by Suzanne Reisler Litwin
Last winter I was at a birthday party for a dear friend who was turning the big 5-0! During the cocktail hour, I bumped into another friend who I hadn’t seen in about 10 years. Now, was the perfect time to “catch-up”. He asked me what I was up to. I didn’t know where to begin. I’m a very busy person. You could say I have a lot going on. Between my writing, teaching and volunteer work, family, friends and home/garden, I’m real busy. Oh ya, add skiing!!! It was winter.
We exchanged what it is that we do. We talked about family and friends. We talked about our hopes and dreams. We talked about politics and society. Approximately, two drinks later we were caught-up. It was at this point that I realized I missed my friend over the years. Before we parted to catch-up with other friends he said something every poignant to me. “It’s good to be relevant.” After he said this, we parted and I pondered. I thought about this statement all night long, even today.
The importance of being relevant. I understand the importance especially at this point in life. These are the years when my children have grown up and the nest is becoming empty. All the hard work of raising children, carpooling, activities, grocery orders, food preparations and “schlepping” is slowing down. Some of my friends are empty nesters and even grandparents! When someone has devoted most of their time to raising their children and now the children are gone, what will they do? Have they lost their jobs?
If you have a career and maintained it throughout the child rearing years, then the empty nest won’t feel so empty. If you lost your job when the children have left, you might be requiring relevancy. Such as having purpose and meaning in what you do each day with a goal in mind at all times. YES! I agree it is important to be relevant. Useful, is another word I like to use. So, let’s make it and bake it into a cake.
I love to write and I love to teach. These are my true passions. I would say they represent the beautiful floral décor on the top of my “Life Cake”. The volunteer work that I do brings me bountiful of joy. That’s the exterior icing on my cake. My family and friends represent the actual cake itself. My home and garden is the interior icing. The nuts inside the cake, is my nutty self. My sweet tooth is my desire to keep this all happy and functioning. My cake represents my relevancy. It is full, fluffy, nutty and sweet.
Here’s an activity. Assume your life is a cake. There are 5 distinctive parts to this cake.
#1 – Décor on the top of the cake (such as roses and script)
#2 – Exterior icing
#3 – The cake
#4 – Interior icing
#5 – The interior fruits, nuts, chocolate chips, smarties, etc.
Dissect your life and represent it into a cake form. See what you come up with. Is it full and hardy? Is it missing pieces? Does it need to be re-designed and baked better? Is it perfect? Is your cake full of meaningful relevancy? If your “Life Cake” isn’t fulfilling, now is a good time to re-bake it with more purpose.
My family members celebrate their birthdays in my home. Candles are lit and blown out. Birthday wishes are secretly kept. Presents are exchanged. This simply isn’t another year in the life of a person; it is a representation of life. What have you done this year and what will you do next? Will it have purpose and meaning? Always remembering, laughter is a must and needs to be ever present. Humor and silliness is always a priority! Beware; every once in a while a cake or a pie ends up in someone’s face too! In the complex journey of life, one mustn’t lose their sense of humor.
Remember to always celebrate yourself with cake, baked, filled with relevancy.
My 2 cents: My grandmother Sayde always put a teaspoon of sugar into everything she cooked or baked. She said is represented her love.
Suzanne Reisler Litwin is an author/writer/columnist/educator. She is an instructor at Concordia University in The Centre for Continuing Education. Suzanne is a freelance contributor to The Suburban newspaper. She is the author of the children’s book, The Black Velvet Jacket. She lives in Montreal, Canada with her 3 children, Allyn, Taylor, and Duke and her husband Laurie. Suzanne contributes regularly to West Island Blog under her column Keeping it Real. Please visit her website www.suzannereislerlitwin.com to read more of her published articles, books, and poetry.