An Italian saying goes l'Epifania tutte le feste porta via. Indeed, in many European countries the holiday season officially ended on Monday, with the Catholic celebration of the Adoration of the Magi, also known as the Epiphany. In Italy this day is marked by a nightime visit of the befana, an old lady resembling a witch, dressed in rags and covered in soot that stuffs children's stockings with sweets or lumps of coal, according to how they behaved the previous year.
It is also traditional to take your tree down on January 6th and most kids go back to school the following day.
So with the new year now in full swing, I have been thinking of my resolutions, or rather the resolutions I have not made yet, and what I truly wish and hope for in 2014.
There is little I desire, considering I have all the things that really count (a family I love, good health, a job - albeit not one I love and that doesn't pay as much as it used to but on the other hand gives me more time with my children - a roof on my head and good friends). Sure, there are things that I would really like but they come after the list I mentioned. Who doesn't want more financial security, a home to call their own, the possibility to travel and see more of the amazing planet we live in?
If there is one resolution I think we should all make it is ackowledging what we do more and feeling less guilty about what we don't. It is easy to beat ourselves up, to look around and see what others are doing better than us, to feel like we are not enough. We always feel compelled to work harder, to run faster, like hamsters spinning endlessly on their wheels.
There will always be somebody who is doing better than we are, sure, but there is always somebody who is doing worse too. Just because someone is driving a fancier car, it doesn't mean they worry less than you do at the end of the month. Sure, some problems are bigger than others, some people are luckier than others, but we all have to face obstacles, fear and problems. Rich or poor, we all have loved ones to take care of, children, parents, relatives or friends. We all care, we all worry, we all grieve.
I will not deny that I get caught up in this vicious cycle. I need to loose weight, I should look for a new job, I should be more organized...
I compare my kids' life with my very priviledged childhood and wish I could give them more. Of course I wish I could take them to exotic places on the spur of the moment or that our five-day ski vacation could be two weeks instead, but I am also aware that my husband and I work very hard to give them a taste of everything we had growing up and that what we can't provide materially we make up for in love and presence.
But no worries, I am not getting all Christmas-movie on you and will not start telling you about how I didn't take my family on a cruise to the Carribean but made a snowman with them instead and about how we all rolled in the snow and laughed and hugged and ended the day drinking hot chocolate in front of the fire. Because at the end of the
year day, we all have shit to deal with, each and every day, whoever we are and no matter how much we have or don't have.
So this year why don't we all take it a little more easy on ourselves?
Pat yourself on your back, let yourself know you are doing a great job as a friend, a mother, a daughter, a son, a dad, a husband, a wife, a companion, a sister, a brother, a boss, an employee...
I will not to beat myself up about all the things I think I should be doing better and more of. I will not make unattainable resolutions and then feel guilty or lacking because of them. I am going back to the basics, focusing on what matters, on what I have and taking my life one step at a time.
Let this be your resolution for 2014.
By all means, strive to do more, fix some targets, aim higher - because this is human and healthy to a degree - but also let the new year be a time to stop running, to take inventory of your life and let yourself know that you are doing a good job being who you are, providing what you do, caring the way you care.
Go back to the basics.
Here is a little Instagram testimony of the basics in my life: my family, my children, beautiful nature, great food and good friends to call-in the New Year.
When thinking about going back to basics, how can you not think about baking your own bread, doing what so many generations did before you, feeling like you are a part of a bigger picture, providing your family with healthy, nutritious and satisfying food and saving a dime while you do it.
All you need is flour, water and yeast.
The first thing I made in 2014 was this loaf of crackly, light wholewheat oatmeal bread. It sounds fancier than it should: I was just using up bags of open flour in my cupboard. It takes absolutely no effort, and no kneading. All you need is time.
It was delicious and satisfying on so many levels that I want to try to make baking my own bread a habit this year. Although if I don't, I won't feel bad about it...
Happy New Year!
1 cup of wholewheat flour
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup oat flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
See method here.