The Hustle

Hustle: When an enterprising person (someone showing initiative or resourcefulness) is determined to succeed.

The hustle.

It’s a real thing. The laser-like focus that, when it shows up on the scene of our lives, is the bottomless cup of coffee for our spirit.
When the time is right, a person’s hustle can move mountains.

I see this emerging right now, all around me. For, when all is stripped away—the convenience, normalcy, the distractions, schedules and creature comforts—what we have left is the magic of what naturally resides inside.

The hustle.

The spitballing of ideas for how to get the bills paid three months from today. Our choice to see stressors as exciting adventures. The sense that our ideas move around our brains like frenzied hands work the puzzle board at a furious pace as things start to click together that we couldn’t see before.

You may think I’m talking about business, but I’m not. I’m talking about the shift that’s quietly happening for those that want something greater to emerge out of these ashes. Those of us that choose to see this time as a gift. A reset. A serious 20/20 (hello circa 2020) examination of life and where we want to be as partners, parents, friends, lovers, go-getters, entrepreneurs, adventurers, romantics and dreamers.

The shift…the gift of that slower pace in your newly WFH morning coffee routine. Just maybe you’ll take a cup to your worried partner in bed too, delivered with an empathetic kiss on the forehead. That is determination at a better relationship through initiative. That’s hustlin’, baby.

The woman who creates a touchpoint with local business owners, finding out what their break-even needs are so she can spread the word and get her network to meet those needs, in real time. This is the magic of community. The people who won’t let their city capsize under the iceberg. This is what it means to hustle for your local economy.

The 10-year-old that brings an idea for making money to the dinner discussion, watching their parents crumbling under the weight of responsibility and worry. Celebrate the idea and do whatever you can to bring it to life. Because they are hustling for your happiness.

I came from a very middle-class, single-parent, midwestern, suburbia home. My family was quietly wrecked for many decades by prescription drug abuse, emotional trauma, and suicide. The epidemic of failure, fear and loss was real as a kid. Yet, it taught me the art of the hustle in ways that I never would have known if I had been given an idyllic life. I was determined to succeed into adulthood as an emotionally stable person. To succeed as a young wife. A mom. A business owner.

For decades I’ve pulled up my resourceful, ingenuitive, big-dreamer bootstraps and found it actually works. Gumption works, friends. And yet, this season of instant worldwide pandemic has made me—Ms. Lifelong Go-Getter—take inventory. I’m choosing to see this time for what can be; potential for growth and goodness in everything.

I would argue that we’re not only in this together. We’re in this to make each other stronger. To hold one another accountable for how we’re using our days. The kisses on the forehead. The ideas at the dinner table. The encouraging emails and virtual touchpoints. The picnics in the living room and game nights at the old, folded-card table pulled out of storage. Watercolor tutorials on YouTube and love poems read aloud on the fluffy king-sized bed while dozing off. Extra violin practicing and Lego building marathons. Teaching an old dog a new trick and sending a letter to your elderly aunt. Now is the time to hustle for the best we have to give.

As I write these words, the sun is setting on my front yard. Ten years ago I was spending the bulk of my days writing recipes for magazines and cookbooks from a little studio space behind my home while the kids napped and I would edit as the sun set over the backyard maple tree.

In those early days with kids we never had the money to fly on airplanes. So, those incredible little spiced biscoff cookies they hand out at snack time (who else gets as excited as me about airplane snack time!!) became our household staple, not an in-flight treat. And, since we all aren’t flying much these days, I thought I’d share the recipe below. It’s basic enough that you shouldn’t need to make a store run and they’ll stay good for days on the counter and weeks in the freezer.

Homemade Biscoff Cookies

Homemade Biscoff Cookie Recipe

  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp of ginger
  • ½ tsp of allspice
  • ½ tsp of baking soda
  • ½ tsp of baking powder
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • 1 cup room temperature butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Stack of homemade biscoff cookiesInstructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together flour, spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cloves), baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a separate large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer or by hand. Mix in the vanilla extract.
  4. Gradually blend the flour mixture into the butter mixture until it is well combined.
  5. The dough will be firm.
  6. Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness. From here, use cookie cutters (or mason jar lids…get creative!) to make cookie shapes.
  7. Place cookies onto parchment paper and bake for 12-15 minutes, depending on the size. You’ll know they are done when they are pale in the center and browned slightly on the edges.
  8. Cool on a cooling rack before serving and if you have some nice sugar, sprinkle that on top for a bit of extra goodness.
Megan Smith