Deep in Thanksgiving cooking and I’m trying to modify the smashed sweet potatoes with apples recipe for 20. Wondering how I’ll fit it in the oven with the 26 lb turkey, mushroom/sausage stuffing, brussel sprouts with carmelized onions and almonds, and popovers?
At the same time, I’ve got my laptop in the kitchen and I’m trying to write this blog post about holidays and working with illness. And feeling stuck with both.
Then it came to me. Cooking and working share a similar role in my life. It’s not because I live with chronic illness but it’s affected my approach. The limits illness has imposed on my life has encouraged me to cultivate a certain skill set.
When I was in my early 40’s and very sick with ulcerative colitis, I decided that my diminished resources had to be spent wisely. I’d act with intention, trying to put my energy on tasks I love doing. I’d plan my actions as best I could, knowing that my life with illness is unpredictable.
So I continued to cook, even as I gave up other physically strenuous activities. Why? Because I love it. I enjoy thinking about recipes, making the dishes and giving my food to others. I cook for birthdays, religious holidays, New Years Eve and dinners for friends – you name it. I love doing it and it tires me. That’s okay.
And, I realized at that time how much I need and like working. Sure, I’ve had jobs I didn’t like and it’s taken time to figure out what I love to do. But I’ve learned that working can be a deep source of pleasure. Yes, it can be tiring but mostly it gives me “juice”.
Work and cooking, while living with pain and fatigue, require three essential ingredients:
- Start with careful strategy and detailed action planning. You need a conception for a menu or your career. You have to be able to identify and then implement the action steps and timeline to help you get there.
- Assemble a team to do what you don’t know how to do or can’t do alone. I use virtual assistants and other support to develop my business. When I cook, my husband pitches in to do errands and do a lot of the heavy lifting in the kitchen. And I hire help for the clean up.
- I try to build enough time for mistakes or illness into my schedule and still meet my deadlines. Sometimes, it’s not possible and you face disappointment – yours or others. This can be hard. But it’s part of the journey.
I’ve learned to accept less than perfect. I’d rather play in the sandbox than watch from the sidelines. I’ve learned to get pleasure from the process even more than the results.
Oh, where does my mother fit into this? She loved to cook but she wasn’t much for planning. I didn’t get my “planner” gene from her!
How are you approaching the holidays? Can you take pleasure in the doing?