Let Them Eat Cake……Some Other Time

Source: thecomfortofcooking.com
Source: thecomfortofcooking.com

There’s a beautiful blend of the moisture of yellow cake and the sweetness of butter cream frosting that I fell in love with as a kid.  My parents didn’t seem to mind, considering their only goal was to keep me from not eating chocolate for a fear of getting cavities.  But there was only one catch: I could only enjoy this treat whenever someone had a birthday.  So I grew up with this being a luxury.  Of course as time has progressed, I’ve gained a love for a lot of pastries, but traditional (or as i call it, birthday cake) cake always wins with me.  So imagine my surprise when last night I got a craving for cake and didn’t eat any.

Source: birthday-kid.com
Source: birthday-kid.com

Usually when I get the craving to have some cake, I get it.  It’s there, I have the money for it, and I get to go home with either a small 9-inch cake or a single layer sheet cake.  So it doesn’t have to be my birthday for me to have any cake.  So yesterday I was at work doing what I normally do; spreadsheet work, part-time therapist for whoever comes into my office to vent, and meetings.  I began to just crave something sweet, and since I had to go to the store for groceries anyway, I figured, “Why not slide a sheet cake in my basket?”  So I made my way to the Bakery.  First off, they had nothing but chocolate, which I’m not a fan of.  So I went to the display case and looked at all the cakes.  Finally, I found a traditional cake.  My birthday cake.  I went to reach for it when that little voice said,

“You know you don’t want that cake, for real.  Why are you reaching for that cake? What value do you get from having cake right now at this very moment?  Maybe you’re just thirsty.  What does this cake mean to you, honestly?”

Source: onesilentmoment.com
Source: onesilentmoment.com

Traditional “birthday” cake symbolized in that moment for me instant gratification.  I don’t need permission to eat it, I don’t need a special occasion to have it.  When I cut my slice, I can make it as big or as small as I want, every time I want it.  It’s what I want.  That’s when it hit me: I wasn’t getting what I want in my own life, so I go for the one thing I can get easily and be happy in that moment. There’s a void in my life that I was going to fill up with cake.  I’m aware of this now because in the past, I would just eat cake until I got sick, THEN feel bad that I ate so much.  But now I see this void as being a lack of fulfillment.  That I’m not asking for what I want in my own life.  That it’s time to get focused and honest about what it is that I need for me to feel satisfied.  It’s time for me to claim it; the things, the situations, the experiences that I want for my life and not being afraid to say them aloud.  Then, go for everything or at the very least, believe that it’s already coming.

I’d still love some cake.  Just not today.

Hoarders: Traveler’s Edition

I’m planning a very big trip this year.  I’m talking international big.  Big as in, “You may want to spring for the wi-fi on board, cause it’s gonna be a long flight” big.  Big that it spans a few oceans.  Scratch it off your To-Do list, big.  I’ve never taken on anything this big before in my adult life.  Yes, I’ve been on vacation before, but it’s always been with family and friends and the costs have always been split fairly down the middle (or in the case of my parent’s anniversary, taken care of completely!). But this experience has been a new one and showed me a side of me that I still need work on.  I’m a bit of a hoarder of money.  And when I have to spend a great deal of money…I get really, really, anxious.

Source: twinfinite.com
Source: twinfinite.com

I challenged myself a few years ago to open a savings account and pay myself with each and every paycheck.  For the last two years, that’s been working for me and I managed to save over $2,000.  I was proud of myself; proud that I was disciplined enough to not spend it on myself (or give it away to a friend who you know can’t pay you back.  lesson: learned). I took pride in knowing that I had saved all of this money to use at my discretion, but for what?  A car? A security deposit on a new place?  Shoes?  I didn’t know but I figured when the time is right, I’d use it.  Then my South African trip came and I moved some of the money to purchase the steal price of a lifetime!  I had my plane ticket.  I had a date.  I even had more money to use towards my trip.  Then I got into the planning stage and wanted to save as much as I possibly could.  So I started looking at sales and began to get a plan in motion: I would pay for my trip in increments.  That way, I won’t feel so overwhelmed.  But then I made a very crucial mistake: I started sharing my plans with others and getting their feedback.  What was it?  Well, it was pretty much unanimous:

This trip sounds like it’s gonna cost you a lot of money

I didn’t want it to cost me a lot of money, I wanted to get the best deal that I could.  So I started researching my ass off for the cheapest deals around.  I signed up for more travel groups than I knew existed.  I had several apps and airlines send me updates weekly on plane ticket prices; wanting to snag not only the best deal but keep my precious in the bank.  I thought I was being resourceful and smart.  What I was doing was hesitating and stalling.  The more I did that, the more the prices began to rise.  I started thinking, “Maybe this trip is too much for me to handle all by myself.  Maybe I was too ambitious to plan a trip halfway around the world.  Nothing is paid for and I have to still factor in food and activities.”  I started to give up.  I started to feel overwhelmed.  I started to mimic other people’s perceptions and fears about my vacation.  It just became all too much for me to deal with.  The byproduct of that was I was holding on to my money even tighter.  I didn’t want to lose it, even though I saved it to be used how I wanted.

Source: bingebehavior.com
Source: bingebehavior.com

Over the weekend, I decided to step away from the trip planning phase and really sit with my anxiety.  I’m becoming really huge on meditation and being still.  So, I got still.  I listened to my own voice and not the voices of others.  Once that was clear, I was able to hear my scared voice.  It didn’t have to do with the money; like I said before, I had save more than enough to start spending it how I felt.  Plus, I had an actual plan in motion and my hesitation was hindering that.  I was standing in my own way because I was afraid to fail.  Yes, I was afraid that I would make all the wrong decisions with planning my trip.

What if I buy the tickets now and they’re cheaper in April?  This hotel SEEMS nice, but what if I just booked a room at the Roach Motel?  Will I even have enough time or even feel up to doing all of this at once?  

This is where trusting your gut comes into play.  I had to trust myself that I was making the right decision for me.  Also, there’s no “perfect” time to pay for anything, just like there’s no “right” time to seize an opportunity. Sometimes, you just got to go for it.  To just dive in and go for it!   So that’s what I did…and I managed to pay for 80% of my trip.

It also helps that airfare is cheaper on Tuesdays.  What?  I said there’s no perfect time…I didn’t say anything about a perfect day.

Is It Safe Yet, Mercury?

Yes, I believe in Mercury Retrograde.  Yes, I understand that the planet doesn’t actually “revolve” backwards.  Sure, maybe a lot of what happens during those two weeks could all be a figment of my imagination and that I’m “attracting” all of this in my life.  But, and smirk all you want to cynic, when Mercury goes backwards, a lot of things go bad for me.  Actually, the typical things that’s associated with the retrograde happen to me.  But this particular cycle seem to hit me the hardest. In fact, this was one of thee most difficult retrogrades I’ve ever experienced.   I’ll just highlight a few.

Electronics

iphone

You want to know how I knew Mercury was in retrograde?  Yep, my cell phone started acting crazy.  If I wasn’t losing my signal for no reason, the screen would freeze up.  At work, my entire Z drive just magically disappeared before my eyes as I was working on a spreadsheet.  Text messages would come out of order, phone conversations would be inaudible, and more recently, a slew of social media sites blocking you from posting due to “suspicious activity”.  Even when I got home, I couldn’t connect to the wi-fi and most of my movie streaming networks just failed to work properly. Anytime my electronics act up, it gives me another reason to just unplug and unwind.  I don’t need to tweet out everything at the moment.  I got to journal a lot more and just sit still with no distractions.

Travel

traffic

You’re always told that during a retrograde, you should give yourself some extra time for traveling (I’ll keep this in mind for my trip…which is the second round of Mercury’s retrograde…..I know, I know).  Well, I didn’t take heed to this and suffered greatly.  I’ve been in traffic before but these last couple of weeks, some days have just been ridiculous.  I also take public transportation and there have been days….DAYS….when the bus just didn’t show up.  Literally.  There was no bus.  I’ve never seen anything like it, especially not consecutively.  The silver lining for me with this is I’ve learned to trust my gut.  There were some mornings where I just didn’t feel the need to “rush” to get out the house.  I took my time because I knew that Mercury was going to do a number on me.  While in traffic, I spruced up on my French (thanks, Duolingo!), watched Netflix, and read a book.   Traveling during a retrograde teaches me patience all over again and I’m grateful for the lesson.

Relationships

Source: www.pinoria.com
Source: http://www.pinoria.com

Every ex you could imagine showed up during this retrograde.  Now, this is actually something that’s never happened to me. I’ve only read about how people from your past come back into your life.  Some of my exes came up in my thoughts, which of course was annoying because, well, who wants to constantly think about an ex who (if you’re anything like the ones I got) is happily married?  Well..there’s a reason for this.  During retrograde, when an ex appears back into your life, it’s the time to settle some “karmic debt.” Meaning?  Time to forgive, beloved.  The person you need to forgive is entirely up to you.  For me, the exes that kept coming up in my thoughts for “karmic debt” was for me to finally forgive myself.  They weren’t the source of my pain; I was.  I didn’t understand how to love another person.  I was young.  I gave up easily.  So the person I really needed to forgive was myself.  I would meditate with the ex in mind at the time and would forgive, then release.  It felt great…until actual exes started showing up in my physical life.  One in particular brought up a lot of past hurt that I thought I had worked through.  I just merely pushed it down from my memory because it was too painful to deal with. When he came back, wanting that old thing back, the feelings resurfaced.  I have cried so much during this period.  It’s really been therapeutic.

So yes, this retrograde has been intense, but it has been the most eye-opening experience I’ve ever had. I’ve become more clear with how I communicate, how I view myself, and others.  I’m also glad that today is the last day.