it starts here.

it starts here.

I remember walking around the nation’s capital with a friend of mine in 2014 while declaring out loud “I feel like I’m meant for greatness and yet; I’m falling remarkably short of that greatness.” Now, I get it, this sounds super obnoxious – try to hold back the rolling of the eyes. It wasn’t meant to be quite as douchy as it sounds. My point was simply that I have always felt an itch but I’ve never known where to scratch. I left behind a lot of things when I moved to Maine and in my seven years in this state; I have struggled to find myself. I thought perhaps I left my greatness somewhere in Massachusetts, like maybe at a bar or along the Charles while out running. Probably tossed it in the trash at the Coop and just never went back to claim it. I referred to my own greatness as a tangible solid; something I could pick up and mold. And I also referred to my own greatness as either/or. I either have it now, here in Maine, or I don’t. I’m sure a lot of women think like that. I missed the mark, therefor my life is shit.

What a bunch of crap. Greatness can be curated anywhere, at anytime and for any reason. I didn’t quite get that until some of the stress started to lift off my shoulders and I began talking to myself in a kinder fashion. It wasn’t a light bulb moment but a slow trickle over time that eventually turned into a glass half full. We are the creators of our own destiny.

It took 3 years, a handful of panic attacks, an article about the societal pressures that cause 30 something’s to have nervous break-downs and hating myself for not being perfect to realize the singular thing I could do to achieve greatness. Not just for me, but women everywhere. Start an honest conversation using a platform that feels real. (simple, right?)  It will be small at first. It will take time and hours, days and years. It will cause some commotion and discontent I’m sure but you can’t please everyone. The conversation around women in today’s society goes one of two ways: you are either all done up, looking chic as fuck and juggling the world while making Gwenyth Paltrow-esque meals every night OR you are rolling your kids through the McDonald’s drive-thru, struggling to survive, wearing yoga pants and looking like you just got dragged behind a bumper.

Well, fuck that. I want a conversation that revolves around women who make mistakes, have or don’t have children, care about wellness without ridiculously false expectations, occasionally eat 25 fun-sized Snickers, are educated, getting educated, aren’t educated, want to get educated, hate cooking, love cooking, don’t want to spend $800 on a cardigan, feel a little ugly sometimes and are willing to discuss but most importantly – appreciate a place where the dialogue can be honest without telling each other how to take the easy way out.

My new passion project won’t be unveiled until Summer of 2018. I have rushed into things before and they never felt fully realized. I want a brand before I launch and enough content to pull people in. I also want to invite contributors from all over to write about their personal experiences. But I will tell you this, I’m sick of reading things that are unattainable and I’m guilty of pushing that myself. This brand will be real, refreshing and thought provoking. It will give women a place to come where they can celebrate one another while receiving advice through various platforms.

In the meantime, if anyone has ideas for content or would like to contribute please e-mail me: jennifer@allofthecake.com

Carving out time and peace.

Carving out time and peace.

“You wanna be right or you wanna be happy”-Celeste + Jesse Forever

Well guys. I’m back. It’s been like two months since I touched or thought about this blog. Life has just run away from me. Over the last few months I kept thinking that as I catapulted towards the finish line of school things would get easier. I kept waiting to coast. But, sadly, it never happened. Apparently, I don’t allow myself to coast in academics. (or anything for that matter) In fact, one teacher gave me a 95% on a Portfolio assignment and I imaged smashing his face into a toilet. (shameless, I know) Regardless, it is now basically November and with 6 weeks left to go; I am starting to feel like my old self. The self that can kill a hard workout. The self that can admire the way the rising sun hits my favorite blazing red tree during fall. The self that cares less about telling everyone when they’re wrong and more about building organic relationships. Oh, and the self that shamelessly smiles when my favorite song comes on. As things have winded down; I’ve made some small changes that I wanted to share with all of you because I think they have helped enormously. In the last year; there has been so much discussion about mental health and I think that sometimes people try and use the stress excuse as a way of masking some deeper issues. But, as human beings living challenging lives; I think calling attention to the mental hiccups is crucial. No, we may not be battling anxiety or depression but we are all battling something. After 3 years of feeling like I am walking backwards into a glass wall – I have learned some important coping mechanisms. The ones I have instilled in the last 3 months have made me a collectively more grounded person. I have learned to value being selfish and ask for what I need; when I need it. I have also learned to take a time out when I feel my brain getting hot.

  1. I called in help. No, we can’t all afford expensive smoothie and meal delivery services but there are small modifications everyone can make. Suddenly one day I realized that my busy schedule was creating dietary chaos. Sugar, I was eating so much sugar. (which meant I was snappy and tired ALL THE TIME) I was also eating huge meals at lunch because I had this urge to feel satisfied during the day. I’ve tried cutting out sugar cold turkey before and depriving myself of all the things I love and truthfully, it never lasts long. Maybe a week and then I binge on whatever I felt was missing in my life. I also realized that attempts to eat healthfully meant a lot of wasted food because I never actually had time to make a morning smoothie with 87 ingredients. So, I sat down and weighed the pros and cons of a service called Daily Harvest. The smoothies are roughly $6-$7 per smoothie depending on how many you sign up for per week. They come pre-portioned in little cute white cups. All you do is add your choice liquid. After throwing out like a bunch of kale, a shit ton of cauliflower and saw the pineapple rotting on my counter I decided to pull the trigger. It’s an $87 splurge per week. To make up for it I have cut out smoothies out and coffee in the morning from my local bakery. In the end, I spend less for something delivered to my doorstep that I can blend in two seconds. (p.s. the strawberry cheesecake sundae is fucking bomb, it’s made from strawberries, cauliflower, almonds and coconut-perfect for a late night sugar craving)
  2. I put my cell phone away. I started turning my cell phone off and tucking it downstairs for the night about a month ago. 8:30 PM – I am officially disconnected from the world (9 on some nights, it depends but no later than that) It has been proven that the blue light emitted from cell phone usage effects levels of melatonin (the hormone that controls sleep/wake cycle) and can create activity in your brain that will keep you awake. Also, 6 AM texts from my insane family members meant that on weekends; I was losing out on valuable catch-up sleep. In the past month, I have had no trouble falling asleep and I have STAYED asleep. I’m often surprised when my watch alarm wakes me up. I sleep more soundly and it is much easier to get up in the morning. On Sundays, I keep my phone off for the majority of the day. It has made such a difference in my tude.
  3. I started taking baths. I have always responded to the sensation of water and now that it is hella cold in the lake/ocean and I can’t open water swim – I have started taking baths regularly. It’s a way for me to have a connective experience with something natural. It is also a way to immerse myself in something healthy for my mind/body (bath salts, essential oils, scented candles, I love Pursoma bath products which range from $12-$36 per bath, they have a great one for when you feel a cold coming on) Taking a half hour to myself means that I get a little bit of time away from the world I live in. I try not to think or focus on anything but how my body feels in the water.
  4. I slowed down my running. After being seriously burnt out from running at the end of 2015; I backed off from running. My body fought every single run. I couldn’t get out the door. I was miserable. But at the same time, I knew I was missing the only time I felt fully immersed in something that allowed me to be outdoors, chat with friends or be alone with my music. The last month, my coach has forced me to slow down through heart rate training. It has shifted my perspective a great deal. The runs are no longer about beating my head against a wall to meet some stupid goal. Right now, it is just about intention. Be outside, control my heart rate, enjoy the experience. I’m not jumping for joy every day I have to run but I can get out the door willingly and I feel good while out there. After, I feel cleansed and renewed; ready to tackle whatever life throws at me.
  5. I stopped asking people for their time. I used to hang out with friends up here in Maine a lot and when that kind of fizzled; I was definitely sad about it. Now, I appreciate the fact that I have time to be alone when and if I need it without the lingering guilt. While having a packed social calendar is fun, it is important to realize that being a grown up with kids means that those around you have less and less time as life progresses. While my schedule might be freeing up, that other person might still be in the weeds. So I stopped asking for their time. I’m allowing friends who have grown distant to just be distant. What this means is that I appreciate when I do see them and I don’t set unrealistic expectations. It’s not always personal. Sometimes its just life.

Other small modifications: blasting music while making dinner, eating for fuel rather than just to eat, giving myself a fucking break when I fuck up, limiting my drinking (I probably have a drink once every two weeks), wearing real pants and looking like I give a shit about myself and most importantly, being nicer to my husband because he is fucking rad and deserves to not get the scary side of me quite so often.

It’s Friday guys and tomorrow night I get to see a bunch of people I love at the most ridiculous annual Halloween party ever, so lets unplug, unwind, have a few laughs and wind down the hours.

xoxo,

Jenny

The hustle.

The hustle.

I’m an obsessive person (surprise, surprise); which means that you could say one single thing to me that I don’t necessarily appreciate and I will feast and fawn over it for like, an ungodly amount of time. Until I have dissected it into nothing and talked about it at nausea with eighteen people. If I wasn’t married, I would be doomed. No one would want to date me with this behavior. It would immediately signal stage five clinger warnings and the men would flee. All the men. In the world. No, I wasn’t always like this. I never before had the urge to make sure people knew systematically that they are wrong. My feelings get hurt easier now that I’m older and just, weathered. It feels lately like I’ve come under fire and my response is to defend each criticism vigorously. Try and prove it’s not true, that there’s no merit behind it. And perhaps its the whole thing I’m throwing out there to the universe. The car, the tude, the fucking $100 yoga pants. Some people choose to have the same chair for 20 years, I want something, I buy it. I choose to do a triathlon and a week later; I have the best wet-suit, new headphones, a bike, you name it, I’ve purchased it. Yea, I get how that looks and I understand the comedy of watching someone buying up a sport but even still; I’m not sure where the toxicity comes from. Last time I checked, not one single person knows about my hustle. And guess what,  I’m never going to let you see me sweat. I may say I’m overwhelmed. I might say I’m busy. I might blow off plans and reschedule a million times but world, seriously, you have no fucking idea. My ass is hustling every single day. This shit doesn’t come without sacrifices, lack of sleep, enormous amounts of stress, time away from my kids, crippling anxiety–it doesn’t come for free. My job isn’t glamorous. It never has been. Did I think that in a previous life I would be living the glam dream? Sure. But I diverted from the original plan and here I am. I pick up trash. I pick up broken tile. I beg, plead and bribe people to get shit done. I agonize over each detail and I pray, I mean I pray that in the end, things will work out the way I imagined. I go to bed every night with a list in my head of things to do. All while being a full time student, having two kids, a husband, two dogs, a giant house to take care of and family I basically never see. I don’t whine to Josh to get the things I want. I participate and work hard just as much as he does. We have built something really special together as a team. I want for nothing because I have worked for it. And at the end of the day, guess what, I’m not a lazy person. Making it look easy doesn’t equate to it being easy. It just means I’m really good at pretending.

I’ve always been a pile on person but I can count on one hand the things in life I walked away from without finishing. The list is short. I finish 95% of what I start. And if by some miracle, I choose not to do something, not to race a distance I signed up for, not to train the way I originally planned, whatever, it doesn’t come without days and weeks of sorting through the pro’s and con’s. There isn’t one thing in life I am nonchalant about. Everyone has a vice; mine-making things extremely difficult on myself. I take everything seriously. The people who have know me best, will tell you that without hesitation. They will also tell you the enormous weight I carry on my shoulders from a life time of self induced expectations and guilt. I have sacrificed a lot for the things I have.

So don’t sweat my hustle and I won’t sweat yours. Everyone has different priorities and a different approach. I have a vagina which means 60%, maybe 70% of the time things come twice as hard in my industry. How about we just support one another? Lift each other up? Applaud success and nurture the broken moments? Is that possible? Because I’m over the condescension. I only want people at my table who get what this is all about. And in return, I’ll sit at your table with nothing but support and adoration for your hard work.

Changing up expectations.

Changing up expectations.

Life has changed a lot since I last took the time to write a post. I’m professionally buried; which is actually really wonderful because the experience of doing certain things on my own; has been priceless. I haven’t run in 2 weeks because of my knee which months ago would have devastated me but now I feel strangely liberated. I have SIX MONTHS, yes, a mere six months left of school and I am making plans for a bad ass graduation adventure. (like scaling a mountain in Patagonia, okay, maybe not that big but something really grand). I have less friendships to rely on than I used to (turns out some people can’t handle when you get messy) but the ones remaining feel really strong. I’m going to Iceland in September with my brother; where I am convinced, I will find my father (his soul, not actually his physical being). I get these STUPID braces off my bottom teeth in 8 weeks!! AND…..I signed up for an Olympic triathlon; which I swore I would not advertise until I was actually immersed in the training but fuck it, I’m really excited and I wanna tell someone. So now I’m telling everyone.

I’ve been battling my knee since 2013 but I’ve been very quiet about it. I mean, with my heart condition, the knee sort of always felt secondary and until recently; I could wiggle my way through any run. Well, two giant falls later, one in October and one just a few weeks ago equates to I’m officially done with distance running. (for awhile, hopefully not forever). Initially, this was hard to swallow. I tried over and over again to get over the 6 mile hump but the pain became really unbearable. I finally had some really hard conversations with myself. I realized I was holding into running for the wrong reasons. I built a lot of friendships running. Unfortunately, a lot of those sort of fizzled when I stopped pushing myself in a way that met the expectations of those around me. I thought that if I could get back to where I was; people would let me back in but I’m done operating like that. If it’s real, you ride the wave together, even when you both make mistakes. It really is, that simple.

The Olympic triathlon is nothing to sneeze at. I’m at day 3 of the training and I’m already like holy bananas but if I’m really being honest; I will always need something that feels hard in my life. I am just wired that way. The difference being, biking and swimming are SO FUN to me right now. I look forward to the workouts, the soreness, the hills, the laps, seeing faster times, smiling while outside or in the pool. I look forward to it all. The running is kind of secondary in this training plan which couldn’t be more perfect. Right now, I need things that make me happy. I don’t need things I dread. And the idea of conquering this distance on September 10th; feels really amazing to me. I’m super excited about it. So much so, I have butterflies when I consider my next workout. That hasn’t happened in a long time.

I’m not going to say that everything is shits and gigs over here because believe me; I have my days. Yesterday, while watching “This is Us” I started bawling over Randall and his Dad. What can I say, it made me think of my father; who looked as sad and unfortunate towards the end. There are days that I feel very emotional. There are days when I would give anything to change the dynamics of my life. I guess I convinced myself my father wasn’t a thing but I miss him immensely and I wish he was here so we could talk about my life. The universe can be cruel in that way. There’s a lot of good, I mean there is a ton of good but there is also the grim shit that can weigh you down. Right now, I’m just trying to refocus, re-calibrate and reconsider my expectations.

The horizon looks pretty sweet; just gotta keep looking ahead.

Love. Oh yes, and brownies.

Love. Oh yes, and brownies.

I find love to be, an incredibly tricky thing. I started off today, imaging all the ways that I could talk about love and its glory. Then I got into a stupid argument with my husband and realized that, yes, love can be blissful but it can also make you want to smash someones face in. (like multiple times) It brings forth a range of emotions that can only be described as catastrophic and slightly manic. Love is like taking acid. One minute everything is glitter and unicorns and the next, it’s thinking jumping off the roof is a swell idea. Is this too debbie downer? It wasn’t intended to be that way. I’m just being real. Because while I appreciate the eight million posts on social media that fool us all into thinking your life is perfect, guess what, everyone has highs and lows. Just the nature of the game. When you enter into the bond of love you are saying the following: yes we will kiss and have sex occasionally, sometimes I will crave you like a feral animal chasing dinner, but most of the time I will argue about something entirely meaningless for no reason, wear sweatpants to bed that have chinese food stains on them from eight dinners ago and at this point, I’m comfortable enough to snuggle up to you post run with no shower. (which is gross) This Valentine’s Day, Josh and I didn’t even exchange gifts. No card. No flowers. I think I murmured something slightly offensive to him this morning while pouring my coffee. After that, we put the kids on the bus and I made some brownies before work for Emma’s teachers. Which I should have done last night but just couldn’t bring myself to dirty one more dish. There wasn’t any romantic show of affection. I didn’t wake up to some grand gesture. Does this simply just happen as the years tick by? Who the fuck knows. At 6 in the morning, I don’t really give a single shit. I love him. We are in love. But sometimes, it’s not as glamorous as it looks on the big screen. Love is messy and intense. For me, Josh is the first person in my life that I have willingly sacrificed everything for without regret. I have never embraced compromise like I did when I met Josh. I had a lot of hard choices to make the first few months together. We took a lot of risks and thankfully they have paid off. The caveat to great love however, is that it can bring you up….and….take you right back down. Is it always worth it? Unequivocally, yes. I can’t tell you what my life would look like without him but I know this–it wouldn’t be nearly as sweet.

Outside of my relationship, the remains of love are scattered all over my heart. I love many things. I think love can motivate us in so many ways it’s almost inconceivable. If I love a particular food, I will travel an hour to eat it. If I love the way a piece of the world appears in a photo, I will imagine a way to go see it in real life. Sometimes it’s as simple as loving the way snowflakes fall and pulling myself out of a warm house to stand in the midst of it all. I feel love the most when I am in the kitchen and my children come in and discover something I have made for them. Their faces of sheer joy and delight are almost more than I can handle. In that moment, I am everything to them that matters in this whole world. And that memory; of that taste and my love, will hopefully linger within them for many years to come.

Take your tricky, over the top, sometimes annoying love and run with it today. It may not be cheap or easy but no doubt, it’s worth all the fuss.

Decadent Chocolate Brownies

Ingredients
5.5 oz (155 grams) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2.5 oz (70 grams) bittersweet chocolate (62-70% cacao), chopped
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp (1 & 3/4 sticks/200 grams) unsalted butter, melted
5 eggs
2 cups (400 grams) sugar
1 1/4 cups (175 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Position the oven rack to the middle and preheat to 325°F. Butter and flour a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. (I lined it with parchmant paper with a little overhang, to make removal easier)

Place the unsweetened chocolate and bittersweet chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Place over (not touching) barely simmering water in a saucepan and heat, stirring continuously, until completely melted and smooth. Remove from the heat, whisk in the melted butter until well combined and set aside to cool slightly.

Place the eggs in a mixer bowl and fit mixer with the whisk attachment. On low, slowly beat in the sugar for 1 minute, or until frothy and somewhat thick. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the chocolate mixture.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Using the spatula, gently fold in the flour mixture into the egg-chocolate mixture until thoroughly combined. Do not over mix. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread in an even layer with the spatula. (Batter will be thick)

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes- but start checking at about 20 minutes. They are done when a knife or toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few wet crumbs on it. If there is still liquid batter on the tester, they need more time. If the tester comes out clean, they are cooked through and will be just cakey (not fudgy too). Let them cool for 2 hours. They are so moist, they need this time to firm up enough to cut.