Two years ago I had 133 servings and 7 stops on my meal delivery to do list. I was in a church kitchen by myself. Groceries were purchased at the regular grocery store in regular grocery store quantities. I felt haggard, but only worked 2.5 days a week.
Last year, Brooke, The Real Good Life’s first employee, had her first day on our first anniversary. We had 202 servings and two delivery routes to manage. I was still entering all the addresses and phone numbers into my phone by hand and guessing at the best routes for those 23 stops. I thought I was overwhelmed in September, but that says nothing about the tsunami of Big Business Decisions that would overtake my life in the next few months.
This week we (and by we, I mean a team of four kitchen rockstars and two delivery drivers and little ole me) tackled 811 servings and 69 orders. Holy cats. I’m still overwhelmed, but now it’s my own fault and my own time mismanagement. This team is knocking out their duties in the most delicious ways and still leaves time for lunch on Wednesdays.
So what have I learned in these two years? Last year I gave you a whole litany of lessons. This year it’s simple –
it’s about so much more than food.
It’s about taking one more decision off your plate. Keeping one more pot in the cabinet vs. the sink. Allowing you more time to work on homework, go to the gym, read your book. Bringing you to the table to commune with the ones you love. Coaxing your children to try new things because it’s all delightful when Brooke makes it (at least if you’re my kids.) It’s giving you a moment of pure bliss at the end of a hard day, enjoying that chocolate-y treat as you relax with your favorite tv show. (And/or it’s giving you something delicious to shovel in your face when life stress gets to be too much.)
It’s giving a group of women a place to find another purpose, another line in their bio. A place where they can work hard and have something to show for it and then turn it off and go enjoy life the rest of the time. (Except when we text each other recipes, podcast recommendations, and silly stories from life, of course.) It’s friendships that might never have otherwise come to fruition, but have already crossed Breakfast Club-style into personal space.
It’s teaching me so many things I didn’t know. Confirming what I like (strategic planning, writing, menu testing) and surprising me with what I don’t (HR management, cooking for hundreds, networking). It’s showing my daughters that you can do anything if you keep your eye on the prize and happen to be in the right place at the right time. It’s also showing my girls that mama is impatient and distracted and survives on checking her phone and a diet of chocolate brownies and diet coke when she’s stressed. It’s my husband on repeat saying “turn off your brain” when I’m awake at 2 am making lists.
It’s reminding all of us that a business needs to be based on solving a problem, a problem that’s probably not the basic one you think it would be. It’s raising thousands of dollars and big piles of food for the Hunger Task Force.
It’s feeding their senses. It’s nourishing your soul.
This right here? This is the real good life. That’s the best lesson of all.