Jun 262012

I recently heard the following sports quote…

“Slumps are like a soft bed. They’re easy to get into and hard to get out of.”  — Johnny Bench

That’s when it hit me, I was in a slump! No, not a batting slump, but a mental slump.

As a proactive optimist, I have always been one of those folks who could do anything I put my mind to. Expand the farmers market entrée menu? Love to. Return to school at 43. No problem. Deciding to coach high school soccer, cook for Virginia Lamb, be super mom, and go to school simultaneously? You bet. Adding physics on top of my math major? Why not. Somewhere along the way, I heard the warning signs. You know the nagging thought that one has crossed over into survive mode instead of thrive mode.

weedsThen summer break hit. The crazy intensity was over. I looked around and was all but paralyzed by the amount of life that had piled up. The weeds had taken over my gardens, the sheep needed to be shorn, there was fence to be fixed and painted, and the list felt endless and overwhelming. Instead of digging deeper and finding strength, I just froze. I kept hearing over and over again in my head all the things I had to do. That is when the slump hit. I was functioning day by day. I still loved spending time in the kitchen. But somehow the spark had grown dull.

So I reached out to a fellow gardener from the northwest. Reading her daily gardening adventures, I slowly began to feel the need to play in the dirt. You see, gardening has always been a representation of life to me… the work that must be put in to reap a successful harvest… the often necessary solitude of weeding, watering, and transplanting to reflect on life. My gardens reflect my moods, my inner strength, and my clarity of vision. Lately, I had been avoiding the garden as the weeds seem to bear witness to the endless list of chores I had hanging over my head. Then it hit me. I always have an endless list of chores. And when it grows too short, I add all kinds of interesting to-dos to the list like learning to make pasta, wanting to making homemade soap as Christmas presents, or reading up on medicinal herbs.

It wasn’t my list. It wasn’t the weeds. I just needed to unwind and recharge. I needed a mental make-over. And the one thing that always brings me back into balance? Gardening.

Bear with me over the next several weeks, as there are bound to be posts that encompass weeding, tilling, and lessons learned as I recapture the beauty of my gardens.

yellow rose

I was so focused on the weeds, I almost missed the roses!

 Posted by at 6:24 pm
Jun 142012

homemade breadThere is something relaxing about making bread, once you get past the sticky dough stage. Maybe it is the kneading or the “oh-ah” transformation as it rises or perhaps just those wonderful memories brought on by the smell of fresh baked bread.

My grandmother Hazel (better known as Ho-Ho) was an excellent cook. I never once saw her use a recipe, everything worth cooking or baking she knew by heart. Raising five sons and a daughter on a dairy farm in the mid-twentieth century may have had something to do with that. Of all the things she made, I would say her sweet rolls and sticky buns were her claim to fame. Unfortunately she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s before anyone thought to get her mental recipes on paper. To this day, I have yet to recreate her mouthwatering breads. And I have tried endless attempts.

I don’t know. Maybe it is just that reality can never match sweet memories. What I do know though is that she gave me a deep soulful, pleasure in baking bread. Right now my favorite go-to bread is a rustic focaccia topped with fresh herbs and salt.

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 Posted by at 12:47 pm