Dreams really do come true. Keep dreaming!
As silly as it may sound, I’m almost giddy today at the prospect of eating oatmeal. Who am I kidding? I AM giddy about oatmeal. Giddy is such a good word, don’t you think? It’s one I recently ruby’ed from my daughter. Ruby is a word she and I made up after reading one of our favorite children’s books years ago, Ruby the Copycat. Any time I copy something she says or does, she calls me Ruby. Over time it’s kind of become a habit of mine – rubying or copying things from her. What can I say, she has great style and lots of fabulous ideas. But if truth be told, she is just as guilty of rubying me too. I digress. That too is a habit of mine. Maybe that’s the storyteller or writer in me, or maybe not. But as some of you may know or have discovered, it is definitely not the first time I’ve digressed, nor will it be the last.
Okay, back to my oatmeal giddiness. In case you’re wondering why I’m giddy, here’s the reason.
For more than five years, I’ve had a morning ritual that’s included coffee and oatmeal. In that order. At least 5 out of 7 mornings per week, I have oatmeal for breakfast. Now I’m not just talking any oatmeal (yes, there is a difference, a HUGE difference), I’m talking the steel-cut oatmeal version. I was first introduced to McCann’s Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal by my friend, Joan (Back then, steel cut oatmeal wasn’t available in the abundance or variety that it is today). Several times Joan brought into work a container of the dry uncooked oatmeal for me to make (I didn’t) or oatmeal already made and ready for me to eat (I did and loved it!). She would be the first to tell you that it wasn’t an overnight sensation in my book or anything near a weekly ritual. But over time I went from occasionally making and eating Quaker’s quick oatmeal, to the long-cooking variety, to making McCann’s, to an Amish-store variety (that I bought for years in bulk), to almost daily eating of what became my new favorite (as of this summer), Bob’s Red Mill. It may have been the little blue ribbon on the front of the package that made me pick it up in the first place, but it was the corresponding story and recipe on the back that made me buy it. Not surprising, with all the different varieties and prices of oatmeal, there were different recipes and cooking times. I tried a lot of them over the years, but this new one instantly became the hands-down favorite.
Each week my routine was to make a large pot of it (using my jug kettle to speed up the water boiling process), on either a Saturday or Sunday morning, giving me enough to last the whole week. Then everyday all I needed to do was pop a bowl of it into the microwave, adding just the right amount of cinnamon, skim milk, and added sweetness (brown sugar or Stevia) and voila – we’re talking the perfect morning start. I would also go through stages, where I added extra things to my oatmeal too. There was a walnut stage, when I added walnuts right out of the package and later ones toasted in the oven to add some crunch and protein. I’ve also tried pecans and almonds, instead of walnuts. But my nut of preference, besides my baby sister or daughter, is walnuts. I’ve even tried savory versions, by adding eggs, bacon, cheese. And although very good in its own way, it’s the fruit stage that has remained the most constant and probably my favorite. I love to add fruit to my oatmeal (after microwaving) and I’ve tried apples, bananas, blackberries, blueberries (my favorite), peaches, raspberries, strawberries, and mixed berries. Fresh fruit is ALWAYS what I prefer, but I will use frozen too.
With my life-changing September events, I somehow stopped some of my daily rituals or routines. Not only had I not eaten oatmeal in many weeks, going on months, but I also haven’t spent any creative time in my studio since my home was robbed and I was left picking up the pieces.
I realized these two things were both very telling and connected. My life has been in an overwhelmed state lately and that same feeling or word is one I am hearing in the hallways at work, over conversations with family and friends, and one I’m seeing on magazine covers at the grocery store. It helps to know I’m not alone in this feeling, but I still don’t like it. I know I tend to get overwhelmed whenever I over commit, when I don’t take daily devotion or meditation time, when I try to do it all. It may even be a result of the fast paced technology driven over stimulated time and world we live in.
I started thinking that right around the same time oatmeal and studio time went missing from my life, that’s when some of these feelings of overwhelm came to roost and things started to domino. I needed to get both of them back. Pronto. I had this epiphany at 6:30 this morning. With those thoughts still freshly percolating in my mind, I immediately got up and made my first pot of oatmeal since sometime in September, and later as I finished scraping my bowl, minus any fruit, I was reminded why I loved it so much. Every single bite was filled with comfort and bliss and sweet memories.
As I swallowed the last of my coffee and typed these words, my chores, those stinkin crazy bossy nagging chores started to beckon. Only they are not quite so polite to just beckon – they started screaming at me. They never seem to leave me alone. And since it is after all MY to-do list and I do not have a staff to assist me, I need to get going and take some action. If I don’t, nobody will. So while the leaves need raking (again) and things need to be folded and put away (again) and cluttered piles need to be tackled (again) and dishes need to be washed (again), my oatmeal is back! And somewhere in my day, or even tomorrow, I’m going to reclaim my studio.
Okay, so you may also be wondering why, when I should be tackling my to-do, I’m writing a blog post instead? It’s a good question. If my mom were alive, she’d probably be asking me the same thing. I’m definitely thinking it too. The answer isn’t that I’m practicing a now well-honed delay tactic either. I’ve learned from personal experience that when words seem to be spilling out of my head, I need to pause and write them down, even if I’m only jotting a few key words or thoughts, before they are lost forever. I cannot begin to tell you the number of potential Pulitzer Prize story ideas I have had, ones I was sure I would remember to jot down after I finished doing something else, only I didn’t. Instead of just jotting, I started typing, and all of a sudden I was working on this new blog post.
I just took a break from typing and dishes are soaking in some hot soapy water and a load of flannel sheets are getting agitated in the washing machine. I’ve decided to spend 1 hour (I may even set a timer) to do some yard work or raking. But only 1 hour. Then I’ll be heading into my studio to do at least one thing before getting ready for dinner with friends.
What about you? Have you been feeling overwhelmed or frazzled too? Is there a comfort food or something you love that might make you feel giddy. Go ahead, treat yourself. I hope it inspires you to go and tackle a project or maybe the one thing that has been weighing you down, or taking up precious attention units in your brain, or maybe just keeping you from feeling peaceful and relaxed.
Remember, whether it’s raking the leaves or cleaning your basement or weather proofing the garage or sorting through a laundry pile or unpacking moving boxes or paying bills or applying for a new job or writing something, whatever it is, start small – one section or area, one step, one load, one box, one bill, one word at a time.
Now I’m off to take my own advice. Feel free to Ruby away!