After the VOV, we then got the chance a few days later to be the food vendors for beautiful Garvan Woodland Gardens' big Spring event. We changed gears completely and created a Japanese-inspired entirely plant-based menu to complement the commemoration of them opening their Japanese garden for the year. It was a record day for us financially, and we definitely needed the exposure, practice, and the extra cash to get our newest venture, a brick-and-mortar, off the ground by May.
All the while, I've been waiting as patiently as possible for the court system so I can get my baby boy back into my household. I've spent more nights away from him since filing my petition than I have in his entire short life. If someone had told me that I'd be kicked out of my home and denied almost any contact for at least 120 days when I filed the guardianship reversal, I probably wouldn't have gone through with it, though I knew it would be my last necessary hurdle after the devastation of 2015. I barely survived heartbreak that first week when my parents cut us off from each other, including even being allowed to have lunch with him at school. If I didn't have the most amazing attorney who insisted on some sort of visitation between my child and me, my father would have continued to try to make my little man completely forget me.
What my parents don't understand is the strong bond that my son and I have shared since before he was born. Just before I went into labor, I had a dream with him in it. He was probably about three (looking exactly like he actually did in the future at 3 years old), we were about to walk into a bright light, and he reached his little hand up into mine and said, "Come on, Mommy. We're going to take a journey." We've been inseparable ever since, until mid-December when I realized that I had been lied to and held down for too long and the only way to regain actual control of my child's raising was to take it through the court system--which was the last thing I wanted to do to him. However, I now fully understand the damage my childhood did to me, and the repercussions from it that I've been trying to overcome for the last few decades. I failed miserably so many times because I was in so much denial, until now. Now, I am strong. I'm stronger, more level-headed, and more in control of myself and my life than I'd ever believed possible three short months ago. I owe so much of that to the people I've surrounded myself with; both business partners and friends. These are the people who have now shown me what unconditional love is; it's how I've always tried to raise my son, and will continue to do so, once given back my rights that I stupidly believed I could sign away and retrieve at the stroke of a pen. I try not to beat myself up about it, because I was in a very vulnerable position and didn't really have anyone at the time who truly understood or wanted to take any responsibility for their own actions in my near-demise. It was easier to place the blame on me then, and take away the only thing that I had ever loved. I've accepted my part now in the whole disaster, but now I just look back at that poor woman from 2015 and think, "Wow! She survived." It still blows my mind.
My little boy was the most important thing to me before he was even born, nothing and no one will ever change that. I don't care how successful In the Raw becomes, my entire reason for starting my little endeavor was to get him back. It was my guiding motivation, and I can see now that the force was strong. We'll be opening our brick-and-mortar almost three months ahead of my original goals, which is probably just about right, since it took us an extra three months just to get that show on the road in the first place.
In the meantime, I just keep plugging along, meeting new clients, showing people that vegan food can actually taste too delicious to describe, and trying to help people in their health journeys. I know that people need what we have to offer, and I intend to keep trying to fulfill that need where we can. We've situated our crew, been renovating our building, and have been creating new and better recipes in our test kitchen at light speed. I'm ready to open the newest doors as soon as possible.
Until Next Time, Eat Raw, Live Long!