What do you do when something you love that’s creative, that normally gives you energy, purpose, enjoyment, instead just drags you down?
Even though it’s late summer, a gorgeous one, and the garden and farmers’ markets are bursting with fresh deliciousness, I have to admit, I’m in a cooking funk. For someone who loves to cook and loves food with a passion, this does not feel good. I even went to the library with the kids this week and checked out a bunch of cookbooks hoping to get inspired and I felt blah about all of them, just like I’m feeling blah about my kitchen and cooking these days. What’s worse is that I seem to be in a writing and gardening funk too. I get in writing funks a lot, and about this time of year, I’m nearing the end of my hard-core garden love for the summer, but usually when I’m in a writing funk I can always turn to cooking or gardening for a break, for meditation, for inspiration.
But being in a cooking, writing and gardening funk all at the same time is a bit crazy concerning for me. I’m trying to understand where this is coming from or what this is about. I’m hoping it’s about routine, my need for summer to wrap up (gasp! did I just admit that?!) and for the fall/school year routine to kick in.
My time in the garden these days seems to be all about watering; I’m frustrated with my lack of good summer writing routine, and the normal everyday cooking tasks are dragging on me. Get up, make breakfast for me and the kids, do the dishes and clean up the kitchen, get a few things done (like water the garden) make lunch for us, clean up the kitchen and do the dishes, maybe leave the mess to clean up later in an hour or so when the kids want a snack, then make them a snack, clean up the mess, put the dishes in the dishwasher, and repeat for dinner. When I read these sentences I have two thoughts: one, that I’m pretty lucky I get to make yummy meals all day, and two, I’m sick of making meals all day! Obviously I do more than just cook and do the dishes, but some days it feels like that really is All. I. Do.
And, I don’t know how it is in your house, but at mine, no one likes the same things!!! We can’t just fix pizza in our house, we have to make sure the kids’ pizzas only have what they like, cheese only for Jasper, cheese and maybe sausage for Lily, and Greg’s has to be gluten-free. I can’t just fix pasta in our house because no one likes it the same way. Breakfast, if I ate what the kids liked, it would be bagels, Rice Krispies and cinnamon rolls all the time. And my protein addicted body could not handle that. There are lots of times I make one meal and we all eat it whether we all like it or not, but that can also make for some seriously long, whiny meals, which isn’t fun for anyone.
Last Sunday I woke up and told the kids and Greg that this week they were in charge of planning the meals, making the grocery list and doing the grocery shopping, because I needed a break from all of it. In my dreamworld it sounded wonderful to hand off this job to someone else for the week; alas, it didn’t become my reality because Greg was busy building us a new fence and it’s not like I could say, “You do the grocery shopping, I’ll build the fence.” I mean I can look cute while holding a fence post level, but that’s about the extent of my fence building assistance.
Sometimes, though, I am able to turn it over to Greg when I get really cranky and frustrated, when cooking becomes an un-fun chore. It’s probably good for all of us that he is the chef sometimes. Not only is he an awesome cook, but he often has the kids make their own meals. I get the kids involved in the kitchen too, but Greg just seems so much more at ease with it. To be fair, Greg is at work all day and a lot of his meals are made for him so he’s not doing my routine every day, day after day. Whatever the reason, I’m happy he likes to cook too because it does give me a break. Unfortunately him giving me a cooking break doesn’t solve the whole cooking, writing, gardening funk.
Is it that I need new recipes, new ideas to write about, fall plants to grow? Am I really ready for summer to be over so we can slip into a new routine? I don’t know the answer, and similar to when I’m staring at a blank page in my journal or on the computer, the fact that I don’t know kind of scares me. I’m not sure if I’m afraid of not having anything to write about (cook or plant) or if what does come out on the page, the pan or the garden bed, will be something unsavory.
I mentioned this funk to my seriously awesome writing group and as usual they helped nudge me onward. My friend, Sara, said she’s been in a weird writing space too this summer and she’s also in a cranky-at-her-kids stage. I don’t like knowing that she’s going through these things too, but at the same time it helps to know someone else is going through these things too. And my friend, Gloria, called to talk to me about my writing funk. She always asks great questions to get to the heart of the matter, like do I know why I’m not writing? Do I need a new project to work on? And we talked about how we are better writers when we write regularly, when we have a writing routine, when, no matter what we are writing about, we show up, we do the work, even sometimes through the fears, the pain or simply the drudgery, because we always come out on the other side through those ugly funks. But only if we show up.
I also got a beautiful email from my friend Michelle this week about her intense rehearsals for the musical Hair, and my writing, and one of the connections we have of our fathers’ both being Vietnam veterans. Michelle is one of those people who always shows up, to her family, to her singing, acting and running, to her friends, to the beauty of life. I needed her email that day to connect me, to remind me, to nudge me.
Maybe I haven’t really been showing up. I think I am ready for summer to be over (almost) and the kids to go back to school, for that refreshed routine, and I also am really really grateful for the support and connection I get from the people in my life, because sometimes that’s all it takes to sweep my funk away, to give me a break, to help clear the space in my head and remind me to show up, even if what I create is kind of wandering and caddywompus like this blog post.
It’s Sunday, the garden is a mess from the wind storm last night and I’m just going to leave it that way for now because I. Get. To. Write. All. Day. The kids and Greg planned all the meals for the week and they are doing the grocery shopping. And I’m going to get creative in the kitchen again this week with peaches. Even if my funk isn’t completely over; I’m going to show up until it is.