Getting Over It. - Skillful Cook
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Getting Over It.

A bowl with food on a wooden surface.

It’s a funny thing.

You get asked to do something awesome like taking pictures for a well-known web magazine, and you're on top of the world. This is

Forty-eight hours and three meltdowns later, you’ve dumped all your self-confidence into ten casseroles. More accurately, ten photos. Ten. Stinkin. JPEGs.

And then comes the obsessive online searching. Are they there yet? They’re not there yet. Why aren't they there yet?

And then - whoa - they’re there.

Wait, what? They’re there! Those are my photos?!

And suddenly, something weird happens. Instead of feeling proud and excited, you feel scared and nervous and disappointed, like they aren't your best, and what if people don’t like them, and what if they’re not really that good anyways, and what if you never get asked to do anything like this again, and what will people say about you, and, and…

There are a lot of things that I learned from my experience last weekend. One of those things is that negative, obsessive, fearful, and unproductive thinking is totally real.

And it’s totally me.

It actually has a name. It’s called the Lizard Brain. Have you heard of it? On his blog, Seth Godin says “Your lizard brain is here to stay, and your job is to figure out how to quiet it and ignore it.”

{deepbreath} That’s seriously hard.

But guess what? An anxious, negative mindset is not n-o-t NOT going to help do a better job next time. It’s just not. And I do want to do things better, so it's time to get over it.

I wanted to share this on my blog because I think we all feel this way, no matter where we are at with cooking, photography, blogging, or just life. We all have a Lizard Brain that says, I don’t have enough Facebook likes, and my photos aren’t as good as so-and-so, and I hardly have any followers, and this is never going to work, and, and…

and... stop that.

I'm challenging myself to be proud of what I'm doing, not fixate on the small things that I wish I would have done differently, and be ready to take on the next challenge. Even if it’s ten casseroles! Oiy, maybe it's too soon for that one.

Thanks for letting me unpack this whole thing with you. I'd love to hear about your thoughts, experiences, or strategies related to that ol' Lizard Brain!

Let's take this thing down together.

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love how honest you are in this post – it is so easy to spend time comparing ourselves to others especially when there are so many metrics that we feel like we can be judged on. It’s all very well to tell yourself you’re just doing it for fun and so long as you’re enjoying it that’s all that matters but there are always those moments where the self-doubt creeps in and you feel like giving up. It can be really hard to ignore them and move forward. My strategy is normally to go and do the thing that I’m struggling with (whether cooking, photographyy, blogging, work, whatever) because once I’m in that moment, I find it easier to shake the doubts and it reminds me why I do it.

    But you should be so proud of yourself! I love the photos – what I really like is that you always make the food the star and whatever you make always looks so appetising. I really like the sausage and clam casserole picture, just beautiful!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Ughh, the comparison game is so ridiculously hard to get out of. And I think you’re right – getting into it and actually doing what you’re feeling insecure about is what helps you shake off some of that self-doubt. Thanks for the comment Kathryn – have a great weekend! 🙂

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Also, I apologise for using the word ‘metrics’. That kind of language has no place outside the office. Have a great weekend too!

        1. Skillful Cook Logo

          LOL! That’s the lizard brain making you apologize, you know. 🙂 Just kidding – I loved that you used that and I love this comment even more.

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thank you for being so honest, Lindsay – it’s somehow reassuring to know that other people doubt themselves too sometimes.
    For what it’s worth… I love love love your photos – I think that they are absolutely amazing. My favourite is the blue crab gratin – it looks so appetizing. And I love how you’ve stacked it on two plates – great touch.

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    You did an amazing job. I can’t believe you even doubt yourself for a second. But to doubt, to second guess, it’s human nature. Or at least it’s most of our nature’s. People that don’t second-guess themselves from time to time are a rarity! We all do it, I think.

    As you said, our job is to overcome it and not let that kind of thinking stand in the way of living life, and accomplishing more. Awesome post, awesome pics…Can’t wait to see where this all leads you!

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    Just yesterday someone on facebook posted this; “What other people think of you is their problem.” I wish it was easier to believe that on a consistent basis, but it’s true. I don’t know if you do the church thing, but if you do, consider the fact that you were created in the image of the creator of the whole everything. Hand crafted. Think about how much time you spend hand crafting something; the agony and care that goes into it. And you’re His crowning achievement. The flip side is the evil one, who strives at all cost to make you feel like you’re less than that. He is the one that puts doubt and a host of other negative thoughts in our heads, taking us away from what we are. I think you’re a marvel. Your gifted as a cook, a photographer and a wordsmith.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      So true – thanks for including this. Reading my Bible/praying is one of those thing that helps me get a grip on what’s really important in this life.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Oh good question! I meant to include it in the post but obviously I forgot! I would have to say the Duck Confit Casserole (but you can substitute chicken for the duck, which is what I did). It’s like a garlicy bean-y stew with bacon, kielbasa and chicken, but then it’s baked into a casserole. I also loved the buffalo fried chicken (on the mac and cheese recipe). SO good. Dipped in heavy cream, corn flakes, and deep fried?? Yeah. So good.

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks for your honesty… and I love the idea of the Lizard Brain!! Well, I love KNOWING about the idea! 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Have you ever read any of Seth Godin’s books? I feel like you would like them!

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    OMG, you are a ROCKSTAR. The pictures looks fantastic and I love that they all have their own feel to them. It doesn’t look like they came from the same kitchen in one food fueled weekend.

    I gotta ask – HOW in the heck did you find all those specialty ingredients (like the raclette for the butcher’s pie). I imagine your refrigerator was bursting!

    And as for the Lizard Brain, you’re preaching to the choir on that one. Ugh and ugh.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Glad to hear I’m not alone in trying to get past that stinky little lizard brain! As for the ingredients…yeah, our refrigerator is still bursting at the seams. We had to call people to come and pick up food because literally we didn’t have enough room for all the food in the fridge. My cheese drawer is so full that it barely opens. Which is seriously awesome. 🙂

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Holy cow Lindsay! This is the coolest thing ever. Congrats! Too bad that Bon Appetit *only* listed you as photographer when you were cook and stylist as well 🙂 If the whole teaching thing doesn’t work out, this looks pretty great on your resume…

    And, on lizard brain, I think that blogging is the best way to train yourself to control it – so many opportunities to practice!

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    Lindsay, this is so awesome! What an honor 🙂 We are so excited for you! And yes, Lizard Brain is alive and well in us too – thanks for bringing it to light 🙂 The photos look awesome – what an intense project!

  9. Skillful Cook Logo


    I was at fun brunch yesterday with your mom and she told me your pictures had been posted. They are awesome and I am so very happy for you! What an honor! Thanks for using you abilities and creativity for all of us to enjoy.

    barb H.

    PS…I don’t know about “lizard brain” but I do know that Satan loves to trip us up in our thinking and wants us to compare ourselves to others. He’s a mean and sneaky one! Glad you’re resisting him:)

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    Wow! Just looked at the pictures and they are gorgeous! You did an amazing job and should be super proud of yourself!

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    Just wanted to chime in and say that the photos look fantastic! I can imagine how stressful it was trying to get just the right shot in such a limited time frame!
    It’s so easy to compare ourselves to others….I’m sure we all do it. Which is why it’s always so important to be “yourself”. If people dig it…wonderful! If not, they can move on (painful as that feels at times). At least you know you’re being you!
    Which, by the way, is pretty awesome. You have a knack for this food blog thing for sure:-)

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    1. Awesome post. I think anyone (especially any bloggers) could use this kind of reminder.
    2. Those pictures are amazing. They make me want to dive into each and every casserole.
    3. You’re one of my photography idols. 🙂

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    Lindsay, they are amazing!! So proud of you!! 🙂
    Love Seth Godin – I was fortunate to see him speak once at Best Buy Corporate – thank you for such an important reminder. I have those thoughts frequently and I doubt they are helping anything!

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    Your photos are absolutely lovely! You have no reason to question yourself about your photography, but we all insist on doing those things and torturing ourselves.

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    Oh man. My lizard brain looooves to tell me I stink at things. My job. Being a good girlfriend. Pushing myself fitness-wise. And let’s not even get started on that pesky blog stuff.

    I love posts like these when we can all remind each other that it doesn’t have to be that way–that we all know how awesome all of our fellow bloggers are, and we can totally be there to remind them when they and their lizard brains forget. And maybe then the lizard brain will eventually shaddup. 🙂

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    Um. Wow. I have major lizard brain right now. For the whole past week, maybe even two weeks I’ve been letting it slow me down and stop me from getting into the kitchen as much as I want to. Thank you for being so honest 🙂
    I think your pictures look fantastic! You should be so proud! I’m constantly impressed with your pictures on the blog, and these ones are no different. Especially the Butcher’s Pie, the colors are perfect – the picture just jumped out at me.