September 30, 2009
maybe a million miles of tears
don’t know for sure, I lost count,
so back again, on the road to when
and maybe where, I can be not me,
for while - not without you,
for three years.
September 29, 2009
Manage/Lead, ME News Vol. 2, Issue 39
I have a hard time motivating myself to do the things I don’t want to. And an even harder time motivating myself to do the things I do want to.
Somehow it works out though that the things I don’t want to do are always first on my list of things to do. I always find a way to give in to responsibility by assuring myself that I will get to the fun stuff as soon as the not-so-fun stuff is done. However, this has turned into weeks on end of meeting my own obligations, and the “lesser” things remain undone.
So, if I struggle with motivating myself, how can I possibly motivate others effectively?
I can’t. And luckily, I don’t have to.
The team I am about to travel with is already comprised of completely motivated individuals. My strength is to be found in encouraging others who are already motivated. My simple gift of administration is offered to assist the motivated in making their visions reality. Despite the required volunteer essay submitted with each application, I can’t say for sure what it is that has motivated them to join this team at this time. As we know, words don’t always convey the full conviction of the heart, no matter how flowery or firm.
I can, however, put this out there: If the difference between management and leadership comes down to functions and relationships, it can be explained this way:
Team coordinators are managers whose job it is to plan, budget, evaluate, and facilitate.
Leadership’s job is to select talent, motivate, coach, and build trust – which obviously GOD has already done – at least 9 times that I know of.
Based on this, I can confirm that I am in the right place for me.
And with hopeful faith I can believe I am in the right place for this team, as well.
In this issue: Stop Worrying parts 5 & 6, Margery Allingham, Management vs Leadership, Motive, Try It - writing down what we are grateful for.
September 22, 2009
Killing Somebody, ME News, Vol. 2, Issue 38
Sunday, September 20, 2009. Dawson Auditorium, Adrian College.
Framed by stage-lit floral displays speaking aptly to the active transition between waning summer and looming fall, Adrian Symphony Conductor John Dodson introduced the first body of an afternoon of compiled works by living American composer John Williams, remarking how the symphony is usually filled with songs by dead people, about dead people. A glance at the program clearly indicated first on the docket was Williams' orchestral music from the film "Jaws."
“This year,” he continued with obvious exhuberant enthusiasm, “We’ll begin our new season by killing somebody!”
What does this have to do with this week’s message?
As usual - absolutely nothing; and then predictably - everything.
For me, Sunday’s season opener was a much anticipated escape. Even so, as I was sitting there, the floor vibrating with menacing bass and brassily snapping shark jaws, my mind remained distractedly clamped on missionary management issues.
At this point, our vehicles and our volunteers are in accord.
However, there are also three more potential volunteers looming on our horizon. As our discussion evolved, someone said, “We have room for one more.” Technically, there is one traveling seat still available the first week, and two seats available for the second week.
But that’s not completely accurate, either. When we began to evaluate it, we all headed the same direction. Do we really have room for one more? Nope, we have room for as many more as GOD sends our way.
Why? Because, we cannot limit ourselves to our current resources. We cannot encourage inclusion or exclusion based on “now,” when our missionary organization is based on “faith, hope, and the future.”
How? Oh, I’m not 100% sure GOD will provide what we want, when we want it. But if HE leads people to be moved with the compassion for volunteering, I suspect HE will also provide a way for us to move them. Probably not without stress or worry, probably not without reworking all the figures, reanalyzing the budget, or resubmitting required paperwork. But probably with gifts we’ll have to reach for, seek out, and submit to. And there’ll surely be a lesson to be had, a message we can pass along, a testimony to how GOD works for the good of all men.
And if, in the final hours before departure, we still find ourselves one seat short, we could always begin our new missionary season by killing somebody.
In this issue: John Williams, Apple App – Ocarina, Stop Worrying Step 3, Learning to be a More Valuable Employee
Now Posted: Details
Grassy center bunches arc’d, lower fall bursts of cranberry,
sunset and sunshine yellow mums, gracefully announcing graduations
blooming into dying colors; center, repeated left and right, echoing
swells of Michigan hills, anticipating colorful comings, brightening
landscapes before the winter drabs on into the flat lined
white months ahead, silently promising symphonies of sound,
and temporary rebirths of color.
September 15, 2009
Positively Negative, ME News, Vol. 2, Issue 37
Negatives can be positive.
In a high school Humanities class, we were instructed to change the arm we wear our watch on. If you wore it on left, you were to switch it to the right and vice versa. The point was to disrupt our routine, draw attention to automatic reactions, and make us more aware. I indeed found myself continuing to check my left wrist for the time, even though my watch was on my right wrist.
Last weekend I changed my bedroom setup. My new neighbors are noisier than my old neighbors, so I moved the bed from near the windows to the opposite side of the room. Actually, I reversed the entire room. Not a life-changing event, but enough to change my perspective at least twice a day. Once when I wake up facing the windows, and again when I go to bed glancing down the long hall to the den.
Turning things around, creating negatives of our prior routines, mirroring our perspectives, soundly alerts us to how stagnant we have become. Acknowledging that, I’ve decided to change another part of my routine, as well: my prayer routine. I’ve been waiting until the end of the day to set my thoughts to GOD, for the goodness I have received and in the prayers I have for others.
Morning prayers take a lot more thought for me. The prayers I have for others remain the same. However, I am no longer able to inventorily thank GOD for the day’s events. I must pre-thank him for guiding me through a day of events yet unknown. That leaves out the possibilities of specific gratitude, and causes a more specific step of faith. Beginning my day with trust is a challenge I have not quite mastered. I find myself falling back on gratitude for the prior day, and then asking for more of the same.
Still, this purposeful negative has developed into a positive. Recognition of rote behavior, realization of the differences between beginnings and ends, and devoting myself to uncomfortable changes: all positively negatives. All positively worth pursuing.
"O LORD, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress.” Isaiah 33:2
In this issue: Stop Worrying (part 2 & 3), Photographic Negatives, Positivity at Work, Negative Calories, Negativity Word Challenge (I made 55 words from the word "negativity", can you?)
Now posted: Blow Pop Man - Transformer! Humor, That's Random.
Blow Pop Man – Transformer!
The Wednesday after the Labor Day holiday was a lot like any Wednesday after a Monday holiday.
You know that precarious point when you realize that you have to cram 5 days worth of work into 4 days?
For me, that's the kinda of thing that requires a sugar fix.
It is, however, impossible to blame this incident on sugar or caffeine, or anything else.
On second thought, I guess I could blame it on the vitamin D. Yeah, I’ll go with that…
See, I was unwrapping a grape blow pop, and having some difficulty doing it, too. I ended up just untwisting the stubborn wrapper and letting it flap around on the stick it was firmly attached to. After a lick or two, I was twirling my treat absently while reviewing paperwork when what should catch the corner of my eye than a lollipop flying by!
Seriously, it looked like little purple headed super hero with a polka dot edged cape flying out behind. Then, I noticed a few errant tiny circles on my desk; leftovers from a three-hole punching episode earlier in the day. I added a few black and bleeding Sharpie dots, and voila! Blow Pop Man was born!
I giggled to myself a little while before I got up the courage to let him fly by office mate. Her eyes flew open in wonder - as if to say "I'm wondering where her brain went?". Then she giggled, too.
Thus began the Blow Pop Man trek. I visited every office and cubicle in our department. Everywhere I went, I fluttered him by astonished employees, announcing, “Blow Pop Man to the rescue!” between the two of us, we managed to transform each holiday-Wednesday afternoon slump by morphing scowls into equal amounts of laughter and head shaking.
Then, someone who had already seen the Blow Pop Man tour fly by once, saw it again, and jokingly snapped, "Just eat the Blow Pop!" I asked her to be part of the Blow Pop Man video, but she declined. I had to enlist the help of my first victim -my office mate. She obliged - it was hard not to. I have a pretty contagious giggle.
The Blow Pop Man video made it's own slightly more restricted tour, with limited engagements. Sadly, our morale boosting success turned sour shortly thereafter.
Oh, yeah, the saga continues...
A little later in the afternoon, I had some work to do in my other office. I’m still transitioning from the current one to the new one. Anyway, I'm sitting there waiting for the screen to come up, impatiently twirling Blow Pop Man, and I start giggling, again.
That’s when I looked up and saw my boss standing there, shaking her head and laughing at me. I assured her that I was not just idly playing with Blow Pop Man and was really waiting for my computer to boot. She assured my coworker that she had some concerns about me!
Hmm. Between this and the Laffy Taffy sculptures, perhaps I have a future as an alternative candy artist!
And, perhaps now would be a good time to explore that further.
The moral of this story?
There are some legitimately good reasons to play with your food, and there are some legitimately good reasons not to play with you food, as well.
If you’d like to see Blow Pop Man in action, please visit me @ http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1110078991558&ref=nf
September 09, 2009
Caramelized Onion & Blueberry Salsa Recipe
2 pints fresh blueberries, de-stemmed, washed and dried
1 large yellow pepper, seeded and diced (about ½ cup)
1 large green pepper, seeded and diced (about ½ cup)
2 medium hot peppers, seeded and diced (about ¼ cup) *
(* choose hot pepper to taste: Mild, Medium, Hot, etc.)
2 large red onions, quartered, julienne (about 1 cup)
2 large fresh tomatoes, diced (about 1 cup), drained
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons white flour
½ pound Four Corners Creamery Mozzarella, sliced in rounds
2 frozen, prepared pie crusts, in tins
Mix blueberries and sugar together in large mixing bowl.
Refrigerate while prepping other ingredients.
To a preheated skillet add: olive oil and onions.
Simmer until translucent. Add garlic and all of the diced peppers.
Simmer until onions have caramelized. (Peppers will be undercooked.)
Remove from heat and place mixture in a strainer over a bowl.
Remove blueberries from fridge and liquid drain into same bowl.
Add flour to 2 tablespoons of the liquid mixture, stir until lump free.
Toss blueberries into slurry mixture, until coated.
Remove pie crusts from freezer. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place one pie crust in the center of a baking sheet.
Line bottom of pie crust with ½ of the sliced Mozzarella.
Spoon in ½ blueberries, tomatoes, caramelized onion mixture, and remaining blueberries.
Top with remaining Mozzarella rounds.
Filling will be mounded high.
Invert 2nd pie crust (in tin) over crust on cookie sheet.
Pinch sides together to form a seal. Use fork to poke holes in top.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.
Best served warm, makes an excellent appetizer.
September 08, 2009
Worry, ME News, Vol. 2, Issue 36
I keep a little rant file on my thumb drive. Most of the time something has sparked me, and most of the time it’s in a fairly negative way. Going back to my rant journal usually ends up in a GOD –smacking experience. For example, on August 19th I wrote:
“So, I wasted three days and a lot of energy on what turned out to be a misplaced decimal point. Actually, there were two of us involved in this fiasco. Besides three days it took two muddled brains, phone calls to four different departments, and over a dozen attempts to repair the data per the error message. The error message wasn’t all that clear to begin with. Perhaps if it had been, we’d have solved our dilemma more quickly. Or perhaps not.
But, isn't that a lot like our lives sometimes, hours and hours devoted to worry? Does GOD really want us to worry that much about every thing?”
The hours I spent worrying about the implications of the mistake, were indeed, a waste of time. Once the error was identified, once the problem was solved, there were no implications, no repercussions. All that was left was the memory of how I had squandered breezy evenings and dewy sunrises, brows furrowed in “what-ifs.”
Last weekend, I found myself in a conversation with an extended family member who I also consider a friend. We were discussing the fact that I wouldn’t be getting a real raise this year, just a small lump sum taxed at a ridiculous rate. It wouldn’t have seemed so bad, except that it is the second time it has happened to me in this particular position. So, I’m two years behind in raises, in terms of money upon money. I’m two years behind in the savings plan, in terms of money upon money. I’m also facing higher electric, natural gas, gasoline, and water bills. My budget is teetering at the breaking point. But I blithely insist that I do try not to think or worry too much about all that. I recite by rote my earliest memory of surrender expression courtesy of Doris Day: “Que sera, sera. Whatever will be, will be; the future’s not ours to see.”
That’s when my friend took me over to her refrigerator and pointed to a very small, almost fortune cookie sized slip of faded, yellow paper. “This has been on my fridge for so many years, I’ve lost count. I’ve moved it from my old home to new my home.” What did this cherished slip of weathered wisdom say?
“Worrying is carrying a burden that GOD never intended us to bear.”
In this issue: Stop Worrying, Marcus Aurelius, Doris Day, and Caramelized Onion and Blueberry Salsa Pie recipe.
Now posted: The Pie Experiment, Faith, Current
The Pie Experiment
I worried a lot about the pie social. As I added layers to dish, I added layers to my worries.
I knew I was entering an iffy contestant - I worried that would brand me either extremely creative or entirely warped.
I knew I was purposefully placing myself into a situation where I would be forced to converse with strangers - I worried I'd have nothing to say.
I knew I would be tired on a Thursday evening after an already long work week - I worried I would welcome any reason to back out.
So, I told everyone I could about the pie social. I showed my pie progress pictorial and shared my recipe. I only sort of wanted the physical bodily support. Mostly, I was just setting myself up to have to follow through - because mostly I was worried I wouldn't.
It turned out that my entry was the only savory pie. Then, I worried that it would be unwelcome.
I met some very nice people. I accepted some valuable feedback: 1 absolutely not, 2 "well, I wouldn't make it myself" comments, and 5 raves. I spent about two hours talking to pie makers - sharing crust secrets, recipe histories, bouncing new ideas off each other. I met a young enthusiastic new caterer who made a killer Lemon Citron Pie - tart and sweet, cheek puckering, creamy fresh, and picture perfect, too.
I collected recipes - among my favorites: a fresh pear pie from the maker's backyard pear tree; a southern sweet potato pecan pie; fresh blueberry cream pie - featuring sour cream in the filling.
I also scoped out new products: Banana Bread Beer, pre-made balsamic reduction glaze, fig chuntey, Guiness pressed hard cheddar, and sweet horseradish white cheddar. I'm already dreaming of Banana Bread beer-can chicken, porkloin with balsamic glaze and fig sauce, and a fresh tomato and pepper tart layered with horseradish cheddar.
When it comes right down to it, in baking a pie, I've accomplished quite a bit. I've developed, perfected and finalized a unique creation. I took a big leap of faith, stepping way out of my comfort zone. I challenged myself, made plans, made a pie, prayed for courage, and followed through.
Yet, I still have worries.
Can I remain as persistent going forward without any immediate personal goal to achieve?
Can I consistently treat those ideals of faith, love, honor, and hope as benchmarks for a way of life?
Can I take the discipline of a short-term project and apply it to every long-term day of my life?
Proverbs 16:3 Commit your works to the Lord, and your plans will be established.
In this issue: Marcus Aurelius, Doris Day, Part 1 of Stop Worrying, recipe for Caramelized Onion and Blueberry Salsa Pie.
Now posted: The Pie Experiment, Faith, Current
September 01, 2009
Pie Social 9/3 6:30-7:30 Boulevard Market, Tecumseh: You're Invited - no RSVP needed
The Boulevard Market, 102 East Chicago Boulevard in Tecumseh, 49286
It's A Pie Social At The Market!
Put on your aprons and fire up the oven!
"A party is always better with pie!" is their motto, so they are throwing one! Please join us at The Market September 3, 2009 from 6:30pm-7:30pm for a PIE SOCIAL!
Here is how it works...bring your homemade pie masterpiece and 30 copies of your recipe to the Market! Every pie is welcome, there are no pie baking or recipe rules!
It will be an evening of sampling pies, friendship, sampling pies, prizes, sampling pies, exchanging recipes and sampling pies!
The Market will provide all of the important accessories, beverages and prizes! We hope you will join us!
Pie-Eyed, ME News Vol. 2, Issue 35
The Boulevard Market, 102 East Chicago Boulevard in Tecumseh is holding a Pie Social Thursday, September 3rd. 6:30-7:30. http://www.boulevardmarket.com/
I’m submitting my caramelized onion and blueberry salsa pie. There are prizes… but based on the opinions of my last few taste testers, I’m not likely to win anything other than most unusual. And, you know, that’ll be fine by me. Just to make sure I’d be a shoe-in for that category, though, I searched the web.
Cooks.com showed these results:
1220 entries for blueberry pie
1160 entries for vegetable pie
163 entries for onion pie
176 entries for salsa pie, but these were more like recipes that used salsa in their pies – such as beef taco pie or enchilada chicken pie, etc.
When I entered blueberry salsa pie it came up with 212 recipes that might fit. None of them did. Ha! I win!
Well, maybe not in anyone else’s opinion but mine – still, that’s all right with me.
Why? Because I take pride in food innovation.
At 6 years old, I was eating chocolate ice cream with crunched up potato chip as a topping. Chocolate covered potato chips aren’t such a rarity these days.
In college, I matured to peanut butter swirl ice cream with crushed pretzels. Hmm. Sounds a bit like Ben & Jerry’s adorably named flavor “Chubby Hubby,” no?
Then a few years ago, there were the Michigan Hot Sauce Club HOT chocolates – habanero, cayenne, jalapeno filled dark, milk and white chocolate delicacies I hand crafted from the finest ingredients. Check out the on-line availability of spicy chocolate and candy offerings. You’ll be amazed.
So, don’t scoff at my caramelized onion and blueberry salsa pie.
I know I can’t please everyone – no matter what the flavor of my life is.
But the ones I find I can please, those are the connections worth pursuing.
PS. Just because your palette can’t adjust to it now, doesn’t mean it won’t be on the shelves of gourmet shops and supermarkets in the very near future.
In this issue: Health Benefits of Blueberries, The Dangers of People Pleasing, Salsa, The Definition of Pie.
Now posted: My Monumental Effort, Poetry 2009