Working Through Nerves: Go Big or Go Home

by Maggie Battista on April 6, 2013

in Events, Featured

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It’s time for a tiny break to just feel. Grab a cup a tea or perhaps a tub of wine. Skip the recipes for now. Maybe stare at a sunset above the clouds from last night’s flight. Let’s take a look at the photos from my last few weeks of work, and talk nerves.

My food life is filled with meetings from morning until night. With each meeting, each article I write, each partnership I consider, each little growth spurt for my small business baby, Eat Boutique, I feel lots and lots of nerves – the sort that make my cheeks flush, my belly roar and my eyes literally swell with tears whether it’s good or bad news. And it takes a good brisk walk or losing myself in the steps of a recipe or, let’s be honest, a glass of something strong to stop the nerves. I’ve found myself in a strange tipping point place where each decision forces me to either go big or go home.

I could go home, stay home. Figuratively and literally, I suppose. I could continue to build this business that I love slowly and steadily, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The comfort found in attacking goals at my own pace is definitely easier on my mental health. Going slow gives me time to plant my garden, make Vin d’Orange (recipe soon!) from scratch and enjoy a pint of it while rubbing my dog’s belly as we watch the sunset.

Or I could go big. Big means opportunities that may come with overwhelming payoffs and heart-clenching risks. But big isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be. Sheesh, I took a leap of faith by booking a 5,000 square foot space for our 2012 Holiday Market. It felt big, huge, but we all know it was just too small for the love of small batch, boutique food. So now I have to go even bigger. Your calls and emails are urging me to just do it – you boost me each and every time we talk. Thank you.

But just like the market space decision, there are so many big opportunities that will help spread the small batch food gift way of life. It forces me to consider just how big this Eat Boutique thing will be and, in tandem, how do I want to spend the days of my life. That may seem a little drama queen and it totally is – but even little decisions will change a life. Do I want to find an affordable 15,000 square foot space for an Eat Boutique Market? Do I want to create Eat Boutique Markets all around New England, or the country? Do I want to write a cookbook? Do I want to open a beautiful smaller space where all of you can visit with me and other food makers in a more intimate, hidden way on a regular basis? Do I want to help even more big businesses give food gifts that support small business vision?

I’d be lying if I said “no” to any of those questions. Of course, I want to try. My food life has been made up of piles and piles of urges to just try, just try something, anything. And I’d rather try and fail miserably and publicly, then regret. But it’s a struggle to do it on your own terms making time for repose and awareness, laughter with friends, big family style meals with my close ones, and smiles with my little dog who sweetly whimpers when I return from a trip, who I’m certain is saying “I know you’re trying to do your thing but *we* are your thing!” Kinda heartbreaking.

I think these problems are good problems, right? I don’t have a big plan but I do plan to just continue to try. I’ll just try to figure out how to go big and go home, all at once, and just live through the nerves because the nerves mean that I’m doing something that matters a ton to me, and thank goodness for that. Right? Thank goodness for that. (I’ll have to remember that when I have piles of food gifts to pack and posts to write at 2am. You know, like every single night.)

I’m not home this week. I’m in San Francisco for a food conference and, lucky me, lots of parties and awards ceremonies and blah blah blah. But I’m living like a local in the Mission while popping into the Ferry Building to soak it all up, take in the view, spill red wine on some pretty nifty cookbook writers as I struggle with these darn heels, you know the drill. Still, I’ll make lots of new friends and learn from their journeys because it really is all about the journey, nerves and all. It’s about how you want to spend the days of your life. And I’ve already made a big date with a dog and a sunset the moment I’m home.

I always appreciate your advice so please leave your comments below. Tell me to just buck up. Tell me you’re listening. Or just tell me, please tell me, it will all work out. With thanks and hugs, in advance.

Before you click away, I’d love to share some photos that matter to me…

I love my dog and she really does make looks that have an army of words behind them; my kitchen is a mess but exactly where I want to be.

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The mason jar of daffodils placed on my Easter table by Joshua Lewin himself (such a cutie!) at Beacon Hill Bistro; a page of sage advice from Jane Lawson’s Zenbu Zen Cookbook (she is so wise and, sadly, so far away from me).

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The view through the fog and gorgeous vegetation of Dolores Mission Park; my breakfast from Tartine Bakery (so worth the 20-minute line).

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The 2013 Eat Boutique Market calendar will be in place soon, with a possible location in the suburbs; photos from the 2012 Holiday Market with my friends Marisa McClellan (of Food in Jars) and Brian Samuels (of A Thought for Food).

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The moment I’m back in Boston, I’m hosting a lunch for my friend, Yvette van Boven, at the Water Cafe at the Institute of Contemporary Art. Think three courses of delicious food, a view of the sea, cool as hell art all around us, and good times with an iconic cookbook author! (Yes, I did say iconic because it’s true.) Grab a seat at the table now. (It’s Saturday, April 13.)

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I took some time to meet the sheep at my community-supported agriculture farm, Clark Farm in Carlisle; the sheep caught me snapping photos in their big beautiful barn.

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One of my best friends visited with us for 24 hours and we celebrated sunny weather with a jaunt up and down Cape Ann and some of the best sushi ever at Latitude 43 in Gloucester, Mass.

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Work took me to Chicago. It was cold and blizzard-like at one point, but nothing a nice afternoon meal at Avec couldn’t handle – it was my best meal in the city!

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A girl has to dream and every time I see an open commercial loft space with good light, I’m smitten. This one is in Beacon Hill of Boston, but I’m open – any suggestions?! Heidi of White Loft Studio and I went to Paris and our story launched on Style Me Pretty last month.

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I had meetings in Provincetown, Massachusetts to discuss a possible Eat Boutique Market out there in June. I stayed at the Sage Inn and was impressed; they’re hosting a cooking class out there on April 20, you should go! Call them at 508-487-6424 to register, say that Maggie told you!

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My dear friends Richard and John prepared a hearty spring lunch full of lamb and asparagus and cauliflower au gratin; they also designed a table inspired by spring and (for moi) Paris. The doors on old buildings make me smile.

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I love, love, love Boston, especially the view of the city from Cambridge (my favorite small city). When in Cambridge, the only bakery I visit is Tatte Bakery; the owner Tzurit designed that light installation.

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I made a twist on a French 75 with a local Berkshire gin called Ethereal Gin. The Ethereal 75 was on Snippet and Ink last month, and I wish each of you a happy, happy spring!

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All photos taken on Instagram by Maggie Battista, except for the ones by Jacqueline Church, Brian Samuels and Heidi Murphy.

Eat Boutique  discovers the best small batch foods by boutique food makers. We share recipes, maker stories and city guides to eating boutique. We host tasting events and markets for food makers, cookbook authors and food fans.  We craft seasonal, regional gift and tasting boxes and sell individual items that you can order in the Eat Boutique Shop. You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

Maggie Battista

Founder at Eat Boutique
Maggie, is the founder of Eat Boutique. She started Eat Boutique as a blog in 2007, and sold out of her first gift box of small batch independent food in 2009. Maggie continues to offer unique and delicious handmade food in tasting subscriptions and seasonal gift boxes for food fans and home cooks. Maggie also hosts Eat Boutique Markets, where she spotlights cookbook authors and food makers. She’s written for Style Me Pretty, Food52, Time Out New York, Spencer Magazine, and writes a cocktail column for the popular wedding blog, Snippet & Ink. Maggie's also created retail experiences for the largest floral and event design company in New England. She regularly travels far distances to find the next great chef, farmer, food maker or host. You can follow her worldwide – and homemade – gastronomic adventures on Twitter at @mizmaggieb or @eatboutique. Maggie's writing her first-ever cookbook Food Gift Love to be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in fall 2015.

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  • christine tobin

    Go! GO! GO!!!!!

    • http://www.eatboutique.com Maggie

      Christine! I like to do whatever YOU say so I’ll keep going. :) But let’s schedule in some breaks for cocktails and sweet hand pies. :) I miss you.

      • christine tobin

        YES!!!! I miss you too and am super proud of you :)

  • Kim

    Hi Maggie- what a great post! I’m here- and behind you and your wonderfulness .Favorite Julia Child quote ” The people who love to eat are always the best people” Also loving the dog, that face *melt*

    • http://www.eatboutique.com Maggie

      Aw, thanks Kim – I appreciate it! We eaters aren’t so bad eh? We always clean our dishes. :) Yes, Ruby is my gem. Thank you!

  • Nicole

    Very inspiring post today! Keep doing what you do because you do it so well!

    • http://www.eatboutique.com Maggie

      Thanks so much, Nicole! I’m just trying – I hope to chat someday! xox

  • Shelby @ Lady Gouda

    Go Maggie go! I loved reading this post and seeing what you are up to
    behind the EB scenes… hope you are finding all sorts of inspiration
    and new ideas out at IACP. I can’t wait to see what you do next!

    • http://www.eatboutique.com Maggie

      Thank you thank you Shelby! I will be sure to post an update after SF! xox

  • Denise

    Maggie – you are doing the most amazing things right now, and will continue doing so. i just know it! Keep going, dream big, and never give up!!!!! Adore you.

    • http://www.eatboutique.com Maggie

      ADORE YOU! So great to see you today. Let’s make it happen sooner next time. xox

  • http://www.facebook.com/sheila.jarnes Sheila Jarnes

    “I’ll just try to figure out how to go big and go home, all at once, and just live through the nerves because the nerves mean that I’m doing something that matters a ton to me, and thank goodness for that. Right? Thank goodness for that.”

    This is so on key, and a great reminder in perfect timing as I try to calm my nerves for my Charleston trip. Go big or go home is absolutely right – this inspires me to just take a deep breath (or 10), close my eyes, and dive in as best I can.

    • http://www.eatboutique.com Maggie

      SHEILA! You’re going to be amazing in Charleston and I can’t wait to hear how much you enjoy your time there. BREATH. Look forward to touching base when you’re back. xox

  • gina weathersby

    your post could not have had more perfect timing. i just got off the phone with a ‘coach’ -first one in my life and wondering why i haven’t done it sooner- and your words resonated with me so much more as it’s all tied together. i just wrote a short post on my personal blog about needing ‘white noise time’ to think, and create, be with our loved ones, etc., as much as powering forward in growing our passions and businesses. it always comes down to balance…and overcoming fear. i, like you, agree, would rather try and fail-even publicly (although that would hurt bad) than to never try, hide and always suffer quietly. here’s to following our dreams and continuing to ‘try’ no matter the outcome. a GREAT post, thank you for sharing. xoxo

    • http://www.eatboutique.com Maggie

      Oh Gina, a coach is an awesome idea – I had one during my first few years of starting this business and it was so wonderful. I am so grateful for your note – it’s this stuff that keeps me going… really! We gotta keep on going!! xox

  • http://globalgastros.com/ Chelsea Rae Schmidt

    I never comment but usually just admire all the wonderful photos and delicious food here but I wanted to say that you are inspirational. You have created something wonderful and beautiful and honest. Whether you go big, go home, or a bit of both, I’m sure it will only add more greatness to Eat Boutique.

    • http://www.eatboutique.com Maggie

      Chelsea!!! Oh my goodness, thank you for commenting. I am touched that you wrote and really appreciate the words of support. We all have to keep each other going and I’m grateful that you read this little food space. TY TY TY! I’d love to say that in person someday. :) xox

  • Gail Watson

    You never cease to amaze and delight me in all the things that you are and do. Wrapping you up in a big love hug- I am sure SF will be more expansive than you could have imagined.

    Raising a glass to you!

    • http://www.eatboutique.com Maggie

      Gail, I’d like to put you in my pocket and bring me everywhere I go. Thank you for the hugs! Let’s have a wine chat soon. :) xox

  • Whitney Hunter-Thomson

    My mantra for 2013 is “go big or go home.” I’m in the process of starting a business. I just moved into my first apartment that I own and therefore am setting up roots for the first time in my adult life. In short, there are a lot of choices that I’m faced with and with choices comes fear because fear comes from uncertainty. Thus, I adopted the “go big or go home” mantra.

    Consequently, I loved your post. I identify with the decision fatigue/decision confusion/decision exhilaration that you mention. I’ve learned along the way that “big” doesn’t have to mean anything other than that which gives you your big life, in whatever way that might be, in a particular moment. In other words, a big life might be playing with your dog just as much as it might mean rolling out all over New England. Whatever you decide on, I’m behind, as is your community! And thanks for the post!

    • http://www.eatboutique.com Maggie

      Whitney, you’re so right. BIG is what’s BIG to you in your HEART… and really big/home blend if we get to do what we want. It’s all overwhelming but I have to remember that. I’m so excited for your new business and your first apartment – that’s just amazing. I’m actually glad we’re scared, it matters to us and lucky us that we’re doing something that matters!! Thanks for commenting, I really appreciate it!! xox

  • Jane Lawson

    Aw Maggie. AllI can say is breathe through it honey. Do take a little time when you feel you need it. And more if you still need it after that. Regroup before making any major decisions – you need a clear head. Being in overwhelm doesn’t help anyone. You are wonderfully wize enough to understand the importance (and soothing ability of) those doggy belly rubs, sunsets and peaceful walks – which means you are well ahead of a whole bunch of folk. Go with your gut – if “going hard” feels nervy but exciting – that’s good – nervy and sick making, with a certain heaviness in your belly… well I think you know what I’m saying here. I might be a long way away but we can always wine-skype for a laugh. x

    • http://www.eatboutique.com Maggie

      Prepare for an email from me soon for a virtual cocktail hour! Thanks so much Jane. xox

  • http://www.facebook.com/julie.logueriordan Julie Logue-Riordan

    Congratulations! Winner of Best food website by IACP. You sure did GO BIG last night. I love your courage and there is such beauty in your vision. Rub your dogs belly and enjoy a bucket of wine. You’ve earned it. I only learned about you at the awards and look forward to following you. If you ever come to Napa for EatBoutique please contact me I have many favorite boutique food stuffs to show you.

    • http://www.eatboutique.com Maggie

      Julie, oh I wish we had talked last night! The IACP awards were the scariest and most exciting moments in the life of this business and I was a little overwhelmed by it all. And so grateful to the IACP judges. I WILL be in wine country in Sept for lots of food stuff so as we get closer, I will reach out. Thank you so much! xox

  • http://twitter.com/GoBIG_GoHome Go BIG or Go Home

    I just wanted to pop in and say “hi.” I discovered this post through a Google alert I’ve set for the term “go big or go home blog,” because that’s the name of my blog. I apply the philosophy to family travel, and generally in a more cheeky way — we travel seeking out the “world’s largest” places, attractions, and events. But a great motto, however it’s used! Good luck in making the right business decisions for you.

    –Traci from the Go BIG or Go Home blog

    • http://www.eatboutique.com Maggie

      Thank you Traci! Such a sweet way to find each other. Happy weekend! xox

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