Life's Little Adventures: The Bipolar Question of the Week

John McManamy Health Guide
  • This is a simple tale of how I came to bake and decorate a birthday cake. It bears telling for the simple reason that it combines a number of key recovery ingredients. So here I was - with the birthday of the love of my life coming up. We had a number of things planned, but I wanted to make it really special. I would bake a cake, I decided. There was one catch - I didn’t know anything about baking cakes.


    Not to worry. After all, we have Google. We have YouTube. In nothing flat, I was familiar with the basics of how to ice a cake without pulling the crumbs to the surface. This, apparently, is a big deal. Put a thin coat on first, I learned. Let it harden. This will effectively seal your cake. Then go wild with a thick second coat.

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    That’s all I needed to know. I went on a shopping excursion and came back with cake pans and other implements, plus package cake mix and ready-made frosting (no sense in pressing my luck making the thing from scratch). 


    My first major test came when it was time to flip both cake pans over. My track record with corn bread and other baked goods is dismal in this regard. I held my breath. My first layer neatly separated from the pan. A miracle. I whooped with joy. Mania is a normal response to baking going right. Lighting struck twice. Now I had two layers - fully intact - on their cooling racks. 


    There’s a trick to stacking layers, and I didn’t exactly get it right, but I did have a structurally sound chocolate cake I could work with. Moreover, I nailed it with my first layer of frosting. Not a crumb in sight.


    Decorating time. This is why birthday cakes are special. We met - the love of my life and I - at a didgeridoo gathering. That’s right, we both play the didgeridoo. My cake would feature a huge yellow moon against a violet evening sky. In front of the moon would be a silhouette of a didgeridoo player. Easy enough to sketch out on paper. But could I do it with frosting? 


    I won’t bore you with the details. A picture tells a thousand words.



    Suffice to say, the cake was a huge hit.


    Okay, a quick run-through of the recovery principles involved: I tried something new (keeps the brain from going stale). I put in the effort and got into a work flow (those who experience “flow,” even if it’s work, feel much higher levels of satisfaction, according to Martin Seligman in “Authentic Happiness”). I was doing something for someone else (the Dalai Lama is big on this in his “The Art of Happiness”). I was tapping into a lot of good emotions (love, for one). I am still on a high from Mission Accomplished.


    There’s a question in this somewhere. Why don’t we go with an adventure theme:


    Life’s little adventures. Have you had one lately? Feel free to tell us about it.


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Published On: October 13, 2012