The Gratitude Project

Sometimes we just need to be kneaded…

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

It’s November of 2020 and the challenges of distance learning in the midst of a global pandemic are weighing heavily on all of us. As educators, it is essential to have self-care practices and scheduled time to recharge so that we can continue to bring our best selves to the important work we do each day.

Grateful.Thankful.Blessed

I think about the people who have touched my life in the last several months and spend some time reflecting and being grateful for one person each day.
Although working from home is not ideal, it does have some added benefits. One of those benefits is the opportunity to build new habits and re-create my morning routine. I still wake up around 5:00 each morning, but instead of rushing around the house to get everything ready, I am intentional about making time in my morning for me. Since I began working to establish these new habits, I feel so much more relaxed and ready to take on my day.

While my coffee is brewing I mix 2 1/2 teaspoons of yeast in warm water and set it aside. I add 1 1/4 cups of water, 1/4 cup oil and 1/4 cup honey to my mixing bowl. Then I level off 3 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour, add a teaspoon of salt and gently pour in the yeast. While the mixer does the tough work of combining the dough, I preheat the oven to warm up the stove and kitchen so my bread will more easily rise. When the ingredients are combined, I roll out the sticky ball of dough onto a lightly floured counter and begin to fold and press, fold and press, fold and press. While my hands work in a steady rhythm pressing the dough into the counter, I allow my mind to wander and begin to think about who I am making this loaf of bread for. I think about the people who have touched my life in the last several months and spend some time reflecting and being grateful for one person each day.

Let it Rise

After a few intentional minutes of my morning spent on gratitude, I shape the dough into a ball, place it in a bowl on the stove and cover it. During the first rise, I take time to read, TO READ! I used to try and read before I went to bed and I would ALWAYS fall asleep after only a few pages. Reading, something I love to do, was impossible to fit in to my busy schedule during the school year. I love that I am committed to reading each day. It helps me feel human. 45 minutes later the beep of the timer forces me to mark my place and put my book back on the shelf so I can punch down the bread, shape it and place it in the pan to rise again. During the second rise I do whatever needs to be done before beginning my work day. Exercise, organize, energize. The time flies by and all of a sudden the it’s time to put the bread in the oven.

Bake Me Happy

350 degrees for 40 minutes. There is so much research out there about gratitude practices and how they can increase your happiness. I didn’t measure my happiness before I began this exercise in gratitude, but I know that it is making a difference. Each afternoon I deliver the freshly baked loaf of bread to a friend, co-worker, aquaintance or stranger. And each afternoon I am blessed by the reaction and connection made. It’s not really about the bread at all, it’s more about the process. Perhaps now more than ever, we all need to feel connected. I am kneading that connection one loaf at a time. I just hope that as this bread is broken, a hint of gratitude will fill the air.

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