Starting again.

(Below is a repost from Danny Gregory‘s blog. First, my thoughts:)

If I had to distill my personal philosophy or a truth that I’ve gleaned thus far, it would be “It just takes doing.” It’s true of baking, running, writing, drawing, reading, knitting or simply being a friend.

Yesterday, I chopped pounds of leeks, shallots, onions, carrots, fennel, celery root and herbs as brown rice bread baked. My soup and leek fritters weren’t going to exist if I didn’t grab that knife. Same with bread—a series of steps have to occur to rouse the starter from the fridge, build and develop the dough, divide and shape the loaves before shoving it into the oven for its final transformation. Dinner was fantastic, but, more importantly, it existed. The work was the getting there.

Yet, it’s so easy to forget. Too often I am lost in a fog of yearning for how things (or I) used to be, or whining about an allegedly unobtainable ideal or achievement. There’s no awareness that the path is right there. Granted, I may never be able to create EVERYthing I desire, but I can move in that direction.

Danny Gregory‘s post this morning (below) drove this home for me… especially as someone who gets mired in self-judgement and tends to look backwards at old accomplishments and fantasizes about future ones, but forgets to be active in the now.

First step, start doing.

Danny Gregory

The road ahead

If you haven’t gone to the gym in a long time, how do you start again?

If you haven’t done a drawing in a long time, how do you start again?

If you haven’t written a blog post in a long time …. how do you start again?

You start by starting. By picking up a pen, a dumbbell, and getting to work. There is no magic trick, there is no massive process for preparation. There is simply the active of sitting down at the computer, opening a new document, and starting to type. It may seem painful, it may seem scary, but all that misery goes away as the first letters march onto the screen.

“What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I…

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Loaf lessons

I look forward to creating something new here each week. Sometimes the content is quick and fast, other times deeper. It’s not something I’ve come to think of as a chore, or something I feel obligated to do to sustain a readership. I come at it each week with positivity. And it’s this aspect that seems to genuinely surprise some people. Which, in turn, surprises me.

Here’s how I approach this site, and have for a long time. I think of it as my practice. It’s something I’m committed to, and look forward to being committed to for years to come. Contributing something new each week helps me develop in areas that I find important creatively – cooking, writing, taking photographs – and the only way I’m able to grow is through experience, experimentation, and regular practice.

—Heidi Swanson,

The lazy writer starts his post—nay, his entire new blog—with someone else’s quote. However, there’s nothing lazy about Heidi or the sentiment she’s expressing. An intentional quest for personal growth and the vulnerable act of creation are two things that have been missing from my life.

It’s been all too easy to sit on my duff and point at the rest of the world, coveting the inspiration I find in my friends’ projects. Why can’t that be mine? I whine. I ought to knit-read-draw-run-design-write-yoga-bake-make more. So much of my perspective has been grounded in the false belief that I need to prove something, or overcome the great flaw that is who I am. Why can’t you be better, Stephen?

You don’t need to be helped any longer; you’ve always had the power…

I don’t remember specifically when the realization hit me that I’m already well on my way path. Pssst, aren’t we all always-already on it? (Sure, but apparently I’m a slow learner.)

Without planning it be a “thing,” baking bread snuck into my life as a weekly practice over the past seven-ish years. It has been a fun pursuit, a hungry curiosity to explore what was possible from my own two hands. Bread humbles, inspires, comforts, and nourishes. And it’s something I just keep doing. It has drawn me closer to friends and connected me with strangers around the world. Somewhere along the way, it has reassured me that I’m OK—no, more than OK—pretty darn good at it, and, more importantly, really good at being me.

I’ve spent four decades loving eating the stuff. I plan on spending another four making it. And, with a little discipline, I’m going to do my darndest to type about it here every now and then.