Our little black rocking chair with dog scratches and bite marks on the legs and I became good friends over the holidays. I read books, started practicing Centering Prayer and fell deeper in love with Harry Potter. The last six months of 2018 are a bit of a blur and I needed sufficient time to take a reprieve of the constant selling of this and that.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the work I do and am so honored to be able to support myself and my family doing it. In fact I am damn proud of my hard work and what is created as a result of that work. I mean, it’s not just me, I work with some crazy wonderful and talented people and we made some beautiful things this year and of course I want to tell you all about it and I want you all to love it and watch it and buy it so I can keep this whole thing going. But it’s exhausting. Have you seen this article?  So I sat in the rocking chair and stayed away from my phone (except for the occasional mindless game) and kept my computer close (except to watch Fraiser and The West Wing).

Anyway. That’s not exactly what I came here to say. I wanted to share with you something I wrote while in that rocking chair. And also to let you know that I have been in the kitchen today working on some new recipes to share with you shortly. As I type I have a whole cauliflower in the smoker. Fingers crossed on that experiement. In the meantime I’ll share some words and also point you to a few recipes in the archives that I still love to make this time of year. Like this citrus salad.  And speaking of smoke, do you remember this smoked pumpkin number?  We have our fair share of pasta this time of year. It’s the culinary equivalent to the blanket my grandmother crocheted for me. This roasted cauliflower linguini is often repeated.  And finally, soup. I’m a big big fan of the ease and coziness of soup. The method in this soup is one I repeat with any number of vegetables. 


There is so much anticipation around a new year. I like the feeling of freshness it provides. The ability to say thanks for the past year and brush it aside with all the hopefulness of starting with a clean slate. I get fluttery with the anticipation of what the new year could be. For in this brief moment I feel a (however unrealistic) brief sense of control that I get choose my own destiny. What new habits will I strive to maintain and what lofty yet exciting goals will I create.

Inevitably reality crashes into my fantasies and somewhere, usually around March, I find a bit of a balance between my hope-filled goals and intentions created after the high of the holidays and the reality that settles after work, school and life begins.

This year I’ve been thinking about reframing in the hope that a subtle shift might not create such a vast space between hope and reality. What if instead of creating “goals” or “intentions” for the new year – which are often weighty words that in the back of our minds we already know that down the road they’ll be ditched alongside the Christmas gift we “needed” – what if we wrote down our curiosities. Like goals, we could use our curiosities to act as a road map but unlike goals, curiosities feel a bit more playful, more childlike and more easily adaptable to the inevitable shift when the collision of fantasy and reality hit.

Elizabeth Gilbert is a big fan of curiosity. She instructs the creative mind to shift the focus away from passions, which carries with it so much weight and angst,  to curiosities.

I am a big advocate for the pursuit of curiosity. You’ve maybe heard me talk about this before? We are constantly being told to pursue our passions in life, but there are times when passion is a TALL ORDER, and really hard to reach. In seasons of confusion, of loss, of boredom, of insecurity, of distraction, the idea of “passion” can feel completely inaccessible and impossible. In such times, you are lucky to be able to get your laundry done (that sometimes feels as high as you can aim) and when someone tells you to follow your passion, you want to give them the middle finger. (Go ahead and do it, by the way. But wait till their back is turned, out of civility.)

But curiosity, I have found, is always within reach.

I have goals, I have ambitions, I have hopes and desires for the new year but this year my focus is on what makes me curious. I want to give those fascinations the time and intention they deserve. And really, if I look back on some of my proudest accomplishments they were born out of my curiosities. Like when I became curious about taking better food photos and really digging into the mechanics of writing a successful recipe. Or when my curiosity led me to create restaurant quality food over the fire.

What are you curious about? And where are those curiosities going to lead you in the new year?

Happy 2019 friends! I can’t wait to be with you all for another year.


7 Responses to “Get Curious”

  1. Amy

    I’ve always struggled with finding something I’m passionate about. My life has been a mix of duty and curiosity. I like the shift in focus to curiosity it seems much more natural. (To me at least)

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Read Big Magic. She talks a lot about the concept in that book. It was a big relief for Gabe too who has also felt pressure around finding his passion.

  2. Kasey Hickey

    The idea of setting goals for the New Year feels exhausting..and futile! I love the concept of focusing on curiosities! One of my hopes for the new year is to intentionally create space to play around with ideas by removing things from my life that suck energy out vs. bringing it in (ie: hours spent scrolling social media!). Happy new year, friend!

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      I love that intention. There’s so much weight around the new year. Trying to remove weight and find freedom. That’s where the truth lives. Also, I just want to have more fun. Happy new year. Hope to see you soon!

  3. Kelly

    Curiosity! That’s it! “Passion” always seemed out of reach for me, and somehow so permanent – like you pick the one “thing” and you must see it through. Less pressure with curiosity. You can dabble, and you have permission to move on if you want to. Thank you for this.

  4. Hannah G.

    This was balm to my perfectionist soul this morning! I feel like I’m behind in our hustle-hard, girl-boss world and the idea of finding a passion has been discouraging for me, as a mama hustling hard after my 2 year old always running in the other direction. But the idea of exploring what makes me curious lets me take a deep breath. Thank you for sharing, Happy New Year!

  5. Alexis Ingram

    A more trite comment than your post deserves…but, I’m curious about where you got your awesome denim dress?!