My Favorite Mistake
Setoodeh, Ramin, Newsweek
Paula Deen on why she was afraid to leave her hometown.
The best mistake I ever made was not wanting to move from my hometown of Albany, Ga., to Savannah. It was 1986. My husband was in the car business, and he got a job with Southern Motors, so we had to move. I thought it was the worst thing that ever happened. I thought my life was over. I woke up every day feeling hopeless. I spent two months in bed, crying. I got up for two reasons: to eat and to go to the bathroom.
I suffered from agoraphobia. I didn't know it had a name until I was into five years of it, when I happened to see a show on Phil Donahue about agoraphobics. I had been through some traumatic experiences, losing my mother and daddy at a young age. It just sent me on a 20-year ride. I remember the day when it started to feel better. I got out of bed and the Serenity Prayer came into my head, a prayer I've heard all my life. That particular morning, I understood what it was saying. I understood what I was supposed to be asking God for--it was the serenity to accept the things I couldn't change and the courage to change the things that I could and the wisdom, dear Lord, to know the difference. I got up and I said, "I've got to make some changes."
For one, I had to start standing on my own feet. I realized I was just as capable as the next fellow of making a living. I had always loved to cook. With only $200, I started a little business called The Bag Lady, where I made lunches and sent my children to sell them to people down the street. …