The Secret Ingredient

     The grocery lady’s eyes lit up as she surveyed my batch of items. Perceptively she inquired if I was on a mission to bake chocolate chip cookies. I smiled shyly and told her truthfully that I am a decent cook, but baking eludes me. Honestly, if faced with a baking 101 final exam, I would fail miserably. At that point, my new best friend leaned in and asked if I would like the secret to baking world-class cookies.

     Before I share the magical ingredient with you, here’s a bit of background. My friend, Carol (excellent cook and baker), gave me the recipe for “Salty Oats Oatmeal Cookies,” She adds chocolate chips, walnuts, craisins, and raisins. When Carol pops these out of the oven, the end result is round, crunchy, sweet, and salty, bits of heaven. Yum!

Chocolate Cookie Isolated On White Background

My goal is to learn how to master this recipe. So, in the still of an early sunny Saturday morning, I asked Alexa to play some sultry music, carefully assembled all the ingredients, collected the appropriate tools, including a hot pink spatula my friend Jeanette gifted me with (where would I be without my friends?) and after whispering up a little prayer, revisited what the lady at Walmart shared.

     Can you guess the secret ingredient? Okay, maybe you’re thinking it’s love, close, but that’s not it. Ready? Drum roll, please. What makes a cookie great is patience. You see, before learning the secret, my grocery lady friend confessed to zipping around the kitchen baking cookies for her grandchildren. Her goal being, “just get it done” until one day she tapped the breaks and performed the task mindfully.

     I don’t know about you, but I am often guilty of a “just get it done” mentality. I rush a task, mind elsewhere, and end up tripping over my own feet, sometimes literally.

     Let’s drill down on patience for a bit. First off, it’s considered a virtue, which of course, is a good thing showing high moral standards. Keep reading as there is more upside. For example, studies show patient people suffer less depression and negative emotions. They have more satisfying relationships due to the ability to be more empathic and forgiving. These individuals are less demanding and more understanding of the world around them. 

Patient people maintain a positive attitude making life’s speed bumps and curveballs easier to navigate and field. As I can attest, the ability to slow things down and not skimp on details is rewarded with a better end product.

Oh, about my “patient” baking experience. Adding the secret ingredient to the mix worked in a rather interesting way. When I accidentally splattered batter all over the backsplash of my countertop, refrigerator, and cabinets (yeah, I’m rather clumsy with a hand mixer), I laughed with abandon. Thanks to the Walmart grocery lady, my laid-back demeanor helped keep my cool as I buffed and polished the glass tiles and other affected areas. Final note: Not only did my cookies look and taste great (well, maybe not a good as Carol’s), but I enjoyed the process of being a messy but happy baker.

The Key to More Happiness is Water

Photo by Carol Stringer

While setting my coffee cup down on a coaster, I stopped midair, taking in the motivational inscription on it entitled “Advice from a Dragonfly.” The inspiration begins with the line “Spend time near the water.”

I’ve seen dragonflies zip in and around ponds, canals, and other forms of wetlands.  I get it. And it is not coincidental that I live in a cozy condo along Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway.

Photo by Carol Stringer

Wanting to discern precisely why humans, animals, and insects alike are so drawn to the water, I did some research. Ever heard of blue mind? Apparently, it’s a thing. According to marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols, it’s a “mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peacefulness, unity and a sense of general happiness with life in the moment.” Experiencing blue mind makes sense. Our brains are composed of 75% water, so no wonder we are enamored by flowing oceans, rivers, and streams.

Okay, ready for some geeky science stuff? Stay with me; this is interesting. According to scientists, the atmosphere near moving water contains elevated levels of negatively charged ions. Why is that important? Because these ions cause a brain reaction that emits the mood-enhancing serotonin helpful in lowering stress. Here’s another interesting fact, aquatic therapists are now treating PTSD, addiction, autism and anxiety disorders. And my favorite fun fact proclaimed by Nicols is one of our founding fathers, Ben Franklin, did much of his writing (yep, you guessed it) in the bathtub.

Establish Blue Mind

Okay, I realize not everyone can flit around water like a dragonfly or live alongside a body of water, or even spend a day at the beach. But do let this sink in; Nicols is spot-on when he states, blue mind is not going to be accomplished on Instagram.

So, make time to shut down all the screens, silence the chatter, log out and find some water, even if it’s a pond in the park or a fountain in front of city hall. Try getting creative. Any chance you can plan a day to go where the fish live, cast a line and perhaps catch a few? Or how about heading to the YMCA or gym with a pool and do some swimming.

Home Remedy

If all else fails, do what dear old Ben did. Fill your bathtub then slowly breathe in and breathe out as you contemplate the calming effect of water.

A quote by scientist Loren Eiseley neatly sums up the importance of this liquid elixor, “If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.”

Learning to Wait Thoughts on the Waiting Game

 

Last week was eventful. A close friend welcomed a new baby girl into the family while another dear friend said a final loving good-bye to her mother. What both events had in common was a period of waiting. Joyful anticipation built over the months as the new mom and her extended family prepared for the birth of a child. On the flip side, those who have experienced a loved one deal with a lingering illness know tremendous pain as those precious minutes slip away.

There are different types of waiting periods in life. Waiting to meet your soul mate, waiting for a house to sell, waiting for a cappuccino

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

at your favorite coffee shop, waiting for summer to begin and the list goes on and on.

In the past, I totally sucked at waiting fervently wishing I could fast-forward time. Perhaps that is a common ailment in our “I want it now,” world. True, some things are out of our control and waiting periods fall into that category. Over the years I’ve learned to utilize the wait time wisely and respect the process.

Whoever coined the phrase, “Good things come to those who wait,” had a point. For example, a few years ago one of my single clients (let’s call her Tami) was obsessed with finding a mate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She went through one of those “What’s wrong with me,” scenarios.  Tami was a beautiful hard working accountant but spending most of her waking hours at the office took a toll on her ability to converse about anything other than balance sheets and journal entries.

My suggestion involved reducing her working hours to make room for a hobby. Following through with this plan Tami enrolled in a number of gourmet cooking classes and even began blogging about vegetarian cuisine.

 

By busying herself with a hobby, and back-burnering her focus on waiting for “the one” to show up, she began feeling fulfilled outside of the office.

 

Oh, and did I mention Mr. Wonderful eventually surfaced? Turns out she married the chef instructor of her Pastry 101 course. (Yes, good things do come to those who wait).

 

 

 

Tami’s experience can be applied to most periods of time requiring we patiently go into a holding pattern.

So how do you deal with an event you wish you could hurry along? First, accept that “wait” is not a nasty four letter word. Change your focus and make some plans while you’re sitting it out.

By doing so, in the interim, you might find you’re having the time of your life.