Starting the New Year in Pieces

bowlWho knew that a broken bowl, even a beloved one, could be the catalyst for deciphering the difference between a resolution and an intention or inspire me into stretching my wings a bit as I head into 2020?

It started innocently.  At the end of a long day of baking, I was washing dishes.  I was tired, but happy-tired, lost in the smells that filled the room and the sweet satisfaction of seeing pies, cookies, and warm bread dotting nearly every inch of counter space; my mind drifting rather than paying attention to what I was doing.

I heard the break before I saw it and carefully began picking through the sudsy water.  By the time I’d gotten to the bottom of the dishwater, I was sure I’d made a mistake.  Everything was intact. Phew.

broken bowlIt was only when the suds cleared that I saw them: two sizable chunks of my bowl in the bottom of the sink.

“What was I thinking using this bowl, my bread bowl, my favorite bowl… a dishpan?”   I’d written about the bowl in 2 posts (These are a few of my favorite things & Unexpected Gifts)  Silly, I know. It’s a bowl.  It’s just a bowl.  But I had formed an attachment to it, stirred ingredients with my grandchildren into it, left dough to rise overnight in it, ladled stories and memories into it.

This was the bowl I’d bought right before mom died when I’d reached a place inside of me that I could only label as despair.   Darrell and I had drifted through a local craft fair and stopped to chat with a local potter.  “Darrell,” I said after loving up one of the biggest bowls on the shelf, “I’m going to buy myself a birthday present, a bread bowl.”  Darrell could have easily bought it for me but he didn’t interrupt my process.  It was an act of self-care and when the potter pointed out a small flaw in the glaze I loved it even more.  “Beautiful and flawed,” I thought, “just like life itself.”

I didn’t mope, or sag, or collapse as I retrieved the pieces of the bowl from the bottom of the sink but there was a piece of me that sank a little.

I spent a couple of hours browsing the internet looking for the potter whose name I didn’t know.  I berated myself for not keeping his card.

As the days wore on the urgency to replace it dissipated until the thought that I could just let it go wafted in. The stories and memories it had contained were all tucked away inside of me.

I felt lighter, happy even.  Taken by surprise, I started looking around the house for other things I might have formed attachments to.  Could I let them go as well? 

Hard to believe this kid inspired a life-long resolution in 2015!

Hard to believe this kid inspired a life-long resolution in 2015!

That’s when I started thinking about resolutions.  The last one I blogged about, Seeing with New Eyes in the New Year, was in 2015 when my grandson inspired me with his kindness of heart. That resolution turned into a permanent change!

I could write another resolution for 2020 to keep this letting-go-of-things alive for the whole year!  I googled the word resolve.  Derived from the Latin word, solver, it means to loosen, to dissolve, disintegrate.  It felt a bit too harsh, too final.  I didn’t want to just solve a problem or make a hard and fast rule.  Loosen?  Yes.  Disintegrate? No.  Was there a softer word?

I landed on the word intention.  Derived from the Latin word intendere, it means stretching, purpose.  I liked that.  It felt more fluid, determined with an implied gentleness.  I intend to let go of things as I can.  I’m not vowing to get rid of everything but to use discernment to release what I can.  What remains I intend to love, use, and enjoy knowing that I may not have, or need, them forever.

There’s already been a sweet endnote.

The barter! Though the basket pictured is Darrell’s personal well-used, well-loved one not the one he made for Ben!

On another of my birthdays several years ago, Darrell bartered with our friend who wanted Darrell to make him a pack basket.  In return Ben, who has his own unique pottery in the Catskills, offered to tailor make a bread bowl for me.  When Ben brought it to me I fell in love with it so much that I’ve only admired it from afar: afraid to use it because he made it, because Darrell bartered for it.  

It has a glorious place on the shelf for everyone to oogle over but I know both Ben and Darrell intended for it to be used and loved up. 

It’s time.  This bowl, like the other one, is irreplaceable but I’m ready to pull it down from the shelf and start to mix some great stories into it! 

Its new life, among the ranks of the other bowls on the kitchen counter, will begin with my bowl 1first batch of dough for 2020.  It’s one of my favorite, easiest, great-tasting, you’ll-make-it-all-year-if-you-try-it-once, loaves.  I’ll post the recipe and results next time!

It’s interesting how easy it is to overlook all the abundance surrounding me and zoom in on what I’ve lost.  I suppose, just like in 2015, I’m hoping to see things through a different lens.

Rest assured, I have learned a thing or two and will not be using this bowl for a dishpan. Sometimes, just sometimes, it takes things going to pieces to start moving in a new direction.

May you stretch, grow, and find purpose in 2020!  Please take a moment to share your own thoughts, resolutions, or intentions for the new year!  You may just inspire us all!  Hope to see you around the (new) bread bowl soon! 


I’ll post this simple recipe next time! It’s a perfect loaf to start off the new year!




5 thoughts on “Starting the New Year in Pieces

  1. Of course, you’ll “repurpose” the chipped bowl, once you reglue the pieces. It may not be a bread bowl anymore….but I’m sure you’ll find another way to use it. Loved your blog. Oh….and love you too, Mary.

    Fancy that!

    • Definitely not a bread, or kitchen, bowl but maybe something in the garden! I have lots of winter time to ponder a purpose! :)

  2. Hi Mary….loved your story…..I have one very similar! I had a mug I bought when Dick and I went to Mt Rainer from the gift shop but made by a local potter….it had a thumb feat on the handle that fit my hand perfectly! I LOVED that mug and it made me happy every morning when I had my coffee and brought back many wonderful memories of that trip to the Pacific Northwest! Low and behold I accidentally dropped it and prayed it wasn’t broken, but it most certainly was! I cried….I researched the gift shop but honestly realized I would need it in my hand to feel the fit! I finally let it go…and searched for another that was right ther in my cupboard….from a trip we took to Alaska! Another very fond memory as it was our second last trip we took together…I still use it….everyday….with happy memories

    • Thanks for sharing this. It’s very poignant because of the memories with Dick. It’s a tricky thing this letting go but I’m with you we gotta keep living this life.

  3. Mary,

    I enjoy reading your wonderful stories. I think you handled the loss of your precious bread bowl with grace. Everyone must face losses in life, some more difficult than others. Please continue to blog when you get the time as I appreciate your willingness to share.



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