When I’m really anxious, baking always seems to have a way of bringing me peace. It’s been that way since I first started to learn the art of baking with my mother. Those many mornings of making muffins and pancakes definitely influenced me. It was a time of fun and laughter. I quickly became the baker in the family, both my immediate and extended. Any time there were cookies to be made or cupcakes to be eaten, everyone was always counting on me. And I relished it, so much so that when 8th grade rolled around, my parents considered sending me to our county’s local technical high school. There I would be able to take my high school courses in addition to being in the school’s culinary or pastry program.

The idea excited me. I spent most of my free time experimenting with different recipes. Did I mention I was a huge fan of Food Network? Robert Irvine was my absolute hero. At the time, I was sure that my future career would be in the food industry, working as a pastry chef and restaurant owner. But one thing that watching Robert Irvine running around on Restaurant Impossible showed me is that food alone can’t keep a business going. Ultimately, a venture must be financially profitable to succeed. That lesson really stuck with me. So instead of going to the technical high school after 8th grade, I decided to focus solely on academics.

It wasn’t an easy decision, but looking back, it’s one I’m glad that I made. I still continued to bake throughout high school. Eventually, it dawned on me that making cake and cookies wasn’t the thing I loved, it was the process. For me, baking was and is an activity that keeps my hands busy, but my mind free. The privilege of focusing on one thing entirely without distraction is what makes my baking experience a place of peace. I’ve never been much of a meditator, but being in the kitchen is the closest I come to my zen state.

What are some activities that help you relax?

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