Life in the messy middle


Sometimes I think of life as a sandwich with three layers. The bottom piece of bread is where you don’t want to do anything. Energy is lagging, you might be feeling like a cold is coming or you feel like getting through each day is enough of a struggle without trying to do much more than sustain yourself and family. You feel weighed down by the rest of the sandwich. The top layer of bread is where you are sitting above the fray. Energy is high. Things get done. And there’s not a lot of work involved. The middle is messy. It’s where you push yourself a little more. You don’t just show up to life but participate in it, making decisions, making an effort, letting yourself shine through your actions.

Today I’m in the messy middle. Literally. I’ve been cooking and baking for days. Applesauce, bread, lasagna, blueberry cake, meatloaf, scalloped potatoes, mac and cheese, apple crisp. Most of it isn’t even for us. I used to do this quite often, back when I was single, baking for the people I worked with, usually on a weekly basis. It feels good to create for others again, to manifest my love for them in the form of food. Many of the “recipes” I learned from my mom and she can live on in our family through me, particularly the applesauce she made so often each fall for her grandchildren, my nieces and nephews.


Until recently, I had never thought of cooking as creativity. You have a recipe. You follow the recipe. You get results. But that’s not how my mom cooked at all. She usually didn’t have a recipe, relying on instinct and love alone. Many a time I would stand at her elbow, watching to see just how much flour was needed to make her milk gravy so that it wouldn’t congeal within minutes of coming off the stove. Or what was the ratio of green beans, potatoes and milk in her famous bean & potato soup? Was there ever a dish my mom didn’t get right? I can’t remember a single time.

Mom, always in her apron

Working each week on my creative exercises for The Artist’s Way, I see almost everything we do in life as creative. The food we create, recipe or not, is all creative. Cleaning out and decluttering a house, creative. Sitting and writing a bucket list is creative.  Coming up with new ways to parent (patiently) requires much creativity. The biggest thing I’m learning is that I’m not the one being creative, it’s all coming from God. That might sound controversial for some but I’m believing it more and more each day. One of my affirmations lately is: My dreams come from God and God has the power to accomplish them. I feel more connected to Him thinking of it this way. It turns out God is the entire sandwich. Top, middle and bottom.



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