back in the day, betty crocker and some of her friends baked cakes from scratch, and they never had all the ingredients they needed, which meant baking a cake took nearly all day long what with all the trips to the grocery store and all. so they got smart and developed a cake-in-a-box mix. only women wouldn’t buy it, the corporate fable goes, because it was too easy. they didn’t feel like they’d really baked a cake by just opening a box, so betty revamped her idea to include adding water, milk, oil, and/or eggs. women liked that. it was easy, convenient, and they had contributed just enough to give them the satisfaction of accomplishment.
for years, i’ve been dreaming of my days as a bowl filled with yoga and writing and walking and reading. years, i tell you. dreaming.
this year i stepped things up a notch and created a collage around the beginning of the year. it was my way of telling the universe about my plans so she could take care of it.
and eventually, she – in the form of bindu wiles – did take care of it. betty crocker style. bindu put together a plan that stirred writing and yoga into every day. easy peasy. she even brought in marianne who has a yoga for writers video. all i had to do was open the box, add words, stir, and bake for 21 days, only 21 days – just the right amount of time it’s said is needed to develop a habit. twenty-one days and my life would be soooo different. soooo much better. i would be leaner and stronger. i’d have clarity. i’d be able to set old roosters to rest and stand other things on their head. when my friend angela kelsey and i finally meet in person, we could do a yoga duet. (when we’re not swapping stories, doing metaphysical diagnoses of each other, or comparing bags and electronic gizmos, that is.) shoot, i might even have a book i hadn’t exactly expected to have.
but here’s the thing: in a scant 4 days, the timer chimes, indicating the end of the 21 days. the program will be done, and i’ve done yoga, what – maybe 3 non-consecutive times now and written a blog post or two (also non-consecutive). (oh, sure, i’ve written more in my head, but i don’t need to read the directions on the box to tell me that writing in my head does not count. in fact, head-writing is precisely what i want to get away from.)
then yesterday, bindu announced a 10-day extension. what? an extension? was this a coveted second chance to bake the cake of my dreams or was it a dreaded second round of opportunities i’d let pass me by? would my cake rise or would it fall? would it burn from staying in the oven too long or would i take it out before it’s done? well, didn’t i just stick my toothpick into this cake, and when it came out with some of the batter sticking to it, i decide: to put it back in the oven for another 10 days.
now for years, i’ve been going to bed every night vowing that tomorrow will be The Day I Get Up And Do Yoga Then Write before anything or anybody has a chance to derail my day. and, well, i just told you how that cake turned out. but the funny thing is, it was yesterday afternoon when i decided to stick this cake back in the oven, and last night, i plumb forgot to drift off to sleep thinking about how marvelous my tomorrow was gonna’ be.
this morning, i got up, did a few things, then popped in the yoga video. i didn’t make it nearly all the way through. my knees cried foul and my wrists quit in protest. my ankles walked right off the mat and watched the remaining video from the sofa. but i did enough to make my entire body smile with satisfaction and possibility, and i’m writing minutes after turning off the tv, choosing to reheat this topic out of the plethora of topics (some half-baked) (sorry, couldn’t resist) that are vying for attention.
that part of me that loves to distract and derail, that part of me that thinks thinking is the only way to go, wants to know why i didn’t bake the cake the first 21 days and what makes me think the next 14 days will be any different. my heart, that part of me that thinks in ways the brain cannot ever understand, already knows the answer . . .
two nights ago, i was treated to a phone call with danette, emma, and julie, the loverlies known online as oliveandhope, pleasurenotes, and unabashedly female. that phone call had all the ingredients for baking the most delicious cake ever, and one thing emma tossed into the mix near the end of the call has stuck with me. in the midst of vowing there’d be no more self-bashing around our campfire, emma pointed out that sometimes saying that we didn’t quite accomplish what we’d hoped to could be cathartic. when we say i didn’t do this or i didn’t do that, it takes the power away so we can move forward. when things stay hidden in the shadows, they grow, feasting on shame and embarrassment. there was something so freeing about that. not admitting failure or defeat, not hanging the head or wringing the hands, just saying i didn’t do quite what i’d intended to do then moving on.
it’s so simple, and surely it’s something i’ve known for a while, but those words on that phone call came at Just The Right Time. like julie says: “Now this might be Life 101 for many of you, but in my experience, the truth comes around again and again and again until I realize it deeply and profoundly. And then it comes around again.”
and with that, my friends, i’m shoving my cake back in the oven to bake for another ten days. then we’ll see. we’ll just see.
This post is part of #SelfEv, #215800
I love the way you string a story, and yes, quit beating yourself up for whatever you haven't yet done cause it's too late anyway. There is only forward, and forward you must go. I wondered how many people were going to freak out when I saw that it had been extended…I'm pretty sure your cake is going to be delicious.
to me, dear jeanne, these words sum it all up: “did enough to make my entire body smile with satisfaction and possibility, and i’m writing minutes after turning off the tv”. an entire body smiling with satisfaction and possibility is darn fantastic. don't ya think???
You know, standing still and thinking is still movement. It's either moving forward or backward. It's just the way in how you think. Thinking backward on what you could have done, or thinking forward in what you will do. Lovely forward thinking is lovely forward movement. I'm so happy you invited me to do this with you, just so we can share these moments together! Happy baking 🙂
I was pretty excited to see that we have ten new days. My cake is a little underdone, too…
Love your style. I also love that you're one of those add-hyphens-when-there-just-isn't-the-perfect-word-for-something people like me, too 🙂
having a ready made structure helps me tremedously. I'm grateful to Bindu as well.
Whew.. what a great post! HEAD-WRITING… I feel like a dope, but… “so that's what it's called!”
If I could just plug my head into the laptop/Word…
Glad Mrs. Mediocrity told me about you!
Thank you Jeanne (and Emma) for giving me permission to say that in Bindu's challenge and Gwen's challenge and so many other things in life, I didn't do quite what I'd intended to do…and that's ok, so I think I'll just move on. Blessings Jeanne. I hope you are well.