I came across this picture today as I was cleaning my home office. I’m methodically working on all parts of my life to shed the excess, to de-clutter, to find peace and balance in the land of less. I was making steady progress until I found this picture of me from the days when I was at Nashoba Brook Bakery. I cannot resist the tug to write and reflect.
I was 33, my children were two, four and six, and my husband at the time and I were in our fifth year of business. My memories from that time are hazy. I remember the camaraderie with my co-workers. I remember the purple floor I chose for the pastry kitchen. I remember the long hours, the steady stream of customers, croissants, cakes and cookies.
What I remember most is how much baking felt like coming home. I floated away each time I unwrapped a block of fresh yeast and crumbled it into the mixing bowl to begin the process of making croissant dough. I disappeared into myself as I decorated cakes or made chocolate mousse. Baking was my meditation, my escape, my trusted companion throughout the years.
I am a month shy of 49. I continue to bake, and each time I wrap my apron around my waist, I am filled with joy. My current landscape mirrors the backdrop of this photo from the past. It feels so familiar.
And yet, I can’t help but notice and feel the subtle heaviness captured in this picture.
So many similarities. So many differences. I wonder…did this younger version of myself have a sense of what was to come? That my involvement with Nashoba would soon come to an end, along with my marriage? That I would feel lost and unsure what to do for a career? And that without even realizing what was happening, I would find my way back into the kitchen, this time on my own terms? None of this is easy to think about, let alone share, and yet to not share it would dishonor the woman in this picture.
I want to reach out to the younger me who didn’t yet need to color her hair and who felt most at ease wearing overalls, squeeze her shoulders, look in her eyes, smile, and tell her to have hope. To remind her that she is resilient. To lean in and whisper that she will surprise herself by the risks she takes, the challenges she overcomes, and the loving community of people she creates through baking, writing and sharing her story.
Keep baking, sister. You’ve got this.