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When it comes to breakfast items, I am one who favors savory treats over sweets. That is why these Cheddar and Herb Scones are a staple in our household! I am already a big fan of scones in general for their simple and quick process. As much as I love my Kitchen Aid Mixer, scones are one of the few baked goods that I make by hand, without any electric gadgets. There is something very meditative about the sifting of flours, the pinching of cold butter bits in between my fingers, and the kneading of shaggy dough with my hands.
My favorite time to whip up these beauties is in the early morning hours, between rising and making coffee. It helps ease me into my day. Rote motions work subconsciously as my body wakes with every memorized movement. The oven pre-heats, warming the cold kitchen cement floors while I prepare the dough. The scones bake for 18 minutes exactly while I wash the dishes I used and boil water in my Fellow kettle. I make my pour-over coffee with my Chemex, the sound of coffee drips melding in with the smell of cheese. I pour my coffee into my favorite East Fork mug just as the oven beeps. It is a routine that I have mastered and re-mastered.
Scones also get bonus points for their versatility. I like to play with different types of flours as well as toppings. I had previously published my favorite Rye Strawberry and Thyme Scone recipe here. Alternative additions in our household include Blueberry and Lemon, or Caramelized Onion and Bacon. This Cheddar and Herb Scone Recipe is a modification of all those recipes. Once you have a good scone recipe down, you can’t really go wrong with the experimentation.
I hope you enjoy this as much as me and the housemates do!
1/3 cup dark rye flour
1/3 cup spelt flour
1/3 cup einkorn flour
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting
3 tbsp. sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
1/2 cup fresh herbs (I like a mix of chives, thyme, and rosemary).
1.5 cups Mexican cheese, shredded
2 large eggs
1/3 cup heavy cream plus additional for brushing
Smoked Maldon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 F with a rack in the center.
Sift the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
Add the butter pieces and with thumb and pointy finger, flatten the butter, pinching floury bits into it, Tara Jensen style. Alternatively, you can use two knives to cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles small peas.
Stir in the cheese and herbs.
Whisk the eggs together in a separate bowl. Add heavy cream and vanilla to the egg mixture and whisk again until well mixed.
Stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture with a fork, mixing until just combined. I l liken the end result to one big, shaggy mess.
Lightly dust a clean work surface (I use my marble pastry slab from Crate and Barrel which I use for all my baking needs, but a wooden surface works well too), with flour. Turn the dough onto this surface and knead until just combined.
Shape the dough into a square (6 inch x 6 inch). Cut the dough into four 3-inch squares using a bench scraper (my favorite is by Ateco but something like this would do, too), then cut the smaller squares into triangles.
Arrange the scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the tops with heavy cream using a pastry brush. Sprinkle the tops generously with Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Depending on the flavor profile you are aiming for, you can favor one topping over another.
Bake for 16-18 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Transfer the scones to a rack and cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm.
This recipe was modified from Kinfolk Table, by far my favorite published recipe book for its unassuming simplicity and charm. If you can, support local and small bookstores such as Lido Village Bookstore, one of my SoCal faves.
Slightly delayed publishing of this month’s goals is due to the fact that I am trying my best to live it. I spent the rest of the year outlining tens of habits and success markers to measure my months by, but December is a bit special in that I only have a few.
Live every day in the present moment.
Practice gratitude for all that I have.
Be as intentional as possible for every waking decision I make.
These are my December goals. Nothing like my previous ones in that there are no markers of achievement. If you think that this list is a lame one, it’s not. It was actually made with utmost consideration. But first, a story.
When I was searching for a wedding photographer in 2015, I came across a man whose style I liked and went to his website to book a consultation only to feel my heart sink as I pulled up his calendar. All of December 2016 was booked one year ahead! I was highly confused and could not believe my eyes, until a small asterix at the bottom of the calendar caught my eye.
It said: “My family and I will be taking all of December off to focus on what’s important in life.”
I remember excitedly showing Mike the note right when he got home from work. I remember being so awed by the idea that someone could have a job that allowed him freedom to dictate how and when work influenced his life. I wanted so badly to live a life around this idea of complete freedom from the need to work. So it only made sense that financial independence found me in 2017.
Now that I’ve quit a job I disliked, I have had the space to think about why I started to dislike my work and how I could create a new work lifestyle that would give me deep joy. I have spent the last two weeks brainstorming, hemming and hawing my neurons for all the thoughts, emotions, and ideas tied to creating an intentional work lifestyle. I think I am almost there.
One of my firmest beliefs, however, is to set aside the necessary space for life itself. I fell in love with the idea of making the holiday season a time for rest and rejuvenation, as well as family and friends, ever since I laid eyes on that photographer’s calendar.
It is with this intention that I decided to make December’s goals the way it is.
If you are a person who looks forward to monthly goal ideas, I am sorry to disappoint you but I do have one suggestion.
Slow life down.
2021 is fast approaching and will come soon enough. Let’s linger here a bit in the year that helped us realize how little we needed and what we wanted.
Aside from sounding like the title of a Dr. Seuss book, the question I pose today can cause a lot of emotions to surface. Raised in a society where the words “less” and “nothing” are deemed failure words, I myself used to feel fear with the idea of letting things go. In my youth, I took pride in being a “yes-woman” – a multi-tasking energetic force that can only be caused by extreme naivete. Today, I find myself in a much different place.
I have learned that letting go can create the negative space necessary for growth and opportunity. Letting go of material things that ground us to a hedonistic lifestyle can free us to alternative models. Letting go of our identity can access our fullest potential. Letting go of our biases can open our minds in a way that leads to kindness. Letting go of our wants can lead to inner peace. But most importantly, letting go of the fear of letting go is the first step to starting the journey to a higher way of living.
While I wouldn’t consider myself a wordsmith, I am keen on word selection. It is, after all, what I do. I often wondered why there was negative emotion tied to the idea of letting go, and I have found that many people ask the wrong question. Often times, the same question is worded with one letter changed: What would happen if you let everything go.
That “w” is enough to confuse even the surest of minimalists.
Letting go of everything would lead to negative repercussions. For example, letting go of my job would certainly lead to unemployment, less money, and no job identity.
Sure, giving up everything wouldnot necessarily lead to better things.
But you know what? It could.
Letting go of work could lead to more travel, more peace, a new identity, a better future, a more enjoyable profession, and a more secure financial situation. It’s not definite, but it could.
We need to start switching the language around letting things go into a more positive one.
Hosting Thanksgiving may or may not be on the horizon for you this year. In which case, we can pretend.
The spectrum of likely events run large. Whether you are feeding ten friends and family members, or gathering as a couple in solitary confinement in your own abode, I would still wish that we celebrate this holiday in no less a jubilant fashion than the years before.
After all, giving gratitude is a pillar for living a life of intention and joy. It is central to my minimalist life, since gratitude for what I have rather than what I don’t is the fuel to my less-is-more mentality. So crucial to simple living is this practice that I spend every morning listing three things I am grateful for.
I think in 2020, we all need to spend a day listing what we are grateful for.
Regardless of how divided we are in our current life situations or political views, I hope these differences are set aside for at least one day. One day wherein we are strive for inner peace. One day to avoid fear, anxiety, and anger. One day to let go of control. I hope for one day wherein we could go on as we normally would have if it weren’t for our miseries. I hope we can pretend that we had woken up, started over, begun anew, and continued forward.
I know that over apple pie, I will be giving thanks for the possibilities our future holds.
Regardless of the current environment I’m placed in.
Regardless of what tomorrow brings.
I give thanks for hope.
On that note, let’s play pretend, and host Thanksgiving in whatever ways resounds with us. Below are my essentials for holiday hosts.
This month’s goals come at a very interesting time for me personally.
The reason being, I have decided to quit my dentistry job.
I have decided to quit dentistry for many reasons.
I have lost meaning in my daily work.
I felt under-appreciated by a changing health-care system that prioritizes customer service over health itself.
I felt that I could not balance the expectations of my patients, the expectations of my workplace, and my own personal expectations.
My values are not aligned with where I am currently working.
I wanted to spend the holiday season with family and focus on the people that matter to me.
I was feeling burnt out and knew that if I did not give myself a break, I would grow to resent what I do for a living.
I want to live an intentional life, which means curating out the things that do not bring me joy.
We have made the lifestyle choices (invest money, spend less, own less, avoid having kids, avoid a large mortgage) necessary to avoid job dependency.
We have created the boundaries necessary to ignore social expectations and pressures, thus giving us freedom to live how we want.
Despite this freedom, I still have goals. But without the job identity, the goals have shifted slightly.
I think that quitting was very cathartic for me. I admit feeling stressed the last few months, mostly because I was holding on desperately to something I should have let go many months ago. I was fighting an internal battle, one between the past self and future possibility. Finally turning in an official resignation letter did just the trick.
It wasn’t very easy. I felt depressed for a few days, afraid of what I had done, anxious about the future. It’s like any ole break-up. It feels easier to run back to what is familiar and feels safe, even after you’ve outgrown the past. It takes a lot of reserve to not turn back. Luckily, the sadness and fear did not last long. After I sat through my emotions, I started to really notice a shift in my personality.
I sang songs randomly, after years of refusing to listen to music in case it over-whelmed my mind.
I smiled more frequently, and was more open to socializing. I connected with a high school friend, decided to make time for my grandma’s birthday party, and even drove to East LA on a Friday evening after work to grab tacos with my mother-in-law at a stand that she used to eat tacos at when she was my age.
I picked up old habits, like learning about photography, doing art, and playing guitar.
I connected with my husband more, rekindling our dumb banter from the college days.
For November’s monthly goals, I am sharing with you a TIME OFF BUCKET LIST. Even though my time off doesn’t start until November 19, I have decided not to wait until my last day of work to start living life to the fullest. This bucket list contains a number of goals I have always wanted to accomplish but have put on pause in order to partake in an American Dream.
As some people already know from my Instagram, we are taking a few long trips over the course of three weeks from November to December. I have lived in California since 1998 and I have yet to actually see it. I find that a shame.
It’s got me thinking, how much of our life are we actually wasting away doing things that don’t really matter in exchange for stuff that don’t really make us happy?
Not that I have the answers.
Just that I am trying to figure it out.
TheDebtist’s TIME OFF BUCKET LIST
Create Spotify playlists for different occasions and moods
Improve Photography Skills
Improve Guitar Skills
Explore California National Parks
Visit old friends
Write a book – and self-publish it
Create more courses
Get into artwork again
Visit a Japanese spa (because we can’t go to Japan)
Go to a butterfly sanctuary
Go birdwatching in the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary
Explore tide pools for hours
“Live” on a farm – milk a cow or extract honey from a beehive
Learn recipes of my homeland from my mom
Hug a Redwood tree
Tour a lighthouse
Learn to make alfajores
Bake someone’s wedding cake
Do a cold bath dunk
Bake the following from the Tartine Book: Gingerbread Cookies, Spiked Cocktail Nuts, Brownies, Chocolate Pots de Crème, Devil’s Food Layer Cake, Lemon Meringue Cake, Pastel de Tres Leches
Eat Pho for the first time (yes!)
Learn how to make ramen from Mike
Master a few advanced level yoga poses
Learn how to sit on my hands
I add the last one, because just like anything, I always dive headfirst into something new, including this “mini-retirement”. Supposedly it’s a chance for me to figure myself out. Somehow I have to balance that with living life to the fullest. Like I said before, I’m still figuring it out. But honestly, thank you for joining me on this wild ride.
If you have any other bucket list ideas, do share! Who knows when my next mini-retirement will be.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.
I know it’s year 2020 and all, but health care professionals have always had a tough job. Hence, the idea to write a post about caring for the self for health professionals. While I don’t represent all workers in the medical field, I also know many of them can relate to the routine exhaustion one feels in the physical, mental and emotional sense. Not only is dentistry back-breaking work (think hunch-back- of-Notre-Dame), it also requires mental concentration (we are making tenths-of-millimeters-micromovements inside a tiny cavity) and emotional stamina (the minute the patient’s chair leans back, their everyday lives come spewing out). Sometimes I wear the hat of clinician, while other times, I simply play the role of listener. I have to help anxious patients through to the other side of treatment, as well as psychologically support depressed patients through to the other side of life. It’s a fulfilling job, but also a taxing one.
Many times, I come home with no one to fully understand the tolls of my work. Mike wonderfully understands that having dinner ready and giving me space to decompress with yoga is very important. He understands that on some days, I simply don’t want to talk. But he doesn’t really know the why. Sometimes, I feel guilt over acting selfishly, but as clinicians, we need to start removing that word from our vocabulary. You aren’t selfish because you need me-time after giving everyone else their me-time.
This past weekend, I took four days off to vacation with family on the coast of Southern California. My sister-in-law joined us Friday afternoon after her four clients. She also works in health care as a psych therapist. She joined us after a hectic day, and still had a few clinical notes to write. I noted that she looked a bit tired and she mentioned that some of her clients are especially draining, not in the physical sense, but in the mental and emotional sense. She even has one client currently on suicide watch who constantly occupies her mind. We talked of the tiresome nature of healthcare and agreed on the importance of taking care of ourselves first. We also noted that while we are excellent care-takers of others, we usually fail to save room for us.
This is a reminder to all health-care professionals that self-care is key to success. And sometimes, the only person who would be able to give you that space is yourself. If you are a reader who knows of a health-care professional, make sure to check in on them during this time. You might be surprised at their sadness, tiredness, weakness, or loneliness. Below, I wrote a simple guide to taking care.
+ Practice deep breathing in between seeing patients. Deep breathing is something I first picked up from yoga class ten years ago. Yoga itself is a practice focused on returning to the breath, which has been called our “life-force”. Returning to the breath is the last thing on a clinician’s mind. The immediacy of our work and the need that our patients have far exceed our willingness to turn inward and work on ourselves. However, I implore all clinicians to consider deep breathing. This practice was first recommended to me by a wellness coach, Michaela Puterbaugh of Starting from Within and it has been a real game-changer! I would highly advise getting a wellness coach like Michaela (you can book a consultation here), but if that is not your vibe, then deep-breathing is the one thing I learned to do that helped me most with my career. It’s simple. Before running to your next patient, stop by an office or a break-room or a quiet corner and breathe in for five seconds, hold at the top for five seconds, and breathe out for eight seconds. Repeat five times, then you’re good to go. I guarantee that your patients will notice and feel the difference in you. (PS: It helps to close your eyes.)
+ Stretch throughout the day. Many dentists end their careers earlier than they would like due to body aches and pains. Hospital workers also suffer from the same. Nurses and physical therapists have to carry and assist disabled bodies and the elderly. To be honest, physical tolls extend past the medical field and also applies to hospitality workers who stand on their feet all day and desk workers hunched in static postures in front of LED screens (blue light blockers for the win!). Stretching simply makes sense; for everybody. I picked up stretching advice from a continuing education course on ergonomics. There are certain stretches especially helpful to dentists, so I would seek professional advice regarding specific careers. For dentists, the upper back and shoulder muscles, as well as the core muscles, will help alleviate lower back pain and that hunched-back-look. Just like deep-breathing, this can be done in between patients or during any break. After work, I make it a point to roll out my Manduka mat and join a CorePower LIVE session to create movement in my body. I even took my mat on vacation with us this past weekend! That’s how important stretching is to me. Not getting on my mat is like a surfer not getting out on the water. Speaking of water…
+ Drink plenty of water. We are constantly moving from room to room and it’s very easy to forget about the water bottle we have sitting next to our desks. But wherever you choose to do stretches or deep breathing, keep a bottle of water close at hand. It also helps to have a habit built around staying hydrated. I drink two glasses right when I wake up and an entire glass before my shift. Between the start of my workday and lunch time, I make sure to finish at least another bottle. The same standard applies between lunch and the end of my shift. Then when I get off work, I drink two glasses straight away. My water bottle from Kinto_USA is quite portable and the tab at the top of the lid makes it easy to take with me wherever I go. If water is not your favorite drink, why don’t you try tossing pomegranate slices into your bottle or dress it up with ice? Check out my thoughts on staying hydrated!
+ Find someone to talk to. I know that Mike doesn’t fully understand everything that happens at the dental office, but it’s nice to have someone to talk to when I come home. It also helps that he is a great listener. My daily recaps help release any negative energy that I take home. But don’t get me wrong – dentistry isn’t ALL bad. Talking to someone is also a great time to celebrate the daily wins and highlights, a time to practice gratitude for a rewarding job. Of course, the person you choose does not have to be the same person every day. It can be different people, too. As long as you schedule a few moments to connect with someone outside of work, you’ll find less tension and stress when you unwind for the evening. (Sage tip: Don’t dwell on your workday alone. There are other things to address in life.)
+ Eat healthy. It’s hard to follow our own mantras of consuming healthy foods when we return home stressed and over-worked. I’d be the first to admit that fruits and veggies are not on my mind after a long day and if it weren’t for my husband making nutritious meals for us every day, I would probably be quick to order to-go foods a few nights a week. However, we must follow what we preach. I try to consume only one cup of black coffee a day (otherwise I’d live from coffee to the grave), and balance it with a cup of ceremonial-grade matcha green tea in the evening. I try to choose dark chocolate (88% cocoa or more) for dessert, and fresh fruits from the farmer’s market for snacks. I use a budget to monitor how often we dine out and we still try to follow our zero plastic diet religiously. Skip the temptation by choosing not to buy those bags of chips – or whatever else that has a gravitational pull during your weakest moments. Shop in such a way that sets you up for success.
+ Wind down the mind. In the evenings, I make it a point to wind down my mind. I try to do yoga after work to enter a calm state of energy. Afterwards, I shower and make myself a cup of tea and spend the evening writing or reading. This is the time I also connect with the people I live with. I check on my plants and move them around frequently, and I follow a skincare routine. I recently discovered The Nue Co.’s supplemental spray called Magnesium Ease, which I massage into my skin to help alleviate muscle tension and to improve my sleep. (Fun fact: 80% of Americans are deficient in magnesium!).
+ Get full night’s sleep. Lastly, but most importantly, is sleep. I value sleep more than I value coffee – which is saying something! I make it a point to get at least eight hours of sleep (nine hours is my optimal sleep-time). On weekends, I can sleep as long as 12 hours although luckily, I value my mornings too much to oversleep often. In our home, we sleep around ten in the evening and wake up when Theo meowls for food at six in the morning. I know that many clinicians tend to be night owls due to the nature of our work (late shifts and night shifts are common), but may I suggest abiding by your circadian rhythm? I cherish sleep knowing that I am more helpful to others when I sleep well. For those who have trouble sleeping, you may find these sleep drops helpful!
If you are in the medical field and have somehow come across this self-care guide, I hope it finds you well. For those who need a helping hand with mental wellness, do reach out to a professional. My sister-in-law is practicing in Southern California and is offering video services. I would also like to recommend Michaela Puterbaugh for overall health and wellness coaching as she has helped me balance life earlier this year.
For those curious about the supplements that I recommended, they are from The Nue Co., a company making supplements that you can feel working! Receive 15% off your first order with code NUE15 (affiliate links above). I am really excited about what this company is producing and have ordered the sleep drops for my mom and the magnesium ease for myself. They provide many other supplements that aid with sleep, stress, gut health, and immunity. I would definitely check them out!
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.
For the first time since 2020 began, I am finally starting to feel myself take root in this thing I call life. Even after my brother moved back to Arizona to start his second year of dental school and my sister moved to Madrid, Spain to start her two-year contract at the global university; even after my mother returned to working with children in person at school, scoping out the terrain in this brave new world, I find myself where I have been since the start of my teen-hood. Despite the changes, only now am I feeling a sense of home.
Today my roommate asked if I thought our life would be where it is now without COVID. Definitely, 100% no. I know it’s easy to harbor negative feelings, but I see all the positive things, too.
Without COVID, I wouldn’t have spent as much time reconnecting with my past life, putting my future life on pause, and creating the space for the now that bridges the gap between the two. I would have continued working six days a week, making a whirl-wind of activity my measurement for a “productive” life. I wouldn’t have focused my attention inward nor would I have created a home worth staying in. Instead, I had plans to travel to Japan, the Maldives, Hawaii … Now I find myself thinking that staying anywhere other than my own home is less-than.
I really want to continue this grounded-ness into October. Partly because I am genuinely loving the refreshing vibes exuding from my current lifestyle. Partly because not much has changed and what choice do we have?
Well, we still have autonomy over our thoughts.
We can choose to turn with the tide. We can choose to embrace the stillness. We can choose to believe that there is something that we can offer ourselves – something we can’t find in anyone or anything else. We can choose to practice gratitude for what is already here. We can try to bridge the gap within the whirl-winds we’ve created. We can calm the storm. We can listen to the burning fires within. We can ask why things are the way they are. We can choose what comes next. We can create the worlds in which we see ourselves living in. We can decide if COVID has been bad to us or has it been good?
As I continue to reap the benefits of having nothing to look forward to, I question whether it’s such a bad thing after all. I had a patient come in one day after the California fires wreaked havoc amidst the hottest heat wave of the year and he said to me, “Perhaps all of this is just a sign from above telling us to stay indoors and be still.”
Even if it weren’t as ethereal as he posed, there is a heavy weight in his words. Also, a light heart.
Wake up at 6am and sleep at 10pm
Write three things to be grateful for every morning
Talk to my sister who lives in Spain once a week
Do at-home yoga sessions five times a week
No Instagram for leisure – only for blog work
Write 30 minutes every day
Switch out summer ice cream for dark chocolate
Decrease the number of patients being seen
Learn two songs on the guitar
Read two books
Explore two new places
My favorite home upgrades this year:
– A mattress top and two pillows that helps soothe dentistry-related spinal and shoulder pain. Prior to these two game-changers, I was spending Saturdays laying on the couch, too stiff to move. This is the purchase that improved my life most significantly. It is what allows me to continue practicing dentistry and I cannot stress the importance of having decent support when you sleep! I have referred LEESA to a high-school friend who just moved into a new house and she and her husband love their mattress! Also, my brother and his girlfriend have both tried out our mattress and pillows when they were house-sitting for us one weekend and they told me that it was the best night of sleep they have ever had. She now also owns the same pillow as ours. I would highly recommend buying this product straight-away. It is never too late to start caring for your posture. Your 100-year-old self will thank you. If you are going to buy the mattress, check out my review here. Right now, you can get $350 OFF and a free protector too!
– Alternatively, a couch to sink into, especially during hard times. The couch is an Ikea Soderhamn couch – a Scandinavian design that has become a global icon – re-vamped with a Bemz cover. Depending on the cover you choose, you can make the Soderhamn look like a Restoration Hardware Cloud Sectional or a mid-century modern sofa from West Elm! We wanted to make sure we got a color we would like so I first ordered the five free fabric swatches before ordering the actual cover.
– Parachute linens that makes us want to spend all day in bed. These linen sheets are a beautiful color, although this would be great for the Fall season, too!
– A pair of speakers from which to play our vinyl collection. They are currently $49 off and are absolutely beautiful in white. They’ve got great sound, too. I stopped listening to music sometime two years ago. I think I just got carried away focusing on all my “jobs”. I told myself I didn’t have time for “noise”. Now, I enjoy my weekends deep-cleaning the home, occasionally sipping coffee, while playing some tunes on our record player. This newly added mid-century media console from West Elm perfectly hides the speakers when they aren’t in use. Currently, West Elm is hosting a sale – 15% off furniture, 40% off bedding, and 30% off rugs.
– A Parachute shower curtain and a new CB2 towel rod. Right now, they have 25% off rugs and 50% off clearance items. More importantly, my birthday gift – a bathroom wall-painting project completed with Mike and my parents one summer Saturday. And for those looking for a shower curtain liner, this is the one. So in love, no signs of mildew or soap scum yet!!
– Lastly, this La Marzocco latte machine, giving us the coffee shop we’ve always dreamed of. We never go out for coffee now. Mike sold his motorcycle which was rendered useless due to his non-existent commute and used the money to buy a Linea Mini, the machine of his dreams. He has spent every day since enjoying it.
Well, it’s September and the kids are back in school, if you can call it that. By now, you’ve probably found a work-from-home solution that applies to your situation. Given, of course, that you do have work to do. It doesn’t escape me, the irony of celebrating Labor Day with many Americans outside of work. Or celebrating our hard work, when parents are shouldering schoolwork without pay for the past few months. Or mothers who have never been paid, ever, for that matter.
Regardless, we find ways and solutions. I remember in our own home, when shut-downs first happened, we thought this would be a temporary thing. “It would only be for two weeks,” we said. We made work stations around the only desk that existed in our small space. Mike had his desk in the corner, Kirse took the dining table and laid out the laptop, two monitors, and keyboard that she took home from work, and I sidled next to a side-table in the living room that could barely seat my Microsoft Surface Pro (pictured above). If I needed privacy for a recording or online meeting, I would escape to our tiny balcony and cross my fingers that the garbage truck would arrive an hour later than normally scheduled.
Small spaces in particular make working from home quite tricky. Where does a person create separation between work and home when there is no office space? How to isolate when the living room is the bedroom next to the kitchen where a significant other needs to make lunch? Where does a parent take a call, when there are no doors in the home and an ever-curious child has an everlasting list of questions? How can you keep a professional face on a Zoom call when you see your two youngest kids fighting in the corner of your eye? Lastly, how does one shut off for the evening, when the office desk is always visible in the home?
Thankfully, those who live in small spaces have had plenty of practice with making do. I am always amazed by tiny home dwellers’ creativity when it comes to maximizing a space. For WFH solutions in particular, I’ve heard pod-casters lock themselves in closets for a bit of sound-proofing. I’ve seen folding screens and shower curtains hiding desks in bedroom corners so that a house can actually feel like a home. I’ve read about people using their kitchen island as a make-shift standing desk, and I feel for people who gave up clothing and a dresser to create space for a computer.
Now, with kids schooling at home, parents have the added complexity of creating spaces for their little ones to thrive in. Not to mention, balancing different schedules and timelines, wearing the hat of parent, teacher, tutor, and money-maker, as well as logging into Zoom calls for the kids and the self.
None of this is easy, let alone sustainable. I, do, however find hope in the fact that we are all trying to make do. I want to believe that tomorrow it will be easier. That our reality is waiting for us just around the corner. Meanwhile, I hope these short stories help others feel a little less alone. And for those who haven’t quite found WFH solutions in their small space, perhaps the addition of one of these would make all the difference.