Hope (Or Why I love Baking)

Mix. Stir. Bake. Cool. Eat.

It’s a basic recipe for everything and anything that comes out of the oven. But it’s not the basics that have the world turning their ovens up to 350 degrees and reaching for the sourdough starter.

It is hope. The secret ingredient in every creation that comes out of our kitchen.

I always knew that focusing on the cups and teaspoons helped my anxious mind. It gave me something to focus on; almost meditative in the flow and gentle whirl of the mixing machine. It’s calming to an oddly, ironic way to hit a snag or missing ingredient and tap into my troubleshooting self to find a workaround.

But the real magic is when I take my creation, in its raw state, and put it in the oven. Whether it is muffins, bagels, or homemade pizza, there is hope. Hope that the kitchen will soon smell amazing. Hope that all of the acids, leaveners, and spices play nice. Hope that what I have measured, stirred, and whipped will be fantastically yummy.

I think that is why so many people have turned to the Internet for how-to videos and recipe blogs. It is more than they have time and a bag of flour on their hands. They need to feel like they are creating something to share with others . . . hope.

Keep baking. Keep creating. Keep your hope rising.

PS: Here are just a few pictures from our latest kitchen endeavours!

Meditation: How I Gained Control By Letting Go During COVID-19

1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . 4.

1 . . . 2 . . . 3. . . 4.

For years, I have used my breath as a go-to tool when I feel the first pings of an anxiety attack coming on. It was something I did to focus my runaway thoughts on simply counting my breath in and out. It was a handy tool, like a hammer, that I reached for when I needed to nail down my growing anxiety.

I always knew that breathing or, taking it a step further, meditation daily would help me. I knew that. Somewhere. It wasn’t until COVID-19 that I actually started to practice it.

Ironically, I turned to meditation and the art of letting go of the control of my thoughts when I was seeking to gain control of my thoughts and emotions. I know. Read that again.

At the start of COVID-19, there was panic and misinformation streaming into my handheld device from my social media feed to news outlet. I was feeling overwhelmed by the barrage of input coming into my life. I felt the need to acquire data, information, and best practices from all sources I can. I believe that we can only make better decisions by extending our circle of knowledge and diversifying our input.

Wear a mask. Don’t wear a mask. Social distance. Stay home. Essential visits. Support local. Freedom versus fear.

I couldn’t read the overnight “damage report” without walking away with a sense of rage (at best) or a prevailing feeling that the whole world is going to hell in a gloved handbasket. Mask optional for the ride.

It was then that my husband and I started talking about meditation as a way for us to learn how to let go of thoughts or emotions that were overriding our lives. A way of taking control but letting go.

Today, I reached the 21st day straight of daily meditation. In the first three weeks, I have learned:

  1. I CAN ONLY CONTROL MY ACTIONS AND REACTIONS

    Getting fired up over a Facebook post or the misdirection of a news article is my decision. Reading that is my decision. I can’t change someone’s opinion or perspective unless they want to change — and a few sentences on a Facebook post isn’t the place. Instead, I can acknowledge my thought and sit with my anger, resentment, guilt, shame or joy . . . and let it go. I can choose not to read every article or post. That is within my control.

  2. WE ACTUALLY LIKE TO ENGAGE OUR RAGE

    Letting go was a bit like withdrawal at first. My emotions felt flat because I wasn’t hitting these extreme highs and lows. I wasn’t getting the chemical fix that comes from a “like” (or what I call useless Internet points). I almost missed being pissed off — and then something happened.

  3. PRESENT IS A GIFT

    Once I stopped being wrapped up in what someone said or how I should respond, I stopped living in a world of “shoulds” and started living in the moment. I started noticing the magic in the present. My husband and I have deepened our connection because we are present with each other — out minds and emotions.

  4. GAINING CONTROL BY LETTING IT GO

    I have always handled emotions or thoughts like the operator at a switchboard. Something would come to my attention and immediately routed to my response, which was often rage, defensiveness, snarky, whatever. However, my switchboard operator has stepped up her job description. When a “call” comes in, it is examined to find the root cause, what I am feeling if it is something I can control, and then either rerouted to the appropriate department for action or hung up on.

Crazy couple of weeks.

That tool I used to keep for emergencies has shined a light on the beauty of every day in just 10 minutes a day. I’m more present with my thoughts and emotions; thus, I am more present with the people who matter to me.

So, how does one get started? Here are a few of my favourite apps:

  1. Headspace
  2. Simple Habit
  3. Waking Up

Even just a few moments of sitting there, acknowledging your thoughts helps. I think of the Nintendo game “Duck Hunter.” When a thought enters my mind, “there it is” and I point a bright orange plastic thing at it. However, it usually disappears on its own.

 

 

Embracing Imperfect: How I Figured Out What EVERYONE Has Been Saying

Have you ever had that moment when the stars align, the tarot cards deliver and the lotto has your number? Or more importantly, that one moment where something you have heard YOUR ENTIRE LIFE finally sinks in?

Yeah. I had one of those just this week.

Continue reading “Embracing Imperfect: How I Figured Out What EVERYONE Has Been Saying”

Did You Know You Can’t Say “Beans” Without Smiling?

BeansYou physically can’t say the word “beans” aloud without smiling. Go ahead. Try it. I’ll wait.

See! Something in the way we utter the word causes the corners of our mouth to turn up in the corners and our cute little dimples to pop out. It’s not as teeth gritting as the word “cheese” can be for photos but has the same pleasing effect.

This is a random and fun word that my hubbers and I say in the house randomly to put a smile on our faces and the other person in the room. (Sadly, this was happening before COVID-19 so you can imagine how the two of us rolls. Or doesn’t.)

Perhaps it is the lovely connotation the word has for us with our favourite pastime of roasting coffee. Maybe it was the childhood song about them being a magical fruit. Or perhaps it is just the fine art of linguistics.

I think sometimes we just need a reason for a smile to light up our face and I wanted to pass on the magical word that does it for us.

BEANS!

 

 

Celebrating Anniversaries During COVID-19

We would have traveled to Seattle to watch an MLB game, sample some hoppy brews and walked around one of our favourite cities.

Or perhaps we would have taken the ferry to Powell River to explore hiking trails and amazing eats in our extended backyard on the Sunshine Coast.

Our anniversary weekend is about breaking a bit of the routine, basking in the warmer temperatures of spring and getting away from the chore list at home.

But for the first time in seven years of marriage, we celebrated our anniversary at home.

It would be easy to delay the celebration. It would be easy to add it to the list of things we want to do once the national travel restrictions and personal self-isolation comes to an end.

But it would also get lost in post-COVID-19 world. It would get lost in what will be the new normalcy. It would be lost as something special just for the two of us.

My husband and I blocked off our day and set the “out of home office” responder for work emails; taking the day off from chores and to-do lists.

2013

Our wedding in 2013 was a morning wedding with a pancake feed reception. To bring that beautiful moment back to life, I rose early to create a bistro table for two for our pancake breakfast.

We went for long walks through our hometown of Gibsons and hung out on the patio of Chateau Sachtjen, the name we gave to change up our own home.

The two of us ordered takeout pizza from a local restaurant and put it on plates to dress up our fancy dinner in. We topped it off with homemade vegan cupcakes with ganache (which we made into truffles with the leftovers!).

2020

Celebrations don’t have to be big parties, involve travel or the purchase of lavish gifts. Sometimes the best way to make a day special is to spend time with one another, with the person close enough to you that you are self-isolating with them. Shake up the routine. Do something new.

Celebrate the birthdays and anniversaries as they happen.