Personal Opinions Requested For Insecure Decorator

Lounge By Sugarflowers Updated 26 Jul 2011 , 1:21pm by Jennifer353

Sugarflowers Posted 21 Jul 2011 , 11:21pm
post #1 of 17

The insecure part of this is not really my decorating, but my health and what to do with my art and myself.

I love entering competitions and designing cakes. However, because I have Multiple Sclerosis (MS), I am VERY limited on what I can do. Fatigue is the biggest problem, shaky hands aren't much help, and the cake shows are stressful. Stress is very bad for me. It's not good for anyone, but it causes the physical problems that I have to flare. This usually results in a 911 call. I'm not a fan of that either.

I have no idea what to do. The Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show is coming up in October. I have not attended the last two years due to my illness. I don't know if I can make it this year. Every day is different and not in a good way.

My question is this; do I try to enter the show and hope for the best or do I just let this part of my life go? I have some new ideas that I want to try and I still love to bake when my health allows. I even made up a recipe from scratch for a strawberry margarita cupcake for a friend's birthday. It was gooood. icon_biggrin.gif

My husband is concerned that doing this will make me sicker (temporarily) and that I might wish that I hadn't even tried. He has a good point. However, I NEED something to do. I need to look forward to something. I can't really work for anyone because my days are too unpredictable. I feel completely useless. I still do basic housework, but it's tiring and takes a LOT longer than before I got sick. What I used to do in a day now takes me a week. Ugh.

Does anyone have any suggestions about whether or not to enter? I don't really have much of a chance of winning, but that's okay. I'll even take suggestions on something that I can do that is interesting and productive. I have no problem with completely changing what I do. I've done it many times.

I just don't know what to do because I am so limited. The worst of that is that I don't look limited. I look pretty normal. What is not seen is the overwhelming fatigue, the pain, and other weird problems that come with MS. Essentially, I have symptoms of many cirrhosis, portal hypertension, congestive heart failure, COPD, and IBS, as well as some symptoms of the beginning stages of diabetes. I have had every test a person can imagine. All of them were clear. I do not have ANY of the illnesses listed, my brain just thinks that I do.

So. If you were in my place, what would you do?

Michele

16 replies
Elcee Posted 21 Jul 2011 , 11:46pm
post #2 of 17

When is the entry deadline? Can you start working on something now and decide later to submit an entry form and later still whether or not to actually go? Are you thinking about the wedding cakes or a divisional entry? Maybe a divisional would be less stressful?

CWR41 Posted 21 Jul 2011 , 11:49pm
post #3 of 17

If you work on your showpiece during the times that you're feeling well, I hope that isn't too stressful for you. Are you more worried about attending the actual event because you won't know if you'll be having a good day during that time?

It sucks not knowing how you'll feel... hope your health improves so your decision is easier.

QTCakes1 Posted 22 Jul 2011 , 1:21am
post #4 of 17

my heart so goes out to you, cause I know this is your thing. Your work is AWESOME. Can you pace yourself with this competition, so you kind of limit the stress. I knwo what it is like when I turn a cake out in 2-3 days. Forget about if it needs sugar flowers. A competition, you might be able to pace yourself a little slower. Is that a possiblity? And, cause I know you don't want to just call it quits, how about teaching? Youw ould be great at and make decent money.

Sugarflowers Posted 22 Jul 2011 , 4:22am
post #5 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elcee

When is the entry deadline? Can you start working on something now and decide later to submit an entry form and later still whether or not to actually go?




The entry deadline is early September and yes I don't like sending in an entry form and then not being able to go. It's like I've made a commitment and then couldn't keep it. This commitment issue is why I don't take orders. It's also very disconcerting and frustrating to work on a piece, get close to finishing it, and then being unable to get it done. Also, where am I going to put it?

As for teaching, I would love to do this. Yet no one wants to pay me. I get a lot of requests to help people with their work and sometime asked about a class, but so far no one is willing to pay $50 per day for a class. That's less than $10 an hour for an 8 hour class. Surely I'm worth at least that.

I love cooking, baking, and decorating. I even made risotto for the first time today. It was really good. Making up recipes is one of my favorite things to do. I also love coming up with new techniques to make decorating easier and less expensive.

I'm not ready to give this up, but I do need to be realistic about my limitations and if this area of my life is finished.

Thanks for the responses. I'll take more if anyone has them.

Michele

myslady Posted 22 Jul 2011 , 5:48am
post #6 of 17

Don't let go, find a way to work around your current limitations.

Are you entering the competition for the fun of it or to win. If you are entering for the fun of it, if you have a simple design you can complete by the show, by all means press ahead.
If winning is your goal, then I say it would be more beneficial to put your effort into having a piece for the 2012 show. This way you don't stress yourself out trying to get finished by this October.

As far as winning, don't say you don't have a chance. You never know what can happen.

When you charge $50 for a class, is the entire class one day for 8 hours or broken down into two sessions.
How many students would you be able to teach at once? If you did a 4 hour class for $25 with two students, you would make $50 dollars in half the time, which is 12.50 an hour.

saffronica Posted 22 Jul 2011 , 4:47pm
post #7 of 17

I wish I lived near you. $50/day to learn from someone like you is a great deal! I would expect to pay more like $400!

Elcee Posted 22 Jul 2011 , 6:48pm
post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sugarflowers

As for teaching, I would love to do this. Yet no one wants to pay me. I get a lot of requests to help people with their work and sometime asked about a class, but so far no one is willing to pay $50 per day for a class. That's less than $10 an hour for an 8 hour class. Surely I'm worth at least that.




Really? I'm kind of shocked. Your skills are amongst the best in the business. I recently paid $85 for a 2 hour class that turned out to be a complete waste of time and money. I highly doubt if a class with you would be a waste icon_smile.gif and I would pay that and more for 2 hours with you.

Even though you should be teaching at a high level, what about kids or the elderly? Could you hook up with a day care or senior center that would be willing to do last minute activity changes? You're having a good day, call the senior center (or day care center, or nursing home, etc.) and say "hey, anyone want to make sugar flowers today?" Possibly even a rehab facility. When my mother was recovering from a hip replacement, even with her PT she had a lot of down time.

Gumpaste skills translate well to other mediums, like polymer clay. You could sell on Etsy...flower napkin rings, placecard holders, jewelry, magnets, etc.

Sorry, I'm just kind of thinking out loud.

Texas_Rose Posted 22 Jul 2011 , 7:59pm
post #9 of 17

Michele,

Are you on meds for the MS? My dad is taking Avonex and it has helped him a lot. He still has trouble with fatigue, but the docs think he has fibromyalgia in addition to the MS, and fatigue is a big symptom of fibromyalgia. He used to have problems with blindness in the left eye, and dragging his left foot when he would have an attack, and then the problems would clear up over time. He hasn't had any problems like that since he started the Avonex.

Do you have any hobbies other than cakes? Maybe you could do the gumpaste work when you're feeling well enough, and something else when you're not...I crochet and it's a nice simple thing that doesn't require a ton of coordination or lots of complicated counting. Of course there's a limit to how many scarves and hats a person needs, but you could crochet little blankets and baby hats and donate them to the NICU at your local hospital...when my daughter was in NICU, I noticed that all of the really tiny preemies had crocheted blankets over the top of the incubators.

I think you should hire someone to help with the housework...if it takes you a week to get done what you used to be able to do in a day, hire someone to come in one day a week, and save your energy for the things that matter to you.

About the cake contest, if the entry deadline is not until September, that would give you more than a month to work on a cake. Maybe you could get started and then see how much you'd gotten done by September.

Sugarflowers Posted 23 Jul 2011 , 12:23am
post #10 of 17

Elcee and Texas Rose, you have some great ideas.

I'm going to check into the price of a small office space to try to teach a variety of classes there. It would also be nice to just have somewhere to go during the day. If I can make this work, I can open a small school. That would be a dream to have small classes a few days a week teaching basic decorating to Master's level work. I would live to have small workshops a few weeks before a competition to help people who are "stuck" or just need some gentle . This would have an agreement to not copy or divulge anything that is seen at the workshop. If someone was really concerned I could have a private area set up to guide them. All of the work would still be the work of the cake's decorator.

I do like the ideas of teaching people in rehab. I've had to change my methods due to problems with my hands. It's also a lot more interesting than some of the things my mom had to do after her stroke.

This sounds crazy, but a new hobby I'm going to try is target practice with a 9 mm Luger. icon_smile.gif I don't know how well this will work. I'm hoping it will get rid of some stress. I said I was willing to make a change! icon_smile.gif

Michele

kakeladi Posted 23 Jul 2011 , 2:22am
post #11 of 17

Michele - what about entering one of the other sections instead of a cake?
Right off, I can't think of any in prticular but there are sections for a single flower or vase of flowers or boxes or something like that isn't there?

Sugarflowers Posted 23 Jul 2011 , 2:48am
post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by kakeladi

Michele - what about entering one of the other sections instead of a cake?
Right off, I can't think of any in prticular but there are sections for a single flower or vase of flowers or boxes or something like that isn't there?




Yeah, I love "Special Techniques Not on a Cake". I have some ideas for that, but the flowers and display are fairly complicated. I also l love gingerbread. I may try that.

Michele

tracycakes Posted 24 Jul 2011 , 12:45am
post #13 of 17

HI Michele! I'm so sorry to hear that you have MS. We've actually met a couple of times, in Tulsa and then later in McKinney when you had a wonderful demo on doing stringwork. I was so motivated to come back and try it again based on your instructions. I've actually gotten MUCH better at it, thanks to you. I still remember you talking about how your family would leave or tiptoe around the house while you are working on stringwork. icon_lol.gif

Anyway, only you know what you can physically handle. If you don't want the stress of the Wedding Cake competition, compromise and enter a cake in the other competition, maybe even not a wedding cake but a tiered cake that you can focus on and get excited about. Don't put too much pressure on yourself but do it for the fun and joy of decorating. If you can't get it finished, don't take it but you'll have a good start on a cake for next year.

Since I've started my business, I no longer get to enter cakeshows and I miss that, especially since I'm not getting to go to Tulsa at all this year due to orders that I have. Maybe in the future.

Best wishes to you.

Texas_Rose Posted 24 Jul 2011 , 1:49am
post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sugarflowers

This sounds crazy, but a new hobby I'm going to try is target practice with a 9 mm Luger. icon_smile.gif I don't know how well this will work. I'm hoping it will get rid of some stress. I said I was willing to make a change! icon_smile.gif




I love to shoot. If I could afford it, I'd be at the range every day icon_biggrin.gif

Not all ranges are the same, so if you find one that has a seat and a pistol rest that you can use, it might be more comfortable for you. Also, if you haven't bought a gun yet, a .22 is a lot cheaper to shoot than 9mm. A box of 9mm rounds costs about ten bucks and takes about ten minutes to go through. I'm planning to buy a .22 soon so I can teach my daughter...she's 9 but she's a big 9 year old. I think the .22 will have less recoil and be easier on her arms. I wouldn't buy a .22 for home defense or concealed carry, but for target practice I think it would be great.

One thing...put your earplugs in before you get out of the car at the range...and some ranges are at the bottom of a gravel pit and it's really hot there, which you won't know until you've gone. I know the heat is a big trigger for my dad's symptoms, be careful about getting overheated while you're at the range.

Sugarflowers Posted 24 Jul 2011 , 2:58am
post #15 of 17

Texas Rose, I got the 9 mm because it had an easy trigger pull. I do plan to get a concealed weapons permit. If I got even a .38, I could only be qualified for that and nothing more powerful.

The gun is for self-protection. Some very bazaar things have been happening of late and I consider myself to be at serious risk. I bought the gun because of a particular person. He's an addict and very dangerous. My husband is sometimes out of the country or even just out of town. I actually feel better now that I have it.

I was brought up with guns and how to respect them and the danger. I'm glad you are teaching your kids this. Dad instilled in me so deeply to not touch his guns as a kid that I still won't handle them without his permission.

My brother is FBI, so I want to be a better shot than him. icon_lol.gif I'm already better with a rifle, although he won't admit to that.

Thanks to everyone for the suggestions and support. They have been the "shot" in the arm that I needed.

Michele

btrsktch Posted 25 Jul 2011 , 8:01pm
post #16 of 17

Sorry to hear about your MS, but you have so much to offer, I'm glad to hear you are finding other ways to stay caking.

I would most definitely attend a class on how to make cakes for competitions. Those things the judges look for, giving assistance on finishing pieces, etc. Offering advice and critique on the piece being worked on. I can see that being a class that would bring in more $$ because it is something not for amatuers. With your limitations, you should consider focusing on those who have been doing it for a few years, but need to know more or take it too another level. Like a level 2 or level 3 type classes.

Good luck whatever you decide, and I'll be watching when you announce a class!

Jennifer353 Posted 26 Jul 2011 , 1:21pm
post #17 of 17

Sorry to hear how difficult things are for you.
I would think for the competition to try as others have suggested and do some between now and the deadline and see how you get on. If you do apply dont put pressure on yourself that you must finish it. A week or two before if you dont feel you will be able to finish, call the organisers and let them know. If it happens, you wont be giving up or breaking a commitment, you will be prioritising your health before the competition, much more important in my mind.

Would you consider writing a book or dvd/tutorials? You could write it at your own pace and make things for the photographs/record the dvd when you feel up to it. I dont know how difficult it is to get a specialist type book/dvd published but you could get it printed and sell it online.

I hope you feel stronger and you get to continue something which you are amazing at.

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