Rainy day musings, plus nine reasons why Cake Boss is my new life coach

Connecting and announcing.  Announcing and connecting.  Seems like I've been doing a whole lot of that lately.  That's been because there's been a whole lot to connect about and a whole lot to announce!  There's Wild and White Blazing, WIGS and WIGS, a wordless walk tomorrow and I just returned from hosting a beautiful retreat.  There are loose ends to wrap up and new projects beginning. But somewhere in there I need to keep living my wild and precious life.  And I am, interspersed with a lot of emailing!  Today I sat on the porch with the cats in the rain.  Here's a little wordless rain once it was raining a bit harder and we'd come in.


At one point when the rain had let up and the sun was peeking through, I looked out the window at just the right moment and saw a hummingbird visiting the purple Mexican petunias.  And I felt that little catch in my heart - that little infusion of pure joy- knowing that being present and being alive is enough.

I have a new indulgence. Cake Boss. I try to limit it to one episode (22 minutes) per day, but sometimes I need one more dose.  We don't have cable so until we got Netflix streaming a few weeks ago, I could only watch shows like Cake Boss if I happened to be staying at a hotel.  I actually discovered Buddy Valastro and his wacky but lovable family all working together at Carlo's Bakery in Hoboken, NJ while I was hiking the AT.  When I'd stop in town to resupply, I would purchase large quantities of food to eat on my day off, climb into bed, pop open a pint of Ben and Jerry's and watch TV shows about cake.  Perfect.

The shows are all so similar - why do I love them so much? I think a lot of it has to do with the charisma of Buddy, the main character.

I love his outlook on life, and while I know I'm watching a heavily edited television show, not unadulterated real life, I think if we all lived a little more like Buddy Valastro, the Cake Boss, the world would be a better place.  Here's why.

1. He works hard. He doesn't expect that cakes are just going to appear.  Every episode there's tons of mixing, icing, sculpting - actual doing.  And he does it every day.  He doesn't create something one day and then take two days off. 2. He loves what he does.  You can see it in his eyes whether he's consulting with a new customer or presenting a cake to an adoring audience. 3. He has a positive outlook on life, but when he's upset, he expresses his feelings.  Almost every episode there's at least one point where Buddy gets frustrated about something and yells a little.  But then it passes and all goes back to normal.  He doesn't stuff his emotions down  - he lets them fly - and within reason, that's pretty healthy! 4. He doesn't think he has to do everything himself.  He's assembled a talented team around him to make his creative visions manifest themselves. 5. He's willing to try something new and go out on a limb creatively, while also hanging on to what's worked in the past.  It seems that almost every episode includes Buddy and his team trying to construct a cake in a way they've never done before. But there's also a heavy dose of tradition, from recipes that date back generations like those incredible cannoli!  Gosh, I love cannoli. 6. He's not afraid to look silly.  I love the episode where he and his buddies go out and play golf for the first time - it doesn't matter to him that he doesn't know what he's doing - he just laughs a lot and tries it. 7. He embraces fun.  While everyone at that bakery works hard all day, there are always a couple of pranks where someone gets a cake in the face or flour dumped on their head or contests where the loser has to dress up in a bunny suit or a grass skirt  and hand out cupcakes. 8. He values relationships. I love the scenes with Buddy and his giant Italian family - they work together and they celebrate together. There's plenty of food, laughter, hugs, and toasts.  Salud! 9. He dreams big.  People don't end up with their bakeries on successful TV shows just like that - someone has to picture the possibilities.  And I have a hunch that Buddy doesn't let negative thinking get in his way when he dreams.  He has a vision, then he makes it happen, and that's pretty cool.

What do you think? Are you a fan of Cake Boss?  Are there any of Buddy's personality traits you'd like to emulate more?






The power of story, and an intervention by angels...

Within the first couple hours of our road trip to Colorado earlier this month, we lost a wallet.  Not fun, right?  Here's what happened.  We stopped at a convenience store just over an hour away from home to grab some soda and juice.  My sweetheart started to give me his wallet to pay, and I said, no - it's ok - I have mine.

We kept driving.  To Alexandria, Louisiana.  Now about four and a half hours from home.  And we got to the hotel, and my sweetheart said, "Honey, what did you do with my wallet?"  Oh.  No.  My stomach dropped.  Had he handed me his wallet while he went to the bathroom?  What did I do with it?  Did I leave it on the counter? We searched high and low.  In every possible nook and cranny in the car.  We didn't find it.  It was 10 p.m.

Ok, so I asked myself, what's perfect about this?  (Very hard in a situation like this, believe me.)  I always start with, "We're ok."  Then, "There wasn't that much money in it.", Then, "Only one credit card to cancel."  We got on the phone and took care of that.

Then there was the matter of the driver's license.  And here the angels intervened.  1. We were still in Louisiana.  2.  We had internet and a laptop to easily search for Motor Vehicle offices.  3.  The office in Alexandria was literally less than a five-minute drive from our hotel! Can't you hear the angelic choirs singing??

We went there the next day, first thing.  And there wasn't much of a wait.  (Go, angels!) And they renewed my sweetheart's license so he won't have to wait in line in a couple of months in New Orleans.  And then it was done and we were on our way.

"Ok", you say.  "I get it. Angels intervened. But what about the power of story? Why is that in the title?"  Well, a couple of reasons.  We could have used a lot of energy telling a really different story about this.  About how awful it was.  About how we couldn't believe that no one had turned in the wallet (we did call the convenience store - amazing that we were able to remember which one and find its number online!) About all the money we'd lost.  About the hassle of changing online accounts to new credit card numbers.  About how stupid I was for leaving the wallet on the counter, or wherever I'd left it.  We could have seen it as a "bad omen" for our whole trip.

But we didn't.  We had a fantastic trip.  We didn't even think about it much except that my sweetie had to ask me for my credit card when we'd stop for gas.

And then we came home.  And you will never guess what was on my sweetheart's desk. Did you guess? You're right! His wallet.  Because he'd never brought it in the first place. He'd only offered to pay.  He had never actually handed me his wallet!  We'd completely fabricated that part of the story!

And here's where the angels actually intervened.  What if we had realized we didn't have the wallet at the convenience store- one hour away from home?  We would have probably driven back to get it, which would have taken more than twice as long as what we ended up doing.  And it would have been a very un-fun two hours.  In traffic.

I make up stories all the time - I create motives, fabricate background information, and selectively remember facts.  And I just finished a book, a rather dark book, but an incredible story that illustrates this so well.  It's called The Sense of An Ending, by Julian Barnes.  It's a short, engaging novel that so clearly illustrates the power of story to affect real lives.  You'll think you know what's happening right up until the end - I won't spoil it.

So, what stories are you telling yourself these days about the circumstances around you?  Do you have a good example of how you turned around what seemed like crummy circumstances into a better story?  Are you noticing the intervention of angels/the universe/luck, or whatever you want to call it, in your life?  I'd love to hear!  Email me at or share your story in the comments below.