Do you ever feel like you have to claw your way up to being productive?
I’m talking productivity like chores, errands and other things that, while less desirable, need to get done.
But also, with creative pursuits. Like writing, for example. Or painting, or photography, or [insert your creative outlet of choice here].
This seems to happen to me every winter. My mind goes into hibernation and doesn’t wake up again until spring. It’s painful for me to even get in front of the keyboard and write what comes out of my head.
Funny thing is, I know damn well that just getting started, by typing one word or sentence into a blank doc, will make me feel 10x better. The clouds in my brain will part and I’ll feel like a weight has been lifted.
Breaking through seasonal creative block
Last week, I made a list.
An old-fashioned written-out list. Placed it front and center in my kitchen. I added things like “write every day,” “do laundry,” “decide next recipe to photograph,” “make hot sauce” and “go to ceramics class.”
A good mix of fun and necessary things.
And let me tell you, crossing items off that list felt pretty damn good.
It also helped to have everything organized in one place instead of swimming around in my head. It made me feel much less overwhelmed. All good things in my book.
Seriously though, what type of psychological magic is that? I want more of it.
This isn’t a revolutionary idea by any means. People have been making lists since the dawn of time (probably), and there’s a good reason for it.
Reason 1: A sense of accomplishment
Because even if the things you cross off are tiny inconsequential details of your daily life, you still did them. The list is proof. At the end of the week, you can say to yourself: “Look what I did this week. Even if it doesn’t feel like I accomplished anything, here it is, written plainly on borrowed yellow notepaper.”
Reason 2: A constant visual reminder
Having the list written and displayed in plain view gives you a better sense of what you might prioritize each day. Because it’s on paper* and more accessible than if it were in an app on your phone.
*Zero waste note: Junk mail is virtually unavoidable in the U.S., so I end up using the blank side of any paper that arrives in our mailbox. I haven’t run out yet.
Reason 3: Better, not perfect
At the end of the week, I hadn’t crossed every item off my list. I did about 75% of the things on it. It was a reminder that things aren’t perfect in life. I don’t have to be perfect and complete a full list of things in one week. So I moved the incomplete items over to the following week’s list. No big deal. Life went on. Next week I’ll try for 80% of the list crossed off. Focus on doing better, not being perfect.
On content consumerism
Segueing to something a little less relevant to my creative block and list-making but I wanted to share. It’s a thing I heard from someone recently that keeps sticking in my head. For all us creatives, creators, and especially content creators, here it is:
Make more content than you consume.
This. Really hits home. I think it should for a lot of us out there.
For all the time spent scrolling through newsfeeds and photo feeds and pinning articles for projects we want to tackle at a later date, we could be producing great work.
Just think of all the time we might free up to create things we’re truly proud of, instead of falling victim to the daily (hourly!) double-tap and scroll, scroll and double-tap, repeat.
This year, I’d like to create more content than I consume. I want to put creating ahead of consuming as often as possible.
And when I do consume content? I want to do it intentionally.
For example, if I’m looking for inspiration on ways to shoot with darker shadows, or how to style an Asian-style noodle bowl, I might go to Instagram or Pinterest for some ideas. To get the creative juices flowing. But I want to avoid numbly scrolling through feed after feed because, more often than not, it just makes me feel bad about myself for not creating the content I see. I think, “I COULD HAVE DONE THAT.” But I didn’t. Instead I was just passively looking at it.
It’s time to take action and make something great this year. Are you with me?
Winter squash parfaits
And on that note, I give you: Winter. Squash. Parfaits. Yes, you heard that right.
These beauties don’t just look delish, they taste great too. If you love roasted squash, sweet and soft from the oven, you’ll love this breakfasty pairing.
Not to mention those colors. *heart-eyes-emoji*
I’m a big parfait fan but it’s not something I’ll typically make for myself at home. They usually come in fancy tall dishes to display all their beautiful layers.
When I decided to make roasted squash the vessel for a parfait, I knew I’d have to overcompensate for the lack of height with as much texture as possible. So I made a mess. A contained mess, of course. And, hot damn, it was delicious!
But what is life (and creating! and art!) if not messy and sticky and tasty and fun?
Not a life for me.
Make a list, make a mess.
Have fun, perhaps in your kitchen on a lazy winter weekend morning, in your PJs, with a couple of these winter squash parfaits 😉 and a mimosa to boot!
Mix up your breakfast routine with this tasty sweet and savory blend of oven-roasted squash, tart creamy yogurt, crunchy sweet granola and pomegranate seeds bursting with flavor.
- 2 small winter squash (I used Delicata), sliced in half lengthwise and seeds left intact
- 2 cups plain yogurt
- 1 cup granola (your favorite kind)
- 1 cup pomegranate arils (from 1 pomegranate)
- 1 tablespoon butter, softened
- Pinch of kosher salt
- Maple syrup, to taste (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 (optional: put the baking sheet in the oven as it preheats to get a nice brown crust on the squash when you put them down).
- While the oven preheats, rub butter on the squash and season all sides with a pinch of kosher salt.
- Roast the squash halves, cut side down, for 25-30 minutes, flipping once in the middle until tender. Remove from oven and let cool.
- Scoop out the seeds once cool and set aside.
- Top each squash half with layers of yogurt, granola, pomegranate seeds. Drizzle the top with maple syrup.
Assembled parfaits will keep in the fridge for a few days. These tasted best served chilled but can be eaten at room temp as well.
I would also try acorn or little butternut squash varieties for this dish.