words by nerissa

…observations, thoughts and questions

Archive for the tag “Cake”

My extraordinary life

A riddle: What is more precious than gold, but cannot be bought, earned or saved?

I’ll give you a hint. It’s something we often say we don’t have enough of, particularly when we are busy. Yet when we stop and take a breath, we wonder where it went.

Time.

Time is a funny thing.

A minute of sprinting (when you’re not very good at it), can seem like an hour.

A 30-minute filling at the dentist can feel like years.

Waiting several weeks for a special celebration can seem like an eternity.

My extraordinary life Write to the Point

I have made so many different cakes over the years.

Yet 10 years can go in an instant.

We have just celebrated our daughter’s 10th birthday.

To celebrate her ‘double-figures’, she had a special party with nine of her friends. We spent months planning it, organising invitations and lolly bags.

The day of her birthday I spent hours making her cake, and organising her special birthday dinner.

The following weekend, we hosted an extended family celebration, and spent days preparing food and getting the house ready.

By the time we took a breath, it was all over, and our little girl — the baby of our family — had turned 10.

We wondered aloud: “Where did the last 10 years go?”

After all the presents had been unwrapped and the leftover cake put away, I looked through the countless photos of birthdays past, including the plethora of cakes that I had made over the years — 12 years in fact.

There were cupcakes and fairy cakes, lolly cakes and monster cakes, flowers and butterflies, a tennis court, a house, a piano and even an artist’s palette.

I remember making every one of them, each time thinking, “this is taking a forever”, or something along those lines. Yet the only thing remaining of those cakes is photographic evidence that they ever existed.

I am sure all of us are caught in this time warp of sorts — impatient for a moment to pass, yet reminisce about time gone by, because it happened all too quickly.

Mindfulness experts often bang on about being ‘present in the moment’. They believe it is a way to improve happiness and deal with difficult times. However mindfulness is not always possible, or desirable. I for one like to think about something else while the dentist drills my tooth for a filling. Furthermore, finding a quiet coffee shop is much preferable to wandering around a shopping centre focusing on the screams of a 2 year-old having a tantrum.

But I understand the point. We should be ‘present in the moment’, and filing it in our memory bank, rather than focusing on rushing to the next moment.

One of my favourite movies is About Time. It’s the story of a young man called Tim, who is told shortly after his 21st birthday that every male in his family has the ability to travel back in time — but only to a point in time that they have already been in.

My extraordinary life Write to the Point

The artist’s palette, tennis court and house were particular favourites.

All they have to do is enter a dark place (like a cupboard), close their eyes, think of where they’d like to go, squeeze their fists and there they are. Once they are in that moment, they have the opportunity to correct any ‘wrong’. Some of these ‘wrongs’ are small, embarrassing moments that happen to most of us. Some have wider-reaching consequences.

Towards the end of the movie, Tim’s father shares of how he used the gift of time travel. He used to live his day with all the anxiety, stress, frustration and busyness that it brought. Then he would go back and do it again, knowing that things would work out, and therefore able to enjoy the moment, enjoy his life and the interactions he had with people throughout the day. To experience the pure joy of living and making the most of the time he had.

Tim follows his advice for a while and lives each day twice. Eventually he stops travelling in time.

The truth is I now don’t travel back at all, not even for the day. I just try to live every day as if I’ve deliberately come back to this one day, to enjoy it, as if it was the full final day of my extraordinary life.”

We all have the opportunity to live an extraordinary life. We just need to show up, and notice it. We need to look for the enjoyment of it and actively participate in it.

It may be noticing the scenery when you travel in the car.

It may be watching your child’s soccer game, instead of playing on your phone.

It might be holding your partner’s hand while you watch TV.

Perhaps it’s making eye contact with the person you are having coffee with, instead of looking at everyone else in the coffee shop.

It may even be focusing on the simple task of icing and decorating a birthday cake.

As I look back over the last 12 years’ worth of birthday cakes, I am blessed to remember making each one of them. They were not just cakes and icing. They represent joyful celebrations of my kids’ lives. They represent their interests and passion at differing stages of their life. They represent joy and happiness and blessings — two blessings in the shape of my children.

They also serve as reminders, that I have indeed been blessed with an extraordinary life.

Write to the Point CommunicationsNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

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Do less and do it well

words by nerissa

Lots of sorting got done today

Once again, it’s school holiday time.

As someone who runs a business from home, this can be a tricky (and sometimes, frustrating) time. In the freelance writing game, it’s very often ‘feast or famine’ — either too much work or not enough. And for the first few years, it’s very tempting to say ‘yes’ to any work that comes your way, until you are well-established in your field.

As luck (or Murphy’s Law) would have it, my busiest times have usually been during school holidays. This has often meant a stressful holiday period, trying to balance meeting deadlines and holiday fun. It is further compounded by the fact that writing for a living isn’t as simple as sitting down for a few hours and ‘getting it done’. Writing often means needing to be in the ‘zone’ — feeling the inspiration and getting the words to flow freely, rather than trying to extricate them one by one. As a health writer, I also need time to research my topic.

As any writer would know, the zone isn’t something you can turn on and off. It’s either there or it’s not. Sure, there are things you can do to help you get in the zone, but with two noisy (and sometimes arguing) children in the background, getting there can be difficult. Even if you manage to find your way there, that magic place where the writing comes easy, can be shattered in an instant with the words “Mum, I’m hungry” or cries of “Stop it! Leave me alone!”

Really? You won’t believe it. Honestly, no sooner had I typed the words above, my eldest comes in and says “Mum, I’m hungry!”….so I’ll be right back……

(insert 37 minutes….)

Right — where was I? Oh that’s right, being interrupted!!

In the past, working during school holidays has meant early mornings, late nights and working across the weekends. By the time school term started up again, I was in need of a holiday myself. But of course, everything else that had been put on the back-burner while I was juggling work and school holiday activities was beckoning.

So these holidays, I decided to do something different. I didn’t take on any work.

words by nerissa

The art of cake decorating

Yes — I said ‘no’.

Instead, I am working intermittently while I can, on things that are not urgent. They are important, but not urgent. They also don’t require me to be ‘in the zone’ so much, which means that I can make the most of snippets of time that becomes available.

Tasks such as updating my website, planning out the remainder of my year, setting goals, learning new things that will have a positive impact upon my business, as well as building relationships with key people.

Quite frankly, it’s been great. I haven’t worked at night, or early in the morning. I spent last weekend attending a personal development workshop, visiting friends and sleeping in. This weekend we are spending time with more friends (celebrating the end of AFL season, to be honest!) and taking the kids to the Melbourne Show.

Instead of fitting school holidays (and the kids) around work, I’m fitting in my work around them. For the past three days, my son has been at a tennis clinic, and my daughter was occupied either watching a movie, playing with her barbies or at my parents’ house — so that’s when I worked.

This morning, the kids sorted out a plethora of books, pens, pencils and other ‘crafty’ activities that have been accumulating throughout the house, so I took myself off to the study to work. This afternoon’s activity was cup-cake making — something we all did doing together.

The great thing about my new approach is that I don’t feel guilt. No guilt about not spending time with the kids when I’m working, and no guilt about not working when I’m with the kids.

words by nerissa

What wonderful creativity

The other positive, is the quality of my work is a lot higher because I’m focusing more on what I want to get done, rather than how I’m going to fit it all in. There is also a lot less frustration, because writing deadlines do not exist for these two weeks. It’s an arrangement that seems to be working, and one that I will endeavour to employ in future school holidays.

It’s very easy to get caught up in the busyness of work and family life. It’s even more easy to be swamped by the juggle that is work and school holidays. One thing I have learnt however, is that sometimes we need to take something out of the picture in order to have more balance, more fun and less stress.

Sometimes we need to do less, so we can do it well.

And on that note, it’s time to enjoy those cupcakes!

Until next time. xx

cropped-twitterpic.jpgNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

 

The search for inspiration

So school holidays are over and the kids are back to school. While part of me was a little sad to see the end of pyjama days, sleep-ins and Mario Kart Wii Championships, another part was a little excited.

It meant I could have my coffee in peace. There would be time for me. Time to write! inspire

But as I pulled out the school bags and organised uniforms on Sunday night, I despaired. My inspiration was gone. Just like that. Nowhere to be seen.

Did I leave it somewhere in the movie theatre, amongst all the popcorn on the floor and the seat? Maybe it went to hide in a quiet cupboard during my daughter’s 8th birthday afternoon tea. Or perhaps it disappeared among the mess on my lounge-room floor. Wherever it was, I couldn’t find it.

So I set about looking.

Hmm. Nope. Not in the kids’ school lunch boxes and not in the evening meal.

Maybe I accidentally wrapped it up in my daughter’s birthday presents. Damn. Will have to wait for the morning to find out.

No need to panic. I’m sure after a good night’s sleep, I’ll remember where it was.

I was wrong.

Monday

It wasn’t at the gym and nor was it amongst my daughter’s birthday presents. I didn’t see it at school assembly either and nor did I spy it while getting a few groceries.

It must be here somewhere!!!!

So I roamed about the house looking for my inspiration. It certainly wasn’t in the piles of birthday gifts distributed around the house. It most definitely WAS NOT in the ironing basket.

Think. Think. Where did you leave it?

Aha! Maybe it’s in the pantry. Hmm. Let’s see. There is a lot of stuff in there….

Actually, no. It’s probably not here. I mean, I’m pretty sure it’s not in the container of left-over smarties used to decorate a butterfly cake. And it’s probably not in a piece of that left-over butterfly cake either.

I sighed as I shut the pantry cupboard with empty hands.

I continued that way for most of the day. Searching, searching — looking for my inspiration.

The light faded and night fell. When it was clear that my inspiration was not going to be found in my Monday night fix of MasterChef, I decided that the search party would be disbanded until the morning.

Tuesday

To be honest, I forgot to look for my inspiration when I got up. Normal routine kicked in. Workout, shower, wake kids, breakfast, get organised for school and good-bye kisses at the door.

No time to look now because I’m off to the hairdresser. Perhaps I’ll look later.

And while I was sitting back having my hair shampooed and my scalp massaged, it hit me. My inspiration! It was back!

All of a sudden, I was writing again.

Not with a pen and paper, or a computer screen, but with words rolling around in my head. It was as if dozens of thoughts simultaneously collided with each other and exploded into smaller pieces, creating a myriad of new thoughts and ideas.

It was crazy.

My inspiration had never been in any one particular place. It had been hiding in many things.

The great feeling I had at the end of my workout. The beautiful view out of my kitchen window as the sun was rising. My warm bowl of oats and cappuccino for breakfast. It was there between the pages of my magazine. It was in the beautiful winter sunshine.

It was only when I stopped looking for my inspiration, and went about doing the things that I loved — the things that gave me peace and made me feel relaxed —  that true inspiration came flooding back.

Welcome back little one. I’ve missed you.

The cupcake

Last week, my children’s school had a special ‘Winter Lunch’ day at the Canteen.IMG_1823

For $7.00 (or was it $8.00?), they could order a hot roast beef roll, two mini cupcakes and a can of drink.

My 10-year old son was on board with the offer. (Awesome! That means only packing half a lunch box the night before. )

My daughter was not so thrilled. “I don’t like hot roast beef rolls. I just want the cupcakes”. (Damn! That means I have to pack the full lunch box).

Of course she only wants the cupcakes. She hates meat! $7.00 (or was it $8.00) for two measly cupcakes that were most likely to be the awful, dry, tasteless ones available in the supermarket. So I said no. “No, I’m not paying all that money for two little cupcakes.”

She was devastated.

When I asked her why she was so upset about not getting a lunch that she didn’t like, she replied, “I’ll be the only one without a cupcake”.

Oh dear.

So I quickly promised that I would make some cupcakes the day before the ‘Winter Lunch’, so she would definitely have a cupcake in her lunchbox — and one that would taste nicer than everyone else’s and would be bigger.

That put a smile on her face. Phew! Problem averted.

For a week or so at least….

You see, the day before the promised cupcake, turned out to be a very busy day. I won’t bore you with the minute details of my life, but needless to say, baking cupcakes was the last thing I wanted to be doing, or had time for, for that matter.

I really must be more careful about what I promise.

But a promise is a promise. And it was all tied up (or iced up) in a single solitary cupcake. If I had promised to bake cupcakes, then a bought one — no matter how expensive or which exclusive bakery it may have come from— simply wouldn’t do. So during the course of the mixing, and baking and icing and decorating, (which were all interspersed with other pressing chores), I wondered: how many other seemingly mundane, ordinary things in our lives represent something more than what initially meets the eye?

You see, to everyone else, that cupcake was just that — a cake. Nothing more than flour, sugar, butter, eggs and milk, with a bit of icing and sprinkles on top.

But to my daughter, it was a promise fulfilled. It was the security of not being the only one without a cupcake. It was more evidence that she can count on me — that my word was worth something. And it showed her that I loved her enough to squeeze in yet another task in my busy day, because it would make a difference to her.

When I asked her on the way home from school if she enjoyed her cupcake, she said “Oh yes Mummy. Thanks so, so much for making it!”

And so with a smile on our faces, we continued our journey home, where a container of cupcakes were waiting.

After all, you don’t bake just one cupcake, do you?

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