Fried Chicken & A Clear Mind

13 Apr

“Frying chicken just tends to make you feel better about life.” – Minny Jackson, The Help

I love this quote. It’s a frequent line in my internal monologue ¬†(voice in my head). I can’t think of a time when I’ve ever actually fried chicken, though I’ve watched my mother do it at least a hundred times. Just writing that evokes the smell that would linger in our house for at least a day and the popping sound of the grease. The point, I think, is that certain predictable acts are comforting, especially during chaotic, stressful or uncertain times.

For me, one of these tasks is cleaning- tidying and organizing our home. I know. That sounds awful right? It’s not that I love cleaning, rearranging and tossing, but it’s somehow comforting and productive to me. The act has become a necessary part of my routine, especially since I work out of our home. I’ve found that starting the week with a tidy house (not white-glove test clean by any means) puts me in the mindset to be productive and gives me a sense of preparedness. After tackling even 30 minutes of the chore, I can see progress. Tidying is visible. It’s positive. It’s productive. Then, as a result, so am I in that space.

In Manage Your Day-To-Day, part of the 99U book series, several of the wildly successful creatives who contributed to the content mention the importance of organization, both in the physical and mental senses. When the metaphorical or literal piles of stuff are removed, we can focus on the task at hand without distraction.

Photo from Elise & Emma's blog, which inspires my need to organize.

Photo from Elise & Emma’s blog, which inspires my need to organize.

Whether it’s preparing for a week of plentiful and important work, mulling over one of the never-ending stream of tricky situations I am called to handle as a nonprofit board leader, considering a major or minor decision, or trying to make sense of disappointment or frustration, controlling my immediate environment- my home- (a little) gives me comfort.

My former boss and mentor used to spend time in her garden when she got stressed or faced something tough. Once I learned this, the amount of dirt under her fingernails became my method for getting a pulse on the organization!

I hope this sparks your thinking about your own version of frying chicken. Doing something so routine provides time for prayerful reflection (IMO, the real cause of the clarity and strength that seems to result from the task!)

Whatever it is- sewing, baking, running, playing with your kids, watching The Breakfast Club– I hope you acknowledge why it works, and allow yourself to do it as often as you need it. The “thing” you do is your own methodical way of managing your situation and clearing your mind.

Go ahead. Fry the chicken. Then watch the power of your creativity as it’s unleashed ūüôā

 

Looking for Lessons

19 Mar

“I cannot be trusted with almond butter.” -me

I try to learn. I make a conscious effort to reflect on my behavior, as well as that of others so I can learn something from it. Often times, this ends up being a self-assessment; I know immediately that I should have reacted differently, used more careful words or just listened rather than speaking. When I am with someone who wows me- either because of their success or charisma- I try to learn from them, too. I enjoy being around people who posses the traits I want to have when I “grow up”.¬†They make me want to better myself. Much to the chagrin of my family and husband sometimes, I’m always striving for more.

As I approach the end of hump day, I can say that I didn’t go looking for this week’s lessons. They found me. Or rather, they blindsided me. An issue that arose among members of a board over which I preside had me fuming Monday evening. (I take this work way too personal.) I don’t know if I spent more time that night thinking of how to handle it or pretending not to be awake and on my phone in bed every time my husband rolled over. Of course, the next morning I had a clearer perspective on the issue and realized it wasn’t remotely close to the end of the world. I handled it like a rational human being (pats self on back). I listened to each person express their feelings, validated how they felt (without casting blame) and pointed out ways to improve the process.

Dealing with the dynamics of board members varied backgrounds, ages and abilities is hard. Really hard. Not to mention all the responsibility that just goes with being the unpaid leader of a nonprofit in the eyes of the IRS and rest of the world. I don’t feel grown up enough for that job 99.9% of the time. But rarely are we already prepared for the opportunities that present themselves to us. We have to learn as we go. We have to look for the lessons.

Today, on a lighter note, was a different kind of ¬†learning opp in my paid job. It was actually a huge mental victory, which had me fist pumping on the way home from a great meeting with a donor with a big heart. It was validating that my weekends spent listening to online lectures and reading about the taxation of gifts through the CAP program¬†are worthwhile. In short, it was a “yay me” moment. ¬†The lesson ? Trust the process.

Tonight, I’ll leave you with a lesson that I’ve been learning and relearning ever since I began to explore clean eating¬†six months ago: I cannot be trusted with almond butter. A new jar, a spoon and I cannot be in the same room. While this sweet delicacy is a great alternative to the gunk found in traditional peanut butter, it’s not meant to be consumed in the quantities in which I want to consume it.

But I just keep trying.

 

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So It Begins…Again

17 Mar

This message has smacked me in the head repeatedly in clever ways over the past few weeks. I guess I can’t yet wrap my head around the purpose for getting back to blogging, or why I have stayed up ’til 11:00PM updating this site. But I’m here and I have stuff to say. So keep your ears perked because after I get some sleep, look back over everything tomorrow night and find the typos, I’m going to say some stuff. And it will feel good. And you might need to hear it. Or maybe you’ll just find it entertaining.

At a minimum, I know my friends and possibly only followers Wes, Emily and Courtney will find news of a new post in their email tomorrow, after a 2 year hiatus, and be delighted. They may even mutter a curse word. So it’s worth it.

I showed up. That’s step one, right?

He Got To The Other Side

25 Apr

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Yes, oh yes. I couldn’t whip my phone out fast enough to snap this golden nugget. A chicken crossing the road, to get to the other side, while making appropriate use of a crosswalk, mind you. Sadly, this may have completed my trip to Key West.

I hope you enjoy this a tenth as much as I did.

PS- He made it safely to the other side.

10 Tickets to Paradise

22 Apr

Sunset View In Key WestLast week, my husband and I joined 8 of his family members on the island of Key West.  This was our first vacation since we got married almost 3 years ago. Neither of us had been to Key West before.  We had such a good time- ate great food, enjoyed a maragarita (or 7),  lost track of time, stayed up late, took in the sites, and came back with a rather bronze hue on our Anglo Saxon skin.

If you’ve never been before, I would strongly recoomend a trip to Key West….but not for 8 days.¬† The human body is not supposed to live that lifestyle for such a long period of time.¬† Plus, the island is only 1 mile wide by 4 miles long, so it’s pretty easy to see it all in a few days. Regardless, it was absolutely wonderful.¬† It was¬†cathartic for both¬†of us worker bees¬†to get physically¬†away from all things work-related for so long. The sand, sun, and memories made with family helped give us some perspective.

One thing I wish I would have known about this island paradise before traveling there is the chickens.¬† Chickens are everywhere and roam the streets like pigeons do in other cities.¬† They also start cockadoodledo-ing at around 5am every morning.¬† The first morning, it was kinda cool. The second morning, I wanted to march into the street in my pj’s and give them all a stern talking to.¬† By the third and fourth mornings, I was plotting terrible things for anything that so much gave a hint of a doodle-do.¬† Since we don’t do too¬†many exciting things,¬†I have to¬†ration my fun among as many posts¬†as possible. With that in mind, I’ll post a particularly hilarious¬†chicken pic tomorrow.

It’s hard to do justice to the time we spent with family on vacation, so I thought I would share a few pics to help explain.

Living the Dream  Phil caught this nurse shark- no joke! 

Focus

12 Apr

I have thought about this blog 15 times for every one time I’ve posted in the last 6 months. I know I need this space, but I’m just not sure why. I am a born communicator. I have a million thoughts a day- jokes that sometimes people don’t get, brief spurs of brilliance that leave my coworkers speechless, and moments of hilarity (i think) that a hidden camera should have captured. But I need to blog, and my blog needs a focus.

I am inspired by my friend Emily’s new blog which explains her sometimes unseen struggles with life as an adult with Type 1 Diabetes. It’s called Darn You Pancreas(Pats self on back for helping her think of that clever name.)

I’ve know Emily almost my whole life- through the diagnosis at age 6, through the birthday parties where she had to go without cake, through the highs and lows (literally) and through the independence she found in a special pump. Yet, I’m sure I still take her disease for granted.

I’m inspired by her willingness to share about such a big part of her life in hopes of helping others.

I’m not sure I’ll make a big of an impact with my words as you will, Em, but you have sure inspired me to give it a whirl.

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Here’s a pic of the two of us on the biggest day of my life, which Emily of course, was a part of.

Know how I know we’re lame?

9 Jan

Because this is one of the highlights of my night. Seriously, if one of us is not working late or at a meeting for a volunteer group (ok, that’s always me), then our evening usually consists of a few chores, catching up on our days, a trip to the gym and enjoying the shenanigans of our dog.

Speaking of his shenanigans. tonight while my husband tried to relax and stretch out on the floor (we have furniture, I swear), JJ decided to lick his bald head incessantly. He was
really getting after it. In guessing there was 20 lbs. of pressure pushing on Phil’s sweaty head. And instead of helping, I just giggled like a child.

So for all of you who have demanded more blog posting. Take some solace in the fact that this is the type of excitement you are missing.

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