Thursday, February 21, 2013

Another Nine Minutes ... Gone

Product DetailsThe *LOC loves to cook breakfast.  And I don't just mean a nice little pan of oatmeal.  He likes to whip up pancakes topped with heated syrup and good butter.

He loves to make omelets with chopped green peppers and onions, filled with mixed shredded cheese.  These he serves with whole wheat toast and raspberry jam. Ooooh, boy.

And he LOVES to fry bacon - lots of it.  His bacon turns out just right - dry, crispy and not too dark, not too light.  And flat!

One kitchen tool he prizes more than nearly any other is his bacon press.  For those who have never seen, much less used, one - it resembles an iron.  (See photo above.)  You set it on top of the bacon as it fries, and the weight prevents the bacon from shriveling up.  He also drains it and dries it on a paper towel.  Voila!

When the LOC places a slice of bacon on a plate, it is crispy, golden brown and flat, non-greasy and delicious.  In other words, perfect. Oh, dear - that is the problem. 
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The other day I read an article that said medical research indicates that for every piece of bacon a person eats, his or her life is shortened by nine minutes. What?

Oh, phooey.  As we get older there are so many things that are not quite as enjoyable as they once were.  I don't mean to be a Debbie-downer here, but it is true.  A nice walk used to simply mean wonderful things to see as I went along, and a good sense of fatigue when I got back home.

Now a brisk walk, in addition to those two things, also involves:
- being sure I have first visited the bathroom before I head out,
- making sure I am wearing a pair of shoes that gives me the best surface grip to avoid falling,
- that I am wearing both sunblock cream and a hat to protect my face from the sun, and
- being willing to hurt for the first three blocks until I hit my stride (which admittedly is nothing to brag about.)

In other words, simple pleasures are not so simple anymore.  So for crying out loud, couldn't they have left having a nice slice of bacon alone?

Apparently not.

So I did the math.

The LOC cooks breakfast an average of twice a week.  But we generally only have bacon during one of those meals.  However, he always serves me three perfectly cooked slices.

There goes 27 minutes I'll never get back.
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Calculating a half an hour lost per week, equates to approximately one day each year.  If the LOC and I persist in this ritual for thirty years, I may lose a month at the end of the gastronomical trail.

Well, life is a series of trade-offs as we all know from personal experience.  A month is nothing to sneeze at.  But neither is the prospect of thirty years without bacon!  Yeesh.
Guess we each have to make our own choice.  For me, for now at least, .... honey, pass the bacon.
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Hope you are using your time well and wisely.  Failing that, hope you are at least enjoying a good slice of bacon!  Until next time ... Marsha
(*Lovable Old Coot)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Progress Not Perfection

I am not sure why I am writing this little essay today, except that I feel compelled to do so.  I see so many people beating themselves up over what they perceive as their lack of progress in life, on the job, in relationships, or toward a life goal.  

For many years I counseled employees upon how to better succeed in their role in the company.  Sometimes the coaching was about how to obtain that promotion they had been longing for and other times it was about how to better operate under a boss who was less than the ideal, or any of a myriad of other issues.

I kept a framed poster on my office wall, with a picture similar to the one shown above, that read:  Success is not a destination, it is a journey.  I still believe that.

When working with people who wanted some help in making progress toward a goal, some of the questions I would pose were:

Why do you want this? (If it was a desired promotion, and the answer was simply "more money" - that usually meant we had a lot of work to do.)

What skills do you have that make you feel well-suited to this next role? (If the response was, "I don't have any idea" - we had a lot of work , etc. .....).

What have you done (on your "own time and own dime") in the past year to prepare yourself for this opportunity? (If s/he looked at me and said, "huh?" - we had a lot .....)

What approaches have you already tried to improve the working relationship? (If the answer was "nothing" - that did not bode well.)

It was my genuine joy to see them succeed, sometimes beyond their initial hopes or dreams.  However, there were times when they just could not seem to "make it happen"; they could not find a way to achieve their ideal employment situation.

When they would come back to me, in such circumstances, wondering why they had failed, I often pointed out (when it was true) that they had not failed; rather they had overlooked their own progress.

In life, just as in a career, the goal should be progress not perfection.  

Progress is not defined by "how am I doing compared to so-and-so."  Using this definition we will almost inevitably be disappointed and frustrated.  And there will usually be more than a dollop of envy and self-pity thrown in, too.

I defined progress by "how am I doing compared to where I was this time last year?"

Questions we may legitimately ask ourselves are:
Am I more effective in my role this year?

Have I shown growth in the areas of compassion, patience or generosity?

Am I doing my best to be a good role model where I have the opportunity to do so?

Our progress along the time/life continuum will always be less than ideal. And sometimes our honest answer to each of the questions above may be a regretful "no, not really." 

After all, we live in a fallen world.  But our situation can almost always be improved upon, depending upon whether we are willing and able to invest the energy and discipline to make it so.

Whether it is our spending habits about which we are concerned, our weight management struggles, or our dreams for ways in which we would like to participate in the world, progress is the goal.  

God never expected us to become "perfect" in this life, except as seen through the sacrifice of his son and the beauty of grace.  Even the verse in Mathew that says "Be perfect as your Father is perfect" - in the original Greek actually uses the root word "mature" meaning a fully mature person spiritually, not an infallible human being.
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Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else ... Galatians 6:4 (NIV)
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Hope you are making good progress today and that you are not beating yourself up because you just aren't perfect.  Guess what, no one alive today is!  Until next time ... Marsha

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

It's Official - I'm Obsolete

Product DetailsIt is a sad state of affairs when you learn you are obsolete via the nightly news.  But that is just what happened to me this week.

It seems the people who run the Monopoly game business also ran a survey to learn which board token should be "retired"; and it turned out to be the iron.    

It was replaced with a cat.

Oh, puh-leeze.  Just when was the last time a four-footed fur ball put a nice crease in your best slacks?  I mean, honestly ...

Of course, it wasn't really that much of a shock to the system.  I have long suspected that I am one of only three people left in America who still actually irons.  I would love to know who the other two are, incidentally.

I actually enjoy ironing.  Probably because I only do it when I feel like it, and I only have to do a few pieces at a time.

Back when you had to iron everything you wore, or go out the door looking like you just fell out of bed, things were different.  Of course, as it turns out, those who ran around looking wrinkled and woe-begotten were simply twenty five years ahead of their time.
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Oh, well. Such are the vagaries of life.  I plan to keep on ironing as long as I have the strength to set up the old board, and plug in the iron.  It relaxes me, and it gives me a wonderful sense of satisfaction when I am finished with a whole set of freshly pressed blouses, slacks and shirts.  They look nice and smell wonderful!

So if the trade off is satisfaction, a sense of completion, and a good olfactory experience vs. being obsolete in a society which indulges in what is called "planned obsolescence" every single day -  well, color me happy

I am content to be officially obsolete - my blouses still look better than they need to :)

True, I won't pass go and I won't collect two hundred dollars.  And I definitely don't plan to get a cat.  (Holly, would have a fit.)

But all in all, I am okay with it.   # # # # #
Hope your day was a good one and that your favorite board piece was not snatched and declared obsolete.  Or you either.  Until next time ... Marsha