Friday, April 20, 2012

Curveballs and Cupcakes

By Susan

As some of you may know, on April 3 the tornado that swept through the Dallas Metroplex snapped apart a tree and threw it onto my house—breaking windows, punching first-sized holes clean through siding, insulation and drywall, and crunching the joists of a corner of our roof like pixie sticks.

For two days we were without water or power—and stayed in the gracious and welcoming arms of my husband's parents until normalcy returned. Yet if you've ever been through a neighborhood after a twister has touched down, you understand when I say that there is nothing normal for the days, weeks, and I suspect, months that follow such devastation.

We were the lucky ones, losing only a few beloved trees and a small corner of our roof. Several of my neighbors lost everything.

Soon after this curveball ripped through my fairly typical American life, I found myself making cupcakes for my daughter's school lunches as contractors hammered all around me. And I was stunned by the overpowering gratitude that flooded through me in that cupcake-baking moment. We were all safe. Our insurance company had given us a prompt reply, a fair estimate, and a heavy dose of compassion. Our friends from around the country had called, texted and emailed to make sure we made it through the storm intact. The church of my childhood, now nine hundred miles away, sent a card covered in signatures of names that I still knew. My awesome literary agent reassured me regarding my upcoming deadline—insisting I take care of family business first, and the novel second.

All that love reminded me that I'm not thankful enough for the cupcakes in my life.

Not just the chocolate-on-chocolate that I prepare every Sunday for a week's worth of school lunches for two growing girls, but reminding me that my life is full of cupcakes—cupcakes with faces and names and love for me and my little family.

We all get the curveballs—I could give you a list of 'em—and they are things we want to forget. Yet we shouldn't forget them—without them, the cupcakes truly aren't as sweet.

So for today's little tidbit? Be thankful for your life and your gifts—no matter how difficult things seem. I can't tell you how thankful I am that this tree fell where it did and not another few yards to the left, where it could have crushed through the center of my house instead of just the corner. Be thankful for your friends and tell them you love them; share a meal with your neighbors, and thank the universe that no matter what happens, you can always write, or paint, or sing. Because no matter how bad things seem, it won't take as long as you think before you're thankful for what small blessings came from your worst time.

And as far as a tip for the real cupcakes? Make them with lots of love and not when you're angry--my ten-year-old swears they're best made with love.


  1. What a lovely post Susan. Thanks for the reminder that there is always some sweet among the bitter if we remember to be mindful.

  2. Thanks, Gail! I hesitated in writing this post because it seems so simple. But I really AM thankful for this tree :-)

  3. So glad you are all okay. Loved this post and the reminder of the little things. (Though I have to say, it's no small thing that you manage to make cupcakes every Sunday AND that they last all week!)

  4. Thanks, Sere! And you got me on the cupcakes--my husband laughed too. ("Not exactly EVERY Sunday..." he said.) However, when I DO make them, they usually make it to Friday when I hide them in the cake carrier :-)

  5. I am incredibly glad you're safe. I miss seeing you guys.


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