My husband often says I often put myself in these situations that I dread, but it’s not that I dread them, it’s that what initially sounded like an awesome idea quickly turns to an anxiety fueled countdown to the event. So I guess I can see why he may be a little confused, but I always follow through and end up glad I didn’t bail. Even knowing about this pattern I’ve established for myself, I continue to do it because I feel that’s where the growth is, doing the things that we fear or make us anxious. If I’m uncomfortable, something good is happening, I don’t think we grow too much when we walk into situations we already know we can handle or avoid the ones we don’t think we can. I’ve never regretted any of these situations, I always feel like I’ve bettered myself or gained something in some way. Of course I have refined my skills to know when I’m not looking forward to something because of fear or if I’m just really not looking forward to it, there is a difference and it’s important to recognize which it is. I just wish I could get past the dread that leads up to it but I never let myself bail when it’s fear-based dread, that’s my rule. This may sound like I’ve overcome some major fears but it’s usually much smaller victories the anxiety sufferers can probably relate to and the most recent one came to me in the form of a stinky sourdough starter.

A friend I haven’t communicated with regularly in some time messaged me out of the blue asking me if I’d like some sourdough starter that he made and has been using for fresh bread for several months. I was just so tickled that he had thought of me after I’ve drifted off into my vegan-y world for the last couple years that I had to say yes even though I knew nothing about making sourdough other than it seemed to be more high maintenance than other breads. That’s what makes sourdough bread so deliciously special. I only had two bread baking experiences in my life which were also anxiety riddled but turned out way better than I was expecting, even so, as soon as I said yes, my doubts came flooding in, as they always do. I worried I wouldn’t know how to bake the bread, or remember to feed the starter, or that I wouldn’t recognize when I’ve inevitably killed the starter, the list of concerns went on far too long for such a simple thing. I’ve reassured myself that since I’ve managed to keep my recent new indoor plant purchases alive for a few months, and Julian still seemed to be doing okay after 11 1/2 years, I thought I could maybe manage to feed my starter once a week and find it a suitable babysitter when we’re out of town in exchange for fresh baked bread. Hopefully.

My friend came over with the starter and some very simple, and honestly quite vague, instructions and I was excited to get started. He brought it over on feeding day so I was able to break off half to prepare for baking right away. Of course baking bread is like a 24 hour event but I was excited that I could start the process right then. As I’m typing this, my dough is sitting out to rise. I was using my friend’s vague instructions and made the mistake of googling for more specifics in the meantime. This sounds like a good idea, right, I mean more information means better results, no? No, it doesn’t. I’ve been finding the more I’ve been reading about the right way to do things, especially baking, my results get less impressive. I know folks that love to spend their days researching til the ends of time and getting down all the fine details of the process and I know others that couldn’t be bothered with that and wing everything. I am somewhere in between. Generally I like to scan for the general concept, wing it, and then pour over ever piece of information available when it went terribly wrong. But often, I feel like winging it works out the best for me and it’s only recently when I’ve been trying to be more exact and precise about things like baking, I’ve had less impressive results. Research and information is great, but nothing trumps intuition and actual experience. Some of the folks I know that are the most well-researched aren’t able to execute. What good is all that knowledge if you can’t actually do it?

So while my dough is rising, I’m trying to block out the fact I may have done it differently than what I’m reading here and reminding myself that even ugly, misshapen fresh out of the oven bread is still better than store bought. Besides, it’s just bread, it doesn’t really matter.