It's hard to believe that it's already been a year. They say that time flies when you're having fun, but in this case, I think time flew because I was simply too busy to notice the clock. But half-jokes aside, fun has definitely been a part of it, and beyond that, the journey has also been enriching, inspiring, and beautiful. Did I forget to mention challenging? There have definitely been moments where my desire to propel the blog forward in its evolution has felt at odds with my sanity. [insert sound of head rhythmically hitting a wall]
But ever since that first day, when I nervously hit "Publish" for the first time, I knew that sharing my story could make a difference. I didn't exactly know what that "difference" would end up looking like, but I was excited to find out. And while the beginning certainly wasn't Athena springing from the forehead of Zeus, with every post I found more confidence to step outside my comfort zone. to let my guard down a little more, and to trust that one day I would learn enough to be able to translate the visions in my head and the stories in my heart to what I was presenting on the computer screen.
So today, in celebration of the first blogoversary of The Canary Files, I am proud to share some of my favorite posts from the past twelve months. They're not necessarily the most popular or even the best written, but each one is special to me in its own way. So if you missed them the first time around, here they are again, in no particular order.
The day I was invited to participate in the Gluten Free Ratio Rally was a proud day for me. So many amazing bloggers, writers, and chefs, many of whom I deeply admire and respect, were a part of it, and to think that I could even be associated with them kind of boggled my mind. Hands down, my involvement in this monthly event has made the most significant impact on The Canary Files, not only in my approach to baking and creating recipes, but also in terms of expanding my audience worldwide. It's an opportunity and an honor that I could not be more thankful for. This post was my first contribution of several to the Rally.
The next highlight was my advice, particularly for those with food allergies/dietary constraints, on setting yourself up for success while eating out. As both a professional in the food industry and a food-sensitive diner, I am aware that the two worlds frequently clash, but I also know that that doesn't always have to be the case. Ultimately, it comes down to clear, calm, and civil communication in place of anxiety, accusations, and entitlement. It makes a world of difference, not only for the person dining out and their peace of mind but also for restaurants and their staff.
This next one is a perfect example of a post that slipped under the radar. I remember there being several "a-ha!" moments at the time that I published this, resulting in a blog that was slowly inching towards the grandiose ideas in my head - even the perfectionist in me cracked a smile. And from someone who initially felt insecure and shared with hesitation, I started to grow into a blogger who was both confident and excited for people to see and read what he had to offer (even if that didn't end up happening).
Instagram is such an insanely easy way to stoke my procrastination fire. But it does make me happy to share my passion for photography and to find others who feel the same way about their art and point of view. After jokingly being accused on several occasions of being a "food pornographer," with pleas on Facebook and Twitter to "stop torturing" people with my culinary creations, I decided it was high time to bring Instagram and The Canary Files together. This was one such photography-laden post.
Writing can be difficult. Most of the time, it's because I don't know what to write, or I have too many ideas. But sometimes, it's because I know exactly what I want to write, but I'm not ready to take that next step of making the private public. That was the case with this post, working on it off and on for weeks, not sure if I would ever publish it. It was just the intensely personal nature of it - revealing my struggles with physical and mental health and how I finally came to a point where enough was enough. But in reaching that breaking point, I returned to my roots as an artist, I began to value myself enough to want to be healthy, I discovered what gluten-free was, and I found happiness and, for the first time, peace. And it was that silver lining that finally convinced me to open up.
One of the most valuable blogging lessons I've learned in the past year is how important it is to "be myself." Being Filipino is undeniably a part of what make me uniquely me, and having the opportunity to represent my culture and the food I was raised with in The Canary Files makes me immensely proud. While being different used to be a source of shame for me, I now find strength, as well as community, in all those things that set me apart.
I'll end with where it all began - my very first post. It's funny and it's humbling reading this again, remembering the fear, the anxiety, and the excitement that all combined in finally stepping out of the darkness and sharing my story. It makes me smile to see how far I've come and how much the blog has changed, but it also makes me smile to realize just how much has stayed the same.
After spending most of my life in a haze, pained and confused and looking for someone to listen, or to help me, or to blame, it was such a revelation when simply not eating two things, gluten and dairy, turned my entire life around. The thing that really opened my eyes was that I found the answer in myself, when I finally took the time to really listen to my body, to help it, and to take loving responsibility for its wellbeing.
That's what I'm paying forward with this blog. And if over the past year I've helped even just one person find the strength within them to live a happier, healthier life, not because they need to, but because they want to, then I'll have accomplished what I set out to do in the first place.
Making a difference through sharing my bliss:
The act and the reward are one and the same.
The act and the reward are one and the same.