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Cake Stories #1 - What actually brings me joy?

· Cake Stories
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Today’s Cake:

Today’s cake is actually not even cake - oops! But it comes quite close - as two doughnuts from Brammibal’s Doughnuts on Danziger Strasse in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin. One is a salty caramel and the other is a peanut butter fudge. Both are decadent, moist, and vegan. So deep is my love for cake that the endorphins start flowing from the first bite - and continue to grow in intensity and I make my way from one doughnut to the other.

I can tell this journey into cake eating will not end well for my pants, but will certainly make my brain feel happy.

Here's what I’m thinking about:

I have some friends in my life who help me think deeply about my experience. About who I truly am and what brings me joy and love. They help me unpack my fears, anxieties, and hold up a mirror when I’m lying to myself (or others) about what it is I truly want.

After speaking with a close friend in Beijing on Friday morning, I was reminded of how often I tell someone what I love to do as though it’s truth, when really my brain is compensating for what I “should” love doing - not necessarily what brings me unadulterated joy.

“What would you do if you had three extra hours on a Saturday?”, my friend asked me. I thought for a moment and wrote down the following four things:

  1. Write

  2. Yoga

  3. Eat Cake

  4. Go to the Lake

On a typical Saturday, two of those are absolutely true. I create space for writing and for eating cake - without fail. Going to the lake is another thing I value and love, though it takes quite a bit of preparation and forethought to bring that dream to life (there’s renting the car, pulling together blankets and sunblocks and food and drinks to last a day…)

Now here’s the weird I didn’t even blink when I wrote it down. It felt true. It felt natural. It felt like a good idea for an extra three hours on a Saturday. I’m not a yogi, far from it. I actually love practicing yoga during the self-quarantine since it gives me space to move, breathe, and stretch. Stretching feels amazing. Once the yoga is over - I feel great. But getting me to sit down on the yoga mat and hit play, that takes WORK.

My friend, who is very observant and does not let me get away with bullshit, told me that the yoga was clearly a thing I thought I “should” do with those hours, not genuinely the thing I want to do with my unexpected, awarded time.

She’s right. Yoga doesn’t bring me to life.

Sure, it feels good. It helps me feel good. I know it has a positive impact and releases endorphins. But it doesn’t help me get lost in my thoughts or bring me joy and ease quite like writing or eating cake.

So as I eat this delicious doughnut from Brammibal’s (I'm on to the peanut butter fudge by now,) I am asked the question “What actually brings me joy?” vs. “What do I think I should do to be able to experience joy?”

Where am I lying to myself? What, deep down inside, do I really want to be doing with my time?

And that, my friends, is what I think about when I eat cake.