Doing, doing, more crazy doing…
Recognise this one?
It’s a cycle that’s dominated my life. I was reminded of it over Christmas, spending two weeks unwell. For most of that time I was unable to get up from the sofa. All my beautiful festive food plans went out of the window and I was forced to leave my incredibly helpful but, food-wise, pretty mediocre husband in charge of the kitchen. We had leftovers for Christmas lunch!
Was it a coincidence that the day I decided to stop work for 2023 I got really ill? I doubt it. When we let go, the adrenaline that’s been fuelling us dissipates and we are left vulnerable. Our body shows us what’s actually going on.
Those hours on the sofa gave me time to reflect. Pause for thought. If only I’d allowed the space for it more often during the previous year, it may not have been foisted upon me in such a frustrating way.
I’d been trying to do everything: Create the podcast and support its community, write, cook three meals a day from scratch for my family and be a mum (with all that that entails).
I’m really enthusiastic about the food and family things that fill my days. But enthusiasm can easily morph into having to do it all and every task comes with unplanned ‘shrapnel’ – the cleaning up, the accounts, the filling in forms.
I’m betting you recognise this pattern in areas of your own life.
Here’s how it plays out in my kitchen: I’m making two breads, the sauerkraut’s due, I just picked up half a lamb and need to process it, plus I’m trying to make beer. The washing up is piling up, there’s no room anywhere (my kitchen is tiny) and, when I’m not paying attention, a glass jar will slide off the counter and smash on the floor.
Maybe for you it’s more general; you say yes to all the things – yes I’ll help you move house, yes I’ll look after your kids, yes I’ll bake something for the fete. Not wanting to let people down or shirk obligations, you keep going even though you’re exhausted.
How can we sift through all the things we’re doing when we’re doing too much? Before it’s too late and life forces us to stop?
Every time this happens I turn to my North Star: Joy.
The more priority we can give to the things that bring us joy the more energy will have to complete all of the tasks in our lives.
What is it that I love doing? How can I do more of that? How can I streamline the things I don’t enjoy doing? Can I jettison any of them?
In my work, recording the podcast and writing brings me joy and I need to do more of that.
This makes me realise that we need more administrative help for the podcast. It’s a scary idea to contemplate, as it means taking a financial risk. But when I weigh up what I’ve been taught by crash and burns I know that risk-taking, no matter how scary it is, is necessary for us to change any situation.
In my kitchen life, playing and experimenting brings me joy and I need to do more of that.
I’ve started reading The Flavour Thesaurus. My mind is buzzing with flavour combinations that I am really enthusiastic about tasting at our table. I need to make space for that, so I’m moving the day-to-day of bread-making over to Rob and Gabriel and accepting that on non-experimental days we might be eating the same things over and over.
What is it that you love doing? How can you focus on that? What risk do you need to take to let go of something that drains your energy?
As writing is one of the most fulfilling things that I do, I hope to be with you regularly this year with topics that explore life through the lens of that which we love: food.
In the meantime, my very best wishes go to you and those you love for a joyful start to 2024, in and out of the kitchen.
P.s. If you’d like more support on your ancestral journey, consider joining the podcast community. There are private podcasts, a treasure trove of goodies and a non-Facebook forum! Check out the details here.