Grease the Pan


A conversation with my dear friend, Sue, often leaves me with a valuable nugget that improves my life. Recently, I filled her in on an upcoming event I was dreading. My participation was required in a space that didn’t suit me well, and had previously left me with a migraine. She knew the story. It was a complicated one, but her counsel included a rudimentary baking analogy – not what I was expecting to hear from an engineer/attorney.

“When I don’t grease the pan, the batter sticks and makes a mess. But when I take a few moments to do so, everything comes out easily, and clean up is a cinch,” she told me.

I blinked at my phone. “What does that have to do with the stress I’m feeling about tomorrow’s challenges?” I wondered.

Sue connected the dots. “It’s the same for tomorrow. Take some time to do a few preparations that will make things easier for yourself.”

This included getting a little extra sleep and planning other respites that I wouldn’t have considered before my talk with Sue. When the stressful day was over, I felt calm and unruffled. The challenges were still there, but the small measures I made to balance them had paid off.

Since then, Sue’s words have popped into my head regularly. I have to have a difficult discussion with a loved one. Grease the pan: let her know how much you care about her at the beginning of the conversation. That contentious person is coming to dinner. Grease the pan: remind yourself that his political views come from a place of passion, and seat him next to your congenial cousin. I have to rework a ruined project. Grease the pan: brew a cup of tea, take some deep breaths, and appreciate the opportunity to make improvements.

Part of me wondered if I was being manipulative in my strategies involving others. I quickly discounted this based on the fact that I was simply applying what was needed and missing from my own intentions- compassion, empathy, gratitude – the WD40s of relating and connecting.

Many areas of my life can benefit from this easily applied precursor. There are things I can do before I begin creative work that may diminish the snags and blocks that plague it. This might include some physical actions, but mostly it involves internal adjustments and arrangements. Beginner’s Mind, as Leah describes it, takes some effort to frame and integrate, but that time spent saves much in the end. It creates an expanse for inspiration and individuality. My offerings can then release with ease into their place in the world.

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