Tag Archives: Baking

Good is Good Enough

17 Dec

We are all, to some extent, scared of failure. But what is the worst that can happen if we fail? And do we actually exaggerate what we call ‘failure’ and what we call ‘success’?

Today I made a cake for my creative writing group. It was the first time that I’d tried the recipe and, when the cake was baked, it tasted slightly….funny. I wondered whether I should even take it to the class: “I’d be so embarrassed if my class-mates don’t like it”, I thought to myself.

Encouraged by my partner, I took my funny cake into the class despite my fears. Throughout the lesson I imagined my classmates screwing up their faces as they put the first spoonful into their mouths. I concentrated fiercely on the writing in front of me once everyone had a little slice on a plastic plate and were chewing the first pieces of prunes and oats and coconut.

“It’s a really nice cake!” my teacher said suddenly.

“Really good!” echoed my classmate, with a mouthful between her cheeks.

“Mm, I really like it”, replied someone else.

“Very original”, piped in a third person.

I was flattered by the compliments, but knew that they could have simply been polite comments. So I couldn’t believe it when my classmates asked enthusiastically for a second serving. It turned out that this funny failed cake was actually a success!

Despite having baked the cake with love and the positive thought of sharing something with people that I treasure, I was afraid that the cake would not be ‘good enough’. I was afraid that my classmates would forever remember me as an awful cook, and I preferred not to take the risk by not sharing the cake at all.

My cake wasn’t perfect, but it was good, and it brought a lot of joy and pleasure to the people with whom I shared it…and to me, too. Had I left it at home, as I had wanted to, I would have been judging my creation through my own critical eyes without even giving myself the chance to share it with others. I would have never found out that the cake was actually not that bad, and I would have been miserable for thinking that I made something rubbish.

And what if the cake had really been a failure? What is the worst that could have happened? My classmates would have finished their slices politely and left the class forgetting all about it. Not so dramatic now, is it? Not quite the end of the world that I imagined.

We often exaggerate what we call failure and what we call success. We often expect our work and our creations to be perfect, considering them failures if they are not. But ‘good’ is a success, too.

If we try our best and put our heart into something, can we even fail?

Go on, share that burnt biscuit or that unfinished poem with a friend. I assure you – they will be the happier for it.

Happiness Project – Week 1

10 Nov

It’s been one week since the start of my happiness project. I am proud (and happy!) to say that I managed to do 9 of the 15 activities on my list:

1) (Go for a walk every day)

I went for a walk every day. However, some of these walks were simply to get from A to B, whereas others were evening walks specifically to calm down and clear the mind. I realised just what a positive effect the latter have on my state of mind and my ability to wind down at the end of the day.

2) (Wake up at the same time every day)

I started waking up earlier. Much earlier. So early that my working day was finished by 1pm. And this is thanks to the fact that I…

3) (Go to bed before midnight, or preferably at 11pm)

Went to bed before midnight. Once I even went to bed at 10pm! On other days I managed 11.30.

5) (Do some sport every day)

I did sport…but only three times in the week. I danced in my living room, blasting Britney Spears and Black Eyed Peas music (into my headphones). I felt like I shook out all of the negative energy that had been building up in me over the past few weeks. I also did one yoga practice and went to one dance class. It’s a good start, but I feel like I need more.

7) (Buy myself something pretty to wear)

I went to a special clothes sale where I bought myself some very nice skirts and dresses for a very nice price. I haven’t worn any of them yet (still in the wash!), but it feels nice to have renewed my wardrobe a bit.

10) (Go to a new place in the city every week)

I went to an art gallery, to which I had wanted to go for months. It’s only a fifteen minute walk away from my home, so it was about time that I finally got there! Although I didn’t find the exhibition particularly interesting, I enjoyed looking through the gallery catalogue and finding out about various artists and photographers. It made me want to take photos, draw and create.

11) (Try a new recipe every week)

Today I tried a new recipe for a healthy cake. Half of it is already eaten! I also revisited a recipe that I hadn’t done for over a year. It reminded me that I love cooking; I love giving myself a whole afternoon to make something, to create something that will bring happiness to the ones I love and to learn something new. My cooking sessions are also accompanied by music and singing; today I discovered two singers that will definitely go onto my playlist.

12) (Buy a juice making machine, and drink fresh fruit juice at least three times a week)

Although I did not buy a juice-making machine or make fresh fruit juice, I did eat fruit every day, which I haven’t done for a long while. I immediately felt, and tasted, the magic of natural vitamins. I could feel my body rejoicing in having received this healthy energy.

14) (Go to one new social event a week – alone)

I went to a singing class. I met friendly and open people, I had a lot of fun and I sang out loud on my own in front of a group of strangers! I was enjoying myself so much that I didn’t even care about being out of tune and off beat. The singing class filled me with loads of positive energy and I realised that music is a sort of meditation for me: while singing or playing an instrument I am so concentrated on my activity that I forget everything else. I lose track of time, my mind clears of all thoughts and I simply let go.

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Aims for week 2:

-Do not make ‘other people’ and excuse for not doing any of the set activities on a given day – there is always a way to make time for the things we would like to do.

 -Meditate. What’s holding me back from doing sport, considering I used to do dance, aerobics, yoga and jogging regularly? Why do I feel guilty giving myself the opportunity to do something I enjoy? Why do I resist setting aside time to pamper myself? I know I want to sing and continue learning to play the guitar…so why do I not take the step to do so?

I leave you with an awesome song that I listened to quite a few times this week. I think you’ll understand why it’s part of my ‘happy’ playlist.

 

Week 2 of my Happiness Project starts now! (Oops, it’s already past my bedtime!).

Happiness Project

3 Nov

“I am not happy”, the thought that we all dread came to me earlier this week. I realised that I am no longer happy in the city to which I moved ten months ago, I am no longer happy with my lifestyle and I am no longer taking pleasure in my every day life.

I feel a loss of energy, a loss of interest and a loss of motivation. I don’t remember the last time that I sung in the shower. It’s been months since I blasted out my favourite music and danced alone in the living room. And don’t ask me what I look forward to when I wake up in the morning, because I simply don’t have an answer.

It’s tragic, it’s heart breaking, but most of all, it’s very confusing.

Figuring out why we are not happy is a very difficult thing. Figuring out what to do to make ourselves happy is even harder.

Even if we find out why we are not happy, there could be things about certain situations that we simply cannot change. We cannot always move away if we’re unhappy with the place in which we live, we cannot always leave our job if we know that it is making us stressed, we cannot always heal ourselves if we are unwell, we cannot change the people around us if they are bringing negativity into our lives.

So what can we do if we realise that we are unhappy?

For the moment, I am not going to leave my current city, I am not going to change my job and I am not (and cannot) transport my best friends to my city. All I can do is to change a few things in my every day life, which could give me energy, inspiration and joy.

My happiness project for the next month is as follows:

1) Go for a walk every day.

Promenade

2) Wake up at the same time every day (apart from Sundays, of course).

3) Go to bed before midnight, or preferably at 11pm.

4) Find a music teacher and practice the guitar every day.

girl guitarist

5) Read a fairytale.

6) Buy myself something pretty to wear.

7) Go to see a classical music concert.

8 ) Do some sport every day. Dancing, yoga, aerobics, jogging, stretching, walking with heavy shopping bags…

9) Do something that I am scared of (call to ask for a job opportunity, enter a competition, apply for a course, book a trip away, start writing a novel)

10) Go to one new social event a week – alone.

11) Write one story or poem a week.

12) Set an evening every week for personal pampering.  Beauty treatments, meditation, learning how to do a new hair style, taking a bath, listening to music with eyes closed…

13) Try a new recipe every week.

14) Buy a juice making machine, and drink fresh fruit juice at least three times a week.

15)  Go to a new place in the city every week.

16) Edit any of the above points if they start making me unhappy.

17) Create a blog-report on each week of the happiness-project.

 

My happiness project starts today – I have five minutes to get myself ready for bed in time for my curfew!

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What activities would you put on your own happiness-project list?