If you haven’t gathered from these last few weeks, the month of May is quite hard. Not just for me although I feel like it may be mostly me. It definitely isn’t just me, but I do talk about it more than anyone else. It is how I cope with my feelings, my grief and every other thing that loss brings to the surface. At one point this month I felt itchy, literally itchy! I couldn’t wrap my brain around not having my son with me and it has been four years! Though for some reason all the pain comes rushing back and floods my insides, making me insane. Or not insane, well ya, insane for a good long moment until my feet touch the ground again. My feet only getting to touch the ground again after I write out my feelings or spill them all out of my mouth onto my husband. Sometimes I pour it all out on social media, opening myself and my wound for everyone to see and do what they will with it. Once it is all out I start to feel better. My senses regain and I’m still very sad but can slowly move forward again. It isn’t just during the month of May I feel this way. It is just that May holds the day we lost Ryan, the day of his funeral and all the upside down days in between. May brings that physical reminder that he is gone and that he was ripped away. Ohhh and don’t forget about those days right afterwards. Or that first night with out him where you refused to take your shoes off because if you did then it would all become real. You know, I finally got rid of those damn shoes just last month.
I used to think that my go-to coping mechanism was writing, telling my husband how I feel or sharing my thoughts on my blog/social media. I mean I know I exercise to help process negative feelings. I often like to visit the places I once frequented holding my son’s hand, like Disneyland. But this month I finally realized that sometimes, sometimes I self sooth by eating. This month in particular I noticed myself feeling warm and happy when I ate a slice of banana bread from Starbucks! It sounds so silly even now as I type it out. Silly or embarrassing? Both. But it is true. All this month I’d work in a quick drive thru trip to snag a slice of banana bread from Starbucks. I’d ask for it warmed and enjoy it slowly as I drove to wherever I was off to next. It made me feel good and during a month where feeling good was hard to find, I went for it with this damn bread. I’ll be honest, it isn’t the best banana bread I’ve had. My moms banana bread is actually the best. I also make a pretty great version. But the drive thu was a quick fix! I’ve finally comes to terms with myself and this self soothing banana bread routine. I’m thinking I need to stop going so often, but I won’t hold back if it is something that I feel like I need in a pinch. A pinch being a really low time, a bad day, that kind of thing. Or I can make it myself, which makes me feel even better because I love being in my tiny kitchen.
The idea of self soothing is something I am slowly understanding. I think we all do it in so many ways. My daughter does it with her pacifier. I do it when I go to the gym or do my full face wash routine after Mila goes to bed. My mom (and I) do it with a glass of wine at the end of a long day. I did it all this month ordering warm banana bread. I think we all go through hard times and to give yourself an opportunity to self sooth is important. So long as it isn’t going to hurt you in the long run. (Which is why I won’t be eating banana bread for a little while ;) BUT IT IS SO GOOD!
How do you self sooth? Are you aware of it while you are doing it? I think it is kinda wild that I just now noticed what I was doing all month by driving to Starbucks 2-3 times a week for banana bread. I’m like “Oh! You were sad and the bread made you feel happy for a quick moment.” Then I feel like crying because how miserable is that?! You know what else? No one knew. No one knows except now, who ever reads this will know.
I am happy that this month is finally over. I am grateful for the hard to swallow memories because they ultimately remind me of how strong I was and can be. How strong I am now. I feel relieved and ready to play in next months sunshine. I feel a little defeated because I know that even after a full month of feeling blah, it all won’t truly ever disappear. But then I feel OK. I will be OK and truthfully the good always outweighs the bad. And now I know, that I’ll always have banana bread.
Sharing my recipe for banana bread below …
Photos by Lily Ro Photography
CLASSIC BANANA BREAD
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 45-60 minutes
Servings: 8-12 slices
1 stick of softened unsalted butter
1/2 cup white sugar + a pinch for the topping
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
4 ripe bananas
2 cups sifted flour
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup unsalted walnuts
1 inch of vanilla bean. Split the bean down the center and use the tip of the knife to scoop out the vanilla beans inside.
You'll need a 8x5 loaf pan and parchment paper to line the pan with.
*You can swap the flour for Gluten Free FLour. *You can omit the waluts all together or your favorite nut. *You can omit the vanilla bean for the nut topping. I just love the additional warm vanilla taste it gives the bread overall.
In a small bowl toss the walnuts with a pinch of white sugar and the vanilla beans. Set this aside.
Next pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Butter your loaf pan and place a piece of parchment paper at the bottom of your pan. This will allow your bread to come out of the pan easily.
In a bowl peel and mash the bananas. You can use a fork to mash the bananas or a potato masher. You'll want to mash the bananas until they break down into a desirable consistency. If you want large banana chunks through out your bread then don't mash them to much. I love mashing them until they are nearly smooth so the bananas evenly permeate the bread. Either way it is tasty!
In a large bowl whisk together your butter and the white + brown sugar. Whisk these until they become combined and smooth.
Next whisk in your vanilla and eggs.
Now whisk in your milk and bananas.
Last you'll want to use a wooden spoon or spatula to fold in your sifted flour and baking soda. Continue to fold until the batter comes together and everything is well combined.
Pour your batter into the loaf pan.
Sprinkle on your vanilla bean and sugared walnuts. Press the walnuts gently into the top of the batter.
Bake your bread for about 45-60 minutes or until golden brown and fully baked. Be sure to use a tooth pick or wooden skewer to check if the middle of your bread is cooked through. Stick the toothpick into the center of the bread. If it comes out clean then the bread is done. If it comes out with wet batter on it, then the bread needs to cook a bit longer.
Enjoy your banana bread warm and store in an air tight container for up to a week.