I love chocolate. I love the textures, flavors, and aromas. I love the creativity, the possibilities, and the way it makes me feel.
Chocolate does not judge. If Chocolate were throwing a party, everyone would be included, and no one would be left behind. It sees no color, gender, sexual preference, political party, weight, size, or financial status.
Chocolate is personal. Everyone who tastes it will have different experiences. Chocolate will greet you and bring a sensory experience that is uniquely yours.
Grab a cup of tea, and let me step back for a minute. I think this might help you understand where my heart is right now.
This year I threw myself into this beautiful medium. I started following people on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. I signed up for classes with The International Institute of Chocolate and Cacao and had a wild experience!
We learned where cacao beans are grown, how the farmers are treated, and how the beans are fermented, dried, sorted then sent to the chocolate makers who take those beans and create magic.
We profiled chocolate bars and learned how to differentiate aromas, flavors, defects, and how to notice different acidity levels, complexity, and balance. We learned about the origins of chocolate, the large companies, the smaller companies, and who forged a path for the craft chocolate makers today.
But I felt different.
While my classmates were writing about balance, acidity, and mouthfeel, I was writing stories and poems. I began to feel and even mentioned in class that I was the class freak.
I understood the concept, I can smell an orange a mile away and taste raisin in a chocolate bar, but it wasn’t me.
When I taste chocolate, my world explodes!
I see words, stories, visions, pictures, colors, and smells. I’m overwhelmed and filled with joy, peace, and comfort because, at that point, I am opening my heart, accepting myself for who I am, and in those moments, I am being 100% authentically Amberley!
I learned so much, but with all the education I received, my greatest gift was finding myself, refusing to apologize for it, and embracing the unique abilities that allow me to see things differently.
I bought two chocolate refrigerators and started purchasing bars from all over the world. I want to taste as many bars as I can to see what stories come out of them.
But I was a bit naïve. I wanted so badly to become a certified chocolate taster and pass these tests. I didn’t think that there might not be a place for me in this chocolate world.
What happens to those who love chocolate but don’t fit the mold?
What if you can’t comprehend the lessons taught by educational institutions?
What about those with health issues that prevent them from taking courses?
And what happens to the incredibly creative, think outside the box, unique individuals in this world who can spin webs of colors, flavors, and aromas and articulate them in a way that the Chocolate community has never seen before?
Is there room for them at the table?
Right now, no.
Society paints those of us with special abilities as different, broken, and not normal. We need to stop seeing ourselves as less than the “experts.”
We might not be able to tell you the acidity levels, the complexity, and the balance in the chocolate, but we can tell you stories about where that Chocolate has been, how it makes us feel, how it speaks to us, and the vibrant explanations, descriptions, and definitions that will make you fall in love with chocolate again!
So I’ve been thinking.
What is an “expert?”
Who gives them the title “expert”?
I mean, everyone started somewhere, and education looks different for everybody.
But what honestly qualifies someone to decide if you’re invited to have a voice in any community?
The ”experts” have the loudest voices. They believe in themselves enough to create organizations, businesses, and schools, and they value their vision and make their dreams happen.
Some people would look at my blog and see that I am a level one certified chocolate taster. Does that make me an expert? Some might think so.
But I can’t remember what I had for breakfast yesterday, let alone what I learned in a class for four weeks, and then took a test that, by the grace of the chocolate gods, I happened to pass.
I am incredibly proud of myself for getting through the course, but I feel no more equipped now that I have that certification than I did before.
Yes, I have the knowledge, and yes, some of it is gone already. But does that make me any less valuable in this chocolate industry?
It does not.
I want a seat at this table in this beautiful medium of chocolate, not just for me but for those already there that are fighting to be heard and for those coming up that won’t get involved because they know there’s no place for them.
I am a bull in a china shop. OK, I am an emotional bull in a china shop.
If I feel unwanted, or there’s no space for me in this world, I will get angry, cry a little bit, and then I will move flipping mountains to make space for myself and others because I believe that everybody deserves to be seen, heard, and valued for who they are!
Chocolate is creative!
Chocolate never put itself in a box!
Neither should we!
I don’t need permission to be invited to this table.
I am inviting myself!
I have pulled up a chair!
The community needs more creativity. It needs people to be open and honest and share their truths, not trying to fit into a box but instead breaking out of that damn box!
Creative chocolate makers need to be seen and acknowledged for their willingness to bring chocolate to a higher level.
Chocolate educators need to be willing to share all that’s in their hearts and use their experiences to educate even if they feel pushback because there will be people in their classes that feel different and don’t fit.
Chocolate tasters need to feel free enough to release the chains, close their eyes, feel their emotions and let the chocolate speak to them.
When I was in class, I compared myself to the other students, and they compared themselves to me, and it felt like an emotional shit show of comparison between adults because we didn’t value what we brought to the class.
Stop comparing yourself!
You are enough!
You are special!
Your talents are uniquely yours!
Stop trying so hard to figure out what’s “wrong” with you and focus on what’s right!
Decide what you want to do with chocolate and stop asking permission or seeking the approval of others. This is your dream, not theirs!
Before a chocolate bar gets to you, it has passed through the loving hands of cacao farmers, and each one has a story. It is then moved to the chocolate makers who put their hearts and soul into their bars.
The chocolate has a story to tell, and it will speak to you. Chocolate is passion, love, creativity, encouragement, meditative, support, and healing for our bodies. It teaches us about ourselves, who we are, and who we want to be. Chocolate inspires, educates, and encourages.
We need to be more inclusive in this community. We need to find ways to leave a seat open for those who want it. We need to extend an olive branch. We need to value what they bring to the table. We need to encourage, embrace, and support their differences instead of ignoring the situation because we don’t know how to fix it.
The reality is I don’t need a seat at the table.
I’m going to build my own table with enough chairs for everyone.
Care to join me?
Photo Cred: https://unsplash.com/@ginnyrose