I believe strongly that your outlook on life depends very largely on how you want to see it, or even how open you are to REALLY seeing it. Often the hardest thing to do is to really look closely at yourself and find an un noticed truth. Sometimes I get stuck in a rut and start to get caught up in self pity, and I don't like it. ( it could be so much worse). I really can't complain too much about the events of my life. I'm healthy, I have beautiful kids and the love of many really great friends, but always on my mind is the troubles within my business, my finances and more so my family.
I've been proud to be the black sheep of the cake industry... No formal training except what I picked up from my mother, no real regard for formality or conventional ideas of "how this or that is done", and I've always tried to be myself in spite of the events that happen around me, but I'm not only the Black Sheep of cake, I had plenty of practice long before that.
For as long as I can remember I've felt like my families Lil Black Sheep and I can remember from a very early age feeling as though I just didn't quite measure up. I was the only boy in a house with 2 older sisters. As they shared the same interest and such my sisters always seemed to bond with my mother better than I did, and that never sat well with me as I was helpless to solve the problem. I tried everything I could and was dieing to feel of value to my mother, but it seemed I always came up short. I got older, and the situation varied, but always there was the problem that she and I never really saw eye to eye, and I really can't say why that was, but no matter how old I got, it seemed I still needed the validation of her approval, and it was never there when I needed it. So, as she was getting older and arthritis taking it's toll, I got involved with her trying to help her with her cake business. I can't even tell you why it ended up being me, as my sisters always had more interest in cake than I and had worked previously in a bakery with her, but as I recall my sisters were to busy with their own families, and such, so I felt like it was a great opportunity to finally seize my chance to satisfy her and earn what I felt was deserved... respect.
I had a full time job and was married at the time and my oldest daughter was very young, but when my mother needed me, I came up and worked late into the night, often staying overnight to deliver the next day. I liked doing cakes and the extra money was great at the time, and for a short time she seemed genuinely happy to have my help. We worked together for years, with none of her clients even knowing I was responsible for sometimes all of the work done on their cake. Frequently we would work on the same cake, finishing individual tiers and putting them together on site. Even though it stung a bit to have people compliment a cake I had done and receive none of the credit myself, I figured it was worth it as she seemed at least at the time to be to a small degree happy.
Much time has passed since those days and so much has happened. the situation between my mother and I degraded so badly that she and I haven't talked in several years. She and my dad divorced and my family feels it right to place the blame on me, and I've never understood that. It would seem that all of my intentions of making my mother proud of me by doing well in an industry I had previously no interest in, failed miserably and instead she began to despise me for it. I've been blamed for trying to steal her thunder, and even for stealing her bakery it's self... I've heard stories that I kicked her out on the street and left her with nothing, and that I planned to do so in some maniacal scheme, and all of it hurts me to the core. Why are people so flippin' fast to believe the worst? You got to wonder...
It's been pretty quiet since my mother moved back to Kansas City, every now and then I'll get a nasty email from one of her long time friends cursing me for what they THINK I've done, but for the most part I've focused on my family, my self, and trying to do something good all while trying to make a business out of a loosing industry. (OK, don't get me wrong, I love the art possible in cake but as a career choice, It's a bitch) sometimes it's so quiet that I almost forget the dark secrets that lay below the relative peace of my daily life, but sometimes things happen that stir the waters.
My Dad, came out to the shop today with a letter in hand and a dazed and almost tearful look on his face and handed me a Fathers day card with a message written inside. ( this is one of the few communications he's received in the past couple years from my family) At first it seemed as though they were explaining why he was to blame for them not talking to him, but then they made it clear. It wasn't my Dad, it was "the brother" ,it was me. The thing that struck me at first was that they couldn't even bring themselves to write my name, as though it was a cursed word, and one that mustn't be uttered for fear of who knows what? The letter went on to describe that in an attempt to raise her own boys into men, she couldn't let them be around someone who's goal was to bring those around them down. I was dumb founded. First off I couldn't imagine how it is that you can do anything when you haven't had a word with them in what is sadly years, but mostly because much of my own personal peace comes from the idea that my life is focused on good. I whole heatedly believe in doing the good things, because they're good! The most rewarding thing in my life is feeling like my actions, even my silly blogs like this one, might help someone. That by sharing myself and my struggle with others that it will make them ( and me!) feel less alone, and even better to inspire and be inspired! .When I look back at my life I want to truly believe that it was lived for some valuable purpose. so how could this be?
I've come to the conclusion that some people need a focus to point their blame at. That sometimes in life when things go to the contrary of what was planned people need to be able to point to the cause, even if the cause isn't the truthful one; for my family, I am that person. The only thing left to do is to decide whether to fight against it or simply accept it, and I've become comfortable with the latter. I know who and what I am, and it does not in any way equal what they'd like for it to, but at the same time, I feel my purpose is to simply accept what ever they need to place upon me for them to be happy and content. I hate it and it sure as hell isn't fair, but for my own family, this is what they've chosen for me and I can live with that.
So what now? Well, being the black sheep of my family and my life long quest to please my mother isn't all bad. I learned to sew, cook and much more... I learned to make cakes and found out that my greatest love and joy comes from sharing my experiences in life with others through cake. I have found that I have a deep inner strength that may never have materialized had it not been so. I've learned that I can work harder and longer and for less than most people would bother, all in the belief that someday, some time, maybe never, but hopefully so, it will all be worth it ( and it already is!) Most importantly I've found out that being myself, in spite of what happens around me is always the best action. Just recently Carey and I were talking about time machines (don't ask why) and she asked me if I could go back and change anything, would I? my answer... NO. Do I have regrets? Absolutely, but sometimes the bad things we go through open our heart for the things that come later. It's when we let those negative things close the door that we are lost, and for now my door is open, my heart is filled only with the desire to live and share. And so life goes on...
I know this is supposed to be a cake blog, but life is cake and cake is life. We share our selves and our lives through cake(food)... We celebrate stages of life with cake and as I share and celebrate my life with you because of cake, it is only fair that we get to know each other, and my own history, struggle, and story, no matter the hurt or joy is a valuable part of that cake! Life would be a much sweeter if we shared it a bit.
Peace N Love