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There’s No Crying in Cake Making

12334_10200825285336454_1064534147_nRecently I have been faced with several of my insecurities.  It has been overwhelming as I can recall a time when I was far more secure in myself.  Years ago, I was a take charge, take no prisoner, unable to waver under pressure person, or that’s what I let people think.  Deep down inside, I was a small little shaking chihuahua.  I was and still am incredibly scared and in fear of failing or not meeting external expectations.

Today, although working in a different capacity, I have some of the same fears, but they do not immobilize me like they have in the past.  I try to figure out the issues, but when I cannot, that is when I turn to a person who is more knowledgeable, and I ask for assistance.  I also know that I will inevitably end up making mistakes, and no one has ever told me that they expect me to be perfect.  That, the need to be perfect, is an expectation that I put on myself, it is NOT something that people who I care about in my life now, have put on me.  It’s something that I have put on myself.

With everything I do, whether it is as simple as making coffee in the morning to completing a large initiative at work, I wonder if I am good enough.  I know that this insecurity stems from my past.  But as I wrote a week ago, I am working to rewrite the old narratives that I have allowed to take over my life.

  • If the coffee is bitter, I will add more creamer.
  • If I make a mistake on an invoice, it will be brought to my attention, I will make a change and I will resend it.
  • If I incorrectly respond to an email, it will be brought to my attention and I will work to correct it.
  • Should I make a cake that is not what the customer was hoping for, I can always offer to make another cake, or offer a reduction in the price.

I have spent most of the last few days stressing over a cake order.  Yup, another mention of cake, much like Georgia, it is always on my mind… I want the cake to be perfect!  I broke the whole cake down into pieces and did a divide and conquer technique.  I even did a test cake a week ago to try out the techniques that were needed for the final cake to make sure I felt comfortable with what I needed to do.  But, as I was finishing up the cake last night I saw only flaws that I had made.  I was beginning to get physically sick thinking about delivering the cake and ruminating on how the customer would not like the cake.  I am surprised I slept last night with all the self-doubt that was swirling in my head.

Although remotely, my mother was beside me last night as I was finishing up the cake.  I was sending photos of my cake and she was sending me affirmations in the way that only my Mama knows that I need.  My kids were also with me in the kitchen and watching me work.  My partner told me numerous times that he thought the cake was gorgeous and what the customer had requested.  Although I was surrounded with all this positivity, I was still doubting.  This morning the cake was delivered, the customer said they were happy and the cake was beautiful, yet I STILL have it in my head that it was not good enough.

What the Hell Michelle?? I really want to believe what I am being told!  Focus on what the truth is.  This was the same advice that I gave to a friend today, focus on the truths.

So, the truths are:

  • The cake will be delicious
  • The frosting is delectable
  • The cake is the size that the customer asked for
  • The design of the cake is what the customer requested
  • The color of the cake is very close to what they asked for
  • The customer knew that I am not a professional cake decorator
  • I am a work in progress
  • My skill set is probably the best it has ever been
  • As I practice more, my skills are bound to improve
  • I need to love myself the way that I would love a friend or family member

 

Sometimes, we can get lost in our heads and we torture ourselves.  It is hard but, working to end the cycle will make each day ahead of this one better and easier to manage.  At times I wish I could open my head and dump out all the words up there, unscramble them and toss out the ones that I do not need, or the ones that are not benefiting my life.  I can’t do this obviously, but I can “toss out” the bullshit and replace it with positive truths.  For the rest of the day, as each negative thought comes in, I am going to quickly replace it with a “truth”.  I have a feeling this will make a big difference.

Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

The Sweet Spot

IMG_1611Over the weekend it dawned on me that I am in a sweet spot.  This is unrelated to my current preoccupation with cake, although that IS part of it.  The sweet spot is about where I am in my life at this moment in time.

After being on the Bipolar roller coaster filled with dips of depression and curves of anxiety for the last umpteen years, I am finally in a place where everything is falling into place.  I am not too proud to state that I am aware that I am where I am as result of the medication that I am taking and the fact that I am now taking it as prescribed.  (I have fallen prey to falling off the straight and narrow when it comes to faithfully following my prescribed medication regime now and again).  However, this does not change the fact that I am in a good place and it feels simply amazing to be here.

I was telling my spouse on Sunday that I feel like he and I are in a really good place.  We have never been in a bad place, but when one person in the relationship suffers from mental illness it can really put a strain on the relationship.  And when I was in a really bad place in 2016, I was not in a good relationship with anyone, not even myself.

Daily I can see improvements in many areas of my life.  I am no longer having panic attacks while driving.  And this is a huge relief, as I spend at least an hour, if not more, on the road every day, and the whole having panic attacks each time I was in the car was really starting to wear me out.  I also am suffering from little to no anxiety in general.  My brain is far more at ease than it has ever been (and my oh my, what an amazing gift this is).  When something comes up, I quickly process the thought and then release it, let it go and move past it.  I am not sure I have ever been able to do this successfully in the past.

Although there are days that run incredibly slow and I struggle to obtain the amount of mental stimulation that I need to stay focused, I am not depressed.  I still lack some motivation, but I set time limits and at the given time I begin working on an assignment that needs completion.

And then there is cake!  Getting back into making cakes has been exciting.  I thought that I had lost all my skill set due to going on medication for the Bi Polar.  In the past, my best work was completed while I was manic.  Now that I am stable I thought, “I’ll never be able to create cakes the way I did before!”  Well, I was wrong.  It turns out that much like riding a bike, the skill set never went away, if anything, it has improved some during my dormant time over the last two years.  Being stable, and being calm, is a MUCH better combination for creating and decorating cakes.  For one, my hand doesn’t shake and that is a total plus.  I also can keep my stress to a moderate level.  The challenge that I am running into is the thoughts that bounce into my head about being “good enough”.  This is something that I have struggled with for years and years, and each time the negative thought comes through my head, I use an affirmation to dismiss it.

I recall that in 2016 my doctors told me that there would come a time when I would be in a much better place, where there was stability and balance and my symptoms would be slim to none.  I will admit that I did not believe them at the time.  I was so under water that I could not begin to imagine a time when I would not be in a living hell.  But, as always, they were right, and here I am today, in a good place, thrilled as hell to be living a happy life, and pushing aside the little hiccups (like weight gain) that I have allowed to derail me in the past.

There WILL come a time when the good will come.  It WILL arrive, and it will be glorious.  It WILL be treasured and cherished.  It WILL be the thing that leaves an ever-lasting smile on your face…  The sweet spot.

Uncategorized

My Love for Cake

IMG_1610 (002)I like cake.

I love cupcakes.

I thoroughly enjoy the process of making cakes and cupcakes, but not pies, for some reason, I am not good when it comes to making pies.  And you know now that I think about it, the same goes for cookies.  Not sure why but me and cookies just don’t jive.

Making the cake and measuring all the ingredients…  Cracking the eggs, pouring in the oil, melting the butter…  Watching my Kitchen aid whip all the ingredients together to make one large bowl of ooey, gooey mix makes me smile.

Loading up the oven with my pans batter and setting the time and waiting for the cake to be done, is not so much one of my favorite parts.  I get so impatient to get right to the decorating part that the time it takes for the cakes to cook and cool drives me batty.

Honestly, the cleaning part too, yeah that is not one of my favorites at all.  The batter can be slimy, the frosting sticky.  The sink gets filled up too fast and it forces me to start washing everything as the cake slowly bakes.  And I have always just purely hated doing the dishes.  Not sure what happened, maybe my fake kitchen fell on me as a child and that traumatized me or what?

When It’s finally time to decorate, that’s when I think the real magic happens.  The freshly whipped icing glides onto the cakes with ease and the transformation begins.  There is something about taking ingredients and then using them in a way that creates a fascinating piece of art work that just gets me so incredibly excited.

But, through this entire process of cake making there is this little voice in my head telling me that I am not good enough.  That my cakes won’t be delectable, and the decorating work will be subpar.  As much as I love to bake and decorate, it requires an immense amount of self-talk and going toe to toe with my insecurities and working through them.

The bigger the cake and the more complex the decorations the less sleep that I get.  I lay awake at night, working through how I am going to divide and conquer each step and have the cake completed by the deadline.  I get incredibly stressed over most of my cake orders and this has led me, in the past, to stop making cakes altogether.  I want the cakes to be just perfect, and boy is that difficult expectation to fill.  The reality is that I am not an expert cake maker.  I have taken two or three Wilton Cake decorating classes and have spent thousands of hours practicing on my own, but my skill set is not comparable to the pros or even other people that I know.

As much as I would prefer to deny it, I suffer from quite the many insecurities.  I know where the insecurities came from and I am working on processing what had been said in the past and writing new narratives to the story.  I also remind myself that I do not need to be perfect.  My flaws make me the fabulous person that I am.

If I can keep my brain from running amuck, I can do amazing work.  I can be slow, steady and patient.  Resulting in presenting the customer with work that meets their expectations.  The reality is that everyday I learn more and more and progress past old narratives which frees me.

Tonight, when I get home and begin working on a spectacular sweet 16 cake, I will speak affirmations to myself:

  • “You are talented”
  • “You are worthy of praise”
  • “You can do all things that you put your mind to”
  • “You are amazing”
  • “You are gifted”
  • “You make delicious and beautiful cakes”
  • “I am proud of myself and all that I have accomplished”
  • “It is ok if I am not perfect”

And, tonight, I will of course, eat cake 😊

Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

Strike!

IMG_1816Saturday night we had the pleasure of spending the afternoon and evening with just our teenage son as our daughter was at a friend’s house.  Since it was just the three of us, we were trying to decide what we wanted to do that we normally don’t do when the whole family is together.  As our daughter is not the biggest bowling fan, we chose to go bowling.

At the alley, the lanes were illuminated with black lights and modern music was playing in the background.  Music videos were streaming on the projection streams and you could smell pizza wafting through the air.  Our white, red and blue bowling shoes were glowing, as was the white parts of my t-shirt.  The ball return was filled with bright colored bowling balls, clanging together each time a ball is returned through the chute.  After spending a few minutes deciding on what names we were going to use on the display, we went with Adam, Belle and Clover, ABC.  We set up the game and started to play.  We all have varying levels of skill when it comes to bowling.  I am not nearly as good as I was in my youth when I was on a league with my step-father.  But none-the-less, you can still have an enjoyable time even if you are throwing gutter balls.  At one point I decided at the last minute not to release the ball, my footing just wasn’t right, and boy did I monkey with my elbow.  Bowling has been a challenge since I had an ulnar nerve transposition on my right elbow in 2012. (that’s a fancy word for having my “funny bone moved from one location in my elbow area to another)

My spouse was the person that brought his “A” game and was killing us with several strikes and spares.  By the second game, our son was totally on point and he was throwing strikes and spares as well while putting this incredible spin on the ball.  Although I had one strike, I was not the winner, but in a way, I was a winner.

As we were engaged in the process of the game, I was in the moment.  I was taking in the environment, the sounds, the scenery.  I was enjoying the time I was spending with the most important men in my life.  I was also recollecting on what a better place I am then I had been in the past.  Not so long ago I was in a place where to do anything greater than opening my eyes while still laying in bed was agonizing.  I was miserable every second of my days.  All I wanted to do was to stay in bed and mentally hope that the dark and dreariness would just go away.

But now is a different story.  I can engage in activities and enjoy what I am doing.  I laugh and giggle and bring my sarcastic sense of humor to the table.  I am engaging, and I am happy, some days more than others, but I am just in this wonderful place! (Amazing what happens when you take all your medication, and work against the sidetracking side effects that have been thwarting your previous progress)

It took a while to get here, but my doctors did tell me I would get to a place that life would be good, and they were apparently right and knew what they were talking about.  When I have a down day, as those come now and again, I remind myself that this is temporary, that the clouds will subside, and the sun will come out, figuratively and on some days literally (I struggle on grey and cloudy days).  I always remind myself that the tough times will pass and to embrace the good times, to soak them up and to not spend time worrying over how long the grey days will be here.

May your Monday be blessed and may you find at least one thing in the day that brings a smile to your face and lightness and happiness to your heart.

Uncategorized

Let’s Bake a Cake!~

Last night was a cake making night.  My co-worker is celebrating the big 6-0 and I wanted to do something special for him, so, because it’s also something that I enjoy, I made him a cake.  It was a simple single tier but had icing drips (a new popular technique) that was painted gold.  The cake turned out okay, I would like to do another cake like it to see if I can perfect my technique, but for the first attempt, I am satisfied with the outcome.

29343072_10100741298370959_1963322485058114061_nThe process of making the cake was enjoyable, except the waiting for the cake to bake and cool, that took way too incredibly long.  I was so eager to decorate the cake that it seemed like it was taking forever for the other stages to complete.  I was vocal walking through the house saying, “I just want to decorate!”  I have been waiting for days to create this cake… falling asleep thinking about it and creating it in my mind (mind you I have been having trouble falling asleep as result).

IMG_1722Over the last weekend, it was also baking time as I had a cake order for a gender reveal cake.  Much to my surprise my son showed interest in making his own cake.  We stood beside one another and decorated our cakes and my heart was full of love and pride.  I felt that I was doing something right, that I was sharing a skill with my son and that I was passing on a tradition that my mom had passed to me.  I felt warm and glowy on the inside, like a chocolate molten lava cake.

IMG_1788This feeling returned when I was baking last night as my daughter had shared that she too wanted to make a cake, like her brother did the previous weekend.  Although not as interested in the whole cake making process, but more interested in the decorating part, I stood alone for most of the evening working on my cake, while doing the basic frosting techniques on her cake.  When her cake was all ready to be decorated I called her into the kitchen for her to decorate.

With my cake complete, I stood watching my daughter sink into her element.  Piping the frosting on the cake and then beginning to add additional decorations in the form of sprinkles and even painting, yes painting, flowers on the side of her cake.  I stood, and I felt that same warm, glowy feeling return.  The same feeling that I had felt when I watched my son decorate his cake.  I felt like I was doing “it”, the whole parenting thing, right.

As the kids get older, it is getting more and more challenging as they begin to branch out and become far more independent than I am ready for.  I treasure the amount of time that I get to spend with them.  And when we can all participate in one activity, I get super excited.  But excited doesn’t do an adequate job of capturing how I feel.  How do you explain what it’s like to be absolutely in love with a creation?  To literally be proud as hell with everything that they create?  To just be happy and content, from the top of your head to the bottom of your toes to be in their presence?

A family that makes cakes together, stays together… yeah, I just made that up, but it sums up how I feel.  I think that family’s that spend quality time together, have better, more lasting, stronger relationships.  I am beyond blessed to have the family that I have been given.  I was given a second chance at life and boy did I win big time!

Happy Friday! ~

Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

Rewriting Old Narratives

pexels-photo-891674.jpegI sat before my therapist yesterday and I listed off several things that I wanted to work on during our sessions.  The two big ones were how my past relationships are still affecting me and my negative body image issues.  We started to work on the past relationships.

I was in relationships where I was lied to, cheated on and treated in an abusive manner.  What was said to me and what happened to me still lingers in my mind.  When the anxiety increases, let’s say when someone decides to not take all her medication for a week, the flashbacks start back up and the nightmares return.  And all of this usually involves the exes.

My therapist suggested that I work on rewriting the old narratives.  She said that although you can’t change what happened, you can engage your brain in focusing on other aspects of what happened and get yourself out of the dangerous, destructive loops.

I sat and stared at her.  I was a little clueless.  I questioned her, and she gave me an example.  She stated that although my husband cheated on me, lied to me, stole from me and ultimately asked me for a divorce because I couldn’t bear a child, I CAN focus on the fact that I stood up to my abuser and I chose to leave the relationship.  That I no longer allowed the abuse to continue and although I was incredibly scared to be on my own, I took that leap of faith and I made a move that ultimately benefited me.  That because of leaving, I was able to take a relocation offer and move across the country to start fresh and to focus on my career, which was my everything to me.  Through the years of being with him and suffering one abuse after another, I generated so much strength that it propelled me forward and I received blessings in disguise.  I also learned how very important communication is to me and how I must have it in a relationship.  Through this I learned that I really wanted a partner, a best friend, an equal.

So, I have been sitting here trying to think of other ways that I can rewrite the narrative.

Although I have previously wrote about this, it is often on my mind, so I will share again.  It was devastating when I found out that I suffered from infertility, and that I would most likely never bear a child of my own.  And it was the straw that broke the camel’s back and the real reason behind the words “irreconcilable differences”.  But, recently I found out that I carry the variant gene for Cystic Fibrosis, which occurs in 1 in every 2000 births.  Not having a child, protected me from having a child that could have been born with the condition.  And being Bipolar, that is known to be hereditary, so I very well could’ve passed that on to my child as well.  So, when I rewrite the narrative, I can focus on the good that has come out of this situation.  I have no links to my ex-husband, I was able to relocate across the country, I was able to get away from abuse and find love.

Now, I have a man in my life who is good to me, who loves me for me, despite my various health and mental conditions.  He is my best friend and my partner and we both know the importance of communication in a relationship.  He has two amazing children who get to be in my life!

I am sure that there will be times when I get stuck on the negatives that have happened and how I was hurt and rejected, and I have no idea why.  But, now I am working on focusing on the positives, rewriting the narrative, telling myself over and over again all that I have gained and how going through what I have been through has brought me to the place where I am today, in a place where I am grateful for my life and thankful for all that I have.

anorexia, Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

Back in the Day: March 2016

12042724_10100335752533069_4074902909941824340_nTwo years ago, in March of 2016, I was in a much different place than I am today.  Currently, I am working a nearly full-time job, in school as a part time student, a fully engaged step mother and spouse and in a place of stability mentally speaking.  But, two years ago, this was not the case.

As Facebook memories reminds me, I had just finished a visit with my mom.  She flew out to stay for a week, as I was so incredibly unstable, that my doctors were insisting that I sign myself into a mental hospital for 24/7 care, however I refused.

I was not sleeping much and was not sitting still during the day.  I was not hungry, so I was not eating much.  With my mom visiting, I had someone to talk to, although the conversations that we had were me babbling and purposely not telling her how out of control things were in my head.  I was not letting it be known that I was hallucinating, nor that I wanted to die only in an effort to get out of the hell that I was living within my mind.  I spent the week that my mom was with me, as seven days of trying to prove to her that I was totally ok, when in reality I was falling apart, spiraling radically out of control.

Today, I regret not seeking treatment through a hospitalization.  I had spent nearly a year on a ward for Anorexia and Bulimia when I was a teenager and I was scarred and scared that the experience would be the same.  I was incredibly fearful that I would not be able to sleep and what would I do at night if I was not sleeping, but not in my own home where I had things to tinker with.  Many questions flooded my mind: Who would I meet?  What would the hospitalization be like?  What would I eat, especially with my food allergies and intolerances?  What if it doesn’t work?  And my biggest fear, what if they keep me?

Then I thought about my family and what it would be like for them.  How will my family function without me?  What will the kids think?  What will my friends think?  These are all things that went through my head and what I chose to do was to keep my inner turmoil to myself and suffer silently.  I was not able to realize that if I was in a hospital that my family may not be as worried about me as they would know that I was in a safe place, getting care and treatment and working on getting back to a place of stability.  I was just too afraid.

I ended up suffering and being out of work for a total of seven months.  Spending day after day, home alone.  Somedays wearing the varnish off the floors from my pacing and other days being incapable of getting out of bed.  The number of phone calls that I made to my mom crying my eyes out would be lost to anyone who tried to count them.  It was a very dark time.  It was a very painful time.  But, it was a time of growth.

I now can look back at that period and I can see how sick I was.  I have made the pledge that should I ever relapse I would go into a hospital to get the care that I need.  Today I am far less afraid.  I am more educated about the disorder for which I live with (bipolar disorder) and I know what I need to do to remain stable.  I no longer wake up each day wondering what kind of a day it will be.  Will it be a manic day or a depressed day?  I wake up and I think, “it’s going to be a good day”, and “goodness what amazing outfit am I going to wear” and “what’s that smell? Oh yeah coffee, I am so lucky that I have coffee made for me every morning, I am so spoiled.”

I would not be where I am today had it not been for where I was before.  I no longer dwell on this part of my past, but allow it to help me put things in perspective and take pride in how far I have progressed.  I also use the past to help me appreciate where I am, and to encourage me to maintain stability, regardless of the unwanted side effects of my medication.  As with so many other trials and tribulations, I maintain progressing forward, looking and working towards my goals.  I have learned to embrace what I have in the now, but also to keep the momentum going that launches me forward and through the unwanted and unpleasant parts of life.  I press on and move forward, while appreciating what each day brings to my life and how every day is slightly better than the previous.