everything’s going to be okay

great blue heron

I tend to become melancholy on December 31st. This last day of the year often feels like so many Sunday nights, when I feel sad to leave the wonderful weekend days behind to head into a brand new week filled with unknowns.

This year is different. I’m very okay with leaving 2014 behind.

This has been a tough year, overshadowed by family illness, death, and grief. In my career, I deal with death routinely, so I thought I’d be more prepared when February 27th arrived. I learned quickly, though, that much like becoming a parent, losing a parent is something that you simply can’t understand until you go through it yourself. I understand now. If there is a bright side to this experience, it’s that I feel that I am a more understanding physician for it.

But the year also had many good parts, and I don’t want you to think that I’ve been sitting in a darkened room, withering away, not moving forward. For one thing, my father would have had no patience for that.

We’ve had wonderful travel experiences this year, most notably our trip to the Grand Tetons and to Yellowstone National Park. I know that this may change one day, but we love traveling with our children. They soak in new experiences, ask amazing questions, and easily adapt to new situations and environments. Maddie and Oliver do their fair share of bickering, but it never lasts long, and they love being together. I know that one day, my kids might think that traveling with their parents is onerous. Until then, and probably even after then, we are going to continue making most of our family adventures.


I took up a new hobby over Thanksgiving weekend, one I’d been thinking of for some time. Thanks to online classes at Craftsy, I have learned to cast on, knit, purl, increase and decrease, bind off, and knit in the round. I have never taken Valium or Xanax before, but I believe that for me, knitting must have the same effect. As I place stitches, the wooden knitting needles softly clicking in my hands, I can feel my heart rate slow and a sense of stillness comes over me. To put it simply: I am in love.

2014 was the year we did a major back yard overhaul. After five years of debating and changing our minds (and stocking up the savings account), we had a pool put in. The back yard has now replaced my front porch as my favorite hanging-out place. The sound of running water is soothing, and I find myself looking into the back yard all the time, just to look at the water. I know that when the weather is warmer, I will love it even more.

I lamented the fact that the pool construction seemed to have scared off our backyard birds from our bird feeders.  In the past few weeks, after much wishing and hoping, my birds returned. We now have our cardinals back, and I have seen an oriole, the tufted titmouse, black-capped chickadees, sparrows, and curious house wrens. Yesterday, two pair of bright blue eastern bluebirds visited. And on December 19th, when I happened to be home from work, the great blue heron in the top photo surprised me when he appeared on the pool’s deck and stayed for twenty minutes or so, peering into the water to look for fish.

I took that heron as a sign. I don’t know what it’s a sign for, but seeing that majestic heron in my back yard, standing proud but wary, made me feel hopeful and optimistic. Like everything’s going to be okay.

And I think it will be. I think 2015 will be A-okay.

Happy New Year, friends.


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12 Responses to “finding faith and baking bread”

  1. 1
    Maria Raynal — June 21, 2012 @ 4:45 pm

    Sometimes that bit of faith is all we need. Nice work, MJ.

  2. 2
    Aggie — June 21, 2012 @ 4:49 pm

    I was successful at bread baking with that book too. Love it! Can’t wait to hear about your upcoming trip! 🙂

  3. 3
    Sofya — June 21, 2012 @ 4:57 pm

    Beautiful bread! I love your photos an writing.

  4. 4
    Macaroni Mama — June 21, 2012 @ 5:10 pm

    Sweet blog. I’m proud of you!

  5. 5
    Gail — June 21, 2012 @ 8:41 pm

    You’re one of the most inspiring women I know. Truly.

  6. 6
    Paula — June 21, 2012 @ 8:53 pm

    I believe I’ve said this before but it bears repeating. I do love the way you write. Your posts are always such a pleasure to read and this one was no exception. Beautifully written and beautifully baked bread. I’m sure your family is very happy that you found your faith, Oliver’s (at one point almost a Jack) photo speaks loud and clear of their delight 🙂

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — June 22nd, 2012 @ 1:41 pm

      Thank you so much, Paula. xo

  7. 7
    Kathy Gori — June 21, 2012 @ 9:16 pm

    Love this post as I well know the definition of busy… I’ve been using this bread method for the last year or so and it really works. It’s so easy it’s almost miraculous.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — June 22nd, 2012 @ 1:41 pm

      I love that most of the work is done by time in the refrigerator – takes some of the pressure off, for sure.

  8. 8
    Jenny @ BAKE — June 22, 2012 @ 6:38 am

    That loaf looks perfect! I hope you can keep the faith in you up!

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — June 22nd, 2012 @ 1:40 pm

      Thank you, Jenny. I’m certainly going to try.

  9. 9
    Mary — June 22, 2012 @ 3:37 pm

    I really enjoy your writing and I love the name Oliver.

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