Thursday, November 28, 2019

Another Thanksgiving

Dawn is still holding off, and now that we have moved the desktop upstairs to make an office, I have a glorious view of the east from the window behind the computer. I awoke early, certain I did not want to work on paperwork for school. I must get to that tomorrow morning. I don't want to scramble on Sunday. Plus the waiting makes the time off less satisfying, because I know it is there.

Thanksgiving is a marvelous reminder to be grateful for the many things we have.Sometimes I will more publicly list my reasons to be thankful on social media, but often that feels slightly indulgent. So I will keep my list a little quieter, in my heart, this year.

I find I miss my mother on Thanksgiving. Whether we had a meal together or I visited her later in the evening, she was always up for a movie or some sort of fun. I miss her energy and the warmth of her voice. Sometimes I still feel her breath on my shoulder or the softness of her skin.

My son, Caleb, isn't wrapped up in Thanksgiving memories. If he was home, he was likely hiding in his room, and would come out to tell me which foods he hated. I think he liked turkey, though one year I lied and told him it was a really big chicken, in order to get him to eat it. He was so fussy. But he rarely participated in festivities, and I think he spent Thanksgiving evenings with his dad and later working. So no tears of remembrance fall in that regard.

I am thoroughly enjoying meditating for calmness. I like the heady feeling of power when I find I can completely change my mood. I have watched others do it, an old retired coworker when I would get frustrated and worked up, would interject with questions about my children, knowing that would change my mood. I could see her doing it, and part of me was like, Wait! I need to hang on to this anger, and part of me was like, Well, alright. I will play. Learning to let go of anger is no easy feat. Everywhere around us we receive messages: Go get yours. Don't get mad, get even. And so on. This idea that we fight and struggle for every tiny bit of real estate in the world is prevalent. I am not saying to let go and be a doormat. What I am saying is, not everything is worth the fight. Not every negative feeling, slight from others, or rejection, requires a huge emotional investment. Sometimes, acknowledgment and shrugging it off is the answer. And the true ding! ding! ding! million dollar answer is learning to shrug it off and give others the grace your ego doesn't feel they deserve.

Giving grace to others when you are hurt, is so hard. Maybe you were hurt on purpose and maybe not. But true peace can only come to yourself when you learn to give others the same benefit of the doubt you wish to receive. It isn't easy! Ego stands up and demands to be heard. But just like my coworker could turn my head away from anger, ego can be turned to something more productive.

It isn't easy. It takes a lot of practice and falling down and failing. But we have a lifetime to learn.

So thankful for the words to express myself and this magical space in which to do it!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Butterscotch Blondies

I came home from work craving a little sweet treat, but sadly there was nary a bit of chocolate to be found. Next best thing? Ooey, gooey butterscotch blondies!

I chose this recipe because it was made with oil and I am economising on butter. I did substitute a glass pie plate for the 8x8 pan.

The recipe can be found here.

It was super easy to whip up in a matter of minutes!

First I mixed the wet ingredients. I just used a big spoon.
Next I added the dry . 
Finally, I put it all in the baking pan!
Less than 30 minutes later, a sweet and easy treat for the kids ( and grown ups, too!).

Actually, it took almost an hour. Between my two-year-old messing with the lock on the oven door, my seven-year-old and hisneighbor friend running around , and my nine-year-old asking me to look up molecular formulas for various acids, I somehow turned the oven off . I realized my mistake eventually and finished baking the Blondies. They were just a smidgen brown on the bottom😁

Monday, November 18, 2019

Popular- A book

This is an affiliate link which if followed and purchased could lead to compensation for the author of the blog.

I just picked up this book and read it tonight (it's a fairly short read). It was exactly what I needed at this time. The author, Mitch Prinstein looks at how popularity continues to greatly influence life outcomes, even though the subject is almost taboo. Popularity continues to exert a  huge influence regarding who is listened to, who is taken seriously, and who is ignored or neglected.
Seeing it in book form was both exciting and slightly discouraging, as if you are one of the unpopular, you tend it hope it is all in your head. He also explains how popularity is linked to income, retaining one's job in tough times, getting one's way over others, among other things.

One story he told was how an impassioned mother fought for six months, lobbying, researching, and working towards getting a gifted program in her local school. The school board repeatedly denied her. Then a more popular lady whisked in, and using nothing but her own personal power, persuaded the school board to start a gifted program within 15 minutes. I know many of us can relate to this, and the helplessness we feel when we are on the "unpopular" side of such circumstances.

The author splits people into five groups: the average, the accepted, the rejected, the neglected, and the controversial.
The average make up about 40% of the population, with the accepted being the popular and well liked people. The rejected are the ones who are not liked, although, they may not even know they are rejected or disliked, but they are known. Ouch. The neglected simply tend to be forgotten, and finally the controversial may be high profile or high status, but aren't particularly liked by peers. Of these, of course, the accepted fare best.
Seeing which group one falls into is fascinating, although as stated early, it isn't really a huge surprise. Additionally even among the average in the center, each person has tendencies towards one of the other groups.  Instead, the book takes what is probably experienced day to day, and occasion to occasion, and puts it into terms and words which lend validity to the experience.

The author isn't without hope that people who fall into the less desired corners can change and become more popular. He does, however, note that during times of stress or in new situations, we all have a tendency to revert to the feelings of adolescence, thus making true change difficult (although not impossible).

Personally, I enjoyed this book because the stories told contrasting different people and their outcomes was fascinating. I could find myself and see my own experiences in the five groups of people, and could quickly identify the two I lean towards . If you are slightly on the nerdy side, and want a book which validates your experiences in the world of grown-up cliques and power structures, it's a fun read.

Quotes for business hurdles

Sophie's World was required reading for my Intro to Philosophy class in college. Not too challenging and made the history of philosophy accessible and interesting.
This is an affiliate link which could result in compensation for me, should you choose to purchase.

If you are anything like me, you love a good quote! Quotes remind us of truths, give us insight, and sometimes simply give us a positive direction to aim our thoughts. While sometimes quotes can become empty platitudes full of saccharine goodness without any real truth and weight to them, the right quote can truly impact your life and day in a positive manner.

Whilst looking up information regarding something someone said in a post on Quora, "Buddha doesn't belong in the boardroom," I stumbled upon these inspiring quotes. Not all fit. Certainly not all fit all the time. However maybe if you are feeling a little discouraged, you can find a nugget of truth in them.

Business Relevant Quotes from Ancient Philosophers

Sunday, November 17, 2019

The "I Don't" List

This week, a link to Holly Wainwright's blog post, "Every Woman has an 'I Don't List...' came into my feed. And it's great. And it's true. Noone can do everything. Those sports-crazy parents whose kids are awesome athletes on the rise, probably aren't getting hours hiking in the woods and sitting around the campfire. Those quiet, hygge families who are cozy at home playing board games and designing their own latch hook rug patterns, aren't out there as movers and shakers in the public eye.

I felt so empowered when I first read it. I thought about my own I don't list.

1. I don't do PTA.  I will join.  I may even volunteer from time to time (although the last time I totally forgot and was an hour and a half late😓. However I don't go to meetings, call people, or gather shoes for charity.

2. I only shave my legs when I have to. First razors are crazy expensive and second, I am getting to the age where  balancing one leg in the shower with the other perched up on the shower wall, just doesn't seem wise.

3. I don't have to advance in my career.  I am in a field where it is perfectly respectable to remain in the same place, as weird and pathetic as that seems.

4. I don't have to decorate for every holiday and share pinterest-worthy pictures.

5. I don't have to feel bad for being introverted.

6. I don't HAVE to become famous at something, make my name, earn some bucks. The concept that it is okay to live a mediocre life fits here.

7. I don't have to exercise if  I don't want to.  Being a soft and squishy granny isn't illegal yet!

And at first I was like, "Yes!" But then that little pulling started-the tearing at the edge of my skin saying, "Yeah, but!"

What can I say? I was raised in Puritanical, work-'til-you drop America.

And  I started to think, I don't HAVE to be active in PTA, but wouldn't my kids benefit from increased popularity and social connections if I were?

I don't have to shave my legs, but who doesn't love that silky soft, shaved all-over feeling as you go about your day?

I can "just" be a teacher, but why should I let other people who don't really know me define my value? What if there is something tailor-made for me just around the corner? What if I am capable of actually making a difference and influencing with my views? I think that is why the internet and internet-based businesses are so attractive. The gatekeepers are losing influence.

These are my kids' memories. Of course, I should decorate for holidays. My hands are useless-it won't be pinterest worthy:).

Extraverted people have friends. And fun. And get invitations! I want to be involved and active and make a difference, and enjoy people. And yet, my energy level shrinks at the thought. Like how does one remain interested and pleasant without that time to hide away and think about things? How does one write?

And no. I don't have to be famous. I don't have to become an author, or write thoughts which inspire others, or have a successful business. But my heart desires it. If I give up, I will never get it.

And exercise. I want to be comfortable and slimness is pleasant, but what I really desire is time to go out hiking in the hills without dragging a ton of stuff to keep the kids happy. Someday.

All these ideas saying it is okay not being perfect, are hit with all these other ideas that I should never give up! Always keep striving and doing more and growing and being more.

But, then I sometimes wonder-what if there isn't more? What if the only people benefitting from all this work is the money collectors at the top. What if it is all a plan to keep us on the wheel, pushing pushing pushing with the rainbow promise at the end. And then as we think we are getting near, it all evaporates, because it was never more than a ray of light-hope, with no material value ever existing?


And that I think, is where the true "I don't" list comes in. Realizing it may all be an illusion, we can really focus and ask, "What, of all this confusion and mess, is worth striving for?"
When we think about what we want so badly we can taste it, suddenly we know what it is we MUST do. What our soul call to us to do. And then we can take all those dropped balls, the ones that didn't really matter, and add them to our "I don't" list with the true confidence of self-understanding and knowledge.

On that vein, one of my favorite reads when I was in college:
Note: This is an affiliate link which could result in compensation for me, if you follow the link and make a purchase.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

All Right, Universe! I'm Back.

As I continued in my reading of The Universe Has Your Back last night, I read on to discover the truths I had been needing this week. Last night's reading had to do with Universal Lessons, such as being completely present and leaning towards joy. There were six steps for how to live more present and in your truest sense of your self. I am going to focus on Step 1, because it gave the aha moment I needed last night, as my energy levels were drawing close to the bottom.
Note: This is an affiliate link which could lead to compensation if you choose to click and purchase.

Step 1: Focusing too much on the presence of fear is getting in the way of our presence of love. And suddenly, just by reading this one step, where the author, Gabrielle discusses being "caught up in her crazy (p.56)," I realized that was exactly what I was doing. I was getting caught up in my crazy, by focusing on my fears rather than love. I was focused on not getting what I want out of life, on jealousies, and inadequacies, which wasn't leaving any room in my life for love. Now, granted, I get a LOT out my slightly negative introspection. First, it feels a little closer to the truth, so I feel like I am stumbling upon something more real. I enjoy it. I enjoy being critical of the way the world is set up and discovering the flaws in it. The problem is, of course, while I can play there a little while, it is exhausting and painful, and makes me not much fun to be around. Sometimes you have to whitewash a little, shrug things off, cut yourself a little slack, because joy and survival are real and important things.

Gabrielle's solution is to step back and pray using the affirmation, "I step back and let the Universe lead the way." For those of us in the bible belt, who may feel a little uncomfortable with the "Universe," just reminding oneself that God is in control, can be helpful. Just stopping the crazy introspection and saying, "I step back and let God lead the way," can remind us there is a bigger, better plan that what is currently swimming in our gray matter, and we need to relax and let it unfold.

This is a relief to me, as I feel it is time to shift away from ultra-seriousness after a challenging week. It's a welcome break, and a good reminder to focus on love and joy. This week, let me suggest,  as the challenges of your life unfold, step back and remind yourself who is in control. Remind yourself someone with a greater understanding is pulling strings all over the place, and relax into who you are meant to be when you are operating in love, rather than fear.

Friday, November 8, 2019

A Challenging Time

I  am continuing to go through a challenging time. Disappointments keep popping up in my head, and sometimes it is a true struggle to keep them from coloring my worldview. The current book I am reading, the one I mentioned yesterday, The Universe Has Your Back, refers to the Universe as loving and good and supports the idea that pain isn't necessary.
Note: This is an affiliate link from Amazon, of which I could receive compensation. But this is where I guess my bitterness comes in, becomes um, look at the author. She is lovely. Is it even possible we are living lives which could even remotely be related? There was a conversation yesterday, where I mentioned something about not wanting to be liked, I just need to be respected for my brain. Well, of course, that is a lie. Another person stated, "You are such a Ravenclaw, that's what I like about you."
But I felt this sadness. Of course, I want to be liked. Of course, I want to be in on the thick of things. I hate feeling like an outsider. I have just sort of given up on the hope, I guess. In the past I could reconcile myself with the idea that this pain was molding me into a better person and that there was a purpose. And then little-nosed blondie comes along and writes a book saying the pain isn't necessary? The conversation continued and we discussed how a couple Slytherins we know always seem to get what they want so easily. "Well," my coworker said,"They are cute. And petite." And that's it? Whether you get what you want can be boiled down to how aesthetically pleasing your face and form are? That is so disappointing.

And I keep trying to find meaning in that. Of course, when you are lovely and are treated better, you are also going to be sweet and treat others well (for the most part). It creates this vicious cycle (vicious for the less than lovely among us), where we feel unwanted over things we can't control, it pisses us off, and we act unlovely.

But there is not purpose in pain? What does that mean?

So I am struggling with this. The typical outsider feelings-the what to do on Thanksgiving feelings. My desire to belong fights against my feelings of never belonging.
I want this blog to be about positivity and living one's best life, so I have to face this struggle and come to a resolution I can understand and support.

I think, perhaps, it is about giving up the struggle. Accepting what is coming your way, and letting the bitterness seep away with each breath you exhale. Perhaps it is about breathing in with gratitude over what you do have, and not struggling with the idea of what is fair. And part of me, stands there, hand on hips and says slowly, 'Wha-?" It almost sounds like the people sweeping up the jewels of life and gathering them in their overflowing arms as they have parties where they compare the glittering goodies they have taken, are impatiently nodding towards a crushed gem on the floor and saying,"Sweep up that powder for your little purse, and show gratitude for the Universe which knows what is best for you."

But thoughts and feelings are different things. Maybe one drives the other, but one is pure and one is intentional, and I have the power to mold the intentional somewhat. And I guess that is where I make that choice. To let go of bitterness is surrender. It is becoming what they want, so they can gather their goodies without unpleasantness (that is how it feels). It is also a soothing balm to the soul if I change my focus. It is the belief theat everything is going to be okay. The idea that I am receiving exactly what I need.

And sometimes I can step back and just think, "Wow," at the richness of my life. I have a large family and many people can't have families. When Christmastime comes and I see parents of one or two kids struggling to get their kids home for Christmas celebrations, I will be quietly sitting in the family room surrounded by people, several of which I MADE, and enjoying their company. I am female which is a blessing when you are insecure and lonely, because someone will always keep you company, at least when you are younger (I don't know what will happen as I age and crone out on everyone, but I can guarantee I will feel it and write about it) if you desire their company. Now that doesn't mean I just picked up random guys for temporary comfort. I am so picky. But the option was there and that was enough. My brain is good enough I can do most of what I want (theoretical physics aside--but do I really want that? Or I am just intrigued by the romanticized idea of that?) and learn from my mistakes. I still struggle with being naive, but that is a choice on my part to believe most people are good and want what is best and want to be moral and fair. My head may know differently, but my heart just doesn't want to believe that. INFP struggles and all. And I have had amazing experiences, good and bad, which have become part of me. Whispers of fallen-leaved Novembers-past swirl through castles steps I have climbed, and past laughing days with friends and joy. Parties I have chatted happily through, quiet forested paths I have walked, the precious agony of birthing new lives and watching a new soul stumble forth, and sea water I have tasted on different sides of the world, and books which have moulded and shaped me-have tempered the pure wailing red-face soul which came into this world raging at the injustices. And I think, well. The loneliness sucks. But all in all, it is a pretty good ride.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad Vibrations

 According to the book I am reading, The Universe has Your Back,
(note: this is an affiliate link, which if you click and purchase can lead to compensation for me)our thoughts influence our feelings, which influence our energy and world and experiences-nothing new right? I mean whether you believe it on the mystical Universal level or whether you just think, "Duh! Happy people bring happy days (and vice versa)," this is probably old news to you right?
But still the past few days have been hard. Part of it is overeating and sugar. It is a vicious, addictive cycle that just has me feeling bad. There have been more treats in the office and once you start, you can't stop. At least I can't. I also keep fizzling out on calorie counting. I am going to have to bring my fitness pal up at work, even though I am terrifed admin is snooping and somehow they will see my weight (because you know, what else are they going to do all day?). But I need to just bring it up and use it.
Also I discovered I am lacking a personal system for completing a part of my job effectively. For the second time in as many weeks, I look really incompetent and stupid. I know this could be fixed by creating a system that works for me (and as soon as I fix the problem, I am going to do that), but I still a bit embarrassed and careless. But the creating a new system is sort of exciting. It's going to be so smooth-running and failproof, this problem will never happen again. And that is a powerful feeling.
But underneath this issue, is a feeling of deep hurt.
And the problem is when you start dwelling on the hurts, even though it is important to acknowledge them, it becomes hard to see past them. And sometimes you may find, you WANT to be stuck. To not be stuck means letting go of  your pride and pride is so so hard to let go of. If you let go, they win. They win. The people who hurt you, win! So you see the trap. So how do you get out of these self-imposed traps? Breathing and affirmations, of course. Prayer. Making the connection to what is bigger than the emotions swirling around in your heart, influencing your brain. And a lot of fortitude. It's hard to let go of things. And they have a way of rising back up under stress. There is this constant need for vigilance and renewal. My brain patterns were formed in negative feelings. Whether it is nature or nurtures fault (and it is probably both. I was probably a ticked-off petty little toddler), the brain tries hard to revert to what it is comfortable with when in stress. You PERSONALLY have to put your hand up and say stop, give yourself a big hug (because you exist and thus deserve it), and make changes. No easy feat. But worth it.

Anyway, I went to pick up the other book I was reading (I have about four going on right now-who knows which I will finish), but only saw this one by my bed, so I picked it up and read a few pages. And then-refreshment.
I had to stop reading because one, whenever I get a little reminder of a truth, I have to write about it, and two, a rainstorm with a bit of thunder struck and scared the two year old.
And then there is that head-shaking shrug, and wonder how one can forget.

I need to make a guidebook, I think. Something with the truths I have gathered which I read through regularly.

So I guess I have two assignments for myself:

System for my work issue
Guidebook for like you know, living

While the work plan won't be shared, as it is rather irrelevant here, once I get the guidebook underway I will share it.

Note this blog contains an affiliate link which can lead to earnings for me to maintain this site.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Twix cookie recipe

I tried out the Twix cookie recipe. First of all, my cute little gingham half-apron did nothing to keep my clothes clean.  Second, sugar and I are not the close friends we used to be.

Here is the recipe link:

Twix cookies

Here is my cute apron:

Rolling and cutting the shortbread cookie base with my daughter and youngest grandbaby, Peter. Ignore the abused cookie sheet. I have little boys who use them for serious experiments and thing, you know.
Finally the cookies 

I didn't get a final picture, because the chocolate was ugly and made a mess. I will say the cookies were okay. But much, much too sweet for me. I literally crashed and had to nap afterwards, and woke with a headache. No more body abuse for me today!

I am not sure I would recommend these. Although they were tasty, the shortbread base was sort of meh, and the caramel chocolate was a sticky gooey mess. Plus they were hard cut and chew. I had something that tasted similar to a twix yesterday, but was made more like bars in a square pan, and I think that is the recipe I would like to find and try. It was softer and easier to eat.

Drink the water: Day One through Seven

Day One:
It is a bit after noon and I am about two glasses of water in (and about six cups of coffee). I feel awful, but I am sure it isn't the water but rather the super sweet twix cookies I made. I am feeling the after sugar drop, headachy and fatigued. I should take better care of myself. As to that the fact that we have been burning of the branches that feel a month or so ago and my hair reeks of smoke (of weed came up in auto fill- pretty sure I didn't poor that in), and I am feeling yucky.
Keep on drinking that water.
Six cups in. My ibuprofen has kicked the headache. Otherwise I feel pretty normal.

Day done. I drank the water. I feel pretty normal. Life hasn't changed yet. On to tomorrow!

Day Two:
On day two I was more comfortable with the water, but only had seven cups. I did drink many cups of coffee, however.

Day Three:
Didn't happen. I think I had a glass or two when I woke up, but it was coffee for the rest of the day.

Day Four:
I just woke up and had two cups. The first went down easy, but I really had to push the second cup down. However, now I am a quarter of the way through my goal, and it is only 4:19 a.m. Yeah, I am not happy about that!

Update: That was it. It was coffee and a glass of wine for the rest of the day. I will have to try harder on day five.

Day Five:
Again two in the morning and about two before bed.

Day Six: I woke up and had my typical two (well, really about 16 ounces in one big glass) galsses of water. It goes down pretty easily in the morning, although I have to force the last half-cup or so. Really, it will be easy today. I usually have about six cups of coffee. I know I should probably get that down to four or less, but it is hard for me to drink water during the work day when I am also drinking so much coffee. I have 90 minute block classes where I simply cannot go to the bathroom, and don't want to struggle through the time. In previous years, my class was closer to the our department office, so I could just call someone on conference to slip in for a minute, but now, I am on the other side of the building and that just isn't an option. Since I am not giving up coffee, it's the water than ends up on the chopping block. A few week's ago, I had a doozy of a UTI, apparently from staph, and boy, that was lots of fun at work! Most of the time when symptoms arise, I can just up my water intake, and it goes away in a day or so. This however, lasted several days, and started on a Monday, so drinking lots of water wasn't happening due to the reasons listed above. But I got meds on that Thursday, when I realized it wasn't getting better, I survived, and I continue down this difficult path of the inconveniences and pains of being a woman. Totally rocking it, right?

Actually I think I am ready for my second two cups. Easy breezy, drinking water on the weekends.

Has it changed my life? Not really. First, I didn't follow it as well as I had planned. Although I hear all sorts of debate on whether coffee hydrates you or not, I do drink a LOT of fluids through coffee. I think I am adequately hydrated anyway, although perhaps the coffee is more acidic to my system than water would be. I think my goal will be to cut back my coffee drinking to four cups. I guess that would be two before work, and getting two when I get to work. It may need to be five. I just really need that pick-me-up after work sometimes.

Water! Water! Drink more water!

Image result for water photographyEveryone everywhere (it seems to me) is saying to drink more water. Apparently drinking water is the cure-all which helps with weightloss, energizes you, and apparently cures cancer (I made that up). I feel frustrated because water is gross. I know, I know. I can add things. I can infuse it with berries and fruits (berries don't last long with my two little ones) and fruit, meh. I would rather just eat my fruit, thank you.

But I am going to try it this week. Since I am a very enthusiastic coffee drinker, I am always in the bathroom anyway, so why not just add some pure H2O to the mix and see what it does. Will I feel better? Will it make a difference? Is it all just placebo effect?

Let's see, shall we?
So starting today, I am going to focus on just the eight-eight ounce glasses. I will update this post on Saturday so we can look at the results!