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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

When Things Become "THINGS"

I've focused on being intentional this year - truthfully longer than a year when I look back at things I included on my most recent 101 list developed in late 2012.

Intentional has meant a lot of saying no to things. Even to things that I truly enjoy, like frequent dinners with friends and spontaneous trips and...writing daily on this blog.

It's not that those aren't good things in my life, it's just that they aren't the best things for me to do right now. I'm not crafting nearly as much, or cooking wildly wonderful meals, or doing fun crazy activities, or fill-in-the-blank.

I suppose that might make me boring (and I do think that maybe I am that at times), but it also is keeping me sane.

Work is very demanding and if I want to have a good work-life balance, I need to make sure that I'm not trying to squeeze too much on either side.

So while I'd like to be more involved in off-hours things with coworkers (like stopping in for happy hour or going to cheer for our soccer team), that's not a good use of my time right now.

And while I'd like to have lunch with friends nearly every day, I can't be away from the office that much.

What I need is to do my work, connect with my husband, get exercise, spend time with God, invest in a select number of personal and professional relationships and pet the furbabies.

These are the essentials.

Everything else is optional. If I have time to blog (like I have today, giving me a chance to prewrite several posts), then I will. If I don't, then I don't.

I'm ok with that.

And here's the crazy thing - I've discovered not the only one feeling this way. Because life is busy and overfull, I've lost count of the number of people I know who are stepping back.

Good! More power to them! [My new response is: Don't ever apologize for making time for the truly important things in your life.]

All that being said, I do feel a slight need to rant.

Why can't we just let things be? It's not enough to slow down just to slow down.

No - you choose to slow down because it's a "thing" that everyone is doing.

And because it's a "thing" it has a name. Most recently I've seen it pop up in the blogging world, it's slow blogging, as in, "I was really pushing myself but now I'm an advocate of slow blogging." Why not just say that you need to take a break or find balance?

When will we learn that it's ok to simply do things that we need, rather than having to name and claim and group-ify our actions?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Things That Are Important to Know

You can't do it all.

You need others in your life.

Listening is important. Being heard is, too.

Eventually "later" will be now.

Time and energy are not infinite. Love is.

You should live out the character traits you'd like to see in others.

Good writing skills always matter. The same is true of math skills.

Eventually others will discover if you're all talk and no substance.

Don't fear failure. Fear not trying.

The way things appear today is not a predictor of how they will be in the future.

Hope is powerful.

Laugh often.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Leadership Requires Vulnerability

I went to a leadership retreat last month. We did a variety of team-building activities, including outdoor challenges, as part of a process to get know ourselves and each other better.

I'll write about this group in a later post, but for now I'll simply say that I'm fortunate to be part of a group of such interesting individuals. My fellow 34 classmates are talented, creative and passionate leaders.

One of the key things I took away from the weekend was that it's very important to be vulnerable even while you lead. Personally, I found myself (the talkative girl) taking a quieter role of observer and speaking into situations when necessary.

But even I could never had guessed the level of vulnerability that I'd have to face during the retreat.

Yes. That happened.

Short story: Group effort to get over a 14-foot vertical wall when my trousers were grabbed rather than my leg. Riiiiiiiiiip - waistband to bend of knee.

Talk about being vulnerable.

Exposed and hanging 14-feet off the ground, with only the hands of three suddenly-less-strangers holding me securely.

All I could say was:

The objective is to get me over the wall!

So they did. And we all survived.

And I laughed - and laughed and laughed. It's not often that you bare almost-it-all in a group that's been acquainted for less than 30 hours.

I suppose you could say that leadership requires vulnerability and a good sense of humor.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Trolls Are Everywhere

Another beloved blog went by the wayside this past week and I've been a little despondent about it.

Not surprisingly, a whole legion of people on the internet don't share my appreciation of the good work the owners of Young House Love put in on their site. These individuals have focused on what wasn't good (good as defined by them), rumor mongering and, in general have reveled in gossip and mean-spiritedness.

And this reminded me that there are trolls everywhere - trolls determined to steal your joy and disguise their own jealousy/unhappiness/bitterness in misdirected jabs at others.

Trolls thrive on the internet - sites that I won't point to allow nameless/faceless bravery.

Trolls are alive in conferences - leaving paragraph-long feedback full of gems like, "This woman doesn't have children and therefore has no idea about what real balance issues are." and "I would never use electronic calendars to coordinate schedules - that's too cold and impersonal."

Trolls lurk in churches - offering criticism wrapped in a "Bless your heart." Don't confuse Godly correction for destructive and divisive behavior.

Trolls hide in the office - smiling and pleasant to your face, spewing venom and half-truths behind your back. Sometimes we call these individuals "Passive Aggressive" but don't be fooled - they are trolls.

It's easy to say that if you're doing what you ought to be doing, choosing joy and living generously that these trolls would have no effect on you.

But that's often not the case. You look past all of the good and focus on the troll.

That just gives them power.

Better to be like the three billy goats gruff - be winsome and convincing, and let someone immune to the troll's particular jabs knock them in the block.

And in the meantime, if trolls abound - better to find a different bridge instead of fretting that they're in your path.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

State Fair 2014: A Photo Roundup

As a running friend says, You're either a fair person, or you're not a fair person.

I'm a 4-Her. I am definitely a fair person. Thankfully, Kelly is, too.

Big Tex - the fair wasn't the same without you in 2012.

Texas dairy farmers making free strawberry smoothies...yum.

We pet a baby crocodile!!!

Me: Can I have a pet chicken?
Kelly: You ask that every year. And every year the answer is no.

I'll bet people who loved her never said she couldn't have a pet pig. Life is so unfair.

Canstruction moved from NorthPark Center to the State Fair this year. It was convenient for us to tour all of the can sculptures while we were there, but I'm not sure the exhibit overall got as much foot traffic as it used to.

Kelly: Can I have the new 2015 Mustang? 
Me: Yes - when you can pay cash for it.

Fletcher's Corny Dog - the original, with mustard, as God intended.

Weird State Fair Food #1: Funnel cake beer. Oddly, it did taste like funnel cake and it had powdered sugar on the rim.

Weird State Fair Food #2: Fried Chili Frito Pie. Good but dry unless you used sour cream.

Weird State Fair Food #3: Fried pumpkin pie. Ah-maz-ing.

State Fair portrait attempt #1: Why does he goof around!?!?!

State Fair portrait attempt #2: That's better. (And that's a wrap for the State Fair of Texas 2014!)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Freezerful: Cooking for a Month (more or less)

It was a productive Saturday.

Now living in the freezer, ready to grab and go:

  • Spinach ravioli "lasagne"
  • Chili mac
  • Taco meat
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Salmon
  • Butternut squash soup
  • Turkey posole casserole
  • Vegetable-stuffed meatloaf
  • Smoked turkey off-the-bone
  • Shredded roast chicken
  • Wild rice and turkey soup
  • Shrimp and corn chowder
  • Glazed pork tenderloin
  • Pinto beans
  • Smoked salmon
  • Quinoa "mac" and cheese
  • Green chile enchiladas
  • Blueberry muffins
  • Cranberry orange muffins
  • Mini pies
  • Chopped green onions
  • Caramelized onions

Saturday, October 11, 2014

We've Drunk the Juice

Last month, Kelly surprised me with a text message that simply said:

Have you ever considered juicing?

The truthful answer was yes - but only in theory. Yes, I like fresh-pressed juice but no, I don't want to add another time-consuming activity to my life. So I said:

Yes, but I'd only juice if I had a juicer that was fast, powerful and super-easy to clean.

Five minutes later he texted back:

Done. Our juicer will be here in a week.

So. A juicer was on the way and suddenly an infrequent thought became a subject of much interest. That evening we watched Fat Sick and Nearly Dead. Afterwards I was totally on board for juicing.

I googled a bit and found some helpful websites for new-to-juicing folks like me.

With that information in hand, plus our new juicer, off we headed to shop.

It's pretty! Plus it met my criteria: It's powerful, fast and easy to clean.

You need to give the juice a stir to combine the ingredients - below is apply, kale, celery, cucumber and ginger.

Delicious! And best drunk within 20 minutes of pressing though we will confess to occasionally making juice the night before.

Carrot apple ginger is pretty good too...

Honestly, our favorite site is All About Juicing. I signed up for a free two week juice plan. After testing her recipes, we're probably going to pay for a subscription (less than $10/month).

To date we've juiced consistently for nearly a month and are finding it simple and quick. We only drink one juice per day, although I'd like to do a three-day juice fast after marathon season is over to cleanse my system. We rarely juice fruit because it's too high in (albeit natural) sugar.

I did have some headaches for the first few days of juicing, but those leveled off fairly quickly. Now I feel sluggish and head-achy if I don't juice.

Whether juicing is the health promised land that some claim or not, there's nothing bad about focusing on better nutrition and increasing your vegetable intake.