Sunday, July 14, 2013

Up On The Roof

"When this old world starts a getting me down, 
and people are just too much for me to face. 
I'll climb way up to the top of the stairs 
and all my cares just drift right into space."
~James Taylor

No matter who we are, there are days that even the most cheerful and upbeat of us get overwhelmed by what life throws our way. Most days, it's the trivial and meaningless that seem to hit us when we are vulnerable. But it's the days that bring heartbreaking news from family and friends that really hit home and personally, leave me completely without words. It's days like this that make me want to simply roll up into a ball and scream "WHY?" through my tears.

 For me, June and July have been a string of those days, one after the other, but instead of listing the deaths, life-threatening diagnoses and ongoing political issues, I'm going to go "up to the roof". Or in my case, instead of the roof, I'm going into the kitchen. Please don't misunderstand – cooking and baking does not take the place of a family member or change a piece of bad news. For me, it's a therapeutic outlet. Sometimes it's just a matter of re-directing my thoughts into a recipe. Or preparing a special treat for the person that is hurting, where the food becomes a catalyst for compassion and empathy when I have no words. I have handled stress and sadness in this manner my whole life. When you think about it, it's actually the way many things are handled. Why do you think we have the term "stress eating"? This year, in changing my eating habits, I have learned that it's ok to bake and cook when I'm upset, so long as I don't drown my sorrows in a whole cheesecake.

"So when I come home feeling tired and beat, 
I'll go up where the air is fresh and sweet. 
I'll get far away from the hustling crowd 
and all the rat-race noise down in the street."

I'll find solace and strength in mixing, cutting and prepping food up on my roof in my kitchen. I'm jus' sayin'!

Here's an old cookie bar recipe. It's an old stand-by and surprisingly, a post-biopsy request from one of my dear friends. I'd like to believe that even just for a moment, when she bit into one of these sweet bars, a smile came across her face and she was taken away from her stress (even for just that one moment).

7 Layer Bars (adapted from this recipe)

I substituted Toffee bits for the butterscotch bits. I did not add nuts (as the receiver does not care for nuts). I also added 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips to this batch. That's the beauty of this recipe - it's flexible so you can mix and match to your heart's desire.