As I open our curtains every morning and feeling how things are slowly getting to our normal way of living again, I can't help to still feel a bit anxious. This "not knowing, can't really plan ahead" way of living is creating all sorts of dark places in my mind, and oh how I like this gloomy, murky place. It's where I like to dwell sometimes, a place where I feel very sorry for myself and can come up with every scenario of how things won't work out.
Anxiety has been something that's been with me like an old (un)faithful friend, (mis)leading me to places I thought was safe and secure. She told me that the place we're going will be good, and that I only needed her, no-one else because you can't trust anyone else. They will always be out to get you. So this inner anxiety voice became my best friend, the voice that I heard the loudest, the one who dictated my day, my mood and activities all in the name of "well being."
When lockdown hit in 2020 the wheels came off on my side. I just couldn't find the balance between work, family and life. After a year of treading water I finally sank into deep and dark waters with no prospect of getting air soon. It felt like I was dying. My house of cards collapsed and I didn't know how or where to start picking myself up. One morning in one of my aimlessly wandering through Exclusive books there was this little book tucked away behind other famous writers that caught my eye. Bread Therapy by Pauline Beaumont. My first thought that these two things can't go together, but as I read the back of the book it quickly changed my mind. Bread and therapy are intertwined in a very special way that soon took my breathless, heavy heartedness on a journey I never expected to happen.
" When life gets challenging, we turn to simple pleasures and age-old traditions to help us manage. Bread Therapy is a love letter to the art of making real bread. "
This book was such an eye opener. It taught me to see bread and the baking of bread as a sacred place, a messy place, a place for realness, healing and a metaphor for life. When you bake your own bread especially Sourdough, you can't hurry the process otherwise you'll be in big trouble. (A hurried bread is a flat bread). F O L L O W T H E R E C I P E. And sometimes when you follow the recipe to the T your bread can still be flat, weird, or tastes just not the way it supposed to taste.
Isn't that how life is? You follow the recipe. You are good, you work hard, you've got the right partner, you've got beautiful kids or no kids, the perfect job, the cutest cat or golden Labrador, you keep your house plants alive, you've got a grip on this thing called life. And before you know it the first wave hits you. You take the blow and get up again. You adjust the recipe and realised you may have hurried the process a bit or maybe forgot the "salt." You adjust, you say sorry or make space for someone to say sorry and you move on. But then wave three and four hits and it hurts man, it hurts. Lockdown, job loss, death becomes "normal", financial challenges, relationship challenges, uprooting, separation from loved ones, from yourself. The list is never ending. Can you relate?
The Sourdough process (and a lot of interventions, THERAPY and unconditional love from my family and friends ) helped me to accept that life can be unpredictable, temperamental, hurtful and sometimes just plain unmanageable. If you don't get to know your life's ingredients very well you'll end up with a frisbee of a "life/bread." The thing with Sourdough is that you can have the best foolproof recipe, but if you're not familiar with your ingredients and how they influence each other within different circumstances i.e. warm vs. cold temperatures, dry vs. humid conditions etc. you'll always end up with "fisbees and floppies." But as you get to know and accept you surroundings, your ingredients, your timeframes, your hands, your eyes and your intuition, things will have the potential to improve.
I use the word POTENTIAL because it's not always a given. And this post isn't a magic wand, but part of my journey and humble attempt to maybe give you words if you find yourself in a similar place. To produce great Sourdough bread takes time (a lot of time), effort, hard work, intuition and determination - just like life. Sorry to burst your bubble, but nothing worth your while comes easy and that's okay. Once you accept it, it will become easier. Where there was once a vicious cycle of trying, blaming and unhealthy behaviour your eyes become open for what life really is - IMPERFECT PERFECTION and you start to move into a virtuous cycle within all that life throws at you.
Life and Sourdough gave me a second chance and I am eternally grateful for that chance. May you find that virtuous cycle in your life, whether it is through baking or maybe something else that's right in front you. May your eyes be opened.