Whatever Is True

This week I am waking up in West Michigan.  It’s full fledged fall here – crisp air, colorful trees, the smell of damp leaves.  Autumn is so lovely – summer going out in a blaze of glory!  It’s been a while since I simply walked and enjoyed the beautiful scenery all around me.

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The past few days I’ve been thinking a lot about a conversation I had with one of my very best friends a couple of weeks ago.  It’s an interesting friendship – on the surface it seems like we don’t really have much in common, but there’s a connection between us that surpasses all of our differences.

The conversation was about relationships. The core of the story being told was how we often jump to conclusions about other people and their motives when they are saying or doing something that we don’t like. Hearing that was like getting hit upside the head with a two-by-four.  I do this all the time.  What’s crushing is that I even do it with people that I love, that I trust, with whom I have long standing, committed relationships. 

Why?  Why do I automatically assume that they are a terrible person, that they are out to get me, that they don’t love or care about me?  Why is my go to reaction one of lashing out against them, wanting to hurt them, wanting them to know just how much I’ve been wronged?  Why don’t I give them the benefit of doubt?  Why don’t I believe that they would never consciously do anything to hurt me?  Why do I let seeds of distrust fester and erode the structure of the relationship, sometimes to the point of no return?  Would my marriages have been different had I believed in my head what I knew in my heart, that this person loved me to the best of their ability?

These realizations have changed me, made me think differently about how I interact with others, especially those closest to me, because those are the most important relationships I have.  It has also spilled over into my work life, though.  A co-worker was venting to me this week, saying that there’s a person who never answers his emails, that they obviously don’t care about doing their job well, and that he’s not inclined to be prompt the next time they need something. 

Normally I would commiserate – after all, that’s what we do, right?  Throw a little more fodder on the fire until it grows and gets completely out of control?  This time I said, “I believe that ninety-nine percent of people want to do a good job and don’t want to let anyone down and I think this person is one of that ninety-nine percent.  I know that at this moment I have about three hundred emails in my inbox that I haven’t had a chance to answer so I know that I’m letting people down.  Not because I don’t care and because I don’t want to do a good job, but because there’s only so much I can do every day.”  

Living in a broken world makes it difficult to see what’s true, to focus on what’s good, right, pure and lovely.  It’s so much easier to focus on everything that’s wrong, to blame others, to think the worst of them and blame them for how I feel while at the same time wanting them to believe in my goodness and righteousness.  This has been a hard lesson, but one I’m grateful to have learned.  I’m so thankful that I have wise friends who aren’t afraid to share their stories and inspire me to be a better person.

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Leaving Nashville

Dearest Nashville

The time has come for us to say goodbye.  You’ve been good to me the last four years and I feel a twinge of sadness that we are parting ways. 

I will miss . . .

Hot, sunny summers

Your greenways and trails

Live music playing at every restaurant

The Farmers who have fed me

Driving across the bridge over Percy Priest Lake

The lovely people I’ve gotten to know

12 South and its fun places to eat

Hanging out with Bob, Judi, Kayli, Poli, and Durango

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I will not miss . . .

Your traffic jams

Hurtling across five lanes of traffic on I-40 to get on 440

The way you shut down when it might snow

The variety and size of your insects

Being here has been good for me.  Even though moving here on my own was a major Naked on the Tundra decision, I’ve learned a lot about myself, what I want from life, and had the opportunity to meet so many great people. 

And so I’m leaving, going on to the next thing, a new Naked on the Tundra adventure.  Thank you for everything, Nashville!  Don’t be surprised if I’m back again before too long for a visit!

Baking Bread

Last month when I wasn’t busy sorting and purging through all my stuff, I had an opportunity to attend a class at Stoney Creek Farm on making healthy bread. There were ten or eleven of us at the class, everyone there for a different purpose.  Though I’ve been making bread for years, I’d never ground my own flour and was very curious to see how difficult it was and whether it made a big difference in how the bread tasted.  Some women were veteran bakers like me, but others had tried to make bread and only experienced failure and needed some hands on experience on how to do it. 

Our teacher, Judy Felts, shared so much great information! When I signed up for the class, I was thinking I wouldn’t learn that many new things, but I was wrong!  In addition to tips on making the best possible bread, she also gave tips on how and where to buy the freshest, organic ingredients.

Since I suffer from latephobia (fear of being late – it’s real!), I got there early and got to see Judy chopping fresh herbs for one of the breads we would be making.  She’d already mixed up a batch of dough and it was rising in a bowl nearby.  The smell of fresh basil, thyme, sage, and other spices filled the air, soon to be replaced by the heavenly aroma of freshly baked bread.  While we waited for everyone to gather, there was three varieties of bread and butters available to sample.

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Freshly baked loaves of bread

Judy weighed, kneaded, and shaped the dough into loaves, adorable cloverleaf dinner rolls, and oh man, cinnamon rolls.  People took turns handling the dough, getting practice and asking questions, learning how to create this miracle of life.  It wasn’t long before we were all talking and laughing, even though most of us had never met before that morning.  Food does that – it’s something we gather around, share, experience.   

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I remembered to take a picture before I ate the whole thing

Once all of that was in the oven baking, Judy ground some flour and mixed up another batch of dough.  Again, we all took turns learning what it felt like, the texture, the consistency, all the things that make the very best bread possible.  Then, the best part.  The tasting of warm bread, fresh from the oven.  First we each had a roll, and then, yes, then, the cinnamon rolls with their sweet orange glaze.  There’s no picture of that because even though I was really full at that point, I scarfed it down. 

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What was left after we’d all had a taste

It’s hard to say what I enjoyed more – the experience of being with others and creating something, learning new things, hanging out at the farm, or eating amazing food.  It was definitely something I’d like to experience more of all the way around. 

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Herb bread

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Our hostess, Leigh Funderburk and teacher Judy Felts