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Why is everyone baking bread?

Together with “toilet paper”, “online yoga” and “boredom”, “baking bread” is one the trending search terms of the last weeks. What if baking your own loaf of bread was indeed a good activity to live a happier and more meaningful lock-down? You want to enjoy fresh bread and take care of your mental health, keep reading!

Too busy to bake bread

We live in a hyperactive society, with a certain pressure to have it all: the career, the family, the friends, the hobbies, and the holy grail of work-life balance. We might be adding meditation because we have also been told to not only take care of our bodies but of our mental health as well. The current situation, by slowing me down, makes it obvious to me how I have been living my life until now. I’ve been keeping my agenda busy, and baking bread didn’t fit into the picture and just seemed like a big waste of time. The local baker does a great job as I preferred spending time on other more fun activities. And yet, last week, I was one of the many to put my hands in flour.

The power of slowing down

"There is more to life than speed". M. Gandhi

What I didn’t know is that with a lot of control being taken away from me, like freedom of movement, I would seek activities where somehow it is up to me and only me to do. Baking gives me psychological safety, a sense of control and order. While cooking requires skills and talent, baking is mostly chemistry. Putting the right ingredients in the right quantities, giving it focus and patience, and the magic happens: the yeast starts bubbling and the dough rising. Kneading dough is also repetitive and somehow cathartic: my hands are busy, and my mind can relax. Could this crisis teach me to enjoy doing less things but embracing them fully?

Embrace the ordinary

"The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.” Jimmy Johnson

What if the ordinary life was the new experience, we are all after? Escaping the fear of missing out by being more present, enjoying the small things in life. It feels like a lesson for appreciation, re-discovering what really matters.

For me this is the appreciation for spending time with my loved one, for my family to be healthy, for the cold sunny mornings on the balcony with a cup of tea, for the silence of traffic free roads, for the appeasing nature of my routine bike ride along the Amstel every night. The Dutch landscape I often considered flat and boring suddenly becomes so much alive and changing every day. I am re-discovering depth, rather than spreading myself thin into breadth.

There is so much wonder in all these small ordinary moments, it feels like seeing for the first time what I never get a chance to notice. I am paying more attention to details.

Speak about all the ordinary moments in baking my own loaf of bread: putting three simple ingredients together, using my own hands to do something from A to Z, imagining our ancestors do the same, being amazed and proud of the result, while feeling grateful for my talented local baker who lovingly does this every day.

I don't need an extraordinary life; all I need is to be able to see this little extra in my ordinary life! Ready to start baking?

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