I made the BEST EVER chocolate sheet cake this week, and I need to tell you a little story about it.
It was Scott’s birthday. He manages essential workers, and this was the first time in many years that he’s been home on his actual birthday.
In fact, he’s been working from home since March due to the pandemic and has found cooking to be a stress reliever. This is good news and bad news. Good news because his meals are fabulous. Bad news because now my go-to recipes taste completely bland and uninspired.
For months, I’ve watched in awe as he whips up succulent crockpot recipes in between conference calls. Not to mention, he’s always freshly showered and wears matching clothes (overachiever).
I’ve always known Scott is a highly capable guy, but pandemic life has uncovered a whole new skillset I didn’t know he had. And while he’s over there killing it, I’ve found myself struggling… a lot.
But Scott’s birthday felt like my chance to shine. I’ve got some strong baking skills that never fail me.
Instead of going to my usual cookbooks this time, I used one of Scott’s foolproof cooking techniques. He Googles the words “Best Ever” in front of whatever he wants to make. The recipe never fails to live up to its title.
Using this method, I quickly learned the Pioneer Woman has the Best Ever Chocolate Sheet Cake recipe. I studied the many steps and told my 17-year-old daughter the process looked tricky. Natalie didn’t think so and proceeded to ‘hover’ while I baked.
She reminded me to boil the water and questioned the pan size I was using. My brand of cocoa powder was also questionable, as was my “heaping” tablespoon.
I had to go to the garage to cool off because I was afraid that I might blow up if I stood there any longer.
With arms folded in irritation, I asked myself, ‘Why is your daughter’s help bothering you so much?’
“I just want to feel capable,” my truest voice said.
Truth is, I haven’t felt very capable at all lately.
This season has thrown me for a loop in so many areas that I used to have a good handle on. Lately, all I feel is untethered and unmotivated.
I gently reminded myself that acknowledging these feelings was brave and healthy. I then celebrated the fact that Natalie has used the past nine months of virtual schooling to become a proficient baker, and she’s eager to show me her skills. If necessary, I’d kindly tell her how much I want to bake this cake for Scott.
I came back into the house to find she’d gone back to her online schoolwork. I happily heaped, estimated, and taste-tested to my heart’s desire. After baking and icing the cake, I placed it proudly on display.
Later that night, our family sat around the kitchen table digging into the succulent cake.
I’d hoped to get showered for the celebration.
I’d hoped to have proper birthday candles.
I’d hoped to have a surprise gift.
None of that happened, and none of that mattered.
Under the warm glow of the kitchen light, I saw each of us clearly—thriving in new and unexpected ways, struggling in others.
But growth and healing are fluid gifts, not stiff competitions, my truest voice reminded me.
I promised myself to save “Best Ever” status for recipes, not humans, for the remainder of December, maybe longer.
Because when it comes down to it, it’s all about the Best Ever Moments – the ones that happen around the scratched up kitchen table when we’re lucky enough to celebrate another year of life.
Dear ones, I hope you will consider joining me at my kitchen table for a new session of Soul Shift Lift. Talk will be real, relatable, and hopeful; growth will be abundant, deep, and lasting. There’s never been a better time to make healthy, loving responses a way of life. Let’s love and lift each other through the challenges ahead. The journey begins February 1. Click here to add your email and be notified when registration opens in January at the early-bird price.
Deal of the week: My second book HANDS FREE LIFE: Nine Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More is currently on sale for $4.49. Click here to buy.