Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Homestyle

Some of our first wedding cakes of the season:


Vegan Raspberry Almond Cake for 100


Cake wonderland at Brahma Ridge

Spring wedding season is here! We are busier than ever, and we are so excited to bust out the most beautiful, delicious cakes for the wedding feasts taking place all over these mountains. But, at the moment, as I am wont to do, I am feeling pensive, and want to share with you some reflections on my life as it relates to working hard. Here goes:

Spring is a time of year that, in recent years, has typically brought chaos. As a business owner, I've had to adopt the "make hay while the sun shines" approach to my work, and work 16 hour days for weeks in a row to meet the increased demand for wedding cakes, festival cupcakes, and birthday parties. I enjoy working hard, and have learned a tremendous amount about the value of hard work in my life. Money has been tight in these early years of the business, as every business owner knows, but I have been determined to make the shop work. I am happy to work hard, because I am glad and grateful to have work to do, a place to do it, and people I enjoy working with. But working full-tilt can take its toll, and I've continued to remind myself that work, while it has a value in itself, is also a means to an end: having a stable and sustainable life. I've tried all along to remember my original intentions for Short Street Cakes: I wanted to stay home with my son, and my cake business was going to be my cottage industry that would allow me to do that, along with gardening, spending time with friends and family, and the other things that make life worth living. I wanted to have a business that created a simple, just, and generous abundance for myself and my family, and when other people came on to join me in that endeavor, my intentions towards a healthy, happy home and business extended to include them.




I've kept those goals in mind while working on growing the business, meeting my obligations to my clients and my community, and going through the process of writing and publishing a book, knowing that, at some point, those wishes towards my own personal sustainability would take root.

Now, I am really happy to say, I am beginning to see the fruits: these past several months my home life has been so sweet, the Cake Shop has been flourishing, and the staff at work have stepped in as the most competent, talented, self-directed individuals I have ever had the pleasure to work with. So, in addition to my usual one day off a week to stay home with my son, I've been taking Sundays off too. Spending Sundays at home with my family is a revolution. I have worked through the weekend almost every week for the last 5 years, and now, I work with a team of bakers that not only CAN handle anything that comes their way, they actually WANT TO. So I've stepped back, a little. I'm taking time away from the shop to write. I've stepped more fully into my role as a board member of Bountiful Cities. And I am so grateful. I have come to appreciate brunch and cleaning days at home, together with my husband and son, as the magical gift they are. There were times that I didn't think that those kinds of days could happen for me, and times that I wouldn't allow them to happen because I couldn't slow my pace long enough to enjoy them.



But something that I am learning as a business owner, as well as in my personal life, is that blessings of support and love are all around us, if we have the ability to recognize them and receive them. This has been a hard lesson in my life. For some reason, I have often operated under the assumption that I have to do everything myself- and have over-burdened myself in the past with other people's problems, the world's problems, and feeling that I had to solve my own problems without any help. But that is not the way the world works. None of us can survive without leaning on each other, and giving is a natural human tendency that wants to be received. Those of us who are natural "givers" sometimes deprive those around us from the pleasure of giving to us, and we deprive ourselves of the pleasure of receiving, without conditions, expectations, or control.

This year, in my personal as well as my professional life, I have chosen to focus on the concept of receiving- allowing those in my life, at home, at work, and in the community to bring love and support to my life, if and when they choose, and to gratefully and gracefully receive it.

This, too, has been a revolution.

Learning to trust the bakers at the Cake Shop, that they can do it, that they want to do it, and that they take pride in their work and they feel supported by me in doing their jobs right, fills me with such gratitude. It makes me want to work that much harder to support all of our well-being: continuing to grow the business so that we can move towards a more democratic, empowering, economically sustainable and supportive workplace for all of us has become my immediate and long-term goal for the shop.

But in order to do that, we all have to be whole people. And being a whole person means that I spend my time doing more than just working. I need to garden, I need to take long baths, and I need to engage in this ritual of spending mornings in my pajamas writing. I need to take walks and ride bikes and go to the woods. I need to travel and visit family and friends, and I need to have time to commit to community work, because those are the things that feed my soul. And if my soul is not healthy, then I cannot work from a place of love. And that is what we are all here to do.
And so, I want to say thanks.

(thank you cake by Emilou)

So... I'm setting a goal: I want to have a garden this year. It seems obvious that I would have a garden, considering the amount of time and energy I spend thinking and writing about food security, community gardening, and urban agriculture, but the truth is that I have not had a home garden for years. In the early days of Short Street Cakes I had a flower garden where I grew all the flowers for the cakes. As the business has grown, I have had to streamline and cast aside almost everything in my life besides work and mothering. And I don't regret it: hard work can be a refuge when things seem uncertain, and busting ass to build and create something beautiful is one of the most rewarding things one can do. But now, thanks to the help and support of the community that supports the Cake Shop, the superhero crew at the Cake Shop, and the love of my family and friends, (and my new-found ability to receive that help and support rather than feeling guilty about it) I can now set about having a more balanced life. And I'm going to put my money where my mouth is towards sustainability, family, and community food security, and I'm going to start with a garden.

So this week, on my day off, I hung laundry on the line:


Jasper and I ate eggs from the chickens at our friends Braden and Mindy's homestead:


And I bought this basil plant that I'm going to put in the ground, dammit.


It doesn't mean that I'm not going to continue to work hard at the shop most days (I would miss the thrill of successful heavy production days at the Cake Shop if I didn't), or that I can afford to go on weeks-long yoga retreats or pay someone to do my job. It just means that the future is now, and we all have the power to create for ourselves, right now, what we want for ourselves, despite the chaos that might seem to be around us. And that we have to be able to gratefully receive the blessings of the people around us who want to give us love and support.

Happy Spring!

6 comments:

Betsy said...

Inspiring post Jodi. I too have been considering the role of receiving in my life. In my younger years I believed that the power lay in the offering and giving of assistance but now that I am older (and presumably wiser) I see that the true strength lies in the ability to ask for and graciously accept help. Interesting that that lesson often comes when we are working towards that ever elusive balance of work, family, friends and life.

I wish you the best and good luck with your garden!!

Short Street Cakes said...

Its funny, Betsy, after a super busy day at the cake shop today, I'm wondering how well I will be able to maintain this perspective! I think its worth trying, though.
xo

Tara said...

i second the importance of receiving. i can't express how crucial this realization was to achieving happiness in my own life, from the biggest thing (accepting forgiveness allowed me to step in to a structured spirituality, which i always wanted for myself) to the smallest (responding to a compliment with a simple "thank you" rather than a lengthy--and paradoxically narcissistic--debunking or diffusing). learning the grace of allowing others to support me was probably the biggest stone i have thus far rolled out of my path of personal growth. GREAT read. thank you.

KurtzCrafts said...

Wow, this week so far has been about receiving. Our pastor spoke about not just giving but receiving and a shared burden is a lighter burden...
And then I read your blog post... I feel a little slapped upside the head. lol

Thank you.

Bella@Bellabeforeandafter.blogspot.com said...

Hey Jodi,

I stumbled on your blog by searching for edible flowers. I've been stuck here reading your posts, and am extremely inspired by you. My mom and I bake cakes, and I have been in the cake business my whole life, always from home, and mostly for Romanian customers. We are Romanian, and we specialize in European cakes and pastries. I have never had any luck making a regular cake, lol.

Anyway, I want to expand our business and introduce a more organic line of goodies, including decorating in a more organic way as well.

I love that you finally got your garden back up. I've been searching for hours now, on where to buy organic edible flowers, for making candied decorations and have come to the conclusion that I must just grow them myself, lol.

I also love that you are finally at a point where you've learned to let go of some of your responsibility and let others do for you. I know that is SOOOO hard to do, and while I am not there yet, mainly because we don't have a store front, and handle every aspect of our business from our home bakery, my mom and I do everything. However the day will come where I must learn to ask for help, and I hope I am surrounded by wonderful people like you.

Sorry about my extra long comment, BUT I just wanted to let you know that you touched me with your honesty, your loving personality, it shines, and next time I'm in Asheville, I will make it a point to stop by and say HI.

Stop by anytime to say hello!!!
Hugs, Bella :)
**AMAZE ME AUGUST** @ Bella Before and After Any projects, recipes, diy welcome.
**PARTY PLANNING TUESDAYS** @ Euro Style Cakes. All your party planning tips, decorations, invitations, and recipes welcome at my NEW party.

Short Street Cakes said...

Bella! I just now saw this comment. Thank you so much for your heartfelt words- its so wonderful to connect with others and share our stories! I look forward to meeting you in person!
Jodi