While there were a lot of awesome things that happened over the past year (official Selfridges cake supplier YO) I'd become quite withdrawn, feeling rather isolated without actually knowing it. I was very sad about making the decision to close the shop, and sometimes I still am. It's quite a heart breaking realisation that something we poured our all into ultimately wasn't enough and needed to stop. It wasn't a sudden thing either, it was a long thought out, drawn out and very painful process.
I internalised our stresses to such an extent that that's all I could dwell on...completely killing my creative stream and much like writer's block, my baker's block really got in the way getting me down further.
Googling and reading around grief and anxiety I realised I wasn't alone in feeling this way. It happens to pretty much everyone at any time for various reasons. Whether the grief is due to business or personal its effects can be quite similarly destructive on both work and life.
So having realised I was sort of grieving the "loss" of the shop the only way to banish the baker's block was by unblocking the bogged-down brain. As I started working towards the unblocking I really started to feel the effects on my work and creative thought process - I hopped with baby steps on bespoke cakes, then was on a roll with more new cake ranges and then made a jump with this CRAZY non-Scotch-Egg (white chocolate marshmallow and salted caramel yolk egg in brownie "meat" and speculoos cookie crumbs).
The steps I took to banish the mental block can hopefully help someone else going through similar, and if I ever have to go through it again I can come back and remind myself!
1. Take a break. I sat around in my onesie for a few days taking it easy. Having never really "switched off" while having the shop open I needed a break anyway and accepting that I couldn't do a thing to change the black hole that is the period between Xmas and new year made it that much easier. Ferrealz.
2. Get in touch with friends and family. I started texting friends and family I had been meaning to for a long time. Of course the New Year kinda helped as a natural ice breaker but had this happened at any other time I think I would literally just type "Hello, long time [turd emoji], would love to see you - next weekend? I'll make you shakshuka". It works.
Even if I'm not talking about what's eating me it really helps just being around other people and putting the anxiety aside. Surprisingly I felt much more refreshed after, able to think with a clearer head and trouble shoot problems as opposed to just dwell over them.
3. Let others inspire.
I was anxious about going back into the kitchen to do routine orders because I knew I would be on auto-pilot and end up with dwelling. While routine can be comforting I needed to also have something to command all new focus, but I couldn't come up with it because of stupid baker's block. Luckily I had an amazing bespoke cake design brief, Faiza's 30th birthday cake, that provided the much needed creative jolt.
Since then I've also got our tight team actively participating with creative juice flow and its resulted in our range being ON FIRE.
4. Lists. Lists are always a good thing to work off but when facing a demotivated downward mental block scenario they really help shaking up and pushing to get the bum tasks out of the way and clear head for making room for creative thought.
5. Purging. Have a big fat cleanse. Whether it's the office, home or your Instagram follow list have a good old purge and make space for fresh and new. Soon enough as I was seeing fresh and new I started feeling it too which helped me make THIS.
Obviously it helps to eat well, drink a lot of water, exercise yadi yada but it's the points above that really helped me, and continues to help me getting over the grief and finding joy in working again.
I hope it helps someone. If not, please enjoy the gratuitous #cakeporn.
Lots of love & baking mojo,