“What happened to you?” “Oh, I thought maybe you were sick.” “I thought you may have moved!”
“You’re not going to do this anymore?”
I ran my own business for a number of years, titled, ingenuously: Connie’s Cakes. I began decorating cakes as a hobby while we were stationed on Scott AFB. Cake decorating nourished my creative side and gave me something to do in between working long work weeks at military clubs. I worked for Nonappropriated Funds in both the Officer and Enlisted Clubs and held a variety of positions beginning with waitress and working my way up the chain to Night Manager. I think if I’d been more confident and aggressive I may have been selected as one of the first women military club managers.
I was good at my job, I played softball, I was president of the NCO Wives Club (now titled the more politically correct: Scott Enlisted Spouses Club) then we got orders to the Pentagon, moved to Lake Ridge and I heard the word, “commute” for the first time.
Starting over is often not a choice, but rather a decision forced on you by circumstances you can’t control. You can embrace it as an opportunity to begin again or you can pine for the past and tell old tales that become enriched by faulty memories and the passage of time.
I worked briefly at Rockledge Elementary School as a cafeteria hostess, a job as deserving of respect and appreciation as much as any other positions you can name. I was decorating cakes and taking them to school both for the practice and the need to get them out of our house! I quickly discovered two things:
First, sharing decorated cakes was a great way to meet people and make friends and second, people were willing to pay me for my hobby!
I started with one ad in the Potomac News. It was really all we could afford. NCO pay with three children doesn’t provide much in the way of seed money. From that one ad, I got one customer. That first customer told another, who told another. The ripple spread slowly at first, then steadily.
I started with birthday cakes and learned I had a knack for cake carving and shaping. I designed a turkey cake with peas, stuffing, and mashed potatoes, enhanced by airbrushing with food coloring. The peas were made of thickened butter cream frosting. The dressing made from leftover cake scraps, crumbled and mixed with thin butter cream. The whole thing was enormous and heavy and I was thrilled to sell one for $25.00.
Around the time business began to pick up, my husband, Bill retired from the Air Force. We talked about going back to Illinois, but jobs for Bill were plentiful here. Bill is an Oracle DBA, and with a security clearance, he was in demand. (He still is, thank goodness!)
Emboldened by my success, and bolstered by Bill’s increased pay, I began decorating wedding cakes. Now, I know I have you perched on the edge of your seat, waiting to hear what happened next, but since I only write a blog, not a novel, I try to limit myself to less than 700 words.
You’re just going to have to come back next week to see what happened next and the changes in our lives we should embrace.