Sunday, November 28, 2010

Lessons From The Mixing Bowl

Several years ago I got the idea in my head that I wanted to start making my own bread and rolls.  With a toddler underfoot and another baby due at any moment, I knew my future would include a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and it seemed that one way to keep our budget on track would be for me to make the loaf of bread that we would surely be going through on a weekly basis.  I had given it a try a few years prior, making a loaf of ciabatta bread for my husband (then boyfriend) and I to go with our Italian dinner.
The next logical part of this story would read that I started baking like a mad woman, buying yeast in bulk and crafting artisan loaves that have become the envy of all the other mothers at kindergarten drop-off.  Instead, I have amassed a small shoebox (okay, a ladies size-9 shoebox) full of recipes that I wanted desperately to try and that I stared longingly at every week when I was meal planning.  It would be easy to blame my hesitation to dip into these recipes on simply not having time; with a 5-year-old, a 3-year-old, and a 1-year-old finding time to prep the dough, proof it, let it rise, mess with it some more, let it rise again, and then finally bake it would be hard.  The reality, however, is that on Mondays and Wednesdays my oldest children are both at school for a couple hours, and while I try to spend as much of that time giving the baby the one-on-one attention that she deserves, she is very independent and would rather I just sit back and watch her play with all the toys that her brother and sister normal forbid her from touching.
The real truth to my hesitation was that I was scared.  Beyond the fact that some of the recipes seemed a bit complicated, the thought of somehow messing it all up kept me from trying.  Getting the water temperature right, adding the right amount of flour to form the right consistency, kneading the dough, getting it to rise the correct amount . . . you get the picture.  In other words, I was talking myself out of it before I even gave it a chance!  And then something changed.
Last spring I embarked on a mission to get my life back (or at least as much as a life as one can have with a husband who works beyond fulltime and 3 children under the age of 6.)  This quest included changing a lot of things in my life and making some decisions that forced me to really consider what was important and valuable to me, and somewhere along the line I came to a (looking back on it now) silly realization:  IT IS JUST BREAD!  SERIOUSLY!  It is just flour and water and yeast and salt and sometimes a little extra, but IT IS JUST BREAD.  It seems like such a ridiculous conclusion to come to and it is so basic in theory, but making that discovery and reminding myself of that basic fact was the most empowering moment I had had in a very, very long time.
Guess what?  It is all JUST BREAD.  Somewhere along the line of learning how to make a killer pizza crust and baking homemade whole wheat rolls for Thanksgiving, I discovered that baking bread was a bit of a metaphor for life and how we live it.  I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say that there is a large number of us who have a list of things that we want to try but that we talk ourselves out of because it seems like too much work or because we don’t think we have enough time or because we just don’t think we can, and the reality is, there is absolutely no reason that we can’t give whatever IT is, a try.  Can I let you in on a little secret?
You can do whatever you want to do!  There is no reason you can’t give it a try, and if you fail, there is no reason you can’t get up and try again!
Among the things in my life that I consider when I call myself lucky and blessed are the woman around me who have found the courage and the empowerment to take a risk and accept a challenge and do what they really, really wanted to do in life . . . the stay-at-home-mom who started her own photography business, the working mom who ran her first 5K, the entrepreneurial mom who saw a need and decided to fill it, and the mom who risked it all and moved across the country to start a new life for her and her children.  They did it, and you know what?  SO CAN YOU!


  1. Great post Nicole. It's true, sometimes you just have to say, "I'm going to do this." Next up on my list get my degree. How? I don't know yet, but I'm trying to find a way.

  2. So eloquently put! I think that may be my new theme - it is just bread!

  3. You are so very right, my friend. We can do anything... once we decide to do it!

  4. Thanks for that inspiration! Well written! Enjoyed reading.

  5. Very true. It's a great message that is pertinent in so many of our lives and there is never a bad time for a post like this.

  6. Great post Nicole! And you know what? I have never made bread, but I think I am more inspired now ;)

  7. I LOVE you, and I LOVE this post! And, if you ever start blogging again, I'll be first in line to read. This post was extremely appropriate for me today, so thank you.

  8. What an inspiring post.

    Thank you for sharing.

    I have been missing a good ol' Nicole post. :)

  9. this is the second post this week that i've read and thought 'THAT IS EXACTLY RIGHT'. thanks!

  10. You amaze me, Nicole. I truly wish you would rub off on me.
    Mind if I steal the quote "It's only bread!"??


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