Life in Contradiction

Only my brother could take two adages I told him that were contradictory and turn it into this! Enjoy!

commonsensiblyspeaking

They say, “Look before you leap”,

A moment to consider cost.

But don’t dare fall asleep,

For “He who hesitates is lost”.

“If at first you don’t succeed,

Try, try again”, damn it all.

It may be a much kinder friend indeed,

Saying, “Don’t beat your head against a wall”.

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder”,

No sweeter words will you ever find.

But you will be left to ponder,

Why is “out of sight, out of mind”.

“Two heads are better than one”,

Or, at least, some say that’s true.

But any father would encourage son,

“Paddle your own canoe”.

And, if it true, that “haste makes waste”,

And we should take the time we can.

Then why are we constantly faced,

With the fact, “time waits for no man”.

We’re still learning how the human mind ticks,

And “you’re never too old…

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Hoopla and Hullabaloo

Those are the words I use to define the time from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. No matter how well prepared we think we are for the rush of three holidays that span roughly 5 weeks, as we move from one to another, the pace quickens to the point where we seem to get one holiday over and stress to prepare for the next one. And then, finally, January 2nd comes, and our rushed pace, except for the dis-assembly of holiday decorations, is over.

While I don’t appreciate the stress created from moving so quickly from holiday to holiday, gathering and preparing for each one, it’s almost like, after it’s over, the adrenaline rush just dies. We don’t slow down, we simply stop! It’s like being in your car, traveling along a highway, then seeing a sign that says “reduced speed ahead” so you slow down just a little and then, from out of what seems like nowhere, there is a traffic light, on red, stuck up in the sky in front of you. You stop and however safely you do so, you come to a full and complete stop and just sit there. The light will eventually change and you’ll keep moving along, but it’s a long time traveling on a rural-type road until you get to another highway where you can speed up.

For those of us who live in areas where winter is one of Mother Nature’s nasty moods, we all begin to think about what she might have in store for us, just waiting around the bend in the road. No one makes any serious plans to see or do something, never knowing when she will strike with fury. We tend to muddle along the road, anticipating her wrath because it WILL arrive at some point, and hoping that her tempestuousness will be mild.

For the winter season we are in right now, the Farmer’s Almanac predicted that December wouldn’t hold a lot of coatings of white blankets on the ground, which turned out to be true. But it also forecast that January and February is when she will unleash her outrage upon us. For me, the Farmer’s Almanac predictions for weather are like daily horoscopes – I don’t really believe in the actual forecast of either, but I still pay attention with a “just in case” attitude.

Oh, how sometimes I wish I could return to my childhood each winter – when joy erupted for a “school closings” day announcement on the TV/radio and we were so excited to bundle up like the Michelin man and go play in the white stuff for hours, ignoring wet feet and runny noses and fingers that felt like icicles! I miss that innocence with which I could appreciate the snow because I didn’t bear the responsibility to clear vehicles, shovel walks, try to travel to work on treacherous roads. We’d come back in after hours of play, shed the wet clothes, climb back into our warm pajamas, and have either tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches or hot chocolate and toast. All of the goodies we’d gotten for Christmas were still new to us, so we could laze around reading or playing games.

Now, no longer children, we see snowfall as an inconvenience, no matter how much we enjoy its initial beauty. And we have no adrenaline left from our hoopla and hullabaloo holidays, so short daylight hours and cold winter temperatures mixed with no big holidays to prepare for makes the winter seem to last forever…

I’ve been trying to think about ways in which I could create a little bit of that excitement, if not every day, at least once a week, to get through what feels like that forever of winter. It shouldn’t be a hard task, since even having a list of errands that need attention gets me out and about. I’ve become a bit lazy in that regard, planning all of my errands for the same day, figuring I’d do everything while I was out and about. Maybe it’s just as simple as splitting them into different days so that I have cause to be out and around people more often. Maybe getting some fresh air, no matter how cold that air is, will be enough. Maybe remembering that the snow didn’t kill me as a child and going out in it to play will help.

Any ideas from any of you???

The World at Your Fingertips

My beloved brother, Brad, was here to visit over the Christmas holidays. As always, we talked about blogging (check out his blog at commonsensiblyspeaking.wordpress.com).

We talked about each other’s different posts and expounded on many things within them. We got on the subject I’d written about ‘accountability’ and our conversation inspired this post. I’d mentioned about the lack of accountability today in general, and specifically on the internet – where we can choose what parts of ourselves to show and what parts we never reveal… where we can be open and honest or deceitful and hurtful. My brother, much more the cynic than I am, doesn’t give trust in the beginning, but makes people earn his trust through their actions, while I, on the other hand, give people the benefit of the doubt that they are portraying themselves as trustworthy as I am.

It was Brad who mentioned that I expect people to be accountable for their actions when, in truth, in today’s society, they have the world at their fingertips without consequence.

I had to process that for a few moments, and realized that what he said is quite true. I tend to find fault with the parents who don’t hold their children to consequences without considering, as each new generation exists more and more on a cyber lifestyle, whatever the parents might be doing is probably not enough compared to the amount of time children spend online in various forms where there is no consequence! There are, most likely, millions of spots on the internet where people go to interact (and therefore act). There are various gaming platforms, and within each, simply thousands of streams to enter. While streams are usually rated similarly to movies (family friendly, teen rated, 18+, etc.), there also exists a clear rule across the board not to engage in any age talk and not to mention your age. So yes, many teens under 18 enter an 18+ chat, and if they behave maturely enough, no one questions whether they belong. And, if they somehow get “found out”, they just simply move on to another streamer. If they say something inappropriate, they may get banned from ever going back to that stream but again, just move on elsewhere. There are no consequences for their behaviors and actions across the world-wide-web, and with that being the place where they “live” when not beholden to real life, they say and do things for which they will never be held accountable!

Listen, I love the Internet – can no longer imagine my life without it – but has our desire to fast, efficient on-line transactions and the ability to socialize across this medium made US somehow responsible for creating these new generations of entitlement and disrespect?

It certainly gives me pause and forces me to reflect on how much blame I can lay upon the parents when I am of the generation that wanted this faster, efficient way of life. Do I shoulder some of the responsibility for the future generations’ acts of entitlement? Do you?

2020 – a Brand New Year

I’m not a big celebrator in terms of ringing in each New Year. Maybe I was 20 or so years ago, but it’s been a long time since I’ve been to a party for New Year’s Eve. The last time I even kind of celebrated it was in the home of my bestie with her hubby and son and two other friends. I took two games along for them to play, and some appetizers. They’ve all known each other for many years, and, at one point, all worked at the same place. So pretty much, they just talked about the people they knew from there and related a bunch of, “Hey, remember when _________________?” stories that I had no clue to.

I’m not a big drinker, either, happy, in fact, where there is no alcohol around. I can say that I find it funny when others are feeling ‘no pain’ and act a little crazy, but my inner control freak demands to keep itself in control of what I say and how I act, so I’m fine with watching others and enjoying their silliness.

Places that host New Year’s Eve parties cater to couples. Ticket purchases for the event are priced as a package for two, and for those places that are also hotels, the same is true with overnight accommodations afterwards. There really are no options for single people to socialize and celebrate.

I also no longer make a list of resolutions. I’ve found that, in my daily life, I’m already looking for ways to grow and improve myself without needing to resolve to do it. In fact, the older I get, the more I want to continue growing – learning new things about myself and seeing how to improve my interactions with others so that I leave a positive impact.

The one ‘resolution’, if one can call it that, is that I will continue to be more aware of toxicity before I feel its negativity full force. What I first sense as toxicity is usually someone’s rage. The tolerance I’m sure I built up to it during my childhood is gone, and screaming, yelling and swearing rants immediately make me uncomfortable. I’m learning how NOT to try to just ignore it, but to say, “I find your behavior right now offensive, and I respect myself enough to walk away if it continues any more.” I tried that once, just recently, and ended up walking away. In doing so, my action of actually leaving struck the person in a way that my words couldn’t reach, and I received not only a sincere apology, but a request, should it happen again, I simply stand up and say, “That behavior is ugly on you” in a strong voice. So far, it hasn’t happened and whenever I see this person, I’m immediately told, “I’m chill, I’m relaxed, I’m not going to fly off the handle.”

Beyond that, I have no real expectations of big changes nor big opportunities to come in 2020. If my health doesn’t get seriously worse and they don’t stop growing coffee beans, I expect 2020 to be as good as this year! And, overall, 2019 was a good year!

I wish all of you who make resolutions the best of luck in keeping them! And I wish everyone a safe and happy New Year’s Eve, whatever your plans. Here’s to 2020!

Merry Christmas!

Okay, I admit it – I love the time when family and friends gather, when a feast is prepared and we all indulge in too much food, when gifts are exchanged, when laughter is common, and when love fills the air.

But, raised in a Christian family, I also remember the “reason for the season”. I started my own tradition some years ago, one that I would love to go viral to remind us of that before all of the festivities begin. (Because it’s easier for me,) I buy a cupcake or package of them, and early on Christmas morning, before all of the world is awake and the hullabaloo has started, I put a single candle on the cupcake, light it, and quietly – but aloud – sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus. It’s important to me to first acknowledge why this holiday was created, and to honor Him. I make a wish that I should emulate His light and love to those with whom I come in contact, blow out the candle, at eat the whole sugary thing (despite being a diabetic!). A moment of silence follows, and then…. only then can I begin the preparations to host my brother and my bestie with her hubby and son.

For each of you, I wish a moment’s reflection on the real reason for celebrating, followed by the joy and laughter as you celebrate! Merry Christmas!

That even Santa would first kneel and honor His birthday….

What the Disney “Frozen” song “Let It Go” means to me

I’ve sung along to this song but never really “heard” it the way this blog tells it! This is powerful! Enjoy!

Maranda Russell

The success of Idina Menzel’s version of the song “Let It Go” from Disney’s animated movie “Frozen” really didn’t surprise me at all. The first time I heard the song (the opening weekend of the movie), I fell in love. I have the soundtrack and like a lot of the songs, but “Let It Go” is just special. Some have claimed the song and movie are about homosexuality and the fight for LGBT acceptance. I don’t agree, although I can see how the song would be a great coming out song. In my opinion, the song could apply to a great many ways that we hide our ‘true’ selves for fear of rejection or hurt. So, although I am going to share the lyrics that really speak to me and why, do not feel like my connection to the song has to be yours.

  • “A kingdom of isolation, and it looks like I’m the queen.”

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Hacks from my Happy Place – XIII

I’m focusing this post on all things chicken. I once saw a book called 1001 Recipes for Chicken, and although I neither bought it or even leafed through it, I already know some very versatile ways to create entrees using this poultry meat.

I have two favorite casserole recipes for chicken (though I think I could probably create some new ones if I put my mind to it). Ironically, many of the items in each can be interchanged with the other, creating more variety. The common components in both are cooked, cubed chicken and Campbell’s cheddar cheese soup. For what my mom called “Chicken Devan”, you spray an oblong pan with non-stick spray and place frozen broccoli (I prefer florets but you can use the full ones with stems) on the bottom. Place a nice layer of the cubed chicken on top. Mix the cheddar cheese soup with a can of milk, as directed, in a separate bowl. Pour the mixture over the top of the chicken. Cover with foil and bake at 350(F) for 20 minutes. Remove foil and return to the oven for an additional 5-10 minutes, until the top begins to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and let the casserole rest at least 5 minutes, then dig in and serve!

For my recipe, which I call Chicken and Stuffing, you use a sprayed oblong pan. In a large bowl, mix one can cheddar cheese soup with one 8-oz container of sour cream until thoroughly mixed (do not add any milk). Add cubed chicken pieces to the mix and stir until blended. Place this entire mix in the bottom of the casserole dish. Meanwhile, use one box of stuffing mix (any brand) in chicken flavor and make according to directions. Spread the finished stuffing mix over top of the chicken mixture. Again, cover with foil and bake at 350(F) for 20 minutes. Remove foil and return to the oven for an additional 5 minutes, until the stuffing has just a little bit of crust on it. Remove from oven and let the casserole rest at least 5 minutes, then dig in and serve!

One time, I wanted to make this recipe and didn’t have any stuffing mix on hand. So I improvised and melted a stick of butter/margarine and crushed up about 1-1/2 stacks of Ritz crackers into pieces, stirred them into the melted butter, and spread that over the top instead. A slightly different taste, but still good!

Of course, you can add broccoli to the Chicken and Stuffing casserole, or use the cheddar cheese and sour cream mixture in the Chicken Devan. Experiment!!!

I always look for boneless chicken breasts when they are on sale, then buy a lot of them, boil them in water until they are cooked, rinse them well and let them cool until I can handle them. Then I cut all of it into cubes and freeze portions separately in my freezer so I have some on hand. In addition to these casseroles, I use them for PA Dutch pot pie and my cabbage soup.

I could easily eat chicken 5 days a week as long as I have various ways to eat it. So, if you’ve got a really good (and preferably, easy) recipe for chicken, please share it with us here!

Meanwhile… if you’ve got a lot of turkey left over from your holiday feast, simply de-bone and dice it up and use it in place of the chicken! This might save you from having the turkey doldrums!