#chocolatebrownies #stephencovey

Breath in – breath out, as another day in quarantine begins. The morning is not so different from pre-quarantine days: wake up early, make coffee, cook breakfast, play with my son, feed the dog, discuss plans for the day with my husband, do a family hug if the spirit is low. A quick meditation to focus on what needs to be done, breath in – breath out.

Beneath the surface, things are deviating from the usual. It feels like I am developing multiple personalities, which are having a little party in my head. The “anxious-observer” skims over the most recent coronavirus updates in the world. The “historian” ponders the comparison to the Spanish flu pandemic. The “worrier” teams up with the “panic-monger” who urges to think financials and learn Finnish as fast as you can to find a job. The “screw-it-all” persona whispers: “run to the woods, you wild woman”. The “sensible-one” points out that there is still washing to do, you know, before we all run to the woods. Breath in – breath out. The “playful-chick” suddenly has a brilliant idea to do some finger painting. My son approves enthusiastically. (Am I speaking out loud?) Ten minutes and four pots of paint later “I-told-ya-so” pitches in: “There was obviously not enough cleaning to do before.” (Then I cry a little bit.)

Now it is 8.30 am and time to prepare for remote studies. The “keep-it-together” commands: “To the shower, then put on proper clothes!”. The “great-procrastinator” just wants one more coffee. 8.57 am sees me sufficiently caffeinated and hastily washed.

The day goes on and so do the voices in my head, shifting my attention from one thing to another. “Anxiety is the new black” – smirks “lame-jokes”. Then, when least expected, “what-would-Bob-Iger- do” reminds me that every problem is a puzzle. (Well, thank you, Bob.) The “inner-nerd” draws inspiration from the financial management exercises in Excel and suggests to “Sort yourself out.” Then the emptiest, loudest, most idiotic one of all “i-forgot-what-i-was-doing” ensues…

In silence, I am waiting for inspiration, when the “aspiring-home-baker” starts cheerfully: “Remember that splendid and easy brownies recipe?”. Not the prompt I expected, but the word “recipe” takes me through a range of weird associations leading to the concept of circles of control and concern. “Created by Stephen Covey!” – triumphantly exclaims “inner-nerd”.

Breath in – breath out. Here are two recipes that have helped me through the quarantine days so far. Both require just a few ingredients and are simple to make.

Chocolate brownies.

Ingredients:

  • 3⁄4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3⁄4 cup flour
  • 1⁄2 cup sugar
  • 1 ts baking powder (or a bit of baking soda activated with vinegar)
  • 3 eggs (can be substituted with flaxseed eggs. I add some peanut butter to the mixture then)

1⁄2 cup melted butter (can be substituted with coconut oil. I add some desiccated coconut to the mixture then to make the flavour stand out more) Instructions:

Turn on the oven, 180°C. Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl, add eggs and butter/oil. Stir it, so everything is just combined together. Lumps are ok as it is best not to over-mix. The mixture will be sticky, use a spoon to spread it out in the baking dish (I use a glass one, lined with baking paper). Bake for about 20 min (the time would depend on the oven). When it starts smelling chocolaty in the room, I would take the dish out and poke with a fork in the middle. If it comes out clean, the brownies are ready.

Circles of control and concern.

Ingredients:

  • Everything you are worried about
  • Pen
  • PaperInstructions:Draw two big circles, one inside another. Fill the bigger, outer circle with the concerns that you can do nothing about. Fill in the smaller circle inside with matters you can affect directly. Reflect on which circle you spend more time in. Try to shift focus to the circle of your control. Level of anxiety usually lowers when you focus on things you can control, even if they are small. These days I often add “making brownies” in my circle of control.“What are your recipes?” – enquiries the “curious-one”. Breath in – breath out.
____________________________

Elizaveta (Lisa) Bomash is an arts administrator and cultural producer with experience in the fields of film, theatre, and festival management. She moved to Finland with her family in July 2019 after spending 8 years in New Zealand. Currently, Elizaveta is studying towards her Master’s degree in Arts Management at the Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki. Among her professional interests are international and cross-cultural cooperation, sustainable non-profits, effects of the digitalisation on cultural field, and curation. Elizaveta enjoys green tea, reading, coming-of-age films and mindful and positive entrepreneurial activities.