A Recipe for Growth

SamgyetangHere is a visual collection of #hungrytohappy and #haeinskitchen highlights over the last year… 

Nearly a year has passed since my last post; a lot can change in one year. In fact, so much can change in the blink of an eye, that if you’re not careful, you’ll miss it. Life waits for no one.
Unagi Don with Dashi-maki Tamago

A little over a year ago, I made one of the boldest and scariest decisions of my life. I let go of everything and everyone I knew and thought I had control over to seek refuge and recovery. For years, I had been struggling with the demons in my mind – ones I could never escape, nor reveal. They lurked and festered in every crevice of my broken heart and soul. They consumed me, and became me. I made a move to fight them and escape them.

Gopchang Chigae

Though no one really knew what I was going through, the few that had a hint or an idea supported and encouraged me. “Do what makes you whole, and not what others expect of you,” someone very special to me said. At the time, I thought I was, and that the experience would make me feel complete. Yet, only now, over a year later, am I beginning to understand the significance of that heavy chain of words.

Rice-Stuffed Tomato with Jalapeno Olive Oil

I went away, expecting miracles. I left, hoping for magic. I did what I’ve always done, leaning only on my own understanding and depending on everyone’s expectations of me. Therefore, I got what I’d always gotten – disappointment, and once again, self-inflicted disability.

Uni Pasta

It is like the story of the emperor moth and its struggle — one of my favorite stories (of many) I’d heard at work. In this lesson, the caterpillar nestles itself into its cocoon, painfully and beautifully undergoing its process of growth and transformation.  As its metamorphosis nears its end, and the caterpillar-turned-emperor moth struggles to free itself from its binds, a human passes by, noticing the moth’s scramble to freedom. With good intentions, he decides to set the moth free, and cuts open the cocoon to let it out. Little does he realize that the moth is no longer able to spread its mosaic wings and fly for they were never fully developed, as they had not been able to break free on their own.


Similarly, the root of my problems was that I crippled myself. I relinquished my right to make choices. I depended on the independence of others to lead my way. I forewent a life of my own, my freedom to fly. I was both the emperor moth and the human being; I struggled to be free, yet chained myself from flying. I lived a life that was half, not whole….

Creamy Walnut Pesto with Spinach, Tomatoes, Chicken Breast over Whole Wheat Penne

Life has a funny way of teaching you a lesson when you least expect it, but need it most. It has a funnier way of repeating the same lesson over and over, in different forms, until you actually learn from it.

Touché, life; you’ve outdone yourself again. Only this time, I view it as a blessing in disguise rather than an overwhelming, or impossible challenge. You have ultimately prepared me for this, and I have never been readier. It is my second, third, or possibly umpteenth chance to break free. You helped mold the cocoon for me, and removed all debilitating “help” from my life, so that I may finally, once and for all, spread my wings to soar. Instead of placing a person to interrupt my growth, you’ve placed a slew of people to support it. I have always been blessed to have the most amazing, remarkable, and beautiful people around me. These are the same people who are standing around, watching and waiting. They await my rise from the depths of what, to me, is fearfully unknown. Only this time, it really is my opportunity to strengthen my wings – on my time, for myself – and fly. When that time comes, I know I won’t be alone. There is a crowd that is not only watching and waiting, but is also believing in and cheering for me. It is the chance to finally make myself whole, a journey that is more important than its destination.

Mentaiko Udon with Ikura & Poached Egg

Life waits for no one, not even me, but I no longer need or want it to. I am here, transforming in my little cocoon, and learning to enjoy each and every step of the process, be it painful, triumphant, or all things in between.

Salted Caramel Short Bread Squares

A Recipe for Growth
an original Hungry to Happy recipe


  • 3 pints faith
  • 3 cups humility
  • 2 cups patience
  • 1 cup courage
  • A whole lot of discomfort (they don’t call it growing pains for nothing)
  • A dollop of good friends
  • An unlimited amount of laughter and tears
  • A pinch or two (or hundreds) of prayers
  • A sprinkle of what you love to do


  • Get a large pot, maybe one called life.
  • Each and every day, make sure that you have put all of the aforementioned ingredients into it. The best flavors develop gradually over time.
  • Put ingredients in whichever order you please at whatever point you see fit.
  • Stir well, stir happily.
  • Let simmer, skim off any fear, and let rest.
  • Most importantly, share and enjoy.



  1. Kasha

    What a beautiful post, Haein!!! Amidst the mouth-watering food pictures you wrote from your heart which I know spoke truth. You are a beautiful person, continue to let those struggles mold you to an even more beautiful. With much faith and the accompanying actions, you will grow into the person you want to be, and more importantly the person God wants you to be. Love you boo!

    “Do not be afraid, for I am with you.
    Do not be anxious, for I am your God.
    I will fortify you, yes, I will help you,
    I will really hold on to you with my right hand of righteousness.”
    Isaiah 41:10

Post a comment

You may use the following HTML:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>