Baking Season Begins … With Humble Pie

November 20, 2013 in It is what it is - opinion column | Comments (0)


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When I lived in San Francisco, every year right around this time it began. Baking season. I grew up as the baker in the family, inheriting both an innate skill set as well as complete recipe box with instructions from the Brooks family’s master baker, my Mom-Mom Frieda.

Whether banana bread (my signature baked good), coffee cake (a recipe that came from Belarus) or one of the myriad cookie options (pinwheel, peppermint bark, saffron/cardamom or the good old stand by chocolate chip) my oven generally got fired up in the week or two before Thanksgiving and glowed merrily through the winter months.

Granted, part of that was functional – 1926 apartment building with mediocre heating was the perfect foil for an almost always on oven and toasty apartment – but it also was something about the comforting aroma that would waft through my apartment and down the hallway.

There was one type of baked good, though, that I never really took to, and that was pie. I tried a few times but could never really get the crust right, nor the filling to crust ratio. Yet this year as I muse on the gathering of ingredients to stock the pantry for my winter baking fest, it feels most appropriate that it begin with pie … of the humble variety.

You see, the truth is that in the last couple of weeks I’ve not been myself. I’ve been stressed … really stressed … something about leaping from a 20 year career and diving into an entirely fresh city, community and career path, I suppose. While there have been moments in the last 9 months where stress certainly raised its head and got to me, the last couple of weeks reached a higher level. I know why that is. I’ve been neglecting the crucial things that I know are imperative for my sanity – regular exercise, ample sleep. More importantly, when I began to feel thoughts of worry or doubt arise, instead of connecting with one of the many wonderful people by whom I’m surrounded and voicing my thoughts, asking for advice or insight, I kept mum. The result, bottling up of tightly wound energy. In these states it’s never the big things that set one off. It’s always something small – getting stuck at a red light, spilling coffee on pants during a drive to work, burning your hand getting something from the oven or, in my case, a snafu on the work site of my soon-to-open business.

The “what” of the occurrence isn’t the point here so will not belabor. The point is that something happened and I reacted … badly. Now we all get stressed, I’m no exception to that, and occasionally that comes out a bit forcefully; but here’s the thing – no matter what happens it is entirely inappropriate to take it out on someone else. Especially when that someone else is a person who has been 350% supportive, going above and beyond the call of duty, extending effort out of their way to help.

Then I made it worse. I took to Facebook to voice my feelings, focusing mostly on how I was striving to take an enlightened approach … realizing that in the big picture what happened wasn’t a big deal and that I should breathe through it. Quite a few people responded that they appreciated my honesty … but in hindsight (which, thankfully, didn’t take that much distance to see) I realized that while the short term reaction may have been not okay but understandable, the more public airing was entirely, completely and utterly inappropriate. And it was wrong. Just wrong.

I deleted both posts related to the topic and reached out to apologize to the folks I’d insulted.

That’s when I found out that someone else had seen the posts and rather than reaching out to me with a “You know, Cathy, that was out of line…” they apprised the folks I’d insulted about the posts. These folks hadn’t seen the FB posts and so what had already been bad was made much worse.

At first I was a bit peeve that this person took it upon themselves to forward the information without addressing it with me first, but the truth is that I got entirely what I deserved on this. I was wrong to have overreacted, although we’re all human and sometimes those things happen. To have taken it the step further though was wrong. Just wrong.

It’s not as though I haven’t put my foot squarely in my mouth before. When one operates at a fairly high level of transparency with a minimal filter, this can occur. I’ve always prided myself, though, in trying to always acknowledge when I was wrong, make amends where need be and then not make the mistake again. This lesson, however, carries a lot more weight for me. It drives home one of the core reasons I walked away from the tech industry in the first place – the imperative of being present and aware of the people around me, how my actions and words impact others and most of all severing the needless digital respiratory system on which so many of us … I … seem to rely daily for sustenance and instead breathe properly and present-ly.

Today I feel a change has arrived in the way I view these platforms, how I see their value for sharing information and connecting and most of all the imperative of remembering why it is that I am now on the path on which I walk.


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