Editorial Thoughts


Michele Pesula Kuegler is the founder of PeKu Publications and chief foodie at Think Tasty. She runs this one-woman show focusing on creating new recipes to delight her family, friends, and herself.

Pull Yourself Up By Your Bootstraps

by Michele Pesula Kuegler on December 1st, 2020
I don’t even own boots with bootstraps.

My dad is a fan of colloquial phrases. I can’t even begin to count the number that he used regularly throughout my childhood. I do remember giggling (out of Dad’s earshot) with my brothers over which phrase he might use next.

“He’s going to say something about the southbound end of a northbound . . .”
“No, it’s going to be the one about squeezing a nickel until the buffalo. . .”

I’ve been thinking about my dad and his phrases recently, as I hit a mental rough patch with work. I became complacent and let the status quo of work move me forward. I wasn’t working on new ideas, being more pro-active, or trying to make my projects bigger and better. Honestly, I spent a chunk of my time reading articles online instead of focusing on work. Although I tried to assure myself that the reading was focused on work, as a self-employed woman, I also didn’t have to validate my time or efforts to anyone.

Then, a few weeks ago, I gave my head a mental shake and decided this wasting time was silly and fruitless. I added a project to Monday- review stats and make a plan for the future. I really thought that the numbers would show that it was time to throw in the towel and let Think Tasty go into hibernation. To my surprise the numbers were better than I thought. They showed a slight upward trend. It wasn’t time to quit; it was time to work harder.

At Think Tasty I changed the way I post on social media. I created a schedule that is more active and highlights all of the food and cooking in my day. I also increased my publishing schedule and spent more time editing photos.

With this little nudge in one area, I began to work harder on other projects as well. I have my WSET Level 3 certification, but I am using it minimally. To try and correct that I sent a proposal to a local college for a series of courses I could teach. I also began some behind the scenes work for other wine-centric projects.

This one small thought has reinvigorated my passion for these two projects and given me the drive to work harder. Now instead of wondering about how I’ll fill the day so as not to have guilt about being productive, I wonder how to cram all of my activities into the day. It’s not a bad problem to have.

So, how does all of this newfound work activity come back to my dad? The first thing I thought once I was working vigorously again was, ‘I just needed to pull myself up by my bootstraps.’ I can hear my dad using that fine phrase. Although I could have sought advice from others during this time, I know myself well enough: motivation comes best from within.

Feeling much more inspired to work, I decided I should blog about it here. (It is yet another area in which I’ve lacked ambition over the last couple months.) I decided that I should research the history of that phase as part of this post. To my surprise I learned that I’ve been using it wrong all these years. You can’t pull yourself up by your bootstraps; it’s impossible. The phrase actually means to do something absurd.

So, maybe “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps” isn’t the colloquial phrase my dad would have used. I’m sure he will have another phrase that could work. There always seemed to be an endless supply. Perhaps I should give him a call and see what best describes this situation.


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