“When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemon Cake: Turning 40 in a pandemic, and changing my life.”
By Amber Monroe
Sugar Free Lemon Cake for Breakfast
Is it just me, or is everyone else feeling pushed right now? Pushed to be fearful? Pushed to be safe? Pushed to adapt? Pushed to go crazy? Pushed to change? Pushed to grow? Pushed to love? Pushed to hate? Pushed to plan and be mindful? Pushed to rush, and throw all caution to the wind?
Well…you are not alone. I am feeling that push too. It comes in waves. For me, it started last year actually, November. I remember sitting alone in bed causally thinking of fun things to do for my 40th birthday. I know some people are low key for milestone birthdays past 30, but I have always been a social butterfly when it comes to those things….
I also began to contemplate other things. Those things–those thoughts that seem to only visit you in the wee hours of the morning–while your brain sits defenseless against all the failures, “what-ifs” and fears of the past, present, and future. You see, at “almost 40” I was not where I wanted to be in life. Was I a good mom? Sure. A good wife? I like to think so. No, I wasn’t out robbing banks, spending our paycheck gambling, or running off all of my friends and family, but I also wasn’t living anywhere near my full potential, and I knew it. Even though no one would have pegged me as a failure (not my family, not my friends, and most importantly not God) I still felt that at 39 and a half, that was what I was close to becoming. Having no savings, no real plan for my oldest son who is autistic, and several great (but poorly executed) business concepts behind me, I wondered “What now?” “Where do I even start??” After several nights of this impending midlife crisis, I realized that in order to change my life, I had to change myself. This is that one thing that absolutely no one else can do for you. Success comes from within. Always. And so I knew that much…
The next day I vowed something pretty crazy. I was going to read 52 personal development books in one year. I was going to change. And, given that 40 feels like a crossroads of sorts, I had to change fast. So I picked up my first book The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. It lived up to the hype and then some. With the completion of that book, I was officially hooked on personal development which I believe has helped me take every step since, and although I am way behind, I have read 12 personal development books so far this year–and counting! (For my book list so far, as well as my video reviews of them, see links below!)
Jump ahead a few months to my 40th birthday. March 11, 2020. How was your week during that time? Do you remember? A little different than today I would venture to guess? For me, I was getting ready to confirm guests for my birthday dinner. I remember having hair clients scheduled that weekend too. That was the last normal week I can remember–any of us probably. As you might assume, I cancelled everything, as Texas was beginning talk of a statewide shutdown. Being somewhat of a homebody (due to being a 40 year old mom of three who home schools and who also has a special needs child) I was excited at first, and hoped that my husband would be called away from work as well and we could have some family time.
The first two weeks were fun. My oldest missed being at his ABA center that he loved and was a little bummed, but other than that we did okay, and I loved not having to get up so early in the mornings. Honestly we have been very fortunate. While having a husband who is an essential worker made me worry for his health (and ours,) I was actually comforted in that we still had a somewhat stable income even though I was sidelined from doing hair. We already homeschooled, so there wasn’t a huge change there either, but it gave me even more time to think and reflect, and I realized I was kind of in “stuck” mode again.
Free school lunches have kept us afloat during the pandemic and our financial struggles.
Watching the daily Facebook COVID counts, contemplating my own mortality, watching my friends suffer financially, and then taking a hit when my husband’s work started to slow down too was starting to get me down and make me lose focus. And I wondered, even when things get back to normal doing hair again, how long would it be before another illness or epidemic threw a wrench in my career? It seemed that instability was around every corner, in every aspect of my life. What would all of this mean for us? For everyone? What part was I going to play in all of this? How would these trying times define us as a society?
How would these trying times define me?
I had to do something I’d never done before in order to step into my purpose. I could either look to the future with worry, fear, and doubt, or I could see the light and be the light at the end of our dark place. I chose the latter. Weeks of prayer, reading and learning about myself and the world around me had finally pushed me to the point of action.
I was going to help myself, and help others too. I thought about my other business ventures, and I knew one thing was certain; When I found a good quality product I loved, telling people about it was super easy, but I’d never found the success I truly wanted. And then it hit me: “How is it” I wondered “that 𝘐 could spend years and years trying to live up to what thought other companies and brands wanted me to do, say, and be…when I could just be my own brand?”
Another AMAZING book that helped me learn more about money. Perfect for the 35+ crowd!
My answer was there all along, staring back at me in the mirror during my rushed morning routine before hitting the town picking up lunches for the kids. It peeked at me in the visor mirror as I glanced back to see if the kids had fallen asleep. It was there as I closed the microwave and caught my reflection for just a split second… Why was I looking everywhere else for my ‘moment’ when I 𝘢𝘮 my moment!? And you know what? You are too!!! Understand this now: You don’t need anyone’s permission.
I started thinking about all the things that make me who I am, all the things I am good at, all the things that brought me joy as a child. 𝘛𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘦 are the things I would focus on when creating a business from scratch. Like some others who were fortunate enough, the pandemic bought me time to explore those talents. Not without constant crazy interruptions from the kids mind you, but with nowhere to go, my days were quite a bit more open. I was baking during that time. A lot. But I didn’t want to wreck my health in the process. Being prediabetic, I couldn’t lose myself in an entire cake or tub of ice cream, or sleeve of cookies…But I did want to eat. A lot. And I love sweets. Especially cake. I always have, and I was really getting used to the house smelling like sweet vanilla and lemons…And my stomach was the happiest of all….
A company was born.
I decided that while I had never baked before as a job, I was going to make it happen, and open my own keto sweets business! I didn’t know anything about the legal side of it and I have no formal education in the business realm of things, so I did what anyone does who is determined to learn new things. I read more books. Robert Kiyosaki’s Own Your Own Corporation introduced me to that world and I also watched lots of helpful videos on how to get up and running. I talked to my Dad. A lot. His business knowledge has been invaluable, and I am just so lucky to have his guidance and support. I consulted with my sister and mom who are diabetic and got great ideas from them as well. I took a rare opportunity and invested in myself, my family, my legacy, all of our dreams, and the dreams of other special needs families like us too. I now have a huge platform to give back one day and help ease some of the financial burdens that come with being a special needs family for others too.
The response has been overwhelming! I am so grateful and so excited. I’d never done anything super “official” like this before in my life. It was (and still is) a little scary for sure. I’m still learning as I go, and the ‘struggle’ is still very real. We won’t be buying a house tomorrow, but my seed has been planted. God is at the helm of our lives and is guiding me along every step of the way of this new venture. I trust His journey for me. It is through Him that I was able to step out in faith during a time when so many things are uncertain. God remains the same–yesterday, today, and forever. That is what gives me the hope and drive I need to navigate this crazy thing called life.
I hope that everyone who reads this finds something here to give you the push you need to step into your dreams. It’s time to make your “Lemon cake!”
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Phil 4:13
Are you ready for some delicious sugar-free goodies? Check them out at www.TheKetoBakeSale.com!
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