If you know me, you know I love pasta.
One of my favorite dishes is Grandma’s gnocchi. Mine never turns out quite as fluffy, the sauce is never the right consistency, but I try. I follow all the steps I learned as a kid while watching her work in the kitchen.
The first step is to always prep. Get out your favorite pot, bring it to the sink, fill it up with water, sprinkle in your favorite salt, and set it on the stove.
If you’ve made pasta before, you can probably imagine yourself doing these steps. You know your favorite pasta pot. You know exactly how high you measure the water each time (even when you eyeball it). You’ve walked the same pathway from your sink to your stove one thousand and one times.
See, the thing is, you know the effort that goes into making this comfort food and you’ve perfected it for you. It’s a process you’ve refined over the years of your life to reflect your specific tastes. So now every time you whip up some pasta, you can easily recall the steps it takes to get you where you want to be.
The thing about pasta is, it’s simple. It has simple steps.
I find myself turning to simplicity more and more these days. To things I know, things I trust.
When I crave simplicity, I’ve learned to recognize it is a symptom of how overwhelmed I am. I’m having a hard time with the current climate of the world. It seems like every aspect of life is physically pulling me. Grabbing my face demanding me to look, grabbing my hands demanding me to work, grabbing my heart telling me to feel. All these demands, on top of the normal day-to-day activity that requires my attention, make me feel drained and helpless at the end of the day.
There’s so much never ending work to be done.
It’s a lot. It’s a lot to take in every single day.
It’s getting to the point where it’s too much for me each day. I wake up wondering what new horror I’m going to see on the morning news. I wonder what new political scheme has arisen that needs my attention and diligence. I wonder how many people have died from coronavirus.
I want to turn away from it.
Truly, I want to “unplug”. Pull the plug, walk away, tell the world I’m staying in my cocoon and I’m never coming out.
But, I know deep down that’s not the answer. I know there are people counting on me to show up and make a difference. I am part of a generation that can use their power to affect change, and I can’t lay down the mantle just because it’s too heavy. There are people in this world who don’t have that privilege, and it’s up to me to keep going for them. For us. For myself.
The answer is to protect my peace.
That means carving out space and time to prioritize myself. It doesn’t mean ignoring what’s going on around me, it’s about selecting the time I want to focus on it. For me that can be focusing on the news right before dinner. It’s a time where I can read a couple of articles, watch the news and then move on with my evening. I personally can’t read, watch, or talk about politics before bed. If I do I will spiral out and get terrible sleep. So I protect my peace in this way.
Protecting your peace also means focusing on cultivating the things that make you happy. This was especially difficult for me to wrap my mind around because I am naturally a happy person. Even though I have anxiety, I don’t have a problem moving through this world in a positive way. So when I had to think of tangible activities that made me happy, it was actually difficult for me.
Then, I remembered Grandma’s gnocchi.
It’s a tangible thing that brings me joy, and I know all the ingredients and work that goes into it. So I used this example to look at other things in my life that bring me joy. I look at the types of exercise I enjoy, the social activities I enjoy, and the media I enjoy. I consider all of these things my “ingredients” and I try to come up with simple “recipes” that bring me as much comfort and love as my Grandma’s gnocchi.
I am trying to create a routine of happiness that’s as familiar to me as the worn steps between my sink and my stove.
Your life ingredients can be running, blogging, reading, gaming. Your tools can be communication, laughter, quality time. It’s up to you to find the time to make these things come together.
Once you find the right recipe, and you make an intentional effort to carve out time to prioritize your happiness, you will be protecting your peace. You will give yourself the gift of balance and, speaking from experience, when you find that balance you can move through your day a little easier. I find that I can take on new challenges, I feel motivated to explore and learn and enjoy my time with my family.
So do yourself a favor and protect your peace.
I’m just like you. My life can be hectic and cooking, cleaning and getting that workout in are sometimes the last thing on my mind. But, I’m here to share my tips and tricks on how to make adulting a little more enjoyable.