comment 0

Work

I have a confession to make. I kind of love my job. No, really.

I am a nurse practitioner and have been for the past 9, going on 10 years. Before that I was an RN for 10 years for a total of 20+ years in the medical field. Not all of it has been rosy. My first job was as a nurses aide while I was in school. I worked on a med/surg unit with an ALC unit. ALC stood for something like alternate level of care. It was for patients waiting for nursing home placement because there were precious few beds available back then. After that job I swore I would never work on a unit like that unless it was to pay the bills. I subsequently worked in home care and on the post partum units at the hospital and later the Level III NICU, which I loved. For all of these jobs, I was beholden to a shift schedule and there was little flexibility except a little bit when I did home care and I *may* have taken lunches with my friend that were longer than an hour. Ahem.

After NP school, I decided I didn’t want to be an NP and went to work for a law firm temporarily and gave some consideration to attending law school. I was burned out on medicine. Slowly, I changed my mind and went to work in a nursing home. I loved the patients but ended up hating the facility so I left and went to work for the VA visiting retired or disabled vets at home for primary care. LOVED my vets!! Unfortunately I gave birth to my twins while in this position and taking care of twin babies and working full time is not a great combination and I suffered for it, I eventually left the position and worked part time as a private duty nurse for a year. When I decided to go back to work as an NP I went into rheumatology part time and stayed there for 4 1/2 years.

Office life is WAY different than both the hospital and home care. Here’s a group of mainly women who work in a setting where there seems to be a lot of time for gossip and interpersonal conflict, something that there is no time or opportunity for in home care. In the hospital there was some of this but I was a little better at staying out of stuff. After 4 years I still felt like an outsider at my job and since I am not a gossip I was the last to know even the important stuff. There was also zero flexibility because there was always a patient waiting for you in 15 minutes. They didn’t care if you had something else going on or your kid was sick. They were there and expected to be seen in a timely fashion (nothing wrong with this but sometimes I prayed people wouldn’t show up just so I could have a breather.) This is similar in the hospital. No rest for the weary. Those hospital nurses work their tails off!

Physicians have it no better and maybe worse. Is burnout inevitable? Does work stress have to do us all in? Is THIS what we have to look forward to?

nurseburnout-e1343354038516

(I can’t find where to attribute this to so my apologies. It is just really funny!)

I can’t help but thank God that I went back to school and have more choices for employment. I am also thankful that I was frugal enough and leery of debt so that I could work part time for the past 6 years. It may not have done wonderful things for our bottom line but it certainly helped in the mental health area of my life. But recently I started considering full time work again. I knew I didn’t want to be in my office full time and never see the light of day. That would pretty much have guaranteed burnout on my part. So I did some soul searching to decide what area of medicine I would like to work in and came back to geriatrics. Although I wouldn’t go back to the facility I worked at previously, there are plenty of other facilities locally. Our local hospital then advertised a position in geriatrics which I thought was in the hospital but lo and behold, the position was for long term care (nursing homes)! I am happy to say this is now what I am doing and I couldn’t be happier.

First, I fully acknowledge that I am lucky to be in a field where it is relatively easy to a. get a job and b. be a bit choosy where you work. It also pays well and that’s a definite plus. I know people in other fields that have a much harder time finding work. I am grateful if nothing else.

Second, I am lucky that I have had the support of my husband so I could work part time for so long and decide the return to full time work when I wanted to. If it hadn’t been for some early influence by Mary Hunt*, Dave Ramsey*, Elaine St James*, Doris Janzen Longacre * and the Tightwad Gazette*, I wouldn’t have been in this position. Although I have been far from the picture of frugality, I have tried to keep things under control.

I now have as close to the job of my dreams as I will probably ever get. I have the privilege of taking care of our older adult population. I don’t have someone waiting for me at 8am with their toe tapping. I can stop and go eat something when I am hungry and go pee when I need to do that (nurses will totally be jealous of that one…). If I have an appointment I can leave and come back and finish what I was doing. I can spend an extra few minutes in the morning to help get the kids off to school. I feel like a big weight has been taken off my shoulders even though I still do a lot of work. It feels like a reward after “paying my dues” for the past 20 years. I wish everyone could have this experience!

But really, why couldn’t they? I mean, we were created for work and work was meant to be pleasurable. At least, until Adam and Eve disobeyed and messed it all up for us. Now work is tedious and back breaking. It crushes the soul. It seems that all we do is toil under the sun and that all is meaningless (read Ecclesiastes. Most depressing book of the Bible. Its great.). Yet, I do not believe it has to be that way. Isn’t there something we can do to enjoy our work? What do you do when you hate your job? Is there a way out? Here is what I have done:

  1. Let your faith guide you. I feel like I have been “called” to the medical field. I have the privilege of taking care of other people and helping them get well again or helping usher them into the next world through death. What you do doesn’t have to be profound however. I feel that any work I  do should be done as if I am doing it for God. Even if God allows me to have a crappy boss.
  2. Brainstorm. What do you really want to be doing? What do you need to get there? Is is realistic? Is there something more practical that you could be doing that would be fulfilling? At 60 it is unlikely that you will become an astronaut but maybe you could find work at an observatory? Write this stuff down and think about it a while.
  3. Go back to school. I am so glad I did this. To do so I had to pay off my debts, work part time and move into my parents basement for a couple of years. I also worked as a TA to pay for school. Totally worth it.
  4. Find an outlet. Find someone to talk to and get advice. Do something you enjoy after work. I enjoy cooking (unless I am exhausted, then I want tater tots) and going out for a drink with friends. Make time for something you enjoy.
  5. Get some perspective. You could be living next to the railroad tracks in Indonesia. I have told myself and other people this countless times. It makes you grateful for whatever you have. Really, watch THIS.
  6. Get out of debt and save money like crazy. Retire early. Really.

So my advice holds no magic bullet. I pray you have fulfilling work and if it is not, that you can find some way to make it fulfilling. Most of us have to work, at least for a while. How else could we pay our taxes? 😉 (you know that’s a joke, right???)

Liz

comment 0

In honor of my 42nd birthday: a post about hair

I turn 42 today. Happy birthday to me!!! I’m cool with 42. Or any age really. Being alive is pretty cool even if life isn’t perfect. There is always something to learn and once I am no longer enthused about learning something new and interesting (other than common core math, which is not interesting and rather like torture) , then I will be ready for heaven. Until then, hello world!

So, about my hair. A while ago I had decided not to dye it. This was around the time I got a pixie cut and wanted low key hair but the pixie ended up not being all that low key because it required taming every morning and requires you to acknowledge and accept every flaw that is now glaringly revealed on your face, (double) chin, and neck. Ugh. As I grew out the pixie I started noticing more “natural highlights” and finally broke down and had my hairdresser color it. I follow this up a couple of months later by dying myself a couple of times then switched last month to a glaze. Well, the glaze didn’t do much for the “highlights” and once again I am left to face them. Well, then.

Amazingly, “naturally highlighted” hair is now apparently all the rage and even young women without their own “highlights” are coloring their hair this magical color. It’s become cool. Well, blow me down!

Of course, it has always been cool for men (totally unfair and sexist but whatever). Who hasn’t swooned at a nice looking guy with silver streaks? Have you seen George Clooney these days????!!! There is also biblical “natural highlightedness” being revered and equated with wisdom and respect. Somewhere along the way, women decided that it was bad and we should cover the shame of our natural glory. We took it a little too far and even started surgically altering ourselves into oblivion. Jocelyn Wildenstein, anyone? Yikes!

Now I am not against a bit of beautifying but I draw the line at making myself into “cat woman” (see Jocelyn above) or anything remotely like it. It would be nice, however, if they come up with a non-invasive procedure to blast away the double chin/jowl thing and lift other stuff back up where it belongs. It’s really a drag, ya know… 😉

But lets get back to hair. I have been every color under the sun since I was in high school. Mostly varying shades of auburn, crayon red highlights, blonde, caramel, etc. Most recent has been chocolate brown which is fairly close to nature. I’ve tried every brand known to man it seems and even had a go at henna (which ended up with my laughing my head off while holding said head under the faucet in my tub trying to get the damned stuff out of my hair! Don’t try this at  home if you have really long hair. Actually, just don’t try this at home. It’s a MESS…) I learned to trust my hairdresser above all others and she never let me down. Salon color is the bomb.

However. Lately I have been struggling with wanting to embrace what I have naturally and decrease the expense of having my hair done. I’ve also been growing out my pixie which seems to be taking its own sweet time to grow. I have somehow reduced the frequency of washing my hair to once a week (this will likely change as summer approaches) and I rarely use hairspray or any other styling products. My last haircut was 2 months ago and that was only to cut my bangs. I save $45+ tip for every month that goes by with a cut and $85+ for every time I skip color. I used to go every 8 weeks for color and cut which is about $650 per year plus the special shampoo and conditioner that colored hair requires for upkeep. If I let it grow and only go 3 times a year for a trim (My hairdresser is excellent and her cuts grow out beautifully) I would only spend roughly $165 per year. I’d also spend less on shampoo and conditioner since I could theoretically use just about anything that works.  Hello Suave! Or perhaps Tresseme if you want to get all fancy 😉

The decision is made then. No more dying my hair. Well, at least for now. I’m not swearing off color correcting shampoo or conditioner though. Unfortunately my hair is a strange mix of dark brown, ash brown, warm brown and the “highlights” at the moment. I doubt the sun is going to do much good for it this summer. I see a lot of hat wearing this summer to prevent too much fading. Hats are chic, aren’t they? At least with big sunglasses they might be!

I am weirdly excited to see how this turns out. I’ve pinned pictures for inspiration although I have a long way to get to this point. And if I hate it? Maybe I’ll just go LAVENDER! Hey, it’s just hair…

Now go, enjoy my birthday won’t you?

Liz

 

comment 0

Ratatouille soup

A few weeks ago we decided to make ratatouille because after watching the Remy the rat make it so many times, it really looked good (as far as cartoon food goes, anyway…). I tried a couple different versions all at the same time since I had purchased WAY too many vegetables and went crazy in the organic section at Wegmans. My favorite version was the leftover soup I made from it, however, so tonight I set out to just make the soup and to make it MUCH cheaper. I’m sorry but $8 for 4 scrawny zucchini is just insane.

I bought the fresh ingredients at Aldi tonight instead and paid $5.27 for 2 eggplants and 4 green zucchini. I had onions at home as well as tomato paste and canned tomatoes.  It was just as good and less than half the price as my original version. It was also a lot less work because we weren’t trying to make ridiculously skinny slices of vegetables to make them “pretty.” My tomato paste costs $.99 each (organic) and my canned peeled tomatoes were about $3 (actually it was free because I ordered it through Wholeshare and one of the cans was so severely dented it had to be thrown out so they credited my whole order of canned tomatoes!) I had roughly 1/2 of a boxed container of Wegmans’ chicken broth ($1).

So for a total of about $8.26 ($11.26 if you count the free canned tomatoes) I made enough to have 3 bowls tonight plus enough for 4 lunches in my glass reusable containers at about 2 cups each. It was a FULL 4 quart pot of soup. If you only ate 1 cup at a time as a serving it would go much further. I make it my whole meal with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. I’m sure you could make this even cheaper if you didn’t have to worry about your chicken broth being gluten free or you made it yourself.  Tomato paste is also cheaper if it’s not organic and so are regular canned tomatoes. I have read numerous times that organic tomatoes have more lycopene so I am willing to pay a little more for them when I can.  I usually buy in bulk to get the best price.

Soup:

1 onion diced, sautéed in butter

4 medium zucchini halved and sliced. Add to onions and cover with lid.

2 small/medium eggplant, diced. Add to the above veggies.

Add 1/2 carton Wegmans Chicken broth and bring to a simmer

Slice or crush one 28 oz. can of whole peeled Roma tomatoes in tomato puree (what your child doesn’t eat out to the can, anyway) and add to veggies. Stir.

Add 2 4 oz containers of tomato paste. Cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally.

I allowed this to simmer on low heat for about 2 hours.

Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan or asiago cheese. Add some crusty bread if you can eat it. I bet some good Italian loaf would be fantastic with this. Alas, not for this celiac 😦

This did not require any additional seasoning.  The vegetables speak for themselves in a delightful way!

Enjoy!

Liz 🙂

comment 0

I quit the gym today

I quit the gym today. It just seems like a waste to me. I joined in September for 3 months and went diligently to try to relieve my back pain. It didn’t work. And I didn’t lose any weight. It just made me hungry like it always has. Ugh.

Then I found a couple of yoga classes that I liked and went to for a month so I joined for a year because it was cheaper than paying for 2 yoga classes per week. Then I was sick for the past month and haven’t done anything. And I think I’ve lost a pound or two (I don’t know for sure because I gave up weighing myself for lent) but in any caseI feel better.

Going to the gym requires gathering “gym” clothes, driving to the gym, gym time, then time to shower and get dressed and ready all over again. Who has this kind of time? I don’t know how I used to do this on a regular basis for HOURS. Who was that person? She obviously had no other life.

The icing on the cake for me was that I like to use the rowing machine. Pretty much to the exclusion of all other machines. The rower is like the master machine of all because it involves all of your body parts (or at least most of them…) simultaneously working in harmony to a. make the wheel turn and b. not look like an idiot. It’s a full body workout! But every time I have gone to the gym recently the rower has been in use and there is only ONE rowing machine at my gym. Today was no exception. After a month long absence, I go to work out finally and, of course the machine is taken.

Disgruntled gym goer that I am, I murmured to myself and went in search of an exercise ball to sit on and do some hand weights. About 5 minutes into this I realize that I have all of this at home and that no one else would be sweating in my general vicinity if I were to work out at home. I wouldn’t have to waste time driving to the gym and I wouldn’t have to wonder if the towels were really clean. So I stood up, got my coat and cancelled my membership on the way out. $39 a month is not worth the rare use of a rowing machine and I can also do yoga at home with the DVDs I already own.  I went for a walk with my family instead.

Unfortunately they don’t cancel your membership immediately. I have to wait 2 moths because mine was a “convenience pay” membership. Well, isn’t that a racket? I’ll just call it my $78 stupid tax and I will make sure to hit up a few yoga classes before my cancellation is official so I get my money’s worth.

Perhaps I should change the name of this blog to better reflect how cheap I am becoming. I think  reading Mr Money Mustache is starting to wear off on me …

comment 1

Five Guys walk of shame

Do you go to Five Guys? That mecca of bacon burgers and natural cut fries? I love it although my gut begs to differ. It happens to be one of the few “fast” food restaurants I am willing to go to because everything is gluten free except the buns and when you tell them you have an allergy they takes extra precautions not to contaminate your food. You can even watch them. Much more reassuring than having your food prepared in the bowels of some restaurant kitchen where only God knows what happens to your food. I choose carefully…

Well, I happened to be going in the direction of our local Five Guys on the way to a meeting on Friday and conveniently hadn’t brought my lunch so I stopped for lunch. Me the queen of brown bagging it, went out for lunch. I paid cash, don’t worry. I am no fool. But something happened while I was sitting there waiting for my order and it struck me as very interesting.

Every time they call out an order number, they also call out “No Fries!” if you don’t order fries. They do not, however, call out “With Fries!” when your order contains them. It’s like some kind of french fry discrimination. We who do not order fries are considered lesser citizens and must be called out for it. Make us an example. We are not worthy. Probably we should eat outside with out heads hung low and our hoods puled up to cover the shame of our existence…

So when my order came up and I didn’t order fries, they called out “Order 29! NO Fries!” (because as much as their fries are yummy, a bacon double cheeseburger with everything but the bun is quite filling), I got up, got my order and did my Five Guys walk of shame back to my seat. Oh the indignity of it all. But it was DELICIOUS 😉

comment 0

What to do with leftover corned beef

It’s “Parade Weekend” in Binghamton. The whole town pretty much celebrates St Patricks Day for the entire month of March (or at least the cool people do…) and we usually have corned beef a couple of  times to celebrate. Yesterday we had our traditional corned beef with cabbage, carrots and potatoes. We didn’t add Guinness since yours truly is a celiac but please, feel free to add it to yours. I hear it’s great!

Today I wanted something different and ended up with the above. It was delicious 🙂

Here is what I did:

Shredded about 1/3 of a large head of cabbage and diced one onion. Sauteed with 1/3 of a stick of butter with salt, pepper, celery seed, marjoram and fennel seed to taste. I also added jalapeños. Cook to your preferred done-ness.

Then I added chopped corned beef and smoothed it all down and grated sharp (grassed) cheddar on top and let the cheese melt. I topped with a homemade sauce.

Sauce:

Take about 3/4 of a cup of mayo (I used soy free Vegenaise), a good tbsp or more of ketchup, a few quirts of sriracha sauce and chopped dill gerkins. Mix it up and dump on top!

It isn’t pretty but it tastes really good and it’s low carb too. Adjust the jalapeños and sriracha sauce to your taste buds. I like it spicy!! Enjoy!!

comment 0

Lenten sickness

I am officially entering week 4 of being sick. It’s so wonderful.

It started the night before I began my new job with a tickle in my throat and sneezing. It has turned into a weeks long battle with my sinuses. Two antibiotics later I think I am starting to turn around.

On Thursday I was advised by my spouse to stay home and I went in for my second round of drugs. The past 2 days I have spent cocooned in my home. Thankfully today was warm enough to have doors and windows open. In February. In upstate NY. This is surely a sign of the coming apocalypse.

So I thought I would write a bit about my lack of lenten discipline or, rather, the way I have utterly failed in my mission. I had lofty goals to begin with that I thought were perfectly do-able, such as not drinking wine (I lasted about a week and a half-more on that) and learning to make crepes (haven’t even looked at the pan or a recipe) as well as not checking Facebook (it’s all I’ve really accomplished this weekend), but have ultimately shown me exactly what I was supposed to learn: That I am weak, weak, weak and in most desperate need of rescuing.

First there was the women’s supper, aptly named “Bread and Wine.” Well, how could I NOT partake in THAT? I am the leader you know. What a lovely example I am… The next day we went to a basketball game and the only gluten free offering in the entire snack court was, you guessed it, WINE. Well there went that. I stopped there and have only had the warm loveliness of a snifter of Grand Marnier but as luck would have it, cognac is apparently made of grapes too, so in a way is actually wine? That would just figure.

Then, what else am I supposed to do when I am sick but ogle Facebook? It’s the perfect sick time activity. I can’t talk for long periods due to the whole, need to breath but my nose is clogged thing, but my fingers are free to click like and type away. It requires very little brain power except when you get into a theological discussion with a friend. Of course.

Crepes? Well, being sick for all of the Lenten season thus far, I have not had any brain power to learn something new. I am already engrossed in re-learning things like treating dehydration, diabetes and fluid and electrolyte imbalances in nursing home patients. Crepes are low man on the totem pole. Epic Fail.

But all is not lost! One of my other “pledges” was not to weigh myself throughout this season. Although it’s been tempting as I hope against hopes that being sick and having difficulty eating AND breathing simultaneously have ,perhaps, left me a pound or two lighter, I have fought the good fight and avoided the scale. I’m sure I sounded a bit odd when I refused to be weighed at the medical office and told the nurse I had given it up for lent. Whatever. I’m weird for Jesus. That’s cool. I may ultimately end up giving my scale away or putting it in my husbands bathroom. It’s a bit of a burden to be obsessed with a few ounces every day and I’d like less burdens in my daily life TYVM.

I think I had more on my potential list but these were the few I actually decided to commit to. This is the first (disappointing) time I haven’t held to my lenten discipline since I started doing this again. Avoiding Wegmans was apparently easier than avoiding Facebook.  There is, however, a month left and time for a do-over. Except my birthday falls in that time frame and most surely good wine should be a part of that celebration of 42-hood. I need some kind of consolation in that, don’t I ? I may actually get enough brain power restored to try out the whole crepe thing, especially since I have now received my fancy schmancy Williams and Sonoma crepe pan and paddles (it was free with points from a card I no longer use). Facebook? I admit, I am weak, weak, weak. Thank God for mercy and grace so that I might have HOPE!

 

 

comment 1

Perfect day

Have you ever considered what your perfect day would be? Have you thought, oh, my perfect day would be to wake up, get a massage, be fed delicious food and hot perfectly brewed coffee in bed, take a hot bath, then leisurely stroll through your pampered day and then watch the sunset with a loved one while drinking hot cocoa and looking perfect all the while? And has your perfect day ever really happened? Does that disappoint you? Wouldn’t it be nice if your perfect day could happen today? Or tomorrow? Or how about every single day? (if you say no, you aren’t human…)

I have given this much thought of late. I’ve even tried to put it down on paper. But it never looks like a fantasy day like what I described above. It looks more like: 5 am wake up, take dog for a walk on the beach (ok that is fantasy), have a cup of coffee and read the bible. 7am eat breakfast. 8 am go to work (yep, I include work). 12 have lunch with my husband. 5pm come home (energetic) and prepare gourmet dinner. 7pm whole family helps clean the house. 8pm kids go to bed. 9pm I go to bed and read. 10pm my husband comes to bed and well…

Yet as sober a “perfect day” as that might be it still never happens. Except for the beach, I keep thinking that this day is perfectly attainable. Except for, you know, life. Life. It happens. There is more homework. The kids don’t want to help clean. up. anything.  I stay up too late reading Facebook or Pinterest and then drag myself out of bed at 7, lucky to shower before work. I work through lunch and have the life sucked out of my soul by a couple of patients and come him exhausted. Gourmet meal plan out the window and I beg my husband to make pizza.  A couple of glasses of wine later, stuffed with carbs, we stumble to bed and pass out. Sounds swell, huh?

I imagined when I was 41, approaching 42, that I would be traveling the world. My children almost grown and independent. I’d go out to dinner at will and have time to kayak to my heart’s content. Then God said, “Let there be twins and celiac disease.” (No, I don’t think God caused me to have celiac disease but he might have had a hand in the whole twin thing… And no, I am not saying God actually said anything to me. I am not a prophet. Just being creative there. Wow, that needed a lot of explanation.)  Well, that little pipe dream went bye-bye.

Now, I have to include two little girls and their daddy in my perfect day. Going out to dinner invokes all kinds of dread and fear about what I can eat without getting sick. This girl can’t live on salad!! Travel is now fraught with food anxiety and anxiety over what to do with small children. Relaxing on a beach is nearly impossible when you are just trying to keep your children from drowning. I’m responsible like that.

So is it a bad thing that we don’t get our “perfect” day? Should we even bother? What’s the point?

Well, there is a lot of talk about simplifying, becoming minimalist, decluttering, etc., so you can eventually only have to deal with what is really important to you. It’s a means to lives get to living out that “perfect” day. Sell everything! Go live out of a van! Just go and be! Free yourself from the bondage of mortgages and property taxes and responsibility. Is that really a possibility for most of us? I kind of don’t think so.

I think we can all be more conscious of our daily decisions and consumption. I think that we could all live with less quite comfortably. And I think that maybe that saying to “live simply so that others may simply live” is pretty valid IF by not consuming something we in turn help out someone else meet their basic needs. If we are just living “simply” in some areas so that we can have more money for other stuff we want to do like, say, travel more, then it’s just something we are doing for ourselves not someone else. It’s not a moral decision to do that, it’s just a lifestyle one. No better or worse than any other lifestyle. See the difference?

Back to the perfect day idea though. See, I don’t know if dreaming about a completely impossible “Perfect Day” is helpful. I kind of feel like it makes us walk around dreaming of this day we think we should have and deserve and thus makes us dissatisfied with our present state of affairs. Being dissatisfied is not necessarily bad if it leads you to make drastically needed improvements, like quitting smoking or losing weight and exercising, however, if we are dissatisfied with a life that is generally good and productive and cannot be content in that moment, then when will we ever be content?

I know from personal experience that the occasional “perfect day” is NOT satisfying. It has either left me dreading going back to my reality or seemed like a grand waste of time and resources. Perhaps I am the rare person who feels more fulfilled going to work every day and being productive than staying home and doing whatever my little heart desires all day. Maybe it is leftover Catholic guilt and I just feel bad doing all the things I want to do rather than taking care of other people and doing my work. It could also be the nurse in me. We never seem to want to quit or take days off.

I also readily admit that I am lucky lucky lucky that I am in the position to love what I do. I worked very hard to get here. I admittedly chose nursing because I was heading toward graduation and needed a degree in something that was employable. However, it was the best decision I could have made because it has given me a career with endless possibilities and opportunities. I highly recommend it!

So what am I really saying? What  about the “perfect day? ” Is this post ever going to end?

I say this: set the bar low. Don’t expect much. Be content with where you are. Fix stuff that isn’t working but don’t throw out the whole thing. Or your whole life. Don’t breed discontent by allowing yourself to think you should be this or that and well, you’re a failure if you’re not. Don’t dread another day at your job (that pays you) because it’s not your “dream job.” Do your best job everyday. I know that sometimes it’s nearly impossible to feel happy or satisfied with our daily life but this should only be temporary. If you are miserable everyday, for all that is good and holy, please figure out what is making you so miserable and get rid of it, especially if it’s your attitude!

The simplest way to the perfect day is to consider your perfect day the one where you get to spend time with the people you love, no matter where you are and no matter what you are doing. So, I have the perfect day everyday. I see my husband in the morning and sometimes my kids (they are sleepyheads). I see my patients during the day (I now I get to take care of all the grandmas and grandpas of the world!). I see my children and husband again in the evening and I get to cook. I see my parents regularly. I see my church family at least once a week. I “see” God” everyday through the scriptures. What else do I need to be content?  It can all be the “perfect day.”

 

comment 0

Pancakes

Today is Fat Tuesday. It’s the last night before the season of Lent and the time when debauchery is to be found in the middle of the street in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Even the church recognizes this night and mine “celebrates” with a pancake supper and a ceremonial burning of the ashes to be used the following day for anointing those of us sinners who are willing to admit our sin and walk around with the proof all day. At least they don’t make us wear sack cloth…

Back to the pancakes though. I thought about this the other day and it struck me that pancakes seemed an odd choice for a last supper before the Lenten season of fasting and self denial/discipline. I mean, pancakes are what you eat when there is nothing else left to eat, aren’t they? When you are out of ideas and you’re like oh hey, there’s some Bisquick, let’s make pancakes for dinner! Except that I hate pancakes. I’ve rarely met one that was palatable. I don’t like cake either while we’re at it so you can imagine I have very little practice at making these things. Still, wouldn’t you want a rich feast of fat and meats dripping with gravy and heavily sauced vegetables and perhaps a slice or half of pie? But pancakes? That’s just depressing.

So I asked my friend Anne, a wonderfully devout woman, ordained in fact and knowledgeable of all things “church” and liturgy and such that make my eyes kind of glaze over, “Why pancakes?” I was thus informed that WAY BACK WHEN people would need to use up their butter and sugar as they would be abstaining form it for the Lenten season and without a freezer and likely without will (like the rest of us) they would use it up to avoid temptation.  Apparently pancakes are a good way to use up sugar and butter. I kind of think a good sugar cookie would be much more appropriate here.

Flabbergasted at this apparent lack of taste, I looked it up on that ever reliable source of all things religious, Wikipedia. Here is an excerpt:

Pancakes are associated with the day preceding Lent because they were a way to use up rich foods such as eggs, milk, and sugar, before the fasting season of the 40 days of Lent. The liturgical fasting emphasized eating plainer food and refraining from food that would give pleasure: in many cultures, this means no meat, dairy products, or eggs..”

Other countries have varied traditions such as pea soup and salted meats. I think Lithuania is the closest to the mark: they serve donuts. Donuts > Pancakes.

I have decided however, to come down with a dastardly cold and will be keeping my germs to myself tonight. I’ll be having pork and vegetables, probably in a curry sauce. If I can find a gluten free cookie hiding in my house, I may eat that too. Maybe next year I can convince them to serve cookie pizza. THAT would be a much better use of any extra sugar within a 10 mile radius. I might even ignore a cold for it. (Provided it was gluten free of course…)

So how does this apply to minimalism or simplicity or anything similar? Well, the idea of abstaining as an outright discipline rather than as an esthetic to be obtained through careful consideration of what is actually useful or beautiful or whatever, is a religious experience. One meant to make us reflect on our inadequacy and utter desperate need for Christ our Savior because we inevitably fail at our discipline and feel like pathetic worms. Whereas, abstinence as an esthetic to make our lives easier, more beautiful, more “meaningful” and allow us to focus on all of the things that make us “happy” and “fulfilled” has nothing to do with worship and is in fact, quite narcissistic and selfish in many regards. It makes us feel good about ourselves and what “WE/I” did. Some people treat it as a religion but it has no absolute moral basis. I am no better than another because I live without. Nor is someone better because he has. It’s easy to fall into that however.  And I stand guilty as charged. (And more worm like)

So go ahead. Make a Lenten commitment. Or don’t. Get rid of stuff or don’t. Eat fat and sugar to your hearts content or give it all up for vegan desolation. It doesn’t make you “good” or “bad.” I will personally be forcing myself to learn to make crepes for Lent and I will be abstaining from wine (what an awful combination). Just don’t make me eat pancakes.

comments 2

I wore the same pair of pants for 3 days

As an experiment last week (or out of sheer laziness) I wore the same pair of pants 3 days in a row. And do you know what happened? Well, nothing. No one noticed.

Now, these were a pair of fairly nondescript black ponte “skinny” pants so it’s not like I wore my prom dress for 3 days and was ignored. Far from it. I changed my boots all 3 days (and my underwear!) (and showered) and I changed my cardigan outer layer. I might have worn the same black tank twice (it was a week ago, I can’t remember that far back). I know I work the same pair of earrings because I wore them every day last week. No one said anything about that either. In fact, no one ever really says anything about what I wear. Is that good or bad???

What I am trying to get at is that no one really seems to care what you wear! As long as you are clean and appropriately covered, this doesn’t have to be so hard. Have a favorite pair of pants that always look good? Why not wear them all week? Or get another pair in a different color and switch off. With all the other decisions we have to make all ever loving day long, why should we have to stress about what to wear?

Having a uniform of sorts has certainly helped me come to this way of thinking. My uniform is basically, a cardigan, a sleeveless top and pants. The pants are most often black. On my days off, it’s usually jeans. I rarely wear skirts and only occasionally dresses. For me it’s a matter of dignity: you never know when I will end up on the floor. I’m a klutz. Trust me. Ask my husband. It’s risky.

So if my black pants are the SAME black pants everyday, no one is going to notice. This is where it pays to be slightly boring with your basic clothing choices. You could do the same with wearing the same cardigan everyday. If you have a set palette for your wardrobe, this could be a real possibility. A black cardigan goes with EVERYTHING. I tend to wear black pants and black tanks so I change it up a little with a different cardigan. But really who cares? You could probably wear the same damn thing every single day and no one would really be offended. Medical people do it all the time. I’ve read that a lot of CEO-types do too (looking at you, Mark Zuckerberg). My doctor friend always seems to be wearing blue scrubs. I’m pretty sure they are a new clean pair every day because, you know, germs, but they LOOK the same. Since he’s a doctor no one bats an eye. It fits. And honestly anyone who is sitting around judging your outfit everyday really needs a hobby. Or to WORK. (Ignore this if you work in the fashion industry)

This week I picked a different albeit similar pair of pants and I intend to wear them every day I work. I’m willing to bet that no one will notice. And if they do? No problem, it’s my last week at my current job 😉