The Fear of Happy….

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When I was on Weight Watchers I was a weight loss rock star. I lost consistently every week as if it were my job (which eventually it was when I was a WW leader). I was a rock star right up until the end. The end when all I needed to get to my ideal (in my head) weight was to lose 3 pounds. Surly someone who had lost a small child could squeeze out another 3 pounds, right?

Wrong.

I never got to my goal weight. It was a source of frustration that I never understood (well until therapy). I told myself how much I sucked pretty much on a daily basis. Never mind the actual fact that I was a size 6 and looked more than fine. I was not that number. That number that I had always wanted to be in my lifetime.

Then one day I figured out why. I self-sabotaged getting to my magic number because I had in my head that my life was going to be a certain way when I reached that number and it was more than obvious to me that in 3 pounds that wasn’t going to happen. As if weighing that number was going to make my problems go away. I had lost weight thinking that was going to save my marriage (I think we all know that did not happen). If I had lost those three pounds and my life was still crap that was way more than what I wanted to face. But if I could keep holding on to those 3 pounds and in fact gain weight then I still had time, time to make it better. That didn’t happen of course. The problem was never my weight. That was my excuse. That was my excuse for years. Why I couldn’t do things or be things. An excuse to cut myself off from things I was afraid to face.

I had a close friend in college who thanks to the world of Facebook I have reconnected with. She did the 28 Day Challenge and ended up deciding to do the whole LMWL program. When I asked her how she was doing she told me she was very behind because she was so busy. But then came back and opened up to me the real reason. The real reason is powerful.

“I am afraid. At 40 years old I have lived most of life as an unhappy, slightly to greatly overweight woman who doesn’t love herself. If I am successful in completing this program and changing my life in all of the ways that I say I want to then I won’t be those things anymore. For the first time in more years than I can remember I might actually BE happy, and not just pretending to be happy or happy in the moment. and that scares the shit out of me. The weight has always been an excuse for me to keep myself apart from people and not live my life or have great experiences. It’s a buffer from the rest of the world where I can hide and feel safe. The fear of that changing and not knowing what I might feel in the future is overwhelming and scary. Right now as I sit here typing this the feeling of putting that fear into words is both liberating and scary as hell. I am sure that some of you feel the same way that I do and will know what I am going through and that makes it liberating. The fear comes from someone who might tell me that I am beautiful or deserve to find love and happiness because the truth is I have never learned how to love myself and feel that I deserve those things.”

I had a psychologist friend once comment that fear of being happy is a very common thing. That people fear if they actually become happy that it can be taken away. It’s easier to just go through the motions than it is to really put yourself out there. Because just like in relationships when you put yourself out there for happiness you can a get hurt. You can end up feeling things you didn’t want to feel and admit to things you don’t want to admit. It sounds silly but it takes a lot of courage to be happy. Real happy, not Facebook happy.

This time around for LMWL I was actually going to try and lose weight. Life decided to say no and put me back on Prednisone (which if you have ever been on it you know you get so hungry you will rip a Snickers bar right out from a kids arm without blinking). So weight loss is not in the cards. At first I was down on myself. Then going through some old journals I was reminded that I never joined to lose weight, simply to put more life in my life. Which I had done. Which I can do more of.

We like to keep busy so that we aren’t left with our thoughts. Our thoughts scare us all too often. So we will stare at our phone and see what someone who we haven’t ever spoken to in real life is doing on Facebook. Or go through and like everything on Instagram. Pinning the “perfect” life. Plan vacations to get away from our life. We need to start investing in not needing a vacation (though don’t get me wrong they are nice). If the only thing getting you through your day is that the weekend is coming or vacation is coming and then life will be good, then you need to start figuring out how to make your life better. We shouldn’t be rushing through our lives wasting days in hopes of a couple days of good. Make good in everyday.

Start simple. Start with a list. A list of everything in your life you think you would need to be happy. Then figure out which is the most important. If you are listing that you need to be a size 2 to be happy then I’m going to come over and smack you. You need to stop blaming that life isn’t going your way because you don’t weigh you magic number. Because if you do ever get down to your magic number you are going to be very disappointed that life isn’t everything you thought it would be.

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One thing that never disappoints is brioche. It is my happy bread. It makes the best French toast. The best bread pudding. The best cinnamon rolls. I will not lie and tell you that these rolls take time. But the good news is once you make the brioche you get two recipes for the effort of one as you only need half the dough for this batch of cinnamon rolls. You will love what I did with the other half. Might even be better than these and these are darn good!

There are pumpkin pie cinnamon rolls out there…I go the extra step of making a pumpkin brioche. I think it helps take them over the top. I went with a maple glaze as it’s Canadian Thanksgiving tomorrow and maple goes well with pumpkin. But feel free to go with a different glaze if you would like.

To those celebrating tomorrow I wish you a very happy Canadian Thanksgiving. I give you thanks for being a reader of my little blog.
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Pumpkin Pie Brioche Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients

  • For the Rolls:
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree (not the pumpkin pie in a can stuff)
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 3 TBSP granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup cinnamon sugar mix
  • 3 TBSP unsalted butter
  • Pumpkin Brioche (you will only need 1/2 the dough):
  • For the Sponge:
  • ¼ cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2 ½ tsp. active dry yeast (I used Red Star Yeast Platnium)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup bread flour
  • For the Dough:
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 6 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 8 ounces (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • Maple Glaze:
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 cup powdered sugar
  • Milk to thin

Instructions

  1. For the Brioche:
  2. For the Sponge:
  3. Combine the milk and yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and whisk until the yeast is dissolved. Let stand for 5 minutes, then stir in the pumpkin puree, sugar, and flour, forming a thick batter. Cover with plastic film and let rest in a warm environment until bubbles form, 30-40 minutes.
  4. For the Dough:
  5. Add the flour and salt to the sponge, then add the eggs. Mix on low speed for 2 minutes, or until the eggs are absorbed. Increase speed to medium and knead the dough for 5 minutes. The dough will begin to slap around. Hold on to the mixer when necessary.
  6. On medium-low speed, add the butter, 2 TBSP at a time. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally.(Recipe did not say to, but I switched to the dough hook at this point). Knead until the dough is shiny and smooth, about 5 minutes. Scrape out the dough, wash and dry the bowl, and coat it lightly with oil.
  7. Place dough in the oiled bowl and turn it so that the top is coated with oil. Cover with plastic film and let rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
  8. After the dough has doubled in volume, press down to deflate, folding one half into the other. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. This is the second rise.
  9. Pumpkin Brioche from The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard
  10. Remove brioche dough (that has chilled overnight) from the fridge.
  11. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll it into a rectangle approximately 12 by 16 inches.
  12. Use a pastry brush(or your hands if you like to get messy) to spread 3 TBSP of butter around the rolled out dough, leaving an 1-inch margin at the top edge with no butter.
  13. In a small bowl mix the pumpkin puree, sugar, and pumpkin pie spice. Spread this over the butter…they will mix and it will be fine.
  14. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar evenly over the butter covered surface, again leaving the 1-inch margin.
  15. Starting from the long side closest to you, roll up the dough like a jellyroll. Transfer the log to a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 10 minutes. This will make cutting the buns clean and even.
  16. Remove from freezer, cut buns into 1 ½-inch pieces, you should get around 12. Place them back onto a greased baking pan. Spread out so they are not touching. Or you can bake them in a muffin pan (I did that this time…leaves a clean line that I like). Wrap with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 1 ½ to 2 hours.
  17. Preheat the oven to 400F. Bake buns for 10 minutes and reduce heat to 350F. Bake for another 10-15 minutes depending on the size of your buns. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Then glaze.
  18. To make the glaze:
  19. Mix all the powdered sugar and maple syrup together. If too thick add a little milk. Pour over each cinnamon roll(do this with the rolls on a wire rack with a baking pan underneath to catch the extra glaze.
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Comments

  1. Oh my….these look like they could be dangerous! Something that I would make and take (most of them) somewhere to make others very happy! I am actually restarting the 28 day challenge, as the first time around work, sick pets and injury sidetracked me in a big way. I’m now realizing that I need to pay attention to MY care if I’m going to feel better, and the 28 day is a good kick off to change my focus.

  2. Happy Canadian Thanksgiving, P-bods! Love this post for many reasons. Often WE are what is in our own way. Many people (like my sister) fear success. Because, with success, there are the dreaded (in some minds) of the “expectations” and that we may not deserve the rewards for success as well. (Hollywood has a problem with this when stars downward spiral despite their success. A self hatred takes over.) It all boils down to the same thing, doesn’t it? We fail to live in the moment. Judaism (dig that religion) speaks of the wisdom of living in the present and all the blessings that come with it. If psychologically you’re all wound up in the past, and fear the future, you are not enjoying “the now”. It’s kind of like being absent from your own life…only existing and not living. FABULOUS Pumpkin Pie Brioche Cinnamon Rolls! (Didn’t I see these before on your blog, perhaps in a different way? Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread maybe?) Anyway, I pinned the heck out of them…everywhere! Thanks for sharing, girl. xo

  3. I have a cranberry mall cinnamon roll using the pumpkin brioche awhile back. There is also a loaf of bread using it as well. And maple rolls. And sticky buns. :-)

  4. HA – brioche and the talk of losing weight. I love this post so much.

    Now, I may live under a rock but what is this 28 day challenge? Recently we read the book Foodista, it totally makes sense and it kind of a gentle reminder to stop eating like a jerk. We recalibrated our bodies by eliminating a few poisons from our diet, as well as cutting down portions, making time for meals and few other tweaks; along with mild exercise. The pounds have been coming off slowly but what is really interesting is that body fat is disappearing. No more muffin top. Smaller tummies. More energy, and we do not miss the poisons so much. Okay, I do miss a glass of wine while cooking but that is not the worst of them. Sensible eating and exercise is always a good start. That being said, still interested in what this 28 day challenge is?

  5. These look AMAZING! I just wanted to take a minute to let you know how much I enjoy reading your blog and trying your recipes. I don’t usually comment but your post today was exactly what I needed after a pretty challenging time in my life. Thank you so much for sharing :)

  6. “We shouldn’t be rushing through our lives wasting days in hopes of a couple days of good. Make good in everyday.” I appreciate the words of wisdom, Peabody! They are timely for me as I am finishing up a glorious week off from teaching. I enjoy what I do, but I it can be a high-stress job at times. This was a great reminder to make sure a little “me time” happens each day, whether it’s meditating or getting in some exercise or a few pages of a great book.
    Those cinnamon rolls look glorious! I’m a little scared of working with yeast but this looks so scrumptious, I will have to give it a try. :)

  7. @Carrie- give it a try…yeast is not that bad!

  8. @Cara- well thanks for commenting, I appreciate it!

  9. @Denise- the 28 Day Challenge was through a program I do called Live More Weigh Less which is really more of a learn to love yourself while you lose weight kind of program. It’s run by Sarah Jenks http://sarahjenks.com/ who takes a very different approach to losing weight.

  10. I love pumpkin pie and cinnamon rolls! This is a perfect combination! I can’t wait to try them!

  11. I recently found out that I was not happy at all with my chosen major (Bio-electrical Engineering). I was always stressed and at school for about 16 hours studying and getting frustrated. I recently dropped my engineering classes leaving me with only 9 credits (luckily I don’t have scholarships that will get mad at me for dropping those classes) but I’m so relieved to be out of those classes! I’m thinking I might want to do bio-material engineering, but something in the back of my head says engineering just isn’t for me. So now I have to find a major that makes me happy (biology makes me happy so it will most likely be in that field)

    These cinnamon rolls look absolutely amazing! And I will have to try them once I get my stand mixer back from storage, which will be in a few weeks, which I’m so happy about! :)

    HAPPY CANADIAN THANKSGIVING!!

  12. Those look and sound so good!

  13. I never had a “magic number” that I thought was my goal. For me, it was never enough no matter how much weight I lost or what the scale said or what my pants size was. Looking back, I had an even more impossible goal than a magic number whereupon my life was supposed to become perfect. My change wasn’t that I didn’t want to weigh above a certain number, my change was that I didn’t want to be me. Somehow I never realized it back then, I just thought I must think I’m fat and everyone must think I’m fat and I just want people to love me for me, even though I didn’t love me for me and my whole aim was to NOT be me. Makes sense, huh? :P

    I’ve never heard someone put it quite the way you have before. It isn’t fear of being happy that holds us back, it’s fear of being happy and then losing what makes us happy. It’s not wanting to open up because we know if we spread our wings we leave our hearts undefended. I know that fear. I live that fear. But I’m going to keep trying to escape it, because I know the day I find courage is going to be the day that I really start living. I might not be instantly happy or instantly satisfied, but I’ll be closer to getting there.

    …There to the oven to make pumpkin pie brioche cinnamon rolls. Sorry, I think I lost track of my train of thought when I hit those pictures. Brioche, here I come. :)

  14. I don’t think I’ve ever heard you so clear in my head. I love this post. Thank you so much. Your friend is absolutely right. We get so scared of being happy that clinging on to things that make us unhappy is easier. I’m guilty of this. I saw you kneading this bread on IG and was curious what you were making. Love the extra step to making pumpkin brioche!

  15. These look amazing! I’m feeling dumb though- what am I missing in the instructions? It says “For the brioche” and “For the Sponge” but then no instructions…? I searched back a few recipes to see if those instructions are there but don’t see them. Help? Am considering these for thanksgiving weekend with family…

  16. Sponge is the start of the brioche which is in the instructions. Then you make the dough after the sponge.

  17. Oh! Ok, thanks!

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