Quarantine: Day 80

It’s been a minute… unintentional, but still incredibly long since I was on here. It feels like life is moving at a glacial pace and somehow big changes are happening every day, hour, minute. Most of those changes I’m not ready to share here, but it feels good to know the world is continuing to move. It reminds me of my time as a white-water instructor. While the surface may look calm, you never know what’s underneath and while I don’t envision being swept up in my own undertow it can feel like that at times.

How many emotions and feelings are tied to quarantine and how many have been there the whole time. Is quarantine the cause or is it a magnifying glass? I don’t believe emotions are ever born of nothing. It’s never a fight about the dishes, it’s about not feeling supported as a whole. It’s not a fight about your boyfriend having “too many” female friends, it’s about you not feeling secure and loved in your relationship. There’s always a deeper level and I push myself to continuously dig into introspection.

As someone with a slightly impulsive personality (read: all my tattoos are born of less than 5 hours of forethought) the slower pace of decision making, learning to respond instead of reacting, has felt like the softest bed to land on. Being on the verge of steps I’ve been considering for over a year has left me with some feelings of impatience, but also an immense comfort. I know what I’m doing and I’m happy to do it. Big decisions are never easy, but often are the ones that define our lives.

I spent the past year weighing the thoughts of everyone around me and using this ‘research’ to influence and maybe even determine how I felt about a situation. When your family and circle of friends say one thing it can feel like swimming upstream to choose a different path. And may even put you in the line of fire of the people you trust and love the most. Learning to prioritize my own voice, heart, and wants has made all the difference. It’s my life to live and I cannot spend it thinking of the needs of others (I’ll have plenty of that to do when I’m a mother, right?).

You cannot base your emotions on the emotions of others. You cannot live your life to make someone else happy. Your emotions are valid and honest and real. They are never an “over-emotion” because they are exactly what they are, mean, and feel to you. Embrace them, reflect on them, challenge them, and accept them.

Quarantine: Day 65

Paragraph: Written.

Paragraph: Deleted.

Wash.

Rinse.

Repeat.

That’s been the feeling lately. I usually keep personal frustrations and struggles off of the blog until I feel like I have some clarity. Mostly because I don’t want this to become a space where I lament and you all listen, like some egalitarian therapist office. That’s not the purpose of this blog, it’s not a record of my personal growth (although, in many ways it’s similar).

I’ve spoken about my anxiety on here before and … truly I don’t know where that sentence was going. And that’s really frustrating for me. Quarantine has made me feel more and more like I’m in a box. Being literally confined to a small space has made my mind feel the same way. I wish I had a big revelation to share with you. I wish there was a magic number of sourdough loaves I could bake or miles I could run to make myself feel better. Maybe there is. Maybe that number is too large to be feasible. Maybe it’s this city. Maybe city-living has become too much for this country girl. Maybe it’s love. Maybe it’s strained friendships.

Lately, I’ve found myself being the support person for everyone around me and it’s made me feel like I can’t actually be upset about quarantine or personal questions and struggles I’m having. I have friends going through break-ups that I want to be there for, so how can I go to them for my own support? Through my attempts to be positive, it feels like I’ve excluded myself from the ability to share a lot of the feelings I’ve been feeling, deeply.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a checklist that you could scroll through, answer yes or no to each item, and receive the perfect path to take? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could turn off questions or emotions that you don’t like coming up? But as a human and not a computer program we don’t have that ability. I almost wrote “we don’t have that luxury” but what a gross sentence. To view our struggles, free will, options, and opportunities as a burden?

It seems that every time I think I’ve hit the low of the quarantine, another low comes along. I’m not sure exactly what it was about today, but my mood just would not click. I worked out, I went on a long walk in the fresh air (breathed through a mask, of course), made coffee, made breakfast, made lunch, cleaned the apartment. And still, just felt like a dud. I felt frustrated and petulant, frenetic and exhausted, everything was off. Quarantine and so much time in a box have a weird way of making you feel safe and vulnerable all at once. Both suffocated and lonely.

This is one of the weird rides I have ever been on and it continues to get weirder and more difficult.

Weekly Loaf

Grams & Percentages

  • 500 g bread flour
  • 400 g water (80% hydration)
  • 118 g levain (23.6% inoculation)
  • 8 g salt (1.6%)

 

Timeline

  • 7:00 am — fed starter
  • 11:50 am — start autolyse
  • 1:00 pm — add levain with pinch over method (1:10h autolyse + 6:00h starter)
  • 1:30 pm — add salt
  • 2:00 pm — counter lamination
  • 3:15 pm — coil fold #1
  • 4:00 pm — coil fold #2
  • 5:00 pm — coil fold #3
  • 5:30 pm — coil fold #4
  • 6:00 pm — shape loaf and place in banneton for 12h retard
  • 6:00 am — preheat oven 450°
  • 7:00 am — bake, lid on 25m, lid off 45m
  • 7:25 am — remove loaf from cast iron, turn oven off, leave loaf in spoon-cracked [off] oven to dry out for 30m

 

Notes

  • This dough was for a takeover filmed for Mejuri (video at the bottom).
  • The dough was incredibly soft and light, even just at the adding stage salt.
  • I didn’t fret about any trapped air and the load ended up light with an even crumb throughout. I think in the past I’ve been over-attentive to potentially trapped air and popped fermentation bubbles.
  • I continue to be impressed with 80% hydration. Incredibly manageable and reliable.
  • Next loaf I want to try and get cleaner with the lid on/off times (aiming for 2/3 of total time with the lid on).

 

Temp Check

I take my temperature every day, literally and figuratively.  It’s how I cope, how I breathe in and out, and how I determine the way that I’m going to care for myself over the course of the new day. Sometimes self-care is staying in bed all day, sometimes it’s a bath, sometimes it’s a run. Yesterday’s self-care looked like organizing the blog’s press and finessing the coding (with significant assistance from my code-literate fiancé — first time I’ve used that word on here… 🥰).

So how are you doing? What’s your temperature?  Today mine is normal, although I have a slight cough that’s likely a result of the change of season I’m witnessing from my window. I’m worried about my family. My parents are both in high-risk groups and both essential personnel, meaning they haven’t stopped going to work. My mother, brother, and sister-in-law are in medicine and on the front-lines of Covid-19. My niece is less than four months old, I think about her every day.

I’ve prioritized pausing and allowing myself to feel everything that I am feeling. Despite being on day 45 of quarantine it is not ‘business as usual’. Nothing about this situation is usual. Letting myself feel concerned is part of how I am caring for myself.

A few things that are helping …

 

The Long Walk to Our Social [Distancing] Club

The only time I am venturing outside of my apartment lately is for trips to the grocery store. I pick moments when there are the fewest number of people out, wear my face mask, and embrace the moment of fresh air.

This past weekend I extended my outside-of-the-apartment-time by two blocks in order to ‘visit’ with friends. I buzzed their apartment, left gifts of sourdough starter and a half loaf of freshly baked bread on their stoop, and stood over six feet away when waving hello and exchanging pleasantries.

The meeting lasted only a few moments before walking back to my own apartment and another three days of lockdown (until the next grocery trip), but was a reminder of the normalcy that still exists out in the world. Covid-19 has been incredibly isolating, but seeing friends, albeit not seeing their faces, has made for a few moments of comradery and feeling like there is an end in sight.

 

Weekly Loaf

 

Grams & Percentages

  • 500 g flour (275 g bread, 175 g WW, 50 g spelt)
  • 400 g water (80% hydration)
  • 100 g levain (20% inoculation)
  • 10 g salt (2%)

 

Timeline

  • 7:30 am — fed starter
  • 12:30 pm — start autolyse
  • 2:00 pm — add levain (1:30h autolyse + 6:30h starter)
  • 2:30 pm — add salt
  • 3:00 pm — counter lamination
  • 4:00 pm — coil fold #1
  • 4:45 pm — coil fold #2
  • 5:30 pm — coil fold #3
  • 6:00 pm — shape loaf and place in banneton for 2h retard
  • 7:00 pm — preheat oven 450°
  • 8:00 pm — bake, lid on, 25m
  • 9:00 pm — remove loaf from cast iron, turn oven off, leave loaf in spoon-cracked [off] oven to dry out for 30m

 

Notes

  • The goal for this week’s loaf was a very open crumb, which I’m overall happy with. I would like to see more evenness, but I’m happy that all the airiness isn’t on the top/side of the loaf.
  • 80% hydration makes an incredibly manageable and reliable dough. It’s a perfect hydration to begin learning to bake by feel, letting the dough be your guide.
  • Very happy with the little ear action. Increasing the steam time (from 15m to 25m) aided this.
  • The loaf itself was tender, with a nice chew and relatively blonde crust (easily could have done another 10-20 in the oven).
  • Flavor was pretty profound, considering the retard was so much shorter than I typically do.
  • Thank you to Dan Larn for the scoring tutelage.  And thank you to Kristen for the lamination technique.

 

make believe: a quiet quarantine


I’m currently on day seven of social distancing. With COVID-19 raging across the United States and examples of the extreme circumstances in other countries, I’ve made the decision to distance myself from the New York City society. I have ventured out a handful of times over the past week for groceries, and one late night ice cream run, but otherwise are staying inside. I was laid off from my full time job earlier this week (a side-effect of the virus) so I’ve been spending lots of time with the cats in our petite 750 sq ft apartment.

While this week has been difficult, especially considering my new ‘unemployed’ status, it has developed into an opportunity for deep reflection, introspection, and connection. As I wrote on my IG, I’ve been doing a lot of journaling lately. My greatest self discovery is that while I am scared to be unemployed it doesn’t make me unhappy. In fact, the result has been quite the opposite. I struggled to sleep the first few nights, but as my new life began to unfold (a new interview, a potential nannying position, a positional virtual doula client) I found myself feeling more and more peaceful. Friends have even said that over the past few days I’ve seemed more ‘relaxed’ and ‘quiet’. I feel like I’ve lived the previous several years in a frenetic, fussy state and I’m finally resting.

My hope is that isolation during this virus (whether chosen by your or by your city/country) has granted you a few moments of peace. Time to be quiet with yourself or with your family.

 

Here are a few things to make your days inside feel a little more like a choice and less like an emergency mandate:

a boost to your cellular nutrition.

somewhere to donate if you have a little extra.

something cozy to slip into post-bath.

a gentle place to sit and reflect.

a little fuel for a fiery night in with your someone special.

this little light with a big scent.

a new place to feel productive.

 

 

On Nourishing: Caring for Yourself During a Quarantine

 

I feel like I have seen dozens of posts like this go up on the past week, so was hesitant to create my own. However, something about several of the blog posts I’ve read regarding self-care over this quarantine don’t sound like self-care to me. They sound like work. They sound overwhelming.

So I wanted to write a little something to you, a person who, like me, is probably feeling overwhelmed right now. And what I want to convey is this: Don’t take on 15 new ‘self-care’, ‘make your life better’ tasks during this time. Your life doesn’t need more complexity, stress, or expectations right now. Most of us are working from home, newly unemployed, worried about family members’ and friends’ health, and worried about our own health. Taking on a new, demanding schedule of working out and meditation and every stereotypical wellness tip will not reduce your anxiety, though it may distract you from it.

Below you aren’t going to find a ‘to-do’ list or a 10-step action plan toward easing your anxieties, because I don’t know what [that] means for you. You deserve a rubric that is dynamic and customized for yourself, and who knows you better than you?

What I suggest is something simpler, like giving yourself a soft place to land or filling your home with a calming scent. Don’t start a new habit, rediscover an old one. Journal, get introspective and ask yourself when you felt peaceful in the past. Use the past to inform your future and commodity forgotten hobbies into current comforts.

 

“Once stress escalates, it becomes tougher to let it go.”

Tamar Chansky, anxiety expert & clinical psychologist

 

Caring for yourself, fully, takes more than a bubble bath and a yoga class. It takes boundaries. Working from home can create a grey area between ‘work time’ and ‘home time’.  As someone who worked from home for over a year and a half, I can tell you that it’s easy to skip your lunch break and work through, or to work past COB. When your cell phone becomes your work phone it can be like carrying your desk in your pocket. Set boundaries with yourself and within your professional relationships. Learn to say ‘no’, learn to love your limits. During this time of pandemic and cortisol-increasing media, it’s important to respect your limitations. Now is not the time to see how fast and how far you can push yourself. Just as important as teaching yourself to work, use this time to teach yourself to rest.

Slow down and try to embrace the ebbs and flows of life confined to your home space. I’m working on accepting the fact that my kitchen will never be fully at rest, but rather always in flux during this time. Because caring for and loving on myself looks like playing, fermenting, and baking in the kitchen. It looks like waking up a little earlier than the rest of the home to sit quietly in the sun, with no obligation. Find your tiny moment, forgotten past time, or pick one new project during this time to be your space to prioritize yourself.

And, above all, be gentle with yourself because you are doing the best that you can.