If there is one thing that I love to do, it’s baking. I have a vivid memory of baking cookies with our neighbour when I was two years old so that my mother could tend to my baby brother. I was a busy child!
Growing up, I would also spend time in the kitchen with my grandmother as she made the most wonderful cakes, cookies and breads. She had an elephant cookie jar that we raided every time we went to visit.
What was it about baking that I loved, other than that wonderful waft of home-baked goodness? It was how it made me feel – cozy, comfortable and calm. We all have something that we do that brings us joy and helps us to get to a place where the woes of the world vanish from our minds. For me, baking is simple and relaxing. As a bonus, I love seeing the faces on my loved ones light up when they see I’ve made their favourite sweet snacks.
Years ago, my grandmother gave me a cookbook with the loveliest inscription inside in the notes. It reads, “Dear Patti: I’ve always loved my Five Roses Cook Book. Although it’s tattered, I can still rely on it when I want something either basic or special. This is the latest edition – Hope you like it. Love and happiness to you always, Grandma.” I can tell you that my book is well loved and falling apart.
One recipe that I had always wanted to try but seemed daunting was one for white bread. The ingredient list is very simple: flour, milk, white sugar, shortening, salt, yeast and water. It was the numbers of steps that deterred me from even attempting it – three pages and nine steps of written instructions. Eek! Since I wasn’t going anywhere due to COVID lockdown, my typical busy Saturday turned into a chance to learn something new.
You can’t just look at the ingredient list and expect your bread to turn out if you toss them into a bowl. There are specific steps you must take in order to produce the best results. It’s all in how you blend them together and allow the dough to rise.
Compare this process to the life you want; you have everything inside you to create your heart’s desire. If our lives came with an instruction booklet that said, “For best results do this,” it would be so much easier. However, we each have a brain that can reason, organize, and articulate as well as follow our intuition to guide us in decision making. We are given choices and choose the path we take.
Just like with bread, you need to combine your talents together and allow yourself the time to progress. Every time you learn something new, you need to cut yourself some slack through that process. If you rush or are impatient, the results you desire won’t turn out. With bread, you have to knead the dough to activate the gluten so that it will stimulate the rise.
Similarly, it takes work to sculpt the shape of your life. If you create the right conditions, such as shifting your mindset from saying “I can’t” to “I can,” you will see possibilities and opportunities from a whole new perspective. I love this line from Alice In Wonderland, “The only way to achieve the impossible is to believe it is possible.” Get rid of the negative self-talk and words such as “don’t.” Talk about what you want, opposed to what you don’t want. Listen to yourself first and recognize when you say these words. As soon as you start saying “I can’t” or “I don’t want,” immediately stop the sentence. Take a moment to think about what you can do and listen to your soul. If you would like to be better at water skiing, photography, cooking or anything at all, you have to practice.
Avoid the pitfall of getting down on yourself as you learn and say, “I’m never going to be good at this.” Keep talking like that and it will become a part of your belief system. You will be amazed at how much of a difference changing your words will impact your mindset.
Here’s the thing, if you were surrounded by negative self-talkers, chances are they were unaware of it. Are they at fault? Not at all. It’s just no one pointed it out to them.
I had to learn how to do this too. Once I did, I felt a shift within myself. I saw all of the ingredients that made me who I am and I realized that if I blended them differently, I could get whatever result that I wanted, unlike bread. You see, bread has specific additives and they have to be introduced in a certain way for it to turn out based on very precise science.
What many of us fail to realize is that we are a perfect blend the moment we are born. Once you understand that, you are free from the pressure of being flawless. There has recently been a phrase being used that I love: “‘perfectly imperfect.” It makes so much sense. Embrace all of you; your physical attributes as well as your personality.
One of my all time favourite movies is The Wizard of Oz. If you’re familiar with the story, Dorothy’s only wish is to go back home to Kansas. It’s not until the end of her journey when Glinda the Good Witch of the North informs Dorothy that she had the power to go home whenever she wanted but had to learn it for herself.
Dorothy concludes, “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard because if it isn’t there; I never really lost it to begin with.”
You want to know how my bread turned out? Put it this way, my dad said, “I think it’s better than mother’s.” Yeah, it’s that good!
Thinking about what Dorothy realized, all you have ever had to do was to look in the mirror, know you are complete, and tell yourself so.