November 30, 2009
Not So Solo, ME Newsletter, Vol. 2, Issue 48
Once you’ve decided to spend a holiday alone, you will discover for yourself that there’s a fine line between good friends and pushy people.
Luckily, my friends aren’t afraid to cross that line, and truthfully, there wasn’t much pushing involved. It was more like a swift natural progression that started out as a simple question: “What are you doing the day after Thanksgiving?”
Which, quickly and happily, evolved into: “We’re having a Thanksgiving at your house on Friday!”
My two planned visitors bloomed into an additional welcome third, then fully blossomed into wonderful group of five. I'll admit now, that I was a bit relieved by the increased size.
Previously, I'd been wondering how I would entertain my two friends. Backgammon wouldn’t work because it only requires two players, and we were three. Not everyone is enthusiastic about the cerebral game of Scrabble, and although I own dominoes, I don’t really have a clue as to the real rules. I considered buying Yahtzee, but by then my guest list had grown and I figured there’s be enough convivial congeniality that I wouldn’t need a back-up entertainment plan.
Naturally, I was prepared for an overage.
It might have been my up bringing – possibly a genetic predisposition, as well. Or maybe it was just not being able to judge just how much stuffing a box of Stove Top Stuffing would make. Rather than fall short, I had purchased two boxes for three people.
Okay, first stop laughing, and then stop balking at the Stove Top Stuffing. You know I can never leave well enough alone. Taking a cue from my father’s revered homemade recipe, I sautéed onions and celery, to enhance the commercial shortcut. It ended up being a rather sizable pan of improvised gourmet goodness.
I found a recipe for yams with cranberries and apples. I couldn’t even leave that alone. I ended up buying cherries and golden raisins instead of the prescribed cranberries, and a short-cut bag of pre-sliced yams. However, the yams turned out to be spoiled: icky, slimy, and smelly. Frantically, I tried washing them just to see if that changed anything. It didn’t. So - what to do with the perfectly diced apples, cherries and raisins? (yes - I sliced them myself and have the scar to prove it. There are reasons there are pre-diced foods.)
Prepare the stuffing as the box says, adding the already sautéed celery and onion, plus diced apples, cherries, and raisins.
Microwave (yes –microwave) according to box directions. Fluff and let cool.
Grease a baking pan – yes, with butter. It’s Thanksgiving!
Spoon half of the stuffing into the pan, spreading over the entire bottom of the pan.
Add a layer of thinly sliced apples on top of the stuffing then add the rest of the stuffing on top.
Add another layer of decoratively placed thinly sliced apples over the last stuffing layer.
Refrigerate over night. Or not… if you happen to be against pre-preparation and like to cook like a maniac on Thanksgiving morning.
Heat alongside my other pre-prepared refrigerated-over-night favorite: Green Bean Casserole. There'll be plenty of room in the oven, because the turkey will be in the crock pot.
Oh, for goodness sake! I traditionally roasted the Butterball boneless turkeys (yes – plural – another one of those judgment things)in the oven, basted with butter – yes, butter – after a serious rub down with Bob Gibson’s famous BBQ Spices. A friend mentioned a good way to keep cooked turkey warm is in a crock pot. Out of the oven, directly into the crock pot, lid secure, heat on low. The bird kept itself appropriately warm. At least, no one complained.
So, going solo for four straight days wasn’t to be. In fact, the only day I ended up completely solo was Sunday. Encouraged by a grey, rainy morning, I assembled snacks and beverages, grabbed a fluffy pillow, a comforter, and couched myself down with Stephenie Meyer’s third book in the Twilight series; Eclipse.
I read the whole thing cover to cover, and it only took me from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm. Then, I de-couched and ate some leftover turkey casserole I had layered up the night before.
Yes, I think that’s exactly how my next Thanksgiving holiday will be spent, too.
In this issue: The Physics of Cranberry Sauce & Instant Stuffing, Scientifically giving thanks, and Enjoying the Road to Accomplishment.
Now Posted: Action Plan Wrapping Up July, New Orleans, October 2009.
November 24, 2009
Solo, ME Newsletter, Vol. 2, Issue 47
Yes, it’s true. I’m starting my 2009 holiday season with a personal solo vacation.
It takes a lot to step away from tradition, but I’ve decided to start my own tradition.
Yes, I love my family and friends.
Yes, I’m looking forward to spending time with family and friends during the 2009 holiday season.
But... No - not this Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It is also a four day break which I am so rarely treated to.
I spend my earned vacation hours doing what I love – mission work. Along that line, I guess you could say I’ll be spending the two-day Thanksgiving freedom-from-work break indulging a personal solo mission.
For two days, I will not clean, or pay bills, or do anything boringly necessary to function.
For two days, I will sleep late, wrap Christmas presents already purchased, and snuggle with Miss Fred the misread cat.
I am especially looking forward to watching the last 5 remaining dvr episodes from last year’s season of House, and hopefully catching up on dvr's for the current season, too.
For two days, I’ll relish the quiet, and take stock of my accomplishments this year.
Perhaps, I'll meet up with Miss Clairol since she’s the only one who can turn my age-revealing sparklies a little less sparkly, and move them more towards youthful, perky highlights.
Hopefully, I’ll come up with a smashing design for holiday cards, as well.
Good grief – so much for doing nothing!
I’ve created a list, and therefore I must achieve!
Have a wonderful, blessed and safe Thanksgiving.
In everything, give thanks. 1 Thess. 5:18
In this issue: Butterball Turkey Help Line, Sustaining Yourself Through the Holidays, Portion Control, Stress Busters
Now published: Action Plan Later July, New Orleans, October 2009. & Results of the List survey, Surveyation
Listing Survey #1, 2009
The List Survey results: 38 responders
64.9% use lists as a way to manage time
94.6% use lists as a way of remembering things
86.5% use a list at home.
Of those who use a list at home:
45.9% use a long term list
24.3% use a revised list
18.9% use a new list each day
70.3% use a list at work or at school.
Of those who use a list at work or school:
27% use a new list each day
27% use a revised list
16.2% use a long term list
83.8% keep 0-2 lists at once
13.5% keep 3-4 lists
2.7% keep 4 or more lists
(Question error: the last response offered should have been "5 or more")
67.6% keep their list in a notebook or note pad on a counter or desk
48.6% Keep it on a piece of paper in a pocket or purse
35.1% keep lists tacked up somewhere
16.2% store lists on a computer or electrical device
48.6 use a general list most often
48.6 use a task list most often.
78.4 use a goals list least.
(Question error: Those who do not keep a list were unable to complete the survey accurately because the last 2 questions assumed everyone used a list - and both were marked as "response required." Only one person reported not completing the survey for this reason. Data shows that there was only one person who began, but did not finish the survey.)
November 17, 2009
Sorely, ME Newsletter, Vol. 2, Issue 46
I’m sorely about to prove my own point from last week’s newsletter.
I simply do not feel like being a beacon of niceness and light this evening.
I suppose if I had sat down last week when I began formulating this week’s message, I might have been successful without anyone knowing of my little happiness rebellion of the moment.
Instead, though, I scrawled out vague ideas, an outline, some researchable topics, and trusted myself to go forward at a reasonable rate. Which, for the most part I did. But… only because it was on my “list.” There’s still a lot of interesting information in this newsletter, but not much of it is going to be tied to this moody memo.
You see, pet peeves, trying to remember the value of small things, being aware that deer season started Sunday which makes my dawn and dusk commute more hazardous, and lastly, recalling errors made in July, are all related to my current funk. But, not what I had planned to talk about, at all.
I’m working on a project from the conference I attended last week. I created a survey – rather quickly with the assistance of SurveyMonkey. The hard part was whittling down the questions to get at the answers I really want to know - and the ones I need to know - to drive the project forward
So, on that note, if you would, please visit the survey link below. There is a short, 10 question, multiple choice, no wrong or right answers, anonymous survey, that should take no more than 3 minutes to complete.
As an extra catalytic incentive, I want to let you know, that you’ll be helping me accomplish one of those many specific tasks on my list.
With prayers for a better tomorrow, and blessings for you, as well.
In this issue: Pet Peeves, SurveyMonkey, Fall Driving Stats, and The Value of Small Things
Now posted: Action Plan Mid-Late July, New Orleans, October 2009
November 10, 2009
Fulcrum, ME Newsletter, Vol. 2, Issue 45
I’m going to answer a hard and frequent question, but I can guarantee it won’t be answered clearly.
If I had the answer myself, I wouldn’t still be searching would I?
There is a line of fear that I have not yet crossed, and may not ever cross either.
The line exists solely due to an imaginary scale that I believe will undoubtedly tip a love towards either obligation or enjoyment should I stray too far from the fulcrum.
I write because I like to. I like to because it challenges me. It is, therefore, a hobby.
I acknowledge this: it has surely evolved through 89 straight weeks to become a hobby with a purpose. The purpose is to share, encourage, challenge, and enlighten. To do all these things requires love, and the willingness to give it away.
My grammar is not perfect; my notes are not void of typographical errors or run-on sentences. My messages may be murky because I am muddling through them. Sometimes the more I muddle, the less I understand. But, I know this, too: unmoved muddy waters eventually settle, and when the vision clears, I too will go back and clarify.
If writing were an obligation, I don’t know that I would be as enthusiastic. I don’t know that I would be allowed the sprawling loose liberties that I allow myself. I don’t know that I would be placidly accepting of rejections that would intimate I do not have an amazing accurate wide-reaching professional talent. I would rather continue to be a familiar folk artist, engaging wide-open irregular keystrokes, portraying only the patterns of my life, and the bits of wisdom I’ve gained from living it.
In this issue: Obligation, Hobby Horses, Grandma Moses, QWERTY keyboards.
Now Posted: Action Plan Mid July, New Orleans, October 2009
November 03, 2009
Swimming, ME Newsletter, Vol. 2, Issue 44
Something in me has changed within this season,
- giving me a starker view of the bare branched, fiery, fallen-leafed landscape of my autumn life.
I struggle with my own inner peace and the turmoil of lives around me.
I find myself caught between “seize the day” and "heed the future”, and sometimes when asked – I find myself advising both.
So which one is to be, then? Or can it truly be both?
If I seize every opportunity today to make the future a better place, and if I accept that GOD loves me as I am, and yet strive to be more frugal, more healthy, more steadfast in my faith – there really isn’t that much of a conflict, is there?
As I left a friend the other day, she innocently displayed an image which captured my attention and my imagination. Moving her arms as if she were swimming she declared in unspoken action, “I am a fish swimming upstream, everyday, pushing through the weeds, towards something better.” Sometimes the only goal you can focus on is the one that says “just keep going.” I suppose we all want to believe that we are headed for something better if we can just push through the negativity of others, the cramped means of our lives. Mad paddling, sweeping breaststrokes, scissor kicks – we move in whichever way our limitations allow.
Of course we’re not frantic salmon with only one pre-programmed genetic goal. But, we are pre-programmed with a great universal goal – whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. There is an innate drive for and toward “something” better, “something” more. Not an abstract, but rather an easy, well definable target: Heaven is the ultimate goal.
Realize this – we spend hours swimming against the negativity of our world, so that we can make our way to peace and joy. And as long as we’re headed there, let’s recognize this as well - It is our responsibility to bring others along on the ride.
In this issue: New Pennies, Salmon, Thinking for Yourself in the Face of Doubt,Health Benefits of Swimming
Now Posted: Action Plan Early July, New Orleans, October 2009.