Saturday, November 20, 2010

The bread of life

The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You don't blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the President. You realize that you control your own destiny. Albert Ellis
Years ago, when he was alive, my father and I shared a passion for baking bread. He taught me the secrets of kneading the dough, of relaxing as I mixed it and folded it and formed it into shape. Like my father, I love the mystery of making bread and the earthy awareness of its simple ingredients creating such wonder.

When my daughters were younger I used to let them sit on the kitchen counter, or stand on a chair beside me so that they could help me. "Making bread is a great way to get your frustrations out," I'd tell them and I'd demonstrate by picking up the dough, raising its floury body into the air above my head before throwing it down onto the counter. They'd squeal with delight, brush the white powder from their faces, push their tiny hands into the dough and push it and punch it and roll it around.

And then we'd wait for the dough to rise. They always wanted to peak. To see if it was 'working'. They'd lift the corner of the towel covering the bowl where they dough lay resting and take a look. Sometimes, they'd do it every five minutes in the hope they'd see it rise. And then, like magic, it would and they would clap their hands and eagerly await the next stage in our bread making process.

It was like life. No matter how much you're watching it, checking on it, poking at it, pushing and pounding it, it always gets a rise out of you. You can choose to throw it out or savour the process of creation and eat up the results, butter steaming in golden hues as you devour every morsel, rejoicing in the fact, you created it. You played a hand in making it rise.

When they were young I also liked to joke and say, "One day you'll be in therapy and you'll blame it all on your mother. I don't want you to waste good therapy so... I'm giving you lots to work with."

And then, I gave them lots of good doughy matter to work with.

Sure, I did my best and sometimes, my best sucked. Sometimes, my best was a desperate attempt to rid me of guilt, of blame. To appease my ache. To ease my fears. But always, no matter what I did, love formed the foundation of the doughy matter of their lives, of our lives together -- even when it seemed I'd added too much salt to the wounds, love was always the basis upon which our lives rose and set.

Today, it is the love that forms the doughy matter of our lives that makes the most difference. Today, what I did or didn't do pales in comparison to the amazing wonders they can create in their lives when they use love as the essential ingredient that makes their lives rich and full of wonder and life. That makes the sun rise to the occasion of their best day yet. Regardless of what I have done, in their 20s, it is their choice in how to deal with it, use it, live it, experience it and eat it up.

Just as it is for me.

When I look back on my life, I can see the many instances, the countless moments where I did not use love as the foundation for making my life shine. Instead, I used blame because, there were many years of my life where my problems, I believed, were not my own. They were founded on my childhood experiences that did not settle well within me. They were built upon the stories I told of the wrongs done to me by those I love, by those who promised to love me, by those who shoulda, coulda, woulda known better if only... at least in my book.

And so, I told my victim stories, told my woe is me tales and still it didn't make a difference. Still my bread kept falling and I couldn't rise up. I was failing at life and running out of people to blame.

And then, one day, I decided to quit the blame game. I decided my life wasn't about the wrongs done to me, it was about how I dealt with what went wrong when I wanted it to go right and didn't always get my way. How I dealt with what happened when I couldn't control other people, situations or circumstances.

It was an aha moment. A moment so clear, the sun didn't need to rise, the sky didn't need to reflect its blue into infinity.

I knew. I knew this was my one and only life. This is my only moment to live it to my fullest, make it my best, make it mine. it didn't matter what kind of bread I baked, what mattered most was the process of creating something that nurtured and sustained me.

What happened to disappoint me in life is nothing compared to what happens when I step up to the challenge of living free of blame and regret, and move into the power of living fully in the now, 100% accountable for my life and how I live it.

Life doesn't always give me what I want, but I always get what I create -- and I can create magic when I let go of making it someone else's fault when my souffle falls or my cupcake crumbles.

I am the baker of my dreams. I add the yeast, the flour, the salt and water to create a wonderful, hearty loaf of my choosing.

Ain't that grand?

And now, I'm off to bake bread. To make a proof and let it rise. To mix and stir and knead and pound and pummel the dough so that it can rise up, full of goodness, luscious, delicious and hearty.

A bread of life worth living.


Maureen said...

There is nothing better than homemade bread. Would love sometime to break some with you.

Joyceann Wycoff said...

I can smell the yeast as I read this post ... ummmmm.

I don't know if I really believe that we create what we get. With 6 billion of us rattling around on the planet, someone else's creation can easily smash into mine making something new appear.

But, I do believe that if we treat each thing that comes as if it's our own creation, it changes the dynamic and keeps the power in our own hands.

You are a perfect example of that power.