Lemon thyme risotto with salty taleggio is a hearty, delicious vegetarian meal that’s perfect for date-night-in. Don’t forget the extra lemon!
Some things seem hard, so very hard. Undoable, really.
Until we put in the blood and sweat and tears and they become second nature to us.
Changing a newborn’s diaper? It’s nerve-wrecking at best and tear-inducing at worst. Until you‘ve done it more times than you can count, and you’re able to do it in your sleep. (Which is exactly what you WILL be doing, by the way.)
Learning a new skill. How many times have you decided to learn a new language, only to give up because it seemed too hard to do, like you’d never get a true grasp of it? Wanted to learn about photography? Wood work? Craft beer? Artisan baking? Or something a little less hipster - knit your new baby some cute booties?
Changing diapers is something you‘ll inevitably have to do until your kid is ready to go without. But learning a new skill, a new craftsmanship? You can quit. You can quit so easily.
And then you‘ll feel guilty, because you never pull through. You feel ridiculous because can you not just get over how hard it is and put in the work for once? Are you somehow broken, or what the eff is wrong with you?
And in the end you come to the conclusion - it’s all your fault, you must be such a lazy person.
But you’re wrong. (What, WRONG AGAIN?! Hear me out.)
It’s not you. It’s everything else.
And by everything, I mean the overwhelm of doing all the things, all of the time.
We scroll through Instagram and feel like we need to become professional photographers to keep up with that guy we faintly remember from high school. We’re convinced we need to learn three new languages this year, because otherwise Cousin Mandy “wins”.
Only - what does she “win”? Best language learner award? The "You Are So Much Better At Life Than Me” diploma?
And it doesn’t stop with ourselves either, because we transfer this to our kids as well.
Just think about school for a minute. All the subjects. Every teacher expecting them to “get” every subject. So many different skills, competences and abilities to acquire.
And then we fill their free time with extra-curriculars, sports and what-nots because how will they ever stand a chance against that violin-playing doctor’s daughter?
Are you a Modern Family watcher? This is why Alex Dunphy is always so stressed. This is why Hermione goes nuts trying to fit in every subject with a time turner.
And this is why you can never pull through, why you feel like a failure, why you think you must be broken somehow.
It’s just too much. You can do anything, but you cannot do everything.
Sure, some may seem to cope with the demands of doing seventeen things on any given Sunday.
But can you really see behind their facade? Can you really see how much (or little) patience they have with their children doing homework at 10.30pm? Can you really tell how healthy their marriage is, how much strength they have left to love and cherish each other?
When you decide to simplify your life (note how I say “when” and not “if”, because I’m a positivity-ist and I believe in you), you can’t stop at your physical belongings, at materialism. It goes deeper, so so much deeper.
And in some ways, I believe it’s where you should start before you ever tackle your capsule wardrobe.
If you pick your very best to focus on instead of trying to give everything a little bit of attention, the “pulling through" becomes effortless. Because it’s the ONE thing you want to achieve, right? If the manual mode settings of your camera aren‘t hindering your ability to get a grasp of the irregular verb forms in French, or even how exactly to parent that crazy toddler of yours - when you focus on your Most Important, the handful of VIPs in your life, everything falls into place.
It’s the baby-steps game of real life. When you do less, you do it better. You do it with more passion. And you do it with so much more love.
To hell with multi-tasking. Only when you focus on what deserves your attention, the distraction of doing multiple times at once becomes… Less distracting.
It’s the reason why I used to feel like my children are just in my way (while, at the same time, achieving nothing at all really), distracting me from work/play/whatever the hype of the day used to be. And slowing down, narrowing the focus of my life, doing less with intention, is the reason why, while writing this post, I paused three times to feed my toddler and then got up to eat imaginary ice cream with her.
After that I simply got back to writing.
It doesn’t stop with the big-picture stuff, though. Doing too much, being too cluttered with our actions, is something that penetrates every part of our lives, even the mundane ones.
Take cooking for example. Cooking risotto.
Are you going to call me crazy when I tell you it’s one of our quick and easy go-to weeknight dinner options? No, it’s not because we’re fancy Europeans thinking life is not worth living without eating delicious Italian food every day. It’s not because I need an excuse to drink wine (last week while grocery shopping, my 2.5 year old earnestly told the cashier that the white wine we’re buying is for risotto, NOT KIDDING HERE).
It’s because we love risotto, and we made it so many times we can now do it in our sleep while changing diapers.
Or something like that.
Focusing on fewer recipes and more excellency at adding variety to them is what saves my sanity with little kids in the kitchen.
If you love risotto, I want to challenge you, no matter how scary you think it is to make, do it. Don’t try to learn any other new recipes while you’re at it.
Cook risotto. Every week, until you can cook risotto just as well as you can change a diaper.
Or maybe even a little bit better.