Rip off the mask, tear down the walls. Show the world your beautiful self!

Posts tagged ‘#shericonaway’

5 Things You Shouldn’t Say to a Perfectionist

My daughter is an amazing chef, and especially a pastry chef. Amongst our friends and acquaintances, her cupcakes are legendary. Not just because they’re delicious, but because her creativity in flavors, fillings and design show no bounds. She’s also mastered the challenge of creating delicious gluten-free cupcakes and cakes that even the most hardened gluten-free resisters have embraced.

I’ve had the pleasure of countless hours of brain-storming with her on flavors, designs, colors and presentation. In fact, I even gave her the idea for a couple, most notably, her incredible Brandy Alexander cupcakes.

A couple of years ago, she entered her cupcakes along with a number of her other specialties in the Ventura County Fair and won several categories. In fact, some of her gluten-free offerings beat out the competition made with standard flour. This year, she’s taken her talents which, by virtue of 2 years of culinary arts studies have grown considerably, to the San Diego County Fair.

So far, she’s won First Place and Best in Division for her pickled pineapple, Second Place for her butter-flake rolls (standard), First Place for her Gouda Cheese and Third Place for her Feta Cheese (she’s nothing if not versatile!). But today is the real challenge as she’s entering three of her cupcake varieties
(also standard). This is where her highly competitive perfectionism really hits its stride.

This is the daughter I’ve seen knock out 6 or 8 dozen cupcakes, filled, decorated and frosted in what seems like a mere couple of hours. Yet, the 2 dozen she has filled and waiting in plastic trays for transportation await only frosting and decoration. And she is stressing out over that same 2 hours she has to do them. In fact, her groans of frustration are making their way up the stairs to her guest room where I sit typing out my pride in the work ethic which carries over into everything she does.

She has been baking and cooking since she was old enough to hold a spoon, and two years of study have really honed her inherent talent. But it’s also made her extremely critical of her own work. That being said, here are a few things I’ve learned to avoid while she’s in the throes of creativity (and staying out of her way goes without saying!)

1. Don’t worry. Nobody will notice that little goof.

When it comes to her own mistakes, Heather has eyes like a hawk. The slightest imperfection becomes, to her as hard to miss as Mount Rushmore. I’ve seen her pull the frosting off a cupcake repeatedly until it lays just right.

2. Relax. You have plenty of time.

No matter how much time she’s allotted herself and how many times shes done the same thing, she always thinks she’s running of of time. Needless to say, she typically finishes with time to spare, but that doesn’t mean she’s not stressing out the entire time she’s working.

3. That looks just fine.

Every woman on earth knows that “fine” is never a good thing, but even more so when discussing the appearance of something or someone. When used in reference to her baking, it is guaranteed to raise her stress level and have her reaching for the spatula to remove the offending bit which warranted a mere “fine”. “Fine” is the patronizing, “Bless her heart” of the English language, and should never be uttered around a woman perilously close to combustion. If she utters it herself, I’d recommend a bomb shelter…NOW! (“OK” or “good” are also words to avoid here. “Good” is in the same category as “average” and will never be tolerated!)

4. Stop and take a break. It’ll be fine.

First of all, when she’s already freaking out over time, telling her to stop working is like throwing gas on one of our infamous California brush fires. Second, see above for the perils of the word “fine”. The truth is, she works best under pressure anyway, doing her best work when she’s stirred herself up into a state of what most of us would consider insane stress. It doesn’t suck up her resources; it throws everything she has into high gear. In a weird way, it energizes her physically and creatively. Just stand back and be ready with coffee, water or an energy drink when she finally releases the energy that drives her. Mt. St. Helens is a child’s pop gun in comparison.

5. Stop and eat something. You need your energy.

She’s likely been working for hours, having gotten up well before the break of dawn. If she’d wanted to eat something by now, she would have. Hunger doesn’t even cross her mind while she’s creating. Think of the writer who subsists on coffee and snack food while pounding away at the keyboard for hours (something I, of course, know nothing about.) The nicest thing she’ll tell you if you persist is Go away! I won’t shock you with some of her more colorful expletives.

Above all, do not go into the kitchen or try to help while she’s running from mixer to stove to table. She has, however, trained her wonderful husband to be in there with her and stay out of her way. He likes to help by cleaning up after her, and frankly, what chef, baker or cook would turn that down? Having a personal dishwasher to clear away your messes as quickly as you make them is nothing short of a perfect world.

Creating Together, Separately

I’m just grateful that our worlds and talents keep us in different parts of the house. I can happily bang away at my keyboard (and even more right now with several writing projects clamoring for attention), close enough to offer an opinion on flavor, decoration or presentation, but far enough away to avoid flying elbows or setting off her temper by saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. (and she comes by that temper naturally, I’m afraid)

I’m looking forward to running all over town for two more days with my funny, creative, talented daughter. Life with her, since the day of her birth has been, and will continue to be an adventure I embrace with my heart and soul. She pulls me out of my comfort zone and encourages me to follow my own passion more than anyone else. She does it with words, but more, by example. The student truly has become the teacher.

My Heart Overflows With Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful for my daughter. She’s my child, my friend, my cheerleader, my butt-kicker and a shining example of living life to the fullest.
2. I am grateful for the overabundance of writing projects I have on my plate as it’s kicking my own creativity into overdrive. More words have come out of these fingers in the last couple of weeks than I’ve typed in a couple of months, and the flow continues.
3. I am grateful for weekends with my daughter to explore her new home town or try new things or just hang out on her front porch with a book and some mutual quiet time. Reading in close proximity has always been a source of contentment for us.
4. I am grateful for my friends, family and acquaintances who have been encouraging my daughter for the last few years. I know their praise, suggestions and enjoyment of her wares has helped her get past the frustrating times and makes her continue to strive for perfection and grander creations.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, life, energy, humor, joy, inspiration, motivation, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be


Evolving Vision, Evolving Life

beach front property with gazeboSeveral months ago, I found a piece of property which almost perfectly matched my vision for my future. It happened to be on the coast between Ventura and Santa Barbara, so it was still within reach of the places I know and frequent. At the time, that was important to me. But things change.

Out with the old, in with the new

It’s been a couple of weeks since I went dancing at what was my usual hangout. In part, it’s because I was at my daughters for a few days, but I’ve been back for over a week and have no real desire to visit a place which, for many reasons, is no longer the home I used to feel so comfortable and welcome visiting.

Friends turned out to be acquaintances. Management no longer feels any sense of loyalty to regulars who’ve been there through good times and bad; some for decades. So I’m adrift. I put together a list of dances with the songs I like to dance them to with the idea of pulling up the songs on YouTube and keeping my hand in. But I have yet to put on my dancing shoes and tear up my living room, to the amusement of the cats. Instead, I’m looking for other amusements to occupy my time.

Learning who I’m meant to be

Sure, a couple of people have noticed and might even miss my smiling face, but I’ve come to the realization that, like so many others, I’m expendable. As I struggle to find my purpose and make a go of my passion, it’s a little disconcerting to find I’ve made such little impact. But then, maybe that’s not where I’m meant to make an impact in the first place.

On a conscious level, I know purpose doesn’t come from others. It comes from within. So I turn my attention inward, seeking a germ, a morsel of something which makes me feel that I matter. I ponder my options. Some look viable but don’t really feed my soul. Others feed my soul but I have yet to figure out how to make them viable.

Still, I haven’t come this far or weathered so many storms to stop searching for the rainbow. This isn’t the first time I’ve felt almost entirely alone and directionless. I’ve just found myself in a clearing which has no clear roads leading outwards.

One thing is clear, though. I no longer need to confine my dreams and aspirations to this one, tiny corner of the world. There’s nothing to hold me here aside from my home, and soon, I’ll be in a position to make my home, my living, my way wherever I choose; without borders, without boundaries.

The time has come to shed old people, ways and paradigms

It makes me think this is not a down turn at all, but a new kind of freedom, without the need to stay in a pattern which no longer serves me. When access to people and places is no longer important, my world opens up to possibilities I hadn’t even considered.

Yes, I want to live near the beach, but there are coastlines everywhere. The perfect place for me was hidden behind all of the things I thought I couldn’t leave behind. As they fade from importance, my horizons simply broaden and with that broadening come new opportunities, the magnitude of which I’d never even considered.

Once again, the Universe is forcing me to break free of old patterns and ideas. It’s forcing me to look at other possibilities which couldn’t occur as long as I was hanging onto things which had outlived their usefulness. I face the coming days with a new sense of excitement because I can now consider possibilities beyond the limits of my current geography.

It’s freeing, but a little frightening as well. The butterfly is truly emerging from her cocoon. Time to see how far these new wings will take me.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the freedom of my solitude.
2. I am grateful that I’m learning to recognize the difference between friendship and friendly acquaintances.
3. I am grateful for the new opportunities and possibilities coming into my life.
4. I am grateful for the new people and places I will be experiencing, though I can’t help but be saddened by what’s disappeared with the rose-colored glasses.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, friendship, joy, health, philanthropy, prosperity, family, writing, publishing and expanding horizons.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

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