Thursday, July 5, 2012

Dear Barbara...

Thank you for your lovely comment. Yesterday I was told I need to start a new course of chemo. I'm still getting my head around it so haven't shared it on Twitter or my blog yet. I don't want to come over all 'poor me' and there are people who would be upset if I didn't say anything to let them know. Trying to find the words to say something. I begin treatment on 16th November. 

hugs back at you dear. 
B 


I’ve been blogging now for four years. I feel like I have been blogging forever. So much has changed, time and trends have flown by faster than the wind, the who’s and the how’s and the why’s make my head spin and I often find myself feeling lost and alone, as if the ship is off course and has somehow lost its purpose, its direction. Stats and traffic, monetizing and oreos, stolen recipes and stolen images, snubbing and snobbing, branding and book deals: rumors spread like wildfire through cyberspace leaving many fellow bloggers disgruntled. Frustration and jealousy, petty grumblings and disheartening gossip bring out the worst in us. I often wonder if we haven’t all been tainted just a little bit, our heads turned with fleeting aspirations of fame and fortune. I think that there are days, or so I hear, when many of us just want to throw in the hat, call it quits and simply shut down our food blogs. We look at ourselves in the mirror and try and remember why we began blogging in the first place and we look around the world of food blogging and wonder how it all got so out of hand.


Yes, I know that this sounds harsh and dramatic, ungrateful even. I have had my fair share of success. I have worked hard, networked well and achieved much. I have made friends, very close friends, with food bloggers and food professionals I have grown to love, whose work I respect immensely, who give back to the community as much as they receive. I have learned and been inspired so much by so many. Yet, in the overcrowded, oversaturated world of food blogging, like in any community, there will be the self-serving, the social climbers, the clans and the cliques. As in any society, there will be those who impose their rules and those who use any means to get ahead. And sometimes these actions, these people are what stand out and influence the ambiance of the community as a whole, souring the once sweet thrill of belonging, giving many the impression that this is what it has all come down to.


Thank you for your lovely comment on my motherhood post. I was a little nervous of putting it out there because it was so personal. However the response I received was overwhelming with many people sending personal emails also. I think the mothers of boys have a special job in this world. I'm sure you are doing a great job too Jamie. It helps we have good role models for our boys in our husbands. 
 
But then once in a while we are lucky enough to meet someone special, a fellow food blogger who restores our faith in everything that food blogging is and can be, a person who reminds us of all the good things the community has to offer. A kind message, a warm email, a beautiful blog post and we know we have an exceptional person indeed in front of us, one whose generosity, selfless behavior, kindness and warmth remind us that blogging for many is a way to truly become part of a community, neither rule it nor profit from it, refocusing my own vision and bringing me back down to earth. This person who we have been lucky enough to meet quickly becomes a friend. And her compassion for others, her energy and enthusiasm are boundless and infectious, reaffirming my once-wavering faith in the goodness of people and the spirit of this community of which I have become a part, body and soul.


P2P sounds like it was a lot of fun. 
I can imagine how you are all looking forward to future workshops. 
Now I've finished chemo I'm waiting for my cooking mojo to hit me. 
Soon I hope, soon. 


We lost a dear soul, an angel of the food blogging community this past weekend. Barbara Harris of Winos & Foodies passed away after a very long, valiant battle with cancer. It’s funny, but when I first met Barbara, started following her blog and became her friend – with Barbara that all seemed to happen at once – she had already been undergoing treatment for quite some time, in fact I believe she started her blog when she discovered that she had cancer, if I am not mistaken, and it just became another facet of her life. She kept us all up on where she was and what was happening and how she was feeling in such a casual way, without ever complaining (except about not having an appetite!), just friend to friend. Her spirits were always high, she was always positive.

I enjoyed your recollections Jamie. Growing up, our meals were all at the table as a family. And I have brought our boys up the same. We all sat down to dinner together. 

Barbara loved the blogging community and worked to bring us all into her fold, posting our photos in her Heart Series every Saturday; participating in Project 365 photo event and organizing a list of links to photography tutorials; creating the Hay Hay It’s Donna Hay event (even meeting Donna Hay), and, most importantly, creating Taste of Yellow as a way for food bloggers around the world to support the Lance Armstrong Foundation and LiveSTRONG Day. Once a year, we all cooked or baked and posted something yellow, many of us sharing stories about our own or a loved one’s battle with cancer, illustrating that cancer knows no boundaries, discriminates against no one, and joining together to raise awareness for the fight against this disease. Her quiet passion for these events and causes inspired us; we needed no urging, no prize, no badge of glory or special recognition to participate. Barbara simply inspired us to be and to do our best; she showed that giving was its own reward.

Welcome home Jamie. It always takes me days to empty my suitcase and complete the laundry. 
Have fun. 


Her passing took so many of us by surprise for, as was her selfless way, she never complained or asked for pity, she never made a big deal out of what she was going through and she never let on that she was as ill as she was. She shared as a friend does and then she would pass on to another subject, talking enthusiastically about her recent move or a family get together or vacation, her husband and children. And then she would ask about us, our own family, our new home, our vacation, our husband and sons.

We loved Barbara for her joy and humor, her dedication to the community and her projects, her love and devotion for her family and friends, her dignity and grace in the face of her struggles. She reminded many of us over and over again what the true purpose of blogging was: for sharing, supporting, encouraging, raising awareness…creating community. Barbara was a bright spot of sunshine in a world that could quickly cloud over and become dark if we looked in the wrong direction. Being friends with Barbara was a special gift that kept us looking forward with a smile on our faces, a positive outlook and such a favorable, light view of the world. Barbara will be sorely missed; she leaves behind a bittersweet taste of sadness and hope, an emptiness her passing has left mixed with the sweet memories remaining in her wake. She was loved by many, all who knew her, and she has left an indelible mark on the international food blogging scene.

Thank you for such lovely words and thank you for giving me your heart. 

She fought with courage; she lived with grace; she led with inspiration. 
Sean Timberlake 


Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened. 
- Dr. Seuss 

(All of the words in italics are Barbara’s from notes she sent me over the years. My sincere and heartfelt condolences to her husband and her family.)

48 comments:

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A beautiful ode! Barbara will not be forgotten, but she will be greatly missed.

During my 7 years of blogging, I have lost a few foodie friends... Tragic and so sad!

Cheers,

Rosa

KG said...

rip barbara...i met so many beautiful people here..it's another world for me...boy am i glad i bumped into you!

Meeta K. Wolff said...

Heartwarming post! She was a lovely person and you have captured her words beautifully here J!

Maureen @ Orgasmic Chef said...

Jamie, this was beautifully written and a real tribute to a fantastic woman. I wish I'd gotten to know her better.

She's looking over your shoulder and is very proud.

Jamie said...

@Maureen you've made me cry now...

Lizzy (Good things) said...

Vale beautiful Barbara. We will all miss you. Jamie, thank you for this tribute.

Lana said...

Jamie, I left a comment on Barbara's last post about Taste of Yellow. I knew that she was going through another chemo session, but when I found out that she is not with us any more (from your FB post), I felt like a little piece of me died. Thank you for writing such a beautiful post. Barbara will keep on living in many of us, as she touched so many with her spirit, strength, and kindness.

Baker Street said...

Oh Jamie! What a heartfelt ode! Beautifully written! Barb surely will be missed.

Nanette said...

I was fortunate enough to share a long lazy lunch with Barb a couple of years ago when she was down in Melbourne having a girly weekend with a group of girlfriends. Despite having just completed a round of chemo this remarkable woman was the epitome of strength and grace.

Barb affirmed me as a mother and encouraged me to move towards my dreams. Not an ounce of bitterness from a women who was fighting for her life.

Life's a journey Jamie and I feel eternally blessed to have meet the likes of Barb, Ilva, Jeanne, Bron, Meeta and Denise and yourself.

Wherever we all stand tonight, let us raise a glass to our dear friend who no longer suffers xx

Jamie said...

@Nanette: you have brought tears to my eyes. She was a remarkable woman and even those of us who knew her only through cyberspace, who didn't have the luck to meet her and chat with her in person just knew how special she was. Thanks for you words. x

Nuts about food said...

I am shocked, I did not know about Barbara. I first met her through A Taste of Yellow: I had just found out my father and a close friend had cancer and I felt like I needed to participate. I was very new to the blogging world but she welcomed me warmly and I looked forward to reading her posts and always wondered how she could keep up such a strong and cheerful appearance, even when she was going through tough moments. Lately things have been hectic and I haven't read her blog in a while and I had no idea. Although I didn't know her personally and not that well virtually either, I certainly felt the warmth she radiated and send her family all my thoughts and prayers.

Barbara said...

What a lovely tribute, Jamie, and how rich our lives are when we have friends like Barbara.

So Simple said...

Hi Jamie what a wonderful tribute to our friend Barbara.
I got a message from a mutual friend who introduced me to Barbara many years ago. She was preparing to go to her funeral today. I am waiting to hear how it went. Her family have been overwhelmed with the messages they have received from Facebook and The Blogging Community.
Such a tribute to a lovely lady.
Cheers Gilli

Sally - My Custard Pie said...

Lovely tribute Jamie. Barbara has a gift of making everyone she spoke to (whether by Tweets and bog comments or in person) feel special. I too was surprise to hear the sad news as she had tweeted a few days before - not a trace of what was happening to her in the tone or message. A very special person - you were lucky to have met her.

Lisa said...

Although I never had the pleasure of meeting Barbara, I knew of her blog, so it's shocking to hear. Losing one of our own is always shocking. This tribute to her made me cry - so beautifully written from your heart. There's no doubt that she's smiling above you now..thanking you for remembering her in such a lovely post. An angel on earth immediately gets their wings in heaven.

Cake Duchess said...

Such a lovely post Jamie. It brings tears to my eyes. Barbara sounds like she was a dear and strong woman. Her personality shines in her quotes you remember here and I feel like I know her a little. I think we are all blessed to have met some special people from our food writing. Thank you for sharing this lovely tribute to Barbara.

Rossella said...

Barbara was one of the foodblogger to whom I write an email almost 5 years ago. I was so surprise at the bad news. She looks stronger than her disease. Barbara is a special person forever.

Amanda said...

Jamie this is a wonderful post and a truly moving tribute to Barbara. Like so many others, I met Barbara through her blog and her warmth and encouragement were sincere & much valued. She was one of natures true and generous souls and I was so pleased to have the opportunity to physically meet her & spend time with her last year. My life is better for having known her and I will miss her, too.

Ilke said...

I did not know Barbara but witj your word, you left the window open wide enough that i could get a glimpse on who she was. I am so sorry that you lost your friend and condolences to her family and to the whole bloghing community.

June said...

What a lovely tribute you've written Jamie. I didn't know Barbara, but I know you, and I hope to get to know you better. I can tell from your article what a lovely woman Barbara was, and so are you.

So sorry for your loss.

La Table De Nana said...

Your friend barbara..must be touched that you saved these notes..that you spoke of her so highly..and created such a beautiful post.
You're such a nice person.I am sure she was too.
Beautiful images..The last one is just so touching.
Yes there are so many beautiful people out there.

Rambling Tart said...

I'm so glad you wrote this, Jamie. I miss her and am so sad she is gone.

A Canadian Foodie said...

I first found out on Tartlette's post a few days ago. I cried. This is a beautiful tribute to the impact she has made upon many within the blogging community.
XO
Valerie

Jackie Gordon Singing Chef said...

Beautiful post and tribute Jamie!

I did not know Barbara, but I did read through many tweets and condolences upon her passing.

She sounds like a remarkable woman who lived as an generous example for others and left a legacy that not matter what life hands you, you have a choice on how you deal with it.

I would have like to have known her and through your post and reverberations of all the people she touched, I feel like I do.

RIP Barbara...

XXXOOOJAX

Heather @girlichef.com said...

I didn't know Barbara, but this was such a touching tribute, Jamie. The world sounds like a better place for her having been in it.

Winnie said...

Lovely post, Jamie. I did not know Barbara, but can tell she was a very special woman. I am sorry to hear of her passing.

Sunchowder said...

Beautiful post Jamie, so touching. I too am sorry for your lossand hope that you can feel my support across the waves.

Sunchowder said...

Beautiful and touching post Jamie. I felt as though I was there with you. I hope you can feel my support across the waves. It is always so difficult to lose life and love.

Robin | what-about-the-food said...

The greatest gift is to love and be loved. Your tribute to such a wonderful soul speaks volumes and gives voice to the angels that sing songs of comfort to a sister on her journey home.

Bless Barbara, her family and friends.

Sanjeeta kk said...

Beautiful tribute to a passionate food blogger friend.
You captured the present scenario of food blogging in true sense..hope this ends soon...

Barbara Bakes said...

So well said. Truly a remarkable woman.

shruti said...

so sorry to hear this jamie....didn't know about barbara's blog till now.
you're right... i wish the snobbery & other things didn't exist...i think that's neverending

thelittleloaf said...

This is such a touching post Jamie. I didn't know much about Barbara before reading it, but the strength of her kindness shines through your words. A wonderful tribute.

Bunkycooks said...

That was beautifully written, Jamie. I never knew Barbara, but did have the pleasure to onnect with her a few times when I first started blogging. I was not aware she was going through cancer. I know personally (because of Roger's struggles) how difficult it is and I am sorry she lost her battle.

Deeba PAB said...

Just so beautiful and touching Jamie. I didn't know of her sad demise. I interacted with aher a few times ... and she was so strong and so positive. My last few run ins with her were over the Thermomix...she loved hers and as I love mine. May this fabulous lady be a source of inspiration to many ... RIP sweet Barbara!

Emma Galloway said...

Such a beautiful tribute Jamie. Thank you xx

thyme (Sarah) said...

Everytime someone dies...I always ask myself...where is the good that they have left behind. There is always good. I believe that. There is always good left behind. What she has left behind for me (a relatively new blogger) is that I will find friendship out here in the blogging community, that sharing the good times and bad are more central than the stats, ads, and traffic numbers, and that graciousness is at the heart of who we all would love to be more like. Barbara...I've never met you but thank you for what you are teaching me after you have left this world.

lael@educatedpalate.net said...

Such beautiful words. I hope Barbara's family have a chance to read this and understand how much she gave and how she was loved by the food community.

Tickled Red said...

What a beautiful, soulful post of remembrance. You always touch me Jamie. If you were closer I would hug you and let you sit quietly while you let the memories wash over you. xoxo

Ivy said...

Such a wonderful tribute to Barbara. She was a remarkable woman. May she rest in peace.

SMITH BITES said...

lovely, lovely, kind words about a woman i've never met written by a lovely, lovely, kind woman i've had the pleasure of meeting via skype. i will go out on a limb and say that Barbara leaves a legacy of tremendous love: love for her family of origin as well as her 'cyber family' who will miss her deeply - i can only hope for the same when i am gone. hugs to you Jamie - i am deeply sorry for your loss

Mairi @ Toast said...

Wonderful, thoughtful words. The perfect tribute.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful tribute, Jamie.

But more than the tribute, it is the opening para that really resonated with me. I am just so disillusioned with blogging that I can't bring myself to blog anymore. The networking, the groupism, the artificial praise that flows has just taken the magic out of blogging for me.

Return to Sunday Supper℠ said...

I'm so sorry that I did not have the opportunity to meet Barbara, she sounds like a truly lovely person. It's reassuring to know that there are kindhearted bloggers out there like you, that take the time to sincerely pay tribute to someone that they admire. Thank you for reaffirming my faith in the blogging community.

Alanna Kellogg said...

Hi Jamie, such a lovely post, depicting the intimacy of your relationship, the generosity of Barbara's spirit. She was one of what I think of as the "original food bloggers" - that 2005-ish group when we all knew one another at least a little. It still hits me hard when we lose one, even though we'd never met. You nailed so many emotions here - thank you for opening this window.

WiseMóna said...

What a lovely tribute to Barbara.
You can be sure she is smiling down on you from the clouds above Jamie xx

Junglefrog said...

What a beautiful post for Barbara Jamie. I ever ad the pleasure of knowing her as I didn't discover her blog until now.

Andrea Meyers said...

You spoke what so many of us feel. Barbara was a wonderful woman, one of the first bloggers that I got to know back in the early days. It's hard to lose her, but your Dr. Seuss quote was perfect for this moment.

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