My friend Sheryl was teaching me how to make her world-famous dinner rolls. When I learned it was a yeast-based dough, I knew there was little hope for me to reproduce the mouth-watering creations, because yeast and I had never been friends. I’d never been able to get yeast dough to rise, and my bread-making attempts always resulted in hockey pucks worthy of the NHL. So I asked her to teach me as if I was a second grader, in hopes the simplicity of the explanation would help me understand the needs of the dough. It worked.
And it also taught me a lesson on life.
She said the secret to working with yeast is the same as working with any living being. Every living thing needs three ingredients to thrive: food, water, and warmth. To make the yeast happy, give them a little sugar to eat, some water to drink, and keep them warm by making the water warm, but not hot. Then they’ll bloom and develop into yummy bread.
This got me thinking about other living entities. The formula is applicable to them all. Planting flowers? They need water, food from the soil, and warmth/light from the sun. Have a dog or cat? They need water, nutritious food, and the warmth of your caring. Have children? They need nutritious food, good hydration, and lots of love and attention.
These three tenants apply to us, as well. But women, whether we’re single or married, tend to spend more of our time caring for others than for ourselves. So here are the questions to ask yourself to ensure that you are allowing yourself to thrive.
Food. What are you feeding yourself? And by that I don’t mean actual food that you eat. I mean, what are you feeding your mind? Your soul? Your spirit? They need their own kind of nourishment, just as our bodies do. Are you taking a class? Learning a new skill? Studying a language? Attending spiritual services? If we spend all our time ensuring everyone else in our lives gets fed, we end up neglecting ourselves. Helping others is very important, that’s true. It’s one of my favorite things to do. But carve out a little time to feed yourself. You’ll find you have even more to give others if you give a little to yourself along the way.
Water. Water gives life. What is your water? What is that thing you love to do, that thing you want to pursue, those dreams that drive you? Do you have a passion outside of your boyfriend (or your search for a boyfriend)? Or is finding a relationship all-consuming? Having something you deeply love outside of your romantic life is an essential part of living fully. It makes us more well-rounded humans, gives us broader life experiences, and expands our horizons in beneficial ways. And, bonus – having a passion about something makes us more interesting to potential mates.
Warmth. How hard do you work to nurture quality relationships with your friends and family? Or, do you sit at home alone eating Cheetos and binge-watching Downton Abbey? Studies show that people with strong friend and family relationships are healthier, happier, and live longer. It’s that close connection with other human beings that reduces stress levels and leads us to be happier, healthier individuals. As single girls, we have a special challenge when it comes to maintaining the warmth of relationships. Since single girls don’t have a spouse, and often don’t have children, we must nurture other types of relationships. This can be tricky when you become a single-girl-of-a-certain-age. Most of my friends are now married with children, and I feel guilty about asking them to take time away from their families. But I’ve heard from many of my married friends that, even though it’s sometimes a challenge to get away, they cherish their friend time and look forward to those mini-vacations. So, even though the logistics may be more of a headache, it’s extremely important for single girls to maintain those friendships. And let’s not forget to nurture and grow our own family relationships as well! The key here, of course, is nurturing quality relationships. Those same studies also show that negative relationships are actually detrimental to our health.
Sheryl’s dinner rolls required care and time before they reached delicious perfection. Dough had to be worked and mixed, yeast had to rise, and the rolls needed ample time in the oven. The food, water, and warmth in our lives require nurturing time as well. Which part of the recipe needs your attention right now?