My Identity Outside Chronic Illness: Simple Vanilla Cake

I’ve begun doing affirmations in the morning and evening. Finally, for the first time in weeks, I was able to do a yoga routine yesterday morning. The happy feelers were abuzz and I knew the sun was shining on me. I was absolutely not going to waste this gift of a day sulking in bed or in my armchair. Today I was going to create.

Today I was going to do something I truly loved.

I have been a vegan for 8 years. During college and my single years I would bake intricate vegan recipes and deliver them to churches and other charitable events. As I baked this cake I planned my married baker gal goals in my new house in my new neighborhood. Before my illness I baked too much to eat everything myself. Recent news of my gallbladder means I really shouldn’t eat much baked goods, so I’m researching organizations in my new area that could use an ever loving Spoonie full.

Without further adieu, may I present the debutante:

Simple Vanilla Vegan Cake

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup turbinado

1/2 tsp salt

2 Tbsp rice vinegar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

2 Tbsp confectioner’s sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and stir in the wet. I used an old hand mixer from the 1950s I picked up at a thrift store.

Pour into a greased 8”x 8” pan and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove and cool for 15 minutes. Sprinkle confectioner’s sugar lightly with a spoon as seen in the picture. Optional: top with blueberries and a mint leaf.

This was adapted from I Can You Can Vegan. I didn’t have all the ingredients, so I improvised. It turned out tasting a little bit like funnel cake. If you have Coco Whip available to you, it could also make a great topping instead of the confectioner’s sugar. The texture was spongy and this would be great piled high with plenty of fruit!

So, my fellow Chronic Illness Warriors, happy baking!

Keeping My Identity With Chronic Illness: Good Day Oatmeal Cookies

With my recent breakthrough in positive thinking after my diagnosis with fibromyalgia, I realize at the core of it is maintaining an identity, or keeping myself centered on who I am outside of my illness.

It’s easy to be swallowed up whole by fibromyalgia. When this happens I become bitter, depressed, and at my worst, angry.

Fibromyalgia anger, or painger (the experience of feeling anger because you’re in pain) is something that scares me. When I have painger I irrationally lash out at loved ones, the people I want to hurt the least. Painger takes my nastiness to a 12 on the Richter scale. It could destroy a continent.

In fact, it was for this reason that I started this blog, so I could have a space to talk about my illness, figure out ways to cope, carve out a community for myself, and maybe help others along the way.

Going back to identity and painger, part of a person’s identity involves the positive things they enjoy doing. Investing in positive aspects of your identity can help with painger.

I grew up in my family’s kitchen. The kitchen was the center of our home. When I was six and my sister was two, we tried making our first recipe. We had been left alone in the kitchen (no, I am not a boomer or gen X; Millenial here) and proceeded to destroy it by trying to make our own custom cake. My sister crawled around on the countertops at age two as we used a hand mixer from the 1950s, boiled noodles, and did something awful to the microwave. At the end my sister and I were covered in splatters of chocolate, and the kitchen was splashed in it. Dad came in and yelled at us, but we did it again. We were just successful the next time.

In this positive addition to my identity, I am exploring something I have always loved: baking. Mixing with your bare hands and pounding bread is a great way to alleviate painger and all kinds of negative emotions!

Vegan Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients

– 2 cups white sugar

– 1 cup vegetable oil

– 2 tsp vanilla

– 2 Tbsp soy milk

– 2 cups all purpose flour

– 1 tsp baking powder

– 1 tsp baking soda

– 1 tsp salt

– 2 cups oatmeal

– 1 tsp pumpkin spice

– 2 Tbsp molasses

– 1 cup raisins

Directions

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees

Wash your hands and combine wet ingredients

Add in oatmeal and dry ingredients

Wet your hands and use a spoon to make rounded balls of cookie dough. Place the balls of dough on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes.

My baker chronic illness warriors, may you have good moments and days ahead to live your identities. Remember even if you can’t, you are still you. There are other ways to find who you are.

We all are, chronically ill or not, learning how to live with what we are.

And with that, a recap:

Pocket full of starlight: the negative feelings that come with chronic illness have remedies. There’s almost nothing a warm cookie can’t fix.

Pocket full of darkness: sometimes our negative emotions can’t be helped. It’s okay if you can’t stir a spoon right now or if you just yelled at the cat. There are thousands of yous waiting on the horizon of life.