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March 2013. My pregnant research assistant, Nithya, is in her 3rd trimester. It’s time to organize the baby shower. I search for baby shower cake ideas and choose this one.


Who but my local cake supplier, Lacomka Bakery and Deli. Russian food., could make this cake!

March 2014. My valued research assistant heads for greener pastures. The night before the move, while feverishly finishing packing, she finds time to make a Shadow box of something that had become quite precious to her. The icing decorations from her baby shower cake. Precious because she carefully collected them after the baby shower, took them back to the bakery and got them glazed to preserve them.

The bakery owner’s daughter-in-law, Alena, decorates cakes most beautifully. Her joy in her work emanates right through the photo. How fortunate to have such talent for creating beautiful things!

By now you might be wondering where this story is headed. Patience!

This isn’t a story about baby showers and cake decorations after all. Rather it’s a story about choices. Choices made by each person involved in this story led to something of lasting value.

At every step, a choice.

I could have bought an off-the-shelf cake from a supermarket. I didn’t. With the baby shower, I wanted to create a memorable event for Nithya. I searched and found an idea for the baby shower cake that resonated with me. I chose someone with the talent to realize the idea for the cake.

Alena could have “phoned it in”. Instead by choosing to exercise her unique innate talent, she imbued the cake with an indelible quality.

I gave the cake to Nithya whom I appreciate dearly. As usually happens when parties end, the icing could have wound up in the trash. Instead, Nithya chose to preserve the icing to commemorate the celebration of her child’s birth. Doing so, she imbued the icing with a lasting value.

Any life is but a collection of habits, and I’ve learned to appreciate the particular joy that comes from choosing the habit of creating value. How fortunate then that the three people mentioned here each chose to create value. Long live the contents of that Shadow box! In their creation intersected the lives of three women, and through them, their lives will remain forever intertwined, celebrating the beginning of another life.

Post by Tirumalai Kamala:

Choosing to create value, a life-enriching habit

Choosing to create value, a life-enriching habit

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