I feel like a new person. Moving from Washington Heights to Harlem is one of the greatest things to happen to me. If you’ve followed along with the trials and tribulations of my last year, you know that my former location really tested my tolerance threshold.
It’s amazing what the human body can endure isn’t it? Abuse, heartbreak, disease, unsatisfying situations... Tolerance is one of those ‘muscles’ that must be stretched, strengthened, and fed just like the ‘muscles’ of gratitude and kindness. (Also just like the muscles underneath our skin that are attached to our bones!) Most often, we’re given a choice - will we act out of gratitude or greediness? Kindness or hostility?
Tolerance is slightly different. It’s not always measured in an either/or scenario. I think of tolerance like it's a load of bricks we’ve been given to carry. We can strengthen our resolve by taking on more and more. We can feed our tolerance by balancing out the notsogreat things we’ve been tasked to carry with the beautiful and lovely things we take on. Things like healthy relationships, rewarding vocations, and the raising of children or pets. And lastly, we stretch our tolerance muscles by saying Yes to things again and again until we know deep in our hearts that a No is the next healthiest answer.
I think that last bit was the most important part for me in this transition. A friend that I don’t see very often just recently asked why I was moving again. She had commented on a social media post about my new home. My answer was, “I had to. The other place was shattering my spirit. Literally.” That sounds dramatic, I know.
The shattering of a spirit is no small thing. It happens slowly. It’s not a clean definite break. During the last year I was complainful, negative, irritable, fault-finding, and basically no fun to be around.
Those words seem small, as I reread them, but when your spirit is being chipped away gradually, you’re not aware of the damage being done. If you are a regular reader of All Good Things or if you know me at all, I haven’t been myself.
Well, friends, I’m back. Back to being a light bringer, lantern bearer, cheerleader, love spreading annoyingly positive human. I have a T-shirt that I’ve loved for years. It says I Love My Life. I’ve reached for it so many times this past year and I couldn’t bring myself to put it on. Because of my living situation, I couldn’t tolerate advertising an untruth.
I woke up this morning and it was the first thing I grabbed. I put my load of bricks down. I’m working to spackle my spirit back together with thoughts of waking up to sunlit mornings and doing my job with the aid of an elevator. The thing that’s healing my spirit the most is the thought of sharing my new space with friends and family. There are dinner parties, game nights and holiday events in my future. My old home denied me the opportunity to do what I do best - host the people I love!
How’s your tolerance muscle these days? Are you carrying too many bricks of unhealthy relationships, unrewarding jobs, behavior that is not serving your overall wellness? Are the Yeses stacking up pushing you nearly to the breaking point? Take care, my friends. Nurture your spirits, protect your minds, love your bodies.
The recipe I’m sharing this week is the very last thing I cooked in my old kitchen. I wanted to go out with a bang so I baked bread for friends. You know what I love about this recipe? Flour, water, yeast, and sugar are incredibly strong ingredients. They can tolerate recipe adaptations, full on mistakes, and they can support the addition of wacky ingredients. I mean, who puts quinoa in a loaf of bread? Luckily, Alexandra Stafford of Alexandra's Kitchen figured that one out. The quinoa and golden flax seeds in this bread are full of protein and omega 3’s - good stuff to heal your muscles underneath the skin attached to our bones! And everybody knows that bread and butter (and jam!) heals the spirit.
Quinoa And Flax Toasting Bread
- from Alexandra's Kitchen
(I nicknamed it 'Birdseed Bread.')
- 6 cups (768 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2½ teaspoons instant yeast
- 3/4 cup red quinoa
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons flax seed
- 3 cups lukewarm water, made my combining 2.25 cups cold water with .75 cups boiling water
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 to 3 tablespoons softened butter
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, and instant yeast. Add quinoa and flax seeds and toss to coat. Add the water followed by the oil. Using a rubber spatula, mix until the flour is absorbed and the ingredients form a sticky dough ball.
- Cover bowl with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot* to rise for 1½ to 2 hours or until the dough has doubled in bulk.
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Grease two loaf pans with the softened butter—be generous. (I used nonstick spray and regret it - my loaves were light blonde and chewy instead of light brown and crispy. Use the butter!!!) Using two forks, deflate the dough by releasing it from the sides of the bowl and pulling it towards the center. Rotate the bowl quarter turns as you deflate, turning the mass into a rough ball as you bring it towards the center.
- Using your two forks and working from the center out, separate the dough into two equal halves. Use the forks to lift each half of dough into the prepared pans. If the dough is too wet to transfer with forks, lightly grease your hands with butter or oil, then transfer each half to bowls. Let the dough rise for 20 to 30 minutes on the countertop near the oven (or other warm, draft-free spot) or until the top of the dough just crowns the rim of the pans.
- Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden all around. Remove bowls from oven and turn loaves out onto cooling racks. If the loaves look pale or feel soft, return them to their pans, and bake 5 minutes longer. Remove from oven, turn out onto cooling rack, and let cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting.