I discovered something simple and sweet today. One of my favorite writers and makers, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, has made another splendorous gesture of love and beauty for the world. I loved her Encyclopedia of An Ordinary Life, which gave permission and purpose for even my most nonsensical writing. And I just bought a copy of Little Pea, a charming addition to any child's library. Plant a Kiss is yet another gem - a book that makes, as Amy says, "spectacular use of glitter." Watch Amy's video of the book here and share the joy:
Welcome back. What a beginning to the new year its been. I've been trying to put something together to post here for too long now. Somehow with the post-holiday "greys", a trip to Minnesota, a transition/promotion at work, and the much anticipated arrival of Ol' Man Winter to Chicago, I've been a bit disconnected from my writing. Happy to be back and excited to share a few of my hopes and ambitions for the year. In truth, I have no idea what the year ahead may bring, like all years past. But it can help to have some vision or foresight. Flexibility is good because change and the unanticipated are inevitable, but sometimes I move more fluidly if I am moving with purpose. And so as I begin to move through this year, here are a few things I've been compelled by:
1. Keep writing/creating.
I get asked a lot from the people who know I'm an artist if I am still making work. My full-time job at the patisserie limits my time for artistry significantly. No, I don't make many sculptures or paintings these days, but for me, this doesn't mean I'm not creating. I create when I make something at the patisserie - pastry is its own creative process. But even more than that, I am "making" when I am writing. This thing, this palimpsest that is layers of thought, scraped and scribbled at, is as much a piece of artwork and as much a creative act as any painting or sculpture I've ever made. Do I miss making paintings, cutting wood, carrying around a portfolio of fresh ideas? Absolutely. Will that always be a part of me, who I am, what I do? Without a doubt. But I daresay this baking, this writing, this wondering, and art-making all inform each other. They are infinitely connected and I can no longer separate the creative act from the rest of my living.
2. Explore a part of the world you've never seen before.
This is, more or less, always on my list of hopes for the year. It's no secret that I love to travel. A love I aim to keep so long as I have breath (this is not merely a phase of my 20s). There are definitely places in the US that remain to be seen - I love a good road trip. But I've been homebound for a year or so and my passport is getting restless.
3. Go dumpster diving.
I recently watched a documentary on dumpster diving called Dive!. Besides being funny, informative, and strangely charming, it is a tragic diary of food waste in America. This is, perhaps, nothing new to many of us, but somehow after seeing Jeremy Seifert's film I have felt more responsible for the information I carry. I can no longer walk through Trader Joe's without thinking of the dumpster out back that will be full of food at the end of the night. I have a few friends who go dumpster diving on a regular basis, and for me, Dive! is more than just a film, it is a call to action.
4. Invest in a beehive.
One of my coworkers is saving her tips for a trip to France - I'm saving mine for a beehive (though a beehive in France would be nice). A friend let me join him on his maiden bee voyage this year. I learned heaps both from and about the honeybee, and truly, I've never tasted sweeter honey than directly from the comb. The area I live in doesn't permit beekeeping, but I'm hopeful for more beekeeping ventures.
5. Learn to make croissant.
Last year I started regularly making homemade bread and it's brought me nothing but good things. For Christmas, my mom gave me a large, durable baking stone for my breadmaking - I'm hopeful it will transform my sourdough. But I'd also really love to learn to make croissant. I am surrounded by croissant at work, and it is definitely a process and an art. I've watched them labor over their beautifully laminated dough, willing butter and yeast and flour into pure heaven.
6. Do a body cleanse.
I am on day 4 of a 14 day total body cleanse. There are all sorts of toxins and pollutants in the stuff we eat, breathe, and brush up against everyday. It makes sense to start fresh, even internally. So far the hardest part is the line up of 8 horse pills to swallow each night, but I think my organs will thank me.
7. Spend more time with Terry Gross.
Fresh Air is one of my most favorite NPR program's. How many times have I lingered in the car or lengthened my run, bewitched by Terry Gross and her subject. I will never ever forget her interview with Maurice Sendak, where I learned what it is to live to write and write to live. Or when I fell in love with Alice Waters, who taught me about sustainability and the value of having a relationship with your food (and by food, I mean farmers, growers, chefs, eaters) - "the power of gathering." I expect there's a lot more to learn too.
8. Make this cake: pistachio olive oil cake with fig compote filling and cream cheese frosting.
I've been dreaming about making this cake for ages. Seriously, what could be more divine than pistachio, fig, and cream cheese? You can't make this cake for just anything or anyone. I've yet to find the right occasion or the right company. But this year, I'm determined.
9. Give above and beyond - money, time, resources, etc. The point is to offer something of yourself to the world in exchange for nothing.
I grew up in a family that always encouraged giving or serving to the best of your abilities, within your means. What if we went one step further and gave of ourselves beyond what left us feeling comfortable? I keep thinking about this man who asked me for a coat a while back, the weather was turning and he didn't have a place to stay or a warm coat. I regretfully told him I didn't have an extra coat to give him, but what if I had offered him my coat? What if I "gave", even at my own expense?
9 1/2. Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
10. When uncertainty and fear are getting the best of you and you wonder yet again what you're doing with your life, what it's all for, remember this:
"The kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work (a) that you need most to do and (b) that the world most needs to have done....The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." (Frederick Buechner)