This is something we have been talking about in my family lately — this little thing called Maintenance.
No, not exactly hammers, orange traffic cones and tool belts, but yes — when an area of your life is not working all that well, you take a look and say, “Hmmm, look at that! I bet I could do that a little differently if I just put a daily dose of my valuable attention there.”
Here’s another way of saying it — You take a little action every day in a particular area of your life that ultimately makes you a happier and healthier person. This action is something you do just for yourself and your own satisfaction, which benefits YOU directly in the future. This is a little something you do NOW — and five years from now you will be very glad you did what you did, and yes, it happened a little at a time. Nothing radical. Just little daily steps in the direction of happiness for you. (Think long term small initial investment with a big return on the other end.)
This is clearly not rocket science, but it takes consistent, dedicated effort in an area where you might be a little asleep at the wheel. I know there are places where I’m most certainly snoozing. How about you?
So first — and this is important! — poke around a bit in your life and see where you are really happy. Notice how you support yourself in these areas and notice how well you do it. Thank yourself, acknowledge yourself, give yourself a HOORAH! and a pat on the back.
Perhaps you LOVE long baths with candles, your favorite bubbles, and no time limit. It’s just your thing. You love it, and you give it to yourself at least once a week no matter what. One of my consulting clients does this. She will take time before she goes out on Saturday evening, or before she tucks herself in. One long bath is a pleasure that lasts — for her — for the whole week. Her week goes better when she takes time for that long pampering session.
One of my friends takes time to smell the roses every day, literally. She walks outside with her morning cup of coffee (no to-do list in hand!) and enjoys the spikes of color in her backyard. She smells them, touches the soft petals. She notices the amazing and brilliant color in the morning light. On special occasions, the hummingbirds dive in for a surprise sip of nectar.
Perhaps you have a well-maintained car. You rotate your tires, change the oil, get it serviced regularly, and keep it clean as a whistle. There’s a schedule. You follow it. And guess what? Your automobile runs beautifully and looks great. You never have car trouble. You’re always happy to have people in your car. You never have to move piles or dog leashes or wrappers from what you were eating a few days ago. Your car always looks clean and welcoming. You’re one of those folks that says, “Sure, I’ll drive” and everybody jumps in.
I recently made a new ALDA (A Little Daily Action) deal with myself. Exercising regularly is pretty easy for me now because I made a deal with myself 4 years ago. I go to the gym 3-4 times a week (pilates, yoga, light weights, the treadmill) and when I don’t feel like the gym, out comes the small trampoline and iPod, or I walk my dogs (not just sauntering along, either!), or I do something that gets my heart going for at least 30 minutes. That’s my deal with myself, and I am SO happy about it. This has made all the difference. I feel good. When I walk, I can feel all the muscles in my body working together — I love that feeling! — and I don’t think I’ve felt that since I was in my late 30’s or early 40’s. I’m actually stronger now than when I was younger.
From this happy and satisfied place, I look forward to the next shift I’m about to make. Try this — make new shifts from a place of being happy about how you already are. This is the opposite of pushing against a failure in an attempt to improve, which is hard work — and it doesn’t work. (Take diets for instance — regaining the weight as soon as the diet is over.) Coming from a place of satisfaction and joy and self-approval, ANY action taken is about a hundred times more effective. How fabulous is that!
So, here I am, happy with my exercising. It’s easy and makes me feel good. I’m strong and flexible. Now what? Here’s what!
I would enjoy the feeling of being lighter in every way. Lighter body, lighter thoughts, lighter attitudes, lighter outlook. Lighten up!
So during my day, I will shine a light on my state of mind. Do I need that snack I’m heading for or am I simply worried or uptight? What thoughts, what point of view would allow me to “lighten up?” How can I feel better right now just by seeing things in a more positive way?
Again, a little action every day. I did it with exercise, I can do it here. What will happen? I have no idea! It could be that I begin to pass up food that I don’t really need. It could be that I feel better, even when times get tough or there are challenges in the family. My younger brother in Iowa is recovering from surgery and some rather serious physical circumstances. How will things change if I look for a better feeling every time I think about him? What will happen if I see all of his strength every time I think about him? I don’t know, but I’ll be happy to report back to you.
And this is an important point — the “I can do it” part. You’ve done it before. You have the skill — make sure you find examples of your success with change. (If you can’t find them, ask a friend who knows you well — they’ll tell you plenty.) Bookmarking your successes turns off that (unkind) voice in your head. Transfer your skill to this area where you’ve been a little sleepy-eyed.
So these are the things I will be looking at in the days to come. I’ll give you a report in a few months! I’m curious about what changes I’ll see in myself and others as I go. Want to participate? Want to go for some new change in your life? You can do it. Look around for evidence that you already know how to make an important change! Send me a report or ask questions — I’d love to hear how this is working for you.
When it’s a work-at-home-day or when other reasons beckon you to stay home in the warmth and comfort of your fuzzy slippers, when you want to hunker down, or batten down the hatches in preparation for a storm (real or imagined or emotional), it’s good to put something tasty in the oven. Hopefully, it will take hours to cook and fill your home with delectable smells of what’s to come.
There is a very easy way to do this. Buy a chicken — a roaster. Not one of those itty- bitty fryers, even if you’re cooking for one. (I’ll give you easy ideas for freezing and/or using the leftovers.) Roasters take longer to cook. This is the whole idea!
Also get some baking potatoes, organic preferably. Scrub them and set them aside to dry a bit.
So you’ve got a chicken and potatoes. Rinse the bird under the faucet, put it in the baking pan and pat it dry with a paper towel. Make sure you’ve removed any giblets in the main cavity of the bird. Rub the chicken with olive oil.
Then rub, slather or sprinkle the chicken with ANY ONE of the following:
1. A spice-rub that you might have on hand. Penzey’s Spices has many of these. BiCentennial, Southwest, and Northwoods Seasoning are just three of my many favorites. I love this company and there’s nothing better than opening an order from them and indulging in opening the jar of nutmeg for a whiff!! Their spices are so fresh! (Did you know that a spice you buy in a grocery store can already be a year old??? Yikes.) http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzeys/shophome.html. You won’t believe the difference. You’re so welcome.
2. OR Fresh or dried herbs you have on hand. Again, check out Penzey’s for the dried herbs — they have heavenly Tarragon! If you have a Rosemary bush outside your door or down the street, all the better. Take a few big sprigs, rinse under running water and shake off. Strip the leaves off (hold the sprig at the top and strip from top to bottom.) Chop. Put all over the outside of the chicken and throw a generous size sprig or two into the cavity. Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper.
3. OR Mix 1 tablespoon of paprika and 1/2 teaspoon of salt with 1/2 cup of sour cream. Slather it all over the chicken. Yes, I know it looks gross at this stage, but wait until it bakes. Yum.
4. OR Tuck leaves of fresh Sage and about 10 chopped cloves of garlic under the skin on the breast. Simply separate the skin from the breast meat by sliding one finger between the skin and the meat. Loosen and clear away the connective tissue and voila! You’ve got room for spices. Put the Sage and garlic there. Squeeze lemon juice mixed with a tablespoon or two of olive oil all over. Add salt and pepper.
Put the baking potatoes rubbed with a little olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper around the bird. Put all into a preheated 350 degree oven.
Many recipes say 20-25 minutes per pound for roasting a chicken, but I find for a 5-6 lb roaster, it takes longer than that per pound, about 2-1/4 to 2-1/2 hours total. If the legs move easily, and the juices run clear (or almost) you’re good to go. Always let the bird sit about 10 minutes before carving.
SAVE the drippings. Put the bird on a plate to carve and pour all the drippings into a glass container and put in the refrigerator. Tomorrow you’ll skim off the grease that rises to the top and you have the most delicious ready-made sauce in the world. See below for uses.
Oh, and the leftovers!
1. If you don’t have hungry mouths around to finish up the chicken, take several servings and put in separate freezer ziplock bags, label them with the contents and date and freeze. Put a little of the defatted drippings into the bag, like a tablespoon or two.
2. Make any kind of pasta (wheat, kamut, rice) and add the chicken and a veggie and a little of the pan drippings (without the fat). Delicious.
3. Buy a cheese or vegetable pizza and add the chicken to it and bake. Or use a tortilla (corn, wheat, spelt, Ezekiel) and make a baby pizza. Start with pizza sauce or fresh tomatoes. Then add a little garlic, leftover veggies, the chicken and ANY kind of cheese –crumbled feta, small dollops of soft goat (chevre) cheese, grated cheddar, parmesan, fresh or regular mozzarella. The possibilities and taste sensations are endless.
4. Have a warm chicken salad. Warm the chicken gently, then add it to your favorite purchased or homemade Vegetable salad.
5. Put chicken in your morning omelette or have breakfast for dinner!
What’s your favorite way to use leftover chicken? Let me know!
To all things gustatory,
This morning as the rain stops and starts, and the sun goes under for a good long while and then comes out blazing and brilliant and all happy about the stir it causes, I think of our lives and how they are like that….
Your Rainbow — Where Does It Lead You?
Gray and cloudy followed by unprecedented brilliance and stunning color — rainbows complete with pots of gold! If we can handle the clouds, which is often difficult, we can handle the rainbows, right?
I don’t know. I keep having to remind myself that dark and light can be equally valuable, and I’ve been around the bend a few times!
All of us know the power of how we think about our life story, whether we see a cloudy future — or something brighter. Jean Houston, in “A Passion for the Possible,” talks about a woman who thought about her life as a play with an unhappy ending until a friend sent her an Emily Dickinson poem that spoke of sumptuous despair. She thought to herself, “How wonderful to rise out of my piddling desperation to a sumptuous celebration of my condition!”
This woman began to think of richer words to describe her feelings, and one thing led to another until she remembered that as a teenager she used to write poetry. She began to write again. One day, she sent a poem to her married daughter, who responded with a poem of her own. Soon they were talking on the phone and getting closer than they had been in years. On a whim, she offered to read one of her poems to her friends, who were quite taken with it. Within a week they had a poetry-writing circle. Pretty soon she was creating poetry circles for her church group and within a year, she was invited to create poetry circles for inner-city women. She became a volunteer to be a Friend in Court for teenage girls in trouble and became a social activist helping families.
Her life today is full of adventure and challenge and deliciousness, all because she saw value in revising and rethinking her interpretation of “cloudy skies.” Dark days were just fine after all. In fact, they became sumptuous and full of rich meaning.
opening in beautiful ways
She opened to this new and more inclusive view of things, which clearly beckoned the sun and rousing adventure as well as an ever-widening circle of positive influence.
So here’s to the weather in our lives — blazing sun, quiet and oppressive heat, strong and prevailing winds, dog days of summer, frigid winters, unrelenting rain, gentle showers, wild thunder — all of it. May you find delicious drops of creativity, love, awareness and surprising gifts in every well-weathered corner of your world.
In my life, I have three favorite women and we meet regularly. It’s something I look forward to with a smile on my face way before I get to wherever we are meeting. Connecting with a group of women and staying connected has never really happened to me before — not sure why— but I’m glad it’s happening now.
So there are four of us. According to my cursory research, the symbolic meaning of the number four deals with stability and groundedness and represents solidity, calmness and home. To realize the power of four, think of the four seasons, four directions, or four elements (air, earth, fire, water). Being in this supportive group of four encourages me to explore my roots. I feel stronger and more centered after leaving this fabulous group of women, I know myself better, whether or not I have been the center of conversation, and I am accepted no matter what is going on with me.
We meet in places where it’s quiet enough to talk. We don’t gossip. We don’t figure each other out or psycho-analyze. We ask a lot of questions and listen to each other. And laugh. Oh, do we laugh. To see one’s self reflected in the eyes of three others who love you is surprising — in a good way! Besides, laughter is the best ab workout around.
More evidence that four is a great and stable thing — you can build a pyramid on a base of four. With this group of four, I feel like we can rise above anything, and get a pyramidal (!) perspective on life while standing on solid ground.
And what a view that is. Thanks, girls. Here’s to more groups of four! Let me know if you have one, or when you build one and write me about it. I’d love to hear all about it.