One of those days

I was on a roll this morning. Got up at my usual time, had my coffee, made cream biscuits to take into work. All was well until I got to my desk and was settling myself for the morning with my full second cup of coffee in hand. Somehow I managed to tip it over and the cup fell to the floor with precision splash factor. My light pink pants were the main recipient of the coffee, and you can imagine how I felt, going through an entire day of training wearing my morning coffee so prominently displayed. Most days I could run home and make a quick change, but not today. We’ve had someone from another PeaceHealth region here to help launch our new imaging process. So not a day to duck out and miss anything.

I went out with several friends from the office for lunch, pink and brown pants not withstanding, and I offered to drive. Of course the parking options were parallel. Now, I never choose parallel spaces unless there is NOTHING in front or in back of the space I’m targeting. But that wasn’t possible today. Cruise ships are in, town was hopping at lunch…lucky to find a space at all, parallel or not. So I had the pleasure of parking with great difficulty with a car full of co-workers. Do you know how long it takes to park when you have an audience and the parking is tight? Let’s just say we had a late lunch. And everyone was really very kind about it. The snickering was muffled. And I know they were laughing with me.

So in the big picture, that hardly counts as a bad day, right? I didn’t really think I was having a bad day. But I was reminded again that no matter how competent I may be, or how well I may do at a job or other area of my life, throw a little insecurity my way, a little embarrassment, and my high school self rears its head, sending me (secretly, and briefly) back to the shy and insecure girl that wanted to fit in, to be cool, to be “right,” whatever that meant at the moment.

Well that girl – woman, thank you – has been grown up for a while now, and I learned long ago that few people are concerned with what I’m doing…they’re thinking about the spot they acquired at breakfast, or their own bad parking job. It helped a lot when I realized, somewhere along the way, that pretty much everyone lives with insecurity, with mistakes made prominently in front of co-workers or friends and family. Everyone has that little voice inside that second-guesses and is self-critical. I learned the best tactics to overcome those feelings are acknowledgement and laughter. I admit it…some days, I collect spots. Not every day, but often enough that I’m a good customer for spot removers and laundry stain fighters. And I would like to deny it, but there are too many witnesses to get away with denial…I’m a bad parker. There, admitted. So I laugh it off, remember that what’s important is not the parking, but the experience. And lunch was great. AND we all made it back to the office safely.

Tomorrow I’m wearing something brown, just to be on the safe side. Just in case these things run in threes.

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Food of summer

As seems typical for Southeast Alaska weather in July (if “typical” can ever be applied to weather here), we’re experiencing a stretch of warm and dry sunny days. I think the temperature actually reached the 80s today. And oh, the locals! They can’t stand it! The standard gripe about the rain has given away to complaining of the heat. Air conditioning is unusual here, so offices and homes get toasty by afternoon. For lizards like me, it’s a source of pure pleasure to actually feel the heat of the sun on my face. But I’m about the only one in town luxuriating in the warmth.

The summer heat reminds me of foods that are essential for picnics, dinners on the porch, and the traditional favorites for cookouts and block parties. See how many of these tempt your taste buds:

~Bacon and tomato sandwiches (Southern tradition: bread must be toasted and you need a generous slather of mayo on each piece of bread before adding bacon and perfectly ripe tomatoes)
~Potato salad (best side dish for BLTs; try it warm, it’s a whole new taste, and my favorite)
~Peach ice cream (homemade, of course!)
~Watermelon, chilled to perfection (love the mini melons)
~Anything cooked on the grill
~Summer vegetables, fresh from the garden
~Sun tea with lots of ice in the glasses
~Any dessert with fresh strawberries
~Lemondade made with hand-picked lemons
~Deviled eggs, a REQUIREMENT for Southern picnics
~Freezer jams, the solution for too much impulse buying at the farmer’s market, and the yummy addition to breakfast
~My mom’s sweet pickles, canned with cucumbers from her yard
~Corn on the cob (needs it’s own line, not to be lumped in with other summer veggies)
~S’mores (found a new s’mores bar cookie that is heavenly)
~Pulled pork sandwiches, and just to make sure the barbecue theme is fully honored, baked beans go right along with the sandwiches. You cannot have too much barbecue in your life.

Feeling hungry? Me too!

photo from here

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Signature Recipe – my favorite salad

I don’t often think of myself as having “signature” characteristics or likes. I don’t have a signature color (although I wear a lot of green, and black figures prominently in my wardrobe as well). I don’t have a signature fragrance. I like a variety of perfumes and colognes. But as we go through life, we all find ourselves gravitating to some things again and again. I think I can safely say that I have a signature salad because this really is my favorite, and the recipe I go to most often when I need a green and leafy element in any meal.

So, one of the few recipes I would tag with the term “signature:”

Sheila’s Salad

Mixed spring greens, or baby spinach leaves
Thinly sliced red onion rings, separated
Fresh cilantro leaves (I like lots of cilantro!)
Craisins, or you can substitute fresh seedless red grapes or raisins
Roasted Pecan halves
Crumbled Feta cheese (be generous)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Salad dressing of your choice (creamy poppy seed, huckleberry, or wine vinagrette work well with these flavors.)

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You can use as much or as little of each ingredient as you like. I would suggest a ratio of salad greens and the remaining ingredients in a proportionate amount: half greens to the remaining ingredients. The feta cheese and pecans provide a savory flavor, while the craisins or alternate fruit adds just the right balance of sweetness. You can also make this a dinner salad by adding sautéed shrimp or grilled fillet of salmon or halibut, flaked into bite-sized pieces. The contrast between the chilled greens and the hot grilled or sautéed seafood creates a perfect light but satisfying summer entree.

Enjoy!

Time Out

It’s been over a week since I posted anything on my blog…work has been busy; I’m learning new processes, gearing up for a completely different position. But I can’t really say that has been a significant cause for not blogging. I’ve been in a quiet place in my thoughts, and after a few days of rest, or rather, a different focus in my evenings, have recognized that it is better that I blog when I have something to say, rather than posting for the sake of consistency.

There is value to self-discipline, to being in a routine and having rhythm to writing. But that’s true with most things in life: order and structure are beneficial to thought, to work, to relationships.

Finding balance is also a goal, and a worthy one. I have no difficulty granting myself down time on vacation, but it’s harder to give that gracefully when I’m at home.

So this is a post about all the things I’ve been doing on my time out. I think there is value here. It’s a reminder that productivity takes many forms. In the past week I:

Attended a 50th birthday dinner
Made dinner for friends
Listened to university lectures on C S Lewis, Winston Churchill, and world history on my iPod
Ran numerous errands, worked, did all my regular chores
Planned upcoming trips
Went for a picnic at the beach
Saw a black bear fishing for salmon at a local fishing spot
Made homemade pizza, shepherd’s pie, and banana pudding
Did some reading on re-balancing at mid-life
Watched the city fireworks display (delayed because the weather for 4th of July was foggy and rainy)

This coming week I plan to write again, and I’ll do other things as well. No one gets to have a single-focused life. We’re all multi-taskers most of the time. But just as a vacation away makes home all the sweeter, so a week off my blog has allowed me to miss it, to miss connecting with other bloggers, to miss having the exercise of creativity in my evening routine.

I want to use my blog to think out loud, to put into a visible form the experiences and beliefs that shape my life. To do that with some regularity is my goal. And so, I commit to it, just as I’ve committed to other choices that I deem important. And to encourage me, to inspire me, I’ll keep these two thoughts before me:

“The difference in who you are and who you want to be is what you do.”
“Self discipline is remembering what you really want.”
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