At the beginning of the new year, I promised myself I’d take things easily. It was a good job I didn’t make it a proper resolution: two weeks in, here I am, once again caught in a web of early rises, delayed trains, mindnumbing work, job applications – and little or no good news.
Last Sunday, I plucked up the courage to apply for my dream job. The simple act of having clicked “submit CV” put me into such an euphoric state, I thought everything was possible – even getting it for real. The rest is history: whoever said “no news is good news” clearly never received a confirmation email that reads “we’ll only contact you if your experience is spot on”. And the lady who called me last week, promising she’d be in touch to arrange an interview – well, she never did. “I’ll call you Monday”, she said; and Monday came and went.
Truth be told, job hunting is the peak of a huge iceberg of setbacks. Days feel like a neverending rollercoaster ride, always bouncing between sheer hope and the complete lack of it; each daily challenge, big or small, can just as easily make or break my mood. The hardest part is facing these challenges with a smile on my face; trying to keep myself happy, motivated, sane. Most days, it works. Some days, the thought of the grinding routine I still have to abide (or, more precisely, the thought that I’m still not any close to giving it the long-awaited boot) is enough to wipe that smile away. A quick look back at the state I was in just one month ago – listless, stuck, hopeless – and the fear of falling back into my old ways threatens to paralyse me again.
So, this is how I want to face life from now on: I’ll keep going. When I feel the tight knot of anxiety tying my stomach, I’ll keep walking, and remind myself to breathe. When I look at the uphill road I’m facing, I’ll smile and remember why I’m treading it. When my mind jumps to the end result, to the uncertainty of ever reaching it, to the obstacles that just don’t seem to stop cropping up, I’ll slow down, and face the path one step at a time. One small challenge, and one small success, at a time. That’s what I’m doing. I’m far from perfect, but I’m trying, Ringo. I’m trying real hard.
I’m trying to be well, to be myself again. To be merry, enthusiastic, grateful, one day at a time. Talking about small steps, I’ve already made the first one: getting involved in the 100 Happy Days project. It’s quite fun, and couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m sharing my progress on Twitter, so you can beat the crap out of me if I let one day go without stopping to notice something that makes me happy (seriously, do that). If it’s true that people who complete it become more optimistic, hell, let’s have it for 365 days a year. Let’s make it compulsory, for everyone.
Knowing me, you can probably imagine what my first Happy Day was about: food. And, more specifically, cake. A bundt I made with the mould that my mum gave me for Christmas, and showed off on the cake stand I got from my partner. A treat that matches my morning coffee perfectly, marrying the softness and delicate taste of a butterless batter with the strong flavour of dark chocolate chunks. A special dessert for a special occasion, that we celebrated in our quiet, cosy way: no bunting, no parties, just great cake. Heartwarming and simple to enjoy, just like the life I’d like.
Ricotta and Chocolate Bundt Cake
(serves 8 – 10)
- 250g caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp rum essence
- 300g ricotta
- 75g chocolate chunks
- 300g plain flour
- In a bowl, beat together the sugar, eggs and rum essence, until you obtain a thick, foamy mixture.
- Gradually add the ricotta. Keep beating until you obtain a smooth cream.
- Mix in the chocolate chunks, then add the flour, gradually, while you keep mixing.
- Pour the batter in a silicone bundt tin (or greased regular bundt tin).
- Pre-heat the oven to 180, and bake for 50 – 55 minutes.
- Set aside to cool down completely, slice, and serve.