Keep on Keepin’ on

I’ve really got to use my imagination
To think of good reasons
To keep on keepin’ on

Gladys Knight and The Pips “I’ve Got To Use My Imagination”

It’s one of those mornings. The cold and the soreness of my neck have made getting up nearly unbearable. So did the knowledge that nothing good was coming, just another stressful day at work, leaving me exhausted and uninspired upon returning home.

Still troubled by the worries this week has brought me, I’m not in a great mindset, but Gladys Knight had the right idea. In times like these I have to use my imagination. My vivid imagination is what keeps me going. It has helped me through some tough times. I’ve used it to escape reality, through writing and reading, and dressing up as someone else. I’ve also used it to fast forward to the future, to a better time. Sometimes you have to picture yourself in the situation you want to be in. Maybe think of getting your dream job, or living where you want to live, and with the right person.

I’ve been in somewhat of a bad place the last few days. I’ve become weary from constant stress, and grief. I know also that part of the problem is my thoughts. I struggle with thoughts telling me I will never amount to anything, and I’ll never be happy. I need to change my thoughts. That fatty organ inside your head is extremely powerful.  Shifting your thoughts can change your mood entirely.

Every time I think “I can’t” I just need to change it to “YES I FREAKING CAN.” Fight back. Don’t let that voice in your head, that critique, that pessimist, dictate your mood. It sounds cliche, but gratitude and optimism are key.

I have to constantly remind myself that better times are to come. They always do. We live in a state of constant change. The philosopher Heroclitus wisely said “nothing endures but change.” If you’re in a bad place, remember it will not stay that way. It’s just a matter of time and patience.

For now, keep on keepin’ on.

Sunday Morning Thoughts

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I lay in bed this morning, cold creeping into my soul, thinking myriad thoughts. I ran through my list of worries regarding my dad, who is currently in the hospital (see Forgotten Days.) I thought also of how this was just the icing on the cake of these sorrowful last few months.

It’s been barely a month since my grandmom passed away, leaving me with neither of my grandparents from my moms side. That was a devastating, though expected, loss. She’d been struggling for so long, fighting hard and defying death on numerous occasions. 

It was challenging trying to deal with my grief while also being supervisor at my job. I tried to stay strong, but inside I felt numb. I had already told them of my plans to leave in December, to embark on an adventure in Grenada, where I’ll stay for a few months. They found someone to take over relatively quickly. I had spent about three days training her on the general process of the clothing department (I work at a thrift store), and on the more specific duties of being in charge. They decided she was ready and told me she would begin on Monday (which was three days away). This was infuriating because when they asked how I felt about it before deciding, I had told them she wasn’t ready and I still had a lot to show her. She even agreed she was not ready. They didn’t listen and decided to throw everything into chaos. The first few days were a little strange, and stressful for the girl who took over. I still had to work with her a lot to get her up to speed.

I was dealing with the change in my family, and the changes at work, and I began to have some issues with my health. I knew I had a family history of heart problems so when I was having chest pains, and these pains that felt like I was having a heart attack, I was rightly concerned. It became difficult to do my job because I was frequently in pain, light headed, and short of breath. I had pain after eating, no matter what it was. I finally made a doctors appointment. I had to leave work early one day because I felt so lousy, and it was scary, so I changed my appointment. I moved it to be two days from then, rather than having it be another six days away. I knew I’d have to go in to work a few hours late, but I figured my boss would be okay, as she is very caring and was worried about me. When I asked if it was okay, she said it was. But she told the store owner, who was not okay with it. I know it was short notice but it felt important to me to get checked out as soon as possible. I was given a verbal warning for not giving a two week notice. This was upsetting to me. I felt like it wasn’t fair, especially since I asked my supervisor and she gave me the all clear. It hurt to think that I was penalized for this, because I thought they would understand. I thought they cared about me well-being, but this made me feel otherwise. Two days passed with me giving the woman in charge the cold shoulder, and work being miserable. Finally she asked if I was mad at her and I told her how I felt. She apologized and said she didn’t know what had been going on with my health, and would have driven me to the doctor herself if she knew. I felt better after this, and two days of work passed without too much stress.

 Then last night happened, and it just seemed like life was so crazy right now. My head is no longer spinning at least. I feel well rested, and am appreciating that I was able to sleep in and relax this morning.

Following my dads bizarre episode, I have decided to take measures to protect the health of my brain and heart. I ate a healthy breakfast this morning. I had a granola bar, a whole grain English muffin, a pomegranate, and pumpkin oatmeal with chia seeds, cinnamon, walnuts, and hemp powder. 

Being in the kitchen, and not in my warm, cozy bed, made me realize how chilly it was. This got me thinking about autumn. It’s a lovely season, until the temperature gets too low. For me, it already is too low. It’s only going to get worse though. Winter is my least favorite season and I very much do not look forward to it. At least I’ll be moving to Grenada in January. That’ll be a whole adventure, with many blog posts about it to come.

For now I’ll try and enjoy the cooler days, remembering how oppressively hot it was just last month. I’ve done a lot of reading on improving mental health lately and they all agree that gratitude is key. So here is a list of all that I am grateful for:

  1. The love of my family
  2. My house
  3. My comfy bed
  4. Our pets
  5. Getting an education
  6. Food in the kitchen
  7. Having a decent job
  8. Having an abundance of friends who care 
  9. Socks
  10. My health could definitely be worse
  11. I live in an area surrounded by nature
  12. My artistic and musical abilities
  13. Having a car
  14. Not working on Sunday mornings

My Worst Cake Yet, and What I’ve Learned

In the words of Hannah Montana, “Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody has those days. Everybody knows what I’m talking about. Everybody gets that way.”

I guess I’m having one of those days. It’s harder to squeeze cake-making into my school/work schedule than I thought it would be. I felt rushed and unprepared today. I had about two hours yesterday and two hours today to work on the cake for my co-worker, Ridgely, who is moving on to a better job. He’s been with us for years, and it’s sad to have him go, and that makes this cake feel even more disappointing to me.

It felt like everything was going all wrong! I wanted to make this gorgeous naked cake full of berries and whipped cream. This proved impossible. My first realization was that whipped cream frosting does not last long. I had a container of leftover whipped cream frosting from my last strawberry shortcake, but it was not usable, so I purchased a new container of heavy whipping cream to make more. Instead of getting a pint, I got half a pint, because I normally have leftovers. Not this time… When I got to the last layers of the cake, there was only a scant amount left.

My blackberries, which I purchased just yesterday, had gotten moldy. I believe this to be a result of leaving the container of berries in the bag, which allowed for condensation. Moisture causes berries to go bad, so always keep berries in anti-moisture storage.

Another mistake I made was slicing the cakes into layers. They ended up being extremely thin, and one of them fell apart. I laid it on the previous layer, putting it back together like a puzzle.

I’ve found that trying to write on an un-frosted cake is barely doable.  The frosting would not stick to the cake. I struggled to get the words piped, and after writing “We’ll Miss” on it, I realized what an awful job I’d done. It was off-centered, so I scraped it off, which left black marks on the cake. The clock was ticking and I rushed to get the words on the cake. I finally finished piping out the words “We’ll Miss You Ridgely”, but it was still totally off-centered.  Shaking my head, I thought “good enough”.  I accepted it and decided it was complete, for if I were to scrape it off and try again, the whole face of the cake would be a blackened smudgy mess. It would just have to do.

But the problems didn’t end there. I did not have a box in which to transport it. Earlier, I had thought to myself “should I stop at the party store to get a cake box?”, but instead I decided I would use my plastic cake container. What I didn’t realize is that it is not very tall. The cake height exceeded the containers height.

The whole cake, to me, looks terribly sloppy. It’s not the worst cake ever made, it just doesn’t meet my standards. You’ve probably heard the saying “you’re your own worst critic”. This is true. Never has there been a more accurate statement for me.

It may not look as neat as my other cakes, but it will not be lacking in taste, that’s for sure. I will explain what went wrong to my coworkers, and I’m sure they will still say it looks great. They love all the cakes I make.

Overall, there is a lot to be learned from a fiasco like this one. Here is a list of every lesson that can be gleaned from this. May no one ever make the same mistakes.

  1. Always buy more ingredients than you think you’ll need.
  2. If using fruit, it’s best to buy it the day you are making the cake.
  3. Trust your instincts. If you think “maybe I should get a…” do it. If you think “maybe it’s not a good idea to…”, don’t do it.
  4. Never make assumption about things you have in your kitchen. That’s how you end up running out of something.
  5. Plan ahead so you don’t end up rushing.
  6. Always have extras of everything. In my case I didn’t have any cake boxes.
  7. Store berries in moisture-free conditions.
  8. Homemade whipped cream frosting has a short storage life. Use within a week of making it.

 

That’s all I have for now, but if more words of advice come to me, I will add them in.

 

 

 

 

*****The next day*****

In hindsight, it really wasn’t so bad. Just as I had expected, my coworkers adored it, and it tasted great. The whole thing was gone by the end of the day. I made a mountain out of a molehill, which I tend to do. I’m learning that in most cases, things are never as bad as they appear to be. Overall, yesterday wasn’t a great day, and not just because of the cake. At least it was an opportunity for growth. This is my new outlook on life, on mistakes and failures. Next time I have to make a cake I will remember all that I have learned from yesterdays cake.

A Long Day, and More to Come…

For the past few weeks I’d been saying that I was about to lose my freedom. It wasn’t until today that my new reality sunk in. After increasing my hours at work I had to squeeze school into my schedule. I did so successfully, creating a jam packed schedule that I knew would be stressful, but was necessary.

On top of school and work, I still have to maintain Liv With Cake. Surely it will be a piece of cake! I can juggle everything in my life, but without adverse effects on my brain?

The days are blurring together. I keep forgetting what day it is and when certain things are to happen. At least three times today I thought it was Wednesday, when it’s only Tuesday.

My body aches, my head feels like a bowling ball, and my brain feels like scrambled eggs. Following work, which was spent on my feet, I had to bake a cake , but with limited time, as class constricted my schedule.

I’ve just returned from a two and a half hour biology class where I learned about homeostasis, among other things. Homeostasis is a body’s way of adjusting to change in order to remain within a certain set of parameters. For example, shivering and sweating both help to regulate our internal temperature.

This made me think about myself. I’m the kind of person that doesn’t like changes. It turns out this is pretty natural, but that doesn’t help me navigate life.  Right now I’m dealing with some changes, but eventually I will adapt to the situation and return to a state of comfort.

Day after day I am learning that life is freaking stressful, even on a good day. Especially now, being so crunched on time, I am finding minor inconveniences anger me more than they ought to. Mountains out of molehills…

I’ve been in Biology for two days now, but I’ve already learned many valuable lessons, not just pertaining to science.  My professor likes to be witty, and inspirational. He reminded us about the evolution of the horseshoe crab, or the lack thereof. Given the low stress environment of horseshoe crabs, they have not changed in thousands of years. He likes to remind us that college is stressful, but it’s that stress that will shape us, make us into better versions of ourselves. Don’t be a horseshoe crab.

Time to go to bed so I can have enough energy to muddle through another long day.