My Traveling Partner and I made dinner together last night. It was fun. I generally do the dinner cooking these days (and my cooking has gotten pretty good), and my partner wanted to share a particular approach to browning ground meat for Bolognese with me that I’ve been eager to learn. So we shared the dinner cooking with that in mind. In general, it all turned out quite excellent, and we enjoyed the meal greatly. There was a point at which he noticed I’d overlooked a detail in my mise en place for the meal – the process of laying out all the ingredients and tools in advance, as “next level” preparation before beginning the cooking. It was a small detail, and easily handled, but it got me thinking about mise en place generally

Mise en place for a recent stir fry

…Now I’m sipping my morning coffee and contemplating how very much “mise en place” can translate as “having my shit together”. lol I mean… for real.

This leads to me contemplating the value in having a plan. Of laying out work before getting started. Of coordinating with others before starting a big project. Things like that – the many ways in which making a point to prepare to do a thing before doing it can make a difference in the outcome.

Yesterday I stopped in the middle of painting a small piece about a big nightmare, and I left my set up all… set up. This will certainly ease me into restarting the work, later this morning. Of course, the flip side of mise en place is … clean up your mess. LOL

The weekend feels so much longer spending time in the studio. It’s lovely. I guess the lesson there is that when I feel short on time, I’ve got to change what I’m doing with the time I’ve got! This is such a relaxed weekend – worthwhile, and creatively nurturing. My Traveling Partner has spent much of it working. Today is Sunday, he may take this one “off” to relax, but maybe not. Starting a business of his own sometimes means odd hours or working weekend days to get a job done for a customer. I watch as projects get completed, a little bit in awe of how he’s able to do and make so many things with seemingly such ease. Pretty impressive.

…I just paint and write…

I sip my coffee and think for a moment about the ease I find in painting and writing, compared to say… making things in a woodshop, or operating a CNC machine (neither of which I have any skills for, as it happens). I’m most impressed by people doing things I am not myself able to do. The things I can do, and do routinely, are less impressive to me. Funny how easily that tempts me into thinking they are “easy” or that “anyone could…”, simply because I find them easy and can do them, myself. It’s worth sorting that out and gaining a better understanding of relative difficulty.

My Traveling Partner and I do have something in common, though, in our creative endeavors; we both set up the work before we begin. Mise en place. Makes sense. I also plan my camping trips and check my gear before I go. I make a shopping list and double check that I’ve got useful “every day carry” items with me before I depart. When I do many housekeeping chores, I “set things up” before I begin. The more skillfully I prepare for what I am to do, the “easier” the doing of it feels. Days when I am distracted, or struggling with “brain fog”, or generally careening through life haphazardly, everything I do is affected by my lack of preparation. Small things vex me on such days, like sitting down to write but forgetting to grab a pen. Or dashing out to the store and forgetting my phone or my purse. lol I’ve learned to “slow down” in the sense that I make a point – more often (even “most of the time”) – to prepare for what I’m intending to do. It just works out a bit better when I make that part of my routine.

“Mise en place.” Getting my shit together. It’s nice to have language for it. 🙂

No idea what today holds… more time in the studio. Some laundry. A trip to the drugstore for some items we’ve run low on. Love and loving, and a great evening meal. So much to plan and prepare for…

…It’s time to begin again. I’ll begin with a plan, and start there. 🙂