Good Morning, Birdie

Good Morning, Birdie

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reader's Choice 20th Anniversary Edition

Good Morning, Birdie

Why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is.

~Mark Twain

I am a devoted Innkeeper at The Channel Road Inn and The Inn At Playa del Rey, which are two beautiful bed and breakfast hotels in Los Angeles. I truly adore the women I work with, so I always look forward to our annual Christmas party. Prior to the party, we all draw “Secret Santa” names for our gift exchange. Two Christmases ago, I noticed my fellow Innkeeper and true friend, Rebecca Hill, was particularly antsy to start the “Secret Santa” game. I was excited, for she is a very thoughtful gift-giver. She handed me a beautifully wrapped present and inside was a book called Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love.

I was touched by this gift as I’ve always loved the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. I especially loved the topic of this book because I do feel food and love are intrinsically intertwined. Showing love to people through the food I make for them is very important to me so I knew I would enjoy the stories.

As I began glancing through the book, I noticed a bookmark. Curious, I flipped to the page and soon realized Rebecca had written a story about my “Morning Bird Granola.” I was completely overwhelmed! I knew Rebecca loved my homemade granola, but I’d never had someone support it so fully — and in print!

Seeing written accolades about my special homemade granola made me begin to realize that my hidden dream of creating yummy baked goods on a professional level could actually come true. It made me feel that my little “Morning Bird Granola” was something truly special to the outside world. It was already special to me because I named it in honor of my late father, who always called me Birdie and would call out “Morning, Birdie!” to me every morning in his booming voice when I was a child playing outside.

When Rebecca held a book signing for Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love she asked me to be by her side to hand out samples of my granola. This was the first time I’d presented my granola outside of the Inns so I was delighted when it was well received. As a dreamer, you don’t always find the courage to try to make your dreams become a reality for fear that the reality will fall short of the dream. Therefore, it’s emotionally daunting to take that first important step. But when people complimented my granola at the book signing and began asking where they could buy it, I felt encouraged that Morning Bird Granola could become a “real product” that I should share on a broader level.

As I drove home from the book signing, I reflected on my life. By age six I already knew that I wanted to be a professional ballerina. I remembered traveling the world feeling it was such a privilege to tell stories through my dancing. I felt at home being able to express my emotions so thoroughly through artistic movement to gorgeous music. I was living my dream come true. Being a dancer was what I was born to do. It was shocking to have my dreams taken away from me one day through injury. For many years, I mourned the loss of my dream and felt hollow inside. Luckily, I eventually found a way to dance again, just not as part of a professional travelling company any longer.

Searching for something else to devote myself to, I discovered that the art of innkeeping made me feel somewhat like myself again. Being rooted in kindness, it is a wonderful form of offering a sanctuary to strangers. I worked in the Virgin Islands and Boston; then, one day I had the fortuitous luck of being hired as an innkeeper at The Channel Road Inn. As I began baking, I felt my artistic soul awakening in ways it hadn’t since my world fell apart. For the first time in a long time I felt I had a brand new way to express my artistic self and touch others again. I soon discovered that I derived great satisfaction from creating my own recipes. As with my dancing, I search for harmony, light and balance in my recipes and of course I am elated when “the curtain goes up” and I can present the food I’ve made for others to enjoy.

It was a wonderful feeling in my heart to see Rebecca and so many guests at the Inns having such a positive reaction to my granola, and even more exciting when I started receiving e-mails requesting it. It was deeply gratifying knowing that I’d connected with others in this way, as it is my intent to positively nourish those I come in contact with in my life. As I do it through my dancing, I now also do with my baking. . ..

When Chicken Soup for the Soul published Rebecca’s story — “Cereal Killer” — it encouraged me to take that leap of faith and try to bring a dream of mine to live again. I began saving money so I could afford packaging and product labels. I was also given permission to sell my granola at the Inn at Playa del Rey and I’ve even had a few people order my granola by mail!

I hope one day to have my own bed and breakfast where I can sell all my homemade baked goods. My bed and breakfast will be somewhere nestled in nature — a sanctuary where people can come to rest, relax and restore their souls. I’d like to have a café on the ground floor as well, and rooms upstairs for guests to stay the night. I, of course, dream of having my granola sold in supermarkets too, but I never want to lose touch with the day-to-day contact I have with the people who eat the treats I create. The symbiotic relationship between myself and those I nourish is essential to me. From where I stand at this moment, this seems like a very big dream but thanks in large part to the courage I gathered from my granola being so lovingly supported in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love, I find myself ready to leap again.

~Dominique Young

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