One of my strategies for dealing with the doldrums is to read a stack of picture books from the library. Of course, right? But it’s true. And it usually works.
Picture books that explore darker subjects are some of my very favorite ones. I’ve got three examples that give insight into the doldrums and how to beat them. Or at least work with them a little. Here’s the first and stay tuned for the other two.
MRS. BIDDLEBOX BY LINDA SMITH, ILLUSTRATED BY MARLA FRAZEE
Mrs. Biddlebox is quite a character. And she has a very bad case of the doldrums. Everything about her day contributes to her bad mood, from annoying birds to bitter tea. But in the course of this enchanting, good-humored book, she gathers and twirls the ingredients that are giving her the grumblies. With the help of her goose companion, she works with the stuff of that bad day as though it were dough.
When she’s finally done in the kitchen, she eats her freshly baked CAKE. The magic of baking allows Mrs. Biddlebox to transform that “dreary little funk” into something far far sweeter in this amazingly charming picture book.
(Marla Frazee’s interview at Cynsations about her process and the author who passed away before it was illustrated is definitely worth a read too.)
illustration images: courtesy of Marla Frazee
Miss Cakehead in the UK has a related project in the oven. The Depressed Cake Shop pop ups will sell gray treats only. That’s right, gray cakes. It’s a depressed cake shop, after all. The beauty of it is the treats may be made by someone who has personal experience with depression. The proceeds will help fund a mental health charity, ideally even go toward baking therapy sessions to help ease those still suffering.
cake credit: All Mine Patisserie
Those gray cakes might contain a kick of color inside! They’re edible metaphors. A dark, sad surface, but inside, something full of joy and pizazz. Just waiting to be discovered.
cake credit: Two Little Cats
cake credit: Miss Insomnia Tulip
Aren’t they gorgeous?
What is it about baking that helps beat the doldrums? Creating something? Working with your hands? The process? The senses involved? The comfort of the finished product? Getting to share it? Focusing on each step by step by step?
So many people bake to soothe grief, loss, doubt, feeling stuck, or being at their wit’s end. They bake to beat the doldrums, like Mrs. Biddlebox. Do you?
Just looking at those cake creations makes me feel better already.
Here’s some final inspiration from INKY CO on etsy. Printable posters of the baking variety: