I was trying to come up with a clever title about cake for this post. The one I chose stuck with me. Because what I actually wanted to write about was the amazing cake I made last weekend. The interesting part of this wasn’t actually the cake, though. It’s the reason why I made it in the first place.
We are fully entrenched in quarantine fatigue in the US. I’ve got to say… it’s been a struggle for me at times. I’m still essentially unemployed, although I did actually work a few hours to onboard to a new job. However, real treatment hours are not yet available. And I feel like as a country, under poor and divisive leadership, we are losing the battle with the virus, and losing the fight against racism. Overall, it’s not a happy state of affairs at all. I feel helpless at times.
When I was a young adult, I truly thought that with the right education, I could literally change the world. I look back on my idealistic self not with regret, however, as that drive kept me going all through undergrad and graduate school and to launch my career as a physical therapist. The longer I practice, the more I realize that what needs to be fixed about this world, especially in healthcare, I can’t necessarily do as a PT. I still appreciate and love helping change the world one patient at a time, but that is no longer enough to fuel my soul. There are so many systemic issues that keep the world from being equitable for all. One of the best things I can do for my patients is to help be that impetus for change. But where do I start?
Do you ever feel like you need to turn off the media? I do. But at the same time, I need to digest essential bits of information so I’m not totally clueless about what is happening in the world: the good, the bad, and even the ugly. That’s the conundrum.
We’ve had some good things happen in Richmond. The mayor took advantage of the new law passed by the state legislature that went into effect on July 1st which allows local governments to dismantle Confederate monuments as they see fit. And so far, Stonewall Jackson, Matthew Fontaine Maury, the soldier at Libby Hill, and JEB Stuart are gone. I know these are just symbols, and there is so much more work to be done, but the removal of these monuments makes the statement that the Richmond community no longer places memorials of the Confederacy on a pedestal. We’ll have to wait on Lee; it is a state owned statue, falls under different rules, and its removal is being held up in court.
Meanwhile, in my county of Hanover just outside of Richmond, the school board and board of supervisors are holding on to the relics of our past. They are refusing to change the names and mascots of two schools: Stonewall Jackson Middle and Lee Davis High, seemingly to not “offend” those who still hold onto the principles of the Confederacy. Even as other cities, counties, and educational institutions in Virginia are changing names, and with the Virginia PTA and the governor also issuing statements urging changes, Hanover leadership continues to want to live in the past. Sigh. So much work yet to be done.
Social media continues to be an outlet to reveal extremely disturbing outbursts of overt racism and bad behavior. You don’t even have to scroll your media of choice yourself. Each viral video hits the news. From evidence of police brutality to self-proclaimed white supremacist militias to attempted lynchings to people going into a rage because they were asked to wear a mask… it’s all captured on camera. You think that most people are reasonable, kind, respectful… but then you see stuff like this. It’s disgusting. The kind of hate you see cannot be reasoned with. This is how the world sees us. And it’s overwhelming.
When I’m overwhelmed, I try my best to carry on with my routine. I still keep up with my training runs. I still do my chores. I go to places that bring me peace, like the mountains. And I bake. Not only is baking a distraction and stress relief for me, but it’s my love language. In the beginning of the pandemic, it was banana bread and artisan loaf bread. Last week, I saw a chocolate peanut butter cake as I scrolled through Instagram. A new baking adventure called.
As my reward for running 11 miles Saturday, I finally made the cake. I used my favorite chocolate cake recipe from King Arthur flour (which I always make with coffee as the liquid) and the chocolate frosting and peanut butter frosting recipes from Loving It Vegan. I have a new favorite cake. And, seriously, you’d never know it was vegan. You’ll need to double the cake recipe if you want to recreate this.
Obviously, baking a cake is not a cure for COVID-19 or the solution to racial injustice, but each slice is a bit of comfort in an uncomfortable world. Bake, paint, write the world a better place, whatever brings you joy, even if the place is just your little bubble. Sometimes we have to retreat into our own spaces in order to recharge so that we are better equipped to help others. I’m giving myself permission to comfort me.
How are you coping with our ever changing world? Don’t feel guilty by taking time to do the things that help take care of YOU. As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.