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How to have your cake… and eat it too

Posted Jul 30 2010 3:52am

Let me tell you about the cake. Oh, yes. The mouth-wateringly fragrant carrot cake, full of plump sultanas and toasted pecans. Topped with cream-cheese-and-lime frosting.

Of course, it wasn’t always a cake. It didn’t always look delicious.

At 8pm on Wednesday evening, it felt more like this: ‘It’s Tom’s dad’s birthday and I have to make him a cake right now because, if I don’t make it now, I’ll have no time tomorrow.’

‘You don’t have to make him a cake,’ said Tom.

‘I do, I do. I made your mum one for her birthday last week and so I have to do the same for your dad. And he doesn’t like the quick and easy kind. He likes carrot cake. But, anyway, I want to do it for him. And I said on my blog on Monday that I would be making something every day this week. So this is today’s thing.’

And now I’m starting to feel horrible at my lack of graciousness. I shouldn’t be moaning about making this cake. I should make it with kindness and from the heart, even though I’m Really So Tired.

Or not do it at all. Because it’s only me that has set up this ridiculous expectation that I must make cake. And not just a cake but quite a complicated cake. I could just go out and buy one tomorrow, of course. But that feels wrong too.

‘Stop being so horrible,’ says that voice inside me, ‘Stop being so ungracious and selfish. Stop being, quite frankly, such a lazy cow. Stop moaning.’ Oh, yes. You have no idea how mean and strict it can get inside my head sometimes. Or maybe you have.

Anyway, once I realised that the only person who was telling me I had to make cake was my very own unkind self, I took a couple of deep slow breaths and decided to be kinder.

My body relaxed. I noticed where I was holding in and holding on. Actually, I didn’t even need to decide to talk to myself in a different way. It was suddenly so obvious.

I wanted to make that cake. So I surrendered to it.


I stopped thinking about all the Other Things I also had to get done and that I could be doing now if only it wasn’t for having to do this thing. I stopped thinking at all. Instead I measured out flour, broke eggs into the bowl. I began to enjoy it, the smell of vanilla essence and grating the carrots into slippery ribbons.

Before long the cake was in the oven and the frosting was waiting in the fridge and I sat down with a cup of fennel tea and decided not to do all the Other Things. Until tomorrow. Because this was enough.

Carrot cake for Tony. Made with love.

And it tasted good too.

Each day on my blog this week, I’m hosting a Carnival of Making. I’m sharing with you something that I’ve made and hearing about what you make too. I’m interested in what happens when we simply allow ourselves to make something – without it having to be Perfect or A Work Of Art. I’m interested in the process of Making something, finding our flow, Making as, well, simply Being. Please join me and tell me about what you’re making. I’d love to hear from you.

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