Tuesday, October 4, 2011

When in doubt, bake.

As soon as Labor Day settles, I would normally be preparing for cross racing season. I would normally be choosing my dates for races, registering myself, and preparing meals around recovery and preparation. This is not been a normal year though. Since losing my job on June 26, I have been thrust into a new type of living...called, "getting by" and moving to the next chapter. I would have it no other way.

Not for a minute do I miss my non-profit, corporate feeling job. Not for a second do I miss the long hours, countless parties, formal wear, handshaking, faux snobbery, that was my job. I do not miss the frantic people that were my coworkers who literally ran around the office as if it may not continue standing unless they completed their mindless tasks. In fact, the only thing I do miss is the mild flexibility of knowing I would have weekends off or knowing IF I needed I could rearrange my schedule to fit my needs. Those are honestly, the only aspects I miss.

While my schedule fluctuates in a retail environment and quite often I work well over 40 hours a week, I enjoy the calmness of not having a chaotic environment around me frought with people trying harder than ever to get to the next rung on the ladder. As I see it, I am happy on the step ladder and refuse to climb any other ladders upward. In my mid-twenties, my goal was to lead a non-profit in my hometown but that goal has shifted, since most leaders I know are burned out, ran down, and focused on making a board of directors happy versus making a real difference in the community. The only real reward I ever see them enjoy are the rare moments when someone praises their job well done. Many of them do not vacation, take care of their family lives, or have friends night out. They are reaching for an imaginary goal.

With my relaxed, less chaotic time, what do I do? I bake. The kitchen is my second home. I move about from ingredient to ingredient often ignoring any written recipe and crafting my own concoction. As soon as Labor Day faded, I could feel the twinges of fall settling in and I began to bake....cookies, cakes, pies, and the staples of any fall, loaves of bread. My house is often filled with the scents of cinnamon, vanilla, caramel, or coffee. My small oven produces four homemade loaves of bread an hour or 48 cupcakes depending on the pans used. Once upon a time not so long ago, I was racing home to fix a quick dinner which generally involved something handed through a window because I did not have the time to cook a full meal. Now, dinners are thought about early in the day and we can enjoy pulled pork empanada night, taco fiesta night, or even fish sticks when we feel childlike. There is no rush to anything.

My goals may shift again, but I am certain that I will not do a job unless there is some personal reward from it. If I cannot go into work and feel I can accomplish my job, then I will not do it. Bike riding is still my passion but I can even enjoy it more now. Rides are not scheduled to a science but done in windows of free time. Rides are fun now...I am not always thinking about work.

Yes, there is a sacrifice in pay but overall, my quality of life has improve 150%. I am accutely aware of the things I need versus the things I want. This lesson is priceless. My boyfriend is enjoying the rewards with each loaf of bread or cupcake cranked out.

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