Today I baked cupcakes.
Dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan chocolate cupcakes, with a chocolate ganache frosting.
Let me back up for a moment.
A Previous Lifetime
In what seems like a previous lifetime, I used to cook, bake and entertain often.
I completed a foundations course in baking at the Institute of Culinary Education.
My Christmas cookies were legendary: I made a variety of cookies and packaged them up to deliver to doormen and friends around the city. For my 30th birthday, I sent my guests off with homemade chocolate truffles, boxed in silver pyramids, with handmade tags.
I didn’t just bake for humans. When my brother’s dog turned 1, I stayed up until 5 am making dog treats.
I planned charity events, birthday parties, and bridal showers. I regularly had people over to teach them how to cook in small NYC kitchens and entertain in small apartments.
Before there were lifestyle blogs and YouTube and Instagram TV, I was a “lifestyle blogger.” My blog was live, and in person.
BizBash magazine, a trade publication for the events industry, wrote an article about my double life as a lawyer and creative.
Not Everything Needs to Be a Business
When I left my legal career, everyone assumed that I would start a lifestyle or events business. I had labels for my confections. There were a few reasons I didn’t go that route, but one was that a part of me worried that if I did that full time it would lose its luster.
Some hobbies and passions are best left at that. Not everything needs to be turned into a business.
Instead, I started in business as a real estate broker. Real estate felt like natural place where I could use at least some of my hobbies in service of my business.
I envisioned making cookies for my clients at the holidays, hosting dinner parties to bring people together, and sending my clients hand-made cards at their closings and birthdays.
That didn’t happen.
I worked all the time. I stopped cooking, baking, and entertaining. I stopped planning events.
The Things We “Used to Do”
Recently I heard myself tell someone:
I used to bake.
Ouch. I used to bake? As if it really was another lifetime ago.
It’s one thing to talk in the past tense about the bad habits we kicked:
I used to bite my nails. I used to hit the snooze button every morning. I used to watch 6 hours of television a day.
I love to bake, especially for others. I’m not ready for baking to be a “used to.”
So today, I baked cupcakes.
You Won’t Find the Time
I had no shortage of things to do today. I am performing in a stand-up comedy show tomorrow. I have two new listings coming on the market this week. I’m in the throes of trying to launch a program. I have practice hours and homework to do for a coaching certification program. I need to send emails and newsletters. Write blog posts. I am moving next month. I need to find a place to live and start packing my apartment.
In short, I’ve got a lot going on.
The time to do this did not just appear like magic on my schedule. I created the time.
Why would I pick today to bake cupcakes?
I wanted to do something nice to celebrate the birthdays of two of my friends from flying trapeze. Both of those friends brought homemade treats to practice for my birthday. Both are amazing people. I wanted to do something nice for them, to show my appreciation to them, from my heart.
One friend is gluten-free. The other is dairy-free.
So I found a recipe for vegan, gluten-free chocolate cupcakes from The Minimalist Baker.
And I baked cupcakes.
Not just as something nice to do for my friends, but also as something necessary to do for myself.
There were a lot of ways I could have celebrated my friends today. I could have picked up a box of cupcakes. Nothing wrong with that. But it wouldn’t have nourished me in the same way.
It took about three times as long as the recipe indicated it would. As I frosted them I was racing the clock, knowing I needed to leave to get to practice on time. I packed them up and high-tailed it to Brooklyn.
Despite the last minute rush, I had a lovely afternoon baking cupcakes.
I reconnected with the joy I feel when I bake.
As a bonus, as I swirled chocolate ganache onto the cupcakes, I discovered I still have my skills.
(The first few weren’t perfect, but it came back to me).
I’m not willing to accept baking as something I used to do.
The Things That Fall Off the To-Do List
Sometimes we go through a phase with something, and we willingly give it up for good. Or we develop a habit that we know we need to give up. I’m fine with saying I used to do those things.
Other times, we unwillingly or unknowingly give up a passion. We have so many things to do, and we feel challenged to make time for them.
Eventually, some things fall off our to-do list. We don’t always notice because those things are not necessarily screaming to us as important or urgent. Don’t get trapped by the illusion of the Eisenhower matrix (that’s the important/urgent grid, aka the Covey Matrix).
Often, the most important things in life are not on your to-do list.
I always like to ask people:
What’s something you used to do that is not even on your project list?
I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t have things on that list.
What are the things you used to do that you don’t even think about doing anymore?
If something fills you, don’t let it become a thing you used to do.
The time won’t find you. You must create it.
And so I did.
Today, I baked cupcakes.