- I am grateful to be watching birds feed outside my window right now. So peaceful to observe.
- I am grateful to have made more progress on setting up my studio space in the living room.
- I am grateful for making baguettes for the first time yesterday. What a long process! (More on this below.)
- I am grateful I had a peaceful weekend.
- I am grateful to be back into practicing mindfulness.
One of of the things on my “must-do”list is learning to make perfect baguettes. One of my absolute favorite pleasures in this life is a fresh-baked French baguette. Crispy on the outside but delicately soft and chewy on the inside. Some of the best I’ve had were while vacationing in St. Maarten (second to those in Paris many years ago). I found this recipe while browsing through Pinterest and decided a slow Sunday morning was the prime time to give it a go. What unfolded was a true test of patience and an unplanned lesson in mindfulness.
It’s a called a “Four-Hour Baguette” and it took every bit of four hours from start to finish. I tip my hat to all the hard-working bakers who start their day in the wee hours of each morning to prepare and bake all those delectable sweets and breads we love so much. It’s a lot of hard work! Combine the water and yeast – then wait. Mix the flour and yeast water – and wait. Knead the dough for at least ten minutes, then place in a covered bowl, then place in a cold oven – then wait. And so it went. I found myself at times being tempted to swear off ever making the recipe again because it was taking too long. Then I asked myself, “Why?” Simple enough question, but for someone who makes it a habit to rush through nearly every single thing (who grows impatient at the slightest delay), it was a question forcing me to be truthful with myself. What was the rush? The truth was there was no rush. There was nothing else that HAD to be done. There was nothing more pressing hanging over my head. The only thing on the agenda for the morning was baking baguettes. For years I’ve held goal after goal, one grand expectation after another, over my head. I worked a full time job and had to complete my college degree in record time (while maintaining a high GPA). I graduated and then HAD to learn the publishing industry and write the perfect first novel. After that, I HAD to come up with an exciting and profitable business idea that would make me financially independent. But no one was forcing any of this – it was me against myself. I was my own worse enemy. True, I learned a lot during those years. One of the greatest lessons: if you keep pushing yourself nonstop with over-the-top expectations, you will suffer. Your health will suffer first. Then your closest relationships. Your happiness will be non-existent. I am way overdue to live according to my own natural rhythm.
My natural rhythm is this: slow and steady. A frenetic pace stresses me out. And believe me, all those years of essentially working two full-time jobs was frenetic and stressed me out: tightness in my chest; constant shallow breathing; constant stomach upset with additional GI issues; headaches; and moodiness (just ask my hubby about this one). I was, no doubt, slowly killing myself. I started practicing mindfulness within the past year, but found it taking a backseat to the demons rattling my mind (or what I sometimes refer to as my monkey brain). Fear and doubt are slick little bastards – it only takes a sliver of opportunity for them to set up shop in my head. But here on this Sunday morning, having to commit four hours to making bread, was what I needed to practice mindfulness once again. And it is a practice. It doesn’t come overnight – it’s a constant effort to practice in order to eventually become a master (same applies to meditation). So when it was time to knead the dough, I narrowed my thoughts to my hands working through the dough. The only thing that existed at that moment was my breath, my hands, and the dough taking shape within my hands. For ten minutes these were the only things that existed in my world.
Afterwards, I felt calm. It was an extraordinary practice in patience. This is how life is meant to be lived – one single moment at a time. Not rushing from one place to another, or from one goal to the next. Learning patience, mastering mindfulness is my destination. Nothing else. It will help me be a better artist, a better wife, a better friend. It will help me stay healthy. It will lead me to great places that rushing would have never taken me. I am grateful for the continuing lesson. I am ready to just be. All that is good and abundant in this life will comes to me with ease. I am at peace with myself – I am enough. And for this particular lesson I am forever grateful.
Today is a great day.