We All Need Connection

Last night I full-out cried while I was watching the ending rain scene of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. As in, a hard long cry.

I thought about my old life, living without attachment, just getting by in both New York and Boston. It was in Massachusetts when I learned to finally let people in- and made the decision to come home after three years.

I’ve compared myself to Holly often, familiar with her feelings of not knowing where she belonged in the world or who she even was. I lived with the “mean reds,” aimlessly wandering from city to city or window to window, gazing inside wondering when I would feel safe and secure.

In the end, she finally realizes she does need people (and Cat) in her life, which is what just wrecked me. 😭😭 Hugging my Ollie extra tight (even if he hates it), making sure my friends know I love them, and spending quality time with my family while I can. We never know where the road will lead us, but if we look at the world with an open heart, the path is much more beautiful than we could have ever expected.

From the Corporate World to Butter Cream: How a Bellaire Baker Followed Her Passions Later in Life

When I was put to the task to do a story on wedding cakes for a local magazine, I thought, “I’m probably not the person to write this.” Not only have I never been married, having a wedding isn’t something I ever plan to do- whether I find “the one” or not. The money, the planning, the people- it just seems like a recipe for a nervous breakdown (hey, at least I know myself).

Having an emotional connection to anything I write is key, so I had to find a way to break my barrier of wedding cynicism and get excited about cake.

Typically declining a frosting-filled dessert to opt for a piece of apple pie, I like things simple- but then, I learned about a famous butter cream created in nearby Bellaire, Michigan. This is not the story I was asked to write, but it’s the story I would like to tell.

Ruthann Dexter has been baking for as long as she can remember. When she received her first Easy Bake Oven as a girl, she never dreamed she would leave her corporate sales career to pursue opening her own bakery.

“My manager asked me why I wasn’t baking full time,” Ruthann shared with a laugh. After bringing in treats to the office, this comment planted the seed for her to pursue her dream- to leave the corporate world and pursue her own business.

It all started when Ruthann began creating her butter cream frosting, a recipe she worked on for years until finally perfecting it in 2002. “My husband Gregg really pushed me in 2012 to start our own bakery,” she said. Today, both Ruthann and Gregg dedicate their lives to Ruthann’s Gourmet Bakery, helping brides and grooms create the wedding cake of their dreams, as well cookies, cupcakes, macarons, and other sweet treats.

The Dexters love to work with their clients on whatever their vision may be. Whether it’s a traditional wedding cake or a dessert table, Ruthann’s artistic approach and talented team loves to bring these creations to life.

“Determination and passion can get you wherever you want to go.”  

Ruthann wondered if she was too old to start her own business. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained is my motto!” She hopes to inspire others to follow their own dreams, no matter what stage of life they’re at. “I was really inspired by Colonel Sanders, who started Kentucky Fried Chicken at age 65. It’s true that it’s never too late to do what you love.”

This made me think about all the people who struggle with their purpose at age 15, 25, 35, and beyond. I’ve been one of those people. I’ve assessed all of my mistakes and taken inventory of my flaws. I’ve wondered if it was too late to try something new, or whether anyone would take me seriously as a writer after spending the past 12 years working jobs I wasn’t passionate about.

At 35, my conversations with Ruthann reconfirmed how it’s never too late to take a leap of faith and make a major change. “Running your own business is hard, but you can’t listen to what everyone tells you,” she told me.

You just need to keep following your heart- and continue telling the story that is authentic to you.

You can visit Ruthann’s Gourmet Bakery or follow Ruthann’s journey on Facebook and Instagram. I was lucky enough to get to try some of her delicious treats- and let me just say, I wasn’t disappointed.

Balancing the Light with the Dark: What Grit Means to Me

A couple of weeks ago I had a few thoughts about toxic positivity and the “good vibes only” culture. I do love good vibes- but I’ve also learned how to navigate the bad ones.

When the name “Mindful in Style” popped into my head back in 2016, it was created with a vision of living consciously and embracing whatever style was yours- work style, writing style, and overall lifestyle. As a former fashion blogger, a lot of people related my choice of the word “style” to “fashion.” Yes, clothing is a type of style, but my play on words with the blog name was so much more than that.

It’s about being true and aware of your own way of life.

I have my own style of living mindfully, and it isn’t about wearing mala beads, sitting on a meditation cushion, or exclusively focusing on the light. It’s about embracing the grit while shining in your own unique way.

To me, grit isn’t a catchy term CEOs and “thought leaders” use to motivate employees to work harder. Grit is accepting your dark side. It’s knowing how your past shaped the person you are today. It’s accepting your mistakes, your flaws, and facing your problems.

Grit is vulnerability.

If I had an easy childhood, I probably wouldn’t have the same sense of humor as I do. I wouldn’t be called to write, and I certainly wouldn’t have as many experiences from my attempts at geographical cures.

I didn’t have a father at home to tell me I was doing a good job. I didn’t have siblings to watch out for me when I was followed and harassed on the playground. I didn’t hang out with the popular girls in school who played tennis (oh, I tried, and played terribly). Instead, people constantly bullied me, told me what was wrong with me, and laughed about my misfortune behind my back.

I mainly kept to myself and continued doing what I was doing- until I could run away for over a decade.

Today, I want to talk about it. I finally took my power back.

In October I moved back to Traverse City, a town where mean girls were a dime a dozen, with a brand new view of the world through my oversized sunglasses. I began seeing people for who they were- humans- who were simply trying to do the best they could. Perhaps those people have their own grit beneath the surface. Maybe highlighting my problems made them feel better about theirs.

Grit is taking back your narrative.

Do you have grit if you made 20 more phone calls at work than the guy sitting next to you in your cubicle? Probably not. Nevertheless, perseverance and a sense of humor through life’s biggest challenges is true success to me- whether you’re a surgeon or are serving burgers with a smile.

Enthusiasm for life and being fully present is what I treasure the most these days. Instead of focusing on the things I don’t like or didn’t work for me, I consciously fill my thoughts and energy on the things I love. I revisit stories of my past and use the grit to help others. My darkness fuels my creativity today- mostly because I am proud of myself for learning to heal the pain and insecurities that once crippled me.

Sometimes I still cry when I think about things that once happened to me- but I can embrace those feelings today. I can embrace how far I have come. I don’t have to hold onto resentments- I can forgive, move on, and share stories.

To me, that’s grit.

Here’s another post I wrote about “grit” back in 2018.

Good vibes with a dash of darkness.