twenty five seconds

every second counts

How To Discover Your Passions — February 24, 2014

How To Discover Your Passions

What do you enjoy doing so much that time disappears when you are doing it?

Many years ago I started a blog Make Time for Chocolate.  The main point of the blog was to remind me that I should make time every day to be creative and discover my passions.

Many of you already know that I like chocolate so obviously there is a lot of chocolate related stuff on the blog like Looking for the Best Chocolate in New York City (tough job I know).

In addition to writing about chocolate on the blog, I challenged readers to take time every day to Make Time for Chocolate by making time to do what YOU love.  Discover your passions.  Broaden your perspective.  Develop new talents.  Get creative.  Spend time with family and friends.

Following is an exercise I posted on Make Time for Chocolate many years ago.  I still find it valid today and in fact, it was interesting for me to do the same exercise again to see how my passions have changed over the years.

This exercise will only take two minutes but the results will be extremely valuable.

Grab a piece of paper and a pen and get ready to write

You are going to quickly write down all of the things you are passionate about.

Set the timer for two minutes.

Ready? Get Set. Go.

If you are like me you are probably continuing to read this without stopping to do the exercise. I promise this one is worth your time. (You will be happy at the end that you did this quick assignment.)

Was it easy to write the entire time?

Did you run out of time or was it difficult to think of things that you like to do?

This is how I started my list:

I enjoy spending time with my family, experimenting with new recipes, Shakespeare in Central Park, picnics, visiting museums when they are not crowded, spending an afternoon in a great bookstore or Kate’s Paperie, painting, swinging in Central Park, visiting the local deli, Broadway shows, off-Broadway shows, NY pizza, hot bagels, eating imported chocolate, visiting the Farmer’s Market to get apples in the Fall, walking barefoot on the beach, watching surfers ride the waves, traveling, discovering a great restaurant, taking photos, Haagen Dazs Belgium chocolate ice-cream, Christmas, playing games with my family, walking in the rain and reading a really good book on a cold winter’s day.

Take a look at your list. Is there anything else you could add?

How many of the things on your list have you done recently? Have you done any of them today? How do you feel after you have done something you enjoy? Does time disappear? Does the experience leave you feeling better?

Since I posted this exercise on Make Time for Chocolate, my passions have expanded into other blogs. 

Bake Chocolate Cake – where I create recipes in my kitchen and post my favorites

One Loaf of Bread – a site filled with stories about random acts of kindness

Photography 221B – enjoying life one photo at a time

and then, of course, there is this blog twenty five seconds.  I do not post every day, but with all of the sites combined, I think you can see a few of my passions.

Right now these blogs are a hobby.  They energize me.  The rest of the time I am experiencing a life filled with wonderful activities and the people I love.

What are your passions?  How are you creative?  What makes life exciting for you?

If you found it difficult to think of things to write during the two minute exercise then perhaps it is time to find a new perspective.  Sometimes when we are busy we turn on our “automatic pilot” and just try to get through the day going through the motions.

Here are 10 ways to discover new passions:

1.  Slow down.

2.  Start a new hobby.

3.  Take a different path home from work.  Explore new neighborhoods.

4.  Don’t be afraid to try new things.  Try different types of food or just try a different ice cream flavor.

5.  Smile and make new friends.  Pay attention to the people and things surrounding you. Make eye contact.

6.  Do a random act of kindness.

7.  Explore a library or bookstore.  Look at a variety of books on many different topics.

8.  Sign up for a class.

9.  Doodle or color with crayons.  It is amazing what you will think about when you allow your mind to relax.

10.  Get inspiration online – Etsy, Pinterest, TED, blogs, etc.  Where do you spend most of your time online?

Create a list and try doing some of those things this week. Take time for your passions.  This is what makes life worth living.  Make time for chocolate.

The Bakery Diet — February 26, 2013

The Bakery Diet

mini chocolate cream cakes

In high school I worked in a bakery.

Every day I was surrounded by a plethora of unbelievably enticing aromas.  The pastries were artistically lined up in the display case.  There were also a vast array of cookies – everything from warm chocolate chip to creatively decorated sugar cookies.  The refrigerated cases were filled with chocolate eclairs, cream puffs and various fruit and pudding based pies.

and the donuts . . .

I cannot even begin to describe the enormous collection of mouth-watering donuts!  The bakery was also famous for a huge danish filled with cream cheese.  Customers had to order it ahead of time to ensure that it would be available.

The desserts were addictive and the bakery had a strong following.  The customers often asked me how anyone could stay thin working in such a wonderful bakery.

I’ve thought about that question over the years.  The reason I was thin was because I could eat these fabulous desserts anytime I wanted.   (Don’t hate me yet, I am not one of those girls with a high metabolism.  The distinction is that I could choose to eat these desserts at any time.)

This sounds like a new best-selling diet, right?

A bakery full of high calorie foods and you can eat whatever you want.  It’s too good to be true.

The interesting thing is that over time I tried every product in the bakery.  My excuse to sample the entire bakery menu was so I could properly educate the customers.  What a great job!

One important thing that I learned when I was working in the bakery is that a diet heavy in sugar does not provide enough energy for an entire work shift.  If I ate a lot of desserts during the day it left me feeling sluggish.  On those days I usually left work craving a healthy meal.

I learned to eat healthy food before going to work to provide the energy that I needed to get through the day.

I always knew that I could have whatever dessert I wanted.  Ironically, when I knew that I could have it, I didn’t really want as much.

How is this different with individuals who “go on a weight loss diet”?  Immediately, the items that are restricted become the main things we think about.  They are the foods that we start to crave constantly.  Normally a person could easily have a late breakfast and not feel hungry, but once the concept of restricting food is put into the mind, that individual wakes up obsessing about food and all of the items that are now restricted.

There was a girl who worked in the bakery with me who constantly thought about calories.  She always said that she should not eat dessert.  Sometimes she caved in and had a small bite.  The problem is that she never felt satisfied and she always felt guilty.  She kept going back and “sneaking” more bites until eventually she had eaten far more than if she had just sat down and enjoyed a full cookie or brownie in the first place.

My philosophy on food is “do not say that you cannot have something.”

This is the ultimate path to destructive health.  If you choose not to have something for specific health reasons, that is another story.  There is a huge difference between saying you can’t have it and CHOOSING not to have it.

Paris has some of the most wonderful pastry shops in the world.

Sitting in a cafe in Paris is an experience I’d love to replicate at home on a daily basis.  The desserts are presented as works of art.  Half of the enjoyment is visual.  The other amazing thing that happens in a cafe, and something that seems foreign to most of us, is that the food isn’t eaten quickly.  The desserts are savored.

When I am savoring every bite, sometimes I don’t even need to eat the entire dessert.  I am often satisfied with just a few spoonfuls.

This is something to consider the next time you are thinking about restricting calories.  Is it causing more harm than good?

Personally, I prefer to follow the concept of the bakery diet!

Slow down and listen intently to your body.  It usually knows what is best.

(If you are interested in the mini chocolate cream cakes pictured above, the recipe can be found on Bake Chocolate Cake)

Delicious Chocolate Recipes for Valentine’s Day — February 12, 2013
Happy Valentine’s Day — February 11, 2013