On the day that I am writing this, it is JB’s birthday and I am in the process of making him a birthday cake. I chose an Ina Garten chocolate cake from Bon Appetit to try this year. As I was beating the butter for the frosting, impatiently willing it to become mooth and creamy, I realized what I needed to tell you today.
When I was a little girl and it was cake time, my mother would reach for a package of Duncan Hines and a can of Betty Crocker frosting. I thought that cake and frosting were things that you bought and were easy to make with just a little oil, eggs and water. And frosting came from a can.
It was an instant gratification kind of approach to baking, which, in a lot of ways is the approach many of us take into our lives.
One summer, I was visiting my grandmother’s and helped her make a cake. She set me to work with a bowl and pantry ingredients: flour, sugar, cocoa, and some powdered sugar. It was my job to sift everything into a fine powder before we added it to the bowl.
At first, I couldn’t understand why she just didn’t go to the store and get a cake mix. But then, I got into the whole process of getting the lumps out of the sugar and was amazed at the transformation that happened when you added a little butter, vanilla and eggs to all the powdery things.
Though the mix and pre-prepared frosting would have been much faster, it certainly wasn’t as delicious – or rewarding – as making the cake the long way.
So, here’s the deal, darling: If you want to fully live your life – to create it – not just exist in the day-to-day, it’s up to you to create your own recipe for what creates that.
And while I’d love to tell you that there’s a cake-mix approach to creating transformation, my dearest, that would be a lie.
My darling, there is no magic wand for making life perfect.
There’s no magic pill that will instantly fix what you believe is wrong with you, your life or your relationship. In fact, let me be clear: you are not broken and do not need to be fixed. You just need to choose to live a more conscious existence, gain clarity around what you most want in life, and do the work to get there.
No, darling, if you want your life to be different from how it is now, then you have allow yourself the time to create change. (Oh, and be willing to show up and do the work)
Like you, I’ve been impatient in the past for things to be different than my current reality.
You see, the frosting I made for JB’s birthday cake called for the butter to be at room temperature and it wasn’t quite there yet. So, I tried to beat it into shape. Of course, it took longer trying to short-cut it.
We do that to ourselves all the time. We become impatient with ourselves or believe that if we beat ourselves up enough, we’ll transform. Well, we WILL change over time, but in my experience we do the opposite of frosting – instead of becoming soft and sweet, we can become harsh and bitter.
Now, the frosting also called for six ounces of chopped semi-sweet chocolate. I wanted the cake to be special, so I picked up some single-origin dark chocolate bars for this part. I wanted decadence and richness, something I knew I couldn’t get from chocolate chips. On the flip side, I love Nestle Chocolate Chips for cookies and would choose them nine times out of ten for that!
It was a reminder about life here, too. Sometimes, we can choose what feels the easiest and get great results. And other times, it’s worth investing in something a little more luxurious.
To become besotted with ourselves and the art of living, we need to be reminded that our lives deserve to be tended with thought and care.
Now that I’m an experienced cook, I sometimes adjust a recipe to my tastes. A touch more vanilla, using butter instead of oil or choosing a special cocoa. Recipes are great as a guideline. Following someone else’s example is a great way to get started. But even when a recipe is followed exactly, sometimes you get a different result than you expect.
We are all different, kitten and the recipe for the life I love is going to be different from the life that works best for you.
And no matter how perfect a recipe seems, we all make mistakes. Mistakes are simply a sign of having tried something that didn’t quite work. Everything that makes up who you are: the emotional baggage, battle scars, grey hairs, and laugh lines are a part of your hero’s journey. I know that they have been part of mine.
I know within the deepest recesses of my soul that you desire and deserve to be happy. You deserve to be living a conscious life. You deserve to be enchanted with yourself and smitten with the art of day to day living.
It begins with asking yourself what you need for your recipe. Only you can define what feels nourishing for you. Only you can say how your daily actions can feel supportive. Only you can say what happy feels like to you. Only you can define what satisfaction feels like.
I know the thought that you are responsible for your own recipe can be terrifying. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve sat across the table from (or at the other end of the phone) from someone who realized they were afraid of not only the idea of the recipe, but the ingredients and the process of putting it together.
But beginning to create it, oh, darling, all you need to do is take the next step.
Change is scary for all of us. But time, and time again, I have also born witness to the discovery of that one elegant idea, necessary ingredient, or pivotal question that sparked that first step to begin living life fully.
Let me assure you, darling, I have faith in you. You can create the recipe for your life. It won’t come together maybe as instantaneously as you think it should, but I promise you that if you do the work, it will taste incredibly sweet.
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