I first met Angela Foster years ago at Coffee and ___ , her coffeeshop in Jefferson Chalmers. It was love at first bite. These days she’s sticking to the vegan fare, and I dare you to share with me a better macaron outside of Paris. Fast forward five years to a ranch in Malibu where we’re drinking buttery Chardonnay, a gaggle of ducks begging for scraps by our feet. I’m generally not a drinker, but her daring description of and passion for this variety has me toasting in earnest. If you’re going to dabble in drinking, it might as well be with a well-traveled sommelier.
Her dedication to a life of learning and adventure has been a personal inspiration to me in my moments of doubt. This is a woman who walks the walk—and isn’t afraid to show others the path. Anyone who knows Angela, knows that these tips are well tried and true.
Find Your Passion
I’m fortunate to have discovered mine early: travel. Even at the age before I could think about traveling on my own, I would ‘travel’ through books, films, and theatre. This led me to an undergrad degree in theatre, film, and English literature—and many study abroad programs that provided an adventurous opportunity to live in other countries. After college I used these experiences to, obviously, become a travel agent.
Live Your Purpose
Unfortunately, it took me a bit to discover this one—which only encouraged my insecurities in my 20s. The only thing I knew I was good at was travel. As a travel agent my rewards piled up and I won vacations around the northern hemisphere. Yet, after three years of being on trips, a new passion involving food/chefs/restaurants/hotels began. I quit the agency to enroll in culinary school, specifically for pastry arts. I thought I always had a knack for baking. And surely, finally, my purpose was finding its’ real way— into hospitality.
My goal was to work for a high end hotel like The Ritz-Carlton—to learn their ways and eventually become an innkeeper. And I did just that.
Friends, follow your passion and you will find your purpose.
Let Life Lead
I became a pastry chef/inn keeper to slow down on my own travels—opting instead to live vicariously through other people’s adventures. Hosting travelers spoke to an early dream to open a hostel, but I never had the money or know-how to open a business, so I took another path. As a classically trained pastry chef, I figured I could lure people to my inn by way of fabulous breakfasts and pastries . . . and that was the key.
It’s all about living the life you love and being open to the knowledge that what you want doesn’t always appear as you see it. With an open mind, things usually fall wonderfully into place.
I’m a ‘yes’ person—a characteristic I attribute to my theatre years. One college semester of improv reinforced saying and thinking “yes” all of the time. Your co-actor hands you thin air, says it is a pencil, and YES, IT IS A PENCIL. If you’re not portraying and agreeing with the fact that it’s a pencil, then everything in the scene falls apart.
Give back, and give what was given to you. It feels good. And always comes right back.
Your Choices Make You
My “yes” outlook has made me adaptive and resourceful. I never see a ‘not possible’, and I can’t stand being told no. I love making the most of a situation—whether that means long summer days of hardly sleeping and winters spent in bed or too many tomatoes in August (just make tomato pie!!), I’ve been known to make a flight cancellation into an opportunity for adventure.
We humans have little control over many things, but we can control our environment. I see life as art: what and who do I want in it? How do I want the energy to feel? How do I want my day, month, etc. to look? What do I want from my interactions with others?
You are the company you keep, so I focus on that by surrounding myself with people that inspire and are inspired by me and who support me when I’m up as well as down. I focus on space— beautiful spaces motivate me while worldly clutter clutters my mind.
Everything in its’ place and a place for everything.
Make Space for Conviviality
Good old-fashioned liveliness has led me to meet some great people and some of my greatest adventures. After three seasons of inn-keeping on the Atlantic Coast, I learned to sail and became first mate of a 37 ft. sailboat in the Caribbean. My Captain and I lived for six months completely off the grid on a create-your-own sailing adventure around the British Virgin Islands. We survived on a currency-less system, trading with a myriad of characters, including a group of travel doctors in St Thomas. In exchange for a ride, they fully provisioned the boat and paid for our beer ashore.
My time on the water taught me the value of barter. If you cut out the middle man (money) to focus on the end goals, you usually find the things money cannot buy: freedom and happiness.
Talk Less. Listen More
Never assume that you are the smartest person in the room. If you happen to actually be the smartest, go out, get uncomfortable, and surround yourself with people you can learn from. The life stories I have been told and what I have gained by simply listening and watching people throughout my career has heightened my perspective, awareness, knowledge, and humility many times over.
Conversation and Relation
My raison d’etre, born out of years in the hospitality industry, is conversation. All people want to love and be loved—to speak and be heard—but this rarely happens anymore in the modern age without the filter of technology. When we naturally converse and relate, all tends to feel calm and right in the world. I take to remote places that promote this style of communication—like the Catskills, where there is little cell reception but loads of friendly earnest conversation.
Find Your Wildest Heart by Following Your Heart
You know when something doesn’t feel right and when something does. Align with that knowledge. Short term pain is usually worth long term gain. Yes, it hurt going through those break-ups/that divorce, it was very lonely being solo in my journey on a road less traveled, but following my heart gave me the strength to be my most ‘wild’ and free, and me.