It was overwhelming: the lengthy to-do list and the unchecked boxes next to each item scheduled and rescheduled for completion; the color-coded upcoming activities for child, self, and work staring back at me from the big, fancy planner that had replaced the small, plain planner with hopes that “visually attractive” would magically produce more time. But, at the end of the day, both planners listed the same number of hours available to me- 24- which has become seemingly not enough. I wondered where I was going wrong and what I was doing wrong. I then wondered how others with both families and demanding careers get the day’s work done- others like Philipp and Cru von Holtzendorff-Fehling, founders of Memphis’ Mama Gaia restaurants. So I reached out to them to get their secrets.
“There is no secret sauce,” Philipp says as our conversation begins. What there is, and has always been for both him and Cru, is a passion for what they do coupled with a team whose members truly believe in Mama Gaia’s mission. He stresses the importance of having such a team (inclusive of a kitchen manager, chef, business partners, and restaurant employees) that feels it really does matter and thus enables them to pour their energy into executing the vision of a successful restaurant enterprise. “We have a great team that cares a lot, takes a lot off our shoulders,” Philipp expands.
As we continued talking, the details of how Mama Gaia grew from a concept to a concrete business reminded me of the quote by former President Calvin Coolidge: “We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once.” When they started out, Philipp shares, he and Cru both worked ten to twelve hour days and, as parents to two young sons, this meant that they sometimes needed help in accompanying the various schedules. “The Universe always sent us someone to help…other mothers, friends. [We] were always able to schedule something.” His gratitude for their help is evident in his voice and the invaluable importance of having such help is evident to me in the pause he takes upon finishing the statement. The answer to my question of “How do you get it all done?” is found partially in the existence of our “tribe”- those who step forward to help us when we need them most; those whom the Universe has placed squarely in our paths to help us realize our dreams, no matter how big they appear to be.
The restaurant business isn’t for the faint of heart and running a restaurant (or two) comes with its difficulties and constraints, acknowledges Philipp. He and Cru are committed to living a sustainably healthy lifestyle and this commitment is embedded in their business, as both Mama Gaia locations (at Crosstown Concourse and Ballet Memphis) offer a completely organic, vegetarian menu. Though not always easy, it is their aforementioned passion that “keeps them going” so that they can offer the same opportunities of healthier eating- at affordable prices- to fellow Memphians.
For me, the to-do list is looking more doable. I believe more boxes can be checked off if I simply remind myself that while there is no “secret sauce” there is a method to the madness. There is remembering the passion which drives us to keep going, even when it isn’t easy; particularly when it isn’t easy. There is the team and the tribe, both comprised of people whom the Universe has sent our way for the distinct purpose of blessing our lives perhaps more than we could ever bless theirs. So we figure out how to pay it forward- as Philipp and Cru have done with Mama Gaia.
And last, but absolutely not least, Philipp gently instructs that we must take care of ourselves so that we have the strength to take care of everything else. “I try to make sure I’m in a good state mentally and physically. Then I have the power to do all these other things. We can’t always feel like we’re underwater. [Do] what you need to stay above water.” He “stays above water” through weekly meditations, a healthy diet, and a fitness routine worked into his daily schedule of meetings, emails, phone calls, restaurant site visits, paperwork and, of course, the non-negotiable family time.
Following my conversation with Philipp I have reconciled that no, we cannot do everything at once but we can certainly focus on doing something at once as well as we possibly can.
Please visit www.mamagaia.net to learn more about their mission, menu, and locations.
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