Too Much Work Ethic?

Although I wouldn’t say I was applying 100% of my work ethic in my teenage-years jobs, for all of my adult life, I have always applied at least 100% of it to each job I’ve had. The sense of a job well done and the feeling of accomplishment have been the highest factors in why I’ve done so, followed closely by the want of being able to be of help to, and to help grow, the business I’m working for.

For the past 20+ years, I can confidently say that I’ve performed, easily, at 125% or more. I became focused not on my own well-being and success, but on the company’s well-being and success. When working in sales, I understood that the success I brought to the business was measured by the number of dollars brought in. I always got super-excited when I brought a new customer to the business, and went out of my way to do things to help that customer become a loyal one!

In my last position before retiring from the hotel industry, I was asked to take the offered job because of my ability in sales plus my unique ideas of thinking out of the box to bring business to it. In the beginning, I was gung-ho, and in the first year, I was able to increase the business to the company by an easy 20%. I was thrilled! But after a few years, I began to understand that the owner of the business wanted more business to come in but wasn’t willing to invest a nickel into my many ideas that could do so. One year I was given a budget of $300.00 for the year. Trust me, that doesn’t go far! I used it to create a loyalty program to keep people coming back. It was semi-successful, but I was limited to only being able to engage people via email or postal mail. While I was doing this, I was also being demanded to put in at least 40 hours on property each week, do tasks that were for the sister property (taking time away from my own property) and being able to cover all of the jobs needed at a lodging property. So I was a housekeeper, a front desk clerk, an aide during breakfast while doing tasks for the sister property, with no budget and an almost immediate shoot-down of any sales ideas I had that might cost something up-front. In one of the 5 years I spent there, I got one raise, in the amount of $0.03 (yes, 3 cents!) per hour, based on a 40-hour work week. Let me help you with that math – – that meant I earned an additional $1.20 a week times 52 weeks for a grand total of $62.40 per year! Trust me, that didn’t change my tax bracket!

It took me a while to begin to understand that I was investing much more in time and effort to try and do the job for which I was hired, and to fully understand that I could never continue to grow the business because I was not being given the tools, money and time necessary to do so! It also took me a long time afterwards to understand that I wasn’t getting what I needed or wanted in order to give them what they needed or wanted. Eventually, I left.

Now, I’m in a similar situation. I have volunteered (no pay involved) my time and energy to help a small business grow. I’ve listened carefully to what the manager says he wants to happen for this company. Seven months in and I’ve begun to feel that same feeling that I had at my last paying job. I’ve invested a lot of time there, and I’ve come up with scads of ideas to help growth. My ideas are exactly in line with what the manager wants. The problem is, I can only come up with the ideas – I have no power to actually execute them. And what I hear when I present an idea is, “Oh, that’s a great idea!”, but there is minimal, if any, follow through!

The manager is paid according to the sales that are made, so I understand that paychecks will vary. I’ve made quite a few purchases from this business, intent solely on increasing the manager’s earnings and growing the business. I’ve even spent my own money buying little gifts for some of the regular customers as a way to thank them for the continued business.

On the plus side, the business is growing. Some weeks, it’s awesome, some not so much. And I’m happy to see that happening! But I’m at that same point where I feel like I’m doing so much more work, spending much more time, and spending my own money without feeling like I’m achieving enough to be truly appreciated. I mean, I get a pat on the back now and then. But if I make even the smallest mistake, I’m also taken aside and criticized in an rather abrupt way. In seven months, I’ve made two mistakes, and understanding afterwards, was eager to apologize and learn from them. What bothers me most is that things go on like before, and the ‘expectations’ of what I will do for the company never change, but I never get told that my apology is accepted.

My own stubbornness keeps me plodding along. But it has raised the question with which I titled this post: do I have “too much work ethic?” I don’t want to give up. I love sharing my “out-of-the-box” ideas and I do find joy in seeing the business growing. I just question whether that joy is enough?

Strength

This says it all and needs on additional words from me!

commonsensiblyspeaking

It is not that men feel anything less

Gender has no bearing on emotion

It is that they never learned to express

Any heart-felt, emotive notion

Our role models would always pain deny

Great strength must be shown when you face your fear

So, brush yourself off and don’t you dare cry

Told there is weakness in shedding a tear

The stoic faces that taught our manhood

The rocks amongst the emotional wave

We learned from them, being soft was no good

And that their feeling less was somehow brave

My life, the pages of so many years

And as my life’s book is placed on the shelf

There is greater truth for young men to hear

You must learn to give of your inner self

Emotions hidden for any great length

Do remain like dark stains upon the soul

Feelings, when shared, a formidable strength

It is our letting…

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Perceptions

What is WRONG with this picture???

Pictures similar to the one above appear now and again across social media platforms, always asking the question, “What is WRONG with this picture?” Each time it is done, the point made is taken but it’s so subtle that it doesn’t upset us. Because, except for those who are extremely biased, there IS nothing wrong with this picture.

The dictionary defines the word perception as: “the act or faculty of perceiving, or apprehending by means of the senses or of the mind; cognition; understanding.” Cognition is defined as: “the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.”

It immediately brings to mind the realization that racism is not genetic; racism is something that it taught by racists. Those who perceive racism teach others through cognizant thought about racism. Like much of our lives, how and why we perceive, hence believe, anything is taught to us by others. We accept that our parents teach us such things as manners, respect, etc. We respect that teachers teach us the 3 R’s – reading, writing and ‘rithmetic. We accept what we learn in history as being fact because someone long before us, whom was trusted, passed down the information through the generations. We accept our faith – our religious tenants – without proof, as we were taught to believe by others who believed.

But do we need to hold onto those beliefs throughout life? One of the silly questions I ask from time to time is, “Why is a pencil a pencil? Why isn’t it a cow?” I do that to bring up the point that we take for granted what we are taught without question. I mean, who had the authority to make up the names we use to define certain objects?

This brings me to the post below. We are “taught” to read from right to left, from top to bottom. And it works for us. But what if we changed our belief about how we should read?

There is no better example of why it may be right to question how our perception can change something. No, I’m not saying that we should read differently than we have been taught. I’m simply saying that we have the right to question certain perceptions. We may be taught to be racist, but if that teaching is not akin to our own morals and values, we have the right to “unlearn” it.

We may be defined often enough as ‘fat’, ‘lazy’, ‘worthless’, etc. that we learn to believe that. But what is learned can be unlearned, simply by changing our perceptions. And that has to start inside of ourselves. We are responsible to accept – or change – our perceptions about anything. And we don’t need anyone else to agree with us.

I encourage each of you to spend some time thinking about how you perceive things – in yourself and in others – and question if those perceptions work for you. If so, that’s great! If not, you need to spend some time in self-talk and change them. It’s your right!

AMEN!

Hacks from my Happy Place – XV

I want to use this article to talk specifically about one item. That item is mashed potatoes.

I grew up with mashed potatoes being a staple as a side dish. Potatoes are relatively inexpensive at any time of the year and the fact that they are a product filled with starch means that they are very filling, always good for the budget-conscious.

The process I learned growing up about making them was pretty basic. Peel and dice the potatoes. Put in a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Continue boiling until potatoes are tender. Drain. Add butter (margarine) and some milk and begin to mash (by hand or with an electric mixer). Add milk as needed to acquire the desired consistency. Place in serving bowl. Serve.

Now, there is nothing wrong with that process, and it is continued on routinely.

However, one of the things about peeling potatoes is that all of the vitamins and minerals are in the peel of the potato, not in the meat of it. Once a potato has been peeled, it has pretty much lost any of its nutritional value. Perhaps that is why we see restaurants starting to use red or fingerling potatoes – any potato that has a very thin skin – and leaving some, or all, of the skin on the potato for boiling and serving.

Here’s my thing about that, and why I love it so much. You see, in addition to keeping some nutritional value, I’ve begun to abhor the task of peeling and dicing potatoes. It’s such a time-consuming and monotonous chore! I’ve been lucky enough to discover that my bestie’s husband likes this chore (probably because he likes to nibble on raw potato pieces while he’s doing it!), and this has allowed me the freedom of not feeling like I’m a slave to it!

My bestie is lactose-intolerant. (My bestie is also intolerant of having to cook, by the way!) Since we do Thanksgiving and Christmas together, it is my task to do the actual mashing of the potatoes without using milk. And this is not a problem! You see, one day when I was watching Rachel Raye, she talked about using the potato water instead of milk, suggesting that the potato water is full of the potato flavor. I tried it – and she was right! The actual flavor of the potato was much more prominent and added a vibrancy to the taste! I’ve been making them that way ever since!

Now, I admit, I’m still lazy about the peeling potatoes process, so I have succumbed to the instant potatoes method for myself. If I’m going to be covering the potatoes with something like gravy, or the sauerkraut from pork and sauerkraut, the potatoes assume that flavor, and it all works out. When I really DO want the flavor or real mashed potatoes, I simply use red potatoes and leave the skins on because, they are very thin skins and because, I’m keeping the nutritional value. Win-Win!

I know, from experience, that when you are going to go through the task of making real mashed potatoes, you make more than you anticipate needing to feed however many people you are feeding! Pennsylvania Dutch cooking is not about “waste not, want not” – it’s about “food aplenty” and “leftovers”! So, what can you do with leftover mashed potatoes?

Of course, they can be re-heated via the microwave or in a saucepan with a little extra butter (margarine) to re-moisten them. But how many days in a row do you want them again, especially when you’ve finished off the rest of the leftovers from the original meal? Now what?

The answer is two words: Potato Cakes. Potato cakes are basically leftover mashed potatoes, with a few extra ingredients, turned into a batter that you make like pancakes! The basic recipe is one cup of flour for two cups of potatoes (you can guesstimate this without measuring the potatoes) and one egg for each two cups of potatoes. From there, you can make different varieties. As a side dish to another entrée, add chopped onion (optional), salt, pepper and any other seasonings you feel are appropriate. For example, you can add Italian seasoning if you are serving them with something that it tomato-sauce based. You can actually turn them into breakfast by adding a little bit of vanilla to the batter, (omitting the salt, pepper and onions) and serve with syrup. Get creative and add some blueberries or chocolate chips or whatever else you might put in pancake batter! If you have a lot of leftover mashed potatoes, mix them thoroughly with the flour and egg and then divide – make a batch of savory AND a batch of sweet! The batter can be refrigerated for a couple of days, and you might just need to add a little bit of water to thin it back down before using!

Mashed potatoes do freeze. As with refrigerating, they may appear a little ‘watery’. Just stir them up until the liquid is absorbed back in and reheat. You can also freeze them in two-cup batches and thaw them out to make potato cakes. So go ahead!! Peel, dice and cook a whole slew of potatoes to make mashed potatoes while going through the effort, and you’ll have a variety of options for the leftovers without having the task of peeling, dicing and boiling again!

Happy Mashed Potatoes, my friends! Any way you make them, they are yum, yum good!

Good old creamy mashed potatoes!
Crunchy potato cakes! Yes, please!

Being Present: The Best Thing You Can Do For Yourself — WILLIAM J FULTON

Just be present. Not thinking about the past, and not thinking about the future. Being present is an area we all struggle with in our lives. We constantly think about scenarios in which we have absolutely no control over. I just recently watched Kyle Cease’s free documentary on his site titled, “The Illusion of Money.”…

Being Present: The Best Thing You Can Do For Yourself — WILLIAM J FULTON

I encourage all of my readers to click on the link to this blog post and spend a few minutes reading it. I believe it could have been written by any of us – I sure know it could have been written by me! I hope you gain a spark or two of insight from it! ~Jody

Have we swung too far?

Imaginary games of Cops and Robbers or Cowboys and Indians. Cap guns. Western movies with John Wayne and TV shows like Bonanza and Gunsmoke. These are all things that my generation grew up with. I’d like to think that my generation came away unscathed by the violence of guns that were a seemingly normal part of our childhoods.

Now, these many years later, just mention bringing your Nerf gun to your elementary school and the authorities are immediately contacted. We automatically assume that a child who talks about a harmless toy that references ‘shooting’ to be a danger. How did we get that far?

Who remembers Silly String? Gosh, I really LOVED that stuff! But I got to thinking about it again and began to wonder why no extremist has gotten on a soapbox about how dangerous it is. After all, we used it for play as a way to ‘tie up’ people in it, and the act of bondage is violent. Okay, it wasn’t any more potentially threatening with a Nerf gun, but why not look at every toy made and see what its underlying threat might possibly be?

For Christmas, 2019, a bunch of people got on a bandwagon about the song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”. Some persons or people decided that the lyrics were coercive to make a woman stay when she keeps suggesting she should leave.

All of those things, and more, led me to the title of this blog post: Have we swung too far? I applaud the virtue behind the idea of being ‘politically correct’, but am I the only one who thinks we have taken it to the opposite extreme?

There’s noise about what we call the winter holidays, and people want to be offended at the words “Merry Christmas”. No one complains about Hanukkah or Kwanzaa; if it doesn’t fit within their belief pattern, they still tolerate it without a stink. Why does “freedom of religion” not apply to Christians then? The US of A was founded on Christian beliefs and principals. The paper money and coins we spend all say, “In God We Trust”. Non-Christians don’t have a single complaint earning and spending this American money even though it goes against their core beliefs…. Wouldn’t that be considered a double standard of sorts?

This is my example of a bad day: You spill hot coffee from your freshly made cup all over the floor and your bare feet. You settle down to do some things on your computer only to find that your Internet is down. Oh, and so much for watching the morning news or anything else for that matter on the TV, because the whole system is down. You decide to do some household chores with your suddenly ‘free’ time. The washer overflows while doing a load of laundry. You can’t fix if yourself so call for a repair. The shop says they can get to you by 10 AM – the next day – so you use every towel you own to sop up the water and end up having to throw all the dirty towels in the dryer and dry them dirty. You open the freezer, thinking you’ll pull out that roast to put in the crockpot for dinner that night, only to remember, after looking for it, that you made it a week ago. At this point, you are liable to be more than just a little frustrated, right? So you throw your hands up into the air and shout, “Lord, take me away from all of this!”

Do you realize that, if one of these ‘extremists’ were to hear that, it might be in their perception that your cry sounded manic and possibly suicidal? So a call is made, and the men in white coats come and take you away for an involuntary admission into the mental health ward of the closest hospital.

An extreme example? Yes! But this is a perfect example of how our society has become one that sees every thing and every body as a threat of some kind. Unlike our judicial system, which avers that we are “innocent until prove guilty”, we assume guilt quickly, without knowing the intent or meaning of a person’s words or actions.

Listen, I’m a firm believer in stopping violence in schools and protecting our children. I believe that the qualities of being politically correct are more important than the flaws in being so. I believe that all persons – male or female – should be held accountable for their actions. But I also believe in a system that doesn’t assume guilt before it is proven.

In my opinion, we’ve swung too far to the other side – from being innocuous to certain behaviors and actions to automatically assuming the worst at times when those behaviors and actions are displayed. The world has its psychopaths and sociopaths and other trolls in its population, but if we start assuming that everyone IS one, we lose sight of the fact that there is much goodness in most of the people with whom we cohabitate on this earth. I, for one, refuse to let go of that belief.

“Peopley”

If you’ve followed and read my posts for a while – or know me from there – I routinely spend some time in the same social media platform daily, often with the same crowd of people. I enjoy their give and take of banter and chuckles, and most of the time, I’m pretty much of an extrovert there.

My week hasn’t been overly “peopley” in real-life terms. It included only a hair appointment at an owner-operated hair salon and a routine doctor’s visit at a small medical practice. Of course, there was the run to Walmart, which I’d put off for about 3 weeks because there was nothing urgent on my list, and Walmart is not one of my favorite destinations. I purchase my coffee and paper and cleaning supplies there, so when I am getting low on something, I go there and purchase some of everything I buy there so I don’t have to go back for a while. I didn’t even stop at the Dollar Tree store next door, even though I usually shop at both when I’m there. Heck, I didn’t even make my usual weekly run to the grocery store!

And yet, I feel “peopled” out this week. I whizzed through my morning visits on the social media platform, but just didn’t feel the positive vibes hitting me. I even visited – on the same platform – some places yesterday and today that I seldom get to visit. I just wasn’t feeling it!

Unless I am under the funk of the dreaded depressed mood, this is a bit unusual for me, and I’m not sure what to think about it! Just as my brother, Brad, looks forward to his morning coffee-at-the-diner with his group of peeps, I look forward to this time to socialize with my peeps. And it’s not because I have some pressing chores or the like that I think I should be focused on instead!

Do you ever have days when you’re just not feeling it, but don’t know why?