just over a year out from my past job, too.

  • Debbie Koenig

    Woo hoo! Good for you, Olga! I just hit ten years myself–January 8’s my big day. Like you, I think I’ll note that date every year for the rest of my life.

  • Radish

    Everyone, thank you SO MUCH for your kind, encouraging comments. It means more than mere language can express! xx

  • A Plum By Any Other Name

    What a lovely post. It’s a good thing when you can choke someone up–a stranger–who knows only of you by a few posts in cyberspace. So glad you took that leap. Cheers and lots of luck for the year ahead!

  • Jennifer Butler Basile

    Very wise advice from your therapist; we really can be our own worst critics. Luckily, you didn’t allow your inner critic to win out. Your success is inspiring – especially to people with their feet on the edge, about to make the leap! Thank you – from someone in mid-leap!

  • Melissa

    My old therapist said the same thing. “You wouldn’t want to be your friend with the things you say to yourself,” she would tell me. Congratulations to you!

  • It's Not You, it's Brie

    Beautiful post, Olga. Believing that anyone or anything other than oneself has a net for you to fall in is one of the scariest things in the world. You’re an inspiration. And, I love your old therapist. If I move to nyc, I want her number.

  • Robert S.

    Great post…inspiring, too, as I’m ready to leave the comfort of baking bread during the 3rd shift and begin to sell insurance for a certain company headed by a duck (mmm…duck…)…thank you for continuing to provide a respite from the daily grind.

  • Radish

    Robert – sometimes we all must do what needs to be done. Nothing wrong with selling insurance, or working on Wall Street for that matter. It just wasn’t for me. I was good at it, but my heart just wasn’t in it.

  • Jennie

    I wish I had your courage. It is so inspiring to hear of others successes and your story is certainly a success. Best wishes for another fullfilling year!!

  • Jill Mant~a SaucyCook

    Wow! This is my first time to your blog and well, I guess I was just supposed to be here. I quit my job 3 years ago, with a lot of clarity as to what I didn’t want to do anymore, but not so much as to what I did want to do. I have done a hell of a lot of cooking over the past 3 years, including catering my own wedding, but my blog is still in it’s infancy. You inspire me. Thank you and a heartfelt congratulations.

  • Andrew Scrivani

    Amazing people are sometimes made that way by having smart, dedicated, loyal,funny, competent, flexible, driven individuals surrounding them. Wall St.’s loss was all our our gain, dear. You have been a godsend. Congrats…and can you please come to work, I can’t deal with all this cooking while you write books, dammit! ;)

  • Radish

    Andrew – you just made me tear up. And I can’t get emotional i have a few more days of the book (due next Fri!) I cannot wait to return to our weekly sessions – thanks for not firing my *ss while I slave over a keyboard. I really can’t wait to return!! xx

  • Amelia

    Olga: you are a sassy radish in more ways than one!
    It is lovely to see someone motivated enough to sprout in harsh grounds…
    I keep thinking of doing the same but am scared of not having enough safety net. I love how you trusted the world would know how to catch you.
    That is how I need to start thinking…
    Thank you for being so sassyly inspiring!

  • Kasey

    I love the quote from your therapist and your exploration of it. I doubt myself all the time and I know that I would definitely not be friends with that kind of friend. In fact, I make an effort to surround myself with positive people. I have never thought that one of those positive people should really, first and foremost, be ME! Congrats on year 1. You are rockin it!

  • Lana

    I gritted my teeth while I worked at a job I detested, albeit being good at it, while my husband chased his dreams. Now that he is almost there, I quit the drudgery and decided to plunge into the unknown myself.
    It is inspirational and encouraging to read your story and I wish you many exciting and happy moments in your adventure.
    BTW, I have been reading your blog since I “found” you on Accidental Hedonist (we go back a long way:)

  • JulieD

    Cheers, Olga!! And congrats!! What a beautiful story. It was great to meet you at BHF last year, hope to see you again and congratulate you in person. :)

  • Deb

    Good for you!
    Love this story, I too have put myself out on that limb…but as someone once told me; you have to go out on the limb, because that is where all the good fruit is!
    From one passionate cook and food writer to another, well done!

  • Alexis

    As a soon to be graduate with a very uncertain future, I found this particularly inspiring! Happy (belated) anniversary to your blog!

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