I TURNED 60 week before last and suddenly my multi-tasking skills have deteriorated. Only kidding – they’ve been going downhill for a while.
If I look a little closer at why, I realize it may have less to do with brain function and more to do with heart function – I don’t really want to multitask anymore.
It’s been a long and restless 60 years. I think I started setting goals as a toddler; I certainly started moving around frenetically as a young child (you’ve heard the Romper Room story), and this past year I caught myself doing it all over again – still pushing, looking for the next bright thing. I thought I wanted to write another book – that I finally had an idea worth fleshing out. I started down that path and the path widened, lost definition, and finally disappeared into the horizon. Pouf!
I thought I might like to set a goal of returning to farming (flower farming this time) once I could financially afford to decamp from an office job again. (Twice I’ve left the office world to freelance, twice I’ve come back.) I plotted how to turn our field into a bigger garden. I still may do that, even if it is just to grow more food for us. But it’s not a very practical financial move, and I’m not even sure I want to physically maintain a huge garden. Maybe I do? I’m certainly more fit and healthier when I spend more time outside.
At various times I’ve thought about taking flower courses online or even horticulture or botany courses. What kind of work I would do with that I have no idea.
I’ve actively pursued getting an MFA with a program I could do mostly remotely.
I’ve thought of going to a photography program (there’s one in Maine I have my eye on) so that I could perhaps finally become a professional photographer with a specialty in nature and gardens.
But many days now I think I just want to spend time with my husband, read, walk, garden a bit, and generally enjoy life. That is sort of a radical goal for me. It does not involve achievements or list-checking. Last night we actually went to the beach with our beach chairs, books, take-out and a cooler and enjoyed a spectacular cloud-and-light show, a quick dip, and a bout of stillness. This particular beach is a 10-minute car ride away. Both of us wondered why in the world we don’t do this more.
I don’t really know if this attraction to stillness and rejection of busyness is simply what happens 16 years into sobriety, when one has more stability – less moving around, less financial insecurity – or whether there truly is some kind of physical change that’s decreased my motivation and increased my irritation at trying to do too many things at one time!
I can’t say that there’s been any significant change in the way my brain richochets from one thing to the other, and the voices are still chattering in my head. I also can’t predict whether or when one creative pursuit will pull out ahead of another and lock me into focus. But for now I’m not sure what my next step is and I’m feeling fine about that.
You probably know where I am going with this.
Last year (February, 2021), I reactiviated the Sixburnersue blog for a few reasons. Honestly, it was designed to be an essay writing exercise for me (and an excuse to take more pretty photos). I thought if I couldn’t get at a long-form memoir, I could try writing in short bits. (I do a lot of short writing for my day job, but it’s a different kind of writing.)
Of course the biggest impediment to this has been finding the time to do it. First my goal was weekly, then biweekly, but all of that was asking a lot of myself, since my day job extends through the weekend and often into the night.
Yet this summer I gained a sliver of time and found myself with another problem. I couldn’t settle on what to write about. I started and stopped several blogs. Some interested me enough to stick with them, but none felt like they would be the right thing to share with you. As an editor, I feel like an editorial product (even a blog) should have a consistency to it so that readers get what they are looking for. (Is she writing about sobriety? Gardening? Nature? Cooking? What gives?) And I have felt like I am all over the map with what direction I want to go.
The simple (sober) life I have today is good for a few messages: Do what you love, listen to your gut, say no to things that don’t feel right to you, seek peace and beauty in nature, use creative pursuits to turn off the voices – that sort of thing. You’ve “heard” me write these things in a zillion ways, and I’m not sure I have much more wisdom to offer with that kind of writing.
For most of my professional life, I’ve been writing “how-to” copy (service journalism, some call it) — how to cook mostly. I’m proud of the four cookbooks and hundreds of magazine food stories I’ve written and the recipes I’ve developed (and still do on cookthevineyard.com as part of my day job). But I’m not interested in doing that kind of writing in a personal blog — at least not now. If I ever get to the point where I can (or I want to) devote a lot of energy to learning more about plants, and experience being more of a full-time gardener or full-time farmer again, that might change.
What I am still interested in, always will be, is telling stories. An essay can also be a story, and I’d like to work on doing that better. But it’s not the kind of writing I can do quickly and extremely regularly when I have a full-time job. I’ve been working on an essay about how our house has become a home, and it feels more narrative to me. I’m enjoying coming back to it and working on it a little bit at a time without feeling pressed to finish it prematurely. And when I finish that (or something like that!), I’ll share it with you by posting it here on sixburnersue.com – and will do my best to let you know it’s up via social media.
But I will no longer be sending a regular blog out in newsletter form via Constant Contact. (Less mail in your inbox!) Constant Contact charges fees that don’t make it practical for me to pay without making good use of their service. I considered moving the “newsletter” to Substack, a popular platform for writers who are freelancing and looking to eventually monetize their newsletter content.
But producing a true newsletter on a regular basis would be more work than I have time for now (I know because I produce two newsletters for my job every week). The newsletter idea – to my mind it’s like creating a mini-magazine – is very appealing to me because I could curate different kinds of content, including plenty of visuals. But it’s not doable now. Maybe in a couple years…
So if you are a Sixburnersue subscriber (and reading this in your email), I want to let you know that this is the last missive you’ll receive from me for a while. As I mentioned, I will still post here on sixburnersue.com from time to time, and following me on Instagram @sixburnersue is probably the best way to keep up with me. (And of course you can find recipes from me @cookthevineyard and cookthevineyard.com.)
I appreciate all of you so much – some of you have been through many iterations of this blog with me — and I am grateful. I will see you around, and I wish you lots of joy always.
- the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.
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28 thoughts on “You Probably Know Where I’m Going With This”
I love your thoughts whenever they appear. It is like listening to myself…but more articulate! And the pictures are heavenly. I only want peace and tranquility for you and us…and an occasional note now and again to hear that you are well. A heartfelt thanks for all that you have given.
Hi Susie, I have always loved reading your articles. Some of the things you wrote in this article especially resonated with us of a certain age. The questions. As a person with a few years seniority, I just wanted to say I think you’ve got it right. And as they say, “You deserve a break today” and for the days to come. Be well my friend and enjoy a little more free time on the beach with your husband reading and going for a dip …
Wishing you joy and serenity each day, Susie. Hope to see you at a reunion soon. Hugs,
Hi Susie, just wanted to say we have been focusing on less meat and more plants, so your cookbooks are still speaking to us frequently. However, we’ll never give up your kale meatloaf! Wishing you more serenity…and joy! – Mike and Bobbi Warren
PS – Happy Milestone Birthday!
I will miss this blog. For the record, I loved receiving it sporadically – when you had something you wanted or needed to share. Your photographs are inspiring and beautiful and I thank you for taking the time to share them. Wishing you the discipline, motivation and time to do whatever brings you peace and tranquillity.
Susie we all will miss your lovely posts….you must do what’s best for you. I’ve enjoyed reading your posts, creating a beautiful meal from one of your recipes and learning about gardening. I hope someday our paths will cross again. ❤️
Oh my! I will miss this! I can always personally relate to many of your triumphs and struggles. And being pulled in many directions at once. Blog was inspiring. To garden and to cook. I have not commented much, but I have loved all your blogs. You have touched many people. Will continue following your activities on IG and MV.
Stay well and engaged.
I am one of many who shall miss this blog. I have always loved your photos and take on life in the moment. Enjoy being a newlywed, take time to smell those flowers you grow and let your mind take a rest.
As we age, we are going to slow down even if we don’t want to. I speak from first hand knowledge.
Have a happy summer!
HI Patricia — your note made me smile! I’m glad you’ve been able to relate and also that you’ve enjoyed the photos. It has brought me a lot of joy to share them. I’m looking forward to a time down the road when I can do more writing, so you will hear from me! All the best, Susie
Tara! You are very kind and an inspiration too, with all you do. I am glad you’ve enjoyed the blog, and I hope maybe to see you at the Fair! And definitely more beach time is in order…!
Shelly — and the same to you! I love your beautiful posts on Instagram. I would very much like to take my husband to NC for our 40th reunion so I’ll stay in touch with you for sure. Hugs to you!
Hi Mike and Bobbi! Hope all is well with you two. Glad to hear you are on the more-plants bandwagon (but still enjoying that yummy meatloaf) — I’m in the same camp! Thank you for the kind wishes and for being in touch. Take care!
Thank you DeeAnn — It is always nice to hear from you and I appreciate your encouragement. I’m sure I’ll be writing again before too long, just without the pressure of a promised deadline — I have enough of that at work! I’m glad you enjoyed the pieces and all good things to you, too!
Gail I am glad we got a chance to meet that time in Wayland, and I hope our paths will cross again, too. I will still see you on Instagram — I love seeing your garden especially — and we will stay in touch for sure. All my best.
Kathy, I always love hearing from you when you chime in, and I’m so glad to hear that the blog was inspiring to you. I appreciate you following along all these years with all my activities! Taunton seems a long time ago now, but I’m glad we’ve kept in touch. All my best.
Thank you so much. I think the slowing down as we age thing is kind of surprising to me, but I do see that maybe there is a reason for it — it really helps you to observe more, take more in, enjoy more simple things – you’re right! I get it! Thanks for reading the blog and I am surely glad you have enjoyed it.
Susie, I love this post and your honesty and am sad it is your last for awhile, but happy that you made a decision to do what’s best for you! I will continue to follow you and enjoy the posts from Cook the Vineyard as well. Wishing you all the very best and thank you for so many wonderful posts and recipes!
A lovely reflection about life, creativity and priorities.
I wish you the best, Susie, in your pursuit toward a more peaceful existence. I am also hopefully heading in that direction. My husband died on Saturday, after a long and challenging (for me, too) decline. I will miss your posts but can certainly understand your need for a more serene life.
Ethel! I am going to send you an email to reply. God bless you!
Thank you Carolyn!
Valerie, Thank you for coming along on the ride and supporting me! I’m glad you’re enjoying Cook the Vineyard and happy cooking to you! All my best.
I will miss your story and your beautiful photos. I’ve started following you on Instagram. Best of luck to you.
Thank you Deborah!
Oh gosh, I’m so sad about the blog but I’m eagerly looking forward to a future book from you! I love your writing so much. Thank you for sharing your gift of writing and photography with all of us! I do think you are wise to slow down. (Makes me think about JT’s lyrics from The Secret of Life!) Praying all good things for you and your husband. Sending love from Maine.
Thank you Catherine, you are very kind! And love thinking of that JT song — you’re right. Love right back to you, Susie
I have loved and been inspired by your blogs. Your pictures are lovely and your honesty and desire to live your best life admirable. I wish you the very best and many moments filled to the brim with serenity. Thank you for sharing your wonderful self with us.
All the best, Marilyn
Marilyn, thank you for your kind words — I meant to respond earlier. And thank you for following along on my journey! I wish you all the very best as well — Susie
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