How a famous French chef helped me fight impostor syndrome.

French chef Jacques Pépin is a living legend.

He's an OG culinary genius, known the world over for his prowess in the kitchen, expert hand, and encyclopedic knowledge of all things French cuisine and technique.


Pépin flips crepes with (from right) Michelle Obama, Kelly Ripa, and Al Roker like it's nothing. Photo by Roger L. Wollenberg-Pool/Getty Images.

On a recent episode of "PBS NewsHour," Pépin shared his thoughts on recipes and how (in few words) he thinks they're kind of BS.

(OK, it sounded much more articulate and French than that.)

Pépin told a story about crafting a recipe for pears with caramel sauce. He made the dessert three different ways, and it turned out OK each time.

GIF via "PBS NewsHour."

For Pépin, this was proof that recipes are not the be-all end-all; they're just a place to begin — a Point A for a Point B yet to be determined. He said:

"So, what is the point of a recipe? A recipe is a teaching tool, a guide, a point of departure. ... But as you make [the dish] again and again, you will change it, you will massage it to fit your own taste, your own sense of aesthetic."

You hear that? You get to make the recipe, the technique, and the method work for you.

Yep, just like that.

But this idea doesn't just apply to cooking. Turns out that it's much, much bigger.

Pépin probably didn't intend to illuminate a beautiful truth about life in a four-minute segment about pears with caramel sauce. But he did.

Walk with me.

Each of us, through our parents, tradition, school, or cultural and societal expectations are handed a recipe for life. Here in the States, the recipe might look something like this:

Go to school. Don't make trouble. Find a job. Meet a life partner. Marry them. Raise a kid or two. Complain about Mondays. Retire. Have a quiet life. Die peacefully.

But, like Pépin suggests, every recipe leaves room to improvise and get creative.

You can follow the recipe to the letter or use it as a jumping-off point, but either way, the methods, techniques, and ingredients are up to you.

It may be scary. It may be challenging. But the adventure is all yours.

GIF via "The Simpsons."

Thinking about my own experiences in this frame made me better equipped to fight my own case of imposter syndrome.

Imposter syndrome is that nagging feeling that you're not as talented or as smart as you seem to others. Despite some levels of achievement or success, you always live in fear of being exposed as a fraud.

If you've felt a similar feeling, you're not alone. Even Maya Angelou (yeah, that Maya Angelou) dealt with it. She said, "I have written 11 books, but each time I think, 'Uh oh, they’re going to find out now.'"

You earned every bit of praise, Dr. Angelou!

Thanks to social media, I get to see my peers hit every prescribed adult milestone in living color. Every beautiful wedding, island vacation, new home, new car, and chubby baby along the way. I've always been happy for them (they're my friends after all), but a little part of me always felt like I was two steps behind.

But with this new frame, I'm reminded that when it comes to "adulting," we're all just experimenting in the kitchen. We're using the methods that work best for our circumstances to create something beautiful — a life well lived. It doesn't matter how we get there or when, only that we do.

I am not a phony. I'm just doing the best I can. We all are.

So next time you're in the kitchen (or at your high school reunion), remember that perfectly executing a recipe is not necessarily the definition of success.

Whether it's poached pears or a Ph.D., you decide what comes next. Recipes and roadmaps can only take you so far.

It's up to you to shake things up, get creative, and have some adventures along the way.

Another French chef who knows a thing about adventures. GIF via "Ratatouille."

Hungry for more? Watch Chef Pépin's video essay from "PBS NewsHour."

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This year more than ever, many families are anticipating an empty dinner table. Shawn Kaplan lived this experience when his father passed away, leaving his mother who struggled to provide food for her two children. Shawn is now a dedicated volunteer and donor with Second Harvest Food Bank in Middle Tennessee and encourages everyone to give back this holiday season with Amazon.

Watch the full story:

Over one million people in Tennessee are at risk of hunger every day. And since the outbreak of COVID-19, Second Harvest has seen a 50% increase in need for their services. That's why Amazon is Delivering Smiles and giving back this holiday season by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Second Harvest to feed those hit the hardest this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local food bank or charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your selected charity.

Usually when we share a story of a couple having been married for nearly five decades, it's a sweet story of lasting love. Usually when we share a story of a long-time married couple dying within minutes of each other, it's a touching story of not wanting to part from one another at the end of their lives.

The story of Patricia and Leslie "LD" McWaters dying together might have both of those elements, but it is also tragic because they died of a preventable disease in a pandemic that hasn't been handled well. The Michigan couple, who had been married for 47 years, both died of COVID-19 complications on November 24th. Since they died less than a minute apart, their deaths were recorded with the exact same time—4:23pm.

Patricia, who was 78 at her passing, had made her career as a nurse. LD, who would have turned 76 next month, had been a truck driver. Patricia was "no nonsense" while LD was "fun-loving," and the couple did almost everything together, according to their joint obituary.

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Courtesy of Macy's

Brantley and his snowman

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"Would you like to build a snowman?" If you asked five-year-old Brantley from Texas this question, the answer would be a resounding "Yes!" While it may sound like a simple dream, since Texas doesn't usually see much snow, it seemed like a lofty one for him, even more so because Brantley has a congenital heart disease.

On Dec. 11, 2019, however, the real Macy's Santa and his two elves teamed up with Make-A-Wish to surprise Brantley and his family on his way to Colorado where there was plenty of snow for him to build his very own snowman, fulfilling his wish as part of the Macy's Believe campaign. After a joy-filled plane ride where every passenger got gift bags from Macy's, the family arrived in Breckenridge, Colorado where Santa and his elves helped Brantley build a snowman.

Brantley, Brantley's mom, and Santa marveling at their snowmanAll photos courtesy of Macy's

Brantley, who according to his mom had never actually seen snow, was blown away by the experience.

"Well, I had to build a snowman because snowmen are my favorite," Brantley said in an interview with Summit Daily. "All of it was my favorite part."

This is just one example of the more than 330,000 wishes the nonprofit Make-A-Wish have fulfilled to bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses since its founding 40 years ago. Even though many of the children that Make-A-Wish grants wishes for manage or overcome their illnesses, they often face months, if not years of doctor's visits, hospital stays and uncomfortable treatments. The nonprofit helps these children and their families replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy and anxiety with hope.

It's hardly an outlandish notion — research shows that a wish come true can help increase these children's resiliency and improve their quality of life. Brantley is a prime example.

"This couldn't have come at a better time because we see all the hardships that we went through last year," Brantley's mom Brandi told Summit Daily.

Brantley playing with snowballs

Now more than ever, kids with critical illnesses need hope. Since they're particularly vulnerable to disease, they and their families have had to isolate even more during the pandemic and avoid the people they love most and many of the activities that recharge them. That's why Make-A-Wish is doing everything it can to fulfill wishes in spite of the unprecedented obstacles.

That's where you come in. Macy's has raised over $132 million for Make-A-Wish, and helped grant more than 15,500 wishes since their partnership began in 2003, but they couldn't have done that without the support of everyday people. The crux of that support comes from Macy's Believe Campaign — the longstanding holiday fundraising effort where for every letter to Santa that's written online at Macys.com or dropped off safely at the red Believe mailbox at their stores, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. New this year, National Believe Day will be expanded to National Believe Week and will provide customers the opportunity to double their donations ($2 per letter, up to an additional $1 million) for a full week from Sunday, Nov. 29 through Saturday, Dec. 5.

There are more ways to support Make-A-Wish besides letter-writing too. If you purchase a $4 Believe bracelet, $2 of each bracelet will be donated to Make-A-Wish through Dec. 31. And for families who are all about the holiday PJs, on Giving Tuesday (Dec. 1), 20 percent of the purchase price of select family pajamas will benefit Make-A-Wish.

Elizabeth living out her wish of being a fashion designer

Additionally, this year's campaign features 6-year-old Elizabeth, a Make-A-Wish child diagnosed with leukemia, whose wish to design a dress recently came true. Thanks to the style experts at Macy's Fashion Office and I.N.C. International Concepts, only at Macy's, Elizabeth had the opportunity to design a colorful floral maxi dress. Elizabeth's exclusive design is now available online at Macys.com and in select Macy's stores. In the spirit of giving back this holiday season, 20 percent of the purchase price of Elizabeth's dress (through Dec. 31) will benefit Make-A-Wish.You can also donate directly to Make-A-Wish via Macy's website.

This holiday season may be a tough one this year, but you can bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses by delivering hope for their wishes to come true.

via Twins Trust / Twitter

Twins born with separate fathers are rare in the human population. Although there isn't much known about heteropaternal superfecundation — as it's known in the scientific community — a study published in The Guardian, says about one in every 400 sets of fraternal twins has different fathers.

Simon and Graeme Berney-Edwards, a gay married couple, from London, England both wanted to be the biological father of their first child.

"We couldn't decide on who would be the biological father," Simon told The Daily Mail. "Graeme said it should be me, but I said that he had just as much right as I did."

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via Elliot Page / Instagram

Elliot Page, once publicly known as Ellen Page, has announced he is transgender. The announcement makes the Oscar-nominated actor one of the most high-profile celebrities to come out as transgender.

The actor currently stars in Netflix's "The Umbrella Academy" and has acted in films such as "Juno," "Inception," and the "X-Men" franchise.

Page made the announcement on social media where he celebrated the joy of coming out while taking the opportunity to discuss the issues faced by the transgender community.

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