Orignally posted on Vivastic.com
In MUFFINS & MAYHEM, author Suzanne Beecher uses her quirky, homespun magic to transport the reader through her tumultuous journey from her childhood in the very small town of Cuba City, WI to single, drug addicted, teenage mother to successful businesswoman, mother, grandmother, and wife of her best friend. MUFFINS & MAYHEM is refreshingly humorous and honest, and a perfect summer read that celebrates food, friends, and family. I had a chance to chat with this inspirational woman about life, writing, recipes, and what does she think is the key to success?
Suzanne, I really enjoyed your book!
Thank you very much.
Did you ever think all of this would happen when you were going through your roughest life experiences?
The chapter “Loose Wires” in Muffins and Mayhem is really how my brain seemed to be functioning for a quite awhile in my life. When I was making crazy choices, I never even stopped and evaluated “How’s my life going?” I think a person gets used to the environment they grew up in and find it normal, and in my case, especially because I was an only child, I didn’t realize there was another, better, way. It sounds kind of strange, but the turning point in my life, when I finally learned and experienced another way to live, was when I married my husband, Bob. We’ll be married 33 years this December. I tell people that my husband kind of home-schooled me in the ways of life, which might not sound romantic. But when someone feels better about themselves, everything in life is better, including love.
I loved how you connected recipes to your favorite comfort foods to those monumental points in your life. Why do you think that food is always such a way to feel better when things aren’t so great?
Many of my fond memories, enjoyable times with family and friends, have centered around occasions when we got together and ate food. The handwritten recipe cards in my recipe box are from my Grandma Hale. When I’m following one of Grandma’s recipes, I feel she’s right beside me in the kitchen and the memories of big Sunday dinners at Grandma’s house make me feel loved.
I’ve never met you obviously, but I feel like I know you through your words. Also, the pics of you really just emanate sunshine and light! What do you think keeps you so positive?
Deep, down inside of me, there is a belief that I can dig in and make it through anything. I got that from my mother. We never had the kind of relationship that I’d wished for, but in watching my mother keep things together, working a job and “covering” for my father, who was an alcoholic, the determination in her spirit was passed on to me. I’ve been able to take that trait and mix it with love and joy in my life. Unfortunately, my mother was only able to experience a little slice of that kind of joy the last two years of her life, when she’d remarried.
You had your first child while you were still in high school. What words of advice would you give to your teenage self?
I don’t think there are any words or lectures, that can reach a teenager to make them change their behavior and the choices they’re making in life and love. But I do feel strongly that parents, grandparents, and even the neighbor down the street, can make a huge impact on how a teenager feels about him or herself. Getting involved in a kid’s life, allowing them to feel loved and cared for, and giving them a safe place to come and talk about what’s on their minds, I believe those sorts of things ‘can’ make a huge difference. When a kid has learned how to love and respect themselves, they make better choices.
You’ve managed to start a business, a publication, a blog, and somehow have been able to come up with these amazingly delicious recipes. How do you do it all?
I’m one of the lucky ones, I love my work. I try not to sign up for things in life that I know aren’t a good match for me—things that aren’t going to bring me joy. I don’t want to suggest I’m living in a Pollyanna mindset, even though I am a huge Mayberry fan. I would work any job and do whatever was necessary to pay the bills. But even jobs like washing dishes, which I’ve had in the past, I’ve tried to find ways to make a boring job enjoyable. I have choices in life. I can choose to be happy even in the midst of a crummy situation. I moan and groan about work occasionally, like everyone. But at this point in my life I do my darndest to steer clear of things that don’t bring me joy.
So wise! When you talk about your husband being your best friend and lover, I think that it’s amazing how you both support each other. What’s the secret to a healthy, long relationship/marriage?
A desire to want our marriage to work, I think is the biggest key. We support each other in whatever new things we want to try. We work together every day, yet amazingly we have very few arguments and when we do, there’s an escape clause we’ve agreed on ahead of time to bring us back to our senses. “I don’t want to argue with you, can we rewind and start the day over again, right now, this very minute?” And then of course, because I’m so crazy, head-over-heels in love with “my guy” it makes marriage one of the gifts in my life.
You’ve said that one of your goals in life is to be approachable and you’ve definitely done that. You’ve taken all the supposed “mistakes,” in your life and made it into something really inspirational. How did you make lemonade from lemons?
Even in the midst of frightening situations in life, or when I’m feeling lost, even though the tears might be falling, and I’m so very afraid, “I know that I know, I am doing what I was called to do in life. If the worst happened and I lost it all or I found myself alone, I would accept that it was the experience I was suppose to have at that moment. My relationship with God isn’t “churchy” and I don’t know much for sure, but I do know that I’m not alone in this journey.
Anything else you’d like to accomplish in life as you’ve already accomplished so much?
I’ve never really planned too far down the road in life, (as you can tell from reading my book.) I try my best to get up every morning and see what opportunities are waiting for me. And I spend a lot of time fixing Suzanne, so I always make slower progress than I’d like. But if I think I’m interested in something, I start thinking about it—kind of putting it out there for the universe. A few years ago, I wanted to become a better storyteller. A couple of months after I started thinking about it, an author friend, who corporations hire to teach them how to tell stories about their products, called out of the blue, and I got “Storytelling Lessons for a Writer 101” over the phone.
Last meal on earth?
Macaroni and cheese with my grandchildren. I hope I’m giving them the kind of memories my Grandma and Grandpa Hale gave to me.
Words of inspiration/advice for our readers?
Most of my joy comes from the little things in life. I was grateful for a long red light the other day, otherwise I would never had noticed a man pushing a baby carriage. I could see as he walked in front of my car, there was a little baby girl inside of the carriage. After the man crossed over to the other side of the street, and was safely on the curb, daddy bent over to check on his little bundle of joy. And the smile on his face told me he must have been reassuring his daughter that he loved her, and would always be there to watch over her.
I spend a lot of time working on trying to keep myself feeling grounded. Yet, some days worrying about the future consumes too much of my thoughts. Being privileged to share this father/daughter moment reminded me that if I want to ease my spirit and find peace, instead of worrying about what’s down the road, maybe what I’m looking for is right in front of me.
Thanks for your time, Suzanne. For more information on Suzanne or “Muffins on Mayhem,” please click here.