The bookstore where I work is currently closed, which means I have long weeks but short days. (Seriously, where do they go?) While I am still studying, I find myself with three whole days I didn’t have before, which is an abundance of hours.
While I’m not putting pressure on myself to be extra productive during this time, I have found motivation and energy that I didn’t have room for before. Trying new things takes up so much space in your head, and when life is busy it’s hard to explore options that aren’t part of your routine.
But with my extra time, I’ve found myself gravitating towards those things I’ve wanted to do for a while but haven’t had the energy for.
And one of those is making bread.
In the first year I lived out of home, I bought bread every other week. While the thought of baking my own bread was a nice idea, and something I wanted to incorporate in the future, I didn’t have the energy to try it and find time to do it. Similarly, I’ve begun to make my own chicken stock, which was also something I didn’t feel I had the time for.
But at the moment it’s easier to move in the direction of that simpler life I’ve been wanting. Since moving out, cooking for myself is a normal part of my routine, but lately I’ve been exploring more ways I can cook from scratch and not buy certain things from the supermarket. By making bread and stock, I know exactly what’s in it and there’s nothing extra in there that isn’t good for me.
I made my first loaf of bread with my dad when I went home to visit in June, and two weeks later I started to cook it on my own.
The day the dough was rising, and the next day when I cooked it, were two of the most joyful and fulfilled days I’d had in a while. I had fun with it and the result was a simple loaf of bread that contained only four ingredients. (Flour, water, yeast, salt.)
I realise that living a completely uncomplicated and simple life isn’t possible in that perfect-daydream kind of way. But each time I do something creative, each time I simplify even the smallest aspect of my life, my heart is full. And it’s enough, each small step is enough because trying to change everything at once is overwhelming and not sustainable in the long term. It’s that New Year rush of telling yourself you’ll exercise, eat healthy, wake up early, finish that novel, but by February nothing has stuck.
Having this time at home has allowed me to take small, sustainable steps that are now part of my life’s rhythm. I’ve been able to cook new things, I’ve deleted social media and transferred to a Google-free phone, and I’ve started a joyful, creative project (my monthly newsletter).
Because these things are now natural to me, when I do go back to work, it won’t be a stress to continue them.
And this afternoon I’m going to make pastry for the first time! I’m making a shortcrust for a quiche, so I’m hoping that turns out well. But even if it doesn’t, I’m happy to try and I’m happy to learn.