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My intention for this post was to chronicle my first (delicious! mouthwatering! miraculous!) attempt at homemade bread.

There’s something deeply appealing about the beginnings of a yeasty dough, so alive and full of promise. I love the feel of supple and pliable dough as I coax it to life, on its way to becoming something that can sustain me and ease my hunger.

It’s kind of romantic.

As the bread baked in the oven, my tiny city kitchen smelled like a French bakery. And the finished product looked awesomely beautiful.


And yet, it was a disaster.

The yeast never properly bloomed with life, the dough felt too dry, and the fully baked bread was so dense and heavy I could have done bicep curls with it. The recipe proclaimed it foolproof. I proclaim it a recipe of lies.

But, of course, I will try again. When I am passionate about learning something new, I give it a laser-like focus, repeating it over and over again until I can do it with my eyes closed.

I tried to remember this as my colleagues and I went through a course on effectively communicating this week. Public speaking is far out of my comfort zone, but I viewed it as a challenge to simply surrender to feeling vulnerable. Given a number of exercises to practice in front of each other, we were videotaped so we could see what we looked and sounded like. It felt uncomfortable and strange and occasionally mortifying, and now I’m hyperaware of every “umm” and “like” and “and so” that fills my nervous speech.


Without the attempt, without the repeating of the thing that makes you uncomfortable again and again, progress will not take its rightful place in your life. The effort—allowing yourself to begin somewhere—is an act of courage. It takes nerve to dig in and to try when every flaw is on display for you to see, but on the other side of the imperfection is growth.

Just like yeast needs to be fed water and sugar in order to bloom, we must be fortified with bravery and daring and guts to go out into the world and have a go at the things that feel awkward and scary. We have to be willing to be bad at something in order to be great at it.

I now not only have more tools to effectively deliver a client presentation, I am armed to better communicate with people in my life. I am not perfect, but I am perfectly me, a person striving to be better than I was yesterday.

And so…I try. I try. And I try again.

But first, I need to look for another bread recipe.

Last week, I talked to my father after brunch as we walked through the city, our weekend ritual.  I lamented how busy I’ve been.

“The days are all running into each other, ” I said. “I feel like I’m missing my life.”

We say things like this in our lives. We ask others to bear witness to the feeling, though we know that they can’t fix it. We look for clues to make it better, for someone to give us the rhythm to the song of our lives, for an offering of keys to unlock the door to the life that we know is waiting for us.

But we know that no one can repair the thing that we cannot even name. No one can create our dream life. That is a job that only we can do for ourselves.

And yet, we wait.

This morning I had the “Today” show on the TV, as I do every morning. I use the show to time my morning; I know that by the time the local news comes on it’s 7:26 and if I haven’t put my contact lenses in yet, I’m running behind. I keep one ear on the stories as I get ready, so I’m always paying half attention as I get ready for work.

Today they reported a story on a People magazine article on Valerie Harper and her brain cancer diagnosis, and it got my full attention. I grew up watching her on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Rhoda”, and I’ve always been struck by how accessible she seemed. Maybe it was because we all watched her for so many years that she really was everyone’s best friend next door. For that reason, it was sad news that tugged at my heart, though her outlook seemed upbeat.

But, a cover line on the magazine stopped me, a quote on what the illness has taught her.

“Don’t miss your life.”

Two years ago, I wrote about finding myself at the crossroads and not knowing which way to turn. And though I’ve made a few changes, that  unsettled feeling remains. I feel like I’ve been marching in place for ages.

What I know is that now it’s time. It’s time to begin moving. Towards what I don’t know, but something is calling me. Something bigger than what I’ve settled for, some place where the dreams that I’ve long forgotten live, some field where magic exists – even if it is in my city where the streets are gritty and full of litter. It’s time to trust that goodness and grace will light my path, illuminating the door that I must open, where life lives.

And so, I take the first step.

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