There are times I still need to pinch myself. I know it’s a cliche and a rather tired one but it really does happen. Daily I wake up in darkness and call repeatedly for the troops to stir ; remind them they need clothes on for school; and bags full of belongings; a lunch box for sustenance, and it would be helpful on future bill payments if they could brush their teeth before their belaboured exit to the car. Then there is a moment of quiet, a peace that ensues, before the puppy starts it’s rampage around the dining furniture begging me for companionable exercise. And at some point after all of that, I will be reminded by something small, something at times quite insignificant, that I have an amazingly blessed life. On top of that I live in this stunning country, way down in the undisturbed sector of the Southern Hemisphere, where I bizarrely chose to present myself on a reality TV show. The memories of which I try hard to move past, unless I am regaling an awestruck audience with crazy tidbits! Yet, it is with enormous astonishment, that I have to realise that since my time on Master Chef, my life has completely changed. I am buzzing with energy and satisfaction. I am finally doing what I absolutely love and in giving joy to others along the way, I am finding myself.
I watch children in particular blossom when they have a chance to cook and create alongside me. As a former teacher, and principal of a school for ‘little guys’ in Saigon, it is of no surprise to me that my favourite moments are with children. Yet, now I am somehow a special person for them to know and I will do absolutely anything to support a child. This is what makes my work at RMHA so rewarding, yet it is more than that. I grow alongside each experience I have with a child. In Vietnam, I will never forget the day a child was moved from my class to another when class sizes became too large, and someone else made the call. I was informed that they felt it a good move, because I ran a loud, vibrant and energetic class and she was a quiet and shy child. I questioned myself for weeks after that, wondering if I had left her behind, somehow had overshadowed her own growth. I truly hope not, but it has prayed on my mind and I became a different teacher because of it.
Recently I held a class at Nosh Food Market and we had 30 children attend. There was an older girl who came and she was quiet but very keen to cook and to learn. I was kind of surprised to see her at the next class as I had felt she may have been put off by being surrounded by younger children. I called on her to help me out a couple of times, and encouraged her to push the boundaries a little with her food. When she found me on FB and sent me a photo of the recipes she had tried at home, I was touched. The pinnacle for me though was the note I received a couple of weeks later from her brother and his wife:
we booked xxx in for a couple of your classes over the holidays, she is normally very shy but had a great time and you made her feel so special, she LOVED that you posted one of her pictures onto your page and is now asking about how/where to take more classes!
And to boot they own a business and have very kindly offered a wonderful opportunity which I can share with RMHA.
Then several days on I received another amazing note:
…meeting you and your two boys and your husband my kids have not stopped talking about you and what you are doing. They have talked to their(sic) teachers and other kids at school about meeting you and what you did on the quiz night and the master chef. You are their(sic) hero – well done Vanessa.
That is when I pinch myself.
Friendships, relationships, corporate networking…………I am not sure what to call it because for me it is simply about being me. I am never going to please everyone but to touch even one soul and to create a circle of communication that in itself brings more good – well – it’s worth a pinch!