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(Opinion and reflection piece by Chelsea Micklewood)

2020 became synonymous with banana bread. Worldwide, family recipes were shared, with Pinterest and Instagram imploding with pictures and videos of everyone’s home-baked goods. Amidst the anxiety and uncertainty that shadowed the year, many of us turned to structure and comfort in the form of wholesome baked bread.

But unlike banana bread, 2020 didn’t come with a recipe for how to survive a pandemic, how to balance working from home and online schooling, or how to keep physically and mentally strong.

If you have ever made banana bread you will know that the overripe bananas, those on the edge of being almost inedible, are the ones that make the yummiest of bread. I enjoy the visual of throwing all that decaying fruit into a mix to make something delicious. Perhaps this was our universal attempt at finding the sweet in the bitterness of 2020.

In my own small bubble at home, we tried to build some structure and routine, that included baking banana bread with the kids. We did at-home workouts, created coloured clocks to help our little ones understand when it was work time and when it was playtime for mom and dad (this was almost not an entire failure) and had multiple WhatsApp chats with friends we couldn’t see. And in those few, (very long) weeks we found some sweetness:

  • The sweetness of slowing down, something I struggle with as a business owner and mom of 2 busy kids
  • The sweetness of the simple things. Being “locked-in” highlighted what and who was most important
  • The sweetness of gratitude, for our health, jobs, friends and family

One of the toughest areas to navigate over the last year for me has been in business. How I wish there had been a recipe for this!

The main focus and aim for me and my business partners at the start of the 2020 sh*t show, was to create stability for our team, and of course the business. With so much unpredictability we wanted to create a safe space for our employees where work could provide comfort in its security.

We were exceptionally lucky that our team were able to pick-up with remote working with little to no interruption and that our trial run, prior to lockdown (you can read about that here), put us in a good place to work from home when National Lockdown Level 5 was implemented.

As with many, my anxiety levels were pretty high going into Level 5, so completely unsure of what life and business would look like during a near-total shutdown.

Add to this the loss of loved ones for some of our senior team members, a scaling back of budgets for many of our clients, and slow sales amidst the economic uncertainty. It’s safe to say that things were, at times, pretty rotten!

Yet, despite those rotting bananas, we again found sweetness:

  • Lockdown offered us the opportunity to re-evaluate our work and offering
  • We were able to pursue projects and new ventures that the busyness of pre-lockdown business hadn’t allowed
  • We developed an even greater appreciation for our team and clients, and grew stronger relationships with the people who supported, hustled and struggled through it all with us

So, amidst all the challenges and uncertainty I hope that you manage to find the sweetness, no matter how small, and remember that “…we have a choice: to pay attention to what we’ve lost or to pay attention to what we still have”. – Edith Eger

And when in doubt, bake banana bread…

Recipe:

Ingredients:

½ cup butter
1 ½ cups sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed bananas (±3 large bananas)

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180’C

Cream the butter and sugar together
Add the eggs and whisk for 2minutes

In a separate bowl, sift in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt

Fold the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture
Add the mashed bananas
Pour the batter into a greased loaf tin
Optional: Top with a sprinkling of sugar and crushed nuts

Bake for 1hour on 180’C
Remove from the oven and allow to cool while still in the tin
Remove from the tin, slice and serve with butter

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