How I’m Living-10 Sep 2021

I don’t know about you, but Lord knows, the year seems to have flown by for me.  So much going on: mandatory mask mandates, barely stocked shelves, storms-water, wind & fire, the rising price of gas, kids returning to school and Afghanistan (comes out with the same sigh as 2020) just to name a few. 

With all that, I found I needed to change what I was seeing & hearing.  I decided to go with what I know works best for me.  A joyful heart is good medicine, Proverbs 17:22a.


So, my friend asked his three-year-old nephew what he likes to eat.

“Nuts,” the child replied.

“Great,” he said. “What kind, pecans? Walnuts? Peanuts?”

“No,” the boy said with a smile, “donuts!” 😊

And that’s how I’m living, corny jokes and all.

How I’m Living-30 Aug 2021

Wow, I feel like I’m living in that MaryMary video, “Thank You Lord”. The lyrics go something like, “tragedies are commonplace, all the diseases & people slipping away, all I can say is thank you Lord for all you’ve done for me.”

There is so much going on right now that it feels like my head is on a swivel when I turn on the news. Fires & storms over here; delta variant & shootings over there; ISIS-K and attacks on voting rights straight ahead with rising gas prices & empty store shelves quickly coming up the rear.

This past weekend there were multiple shootings and stabbings in Western Washington. My heart hurts as I say to myself, “again?” It’s been unusually hot here so a little time at one of the air conditioned museums should be a good idea. Too bad so many unmasked people had the same idea! And then I went to my local grocery store….SMH. Similar to Old Mother Hubbard, the shelves were bare; at least for the items I wanted.

I was thinking, just like in the song, it could’ve been me. I could’ve been me at the shooting over the weekend; it could’ve been me in Hurricane Ida or me at the grocery store with empty shelves and no other place to go buy food for my family. I was thinking that I am truly blessed beyond measure by the grace of God. And like in the song, I’m saying , “thank you for keeping me and my family from all these things.”

Thankful, that’s how I’m living.

#2 Recipe Bucket List

Last week it was really hot in the #pnw.  I mean like, don’t even turn on the air fryer or instapot, hot. It caused me to look for something easy, healthy and tasty to prepare for dinner. Sometimes it’s difficult to find recipes that meet that criteria, especially since I didn’t want to go to the grocery store after work. I asked a few sister friends for suggestions and they all agreed that it was too hot and even gave a few suggestions.

I remembered a couple of those suggestions were on my #recipebucketlist on #Pinterest so my fingers started flying across the keyboard. And by George, I found a recipe that is easy, tasty and healthy; plus, I had most of the ingredients at home. Okay, quick question for the average household, do you keep heavy cream on hand?

That was the only ingredient I needed so my trip the grocery store was more like Guy’s Grocery Games. I mean, yes, I know the cream was in the dairy section but there were more than a couple choices, including organic whipping cream. Okay, side note, who knew that was a thing?

Anyway, once I finally located it, instead of going straight to the register, I decided to get parmesan cheese just in case what I had at home wasn’t enough. That wasn’t the smartest move as when I got there, the registers were busy, of course. And since I had been working in the office for the past eight hours, I felt no desire to use the self-checkout. And bonus, my favorite cashier was working and I wanted to say hi.

Okay, so I get home and do all the regular just got off work stuff and make ready to prepare dinner. It was so easy! The recipe calls for ground beef but I used steak-ums. Anybody remember those from back in the day? I made the dressing and while it chilled in the fridge, I cooked the steak-ums, sauteed my peppers & onions, added some mozzarella and ta-da, dinner was ready!

As you can see from the picture, I didn’t add radishes or the steak seasoning on top. I’m not a radish fan, plus we’re trying to decrease our salt intake and there was enough seasoning when I sauteed the veggies. I’m counting this one as a total success and making note to keep heavy cream on hand because it was good.

Philly Cheese Steak Salad

Have you tried any new dishes because of the extreme heat this year? Let me know and we can swap recipes 🙂

Resting

Somebody asked me if I was getting rest. My reply was a resounding yes! Then I asked myself, “are you sure, how can you tell”?  A few minutes thinking about it and yup, I’m sure and here’s how I know.

So  I can tell that this rest is different.  Before my rest was mainly physical.  I feel like my needs were very basic.  That is I needed water, sunshine (or at least vitamin D supplements since I’m in the PNW), food and sleep. And guess what, I wasn’t getting the basics. Often I was dehydrated, a little hungry and tired.

I thought rest was sleeping-in on the weekends. Only, my weekends were restless too.  I had swim lessons, hair & mani/pedi appointments and oh yeah, I needed to clean the house, grocery shop, go to the bank, stop by post office and other errands. So my idea of resting was way off.

During the, initial shutdown of the pandemic, I got a better understanding of rest.  For instance, since I switched to work-from-home, I could stay in bed a little longer, actually eat breakfast and have time for a devotion. Before, I just had a latte and a breakfast bar on my commute to the office.  Not a very filling or satisfying meal to start the day.

And during the great toilet-paper shortage of 2020, when we realized the shutdown was going to be more than six-eight weeks, my running errands routine changed drastically. No more going from store to store to find the best bargain on clothes, sheets or even snacks. My adjustment included making a list and sticking to it so I wouldn’t be out all afternoon shopping. I kept it interesting by pretending I was on Supermarket Sweep. And I found I actually had time to clean out a closet and tackle my TBR stack.

By the end of the summer, since I wasn’t going to the local Y for swimming lessons, I started walking in a few local parks. I realized we have some very nice parks in Tacoma. Taking a stroll, feeling the sunshine on my face or maybe even a few rain drops sometimes, was a better use of my time. It gave me a chance to call a cousin, listen to music or catch-up on a podcast.

During the PNW winter months it is dark by 4:30 pm; and this year, I embraced the early sunsets. I took the time to cook new recipes, write letters, try some crafting and of course, binge a few Netflix series. And I celebrated these simple things as they were on my list to do once I had time.

So yes, the walks in the park, the chats with friends & family, the time with God, the time to take my time, I am embracing and enjoying my resting season.

Summer 2021-Trails Challenge

…a tourista in my own city,

So this year, with a renewed interest in being a tourista in my own city, I joined the Tacoma Trails Challenge. Initially I thought it would be a lot of climbing up a few trailheads or some steep hills on the outskirts of Tacoma. I was a bit leery since Tacoma still has a reputation for loads of meth labs on the outskirts of the city. I’m glad to say my perception of the challenge was wrong.

The challenge, sponsored by Metro Parks Tacoma, was to visit various parks and trails in the city and complete the accompanying activities. It was designed to inspire movement, family fun, conversation and of course picture taking. Choosing where to walk and which activities to do for the challenge wasn’t easy. Let me tell you, Tacoma is an absolutely beautiful city, especially on sunny summer weekends. So having to decide between the Art Walk, Ruston Way, School Yard or Wright Park challenges to complete within the two week time frame tested my time management skills. After all, tourista or not, I’m working from home, not on vacation.

I did seven challenges and had a great time visiting some new sights and exhibits. I got in lots of steps, averaged 20k on the weekends and took lots of pictures. That’s a big accomplishment for most people but especially for those of us with Rheumatoid Disease. And to be honest, there were a couple days my pain level was high; that made for some serious self-care on Mondays. Pandemic restrictions, or their state of influx, weren’t a deterrent either. Many people, young and old, big and small, were out walking and snapping pictures to enter into the photo contest.

And guess what, I won…a t-shirt! Hey, IYKYK

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

My Recipe Bucket List

My bucket list has a few dozen recipes so I figured trying them out during the #SHSH period was a good idea. There I was on a Sunday afternoon scrolling and I saw a great looking, healthy, one-pot meal post on #Pinterest and decided to give it a try. Later that week I was SMH because my version looked nothing like the recipe picture. To be honest, I’ve tried it twice and my results were the same…it didn’t look like the recipe card either time.

I followed the directions both times. Well, okay, on the last attempt I added one ingredient, sun dried tomatoes, to give it some color but, other than that, it’s the same recipe. So after staring at the recipe picture for a few minutes, trying to figure out what I was doing wrong, I realized that the difference was right in front of my face. The recipe called for a head of broccoli florets and a cup of heavy cream. Well I could see (finally) on the recipe card that the broccoli is really small. They must’ve used petite florets. And given the amount, it had to be a petite head of broccoli too, because there so few pieces. Okay, then there’s the pasta. It looks al-dente, almost dry even. There’s no way that’s an actual cup of heavy cream; it’s not moist and creamy.

In case you’re wondering, I attempted the recipe based on the picture and then went shopping for the ingredients. Hey, big-ups to you if you always have a cup of heavy cream in the fridge. It wasn’t until I finished mixing and simmering that I saw how my version was so different. I immediately thought I goofed on the measurements. But it was a tasty comfort on a #PNW spring weeknight so I decided to try again. Like I said, I followed the directions but added the tomatoes on the second attempt. And again, I was disappointed with the visual results however, my version was still moist, creamy and tasty. I ultimately realized the recipe picture had been styled.

So now I’m very excited to try more recipes from my list. If my versions come out differently but still tasty, I’ll let you know.

Return To The Office…

I do have the discipline to work from home. I realized that I actually like it!

So we got the news that effective Monday, we will return to the office. *Note, not return to work because we have worked this entire 15 months, just safely from our homes.

I am not excited about this at all. I dare to say that I’m a little anxious about going to the office and interacting with coworkers again.

Photo by Mikael Blomkvist on Pexels.com

See, at the start of the pandemic, when the stay home-stay healthy (SHSH) order was issued I doubted that I had the discipline work from home. Even when we thought it was going to be just a few weeks, I cringed at the thought of taking my laptop home. I sincerely thought I’d treat it like a piece of exercise equipment. You know, the treadmill becomes an extension of our closet and we hang clothes on it.

Well around the 90 day mark, I found that even with the two hour meetings and the spotty connectivity issues, I do have the discipline to work from home. I realized that I actually like it! And I’m good at it too. I get up and pray, eat a real breakfast and then I’m at my desk knocking out task like a true boss-chick! I’m blessed to be an empty-nester so the distractions or interruptions are nil. Sure, somebody might ring me on Skype/Teams or maybe a family member might call to say hey, but those are easier to handle in my home office versus the agency office.

During the SHSH order, I’ve had to collaborate more with coworkers, some near, some far. That means I’ve built relationships. My critical thinking skills have improved. Nothing get the brain working like being challenged with pandemic induced governmental changes in law and procedures. This helped my research abilities too. Reviewing situations and actions to see what was right, what should be right and how to make it right made me dizzy at times. I’m getting better at all of it; like I said, boss-chick.

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

This winter, I didn’t buy any cold meds like Theraflu, Alka-Seltzer or Vick’s rub. I didn’t worry about a coworker getting sick and then everyone in the office getting sick, usually one or two at a time. I wasn’t concerned, if I had to commute to our other office, with where to sit on the bus or train to avoid anyone coughing or sneezing. And I think this is a big win because, truth be told, over-the-counter cold medications are expensive.

So now here we are with some people vaccinated & some not, some people wear a mask & some don’t, some people take basic precautions and some absolutely do not (they didn’t before the pandemic either) and now I’m expected to return to normal. Hey, psst, news flash, I don’t want to go back to pre-COVID normal. I like this new normal way better.

I like wearing comfortable PNW-casual Friday clothes everyday, I like not having a commute and I like having my own window office. I noticed I actually take a break and a bathroom break. For some reason I combine them when I’m in the office. I wonder if that’s a front desk worker issue? Bottom line upfront, I recognize that I’m very blessed, that I take delight in the work I do and really enjoy my work environment. In my humble opinion, it ain’t broke, so no need to fix it. However, since I’m not in charge, I’ll let you know how I’m living with this change in a few weeks.

A Bike Ride For Me

To be honest, I got off and pushed at the last hill for about 25 yards.

So I rode my bike for the first time in over 4 years this past weekend.  It felt good to feel the air rushing past me as I rolled down hill. 

Photo by Uriel Mont on Pexels.com

My legs were pumping hard & fast as I tried to make it through the traffic light, I felt strong. 

I am on the street, riding with traffic for the 6.2 miles(10k), round trip, to the post office.  I wear a bright yellow jacket/vest so that drivers can easily see me but, that doesn’t always work. A few times on this last trip several cars didn’t want to share road.  Note, there are signs that say “share the road” or “bikes can use the full lane”. I don’t need the whole lane but, I would like for drivers to give me some space; not just try to push me to the sidewalk. After all, sidewalks are for walkers.

Photo by Maria Orlova on Pexels.com

On my outing I noticed that there aren’t many places to lock my bike once I get to a store anymore. I had to attach it to a pole or part of the building to secure it.  It was a quick trip; post office, bank and Target.  My bike doesn’t have a basket so getting only what was on my list from Target was easy this time.

Photo by Athena on Pexels.com

The ride home was a little more challenging. I worked up an appetite, but I couldn’t see getting any fast-food because it wouldn’t be appealing after being in my small day pack for 30 minutes. And of course, there was more traffic on the road. More cars mean more drivers that maybe distracted or don’t understand that a bike can be on the road. And those hills were now inclines and no longer felt good. To be honest, I got off and pushed at the last hill for about 25 yards. Real talk, my butt was tired!

Once I got home and settled I still thought it was an enjoyable adventure. I’m looking forward to the next one.

Photo by Asa Dugger on Pexels.com

Happy Mother’s Day?

I hadn’t considered the feelings, especially on Mother’s Day,

This started as an apology text, then a letter to a very dear friend. I realized that while I’d given her gifts & cards for Mother’s Day, I hadn’t considered her feelings about it since she loss her mom a few years ago. Then the Holy Spirit told me that she wasn’t the only one due an apology. I hadn’t considered the feelings, especially on Mother’s Day, of many other women in my life, that have lost their mothers too.

So, to all my aunties, nieces, cousins, sisters-in-love, sisters-in-Christ, old army buddies and friends who are mothers and who have lost their mother, I want to say I’m sorry. I’m sorry for all the past celebrations of Mother’s Day that I didn’t think about how you felt with all the well wishes for a Happy Mother’s Day when you couldn’t celebrate with your mother. I’m sorry that sometimes I got you a generic card and didn’t even think about adding a personalized line or two about your mom. And I’m sorry that I didn’t call or send a text to check on you in the following weeks.

I ask that you blame the head and not my heart. I guess I got caught up in the celebration and not celebrating the blessing of having a mother still amongst the living. You know, the cards are so pretty & the sentiments reflect what’s in my heart, most of the time (Note-for real, we need more greeting cards that reflect the thoughts of people like me). The flowers are beautiful; like God had them bloom just in time for the day. All the retailers have some sort of Mother’s Day gift package. From kitchen ware, to clothes, to jewelry, to DIY, to beauty products, spas and even technical gadgets, there is a gift just right for your mom. And the coupons for restaurants, fancy or bougie, dine-in, delivery or pick-up, are plentiful; not always a bargain but plentiful!!

Since I’ve recently lost my own mother, I started to wonder how you’ve even put up with non-thinking friends & family like me over the years. But, this year I’m changing it up a little bit. I’ll still send a card, you know me, and a fabulous KB253 gift bag to some, but this year, I’ll take the time to check-in on the ladies. Some may still get a text with a cute meme but, I’m going to follow-up with them too. I don’t want to dwell on our loss, but instead, on the memories of how our mom’s blessed us, shared their wisdom and loved us.

This year, as I’m thinking how others may feel without their mom, I want to say thank you. I thank you for being so strong, so gracious and loving, especially on Mother’s Day.

Meeting My Needs

So a few days ago I woke up cold and hungry. I had fallen asleep on the love seat in our family room. As I pulled the covers around me and started to stretch I realize that I was truly blessed. While I was a little inconvenienced and uncomfortable, I was home. I was in my house and could easily add another blanket, turn on the heat or go to my actual bed; I could get warm and comfy again.

And I didn’t think I should be hungry as I had a large salad and popcorn the night before. But, if I was hungry, all I had to do was get up, go to the kitchen and prepare something. The kitchen had meat, bread, veggies, fruit & snacks.

I have to say I was relieved, humbled and intensely grateful in those moments as I open my eyes to realize that God had once again made provision for me. He is meeting my needs and I am truly thankful. Matthew 6:31-32, that’s how I’m living.