I do not need all the latest kitchen appliances or even a bouquet of handheld devices cribbed from the pegboards of Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Give me a rubber spatula, a wooden spoon, and a few sharp knives.
But what I crave – especially when I spend hours resting and watching cooking shows like I did yesterday when a migraine shoved me to the couch with her ice pick of pain in my right eye – is decanters and matching containers. Giada has all her spices in these hand-sized bins with silver tops. The woman on Farmhouse Rules pours oils from bottles that look like the ones I find here in the dirt on the farm. Demaris streams her olive oil from this glass beaker that makes me want to drink that green syrup.
I own plastic canisters for flour, sugar, and now headache tea. My spices are in the bottles or tubs in which they come. I have to shove things out of the way to get to what I need. Bay leaves topple over behind the cheap spice rack I try to use for organization. Sweetened coffee gets spilled on the base of the cornmeal canister.
Nothing about this system speaks of order. Nothing about it makes it easier for me to cook the way I dream of cooking.
Often, people say, “I just can’t seem to find the time to write.” Or “I want to learn to knit, but other things keep getting in my way.” Or “I’m just too tired, when I finally get a break, to want to tend my flowers.”
I know all of those feelings. I expect we all do. We are busy people in an even busier culture. If we are not careful, years can pass without our realizing that we have given away thousands of hours to duty and scant minutes to play or passion or just plain fun.
Last week, I wrote about a simple writing ritual I use to get my daily practice started, and I was honored by the number of people who found hope and use there. I was also surprised by the comments about how people had never considered that they might need to be deliberate about their writing time. I probably shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was.
Here’s the thing – we must be deliberate about doing the important things in our lives. We are deliberate about getting ready for work. We are deliberate about being sure our children are fed. Some of us are very deliberate about getting exercises or eating well. Some of us are very deliberate about our time in prayer and study of our faith.
If writing – or sewing or gardening or fixing up that classic car or woodworking or painting – is important to us, then we must CHOOSE NOW to make time for it. We must be intentional about building time for our joy in our lives.
We are never going to be less busy unless we choose to be. We are never going to find our inspiration if we don’t look for it. We are never going to make our joys a priority if we don’t choose to put other things aside from time to time.
I can’t tell you what this intentional choice to do what you love will look like specifically in your life, but here are a few things I do to make time for my writing, my passion.
1. I do it with my best energy. My best energy comes early in the day, so I do my writing as early as I can in the morning. Right now, my first energy goes to the animals and the garden. Then, I read, study, pray, but before 10am, I write. After that, email gets cranking, clients start calling, and I already begin to tire. (Mosey woke me at 5am this morning by licking my feet. Cute at 7pm – not so much before dawn.)
2. I set specific, achievable goals for each day. Maybe I am in the midst of a manuscript, and I’m writing 1,000 words a day. Or maybe, like now, I’m working on feedback from readers, and so I’m taking one bit of insight and applying it to my draft each morning. Each day’s goal is manageable within the time I have available (usually less than 2 hours), and thus, I don’t feel discouraged by not finishing that goal.
3. I consider writing my REAL WORK, even if I don’t get paid for it. I tell myself – quite intentionally (and sometimes out loud) – that money is not the primary way I want to build value into my life. I remind myself that writing gives me joy and health and that while we need to have money to live, I still have time to do the paying work later. I let my spirit speak loudly that writing is my calling, and that the other work I do – while wonderful – is not my primary purpose on this earth. I give myself permission to do something I enjoy simply because I enjoy it. I do this every day, several times a day because our culture says that money is only measure of value and I must counter that teaching hard and strong.
4. I make sure I have the space and tools I need readily at hand. I am blessed to have an entire writing office (and Philip just installed an air conditioner in here, so I’m all set for 90 degree days later this week), and I keep it for just that purpose. I have pens and books and paper nearby, and my laptop has its own space on my desk. This way, I don’t have to clear a space as well as a time to write. I find battling time to be quite enough of an effort each day.
You may not be able to write or sew or work on your car-baby every day for two hours. You may only be able to carve out an hour a few days a week. You may not make any money doing what you love; you may just have to take relaxation and joy from that work. Your goal may be just a few stitches or a row of weeding or 250 words. Do what works for you and your life as it is at this moment.
Don’t measure your success against me or anyone else. Measure your success by the lift in your soul.
Inspired by all the talented folks on those cooking shows, I have begun to get my tools in order as I’m able. I’m collecting old fashioned, latch-down jars to place my cheap canisters, and I’m going to be pulling out my mother’s spice rack and putting it to use soon. I’m going to make my kitchen work for me so that I can find more joy in the time I spend there, and so that I don’t spend all my available time hunting instead of cooking.
I can’t afford to buy all new things for my kitchen – just like you might not be able to quit your job and write all day. But I’ll do what I can with what I have. Deliberately. And because it brings me joy.
What small steps might you take toward deliberately making time to write or do the things you love most?