Oh, where to begin? I said I was taking a couple weeks off, and it ended up being more like a couple months. And those couple months have been quite the whirlwind, to say the least. I won’t take all day to belabor every detail here, but here’s the abbreviated version: Life got in the way.
I told myself I’d never let life get in the way of the blog. It’s my passion, I said, I’ll always find time for it. Well, as it turns out, sometimes you get sucked so far into ~real actual life~ that, yes, even your passions fall by the wayside. For me, the past few months of real actual life haven’t been the most pleasant, but they have taught me some extraordinary lessons. Let’s go over those, shall we?
1) Literally no paycheck—and I mean no paycheck—is worth sacrificing your sanity over. Those of you who’ve been friends with me for a while know that I’ve had far more than my fair share of part-time jobs. I have this disease where I start a new one with the best of intentions, thinking that surely this will be the one that’s better than all the others, and then a couple months down the line, I realize that it’s still a part-time job and I’m still not happy. At first I attributed my dissatisfaction to the idea that I might just hate working, but then I realized that I actually love working on lots and lots of things.
I could spend all day in the kitchen, testing and re-testing the same damn recipe that just won’t work quite right. I know a lot of people (*cough* mom) who would view that as an absolutely miserable job. I could also spend all day drafting and re-drafting blog posts like this one, or editing photos, or writing about farmer’s markets, or writing about anything, really… The list goes on. The thing I realized, then, is that the problem isn’t working—the problem is that I’ve never had a job that suited me.
I’ve always said that everyone should be required to work in retail and restaurants so they know just how taxing the service industry can be. I stand by that statement; I’ve spent the past 4 years in the service industry and I can honestly say that the experience has given me so much respect for people who are really, really, really good at waiting tables or bartending or barista-ing or selling shoes. It’s, like, seriously really freakin’ hard, you guys. And it just wasn’t for me.
I left my serving job just this past week, and it was like a weight had lifted off my shoulders. Yes, I had been making exorbitant amounts of money as a server, and no, I don’t know how I’m going to supplement that income now. Also, no, I don’t really care that much about the money at this particular moment. I recognize that my ability to say that is a luxury that a lot of people don’t have, and I’m very lucky to be able to take this time off.
But if you’re like I was, and you’re pushing yourself far past your mental, emotional, or physical limits because you think it’s worth the money, I’m here to tell you to reconsider. Love yourself and put yourself first. Someday there’ll be a job that doesn’t make you want to absolutely lose your marbles. Start looking for that one instead.
2) Post-grad life is weird and foreign and hard and literally everyone is just faking their way through it. I finished undergrad at the end of June (whoop!) and immediately started comparing myself to all of my peers. So many of the people I graduated with sailed right into full-time jobs, some of them with their dream companies, some of them in palatial locations clear across the country; I, by contrast, moved back in with my parents, continued waiting tables, and… that’s about it. The thing that it took me 2 months to figure out, though, is that my route is also okay, and it’s probably the more common of the two.
If you just graduated, or if you’re nearing graduation and starting to panic about finding a job and paying your loans and just generally adulting, remember it’s going to be okay. You will find a job. You will not live in your parents’ basement until you’re 40 (although I’m sure my mom would be absolutely ecstatic if I told her that was my plan). Everything will fall into place in due time. And if you don’t find your dream job right out of the gate, that’s okay. Hardly anyone does. And most importantly, hardly anyone knows what they’re actually doing after they graduate. They’re all just faking it. So you can fake it too. I believe in you.
3) Some days, you have to be your own hero. This part is the most recent and the hardest to talk about. It’s also not related to food at all, but y’all know this blog is a safe haven for talk about mental wellness, so here goes. I’ve blogged about my anxiety before, but never to this super-mega-real extent. Long-time FW readers (or friends) know that I’ve dealt with panic disorder since I was a tiny child. I was prescribed an SSRI at the ripe age of 5, and continued with that same antidepressant in varying doses until I was 19. Getting off of it was awful, but it wasn’t really working anymore and I was determined to make my life my own.
For years, I felt great. I was happy, functional, and more or less panic-free. Then, once everything started getting real and I started getting close to graduating, I started getting anxious again. It began as a manageable issue and grew into one that I felt I could no longer handle on my own. I went back to the doctor and asked for the same SSRI I’d been on, but they pushed a newer, “less-side-effect-heavy” pill on me and I relented in the hopes that my second experience would be better than the first.
Exactly six hours after I took my first dose, I was in hell. I woke up at 2 AM with all of my limbs tingling as though they’d been beaten. Drenched in cold sweat, I ran to the bathroom and sat for an hour with waves of sharp nausea coursing through my whole body. I’m fortunate to have had Kyle with me, or I would have been convinced that I was actually dying. I went back to the bedroom, shaking so violently I was almost convulsing, and tried to will myself back to sleep.
(SIDE NOTE: Antidepressants do not, by any means, have this effect on everyone. Most of them wouldn’t even have this effect on me. If you think you might need medication to help you, do not be afraid or ashamed. The majority of cases do not happen like this one, and meds can do a lot of really magical things for a lot of people.)
It’s been exactly a week since that happened, and while my physical symptoms have disappeared, I’m still dealing with the mental repercussions. The experience was so jarring that I’ve had more earth-shattering panic attacks in the past seven days than I had in months before. I’ve struggled with leaving the house, with sleeping, with being alone, and even with taking my dogs for a walk. It’s been the most taxing week of my life, but guess what? (Of course I’m going to spin this into a positive lesson, y’all. I didn’t start a blog to complain.)
This week made me infinitely stronger. It reminded me that, even when I feel like I’m at my absolute weakest, I am capable of surmounting any obstacle that stands in my way. Looking back on the past few days, I’ve already made way more progress than I could have imagined when all of this began. On days when I’m struggling with being alone, I look at all of my successes and remember that being by myself isn’t such a bad thing. After all, I’m my biggest advocate. So if you’re going through the ringer too, don’t forget to love yourself. You’ve got this.
Right now, I’m focusing on self-care and just slowing down. It’s easy to get stressed out when you’ve got a ton of things bombarding you all at once and you’re still working on the art of balance. (See my previous post—Blueberry, Apricot & Almond Overnight Oats + The Art of Balance—for more thoughts on this.) Don’t be afraid to take a day for yourself, to do the things that make you feel whole and joyful and renewed. That’s what the next few weeks on the blog will be all about.
How lucky, then, that the recipe I’m sharing with you today is the absolute picture of comfort and slow living. Thinking about this recipe conjures up images of overcast Sunday mornings spent lingering in the kitchen over a steaming mug of coffee. (Which kind of makes me sad, because I’ve cut out all caffeine until further notice. So, alternatively, a steaming mug of herbal tea, or any other warm beverage of your choice.)
I’d wanted to make a Dutch baby for a long time but was always intimidated by them. The shape! The puff! The fluffy-middle-crispy-edged perfection! But I’m here to tell you that they’re not nearly as scary as you might think. You do need a cast-iron pan, yes, but if you don’t have one of those already, I highly recommend investing in one. It’s the single most useful tool I have in my kitchen, other than my favorite knife.
So preheat your oven, fire up the coffee maker (or tea kettle), and get ready, because we’re slowing down, y’all.
Whole Wheat Blueberry Dutch Baby
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup milk*
- 2 eggs
- 2 Tbsp sugar*
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1/2 pint blueberries
- Combine flour, milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon in a blender or food processor. Blend for 30 seconds, or until well-combined. Allow batter to rest at room temperature for 20–25 minutes.
- Place a 10″ cast iron skillet in the oven and preheat to 425°F, allowing the skillet to come up to temperature with the oven.
- Once the oven and skillet are preheated, remove the skillet from the oven and add the butter. Swirl so the butter coats the bottom and all sides of the skillet. Be sure to coat the edges all the way up to the top.
- Add the blueberries to the bottom of the skillet in a single layer. Pour in the batter and swirl to coat all sides. Again, be sure to coat the edges all the way up to the top.
- Bake for 15–20 minutes, or until the edges and center of the Dutch baby have risen spectacularly. (You’ll know when it happens.) Serve with maple syrup and powdered sugar, if desired.
- I have only tested this recipe with whole milk. It would probably work with nondairy milk, but I can’t say for sure.
- I typically use coconut sugar because it has a lower glycemic index than regular granulated sugar, but it tastes the same. You can also sub out regular granulated sugar, cane sugar, or maybe even brown sugar, although I haven’t tested it that way.