When I stopped to think about why I’ve been feeling a little extra tired the last couple of days, I took a glance at my diary from last week and found the reason. It was absolutely jam-packed ..... lovely family gatherings, birthday celebrations, sleepovers, movies with the girls to see “Eat, Pray, Love”, an amazing 7 course degustation at the Japanese restaurant “Koi”, Thai for lunch after Church on Sunday, an intimate Pink Ribbon Fundraiser at a friend’s place....all in one week!! How did I fit it all in you ask? Oh, I manage!
In fact, I absolutely love squeezing as much as I can into my weeks. I want to experience everything that life has to offer, seize every good opportunity that arises, savour all the wonderful blessings that come my way!
Unfortunately though, since I had such a busy week, I didn’t get a chance to test any new cupcake recipes. In days gone by, I would have been really disappointed in myself for not fitting such an important event on my calendar, but not these days. Instead, I found someone else’s cupcakes to talk about!
These are beautiful cupcakes created by a lovely friend who held a "Girl’s Night In" cancer research fundraising night. Very impressive! They not only looked great, but tasted amazing too!! They were so light and fluffy; no bouncing cupcakes on that plate! What I couldn’t believe is that my friend had used the exact same recipe she'd passed on for my cupcakes the last time I made them! I just couldn’t believe how good hers were. I began to feel a hint of “cupcake envy”.
But that wasn't the only moment of envy I had to resist. Just a few days later, my sister-in-law made the most delectable baked cheesecake and my favourite pavlova for my niece's birthday celebration......
I could have let that not-so-sweet envy take over, but I stopped myself as I really don’t want to get caught up comparing my sweet creations with those of others. I’m happy that my friends have mastered their sweet treat recipes.....and will simply soldier on with my quest for such mastery!
Thankfully I had put a stop to that "envy", as things could have gotten really out of hand once I experienced the marvellously appetising 7 course Japanese degustation later that week. I couldn't imagine trying to match the skill of those Japanese masterchefs!
The first course, to my dismay, was a platter of oysters. Believe it or not, I had never tried oysters before. Since I profess that I'm determined to grab hold of every good opportunity life offers me, how was I going to get out of this offering of oysters? I had no other choice but to give them a go.
Now, I know full well that they don't look so great due to my very average photography skills, but they were an absolute taste sensation! I now love oysters!
And with every subsequent course that was served, the taste sensation just got better and better......
Tofu, sushi, sashimi and more....culminating in the most exquisite dessert I have ever tasted...Green Tea Creme Brulee. Yummy and full of antioxidants to boot.....
My husband had a chocolate-based dessert served to him and a bit of envy kicked in the moment I saw it, as I adore chocolate. It did look delicious and tasted delightful, but nothing could compare with my dessert. I am blessed with such a generous husband, who had a tiny taste of my creme brulee, then let me have the rest all to myself!
You may be thinking that I couldn’t possibly have learned anything new about cupcakes last week, since I was so busy “pigging” out on fine food!! But have no fear.......
Sometimes cupcakes can rise too high for decorating.
I'm constantly having the problem of my cupcakes rising unevenly, too low or too high. It's a problem when it comes to decorating with rolled icing, as you need a fairly smooth surface for it to look good.
In life, our expectations can sometimes be too high.
Before I got cancer, I had such high expectations – both of myself and other people. I used to put so much pressure on myself. If I’d had a busy week like last week, I would have just pushed myself to keep going at the same pace this week. No mercy!! No rest!!
In the “old days” (pre-cancer days), I not only had to worry about whether or not I was meeting my own standards, but I insisted on policing everyone else’s too! More often than not, I’d be disappointed all round, which was a pretty miserable way of living life.
But these days, I give myself permission to rest. I give my body time to relax and rejuvenate. I’m so much kinder to myself! One thing for certain is that facing cancer has been life-changing in many ways - some negative, but many positive.
One of the positives is that the “old days” have gone and the “new” have arrived! These “new days” are days of “great expectations”, but realistic ones. I’m now much kinder to myself and don’t set unachievable standards. And I definitely don’t expect too much from others anymore either. It’s not that I have low expectations, which wouldn’t be good, it’s just that I have achievable ones. The great thing about this is that when expectations are exceeded, I’m absolutely delighted! When I don’t set the bar so high, things are more attainable, and there’s greater opportunity for people to shine.
These days, I seem to experience more delight than disappointment when it comes to my expectations being met. There is an immense freedom in “lightening up”, relaxing, not being wound so tight. I no longer have to keep tabs on what people are doing or not doing. I simply get to delight in any good deeds directed towards me. I no longer have to beat myself up for not getting my whole week’s to-do list done. I simply get to be pleased with whatever I get done in a day.
Nowadays, I might feel a flicker of offense or hurt at times, but I don’t waste hours and days of energy mulling over it. Questions like, “Why didn’t she say hello to me, Why did he look at me that way, or Why didn’t I get invited to that?” don’t matter anymore. Greetings, smiles and invitations are lovely, but I shouldn’t fall apart if I don’t receive them. I choose not to be effected by the whims of others.
There will be times when we encounter disrespect, or we may be ignored or excluded. But we mustn’t always take it personally. Give the person the benefit of the doubt - maybe they’re just having a bad day. Don’t dwell on it; let it go; shake it off. Don’t wallow on the negative; try to focus on the positive.
When I commit to focusing on the positive in people, that’s what I see – the positives! I believe every person has an endearing quality, unless they’re an axe murderer or something! But generally, in my circle of life, I can see the positive in almost every person I meet if I choose to do so. On the contrary, if I chose to be negative, I’m sure I could find something to pick on. It’s easy for humans to be negative. But that’s not how I want to live my life.
Positive thinking has been a vital tool in my healing journey. I believe “positive affirmations” and self-talk really work. There is definitely relevance in the old adage “mind over matter”. To get through tough times, or when I just need to remind myself how precious life is, some of the affirmations I use are as follows:
“I have an amazing God who loves me unconditionally!”
“I am happy, healthy, wealthy and wise!”
“My body is continually healing itself!”
“I love life!”
Some may say that talking to yourself is crazy. I say that negativity gets you nowhere! Some may say that “positive affirmations” are just for those “new age” thinkers. I say that with positivity the sky’s the limit!
Mahatma Gandi once said, “A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes”.
In the book of Philippians in the Bible, in Chapter 4, Verse 8, the writer urges....”whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things”.