Monday, November 21, 2011

Being 40: Baking Love

Throughout my father's childhood, his mother and grandmothers baked all of their  bread, made noodles from scratch and poured love and tradition into every meal. Somewhere along the route of my youth, I picked up on the joy of tradition in cooking and learned how to bake a little love into every one of my creations. Today, I use the baking boards that were used by my grandma.

While the baking process is often therapeutic, it serves a greater purpose for me. Baking is an outward expression of how I am feeling. As I mix together the ingredients, I also pour a lot of emotion into my breads.  And as I knead the dough, I think about the people for whom I am baking. I imagine a delicious and delightful outcome. I hope they will not only enjoy my bread, but they will appreciate the feeling behind it.

One cannot bake bread for those they don't like or for whom they have no care or concern. Baking is born of pure enjoyment. It is filled with love and adoration. It isn't a mindless act. It is very much the opposite. It is a concentrated effort to create with one's hands a gift that will provide a positive and pleasant experience for another.

There is no quicker route to happiness for me than to be able to create with my hands and give to others.

Months have passed since I've been able to bake bread. Life had grown too busy. Other tasks were more important. The number of my responsibilities seemed greater than the hours in my days. I did what most of us do when I got busy. I shelved my hobbies and set aside the four things that provide the most enjoyment in my life: painting, writing, singing and baking. But when we stop doing the things that fill us with joy. We have no joy to give away to others.

I don't know what the resolution is to having too much to do. And I have not figured out how to add hours to the day. But this weekend, I baked. I didn't work on my house (because it was against doctor's orders). I didn't go to one volleyball game (because the season is finally over). I didn't work (and didn't worry about it most of the weekend). I didn't help my parents do... anything (except hang a shower curtain). I didn't study or clean or pack one box in preparation for moving.

I just baked.

I floured my grandmother's board, I kneaded dough and I focused on the people in my life. I baked for Thanksgiving and I baked for work and I baked for the love of it.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Being 40: Buying a Home

There's no greater satisfaction in life than doing something that many people thought you never would or never could. On October 26th, in my 40th year of life, I bought my first home. All. By. Myself.

People buy homes all the time. I know a lot of homeowners. It's not uncommon. It doesn't warrant a gold star or a giant trophy. In fact, it's not really even worthy of a pat on the back. I mean, really... Who rewards or congratulates someone who willingly gets themselves into hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt?

However, it is not a decision to take lightly. And boy, did it take some time! But, I am finally the keeper of the keys to two units in south St. Louis, close to the neighborhood where I grew up. I am a landlord. And, I am a homeowner.

It's the scariest thing I have ever done in my life. Oh, but there is so much more to come!