What is your favorite dessert?
Mine is the fantastic strawberry pillow.: a buttery croissant filled with pastry cream, fresh strawberries and homemade whipped cream. The top is covered with fine powdered sugar and drizzled with chocolate. Mmmmmmn. The combination is unbelievably good.
Eating the dessert is like dining on a sweet cloud. If I ever found myself in the vicinity of a Fresh Market, I would run to their bakery and purchase a Strawberry Pillow. Mmmmmm. I used to lie to myself and justify the sugar (I am a diabetic) because it was so “light”. Surely it wasn’t SO bad for me. But, as my daddy used to say…
The truth will out.
When I looked up the calorie and sugar content…well, lets just say I was unpleasantly surprised. Begrudgingly accepting my fate of a world without strawberry pillows, I decuded to stop going to the Fresh Market bakery. I knew that if I looked in that display case, I would leave with my favorite dessert. And I have to say, I felt slightly bitter at the universe.
Wasn’t I basically a good person? I tried to be. Didn’t I try to help others when I could? Didn’t I deserve some delicious reward? Why would my body rebel against the one thing that lifts my spirits after a hard day???
OK….so pity party rant aside… We all know that food should not be the one thing that brings you joy! So, there’s a big problem right there. It was time for me to check in on my own sermons about not allowing your brain to flood you with negativity and catastrophizing simple disappointments.
I squared up my shoulders, put on my big girl pants and just resigned myself to the fact that I couldn’t eat desserts like everyone else.
I went to a family reunion and a cousin served up a gluten free, sugar free cake with the most delicious home made (sugar free) whipped cream. I have eaten sugar free things before, and must tell you that they are NOT the same as those with sugar. But this cake was delicious, especially the whipped cream. She gave me the recipe for the dessert. Her secret was vanilla stevia drops and Xylitol.
With that discovery, a little flicker of hope ingited. What if I could translate that recipe into not only the whipped cream required for a strawberry pillow, but also in creating the pastry cream, the powdered sugar and the chocolate sauce? I put my plan to work, creating the dessert with fresh strawberries, croissants (OK not fat free but no sugar), sugar free pastry cream and sugar free whipped cream. I made powdered sugar from Xylitol and used unsweetened cocoa powder with the stevia to create a sauce. The night of my experiment, my adult children were coming for dinner. They tend to shy away from my sugar free experiments so I didnt tell them. The whole family raved about the dessert! Even after I told them it was sugar free, they all went back for seconds. I felt so proud!
Learning to create a healthier version of my favorite dessert is not quite like making fire on a desserted island, but it was a big deal to me.
Because it reiterated a firmly held belief of mine that when you come across road blocks on your path, you have three choices: Turn around and give up, Veer off the path and head in another direction, or find a way to get through it. By using what I learned from my cousin, I am now able to allow myself to occassionally enjoy a self-care treat that makes me smile.
If you are facing an obstacle right now on your journey that is causing frustration or a sense of unfairness, your brain is probably telling you to give up or go off of your chosen path. I just recommend you consider four things first.
- Is the obstacle insurmountable? Sometimes things or people who block our growth path seem insurmountable when we listen to our primitive brain. We may think we are not good enough to overcome it. We may think it is too big for us to tackle. Obsessing over the enormity of the obstacle is not helpful and leads to more frustration and eventually surrender. Try focusing on the present: your strengths, your knowledge and the previous obstacles you have already overcome. Looking at your abilities instead of your deficits can help you to realistically size up the problem.
- What is the worst thing that can happen? Thinking about tackling something difficult that you are not sure of can be daunting. Sometimes our brains catastrophize a situation so that we just give up quickly. But I like to play a little game I call…What is the worst thing that can happen? If I try…If I put my strengths, my knowledge and my experience to tackling the obstacle. What is the VERY worst thing that can happen?
- What would I do? What can I do? After I decide on the worst thing that could happen, I go a step further. What if it does happen? What then? How will that affect my life…my journey…my path? Will it be worse that being stuck behind the obstacle? How would I handle it and what could I do if the worst thing happened? Sometimes just looking at things objectively can help you to figure out number four.
- Is it worth it? Now that I have completed steps 1-3: deciding if the obstacle was insurmountable; thinking about the worst thing; figuring out how the worst thing would impact me and what I could do; I must decide if it is worth it? Is the pain and difficulty facing the obstacle worse than the consequences of trying to move it? Or are the expected consequences just too much for me to handle? That decision is one that only you can make.
There will be times when you get to step 4, that you decide to give up on moving the boulder blocking your path to growth. But I highly encourage you that before giving in to your first negative thoughts of hopelessness or helplessness, that you follow the 4 steps above. You will not only often find a way to get around the obstacle, if not completely remove it, but you will also gain valuable knowledge of your true strengths for the other blocks you are inevitably going to find as you continue your path.