My friend Anna bakes the most delicious confections. When we lived in Los Angeles, she’d arrive to the cookout or rooftop party with something extravagantly hand-crafted, like a Malaysian Seri Muka or artisan lavender shortbread cookies infused with a sprig of fresh mint from her garden. Once, she tackled an oversized butterscotch creme brulee for a baby shower and we all crowded around her campfire of sugar, cheering as it went up in a single flame.
Anna would immaculately display each creation on her enormous collection of cake stands, sometimes drizzled with honey or accented with flowers and twigs. Pretty things taste better, she’d say. She’d show up to your dirty house on a Tuesday afternoon carrying sugar-coated beignets stacked on a glimmering brass tray and waltz into your entryway to declare, It’s National New Orleans Day! Let’s eat!
(She is obviously a favorite of mine.)
Our circle of friends had long adapted to her culinary whims, but once, at a weekend picnic when everyone brought chips and salsa or boxed wine, she presented over 70 miniature gateau de rois from a gingham lined picnic basket. With tiny forks.
At the picnic, while kids ran underfoot and kickballs flew in the air, another friend made a comment to her. Anna! You’re making us all look bad. Can’t you just take a nap or something?
And Anna looked at my friend, puzzled, and said, simply, You don’t get it. Baking IS my nap.
I’m guessing you know an Anna. I’m guessing you follow a few Annas on Instagram, Annas that design extravagant handmade Halloween costumes for their kids or throw wildly beautiful parties on the weekend or spend their Wednesday afternoons re-decorating their house, #nbd.
I’m guessing you’ve airbrushed them in a certain light, and covered yourself in another. I’m guessing you’ve thought the Annas in your life have more energy than you, more time than you, more talent than you, more money than you, more drive than you.
I’m guessing you didn’t realize they’re just napping.
Self care is just that: care of the self.
It looks different for us all, and while the idea of packing 70 handmade French pastries into a picnic basket with miniature cutlery raises your blood pressure, it lowers Anna’s.
Can we think of this the next time we scroll through Instagram?
Can we see a freshly vacuumed living room with fiddle fig leaf plants in the corner and breezy gauze curtains swaying by the open window and think, Ah, that Anna sure napped well?
Can we see a kitchen counter full of homemade detergents and essential oil linen sprays in sparkling glass bottles and think, How was your nap?
Can we see the beignets, the artisan cookies, the Seri Muka and think, Sleep tight?
I think so.
And I think we’ll all rest better for it.
Sweet dreams and a happy weekend ahead, friends.