Last week I posted the first of this two part list of lessons learned from making bread. (I know, that’s a bit random, but my mind wanders.) Here’s lessons 6 to 10 of that list:
6. Bonds will break. New bonds will form.
For the ingredients to become dough a chemical process takes place. Bonds are broken and formed with the mechanical energy provided by your kneading. Before you get where you need to be bonds need to be broken; new bonds need to be formed. Some of these bonds to be broken can be daily vices; your love for television or junk food, your hours spent gaming or social networking. Time-sucks, health sabotages, toxic behaviors and thoughts need to be cleaved off or at least minimized and controlled. Some of these bonds can be toxic people who are negative, who don’t like what you’re trying to do and make that a burden for you, who encourage you to do the toxic things you want to stop doing. Sometimes you may have to end the relationship. Sometimes it’s just a matter of minimizing contact: stop hanging around them, avoid talking or listening to them, become too busy to spend as much time in the toxic environment they bring. Form new bonds. Find like-minded aspirers. Find people who have achieved what you want to achieve. Find people who encourage and support you. Take up new habits. Break and form the bonds, habits, attitudes and behaviors that will take you where you want to go.
7. Give it time to grow.
You probably figured out from #6 that making bread takes time, it’s no cake-walk (though making cake has its challenges too). Reaching big goals takes time. The bigger the goal the more time. Bread can take one or two hours. Forming healthy habits can take months. Other goals – years. But the time was going to pass anyway, with you living the way you live now, accomplishing nothing new, so you might as well do something with that hour, those months or years that will result in accomplished dreams (or food for the week). But when you start toward your goals and dreams be in it for the long haul. Know that things do not happen instantly: you need to put your time in before you get something good out.
8. Be prepared to face the heat.
There’s always one last challenge. In order for the dough to become bread you have to apply heat. To make a diamond it takes high temperature and high pressure. To become more than the sum of your parts you need to face the hardships and obstacles – I prefer to call them challenges – that come your way right up to the end. There is often going to be a point when you’ve done everything, you’re almost there, destination in sight, and something will challenge you. This is when people often quit. You don’t. You never know which hurdle is the last but keep jumping them or ploughing through them until you get to that finish line. Your destination is real, keep moving towards it.
9. Pace yourself. Don’t get burned.
In addition to killing the yeast my first time I also burned the bread. Well actually the recipe I had told me to wait a length of time during which the bread burned. Needless to say I tweaked that part of the recipe as well. But it just goes to show, someone else’s timing may not be the right pace for you. Some people can make it on 4 hours sleep a night for years while others need that 7 or 8 hours to function. Work with your own needs, your own pace. Sleep, eat, take breaks, relieve stress as needed. It’s not a failure or a weakness to have to pause and catch your breath. In fact if you’re pacing yourself correctly you won’t have to stop to catch your breath because you’re working at a pace that fits your level of endurance. Indulgence, laziness, procrastination get you nowhere. But pacing yourself gets you where you need to be intact. You’re going to do a lot of growing and changing in the heat. You need to make sure the process doesn’t destroy you.
10. Enjoy the smell
There is nothing quite like the smell of freshly baked bread. It is the smell of comfort and warmth. For me it’s the smell of achievement. I will eat well this week. Enjoy the journey and the destination. The process is difficult. It’s rough. It’s stressful and tiring. But often time there’s nothing else you’d rather be doing because you’re doing the work of building your dreams. But in the heat, when you get those initial whiffs of success, you know you’ve done it, you’re doing it, and it’s worth it.
Photo by Kelene Blake: Yes it looks plain on the outside but it's filled with yummy spinach-y, tomato-y, mackerel-y goodness on the inside!