Monday, December 26, 2011

From Fluorescent Lights to Cakes

Wow. I haven't gotten into the world of blogging a ton, other than for practical purposes, like cake ideas/instructions, and for enjoyment with a few particular blogs I like: Modern Reject, Rare Existence, and psalm139-verse14. Recently I saw a friend post on her social networking profile about a blog article written about... well, blogging, and since I have been doing that more often for cakes, I decided to read it. There are not many people I feel can relate to the place I'm at in life right now, having left a career in corporate world to start my own cake business, but reading one of the posts on this blog was like reading a post in my own diary, but with different nouns. His post entitled, "How fruit flies helped make me the writer I am today," inspired/challenged me to write this post. Especially since I don't write about personal matters very often.

Baci boy! I run all of my ideas past this guy.
As mentioned, I began browsing his blog simply to gain practical knowledge on blogging, but then the "fruit flies"caught my interest and caused me to read further. I wondered, how can fruit flies inspire one to do anything? But as I read it, I wanted to grab 20 people around me and say "Yes! this is exactly what I'm going through right now!" And since I didn't have 20/ people around me at the time, just my dog-Baci, I am writing to tell you about how it relates, hopefully in order to inspire you.

The writer of this article had a promising future in science, yet something screamed from inside of him that this is not what he enjoyed (although he had an interest in it) or was meant to do. So many of us can relate to that, yet ignore that nagging feeling. The rest of the post describes exactly what happened to me while sitting behind a cube for 4 years, under flourescent lights. It was his day in and day out work, which for him was experimenting on fruit flies, that literally forced him into the darkest place he had been, which ended up being launching pad of his writing career. If I were to personalize his blog title, it would read "How fluorescent lights helped me become The Cake Baketress".

I wouldn't say I had panic attacks, but I do remember anxiety, and feeling so conflicted- loving the work I was doing in small doses, and feeling trapped....like I was starting on the path of someone else's 5 year plan. After about noon on Monday, I wanted to get up from my desk and say "ok, I'll see you all next week!" I loved the people I worked with, still do, and was very fortunate to gain business savvy, branding knowledge, and experience that would directly translate into my own business, helping manage the marketing for several start-up companies, while being mentored in an innovative, fast growing business that is a leader in its industry by people I greatly respected. Yet, I knew it wasn't my long-term calling. I felt guilty every day I went to work, because I didn't feel like I could give my best doing something I wasn't sure I was meant to do.

So, after the first 2 years in my career in marketing for a local entrepreneur who owned several start-up companies, I saw a position open up in his largest company that appealed to me, as a Marketing Rep in community events and sponsorships. This job was much different, being out in the field, building relationships, attending and organizing community events. I loved so much about it and believed in what I was promoting, I loved my corworkers, I loved hosting events- but after about 6 months, that anxiety crept back in, something was still missing. Two more years I gave it, of knowing that I was meant for something but not knowing what, and staying there until I found out. I was so confused, I felt lost, I felt purposeless, and yet I knew God had gifted me to be passionate about so many things- people, art, Jesus, learning, mentoring, marketing, writing...these all are a part of me and give me so much purpose, but where do I get those as a job?

It wasn't until about a year ago that I felt like I had a dream again. I was driving one day, running a work errand, and picked up the phone to call my sister on the way. I couldn't believe the words that were coming out of my mouth, but I said,"wouldn't it be crazy if we started our own cake business together?" Strangely, that conversation spun into some major bonding and baking time for the both of us, and the start of what has become my dream. I was working by day at the office and baking at night. It started off as a fun hobby, but ended up attracting clients, right away! I was staying home on friday nights to finish a cakes while my friends were out having fun. I was dying not to gush about what I was doing while at work in my 9-to-5. I was coming up with cake designs and business plans during any type of commute, whether it be driving to a business meeting or walking to the mailbox. Through my idea, my sister ended up discovering her own dream- nursing, but she helped me through the start of discovering mine. I am so thankful she was there with me, otherwise I don't think I would have had the guts to do any of this on my own.

Anyway, after about 6 months of burning the candle at both ends, I ended up doing what the blog writer did, and left my full time job for something much less lucrative, but flexible, while I am launching my cake business. I do not have a glamourous title for my part time job, or pull in a salary or health benefits (don't worry I have a private policy), but it was this part time job that has helped me to stay sane while I have been pouring my creative juices into branding, education, and a business plan while managing my cake schedule.

Since then, has the wind ever been sucked out of my sails? Has the glory and glamor faded of leaving those fluorescent lights for the days when the only powder I apply is powdered sugar on the counters as I roll out fondant? Yes, of course, just like any "mountain-top" experience eventually the adrenaline fades, but I wouldn't change those doses of reality checks for the world. I have been proud of my work and also confused at- "how did my cake take on that shape/flavor/texture? Shoot, gotta start again." In my own personal laboratory though, I work passionately for what I love doing and for the way I get to live out the many ways God gifted me in my own business. There have certainly been hard days, where I want to run back to the security of that darned cubicle- but the only thing appealing about that cubicle is the lack of risk it required of me personally. However the biggest risk I personally would have taken by incubating any longer would have been my passion for life and labor.

I'm so thankful to be doing something I love. I so needed to know God can and wants to do something great through me, not just something safe. That doesn't diminish the work I did behind that cube, or the role and great purpose one can find working for someone else, I just know it's not where I am supposed to be for this next chapter in my business career. It was most definitely where I was supposed to be in the previous chapter though. So thank you fluorescent lights, and thank you fruit flies article- you both were a blessing to me cultivating enjoyment through in my labor-  this journey to beautiful and meaningful cakes (i'll explain "meaningful" in a later blog if you're wondering).

My encouragement to you- find out what you're gifted at, find out what you're passionate about, pursue that or start by letting it be some part of your life. And if you need tips along the way, go to one of the many great blogs mentioned above. In fact, a particular post from Rare Existence has just arrived with impeccable timing, about finding your purpose- maybe you should check it out!

Lots of Love and Cakes,

Amanda

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