Monday, March 3, 2014

practice, practice, practice

I’ve been going through a bit of a crisis the past six months, mostly in relation to my forty-fifth birthday, which is fast approaching. Intellectually, I know I shouldn’t measure my own life by anyone’s expectations, least of all those expectations I improvised when I was too young to know better. But, it isn’t uncommon for people to reach this age and feel unhappy with where they are, what they’ve achieved, and to some extent what do and don’t have. These are, I’ll admit the ne plus ultra of first world problems. I’m embarrassed to call it a mid-life crisis, but that is what it is. I’ve felt lost, discontented, and worried about what I’m going to be able to achieve with the little time I may have left.  Fortunately, or unfortunately – take your pick - I have an uncommon amount of time to contemplate what I want from my own life, and what I really need to fell content and fulfilled, but there comes a time when just have to suck it up and make a decision.

There are times in life when things fall into place and you feel as if the whole universe is pointing you in the direction you should be going: this is exactly what occurred for me this weekend. As I’ve written; I am happiest when I’m fully engaged, mentally and physically in a task. I have always been attracted to occupations that involve using my hands and creativity for my whole life, and this impulse likely goes as deep as my DNA. I have been reading, studying, and writing about food and cooking full time for years now. Some days I feel as if I don’t have an idea what I am doing, and others I’m more confident I don’t have a clue what I’m doing. Now, however, I need to find a way to transition all this learning into some kind of means, by which I mean, money! The answer came to me in one of those rare crystalline moments when I was laying in a half awake state and a voice from deep inside me spoke up and said, “fuck it all, I’m going to make bread.”

OK so not that simple. I have wanted to go to culinary school for baking and pastry, and I still intend to fulfill that dream someday. In the mean time, however, there is nothing stopping me from teaching myself everything I can. I also have a core need to write which I do not intend to disregard. The two are not mutually exclusive. The plan, so far, is to focus this blog and my energies towards making artisanal breads, and pastries. I will be reporting about this process and all the other things that go on in the kitchen, but I will – at least recipe wise – be focused on baking.

As important as I think home cooking and care of the family are vital to a good life, it isn’t economically feasible for me to continue to stay home indefinitely. I’ve spent a great deal of time writing about this in an editorial that I’ll be posting here later so I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag just yet.

The trick, for me, will be keeping my balance, which has never been strong suit. I have a tendency to throw myself totally into whatever I do and when the rewards aren’t commensurate with the effort I’m putting forward, I end up burning out and moving on to a new obsession. Anyone who’s known me for a long time can verify this pattern, and if nothing else comes of this life, I’d like to learn how to break that habit.

At some point, I hope to sell these goods at a local farmers or flea market, or possibly to area restaurants, with an eye on creating a small and sustainable business for myself. In the mean time, however, I just need to practice, practice, practice.

Worst case scenario: I learn to make artisanal breads and pastry for my family and friends. ‘nuff said!

Today’s weigh in: 254lb. Sticking to the lifestyle changes, as far as our diet goes, is starting to feel a little more natural, the trouble of getting myself to the gym still needs to be solved. Then again, perhaps I should give myself a break: I’ve been out shoveling snow every other day for most of the winter. For that reason, I’ve changed the banner of this blog to spring even if it is dressed for the date on the calendar and not the weather outside my door.

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