Yes, I know, it’s been a while… My last blog post, I’m embarrassed to admit, was before Christmas. Three months flew by and before I knew it spring had sprung and London skies had blessed us with a long-awaited sunshine. Today, as a reward after a day of baking I decided to have a cuppa in our garden rather than the kitchen. I grabbed the last remaining biscuit, sat down, looked up at the sun and marvelled at the pretty daffodils. I closed my eyes and tried to be in the moment, to be present and not to listen to the inner noise for just a couple of minutes. “A mindful cuppa” I thought, “How nice, I almost forgot what it feels like”.
it suddenly occurred to me that a few days ago was exactly two years since I cancelled all of my baking classes. Six months after I launched Rise and Shine Covid struck and the rest is history. As you may remember from my socials, I spent most of lockdown relentlessly creating new recipes and learning about mobile food photography. I kept myself busy by donating fresh cakes to a local charity, feeding mad amounts of test cakes and biscuits to my neighbours and of course blogging about my baking adventures.
To my astonishment, the whole country went into some sort of happy baking frenzy and for the first time my friends and friends of friends were actually using my recipes. It was lovely to see my cakes on other people’s Facebook and Instagram feeds and knowing they were devoured by their families. I was glad that in a small way I was helping them get through lockdown. It gave me hope and purpose. It provided a much needed routine.
why I didn’t want to give live online baking tutorials a go since face-to-face classes were no longer an option. My response was: “All of the bakers I know are teaching online! Everyone is making banana bread like there’s no tomorrow and as if bananas were going to disappear off the face of planet Earth! It’s not my thing, sorry. I’m sick and tired of Facetime and Whatsapp video calls, thank you very much.” I was pretty adamant about it. It felt like this little stubborn toddler in me was shouting “I’m NOT doing it! I’m not going with mainstream! I need real humans to interact with, not screens, full stop.”
restrictions were lifted. I cautiously resumed one of my community baking groups only to cancel it again not long after as Covid infection numbers skyrocketed in December 2020 and Christmas found us all in yet another lockdown. By that time, after months of preparations I launched an online bake shop and was baking even more. I needed to start earning again. I needed to adapt to the new reality. I needed a project. My amazing husband, a freelance backstage technician (whose work due to the obvious had gone south) was patiently delivering biscuits and cakes with me.
I was overwhelmed by how many friends and old clients (going back to the times where I had my previous business) ordered my bakes. It was so heart-warming to drop off a box of fresh biscuits and have a chat on the doorstep. Some of my clients I hadn’t seen for years so to catch up with them meant a lot, even if in a socially-distanced manner with a mask on. Many orders were a surprise gift for a relative or a friend, often down with Covid, and the reaction I received each time was priceless. The same little toddler in me wasn’t screaming anymore, it was happily skipping back to the car going “I just made someone’s day, la, la, la, la!”
this new version of Rise and Shine, I felt that something was missing. Well, of course a reliable income to start with. For someone who has been fiercely financially independent and completely self-reliant for most of her adult life it wasn’t easy. I tried to stay positive, count my blessings, be grateful for small things. I didn’t always succeed. Like millions of people all over the world I had trouble sleeping. The uncertainty of what the future would bring and fear for the wellbeing of my family and friends kept me awake like nothing had ever did before. Knowing I wasn’t able to fly to Poland at the drop of a hat to see my mum and my brother didn’t help.
The only time I managed a magical eight hours of undisturbed sleep rather than being wide awake from three am onwards was after my first vaccination. Ironically, while others broke in sweat and developed aches and pains I slept like a log. Frist time in 13 months! For one night only, but still.
I slowly started taking bookings for small face-to-face baking classes in London both for adults and children. Lateral flow tests coming out my ears and feeling equally excited as nervous after such a long break, I packed my baking equipment and off I went to run my first session. As soon as we all started mixing flour and sugar together, I felt like something clicked again. Like that thing which had been missing was now missing a bit less. Kneading dough and transforming it into beautiful biscuits with four other humans around me while chatting away seemed like bliss.
The little toddler inside me woke up again, this time grinning from ear to ear, and cried “Yes!” No temper tantrums, no hissy fits. Pure joy. Human interactions. Mindfulness. Switching off and concentrating on creating wholesome food to share with others. Wellbeing. Being in the moment. Looking after your mental health. Making connections with people. Baking therapy. That’s why I launched Rise and Shine. Now, I remember! The Covid fog was subsiding. I literally floated back home, light and happy. I finally felt some sort of normality slowly returning.
Nowhere near as many as I’d like as it’s still early days with Omicron lingering around, the horrific war in Ukraine and the general uncertainty. But it’s something. It’s a new beginning. Yes, it does fell like I’ve gone back to square one, like it’s September 2019 and I’m about to teach my first class. And it’s not going to be smooth sailing.
I was really looking forward to resuming my community baking groups but unfortunately only one of them will go ahead. As much as I’m passionate about charitable work and my community, I can no longer afford working on a voluntary basis or at a heavily discounted rate. I am however excited at the prospect of another community group and what some new contacts I’ve made will lead me to.
when I felt let down, uninspired and in a bit of a limbo: “For a passionate entrepreneur with 20 years of experience under your belt, it’s about time you valued your work and how it helps others. And stick to those who reciprocate.” So I will. I still donate 5% from the sale of my biscuits to a local charity and I hope I’ll be able to do so for as long as possible. My inner toddler is hopeful. She dreams of many flour-dusted classes and biscuits with purpose. And of many mindful cuppas. She’s grateful. She’s got lots to learn. She has plans. She’s not sure how to go about them yet but give her some time…
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