How I Found My Creative Mojo in a Loaf of Bread
I needed a win.
I’d had a tough week—one defined by failure. Failure to book enough work to pay the bills. Failure to spend enough time developing a long-gestating creative project. Failure to be kind to myself throughout the whole ordeal. With the long Memorial Day weekend ahead of me, I knew I’d have at least three days to enjoy life and stop worrying about the future. But how would I spend it? Would I wake up early, sneak over to my desk, and force myself to churn something out? Would I use the extra headspace to retrace my professional missteps? Or would I actually, you know, enjoy it?
I’ve always had this bad habit of trying to cram creative productivity into days or weekends that are meant for relaxation. In my early twenties, I’d take staycations and, instead of wandering through the New York City streets discovering new bars, stores, and restaurants, or traveling to a new city or country, I’d hole up in my apartment with a creative goal. I’d need one song or one story or one business strategy completed before I returned to work. I needed something to show for the time. I know, I was a real party animal.
This past weekend, I felt myself slipping into that mindset, thinking about everything on my to-do list and strategizing how I’d dive back in on Tuesday. I was watching TV, but only God knows what was airing because I was so lost in my thoughts. I walked into the kitchen for a snack, and as I rummaged through the pantry, I saw a half-empty bag of gluten-free all-purpose flour.
The weekend prior, I’d attempted to bake a loaf of bread. It was a real shitshow. I used a glass loaf dish, which overcooked the bread. I let the dough rise for too long, and it literally spilled out of the dish while it was baking. And I greased the dish with oil instead of cooking spray, so I almost needed the jaws of life to get that damn loaf out of it. Once it was out, I realized I didn’t have a cooling rack. So, I sat it on top of a grease splatter cover. The upside of all this was that the bread tasted great. My presentation was just a little lacking.
In my messy first attempt at baking bread, I saw yet another failure. But I also saw an opportunity to rebound. Instead of trying to correct everything that had gone wrong in my workweek, I decided to take another shot at baking a loaf of bread. And this time, I’d throw in some cinnamon and raisins for a little extra flair.
I lost myself in the process, in mixing the dough, in cutting the strips of parchment paper, in practically emptying a can of PAM (just to be sure), in pulling the wrapping paper off of my new metal loaf pan and cooling rack. Even if this bread turned out terribly, I could at least spend a couple hours of the weekend thinking about something other than work.
But when I pulled that loaf out of the oven, and then out of the pan onto the cooling rack, I saw a perfect loaf. Symmetrically sized, golden brown, easy to remove without any sticking. And when we sliced into it, the taste was delicious—more flavorful and enjoyable than the previous week’s attempt. Finally, I’d won at something.
This was a moment for the Instagram Story and Facebook page. I called it my crowning domestic achievement, and it was. But it was also the greatest achievement of my week. That perfect little loaf of bread reenergized me; it reminded me that I’m not defined by my failures. That I can always bounce back. That I can find creativity in any aspect of my life.
High off the fumes of success, I went on to convert my old storage trunk into a filing cabinet. And I reinvented my Instagram aesthetic so that I could start using my account as an art project.
Who would’ve thought? To locate my missing mojo, I just needed to put down my laptop and pick up my hand mixer. Next on my domestic goal/mojo rejuvenation list…homemade pizza.