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  • Writer's pictureDrSwae

Step by Step - written 2020

Hi there.

Hope you're doing well. We are fortunately hanging in here. I want so badly to be able to say we are thriving. Not there yet, in many ways, but we are working our way.

Things get better every day. They get better until we meet a setback. Then they get acutely worse.

Most of the time the setbacks are invisible- bad moods, hangry moods, defensiveness, self doubt. But sometimes they are big screaming elephants in tiny little kitchens. I console myself knowing that the setbacks, like everything, come and go.

This morning I had one. It was the absence of a working system.

I have been thinking a lot about systems. When I used to go into the office every day, I had the privilege of watching systems in action. Systems work for us, if we know how to put them into practice. They keep ships afloat, planes in the air, electricity on the grid, and they help people to thrive. In medicine, we have so many systems to reduce human error. They are such a part of the process of healthcare delivery, that they almost disappear in the background. But, boy, do they run.

I need a better system for this "emergency distance learning". I love to think about systems. And sometimes I'm on fire with them. Sometimes, though, I just want to sit on the couch.

Reality check: Have I been sitting on the couch too long here?

Sometimes, I find it so hard to move. The door seems So. Far. Away. But I keep reminding myself that problems are best addressed when taken step by step.

Procrastination sometimes helps too (which is what I tell myself when I sit on the couch). Then I can find the fervor and work like mad at the eleventh hour.

So, instead of developing my system, I decided to bake bread, like everyone else it seems. But what is better than the couch? Eating bread on the couch!

It's hard to find yeast these days, but not harder than developing a system. So it was on. Normally I'd mix whole wheat flour with white flour, but that's in short supply too. Whole wheat was just as lovely. Anyway, this batch of rolls (or loaf) is a super easy one to make.

This is all you need. Ready? Here we go.

First, I poured two cups of very warm water into a mixing bowl.

In that bowl, I dissolved a large spoonful of honey. You get to decide how large your large is.

I took one tablespoon of yeast and poured it right over the top of the bowl. Let it snow...

Wait it's spring, never mind. I let it sit for 15 minutes until it got nice and frothy.

Then I measured 1 teaspoon of salt and 6 cups of flour. You really probably only need five, but it all depends on how exact you are in the water step, how much your helpers are helping and how much flour you need for kneading later. (Love that? Need for kneading? Ahem.)

I poured them into the bowl of frothy-honey-yeast-water and combined it all until my dough wasn't sticky. Looked like this.

I covered it with a lightweight dishtowel and put it by the oven to rise for about 15 minutes.

Set oven to 350 degrees.

After 15 minutes, I recruited my helpers to "knead and roll" the dough into buns. Then we put them in the oven for 20 minutes and we waited.

Well, some of us waited. Most did not.

In our house, we like them a little underdone in the center, so I took them out before they were fully brown over top. With a pad of butter for some, nut butter for others, they were sublime.

It was a first-rate way to start the morning, especially since our actual start was very much second-rate. We had so many other things we had to do- like develop a system- so I was so glad to have these yummy rolls which we turned to again for lunch.

Years ago, I used to think that preparing food was just necessity (in addition to procrastination). I found no joy in it. I worried joy had little room for me. But then I discovered that one could prepare food for another with the aim of showing love and taking care. It really changed so much for me. This place helped me with that.

And we got to work on our handwork which I had also been putting off for so long. My third little guy and I made these little butterflies out of wool fleece we picked up at school.

My second little guy worked on his flute case/water bottle holder?

My oldest made some cards.

Wait, did he draw me? Is the grinch making bread???!!!

Remind me to ask him about that tomorrow.

And we even managed to get a little bit of practice in.

I think the thing was, I was feeling so overwhelmed first thing in the morning. Instead of letting it wash over me I was completely thrashed by the waves.

But after some breakfast and deep breathing, we all decided to take the rest of the day a step at a time. Tomorrow, I'm going to make a list.

By the end of the day, we were all so tired, and our butterfly was really feeling it. I thought for a moment how I wanted to tell her how much I understood. But then I remembered, tomorrow and my list.

Today, for skin cancer awareness- take your first step. If you have a smart phone, take a picture of your body, especially the hard to reach places like your back. Look at the pictures, and do it again next month, and then the month after that, and after that, and so on. Do it today, and then put checking it again on your list. Do your best to remember this one. It might save your life.


Dr. Swae


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