How it began

The idea for this began with a man. Yes ladies, a man. But not the "baby I support you", "woman you can do it", "lean on me babe, I got your back" type of man. He was more the "you're not all that", "she is so better and smarter than you" and the "I WISH you were more like HER" type of man.

"Ohhhh YES!" many of you are nodding, "I know HIM!" Running through relationships like a self-obsessed star of a reality TV dating show, trampling self-esteems and leaving a messy trail of hurt and disappointment in his wake. Crediting himself with your achievements, even successes that came long before his arrival, whispering loudly that without him you are helpless and worthless. A real insecurity builder. He may have a different voice, some other name, a different look, but you know the type. And his type always leads to the same kind of story.

At least, that's how these stories begin.

Not everyone's story begins with a man, of course, but everyone HAS a story. Whether it involves a lover or a friend, family or neighbors, critical teachers or strangers in a coffee shop, we all have experiences that wound us, shame us, break us down and diminish our very life force. Then, out of pride or embarrassment or fear we hide them away out of sight and sound.

It's understandable. Most of us have stood before others, fresh wounds gaping, hearing words that sting like salt. "I would NEVER let that happen!"..."NO ONE could ever make ME feel that way!"... Dismissive comments and judgments like the forces that keep women from reaching out, that make us feel isolated and rejected enough to hide from the world in an empty corner, depressed and alone. And such self-righteous declarations are fruitless claims because really they are sometimes true and sometimes false for each and EVERY one of us.

Truth is, the worst of things happen even to the best of us, because we can't always be on our game. More than once or twice every woman on the planet has found herself at the wrong end of a bad decision. We've all stood in front of the mirror, sometimes looking as torn up as we feel, berating ourselves for not being smarter, tougher, wondering how we didn't see it coming. Whether we feel blindsided, or are responsible for blindly ignoring the red flags popping up like dandelions in spring, we rarely admit the truth to ourselves let alone to anyone else.

If we were more honest in what we reveal to others, we may lessen someone else's grief by exposing some of our own. "Yes, I love my husband and my children. However, my husband has not always been the most faithful and my children are a struggle..." is less sparkly but a lot more realistic than saying "You are going to love every minute of marriage!" while pushing forward smiling family photos as proof that the story you tell is the reality you're living live, and what others can expect to find. We spend so much time saying we value our friends, talking about how much we love each other and need to look out for each other, but we don't help one another the way we could because we don't share the stories we don't want anyone to hear. We don't share our DISH.

The beginnings of everyone's stories are set in stone...

but the endings have yet to be written.

DISHING WITH THE DIVA was created as a refuge and an outlet for women to share, to dish HONESTLY about tough experiences from which they are trying to heal, and to work through those experiences by turning them into something tangible. Food is life giving. We need it to live. We use it to heal. In our kitchen we share our DISH through stories, and creating wonderful recipes that help transform a horrible tasting experience into something that feels good. When you spend two years as a living target for a partner who delights in slinging mud at every turn, it is tempting to sweep the dirt under the rug, to stay vigilant in washing off the residue before anyone sees it and thinks of you as foolish and weak. But what better way to finally digest the whole experience than to talk, cry and laugh with supportive friends while feasting on a delectable mud pie?!

The most important meals and the richest life experiences both come from sharing and comparing, tasting, learning, and making some deletions, substitutions, and revisions. Just like when we find ourselves staring at a flat soufflé, or excitedly opening the oven only to fill the room with smoke and the smell of burnt cookie dough, we can figure out what happened, learn from it, maybe even laugh about it, and move on to create better tasting things.

"DISHING" is about more than sharing a story. It's about taking an experience that has damaged us and transforming it into something that restores us. And it's the process of discovering...or creating...endings that have yet to be written. We'll learn more together as we serve up stories in the Diva kitchen, but here are the ingredients that build a DISH:

D   Define your DILEMMA
I   Identify your INSPIRATIONS
S   Share your Story
H   Heal your Heart

DISHING WITH THE DIVA is a gathering place. No matter where you eat in the world you find that the best, most memorable food is created by more than one person. In any restaurant or any village in the world, it is about many hands, or even one chef drawing from the ideas of many. We realize that a community of women working together is stronger, more creative, more inventive than any one person working alone can possibly be. DISHING WITH THE DIVA is the place where this community gathers.

Everyone lives.

Everyone eats.

And everyone is invited to our kitchen.

Thank you for joining us on this journey.