“I’m not a mapmaker. I’m a traveller, making this trip just like and alongside you.”– Brene Brown
The last few weeks have been more than a little frustrating and chaotic at the pie shop, and I’m having a little trouble “getting comfortable being uncomfortable.” Over the past two weeks and the one coming, just because of timing, I will simultaneously be:
1. Preparing the kitchen for me to not be there for a week while Emily and I finally enjoy a honeymoon in Ireland.
2. Filling wholesale orders- including brand new contracts- for the coming weeks,
3. Making sure catering orders are in a state that my team can manage them in my absence,
4. Retooling our entire production system to be geared toward retail and catering and away from large wholesale contracts as we look toward warmer weather and possibly returning to farmers markets.
It’s all more than a little overwhelming, and as someone who starts to get static in front of their eyes when they stare too long at a crowded spreadsheet, one of my more toxic coping mechanisms starts creeping out: “DO ALL THE THINGS.” As late as last week, my boss essentially had to collar me and drag me out of the kitchen saying “No, Matt- you CAN’T do all the things. We are going to sit down and plan and work this all out.”
All the same, old thought patterns are hard to break. Intellectually, I know that I am just one person. I am not a machine, I am a squishy human that has limitations and gets tired. Regardless, my thought patterns start to run in circles like this:
“Ok, I can do this. I always figure it out. I always get the job done. I’m the only one who can do it. I need to do it. If I don’t, everything is ruined. If I don’t, people will think I’m unreliable and a flake. I won’t belong in the kitchen anymore. I’ll be worthless. I need to be the strong one. I need to get the job done. I need to show I can handle it. I need to show I can hack it- that I still belong here.”
“I am so tired, but I can’t rest yet. I need to get this all done. I’ll rest when I’m done. ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead.’ Hahahahaha…”
Did any of that sound relatable? If so, I am so sorry… and we both need to admit when we need breaks and that not everything is going to, or NEEDS to, get done.
As much as I hate getting soaked in rainstorms or biking home in bad weather, I really kinda love rainy days. The back porch on my house is partially covered by corrugated platic roofing, and regardless of how hard it’s actually raining the sound of the drops on the green plastic is both loud and soothing. On warm wet days like this weekend, I’ll lay in the hammock under the cover and it’ll feel like I’m on a tropical island somewhere waiting out a rain squall.
The other reason I love rainy days is because they frustrate my urge not to rest. I can often get down on myself if I haven’t gone out and done things over a weekend, or I’ll feel like I “wasted” a weekend by staying home too much and doing things like gaming, reading, or baking for myself.
In other words, rainy days help force me to rest– and it’s something I’m still learning to acknowledge for myself.
That I’m not weak for needing to rest.
That I’m not suddenly a flake, unreliable, worthless, or a bum if I can’t get everything on a list done all by myself.
That rest is not selfish or self-indulgent, it’s self-care.
I’m keenly aware of how short-staffed the bakery is at the moment and that I do need to do my best to help set them up for smooth running while I’m gone. I also know that the necessities of non-baking life- laundry, bills, errands, and so on- don’t stop needing to be done. The trick for me will be learning that all those things don’t necessarily need to be done right now.
Sitting down with my owner yesterday and going over new orders that just came in, I groaned and put my head in my hands for a minute. “Goddammit,” I said. “Every time I feel like I’ve got a handle on this shit, something else comes along. I need to redo the whole schedule for next week now, and I’ll have to stay late again to get this done.”
My boss looked at me and said, “Well, yeah- orders keep flying in. You make excellent pastries and everyone wants them. There was no way we could plan for orders that weren’t placed yet though. Why are you going to have to stay late?”
I jabbed a figure at the list of pastries we were short on that would have to go out in the next 48 hours. “THIS! Look at all this… if it doesn’t get made tonight, the rest will have to work harder.“
“..Ok, so? You’ve been here 10 hours already. Get busy and delegate. Prioritize their list and give these priority?”
“But I should have seen this coming! I messed up, it’s my job to fix it.“
“No, it’s not. It’s a new order, and it’s everyone’s job to fill them. The team knows how to make these pastries, right?”
“Yeah, they’ve done them a couple times.”
“Good. Tell the team to do them and then GO HOME. You’re the manager. If you don’t learn to delegate, you’ll burn out and actually be useless to everyone.”
The odd thing of this experience is that I do prioritize and delegate quite well, but only on the day-to-day micro level. Doing that just feels like “organizing the day” or “directing labor” rather than giving orders. It’s a part of leadership I still need to work on. Everytime I’m told that I need to prioritize or delegate, part of me then wants to say “but I DO do that. There’s still just always more to do!”
Which is true. It will always be true. There will always be more work, and as much as I worry about my teams task load, I truly need to start worrying about my own as well.
I may be the manager and chef, and I may be the most capable cook and baker in the shop, but I’m still just a human and I can’t just find rest when it rains.