Refuse to be Passive

Archive for October, 2010|Monthly archive page

Saying No

In Life in General on October 28, 2010 at 11:57 am

We’ve all heard about how people today have issues saying no. We’ve heard that we need to learn to take time for ourselves, to relax and step back from our hectic lives. I don’t know who came up with this, but it certainly wasn’t someone running in my circles. It seems to me that some days all I hear is no. “No, I’m swamped in work.” “No, I’m too tired.” “No, I don’t have the time.” All of these phrases are merely clever disguises. What each of these phrases is really saying is, “No, you’re not that important to me.” “No, I don’t care enough about _____ to make it a priority.” How often these days don’t you suggest an event, go to host it, and then have everyone back out on you. How often don’t you ask for a small favour, a one-time thing that would take minutes, and people say, “I’m just to busy.”
It seems to me that we as a people are more selfish than ever. It seems to be that almost no one has issues saying no. Right now, that has me completely ticked-off. I work hard to accomodate those who I can, and if something is important to a person, I make time for it. If we weren’t so busy staring into our computer screens or wasting away in front of the TV in the evening, a whole lot more would get done. If we took time to look up and put a face to a request, rather than rejecting, or worse, not responding to an e-mail, this world would be a better place. Have you ever noticed that people have a much easier time being rude over the phone than in person? It’s part of the reason that being a telemarketer or surveyor is such a painful job. People can’t see your face, just your voice, and therefore they have no problem ripping into you. When I have an e-mail to send, I first see if I can track down that person and speak with them instead. Does it take a few extra minutes? Sure. Is it worth it to cultivate your relationships with others, and ensure that you’ve communicated clearly? There is no doubt. How many times haven’t you been insulted by an e-mail, only to talk it out quite civilly with the person later.

People, quit saying no when it’s inconvenient but thoroughly doable. Quit treating people as if there’s no face on the other end of the phone or e-mail. Quit being so selfish that all you see in front of you, is you.

There’s a chill in the air…

In Life in General on October 26, 2010 at 10:21 pm

…and another day without a spot of sun. It was a whopping -4C when I went for a walk over lunch hour this afternoon, and I couldn’t help but wish that I’d worn tights rather than nylons. Then, maybe, my legs wouldn’t be freezing, although that gave me little hope for my toes, which did have a pair of socks on them too and still wound up sore.

It was a busy, yet not terribly productive day, filled with meetings, a trip to numerous book stores, a walk to the bank, a gathering with some ladies from church, and homemade chair at a friend’s house. Although, reading all this over doesn’t make my day look nearly as unproductive as it felt.

Today I got the question again, “So, do you have a boyfriend? Are you seeing anyone?” Thankfully, this person asked in a thoughtful manner, without probing too deeply into my love life or lack thereof. We chatted for a bit about guys, and the lack of places in my life to meet them. We also chatted about the few I knew as friends and why none of them would be suitable candidates. That sounded a little clinical no? Candidates? Well, I suppose that’s what they are in some sense. The truth of the matter concerning my guy friends is that none of them share the same faith background that I have, and as my faith is extremely important to me, that creates an issue.

On the topic of faith, this morning I got up at six a.m. when the alarm clock in the other room went off. I’m staying in the guest room while my sister is out of town, however I neglected to turn off her alarm. And once I was up, then the dog wanted to be let out, so I did that. And by that time, there was little point in trying to go back to sleep for half and hour or an hour. As such, I chose instead to sit down with my Bible, journal, and Kathleen Norris’ The Cloister Walk, and spend a little time with God. I’d forgotten how much I love doing my devotions in the morning, and this morning was a great reminder. It’s a time where the business of the day has yet to invade my brain, and I’m awake enough that I’m not going to fall asleep over my Bible. It’s the time at which I’m at my best for taking in information and meditating on it. I know that for many people, this is not the case. Rather, devotions in the morning simply makes them fall asleep again. It’s actually rather surprising that morning is my preferred time of day for this, as I have the hardest time getting out of bed in the mornings. I must confess, I’m excited to get to bed soon so that I can wake up at six again and have that time alone with God. What will he teach me tomorrow I wonder?

First Snow

In Life in General on October 25, 2010 at 9:05 pm

I woke up this morning, looked out the front door, and shivered as I gazed out over a blanket of white. October 25th, the first snowfall of the year. While I am a self-proclaimed snow hater, there’s something nice about the first snow of the year. I suppose what I really don’t care for is the ice and the cold that comes along with the snow.  For example, if it could be 10 degrees Celsius and with snow, I think I might even take up snowboarding. As it is, cold and snow seem to be wed to one another. But, for every snow hater out there, there is a snow lover. One of my friends was practically doing a happy dance today because of the white stuff on the ground. He’s counting down the days until he can hit the slopes. Those are odd people to be sure. Hopefully the white stuff will stay away until I’m able to get winter tires for my car. Last year I stuck with my all-seasons, but when you live in the land of snow, ice, and horrible snow removal service, winter tires could come in handy. They’re pricey, but worth it I’m told. They’d better be. I had other plans for that money. Cars sure are expensive. It makes me want to give mine up…almost. That and I’m not a big fan of scraping off the wind shield and then having the snow sneak it’s way between your mitts and your coat, freezing your wrists. On the other hand, there are things in the winter season that make things better, like Christmas for example. Or my birthday. December certainly was a great month in 1984.

And so, thinking of Christmas, I sign off and aim to make good on my promise that I will indeed read my textbook tonight. Yea for distance learning and working full time. It’s nearly as much fun as it sounds.

In Life in General, Uncategorized on October 25, 2010 at 8:55 pm

The air outside is chilled and the sun hasn’t shone today at all. Not a sliver of light has penetrated the gray clouds covering the sky. Even though I’m inside, I can’t help but feel the cold seeping into me. I’m wearing layers and am still shivering, making me wish for a hot cup of tea to wrap my hands around. I’ve got to head out in a few minutes and go to church, but I think once I’m  home I might just curl slip into my sweats, grab a book, and spend my day under the comforter. That’s about all that days like today are good for…except maybe giving myself a manicure.

Autumn Delight

In Food, Life in General on October 22, 2010 at 9:31 am

Yesterday evening I went to my favourite local coffee shop, Transcend Coffee, to meet up with some friends. I ordered my black coffee, and chatted with the girls behind the counter. One of them said that I looked like Fall. I was wearing a tweed tam, black baby t, brown cardigan/sweater, brown plaid pants, and brown heels. And of course, the earrings to match, along with a burnt orange pashmina. The other girl said it made her feel like she was in Boston and was hanging with someone cooler than she. I must admit that I felt pretty great, and that I did feel like I dressed like autumn. The leaves are long gone, but until the snow flies, browns, grays and oranges will be making appearances in my wardrobe. Autumn is my favourite time of year, so if I can stretch it out, that’s just delightful.

Another part of autumn that I love is roasted root vegetables. There’s nothing better than hot, oven roasted vegetables like parsnips, carrots, and turnips. Parsnips are a personal favourite for me. I didn’t grow up with roasted root vegetables, my mother always boiled the veg in our house. A few years ago though, when I spent a semester in England, the little elderly lady I lived with made roasted veg all the time. I don’t think she knew you could boil carrots and parsnips. I learned from her and have never gone back. Want to try your own? It’s super easy. Here’s how:

Peel and cut your vegetables into the desired size. Toss with a bit of oil– anywhere from a tsp to a Tbsp. Sprinkle with freshly ground salt. Add pepper if desired. Spread on a cookie sheet, bake at 425 stirring occasionally until vegetables are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside– roughly 15 minutes. Remove from oven and enjoy! Careful, they’re really hot!

Autonomy– A joke?

In Life in General on October 21, 2010 at 9:47 am

I was reading an article the other day that commented that while we may like to think of ourselves as autonomous, the people we surround ourselves with create a big impact on the decisions we make. We tend to make decisions that will be supported or encouraged by the people we’re around. I suppose I always knew autonomy was more a concept than a reality, but the article got me thinking about my life and how this is lived out.

Lately, I’ve been back on my health kick again. I’ve been doing pretty well over the past month, getting back to swimming, and this morning even hitting up the gym with my sister. My sister is my first point of healthy contact, maybe not for food, but for fitness. She came to me the other day and asked me to start swimming and working out with her to keep her accountable. I agreed. As such the past couple days I’ve been up at 6am to go to the gym or pool. Right there, an influence.

I went to a friend’s house a couple of weeks ago for a movie night. Movie night’s tend to be trouble on the eating front, so I brought along some pears to make spiced baked pears. My friend and I also agreed to make popcorn. Once the popcorn was made, he asked me if we should put on butter. I requested none for me, so he didn’t put any on at all.  Another influence. He ate healthier because he was around someone who ate healthy.

And then there’s my healthy living group that I meet up with once a week. We weigh in, talk about what went well last week as well as what we’ll change for next week. We also have a topic we discuss, like strategies for the grocery store. Influences right there. I know that at the end of each week, someone is going to ask me how I did, and I really don’t want to be embarrassed in front of an entire group. As such, it effects the choices I make throughout the week.

On the negative side, I also have friends who eat whatever comes across their line of sight.  They seem to have a significant amount in common with Cookie Monster.  Not only do they eat whatever they want with no regard to healthy benefits, or lack there of, they also try to foist the food on me.  Brownies vs. veggies. Today it’s not even a question. A couple months ago it wasn’t a question either. The difference is that my answers today and a couple months ago would have been different.

In a realm not directly related to food and health, I think of environmentalism. I live in a tiny apartment– like 330 sq ft. I love it. I drive my car, but will often opt to walk to work, the library, the grocery store, and even occasionally downtown. I make a point of turning out lights when I’m leaving a room. I recycle. What makes the difference? I’ve lived around people who value these things for a long time, and they’ve rubbed off on me. I have other friends who couldn’t care less how much they drive, how much gas/electricity/water they use, or how far their food comes from. I don’t hang out with these people very often. They’re definitely the minority, and as such, their lifestyles don’t effect me in the same way.

So, do people influence how I live my life? Absolutely. Is anyone truly autonomous? Doubtful.

Take a couple minutes to look at your own life. Who influences you? How do they influence you? Is that who you want to be? If not,  what steps can you take to get there? Is it time to have a talk with that negative friend or the food pusher? Is it time to sign up for a yoga class, or start playing a sport? Ultimately, you control your environment and who you hang around with. This week, focus on making good choices.

Eating Healthy, Not Expensive

In Food on October 20, 2010 at 1:09 pm

So I’ve combined two parts of my life to present this post. During the day I work as a financial aid officer at a local university, and when I’m not at work I’m putting together yummy meals in my kitchen. Lately I’ve had two challenges come my way– reduce my monthly grocery bills, eat healthier. Those two aren’t always the easiest to combine, but I’m doing my best. As such, I created this soup yesterday, and it’s rather delish. If you’re really into hot food, add a couple of drops of hot sauce to the following:

 

Spicy Italian Soup

 

1 Tbsp oil

1 clove garlic

1 medium onion

1 pkg hot Italian sausage

½ cup orzo pasta, uncooked

2 litres vegetable soup stock

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

1 can (798ml) spiced diced tomatoes

1 can (398 ml) diced tomatoes

1 can (398 ml) mushrooms

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Mince garlic. Chop onion. Slice uncooked Italian sausage. In large fry pan heat oil, add garlic and onions. Cook until onions are translucent. Add Italian sausage. Cook until browned.

 

In large pot, add soup stalk, celery, carrots, spiced tomatoes (with liquid), and diced tomatoes (with liquid), and mushrooms. Add orzo pasta, Italian sausage, onion, and garlic. Bring to a boil—cook until pasta is al dente.

 

Serve with fresh homemade bread, or a light salad.

 

Enjoy!

25 and Single

In Life in General on October 19, 2010 at 3:40 pm

I have this friend. Yes, I know that’s usually covering for yourself when describing a situation, but really, it’s not me. Number one thing that proves it’s not me…he’s a he.
This friend is an interesting person in that he’s absurdly nice to all women. He’s a great, modern, single guy with a dash of chivalry. I can honestly say that I don’t know anyone else like him. He’s the type of guy all the girls wind up swooning over, even though by looks, he’s fairly average. It’s his personality that kicks it up a notch.
As I already know this about him, it creates little problem having him as a friend. I know he’s single right now for his own reasons, and that he’s not looking for anything. Fine with me, we don’t have any chemistry anyway. However, he does cause me some grief simply in being himself.
For example, he’s dropped by my office a few times in the past month to chat. Now my boss has decided that he’s got a bit of a thing for me, and that she should start probing me to that extent. Another co-worker has also inquired after him, as I don’t have a ton of guy friends, and my co-workers have certainly never met any of the others. It’s hard convincing them that there’s nothing there, and that he really does treat every woman like this. My boss told me not to sell myself short. I’m not. I just know him and I know there’s nothing there. Oh, being single and 25. People are oh so interested in my non-existent love life.
On a somewhat similar topic, my parents will be up this weekend, and I can’t help but wonder how long it will take before we hit the, “We’re praying for a good man for you,” part of the conversation. Honestly, for the most part, I’m happy being single. I don’t understand why people seem to have issues with that– why they can’t fathom being single and happy. If you can’t be happy by yourself, you won’t be happy in a relationship. I’ve seen my friends get into relationships when their not happy in themselves and it’s a disaster. Being part of a couple means you compliment each other, not complete each other. Now, if a younger David Boreanez with a stellar personality, and similar values happened to stumble into my life, I must admit, I wouldn’t say no. Although maybe that would be a bad thing. I think I might turn into a bit of a jealous girlfriend. On the other hand, as I haven’t had a boyfriend in years, that may have changed…

PS– Friend, I don’t think you know this blog exists. If you read this and think, “Hey, that sounds like me.” Well… it is. Now, don’t you just feel special? Warm fuzzies!

My Reputation

In Food, Life in General on October 15, 2010 at 2:47 pm

One of my co-workers told me today that there are certain people she associates with certain things. For example, she has a friend who she associates with English, and any time she has a grammar question, she goes to this friend. For her, I am the baking friend. To her, when she thinks baking, she thinks of me. I must admit, that while I’m glad I have an English degree, I find it much more delightful to be her baking friend than her English friend. The truth of the matter is that I can whip up some mean ginger cookies, but still have issues with comma splices and misplaced modifiers.

Today at work there was a bake sale to help raise funds for the Pakistan Relief Effort. I donated a few things– peanut butter chocolate fudge, Rice Krispie squares, ginger cookies, apple muffins, apple banana spice cake, and a pie. Apparently the people at the table were name dropping, and when my name came up, people bought. I guess I have a wee bit of a reputation as a baker ever since last year when I auctioned off 8 homemade pies for a silent auction in support of the United Way.

The number one question I get from people who know my baking is, “Where’d you find the recipe.” The typical answer is, “Online.” Well, today was no different. So for those of you who wonder where my yummy treat ideas come from, I’m about to tell you.  They come from allrecipes.com and food.com (previously epicurious.com). Interestingly enough, most people have heard of these sites, and even use them on a regular basis. So why is it that my baking stands out? Well, my only thoughts are that I only use 5 star recipes with lots of reviews, and then I make sure I read through other users comments. If it’s not easy to make, I’ll usually only make it once. My true keepers have less than ten ingredients, and all of them easy to come by.

So, if you love baking but have never checked out these sites, it’s well worth your effort. Happy baking!

Cops and Me– Yeah, I’m the Bad Guy

In Life in General on October 14, 2010 at 9:04 am

What are the first thoughts that run through your head when a cop pulls you over? For some it’s, “Oh no, not again.” For others it’s, “Stupid cops. Why are they around to bust me, but not any of the really bad drivers?” Or, if you’re like me, “Yeah, I deserve a ticket. I knew that was wrong.”

Last night I flipped an illegal U-turn after getting lost on my way to a volleyball game for which I was late. I noticed a cop follow me around the corner and while his lights weren’t on, I knew I was busted, so I found a spot to pull over– no mean feat with Edmonton’s many No Parking signs– and he pulled up behind me and put on his lights.

I’ll spare you the gritty details, but basically first he made sure I was alright. I flipped the U-turn pretty fast (there was oncoming traffic, but I maintain I had lots of time) and he was worried that I was lost and there was some sort of emergency. We chatted for a bit, he helped me figure out where I was going, he looked at my driver’s license and registration. He handed it back, warned me to drive more carefully, and wished me a pleasant evening. No ticket. I was shocked.

I was thinking about it after I got home that night, and was actually thankful that the cop pulled me over. Sometimes we need someone to remind us when we’ve done something wrong, and that, just because we’ve seen other people do it, it doesn’t mean that it’s okay. So, to that cop who pulled me over, I want to say thank you. He was doing his job, I got a warning, but besides the warning winding up in the police system, it also wound up in my brain.  And now, every time I’m tempted to pull some stupid stunt driving, I’ll remember that it’s not just about me, but about the other driver’s on the road. If I had waited to find a spot where I could easily turn around, and take my time, I probably would have used an extra two minutes. Not the end of the world. Granted, having a cop to give me directions– that was quite helpful.