Give yourself GRACE. I remember when my ex-husband and I separated, it felt like the world was crumbling before me and I had to have the answers to what I was going to do next immediately. The truth is, you most likely don’t have the answers and that’s okay. “Grace” is a word that was gifted to my vocabulary by a dear friend during my divorce. I remember thinking that this word provides me with a sense of comfort, peace, and grounding. “Grace” became more than a feeling during my divorce, it became my way of being. I was able to grant grace to my ex-husband when he needed to be heard and it shifted how I showed up in our relationship moving forward. “Grace” also gave me strength when I had nothing left to give and in the end it taught me I had everything to gain.
As part of our series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Survive And Thrive After A Divorce Or Breakup”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chef Crystal Blanchette.
Chef Crystal, an expert in her field, is a single working mother of two who has proven that healthy eating can be achieved at all ages.
She has used this same philosophy with her clients that include talented entertainers and health enthusiasts such as, The Artist Prince, will.i.am, Jessica Simpson, Lucas Films, and more.
Chef Crystal also heads numerous projects that promote healthy eating such as, Chef Crystalz World, Chefs Guide to Divorce, #CineSoul Dine, and will be partnering with a culinary urban development project called Inner City Kitchen, set to open in South Los Angeles.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to ‘get to know you’. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
I grew up in Lancaster, CA with a mother who always told me, “You can do anything you put your mind to,” and that’s exactly what I did. I was very active in school, I played sports and was a cheerleader. I was also surrounded by love within my family. My grandfather has eleven brothers and sisters, so I grew up going to fish frys, barbeques, and potlucks. He was the family chef, up until he passed the torch to me. I would say we had a typical black family with sprinkles of the United Nations as many of us married outside of our race. It created a foundation of acceptance and love because we all thrived as one family.
Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I have always known that I wanted to be a chef. Growing up, I often cooked for the neighborhood kids and was constantly experimenting in the kitchen. Since my parents were very adamant about me going to college, I figured out a way to do both so that I could attend culinary school in San Francisco.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
The most interesting story that has happened to me since I started this career has to be the time when I cooked a full meal in a hotel room with just a hot pan and a spatula. I was on tour and one of my clients requested a meal in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, the kitchen was closed so I couldn’t get in to cook. I grabbed what I had in my roller bag, why I had a hot plate who knows, and I made a three-course meal from scratch.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The funniest mistake I made when I first became a private chef was when I made a “meat substitution” for Prince. I had been cooking dinner for him and his band for several weeks, but one afternoon he requested me for a private dinner. I remember I made this delicious vegetarian meal for him and his guest Misty Copeland. I was so proud when I brought it out. The plate was beautiful, I mean pretty much perfect. Prince looked at it, looked at me, and said “excuse me chef sister what is this?” I told him what it was, and he said “nope, take it to the trash outside.” I was mortified. I took it to the trash and came back to Prince smiling in the kitchen. He said, “let’s make an omelette.” I was confused by the word “let’s” because it seemed as if he wanted to make it with me. Well, it turned out he wanted to watch while I made it. Prince finished the vegetable omelette I had prepared and then left. I am not sure if I cried in the pile of dirty dishes or in my car on the way home, but the next day Prince had his manager hire me as his personal chef.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?
“100% is possible 100% of the time. As long as you remember that 100% can look different every day.” During my divorce, I started doing transformational work and came across a transformational trainer who introduced me to this quote. I remember thinking, if I step into 100% possibility every day and remember that today’s 100% looks different than yesterday’s, I can do anything. This life lesson has kept me going to this point in my career.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I am working on a project here in Los Angeles that will change the way urban communities are perceived. I believe that we shouldn’t have to drive or take a bus 10 miles away to get healthy food options.
Ok. Thank you for that. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell us a bit about your experience going through a divorce, or helping someone who was going through a divorce? What did you learn about yourself during and after the experience? Do you feel comfortable sharing a story?
Divorce sucks! However, it taught me to take responsibility. I didn’t hold up my end of the deal, even though the marriage wasn’t working. Like most people, I didn’t go into marriage wanting a divorce. It was important for me to not blame myself for wanting to leave, but it was also important to not blame him. I took the feedback that he gave me, I gave feedback to him, and I paid attention to what led us to the point of ending the relationship. I knew that it was pivotal to create a healthy relationship with my ex-husband for our two children. I had to swallow my ego and learn to bring balance into two separate homes by shifting anger to love.
In your opinion, what are the most common mistakes people make after they go through a divorce? What can be done to avoid that?
Letting your ego get the best of you in my experience is one of the most common mistakes people make while going through a divorce. I have done it and it still pops up at times. However, it’s important to remember that at the end of the day you get to live your life in peace, so you must drop your ego.
People generally label “divorce” as being “negative”. And yes, while there are downsides, there can also be a lot of positive that comes out of it as well. What would you say that they are? Can you share an example or share a story?
The positive that came out of my divorce was that I found myself. I learned to see how people perceived me in and outside of my relationships. I found a grounding within when I got divorced and stopped blaming others throughout my life. I stepped out of being a victim of my circumstance and took charge of my own actions
Some people are scared to ‘get back out there’ and date again after being with their former spouse for many years and hearing dating horror stories. What would you say to motivate someone to get back out there and start a new beginning?
It’s okay to get your heartbroken and to remind yourself that you get to have fun. Don’t be attached to the outcome, surrender to the process and enjoy yourself. Dating gets to be fun and if you find “the one” during your dating adventures, great! However, if you don’t, that’s okay too.
The stress of a divorce can take a toll on both one’s mental and emotional health. In your opinion or experience, what are a few things people going through a divorce can do to alleviate this pain and anguish?
Feel the feelings. You cannot avoid alleviating pain, but you get to work through your feelings and know that it will pass. During my divorce, I spent 6 months “trying” to be okay and then I realized I truly wasn’t. It wasn’t until I let myself feel sad, hurt, angry, and happy when I realized that I processed my divorce in a healthier way.
What is the one thing people going through a divorce should be open to changing?
The one thing you should be open to changing in a divorce is you! Divorce is like a movie that starts out with a tragedy in the beginning and can shift into something peaceful if you let it. You get to be the one to create an amicable ending where you may not get the fairytale ending but you get peace.
Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. If you had a close friend come to you for advice after a divorce, what are 5 things you would advise in order to survive and thrive after the divorce? Can you please give a story or example for each?
1. Give yourself GRACE. I remember when my ex-husband and I separated, it felt like the world was crumbling before me and I had to have the answers to what I was going to do next immediately. The truth is, you most likely don’t have the answers and that’s okay. “Grace” is a word that was gifted to my vocabulary by a dear friend during my divorce. I remember thinking that this word provides me with a sense of comfort, peace, and grounding. “Grace” became more than a feeling during my divorce, it became my way of being. I was able to grant grace to my ex-husband when he needed to be heard and it shifted how I showed up in our relationship moving forward. “Grace” also gave me strength when I had nothing left to give and in the end it taught me I had everything to gain.
2. Food gets to be your friend not your enemy. It has been my experience that during a divorce/breakup we go one of three ways. Ben and Jerry’s, Sauteed Kale, or it’s happy hour all day. During my divorce, I decided to embrace all three. I knew that I needed to have my moment of indulging but never when I was sad. I allowed myself to celebrate my WINS during my divorce. I encouraged myself to have dinner parties where I’d cook for everyone, so I wasn’t eating alone in my feelings. I would grant myself healthy snacks during romantic comedies or sappy films. I would do my best to not drink alcohol when I was upset and instead craft cocktail recipes to drink when I was out of my feelings.
3. Feelings aren’t real! I remember when I would start a sentence off with “I feel or I’m feeling,” but the truth is when you’re in the middle of a breakup, it’s hard to decipher what you’re feeling as it changes by the minute. It’s so important to understand that this is a process you go through. TD Jakes says, “feelings are like sand and as soon as water gets thrown on it, it dissolves.” Therefore, my take on it is to never trust your feelings when you are in the midst of an emotional breakdown. It will save you a lot of time and wine.
4. Don’t buy a ticket to someone else’s circus! This was another beauty given to me by a friend. How often do we buy a ticket to the emotional circus? The trick is to remember that there are no refunds or exchanges! When you buy that ticket, you’re guaranteed to be sitting front and center of that circus you have zero control over.
5. Gratitude. I know it can be hard for some of us to imagine feeling gratitude about certain aspects of a divorce, but there is something freeing about shifting your energy from anger to gratitude. It is a daily exercise, but it is helpful in the process of forgiveness for both you and your ex-partner.
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources related to this topic that you would recommend to our readers?
Yes, I love Wendy Sterling’s podcast and program Divorce Rehab. Wendy is such a powerful being and has really supported me in shifting how I show up with my ex-husband.
Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I have a vision to create spaces where everyone in the world has access to healthy food and water. I believe it is possible to do this by not only educating inner-city communities but also holding the grocery stores accountable for not bringing in proper fruits and vegetables. My idea is to create pockets of healthy culinary locations around urban and rural areas providing affordable healthy foods.
We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
I’d love to have lunch or dinner with any person that’s aligned with moving the needle forward for those who don’t have access to healthy food and water. I am a black female entrepreneur and I am taking applications!
Thank you for these great insights and for the time you spent with this interview. We wish you only continued success!