Good Measure: When Life Gives You Blueberries

Written by in Profiles



When Life Gives You Blueberries

(& Other Tips for Balancing Joy and Work)

{Guest Contributor Bryn Mooth introduces her quarterly column. She is pictured above with husband Rob. Go visit her blog today or her Twitter feed @writes4food.}

My grandmother Dorothy, a wonderful cook, used to spend hours in her tiny kitchen, “putting up” all kinds of seasonal produce in Ball jars to be stored in the basement. She had a huge vegetable garden and a young family to feed, so canning quart jars of tomato juice and green beans and peaches and endless-pints-of-jam made sense for her.

I have a minuscule garden, and just my husband and me to cook for, but I still have the seasonal urge to preserve summer’s bounty. If you’ve done it, you know that canning takes nothing so much as time. Until recently, time was the one resource I was shortest on. Much as I wanted to keep Grandma’s tradition and make jam, I didn’t have the weekend hours to devote to it.

We all have things we long to do, things we feel guilty or sad that we don’t have time for.  Fitness. Reading. Spending downtime in the garden. Pickup basketball. Making blueberry jam. With everything else going on in our work and home lives, we lose track of the little joys that can refuel us. Having recently made the leap from a long career as editor of HOW to a second life as an independent writer, I’m just now finding the space in my day for these little pleasures. But it doesn’t take a career change to do that. Here are a few things I’m learning about balancing joy and work:

•            You’ll Find the Time if You Want it Badly Enough. Spend a week charting your work and personal time, and you’ll find spare minutes you didn’t know you had. Five years ago, Rob and I started taking 20 minutes every morning before work to walk together with our dog. Every workday. We’ve missed only a few days because of terrible weather or travel. I never realized that I had those 20 minutes lying around, right between breakfast and the commute. But there they were.

•            Rearrange Your Priorities for a Week or a Month. I am a slave to my schedule and my to-do list. You, too? It becomes difficult—impossible—to break out of a routine and clear space in your day for something new or different, even for something you truly want to do. If you’re facing competing interests for your time, then alternate what’s important each week. Give yourself permission to skip one day a week at the gym in order to spend time in your garden. Ask your spouse to handle cooking one night a week so you can take the kids for a swim.

•            Cut Yourself Some Slack. Do you REALLY have to do everything on your list? Don’t feel guilty about letting go of the unnecessary stuff. But if you still feel inspired to make jam, here’s how I did it: http://writes4food.com/2011/07/05/homemade-blueberry-jam-canning/

  1. 07

    Great reminders Bryn. I love the one about finding the time- so true. We all talk about how busy we are but you should never be too busy for yourself.

  2. 09

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