Monday, May 6, 2013

Cupcakes and Choices

Today is cupcake day!  I'm a big cupcake fan, and today I tried not one, but two cupcakes, from Five Bites Cupcakes in Wellesley, Massachusetts.  Today's picks were the Chocolate Chip Cookie Cupcake and the Coconut Cupcake.  The Chocolate Chip Cookie presentation was the best in the entire cupcake display-- Vanilla cake with chocolate chips mixed throughout, a perfect mound of vanilla frosting, dotted with small chocolate chips, with a thick slab of chocolate chip cookie artfully placed on top.  Yes, it was calling my name.  It was like five desserts in one.  The frosting was a bit unexpected, and tasted more sugary than the traditional buttercream, which I prefer. The mix of sugar frosting, chocolate chips, and thick chocolate chip cookie was honestly too much.  In nice contrast to this sugary start was a surprise cupcake filling;  a cool chocolate cream, somewhere between pudding and custard.  It helped to balance everything else that was going on in this cupcake.  The Coconut Cupcake was more understated and was the surprising winner of the day.  Presentation was simple:  Vanilla cake with a mound of vanilla frosting topped with toasted coconut.  The same sugary frosting found in the Chocolate Chip Cupcake was balanced here by a sweet cream filling:  think Twinkie filling but less sugar, more texture, and more subtle taste.  Again, a welcome balance to the sugar content in the frosting.  The toasted coconut was the best part of this cupcake;  flavorful but not overwhelming, and enough to last through every bite.

Although I risked quite the sugar headache, it was fun to enjoy two cupcakes in one sitting; to enjoy a variety of something and not have to make a choice.  But sometimes in life you simply have to make choices, and it's often difficult.  There's a Fred Rogers quote that I love.  He said,  "You rarely have time for everything you want in this life, so you need to make choices.  And hopefully your choices can come from a deep sense of who you are."  Here's an example of such a choice.  Music has always been a big part of my life.   For about eight years I had the opportunity to sing with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus.  I sang with some of the greatest conductors in the world, on some of the greatest stages in the world.  I became a better musician, a better singer, and I learned more than I ever thought possible about classical music, opera, and the voice.  I would not have traded that experience.  But at some point, the rehearsal schedule, musical study, and the travel did not fit into my life anymore.  It was hard to say goodbye to the music, the friends I had made, and yes, the accolades and notoriety of belonging to this chorus.  I fought against this decision, but it was right for me to finally stop, as it had become a source of stress rather than enjoyment.  Fast forward six months and another musical opportunity presented itself.  A large and thriving homeless shelter, serving hundreds of people in Boston, had a great art program but had no music program.  I could come in for an hour or two per week, on a schedule that I set.   I started a music program, and received a fulfillment that the largest and best stages in the world could not provide.  Had I not made that difficult choice to leave what I previously thought was the pinnacle of what I could do musically, my heart would not have found the joy that I presently share with others.  

Have a cupcake, or two, this week.  And be on the lookout for what Mr. Rogers was talking about;  those unexpected choices that will lead you to who you are, and who you were meant to be.