Good question !
Many summers ago, my marriage fell apart.
Fifty precent of them do. Its nothing new. Nothing extraordinary even. It is actually very very average, common and identifiable.
My ex husband is not a bad person.
I am not a bad person.
We were young when we married and wound up existing in a very unhealthy, un-nourishing relationship in which neither of us was happy.
I was the one who ended it.
There are many more gory details, but that is the crux of it. The foundation.
In all our impassioned discussions as the end drew nigh, I felt myself going around and around in attempts to explain the kind of love I needed in my life.
Books like "The Five Love Languages" and "His Needs Her Needs" (Both fabulous - I recommend them) were prompts to help me spell out what I felt was missing in my life.
I tried using plain language such as "I need words of appreciation to feel valued".
I tried demonstrating what I needed, giving constant words of praise and encouragement, and other loving gestures that fitted with recommendations in "The Five Love Languages" and "His Needs Her Needs".
I tried I tried I tried.
I tried too hard.
Nothing resonated for the man I had loved with all my being, and who I wished would love me that way in return.
He was miserable. He couldn't hear what I was trying to communicate, no matter what format I presented it in.
And so, finally, broken in a way I didn't know people could be, I left, completely dead towards my marriage of ten years.
As I drove away, I felt a weight fall from my shoulders that was almost tangible. Sweet relief from a life of trying. It just shouldn't be THAT hard!
Not long after, I settled into my new digs in the town where I was born, and an analogy occurred to me that was so simple, so straightforward, so, well, sweet, that I have chosen to use it to define what I want my life to be ever since.
"Life is like a sponge cake"
I enjoy baking cakes, and I grew up in the country, where loaded dance hall supper tables groaned under the weight of ginger fluff sponges, cream filled pastry mushrooms, chocolate and strawberry lamingtons, and scrumptious scones. Egg and lettuce sandwiches, hedgehog slices and home made chocolate éclairs. Being a ravenous child in 1980's country Australia was awesome !
Have you ever eaten a true, country sponge cake? If not you haven't really lived, and if you have, then you will know just what I am talking about in the next paragraph.....
Cake. Feathery light. Thick as a wedge. Melt in your mouth.
But I would never, ever eat the cake part just on its own.
The cake part without the jam and cream in the middle, and the icing on the top would have been a flat out disappointment - not worth the eating at all. To have a sponge without embellishment would have been stingy, mean, and totally undesirable. They may be, proportionally, the smallest components of a good sponge, but you NEED the jam, you NEED the cream, you NEED the icing to make it worthwhile.
And it is the same with life.
The cake makes up the bulk of life - the work, the toil, the duty, the responsibilities on which existence rests. The mowing of the lawn, the cooking of the dinner, the raising of the kids, the paying of the bills. Its inescapable. They are the practical parts of life.
The jam and cream and icing make up the parts of life that are worth savouring - the deliciousness, the sweetness, the mmmmm's and ahhhh's and hungry delights. The cuddles and kisses and cheeky pinches on the backside, the winks and "You are so hot babe" comments, the notes in a lunch box, the racy text messages, the loving glances across a crowded room, the date nights, the words of praise and appreciation, the times spent together for the total sake of being with the one you love.
All that in the middle and on top of the 'cake' of life.
Am I right when I say, YOU wouldn't want to eat a life that was devoid of the jam and cream and icing?
Neither would I.
And I didn't.
And I wont.
These days, I supply my own jam, cream and icing. I go on dates with myself - to my favourite café, to the movies, or a bike ride in the country, or a pamper night at home. My house is decorated with loving affirmations to remind me how valuable I am. I treasure myself and treat myself lovingly and well - healthy food, time out, exercise time, creative time, social time. I am giving myself as much sponge cake embellishment as I can manage - because, you know, life is just to darn short to forgo all the deliciousness that is waiting to be experienced.
My marriage my be over, and I wont go into another relationship devoid of jam, cream and icing ever again, but that doesn't mean I cant have those things in single person format right now. No life should miss out on tasty goodness.
And so, it is my wish that those who read this blog be encouraged to know a life rich with ginger fluff embellishments, and may your sponge cake be savoured with every delicious mouthful!