To all my USA readers, happy thanksgiving! To all my non-USA readers, happy Thankful Thursday! While this is a tradition observed in the United States, I’m sure we could all use a day of celebration with food, family, and friends to remind us how fortunate we really are. On this Thanksgiving day, I’m thankful for my family, without whom I wouldn’t live very happily. I might be down on my luck right now, but I’m very fortunate that I’ve got some great people in my life. I’m also thankful that I’ve got a great opportunity to branch out on my own and begin my career anew starting in January. While theoretically I began formulating plans in July, I haven’t exactly made all the moves yet in order to go forward with the actual plan. I figure at this point it’s probably easier to wait until the advent of the new year anyway.
In addition to these joyous blessings, I’m thankful for my web host — Host Gator. Considering I’m an alumna of UF and a Florida Gator through-and-through, it feels like a perfect fit. For past couple of years, they’ve given me great web hosting service with all kinds of wonderful benefits. Tomorrow they’re running some seriously awesome Black Friday specials, and I’ve been authorized to stroke their egos all I want (as long as I don’t start spamming people). Head on over to HostGator.com to capitalized on a great deal. I promise you won’t be disappointed. They may not be in your face with young ladies daring to expose themselves, but they certainly know how to treat their customers. I can proudly say I both utilize their services and affiliate with them, and I’m not ashamed to promote their cause in the least.
So raise a glass, have some turkey (or tofurkey if that’s your style), and count your blessings. It’s a great day to be alive.
Dear Alton Brown,
I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to you for showing the world how to butcher a whole chicken. For a few reasons, I like to buy a whole chicken instead of just the parts. For one, that carcass makes for a tasty stock, and I do enjoy a good bowl of homemade chicken soup. For another, I’m sure you realize the price per pound is more like a couple of dollars after the butchers do all that work for you. I know you shop at Publix — you can black out the name of the store all you want, I know what their herbs, milk, etc. look like — so I know you know boneless skinless chicken breast can go for $3.99/lb, whereas a whole chicken goes for about $1.29/lb. I’d say that’s a pretty steep up-charge for letting the guys behind the counter do the messy work for me.
Now I admit it was a little tricky at first. I’ve never used your techniques before, so you do mention that it takes some practice. However, it went smoothly after I got a bit more confident. That second drumstick and thigh? Came apart just like you said. Now I can buy whole chickens year-round, knowing I won’t have to turn the oven on just to cook the whole darn thing! Tonight, I’m able to cook the dark meat with some root vegetables. Tomorrow, I can turn my boneless skinless white meat into a delicious stir fry. And on top of the stove, I’ve tossed the carcass and a mirepoix into a pot of water to boil down into a stock. Thanks again for taking the guess work out of butchering up a very versatile meat! You’re the best!
P.S. By the way, you also gave me the courage to chop my own garlic. And you shared a great recipe that can sometimes keep the boxes of brownie mix out of the house — I say sometimes because sometimes when Publix has the buy one get one free deals on Ghiradelli, I can’t resist the unmentionable ingredients. Hey, we’ve all got our guilty pleasures, don’t we?
I found myself flopped over on the futon, wallowing and pitying myself earlier this evening. We had finished eating dinner, and there wasn’t really anything urgent needing to be accomplished. So, I just sort of stayed there, not really wanting to do much of anything — at the same time realizing there’s so much that could and should be done. After a few minutes, I consciously paused, told myself I had until the next commercial break to wallow, and then made the conscious decision that it was okay to feel depressed for a few moments. Even during my moment of despair, I still managed to maintain a sense of mindfulness, paying attention to my emotions and reactions to different stressors and stimuli. I reminded myself of all the uplifting content Brenda Della Casa shares on a regular basis, which includes the permission to feel bad for a bit but the reminder that feeling sorry for yourself isn’t going to fix your problems.
When the commercial break came on the TV, I got up, grabbed my water, and took a drink. And then? I went about my business. When life seems to be spiraling out of control, it’s okay to feel sorry for yourself, to feel miserable and worried. To feel is human. However, there comes a point when feeling like a victim becomes more defeating than the actual circumstances that causes the feelings of defeat in the first place. Today, I’m thankful for the ability to distinguish when it’s okay to stop and feel and when it’s time to stop feeling sorry for myself and make things happen.
Last week you’ll recall my sleepless plight. This week, I’m rejoicing in the delightful feeling of sleeping for 7-8 hours for the past few nights. Monday night I got to sleep for 7 cumulative hours, Tuesday night I got to sleep for 8 whole hours, and last night I got to sleep for roughly 7 hours again. The baby’s teeth are through the gums, therefore meaning he’s in much less pain now — presumably, anyway. It’s such a glorious feeling to wake up feeling mostly refreshed. Granted, I’m still running on a deficit and trying to catch up, but I’m so relieved to not see the wee hours of the morning. The lack of sleep has been affecting me physically and mentally. I’ve been feeling slow and sick, and my mind isn’t as quick and sharp as usual. I highly disagree with the saying “sleep is for the weak” — actually, weakness is the result of sleep loss, Mr. or Ms. Inventor-Of-That-Saying. And chances are, that person’s disdain for sleep led to a much earlier demise than if s/he realizes that a good night’s sleep (or enough naps to equal that good night’s sleep) functions to restore a person physically and mentally. In fact, some prisoners of war have been tortured by being forced to stay awake for prolonged periods of time. Lack of sleep leads to more car accidents. While you are sleeping, your body goes to work repairing and rejuvenating. Without sufficient sleep, people can literally go crazy. I for one believe the strong understand that sleep is an important part of living a healthy life. Knowing your body’s limits is most definitely a strength, not a weakness.
And now, I’m going to take advantage of the baby’s nap by napping myself. Ah, delicious sleep!
As I type this scheduled post that’s due out tomorrow, I’m sipping coffee. I’m fully aware that it’s 10:42pm, but apparently my baby’s top front teeth have no concept of that. In fact, my baby has no concept of that, either — he’s blissfully ignorant to the concept of day and night. He has reverted to his reverse sleep schedule, and he’s taking me with him. Sure, it’s easy to say “make your husband stay up,” but too many people forget that I’m breastfeeding the baby. He’s still reliant on me for at least some of his nutrition. You’ll notice yesterday’s glorious picture of my pillow — oh sweet, sweet lovely pink pillow, how I miss the days of nestling my head into your soft, comforting cotton fluff. But all too soon I will blink, and my precious little baby will be a precocious preschooler sleeping in his very own big-boy bed.
So for now, I’m thankful for coffee. Believe it or not, I’m actually a fan of instant coffee — it’s smooth, just the way I like it. Add in a splash of flavored creamer and it’s perfect. Sip, sip, ahh! So while I could theoretically be sitting here falling on my face, I’m actually feeling alert. While the baby toddles around, inching ever closer to letting go of the furniture and taking those first solo steps, I’m awake enough to watch and offer encouragement. Oh, and clean up the chunks of banana that he leaves behind.
Some days you have to really dig deep to find the brighter side of life, but I think just the action of doing so helps to bring perspective to any situation. I mean, I don’t live in some third world country with no clue as to where I’ll find the next meal for my family. We’re not war-torn or ravaged. We have a roof over our heads with a climate-controlled interior. We have food to eat. We live in a reasonably safe environment — even if you take into account that it seems like home invasion robberies have become more common around town, it’s still relatively safe when compared with places like Somalia or Ethiopia. We have each other, too! And what could be more important than family? As a person who places a lot of value in family, I couldn’t imagine anything more important. I think that I need my kids as much as they need me. Really, I couldn’t imagine a life without any of the three of them. They’re all very important to me.
So while I may not own a house, I have a family that makes this apartment a home.
I’ve had nearly a month to spend more time with my family and get some preliminary work done on starting my own business. While the conditions of this impromptu vacation weren’t the best, the fact that we’ve been able to make things work out thus far has been a blessing. I don’t know for how much longer this “vacation” is going to last, but I’m still approaching it one day at a time — of course, with a few back up plans tucked neatly away in an electronic folder.
During this month, I haven’t worried about violating someone’s dress code — I dress in what I consider appropriate attire for the particular task. No heels or dress shoes have been required unless an interview was in the immediate future. I’ve leisurely sipped my tea while checking emails and job hunting. I’ve prepared quite a few meals for my family. I’ve relaxed on the couch when the kids were napping. I haven’t felt pressured to lay down and sleep in the middle of the night while the baby wanted to play, giggle, coo, and socialize. (For a while there, we did actually have him on a proper day/night schedule, but he’s fought his way back to staying up late, taking a late night nap, and waking up in the wee hours of the morning.) I’ve enjoyed the air conditioning and the freedom to stay inside if I don’t want to go out into the disgusting heat wave — it’s been dangerously hot, with plenty of warnings to avoid prolonged trips outside.
So while I don’t know where life is taking me exactly, I know the journey thus far has been interesting and full of learning experiences. I know I’ve been working towards making the most of what I have and utilizing my talents and skills to steer things in a favorable direction.
It would seem this time around, people are beating down my door to interview me. I don’t know how that will translate into ending this period of unemployment, but I most definitely can’t complain that my information is catching attention and moving to the top of the piles. I suppose really all I needed was the encouragement — be it welcomed or not — to look outside of confines of a single academic institution for opportunities. This week I have had three job interviews scheduled, and I can’t be more grateful to know that there’s interest in my skills, experience, and knowledge.
In addition to that, I have had a freelancing gig offered to me, and I need to get everything squared away for that. My brilliant husband also created a very wonderful name and logo for my business, and I’m very excited to get that much closer to living my dream. I’m still researching market prices for the services I will be providing and determining what exactly I’d like to offer, but the pieces are falling into place.
And should life be taking us on a very new, different path right now, we have at least one home opened to us so that we can start life from scratch elsewhere and get back on our feet. I’m feeling pretty confident that even the worst case scenario at this point won’t be as scary as it could be. I’m taking it one day at a time, I’ve got plans, I’ve got deadlines, and I’m confident that I will not lose. I am remembering my emblem creating in Dr. Ulmer’s class nearly four years ago, and I don’t think I could have possibly imagined at that point in time how accurate my emblem really is.
I’m very pleased to announce four theme days – Mindful Monday, Wordless Wednesday, Thankful Thursday, and Foodie Friday. Let me explain each topic.
Mindful Monday will be all about mindfulness. I will be discussing my practices with mindfulness, topics discussed on The Mindfulist, and ideas to be more mindful. Wordless Wednesday will be a single picture – no words. It’s fairly popular, actually. Thankful Thursday will essentially be the evolution of my gratitude series. And my favorite? Foodie Friday will encourage me to get into the kitchen to bring you glorious pictures of delicious food. It might not be anything like Smitten Kitchen or The Parsley Thief, but I do enjoy food.
I had several ideas for Tuesdays, but none of them really seem exciting. The most viable Tuesday theme was Taboo Tuesday, which would essentially be my day to discuss more serious topics – to treat this platform as my soap box. I may still instate that theme, but for now Tuesdays will be open. Perhaps Typical Tuesdays will work? Saturdays and Sundays are also open-ended. If I don’t have anything worthwhile to say, I probably just won’t post. However, I do need a set schedule in order to encourage myself to write and be creative. I’m looking forward to my posting schedule.
Moving onto today’s theme – gratitude – I’m very grateful to have come up with this schedule. I’ve been lacking in the creativity department lately, and it feels wonderful to finally get some creative ideas flowing again. When your livelihood is based off of creativity, it can be very stressful to loss that creative touch.