Toast. While never really a favorite breakfast food of mine, the idea of toast has always been somewhat comforting. I remember it as a peace-offering to a revolting stomach, a crunchy delight paired with my grandma’s famous tuna salad, and warm and doughy when my mom handed it over on a cold morning slathered in butter and cinnamon sugar. A bit scratchy on the outside but softer as we sink our teeth in the meat.
Or maybe you think toast and imagine a sparkly glass tingling with the sound glitter would make if it were audible. A room with words of congratulations floating like stars above laughing heads; celebration, wonderment, joy. This kind of toast takes much longer to prepare, slaving over the perfect array of emotion and memory, a declaration built on the experiences only time and hearts can provide. This toast comes along much more infrequently than the prior and can leave its echo forever.
Then there is “toast.” Not tasty, not memorable, a slang word that feels like a banana smushed into the side of a lunchbox that is also covered in peanut butter. Toast. Or “toasted.” As in, I am done here. Finished. All of me has dissipated into the universe in various forms and what is left is a singed, jagged mess of, over it.
Mine is a mom and wife toast. It is a homemaker and business owner toast. Some days a friend toast. When I look at all that has taken place and all has yet to begin, be done, and be forgotten moments later, I am like this t-shirt I keep seeing in every retail store that says, “I literally can not.” Sometimes my toast is the shiny soul-stirring kind, but mostly it is burnt and overdone, plain and rock solid.
I want so much to be a source of nourishment for those to whom I am offered, a little rough around the edges maybe, but mostly warm enough to melt butter and soft. Instead I feel the pressures of so many things forcing me back into the toaster. Wake up late, (into the toaster), kids are arguing (turn up the heat), get to the store and realize I forgot my purse, (push down the lever again), to-do list for work is totally overwhelming (do you smell that?). The struggle is oh so very,very real and constant. It makes you want to give up, throw that ashy brick bread to the birds, and have cereal instead. Stay with me here.
When I think of an, easy way out, for breakfast, I think cereal. My kids know how to get bowls and spoons, pour, sit and eat. They do not need something defrosted, or anything toasted, they do not need help cutting or peeling fruit and there are no pans, or smoke, to fry an egg or flip a pancake. It is easy. It is familiar, a mastered skill even. It can be nourishing, sweet and soft. It can also be as soggy as it is cold. A solution to the breakfast dilemma but less than inspiring.
So many days I go through life being toasted and feeding on cereal. Taking the easier, less uplifting route because I am tired. It may save time, sometimes money, sanity even, but it does not feed the soul. It is when we push through and show we literally can, even if we already bought and are wearing the T-shirt, that we feel most authentic and alive. When I decide to bake homemade cinnamon rolls on a Sunday morning before church to show my people love, when I take the extra moments to tell my hubby, “thank you,” for helping make everything work, when I get down on the floor and build a race track with my son, I feel the charcoal grit being flaked away. The overdone becoming fresh again. It is in the moments we think, I don’t have the energy for that, that ultimately re-energize our souls. It is in the last few loads of laundry we consider just throwing away that we find a treasure. Your daughter’s beloved stuffed hedgehog she shed tears over losing, the missing pair to your favorite earrings, your husband’s wallet in his back pants pocket. Glimmers of hope proving you are needed in the midst of what feels unnoticed. Isn’t that all we really need? Hope? To know that what we are doing matters?
After all, isn’t doing things that matter what leads to a toast?
While at a conference a few weeks ago, our key-note speaker talked about how we can retrain our brain to think positive and focus on the good. He said, instead of thinking about how you “have to” do all of the things on your daily agenda, think about the fact that you “get to” do them. I don’t have to feel burdened with getting all the kids ready and lunches packed in the mad crazy rush of morning, I get to be home with them and be a positive force, starting their day off with love.
In the same respect, not getting up on time, the catalyst for a downward spiral of the day, can be seen as a blessing of extra needed rest. The kids non-stop fighting provides many chances for creative problem solving and develops effective (eventually) communication skills. I am aware that this one is a stretch, but how much nicer does that sound then getting fitted for a straight jacket? Forgotten wallet, makes you reconsider your needs and wants, refocus. The massive “have-to-do” list becomes a blessing that you are your own boss and all the “get to’s” that being the boss allows you to create.
When we train the brain to see the shiny spots and feel what we are doing matters, we become hopeful. It is in that hope that our burned out selves see a glimmer of light, see the need to raise a glass, mug or sippy cup, for a toast.