Monday, October 5, 2015

Working to Embrace a Slower Pace

There is so much going on in our world today that seems so far away from real life. I understand that real is relative and perception is reality, but with all the technology, immediate gratification, a super fast way of life and mega stimulation, life is getting away from us. It just seems so far removed from a time where we grew our own food, cooked at home, kids played outside without a parents fear of them being did we get here?

Our society has seen dramatic increases in mental illnesses and medicating adults and children alike with prescriptions that alter who we are as beings. We have become so politically correct, it is nearly a crime to say what you see, certainly if you are not cited, you are absolutely judged. All the gadgets and technology that were touted as the answers to our problems, that were suppose to make our lives easier are ultimately hurting us. Social media has opened the floodgates to reuniting people and allowing people who we would have not otherwise had an opportunity to meet to become "friends." The stress and pressure of maintaining so many relationships is just too much. I'm not saying this is all bad, what I am saying is we may all have too much on our plates. At some point, we have to make a choice about what is most important to us and unplug from all the rest.

When I want to speak up and share my opinions on big issues like gun control or immigration, I'm stalled. I'm finding that I get stuck in what feels like a spider web sticking to me from all sides. What will he/she think? Say? What will the reaction be? Will my truth be seen as more or less serious than I see it? Will a dialogue be had or will judgment be cast without understanding? If judgment is cast, what will that mean? Will I lose my power if I'm perceived as weak or broken, say in the workplace? All of this is plain and simple fear, but at what point is fear healthy and sane? It's easy to advise someone else that no matter what the fallout might be, that honesty is the best policy. Would you tell your boss you had a prescription drug addiction or even that you were on medication that is controversial? Ultimately I ask myself, does my opinion really matter? Sure, it may be that I want to engage as I find these conversations stimulating, but in the end, I typically skip it - it really isn't that important.

The trouble with the truth is it can be dangerous. This all goes back to what I said a number of years ago about public persona versus what's real. Is it better to simply deal with what is real and do what you can to make right what is wrong - getting really honest personally? Seeking help and confiding in trusted sources may be better than opening Pandora's box for the world to see. From my perspective, once the world sees it, each person is forced to do something with it...from simply dismissing the knowledge (who cares?) to being rocked with fear not knowing what will happen next (something ones young children might feel). I suppose it all depends on what needs confronting and only the individual person can decide what the right thing to do is. I'm feeling that getting honest is a good thing, but doing it in a responsible way is equally important. Addressing issues with only the people who need to be involved and working to feel less fear and shame is really the goal anyone who wants to come clean is looking for, don't you think? I really do want to know what you think of this topic.

In the meantime I am working to embrace a slower pace, to spend more time unplugged with Dave and Mason and our friends in close proximity to where we live. Yes, I want to see all of you  who don't live near me, but again, focusing on the here and now. 

I'm feeling like we all need to embrace a slower pace, look around at where you are right not and enjoy it. If you are at work at a job you dislike, enjoy that you are employed. If you are at school dreading a test, enjoy that you are getting your education. I bet wherever you are and whatever you are doing, there is something there that is worthwhile, just look and see if you can find it. Happy Monday!

Monday, September 28, 2015

After a Rough Week

This last week was a doozie! I muddled through my week with a nagging tension headache that wound't respond to any amount of Tylenol or Motrin. On Friday night all that headachy nonsense culminated in what appeared to be an anxiety attack. Talk about crazy! I've known people who suffer with this kind of condition on a regular basis and I simply can not fathom that. In any case, I am fine but losing a number of days of full productivity will have me playing catch up all week. So off I go, I have homework to do, work work to do, house work to do and any number of other to do things to do.

Monday, September 21, 2015

I Love Texas!

Happy "almost" first day of fall! Yeah, it's not until Wednesday the 23rd, but I'm celebrating now. I love, love, love this time of year! All y'all who know me, know this, but I can't help it, everything about this time of year lights me up. I love that the days get shorter, the evenings smell like wood fires, the weather cools off and we can wear cute clothes with boots and scarves, and for the most part, we just all seem to slow down a little bit and come back together as a family. 

Last week we were in Texas and can I just say, I could live in Texas! I loved the history, the love the Texas people have for their state, how green the state is, and all in all, the people were just so friendly. We spent a few days in San Antonio and played at the River Walk, we visited The Alamo, ate really incredible food - no, REALLY incredible food, visited the Natural Bridges Caverns, traveled to The Presidio at Goliad, and I got to meet some friends who I have been communicating with via Facebook for more than 5 years. These friends, Rhonda and Stephanie run a rescue for cocker spaniels and well, you know my heart gets soft for a cocker spaniel. 

Rhonda has been following Mason on his cooking journey and wanted to cook with him so on Friday night he taught her how to throw pizza dough and we made homemade pizzas. On Saturday, they had a party and Mason and Rhonda grilled up Mason's spicy street tacos using both chicken and beef. Not only did they have a total blast, the chow was good, too! So For those who think social media is a time suck and not worthwhile, let me assure you you are wrong! I have met amazing people through social media, and Gulf Coast Cocker Spaniel Rescue is one such group - these women do amazing work. 

This is Sir Coffee, he came to them at 12 years old and incredibly sick, he's 16 now! I came to Texas to meet him and totally expected a dog that was old and slow moving. I couldn't have been more wrong, he is in great health and greeted me (us) with a smile. I'm so proud to be a part of this group known as Coffee Nation! 

We also ate a restaurant called Gwendolyn. The concept of the restaurant is entirely old school, using what they had and doing as they did before the break of the industrial revolution: approximately 1850. This was the last time that food was honest.There are no blenders, mixers, choppers, ice cream machines, deepfryers, burr sticks, nor anything else with a motor--nothing with a plug. Food machines with motors made possible an imbalance of diet that had never occurred before: we could suddenly fry enough food to make ourselves sick, we could preserve food longer than its last dangling vitamin. Refusing food-enabling machines is another way to keep the food honest, and in reasonable balance. No perishable ingredient may travel further than a good, strong horse.The menu will move absolutely in lockstep with the seasons, as okra and eggplant taper off and leafy greens move in, we must change ourselves to suit the product--not the other way around. What is outside is inside. 

Mason LOVED every bite of this meal, he even enjoyed goat cheese! "Mom, this was the absolute best meal I have ever eaten!" Mason. Chef Sohocki took Mason to his other restaurant, a Japanese Ramen joint, we ate there the following day for lunch. Amazing fresh food, super flavors, great service and atmosphere and all in all, we had a top notch night in San Antonio, TX. 

So that was our trip to Texas, lots of history, amazing food and awesome people, what more could we ask for!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Cooking at the Gold Country Fair

Last week I wrote about what a busy week I had ahead of me and why it stresses me a bit when I have so much on my plate. This last weekend was the Gold Country Fair and I was asked to run the cooking stage and host all the cooking demos. This is super cool because we have never had cooking demos at this fair before. The gentleman who runs the cooking demo program for the home shows and the Mandarin Festival asked me to do it in hopes it will become an annual part of our local fair. I agreed to do it and it was a great success!

Basically, what the job entails is decorating the cooking stage, arranging for chefs or local celebrity type people to come cook, planning and shopping for groceries, and being there for all hours of the fair to make sure times are kept, health and safety rules are followed and that fairgoers have a good time and hopefully learn something new. I love that local events are embracing the foodie culture and allowing us to help educate them and share our love of home cooked food. We had a couple of really fun demos this weekend but my favorite was Mason cooking with one of his football coaches. They made a Green and Gold Apple Crisp and the two of them had a ball playing off each other. Green and gold are the teams colors so they used green Granny Smith apples and gold Golden Delicious apples. Coach Jim had never done a live cooking demo and Mason really rose to the occasion walking him through each step until, through the magic of television they had a gorgeous apple crisp for everyone to taste. My other favorite demo was the one Dave did on Saturday night. Dave has been coaching Mason on his demos so he decide to get up and show Mason how it is done! Dave did a great job, but frankly, he doesn't hold a candle to Mason's entertainment ability!

In addition to a busy fair weekend, I am working on three real estate transactions and we are preparing to head out of town to Texas this week. San Antonio and the River Walk have been on my bucket list for a long time and Dave wants to share some of the historical sites with Mason. The high point for this trip for me is to meet my friends at Gulf Coast Cocker Spaniel Rescue. We have become good friends via social media over the last 4 or 5 years and we are finally going to get to spend a couple of days really getting to know each other - and I can't wait to meet Sir Coffee and Sweet Bucket, two of their spokes-dogs. Have a great week and next Monday will be all about how everything is bigger in Texas!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Let the Mayhem Begin!

I am heading into one of those weeks that I wonder if I'm going to get everything done. When life gets busy like this, I have mixed emotions, I love being involved and being a part of different things but I also get nervous that I won't be able to perform to the levels people expect of me, that I expect of me.

Maybe I shouldn't care what people expect, but I do. I care that I do my very best, I care that others experiences with me are favorable and I care how things turn out. I want my contribution in life to be memorable and noteworthy, not just a matter of a check in a box for attendance. I know what I am capable of and at this point in my life, I have not achieved my greatest accomplishment yet, at least I don't think I have - how do you know when you've done that one thing that will be the best you will ever do? I wonder if I'll know when I get there?

I do care what people think and I care that their time with me feels like time well spent when it's over. Of course, I can't can't control how other people think or feel, but I can do my best to be my best and when this week is done, I will know I showed up, gave it my all and completely followed through. Happy Monday!

Monday, August 31, 2015

What About Being Proud of Someone?

Over the weekend I had dinner with friends and while we were talking about different relationship issues, something came up that has my brain working overtime trying to "get it" or at least understand  what she understands about pride and feeling proud.

Here's how this unfolded, the three of us were having dinner, a lovely dinner by the way, sitting outside by candle light and a full moon. We were discussing some of the challenges of balancing jobs, family, kids, friends, and extracurricular activities in a relationship. One of the biggest things is effective communication and understanding how we as individuals communicate and in turn, how our partner communicates.

She told a story of something her spouse did that made her extremely proud and I immediately asked her if she told him she was proud of him. He chimed in that that when he did it, he felt like she was upset that he had chosen to help this other person instead of spend time with her. I asked again, "Did you tell him you were proud of him?" She said no, she didn't feel she had any right to be proud of him. Huh? Even as I type this, I don't get it. Of course I asked, "Why would you feel you need a right to feel proud of your spouse?" She replied that she didn't have anything to do with who he is. Sure, his mother could be proud and tell him she is proud, after all, she raised this fine man to be who he is today. This still did not make sense to me. I don't think I can only be proud of people and their accomplishments if I have a direct hand in making whatever it is happen. I can be proud of Dave for serving our country and for being a great dad. I am proud of many of my friends for taking charge of their lives, going back to school to get a degree or even my mom and my aunt for writing (and completing) their book about our family's history. Other than being born into this family, I had no hand in that awesome project, but I sure am proud of my mom and my aunt for finishing it.

I went back to him and asked him why he thought she was mad at him. He replied that because she said nothing, he took that to mean that he should have chosen to spend his time some other way, likely with her. Because that was his interpretation of how his spouse felt, he never went back to help this person again. Here is the irony, the act of helping the person made his spouse feel that he was the kindest, most generous man - more than any other man she's ever known but she did not feel like she could tell him that she was proud of him because she had/has nothing to do with his evolution to this point as a person. When she said nothing, he felt he'd done something wrong or at least not to her liking, so he never did it again. Talk about a moment that required a moment of deep thought!

I still don't understand her mindset or belief that she needs to have some kind of vested interest in someones success to be "allowed" to feel proud and actually tell them. The bigger shame is that all this time passed and he didn't know how she really felt (feels) - she is proud of this guy, even if she thinks it's not allowed, her heart knows something different. I hope she listens to her heart more and enjoys how good it feels to be proud of the people we love, it really does feel good, but not better than it feels to hear that someone we love is proud of us!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Where Can You Go?

Happy Monday!

It's starting to feel like fall with cool nights, but it still feels a lot like summer with warm, long days. I love this time of year and I love when the days start to get noticeably shorter and cooler.

I start school this week and as you all know, I love being a student. I love learning new skills with regard to design and digital media and even more than learning new skills, I can't wait to start creating awesome pieces of art for work and just for fun.

Mason is really liking middle school, I had no doubt he would. He was nervous and told me numerous times prior to school starting that he wasn't sure how it would go. I just reassured him that he would be fine and I thought he would really like having more subjects and two teachers, actually three. The sixth graders in middle school have two primary teachers and another who teaches their elective(s). Mason's elective is band and he is learning to play the trumpet. I love that he is learning to play an instrument and read music, as creative as he is, this will only compliment his skill and knowledge base int he arts. In addition to school, Mason is really enjoying football and of course, he has a busy fall cooking season coming up. Stay tuned, I'm sure I will have lots to share in the coming weeks.

Speaking of Mason and cooking, today is the day three years ago that Mason was practicing for his very first live cooking demo ever. It was scheduled for the TomatoFest at the fall Auburn Home Show. I bring this up because as adults we say, "someday," or "When I have time, I'll start..." If you look at what Mason said he wanted to do, took action and started practicing, look at where he has gone in just 36 short months. Look at the image that is a screen shot of the memory from Facebook and ask yourself, where do you want to be in one month, 6 months, one year, or three years from now? Start, take some small action and if you keep doing something small that moves you forward, you will get there! Start! Happy Monday and it's getting closer to when I can say, "Happy Fall!"