Today is my 40th birthday, and my handsome husband Kurt has rented a beautiful beach house for us and my best friends on St. Simons Island. To celebrate, we’re cooking up a lowcountry boil poolside tonight, and there’ll be a two-tier layer cake decorated with beach waves, flavored chocolate and vanilla with a raspberry-lemon filling. I can’t think of a better way to welcome a new decade.
At the turn of 40, I can honestly say I’ve learned some life lessons that I'll apply to the next 40 and I am truly excited for what’s to come.
I started off this year with intention, and I’ve got to tell you that 2023 is shaping up to be a great year so far. In late February, I resigned from a place I didn’t belong. I have made the decision to finish what I started in 2016. I’m going back to culinary school! I have seven classes remaining, which God willing, I will complete in six months.
By the end of the year, I will have earned my Associate of Culinary Arts degree from the Culinary Institute of Savannah. I had to withdraw from classes in 2017 to go back to work, but things are different now, and I have made up my mind to finish what I started. There’s no turning back now.
This year, I’m also focused on writing my next book, “Unique Eats and Eateries of Savannah” with Reedy Press, which will debut in the spring of 2024. The book will feature more than 80 of the Hostess City's most interesting local restaurants, bakeries, ethnic cafes and artisan meat markets, showcasing the people and stories behind the food.
So far, my research has taken me to some delicious dining rooms, including the world-renowned Mrs. Wilkes' Boardinghouse on West Jones Street in Savannah, and the well-appointed Husk in the heart of Savannah's Landmark Historic District.
During interviews, I’ve met the owners of meat markets and cafes, as well as husband and wife duos that have gone into business together, and it has been so enlightening to hear what inspired them to start their food businesses, and about the challenges they’ve overcome. From rebuilding after restaurant fires, to staffing challenges during the pandemic, the stories are compelling, and I can’t wait to share them with you.
Maybe the most fun I’ve had yet is a visit to a somewhat hidden tiki bar, known for its rum selection. The atmosphere transports you to another world and with one sip of the inspired cocktails, you’re on vacation in the Caribbean. Be sure to follow me on social media to come along on my journey. I share weekly highlights, and it’s quite fun.
On those life lessons learned: Change can be scary, but never underestimate staying somewhere you don’t belong. Choices come at a cost, but peace of mind cannot be bought. You always have a choice and once you make it, don’t look back. Have the courage of your convictions and don’t second guess or doubt yourself. When you make a decision, capitalize on that momentum and keep moving forward. For me, making some hard decisions this year has set my life on a trajectory that I feel far more proud of and excited to get out of bed for, than the societal expectations of where I was previously.
Today, I can look in the mirror with confidence and lay my head down at night with a clear conscience. That’s worth more than any paycheck.
It’s never too late to do more of what you love, and I have always been a firm believer that when you do what you love, success comes. And this has been a big one for me: Your worth and value is not determined by your salary, job title or a number on a scale.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be wise financially or make healthy decisions, but don’t look for your identity in things that are fleeting. Shed toxicity and never stop learning. Follow your arrow. A colleague in my first job out of college once told me, “Life is too short to concern yourself with the opinions of others.” She was so right.
I must say I wouldn’t be where I am today without my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. All my success and anything I’ve ever achieved is because of him. In 1 Peter 5:10 it says: “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” That is exactly what he has done in my life and I give him all the praise, honor and glory.
Cheers to 40 years, y’all, and have a happy Easter celebrating the risen savior.
Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser is a private chef and the author of the best-selling memoir “Some Kinda Good.” Featured in Forbes, on Food Network and ABC, she writes about Southern, coastal cuisine, locally sourced and in season.
Connect with her on social media by liking Some Kinda Good on Facebook, or follow @SKGFoodBlog on Instagram and Twitter. To learn more, visit RebekahLingenfelser.com.