Updated: Mar 20, 2021
The thing about giving advice is that you can reliably expect the universe to provide you an opportunity to practice what you preach before the sun has a chance to come up again.
The very next night after triumphantly distributing self-care advice on asking for what you need, I very much felt like I needed something sweet. A very specific something sweet: chocolate cake - but not the kind that comes in a box or the kind that I would have to make. The good news is that I have a friend who is a genius at making tasty and beautiful cakes. The great news is that I was brave enough to ask her to bake me one. (I know! Look at me making progress so soon!)
And you know what? She just happened to have an extra little cake stashed away that she didn't have a customer for. She offered to frost it (yes please) and decorate it (no need for that but you do you) and give it to me the next day (mostly because my request to her came at a very ungodly time of the night and only medical needs should be eligible for completion at that hour.)
So last night, I stopped by her house on my way home from work and picked up a beautiful, small, chocolate cake decorated with glorious little frosting flowers. It sat atop a lovely silver paper and was wrapped in cellophane like all good homemade cakes must be. Then, after a quasi-healthy dinner, I sliced a piece, put it on my pretty little plate, and ate it slowly, bite by delicious bite. This morning, I was generous enough to let the children know that there was cake in the house and that if they play their cards right I may just let them have a small nibble later today.
Before you start to celebrate that I have really turned a corner, I must tell you that this did not go off without a hitch. There was a moment when this friend, who I had intended to pay for the cake I had asked her to bake, offered it to me for the grand price of zero dollars. I politely hesitated. She politely insisted. I remembered the advice I had just given all the kind readers of my blog and for all of you, I gathered up all the 'try new things' neurons in my brain and said, OK. I will take FREE HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE CAKE as a gift.
One would think that this might not be a difficult thing, but, dear readers, it was.
Another good friend, a friend who is as good at putting words together as my cake friend is at putting ingredients together, said to me today: The world will keep giving us ways to meet our circumstances differently. We will keep repeating our old patterns over and over again until one day we decide to meet them differently. One tiny interruption is all an old pattern needs to break. Then you can start a new one. When I texted my friend back and said "Yes, I will take the cake," I met it differently. And like a domino out of order breaking the years-long chain of click-click-falling, I stepped out of line in a decades-old pattern of refusing to take the gifts that I need, or negotiating them until it was no longer a gift, or disregarding it because it wasn't on terms I expected. There's the real opportunity for transformation.
And here's the real frosting on this cake story: Since that one small text-message to say yes, it's been easier to meet all the other moments that have arrived to ask: will you accept this gift of goodness? Because, my friends, there are so, so many of them in a day.
Caption 1: It was as tasty as it is beautiful.
Caption 2: There are books in the background because the cake is posing for its picture in my office, which is where I hid it from my children so that I could just stare at it without interruption before I savored it in silence after they had gone to bed. Don't judge. It is now properly in the kitchen where normal people keep their cakes.