Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thing #41.   Be a voter.
Voting is part of what makes our country great. Don’t complain about our elected officials if you ignore the opportunity to be part of the process. I know I’m suggesting this just after an election, but I didn’t want to suggest it in the context of something you needed to do in the coming week. I want to encourage you to make it part of your life, that whenever there is an election, you vote. Don’t just vote now and again. Be a voter.

Thing #42.   Save money.
If you stuck $5 in a safe place every week, you’d have $260 by the end of the year. That’s enough to replace your microwave oven. Ten dollars a week could get you some new tires for the car.
Better yet, create an emergency fund. Most experts agree that a good emergency fund should represent three to six months’ worth of household spending. Financial advisor Suze Orman says, “I don’t think it’s asking too much of twentysomethings to have them start building an emergency fund by making automatic deposits from their paycheck or checking account into a savings account.”
Three months’ worth seems like a lot of money, but in this day of frequent unemployment, it’s worth considering.

Thing #43.   Learn to sew a hem.
You shouldn’t have to pay someone to shorten your slacks or skirts. Here’s a great tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMqK-fNrCrM

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Thing #40. Be kinder than necessary.

Be kinder than necessary.

Doug and I came across this phrase recently written in white letters on a small blue billboard at the edge of a tiny Utah town. We looked at each other and smiled. It summarized what brought us to that small town to begin with.

We were on a road trip, driving from Idaho to our home in Colorado, when we saw a man standing on the side of the interstate, waving his arm at passing traffic, asking for help. Without hesitation, my generous, helpful husband slowed the car and pulled over. As we stopped, we saw he had a blown out tire lying on the shoulder next to his small pickup.

I don’t always go for this kind of thing. I’m afraid the person “in need” will turn out to be an ax murderer. But in this case, it was obvious he was in trouble. Besides which, he was not a big person. I figured Doug could take him. Shoot, I could probably take him. But mostly I saw him as someone who genuinely needed the kindness of strangers.

“My tire, it is bad,” he said in heavily accented English. “Where are you going?”

“We’re headed to Ogden,” Doug said.

“Good, that’s good,” the man said.

Doug threw his shredded tire into the trunk, I shifted things a bit in the backseat, and our new friend climbed in.

We learned his name is Gandhi, he lives in a small town in Idaho, and was on his way to Ogden to look for work. He and his wife have three children. We didn’t talk much. His English was pretty good, but my Spanish is muy malTerribles.

We pulled into the nearest town, but it was too small to have a tire store. The woman at the service station told us to try the next town over, and even recommended where to get a good deal.

Pulling into the next town over is when we saw the sign. “Be kinder than necessary.” I probably would have been kind enough to take Gandhi to the tire store. But my husband was kinder than necessary. He suggested we wait while a new tire was mounted on the rim and take him the 50 miles back to his truck. I knew it was the right thing to do. When we got back to the truck, Doug helped him change the tire.

Before we parted, Ghandi invited us to his home for dinner the next time we come to Idaho. We exchanged names and phone numbers. We just might give him a call. He said his wife makes great gorditas.

It added some time to our trip (which was already going to be a good 15 hours), but was the right thing to do. You and I need to be good to each other in this crazy world. So be kind. Kinder than necessary.

For an inspiring story of “unnecessary” kindness, watch this story from CBS Sunday Morning.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Thing #39: Explore!

If I had unlimited resources, I would travel the world (with someone who spoke multiple languages, of course). I love exploring new sites, sounds, tastes . . 
. .
Yet, even as I say that, I have to admit that’s not the way I live. I tend to spend a great deal of my free time at home, watching television, reading, doing chores. The chores are necessary, I suppose, but the TV watching certainly is not.

One of my through-the-window shots of  aspen-covered hills.
My hubby and I recently took a road trip, 900 miles to attend our niece’s wedding. I had so much fun, riding shot gun, reading trivia questions for Doug, shooting photos out the window. It helps that we were driving through the Colorado Rockies at the peak of aspen season, that time of year when the trees turn brilliant gold.

It reminded me of how much is out there to see. So I determined, somewhere on I-70, that I would get out more, see and experience what is in my beautiful back yard.

Thankfully, I have an adventurous friend, Carol. She and I have decided to visit every castle in Colorado. It started when she invited me out for a day of fun last summer. She’s good at instigating things with this homebody. She had a hike in mind, up in Denver. The hike took us to the ruins of a castle and somewhere along the way we decided to visit all the other castles we could get to (some aren’t open to the public). So far, we have checked four off our list. We always have a blast, more because we enjoy each other’s company, but the exploring part is fun, too.

I encourage you to explore your world. There may be a museum in your town that you’ve never visited. Maybe a natural wonder that is a few hours away. Do whatever fits your budget. 

Get out! 



Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thing #38: Create a universal packing list.

As a friend of mine recently said, we don’t make lists to remember things; we make lists so we don’t have to remember things.

I love lists. I make lists of household chores to do every Saturday—not that I accomplish everything. As I said in my first “Thing” post, I make menu plans and use that to create a shopping list. I have a list of things to do at work (both immediate tasks and long-range projects). I have a three-column list for camping prep and packing. That's my favorite list of all time.

Yeah, I love lists.

I like to use a packing list whenever I take a trip. (I started doing this after the trip where I forgot to pack certain daily garments that prompted me to do a sink full of hand washing every evening.) While specifics change depending on the destination, climate, and purpose of the trip, my list helps me remember to pack the important things that must go with me every time. Here’s my list:

--Stop the mail. (We have wonderful neighbors who collect our mail for us when we’re gone.)
--Houseplants. (In the summer, I move them all to our downstairs bathroom so they are less likely to dry up while we gone. If our trip is longer than a week, I impose on those same generous neighbors to help us out.)
--Yard care. (We’ve eliminated much of this, but if something needs tending, our neighbors help us with this, too. I told you they were wonderful.)
--We don’t have pets, but pet care would certainly fit here.
--Take out the trash.
--Close windows.
--Open the dishwasher. (This ensures that I’m not leaving dirty dishes in there while I’m gone. That’s not a good thing. Trust me on this.)
--Care for food in fridge as needed.

--List what is needed for this specific trip.
--Dress clothes. (One time, some of the clothes we needed for a wedding didn’t make the trip, so I added this note as a reminder to pack any special clothes needed.)
--Jammies. (Sleepwear.)
--Dress shoes. (Same idea as dress clothes.)
--Walking shoes.
--Other shoes.

TOILETRIES [this varies depending on if I’m flying or driving]
I keep many of these things packed in a small travel bag, then just add the extras.
--Prescriptions. (I always pack enough for a few extra days, just in case I get stranded in Wyoming.)
--Night guard. (An appliance to keep me from grinding my teeth together.)
--Hair gel.
--Nail file/clippers.
--Bandages and first aid cream.
--Feminine care products.
--Pain relievers.
--Cotton swabs.
--Make up bag. (Keeping in mind the limitations of air travel.)
--Hair dryer. (Most hotels provide these nowadays.)
--Curling iron.
--Hair pick.

--Reading material..
--Cords for
·        Phone
·        Computer
·        Nook
--Games. (At least a deck of cards.)
--Driving directions/maps.
--Flight itineraries.
--Water bottle. (Pack it empty for plane trips and fill it after you go through security.)

Here’s a more exhaustive list from world traveler Rick Steves: https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/packing-light/ricks-packing-list

What else is on your list?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Things #32-37 Quick Tips

I better get on the ball of I’m going to complete 52 things this year! Here are half a dozen things that require very little commentary.

32.   Sit outside. Listen to the birds, breathe the fresh air. While you can, my friends. Winter is not far away.

33.   Add a ribbon to a bracelet to make a necklace. I have a charm bracelet from my teen years that sat unworn in my jewelry box for years. It was simply too cumbersome to wear on my wrist, especially when working on a computer, as I am known to do. When I saw this idea in a magazine, my charm bracelet was reborn. I've even added several new charms in recent years.

My charm bracelet became a charm necklace with the addition of a ribbon.

34.   Keep a box in your trunk to wrangle groceries and other roly-poly things.

35.   Put a terra-cotta dish in your brown sugar. You’ve probably seen the cute terra-cotta discs that keep your sugar soft. You can do the same thing with a 32-cent dish from the plant section of your local hardware store. Soak the dish in water for several hours, then put it in a sealed container with your brown sugar. Keeps it nice and soft.

36.   Use a slice of bread to soften cookies. If your cookies or brownies turned out a little crispier than you’d hoped, put them in a sealed container with a slice of bread. The bread hardens, the cookies soften. It’s like magic!  

37.   Keep a towel in the car to cover your clothes when you eat in the car. Because you don’t want to go back to work with ketchup on your shirt.

There! All caught up!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Thing #31. Never assume.

Never assume. This is a principle I learned from my journalism prof. If you failed to clarify the response to an interview question, don’t assume you know what he meant. Go back to the source and get all the information you need. Never assume.

It’s a motto that well serves the news business. But in recent years I’ve realized how much we need to apply this to each other as human beings.

It’s easy to assume the mom speaking a little too harshly to her children in the grocery store is simply a bad mother. But we don’t know that for sure. She may very well have been up all night with a sick child—as a good mother would—and is exhausted.

We can’t assume that every overweight person we see is unable to control their appetite. (There are lots of reasons people gain weight; overeating is just one of them.)

We can’t assume that the new employee who passed us in the hall without a hello is a snob. (She could be shy or distracted or worried.)

We can’t assume people who appear happy on the outside aren’t miserable on the inside. (Do I need to explain this one?)

We can’t assume that every homeless person we pass on the street is an uneducated drug addict.
(Their stories may surprise you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THxtcWNw3QA)

Reserve judgment until you know the whole story. And if you can’t know the whole story, don’t judge.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Thing #30. Embrace the cloud.

I don’t pretend to fully understand what is meant by “the cloud,” but it has something to do with the great big world of interconnected computers. At least one element of the cloud the idea of storing things where everybody can access them. Sites like Instagram and Dropbox are part of the cloud, for example.

Our family is starting to make use of this idea by keeping certain documents (like spreadsheets, photos, recipes) in Google Drive. It’s especially nice when one member of the family lives in a faraway place like, say, MISSOURI. When the faraway family member wants her favorite recipe, the holder of the recipe can upload the recipe to the cloud. The family member living far away (with a smart phone) can even access the recipe in the grocery store. That is the genius of the cloud.

We’ve started putting photos there, too. It’s so much easier than making prints, or even emailing a photo, because it keeps all the photos in one place.

So, as your family members spread to the corners of the earth, consider sharing documents in the cloud.

Here’s one of my favorite recipes to get you started. It was easy for me to find. It was in the cloud.

(By the way, the proper expression is "in the cloud" not "on the cloud." A techie at work very kindly corrected me on that. On the cloud sounded pretty comfy to me.) 

Zucchini Bread
from Becky Grosenbach

3 eggs
2 c sugar
1 c oil
1 T vanilla
2 c peeled, coarsely grated, loosely packed zucchini
2 c flour
1 t salt
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1 T cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
1⁄4 t cloves
1 c chopped nuts
1⁄2 c raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large mixing bowl, beat eggs until frothy. Add sugar, oil, and vanilla to
eggs and beat until thick. Stir in zucchini.

Sift together dry ingredients and add to zucchini mixture; mix well. Stir in nuts (and raisins).

Pour into two greased and lightly floured 9x5x3-inch bread pans. Bake one hour or until toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean. Freezes well.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Thing #29. Live in awe.

The world is a wonderful place. Amazing, astounding, awe-inspiring. But it is possible to lose sight of that when life gets tough. When humanity expresses its ugly side, when men and women are hateful and cruel. Especially at those times, we need to be very intentional about seeing the wonder all around us.

One thing you could do is select a particular something that inspires you and collect all kinds of info on that thing. Then you can call those things to mind when you need to reroute your train of thought.

Maybe you’re inspired by flowers. Or mountains. Or broccoli. Okay, maybe not broccoli.

But how about elephants?

Yes, I have a fondness for the grand beast known as elephantidae.

Did you know--
  • Calves rely on their mothers for as long as three years.
  • Elephants can live up to 70 years in the wild.
  • They communicate by touch, sight, smell, and sound. Elephants use infrasound, and seismic communication over long distances.

And they’re adorable when they sneeze: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtIz1u8g1F0


By noticing little snippets about elephants here and there, I have increased my sense of wonder about these grand beasts and their Creator. It’s like collecting tea cups or bookmarks, only I’m collecting information, facts that increase my sense of awe for our planet.

So try it. Try to live with a sense of awe about creation, and the magnificent God behind it all.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Thing 27.   Keep a folder called “How To” on your computer at work and at home.
For most of us, repetition is a good teacher. But how can we remember how to do those tasks we only do once in a while? My suggestion: Write it down, and keep it in a file on your computer/tablet/phone. Or a paper file of some kind.

I have such a file on my computer at work. Inside 
are instructions for how to find a specific document on a shared computer drive, how to restore a deleted file, how to do certain tasks on a project management system, how to change default settings on my computer. The instructions are very basic: “Click here.” “Select this.” That way I don’t have to ask Randy (our department answer man) every single time I want to do one of these tasks. (Though Randy is kind and gracious every single time I ask for his help.)

Thing #28.   Carry a notebook or electronic tablet for keeping track of ideas.
I used to carry a notebook in my purse with my calendar, address lists, family information, and a tab for “ideas.” I’d jot down ideas for articles, projects, gifts, trips, organization—any fun idea I didn’t want to forget.

I’ve since converted to an electronic version of my notebook, and I confess I miss the paper, pen, colorful tabs…. Stickers don’t work nearly as well on my Nook. But the advantages of the electronic device outweigh the tactile pleasures of my old notebook. I think I have even more notes now, some of them tucked away under a password protected program.

Some people prefer to dictate their ideas into a recording device. I heard a comedian once who said he used to keep a note pad and paper on his night stand so when he’d wake up in the middle of the night with an idea for a joke, he could jot it down. The only problem was, when he tried to write things down he was only half awake; his penmanship was illegible. So he switched to a recording device.

One night he put it to the test. He woke up in the wee hours and recorded his idea. The next morning, full of anticipation, he played it back. He heard, “Sm hmm wana blah mm mm. . . . “ Just as unintelligible as his pen and paper attempt.

So whether it’s paper or electronic, I encourage you to carry around a notebook to keep track of all your creative and original ideas. And then write about your best ideas in a blog!

Great idea, huh? Glad I wrote it down.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

In honor of Independence Day, here's a patriotic story from my book, Flying Cheese
(I don't know why the link isn't working here's the url: http://www.amazon.com/Flying-Cheese-Stories-Ordinary-Volume/dp/1480262773)

Happy Fourth, everyone!
Mary Pickersgill's Flag
Pickersgill. It’s an unusual name. Unusual, but fitting, for Mary Pickersgill was given an unusual task.
In the midst of The War of 1812 between the British and the Americans, Mary Pickersgill, a widowed Baltimore flag maker, was asked to sew a flag. But not just an ordinary flag. Major George Armistead wanted a big flag, a very big flag, to fly over Fort McHenry at the entrance to Baltimore Harbor. So Mary and her 13-year-old daughter, Caroline, spent weeks in the summer of 1813 assembling a flag measuring 30 feet by 42 feet. That's as big as almost 30 ping pong tables.
By September of 1814, the British had burned Washington, D.C., and were bombing Fort McHenry from land and sea. An American attorney was watching the battle from aboard a British ship, having just negotiated the release of an elderly physician who had been taken captive. The battle continued into the night until the British abandoned the attack, judging it would be too costly to complete the task. As the smoke cleared and the sun rose, this attorney saw Mary Pickersgill's flag flying over Fort McHenry. He was inspired to write these words:
Oh, say can you see,
By the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilights' last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
Yes, Mary Pickersgill's flag became known as the Star Spangled Banner. The flag survives to this day and hangs in the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History. Mary Pickersgill's home has been converted into a museum called Flag House.
Pickersgill. It is an unusual name. But it's a name forever linked with The Star Spangled Banner, an unforgettable flag.
 Source: Honor Our Flag, David Singleton, The Globe Pequot Press, 2002

 (c) Rebecca K. Grosenbach

Monday, June 30, 2014

Things #24-26. Purses.
Of course I have to say something about purses. There are two—count ‘em, two—chapters in my book about purses. For some women it’s shoes; for me, it’s purses.

Sorry, you non-purse-carriers out there. Check back later for some tips that apply to you.

Thing #24. Carry a medicine bag in your purse.
This is a little tip I learned from my bestie, Ruth. She’s very organized. Years ago I observed that she had a little zippered bag in her purse that kept all the little bits and pieces rounded up—medicine bottles, nail clippers, nail file . . . . I adopted the practice. My little zippered bag, a bit smaller than my hand, also holds a mini sewing kit, a tiny bottle of lotion. And something deserving of its very own “thing.”

Thing #25. Keep a tape measure in your purse.
Yes, my little purse pouch holds a tape measure. It comes in handy. You never have to wonder if that side table at the garage sale is going to fit in the little nook in your living room (provided you’ve already measured the nook in your living room). I’ve also pulled out the tape measure at work—will that bookcase fit in that corner?

Thing #26. Keep a flashlight on your key ring or in your purse.
Yes, I have a flashlight in my purse, too. Ever tried to read a program in a dimly lit auditorium (before the concert, of course)? I’ve even pulled it out in a dark restaurant. Most people have this option on their phone, but I don’t get much light from my phone, so a little flashlight is just the ticket.

Besides, without a flashlight, how am I going to find anything in my purse?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Thing #22. Store your shirts on their sides so you can see them all at once.
I saw this idea online several months ago and decided to give it a try. I really like it. It’s so much easier to find what I’m looking for, or to look at all my shirts at once to decide what to wear. My shirts do come out a bit wrinkled, but I think they did when I stacked them on top of each other, too.

Which brings me to my next “thing.”

Thing #23. Spray clothes with water to get rid of wrinkles.
I do this just about every day before I get dressed.  I pull something out of my closet or a drawer and discover a few wrinkles or a crease. I put the garment on a padded hanger, spray the wrinkles, and do whatever else I need to do to get ready other than putting on that piece of clothing. I’m sure this works because of the kind of fabric I tend to wear and the fact that I live in a very dry place (Colorado), but give it a go and see how it works for you. Some fabrics don’t like water, so test a hidden area first to be sure you don’t leave water spots on your clothes. 

This tip is especially helpful when traveling. I’ve tried various methods of folding clothes in a suitcase—including rolling rather than folding—and things still seem to come out wrinkled. So now, when I arrive at my motel (or friend’s house), I take out all my clothes, hang them up (if possible) and give them all a spray. (I pack an empty spray bottle and fill it with water at my destination.) Wrinkles are usually gone the next morning.

You’re welcome.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Things 17-21: Weight Control
I have a constant battle with my weight. I'm always a little heavier than I should be.  I tend to binge on sweets and the pounds creep on. But I have learned a few things that help take the weight off, and help me maintain my weight in between holidays.

Thing #17. Drink water.
On a very basic level, water fills you up so you eat less. But there are other advantages that have little to do with weight control. According to WebMD, drinking water helps maintain the balance of body fluids (our bodies are 60 percent water, don’t you know), helps energize your muscles, and helps your kidneys function properly.

Thing #18. Eat an apple a day.
It keeps the doctor away and all that. But it’s also high in fiber, so it fills you up.

Thing #19. Make a large salad and eat on it for several days.
 I enjoy salad, but it takes so much effort to put together. But if there is a large bowl of salad already made, I’ll grab some for lunch, or make it a large part of my dinner. You may prefer to have several dishes of different salad ingredients ready to go rather than having it all tossed together. Either way is a huge time saver and will encourage you to eat more fresh veggies.

Thing #20. Eat vegetables only for one meal a day—salad, or steamed.
Very similar to tip #19, this tip encourages you to make veggies your entire meal once a day—or more. Or set aside one day a week to eat only veggies. Stick to low starch veggies to get the best weight loss benefit. (I have to be careful not to overdo the corn, peas, and lima beans. I love them all.)

Thing #21. Make a small change.
If you need to adjust your eating habits—or any other habit—decide on one thing you can do this week that will send you in the right direction. Then next week, or maybe the week after, make another change. Don’t try to fix everything all at one.

What will be your healthy eating change for this week?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

      Thing #14. Alphabetize your DVDs.

This makes me sound like I’m super organized. I’m not. Ask my family. My house is always in some state of messy. When the kids were young, if they caught me cleaning house they’d ask who was coming over.

But I alphabetize our DVDs. I like it that way. It makes it so much easier to locate a particular movie. Yes, I need to shift things when we get a new movie, but it doesn’t take that long. Leave some space here and there so you have room for new movies.

Thing #15. If you have a big project to tackle, start by giving it ten minutes.
For me, getting started on a big project is often the most difficult part. I’m lazy, I’m easily overwhelmed, so I delay starting a tough job. But then, I’ll tell myself I only have to spend 10 minutes on it. Just 10 minutes. And after 10 minutes I’m usually on a roll and make some serious headway. I’m not sure how this works, because I know I'm only tricking myself. Somebody psychoanalyze me, okay?

     Thing #16.  If you are anticipating an activity with a lot of walking, don’t be afraid to wear good walking shoes, even if they’re less fashionable. Fashion is less important than your health.
I hope this doesn’t gross you out, but I once wore cute but ill-fitting shoes for a work project that required a lot of walking and it messed up my big toe nail. Permanently. It isn’t horribly disfigured, hardly noticeable. It just sits at a rather odd angle. But it was pretty stupid of me to opt for the cute shoes and mess up my toe.

And shoes aren't the only issue. Vanity once persuaded me to forgo a hat in winter. I got an ear infection.

So next time you're choosing between fashion and health, go for health.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Thing #13

       Thing #13. Learn to do something with your hands, like knit or crochet, so you can be productive while watching television or waiting at appointments.

I learned to knit and crochet as a teenager. I’ve never mastered the ability to follow a pattern—I think it requires a mathematical brain, which I lack—but I’ve made a great number of scarves and blankets in my day. My mother-in-law taught me a simple crochet pattern—slanted shell—that I use for most things. She’s made afghans for all of her children and grandchildren, and many, many other people.

I’ve also learned a few things off the internet—granny squares and a very pretty scalloped edge stitch, for example.

What I like about crocheting is it’s something easy that can occupy those idle moments when I’m watching TV or waiting at an appointment. I am able to be productive. And the things I make become special hand-made gifts. If you master following a pattern you can make sweaters, bags, hats, socks. My sister Jeanette even makes stuffed animals.

My friend Liz (pictured) is never far from her knitting needles. In this photo she’s finishing up an amazing cowl scarf while I’m starting a new baby afghan during a movie marathon at her daughter’s home. Fun times.

Another nice thing that can come from a hobby like this is the opportunity to build relationships with others who share this interest. I have friends who are in knitting clubs. And learning a new stitch from a friend—or a mother-in-law—creates special memories.

So give it a go. You’ll never watch movies at home the same way again.

Here's a recent project for my friend's baby. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Thing #12

businesses,businesspeople,ideas,light bulbs,metaphors,persons,women

Thing #12: Speak up.

This is a lesson I have spent most of my lifetime learning, and I can’t say I’ve mastered it. I am often hesitant to say what is on my mind. I don’t know if my opinions are worthwhile, if my ideas sound smart.

You see, I’ve never thought of myself as an especially bright person. I was a “B” student in a household of “A” students. Even my best friends were on the honor roll. But, over time, I’ve come to understand that it’s only in certain areas where I’m not as bright as others. In other areas, I’m very smart.

Especially at work. I work in communications, and I have learned a thing or two over the last 30 years, so I am getting better about speaking up in discussions. It also helped hearing a co-worker once tell me she liked it when I spoke up.

I’ve also learned that sometimes there needs to be one person to voice a differing opinion in order for other people to say “Yeah, me, too.”

I heard of a situation recently where the board of directors of a company made a controversial policy shift and when that policy was made public, it was, shall we say, not well received. They quickly reconvened and reversed their decision. It came out in those subsequent discussions that some of the board members had never been comfortable with the original decision—but they never said anything.

So, my friends, trust yourself. Speak up. Take the risk. Sometimes you’ll be shot down, but other times you’ll hear those lovely words, “Yeah, me, too.”

Let me leave you with the words of Christopher Robin, speaking to one of my favorite characters, Winnie-the-Pooh, “A Bear of Very Little Brain.”

You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Thing #11

1.        Thing #11.  To remember a joke, tell it to someone else as soon as you can. And then tell it again.

I heard a good joke on the radio this morning on my way to work.

        Did you hear about the two antennas that got married?
       The wedding wasn’t much but the reception was great.

I didn’t want to forget it, so I repeated it to Abby, who was driving me to work. She’d heard it, too, of course, but I wanted to repeat it so I could remember it.

A couple hours later, one of the older gentlemen in our organization came by my department. He’s well-known—and loved—for his cache of funnies. I told him the joke and he gave a hearty laugh. Then he told me one in return.

                A mother went to wake her son one Sunday morning for church and he told her, “I don’t want to go to church today.”
                “Why not?” the mother asked.
                “Nobody there likes me.”
                “Well, I’ll give you three good reasons why you should go.”
                “Okay,” he said.
                “One, it’s Sunday. Two, it’s good for you. And three, you’re the pastor.”

We had such fun swapping jokes. I’m so glad I had one at the ready.

To remember a joke, tell it to someone else as soon as you can. And then tell it again.

Did you hear about the two antennas that got married?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Thing #10

Thing #10. Memorize a few good questions to serve as conversation starters when meeting new people.

From time to time, we’re all in situations that require us to chat with someone we don’t know. It’s helpful to have a few standard questions in mind to get things rolling. Here are some suggestions:

·         What do you like to do in your spare time?
   o   How did you get started doing that?
·         What do you do for a living?
     o   What would be your dream job?
·         How long have you lived here?
      o   What is the most interesting place you’ve lived?
·         Do you have family in the area?
      o   Where does most of your family live?
·         What is your connection to [whatever created the circumstances for meeting the person-- the event, the party host, the company hosting the event,. . . .]
·         Ask the person you’re chatting with the question she just asked you. (If she asks you to name your favorite movie, ask her what her favorite is.)

What are your favorite conversation starters?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Thing #9

Thing #9. Write someone a letter.

Yes, a letter. A hand-written, on paper, fold-it-up-and-put-a-stamp-on-it letter. Or a card. Cards are good.

Letters mean more than they ever did. Email, texting, and phone calling are easier, quicker, and more efficient. But a letter. A letter has meaning and value.

business,contracts,documents,fountain pens,inks,men,office supplies,paperwork,people,signings,implements,writings,academicMy mother was a good letter writer. While I attended college 400 miles away from home, I received a letter from my mother every Wednesday. As I read each one, I pictured her sitting at the kitchen counter on a Monday morning, recounting what happened the week before, anticipating what lay ahead. It was never anything particularly profound, but the fact that she wrote me every week reminded me I was loved and missed.

That’s the value of a letter. It says that you cared enough to stop what you were doing for more than 30 seconds and think about what you could say to someone to brighten their day, to let them know you care, to remind them they’re loved and missed.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Thing #8

Thing #8. Use your cell phone for personal reminders.

This is really a tip from my hubby. For years, Doug has put reminders in his cell phone using the calendar feature—doctor’s appointments, people’s birthdays, . . . .  He’d say, “I put it in my phone” so often that it almost became annoying. But then I tried it. I wanted to remember to put the trash out every Wednesday, so I put a recurring event in my phone’s calendar. Now, every Wednesday at 7:00 a.m. I get a buzzing reminder from my phone. Before long I was hooked, setting reminders to bring snacks to work, to buy tickets to a concert, or to make a phone call.

Sometimes, the mere act of entering the item into my phone sears it onto my memory banks and I remember without any prompting. But quite often, the reminder is a critical trigger to getting something done.

I've been known to use the reminder feature for something that is less than an hour away. If I need to leave work early to pick up Eric from school, for example, I’ll put a reminder in my phone. It’s easy for me to get involved in a project and lose track of time.

So if you have trouble remembering to do things, use the little alarm clock you carry around in your pocket. Works like a charm.

I remembered to post this, didn’t I?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Thing #7

Thing #7: Learn to use your slow cooker. It saves time and money.

This seemed like an appropriate tip for this week because Hubby’s office had a soup day, for which he used our slow cooker, and my place of employment had a “Crock Pot®-luck.” We had 30 slow cookers lined up with everything from soup to nuts. There was pulled pork, baked potatoes, mac ‘n cheese, chicken wings, something called Chicken Tagine (which was super delicious, thank you, Sydne), pineapple upside down cake, and my contribution: corn pudding. Very fattening, and delicious. Corn, corn bread mix, sour cream, butter. You get the idea.

The slow cooker makes my life easy. Throw everything in, turn on the cooker, and you’re done. Quite often I throw in frozen meat, and it always turns out great. My favorite thing to slow cook is soup, and if my recipes weren’t in a book I’d share them with you. (I don’t want to violate anybody’s copyrights.) But I do have some good websites to share:

  • stephanieodea.com A creative young blogger named Stephanie O’Dea tried a new slow cooker recipe every day for a year and has a cookbook to show for it. Her site has lots of recipes and tips. She’s really funny and uses lots of photos. My kind of gal.  http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/

One more note: A lot of these recipes call for chicken breast, and I always substitute chicken thighs. I prefer the juicier meat of the thigh and am happier to spend less money. Yes, there is a bone in a chicken thigh, but it’s a [as in singular] bone, people. Not that hard.

I know some of you are thinking, “I’m just one person. Slow cookers aren’t practical for me.” Super Slow Cooker Stephanie O’Dae offers this suggestion: Cook a smaller portion in a dish placed inside your slow cooker. She says, “Insert an oven-safe dish into your cooker and then put your food into the dish. This will create a smaller cooking vessel which will insulate your food and keep it from getting over-cooked or lost in a huge machine.”

Besides, leftovers are a good thing, yes? Or invite my family over. Problem solved.

So pull out that slow cooker in the morning, dinner’s done by five. Let’s eat!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thing #6

        Thing #6.  Do it while you can.

There are likely a few things you’ve been meaning to do. Not those “I-can-do-it-anytime” things, but those “someday-I- will” things.  Take a road trip. Look up an old friend.  Record your grandmother’s stories. Let me encourage you—do it now, while you can.

I lost an opportunity by waiting too long.

I work for a Christian organization and hear stories of people who pour their lives out for the good of others. One woman from our organization lived just an hour from me and every time I’d read about her it made me want to meet her.  She was able to talk about Jesus easily, naturally, everywhere she went. She befriended women of all ages. She wrote books, she spoke at conferences.

She sounds so cool, I’d often say to myself. I should invite her to come speak to a group of women from my church. Yeah, I should do that. I will. Someday.

But after a couple years of somedays, I heard of her sudden death and realized my opportunity was gone.

I wasn't going to make that mistake again.

Around that time, I interviewed another person who had been with our organization a long time, a popular writer and speaker.  One of my pastors greatly admired this writer, and I realized I might be able to get the two together.  I thought the writer would likely come over for dinner if his schedule allowed.  So I asked.  He and his wife came over for dinner, along with my pastor and his wife, and we all had a night to remember.

I was so glad I didn’t wait for someday.

What is it you’ve been meaning to do? Go ahead--do it. Don’t put it off.

One thing I think we all should do is capture our family stories. Here’s a website with some good questions to ask your parents, grandparents, your aunt and uncle.

Make a call, pay a visit. Do it.  While you can.