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The birthday cake - a thought for caregivers and anyone else who wants a happy life

Updated: Jul 22, 2021

I made my own birthday cake to have with some of my in-laws. I got a couple of raised eyebrows about me making my own cake, but it made me happy in lots of ways:

- I enjoyed the process of making it

- I loved the look on my niece’s and nephew’s faces when they saw it

- I got the cake I wanted




It might be unconventional to make your own birthday cake – so what? If something makes you happy and it’s not hurting anyone, why not do it? What do you do that others might see as unconventional but you do it anyway?


Enjoying the process

I enjoy the process of baking – the measuring and weighing, mixing at the right time, transforming individual items into one completely different thing. It takes concentration and I usually get into flow, totally engrossed in what I’m doing. This particular cake is extra special because I get to play the mad scientist a little bit – dividing out the cake mix and adding in the colours. For me it is relaxing and fun.


When are you completely in flow doing an activity that you enjoy?


Taking pride in what you do

I know the cake wasn’t perfect – but I was proud of the end result anyway and the eleven and eight year olds who I was celebrating with only saw the rainbow / big cake to eat (I also know it wasn’t actually a rainbow!). Seeing their faces would have been worth the effort even if I hadn’t enjoyed the process – I felt that little wave of love and joy kick in. When the adults saw it and admired it I took fresh pride in it.


What makes you proud?


Getting what you want

My brother-in-law has the same birthday as me. I could have said the cake was for him, but I wasn’t even pretending. It was the one I wanted in every way – the making of it, the look, the flavours. It’s ok to have what you want. For various reasons we have notions about always putting everyone else first and about it being greedy / selfish to ask for / get what we want. Assuming it’s not hurting anyone else, why not get what you want, what makes you happy?


What will you do / get for yourself?



When my in-laws started to need care, I knew how to look after both them and myself – because I’d got it so wrong in the past, when my other half was signed off work with stress and my life was turned upside down too. These blog posts are mostly based on the things that helped me, the lessons I learnt the hard way and what I realise with the benefit of hindsight would have helped. I’ve collected some of the other key learning points and tips and made these available to download at https://www.fionagillies.co.uk/tips-for-caregivers



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