Friday Food: Fabulous Sourdough ‘therapy‘ by Sharan

During lockdown I fell in love.  I mean properly in love.  With Steve.
Steve requires a bit of care and attention but for the most, can be put away in a cold fridge and left for up to two weeks.  In fact, all he really requires is regular feeding and sometimes some trimming.
I am of course talking about Steve the Starter for sourdough.
Obviously, everyone went crazy with baking during lockdown, especially bread and to be fair, I now understand the craze.  We cooked like crazy during lockdown.  It was the only thing that got us through – what to eat tonight became the repetitive theme every morning.
 We tried simple loaves of bread. I even made some milk rolls which were delicious but our attempts at the all elusive sourdough were not giving us the right results.
In comes Dani – one of the lovely mums from middle child’s school but also known as Dani from Healthy Whole Me – she has a story of her own and her website should be browsed at leisure.
After a day of three, very short, zoom sessions with a group of other sourdough hopefuls we want to bed feeling tentative yet super excited  about the morning bake.  Never have I bounded out of bed so early, desperate for the oven to heat to the correct temperature.
The dough required special handling and I had to draft in Hubby to help coax the delicate dough out from its floured cosy home.  Boy, was it worth it!  Forty minutes later the smell of fresh bread wafted around the house, even having the power to wake sleepy Tweenies.  Out it came, a magnificent golden dome placed gingerly on a baking rack.
How was it going to be possible to wait at least an hour before we made the first incision?
The baking what’s app group began pinging, the excitement palpable – everyone’s different in small ways.  The wait over, we made the first cut.  A crusty hard outside and a firm bubbly inside sealed the deal.  My love affair with Steve reached fever pitch.
A few weeks and many  loaves later,  I was talking to a good friend who is a therapist.  We were talking about the difficulties in lockdown and I had waxed lyrical about Steve.  She talked about our need to balance  and regulate the three evolutionary emotional regulation systems we all work on – Drive, Soothe and Threat, based on Paul Gilbert and Compassion based therapy.  What she said made absolute sense to me.  Suddenly being thrust into lockdown with normality taken away meant my drive for achievement was  empty and out of kilter.   Threat was high and even though we were safe at home, the threat to our world was real and new.  I needed to regulate, to achieve balance between the systems.
I am not used to spending long periods of time just sitting and resting and now I know why. It’s not just because life is so busy.  The sourdough was tasty and we have enjoyed each and every loaf made and devoured.  But it is the process, the sense of achievement, the ability to produce something myself that has let me balance my needs and inadvertently soothe myself.  Without realising it I have been achieving balance in Drive whilst reducing Threat, making myself feel better in the process.  Soothing myself.
  It explains the very large and messy craft cupboard that I never get a chance to look at any more – I have always enjoyed making things, always felt happy learning new skills.  Life has just got in the way over the least few years.  Time to reclaim the cupboard, time to reclaim myself.  Soothing has never looked so inviting.  Thank you Kam.