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A Note from Jo on Rhythm

by Joanna Gaines
Published on August 20, 2020

Illustration by Lida Ziruffo

Here you can read Jo's thoughts from our fall issue of Magnolia Journal on seeking rhythms that steady us during chaotic seasons.

Finding Your Anchor

You’ve heard it said that change is the only constant. And, the older I get, the truer that feels. Seasons come and go, and all of life changes alongside them. Everything is always in motion. Sometimes change is big and drastic and happens right before my eyes, while other times it’s so slow and gradual that it goes unnoticed until I look back and see how far I’ve come. No matter how long it takes, nothing stays the same. For better or for worse, everything is always changing.

But I like routine. I like structure. I like when things fall into place. I like being anchored—kept safely tethered to something that holds me in place. So often I think we view anchors as negatives, things that might keep us stagnant and prevent us from pushing forward into new territories. And I know in my own life, there have been moments when I have questioned these natural tendencies and the routines and habits I hold fast to. I have wondered if I might live more freely without them.

However, when I pause to look closely, more and more I have come to see that these anchors are what keep me from floating away into places where I don’t want to be or that I’m just not ready for yet. Instead of stifling me, they actually provide a safe place for me to grow and explore and be. Anchors still allow their boats to move and float—to find a rhythm among
the waves around them. Their purpose is simply to keep a boat from drifting so far off course that it’s difficult to recover.

The anchors of our life can be significant things like faith, prayer, meditation, but they can also be seemingly small and mundane like cooking, reading, running. The magical thing is that they somehow offer a place of refuge in the ever-changing landscapes of our lives.

This past spring when the world shut down, I kept feeling myself drawn to my kitchen. I think it provided a place for me to wrestle with the devastation happening in the world and the uncertainty of what the future might hold for so many people. I came to realize that the familiar rhythms of cooking and baking provided a level of comfort. As I moved around the kitchen, measuring and whisking and kneading—like I’ve done so many times before—my heart was able to find some rest. It was a safe place for me to think and process the rapidly changing world around me.

Then I understood the kitchen has played a pivotal role in my life over the years, even when I haven’t realized it. It’s been a consistent anchor that has kept me steady while also giving me space to find new perspectives. I remember turning to the kitchen when the kids were young and the ways it grounded me and gave me space when I felt like I was being pulled in a
million different directions. I remember turning to the kitchen when work was using every last ounce of my creative energy and the ways it recharged me and allowed me to reclaim some creativity.

Season after season, the rhythms of the kitchen have been my stronghold, and the peace it’s provided me has been an anchor. So as simple as it sounds, I’m thankful for my kitchen. I’m thankful it’s been a place where I can put my mind to rest and just simply be. Because everything changes, and the difficult truth is that I simply don’t have any control over it. I can work very hard to arrange details just so. I can wake up with fresh intentionality for each day. And as new seasons come, I can step into them with renewed purpose.

These are pursuits I will always believe in and will always go after with an open heart. But even with those efforts, circumstances will arise that can’t be conquered by human will alone. And so, when life gets chaotic, I’ve found that it’s good to have something that steadies you—an anchor that
keeps you where you need to be—a moment and place in time where you can find peace and rest.

This story was adapted for digital from the fall issue of Magnolia Journal.

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