Virginia Willis Blog

Finding What You’re Looking For

Finding What You’re Looking For

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about when I was a kid. During a short pit stop in Atlanta last weekend, I spent some time uploading childhood photos to an online printing service (these photos actually originated as slides). It was a far cry from my childhood memories of my mother sealing a roll of film in a paper envelope and dropping it in a box at the drug store. I didn’t have to move from my living room and they will appear, just like magic in a few days. No cashier, no paper money, and no contact with a human.

fishing on

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about when I was a kid. I’ve mentioned how personal Lighten Up, Y’all is. This book tour has given me a lot to think about and stirred up a lot of powerful emotions. Honestly, the whole pursuit of me downloading and uploading was that I wanted some paper photographs of me as a child to hold in my hand. I wanted to really look at that little girl and see her, to try to really see her. The one thread I recognized during the process is that I always seemed happiest when I was in the kitchen cooking or fishing and the same holds true today!

little va on making biscuits on

In these past few weeks I have received many emails and social media messages from people as well as “real human contact” with the folks that have attended my cooking classes or stopped by a book signing. Some of those encounters have been incredible. One young woman who was quite overweight dawdled after class until everyone had left the room. She divulged in a whisper that she had planned on getting lap-band surgery, but after my class had decided that she wanted lose weight and become more healthy through changing her eating habits and increasing her physical activity. Her eyes glistened with tears. I could feel the pain emanating from her.

At another class, a woman shared that she’d struggled with bulimia for nearly 18 years. From all outward appearances, she was of normal size and normal weight – but who could know what she sees? One evening, I chatted with a couple as I signed their book after class. The husband surprised me and in a slightly croaking voice he said, “I wish she’d listen to you; I tell her everyday she is beautiful and she doesn’t believe me.” She stood beside him with her head hung low and nodded in agreement. She was indeed, from all outward appearances, beautiful. Another student was built like an absolute brick house. She’d lost 75 pounds and had become a weight lifter. She had tears running down her cheeks during much of my cooking class, and it’s not because I was chopping onions. It’s all been very inspirational.

little virginia with fish on

What I have come to realize is that we all have something. Some folks think we’re too fat — others think they’re too skinny, too tall, too short, too pale, too dark, too frail, too freckled, or too “something.” I think that we all have some internal demon nagging us with negative thoughts. To that I say, “be gone Satan!” and I say that only partially in jest. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe we have to take responsibility for our bodies; the doctors aren’t making this stuff up. At the same time, I know happiness isn’t found in a number on a scale or how one looks in the mirror. Happiness isn’t found on the outside. I’m reading a beautiful book called An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor. In the first chapter she writes, “Everyone is looking for the X that marks the spot and they can’t see it because they are standing on it.” What we’re looking for is found within each and every one of us, and I strongly believe we all have the power to find it.

little va on

I am still on a path, a journey. I won’t tell you for a minute that I don’t have my moments; I have plenty. It’s an everyday effort to silence those demons, find what you’re looking for, and meet your goals. Just remember this, when you are working towards a goal, be proud and strong with every step you take toward it, not just when you meet it.

Recipes will resume next week. Thanks for reading.

Bon Appétit Y’all!
Virginia Willis

End Notes: Out and About

  • Lots of reviews and links to recipes are available on my press page.
  • I’ve got a good many classes, signings, and appearances planned all around the country. Please check out my events page. If you are interested in hosting me for a cooking class, book signing, or for me to visit your book club, let me know! Please send an email to and we’ll be back in touch as soon as possible.
  • And, on the note of travel, a lot of you are quite amused by my tongue-in-cheek “Airport Apparel Observations.” I only post those on my “personal page” but if you want to check those out you can follow me here on Facebook or check out the hashtag #AirportApparelObservations.
  • If you are cooking my book (and especially if you are enjoying it!) please post an​ review. That sort of thing is very important and I’d greatly appreciate your help.

Order Lighten Up, Y’all and I’ll send you a signed bookplate!

Lighten Up, Y'all on

Please be nice. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission is prohibited. All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own words and link back to this recipe on Thanks so much.

photography by Virginia Willis 

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Copyright © 2015 Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc.

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13 Responses to “Finding What You’re Looking For”

  1. Wow, your best post ever (and I love ALL your posts!) The photos of you as a little girl are just precious. Remembering ourselves as little girls and boys puts a whole different spin on our self-criticism, doesn’t it? We would never say the things we regular utter in our self-talk as adults to a young child. So let’s honor that little kid that still in there and be gentle with ourselves! Thank you for sharing!

  2. I thank you for sharing so much with us and I certainly understand your heartfelt words.

    You are beautiful…inside and out…you go girl!

    • virginiawillis

      Thank you for reading my blog, Karen, and thanks so much for your kind words. Best VA

  3. I needed to read this today. Thanks for sharing, VA. We all carry something and have something to prove to ourselves.

    • virginiawillis

      Tara – Thanks so much for reading. You’re an inspiration to me! Best VA

    • virginiawillis

      Jean – I am always so thankful for your support! Thanks for reading and tweeting. Best VA

    • virginiawillis

      Thanks honey. It means a lot to me and thanks for reading.

  4. Antonia Allegra

    You share inspiration, Virginia, as well as joy and great cooking. BRAVA!

    • virginiawillis

      Thanks so much Toni. I really appreciate you reading my words! SO much respect for you, thank you.

  5. Chef, you’ve got me in tears. What a beautiful and heartfelt post. Something I needed to read this morning. Thank you! You are an inspiration to us all – in and out of the kitchen.

    • virginiawillis

      Karista – thanks so much for reading! I am very grateful that you find my words inspirational. thank you. VA


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