By Brenda Riojas, I Start Wondering Columnist
Sometimes we focus our creative energy on projects aimed for big results when we are working on deliverables – something for work or for publication, something tied to a deadline. Long-term projects can consume all our focus if we let them. We can easily forget that every day we wake we can dance with our creative spirit as we carry out our quotidian routine – preparing a meal, cleaning our home, organizing a closet.
Andrew Motion, an English poet, advises writers to “honor the miraculousness of the ordinary.” I think this advice is applicable for all of us, especially in a culture fixated on attention-seeking events. We can’t forget the ordinary, everyday moments. When we pay attention to the natural rhythm of our lives, we can embrace more moments of creativity.
Creating a Culinary Masterpiece
I treasure evenings and weekends when I can re-shift my focus closer to home. I relish the simple pleasure of dicing an onion or cubing a sweet potato, the simple act of bringing different ingredients together to create a meal.
In November, I started eating cleaner meals, which led me to spending more time in my kitchen. Because I am surrounded by excellent home-chefs (my daughter and my husband), I can get away with not cooking. But after combing different websites for new recipes, I discovered the joys of not only eating clean, healthy meals – no sugar, dairy, or wine — but also of cooking.
Before my return to the kitchen, I can’t remember when I last took time to sit and look through a cookbook. Pinterest, of course, makes it easy to find a quick recipe. However, turning the pages of a book evokes a slower pace, one that allows creativity room to spark new ideas. It’s always fun to put your own twist on a recipe, sometimes based on the ingredients you have available.
Looking for Creativity in the Functional
As I spend more time in the kitchen, I have a new appreciation for cooking tools and the aesthetics they add. Normally I would not give them much thought other than their functionality, but I recognize now how they help motivate the cooking process.
In his encyclical, “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home,” Pope Francis talks about the “Ecology of Daily Life.” He notes the settings in which people live their lives “influence the way we think, feel and act.” Hence, our home and what we bring into it (such as a cooking tool, an ingredient, even a new apron or cast iron pot) adds a detail that can boost your creative energy. Even the way we serve a meal can enhance an experience. Why not use your special dinnerware and cloth napkins for everyday?
My daughter, who does not rely on recipes, is a strong influence in my kitchen adventures. She tells me to let the food talk to you and tell you what goes well together. Some attempts may fail, she said, but experimenting is worth the tasty discoveries.
Finding Creativity at Hand
Away from the kitchen sit a host of other creative opportunities. Most recently I had fun using a Christmas gift – an old-school embossing label maker – to create a party favor for my son’s rehearsal dinner. We might surprise ourselves by using what we have close at hand.
Be inspired in your home, whether creating for an audience of one or more. What better place to let creativity run free?
In this New Year, surprise your creative spirit with a new gadget, a new apron, a new cutting board, or better yet, use an item that has been stored away. Celebrate the little things. Take notice of all that can inspire you. And why not try a new recipe?