Recently a good friend of mine left to go overseas with her husband and their two girls. Before she departed she asked both me and another girlfriend to babysit her sourdough starter. I really wasn’t too concerned about it- until I got the email. She sent links to multiple recipes and pages of step-by-step instructions on how to care for (aka not destroy) the starter. Right away, I started to sweat. Instead of feeling up to the challenge, I felt overwhelmed. Instead of feeling good about her trusting me with what she had worked so hard to maintain, I let myself feel inadequate and somehow even unworthy of the task. It was like being in high school chemistry again. Not good.
I recognize that this is a thing with me. And I know it goes down into the deepest parts of my being. I have a tendency to do what my therapist calls minimization and I know now that I do it all of the time. I’ve done it with my yoga practice, my music, my writing, the sourdough, the list goes on and on….it’s basically moving through life with this weird annoying voice that says “You really aren’t very good at that. You don’t really know what you’re doing or talking about. They’re going to find out you’re a fraud.” I know that I’m not the only one who struggles with this. Whatever it is you’re doing, it’s just not quite good enough. It’s not quite right. And then, to make it even more fun, when something “bad” happens in your life, it’s more than likely your own fault.
So I decided yesterday that instead of baking something sourdough, I’d go get my hair cut. Ten inches gone- just like that. I didn’t really realize until later in the day how much I needed it. I didn’t realize how much weight I’d been carrying around, how much I didn’t want to let go- of this past year, of losing my dad, of ecce losing its home. Afterwards, I just sat on my couch and cried.
Whenever I brought up the idea of cutting my hair to my daughter Ruby, her reaction was always the same- “Mama please don’t cut your hair. I love your long hair. PLEASE DON’T CUT IT!” She didn’t cry, but almost. For the last couple of weeks, I actually was listening to what she wanted. I felt stuck because I didn’t want to disappoint her. But guess what happened? I picked her up from school yesterday and when she saw me (after a double take) she ran as fast as she could towards me, with the biggest, sweetest smile on her face, yelling “I LOVE YOUR HAIR MAMA!”. I seriously almost lost it right there on the playground, surrounded by 6 year olds and backpacks.
I’m not sure what all of this is about exactly. Sourdough starter and a haircut. Maybe they’re not connected at all. But maybe they are. I can forgive myself for not always being perfect, for not always following through, for being unmotivated at times. And I can also give myself credit for making and adjusting to big changes (whether it be a haircut or something much bigger), for mustering up courage when I need it and for being willing to be vulnerable in my life. I think we all could use a little more forgiveness and a lot more credit, don’t you?
And to my dear friend- I’m sorry that I didn’t use your starter and bake something amazing from it. I’m not totally positive that I even kept it alive at this point. But I’m okay with that and I’m pretty sure you will be too.
Feeling a bit lighter,