New Fun Obsession: PRETZELS!

When I first started working with my therapist at the beginning of the year, he asked me what I did for fun.

It’s one of those questions that makes me very uncomfortable.

“For fun~~~?” He pushed me a bit and asked me, what do I do for fun… with NO UTILITARIAN VALUE TO IT. What do I do to just let go and enjoy myself?

“I don’t,” I replied rather abruptly.

“I know,” he responded.

Everything I did was related to “should” or “should not”. As in… I SHOULD do this, because it will help with… or I SHOULD NOT do this because it’s a waste of time. Everything. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything or refrained from doing something without going through that filter. And since everything went through that filter, if I did something I SHOULDN’T, I felt very guilty or if I didn’t do something I SHOULD, I’d feel shame. Exhausting way to live, yes.

“Your mission this week, should you choose to accept it, is to do something frivolous,” he challenged me at the end of our session. I nodded outwardedly, but inside I felt a bit puzzled as to what I was supposed to do.

So I looked up the word frivolous:

friv·o·lous (adj): not having any serious purpose or value

It was an interesting week.

I used to love reading, so I tried reading, but my brain was vibrating too hard for me to sit still and read. I tried picking up my ukulele again, but it felt more like work since I was/am such a beginner and it made me feel more like a loser than a learner, given the frame of mind I was in. I tried watching TV, but it wasn’t ‘fun’ so much as mind numbing. Plus, a lot of it was stressful. I think I was a bit Trumped out . I tried blogging again, which I do love, but it’s also work… some days I have nothing, which made me feel anxious.

I reported back to my therapist that I didn’t quite find anything frivolous, but I would try again. He said, not to worry, don’t feel pressure about this, just think about it.

Months late, my son declared one night that he wanted to make pretzels and that he found a recipe. So after dinner, the two of made pretzels. Well, *I* made pretzels. *He* experimented with the dough in the microwave, with chocolate, with butter, with sugar, with water… you name it, he *experimented* with it. The Tiger Mom in me wanted to yell at him and say FOLLOW THE RECIPE! And so I said “you know, people usually play with the recipe AFTER they’ve mastered it”. And he responded, “Yes, I know, but I just wanted to try this.” I thanked the Tiger Mom in me for making that recommendation and let him go ahead, even tasting some of his experiments. (Not horrible.)

My first pretzels were *okay*. I did get some feedback from my husband. “You may want to make them a bit thinner, so it looks more like a pretzel instead of a big bun.” To me, as long as it tastes good… who cares what it looks like!?

But then I started making pretzels just to make them. And each time I made them, they looked more and more like pretzels you buy at the mall.

This week… I made my first sweet cinnamon pretzel. And they were soooo good. I’m so proud of them. I realize that making something one can eat isn’t entirely frivolous, I suppose. But, then again, pretzels are frivolous! There is no nutritional value. They just taste great. And making them has become fun. I don’t even look at the recipe anymore! And I experiment with different flavours now, like herb and garlic and now this sweet cinnamon one.

(For those of you who cook, bake and are crafty… please understand that I’m no homebody. On the nights I had to cook, my roommates at university ate such “Sherry classics” as cucumber casserole, KD with cream of corn, and instant ramen noodles with frozen peas…. those were the *edible* ones.)

So now, if my therapist asked me what I do for fun, I can say: make and eat pretzels!

Published by Sherry Yuan Hunter

Sherry Yuan Hunter is a certified trauma recovery coach and certified parenting coach. Taiwan-born American-Canadian Chinese, married, working mother of two, Sherry identifies as a Sandwich Parent, Third Culture Kid, an untigering Mom, and Recovering Shouldaholic. Based in Toronto, Canada, Sherry has been working in student success programs at University of Toronto for 20 years, supporting students, young professionals, new managers, working moms, and new immigrants to success.

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