2019: Action!

2019: Action!

A few weeks ago, I heard something that got me very excited.

“Action is the antidote to fear.”

I liked it so much, I put it on my Letter Board so I could hold onto it.

But I didn’t really think about it when I was thinking about what I’d make as my word for 2019. I struggled with my word: for awhile I was calling it “Leap 2.0“, but I knew that wasn’t accurate. I’d faced my fears in 2018 in a very real way, and I no longer feel like fear holds me back (at least not nearly as much).

Instead, I wanted to tackle things that had always sounded like too much work. Things that intrigued me but scared me in their commitment. Things like making macarons.

After talking to people about this idea, a friend suggested the perfect word.

 

This year’s word: ACTION.

I’m going to choose twelve projects that I shy away from, not because I’m afraid, but because they just seem too big.

I’m not even sure yet what all 12 projects will be. But at this point here’s what I know it will include:

  1. making tamales
  2. making macarons
  3. making Manti (a Turkish ravioli-style dish)
  4. editing and publishing my Esther book
  5. editing and publishing my 2018 NaNoWriMo book
  6. learning Spanish (I bought Rosetta Stone right before Christmas)

First up: the Esther book.

My goal is to get it in Amazon: as a Kindle, a paperback, and possibly an audiobook, in time for Purim (since that’s the holiday connected to her story).

I’m excited to see these things come to pass and am very curious to see if it changes how I see time-intensive projects.

What do you consider to be staples?

What do you consider to be staples?

I just looked up the actual definition of “staple:” it’s a main or important part of your diet.

That means that what I consider to be a staple may be something you never keep on hand. And an item you never consider being without might be one I only buy when I need it for a specific recipe!
Staples are important because they simplify in meal planning. If we know what we keep on hand, we can just buy the fresh items, or the things we use an entire container of (like a jar of pasta sauce). (that’s not a good example. In my family growing up, pasta sauces were a total staple. We had a TON of them sitting in the pantry!)

Some of the things I just refuse to be out of (because I’ll be in trouble when I go to make a meal and realize I’m missing a key ingredient):

  • onions (sorry, mom)
  • minced garlic (I know a lot of people want to mince it fresh, but I love the convenience)
  • peanut butter (not just for emergency PBJ sandwiches: I love Thai and that features PB frequently)
  • soy sauce (I didn’t realize just how important this ingredient is until I ran out last week and suddenly couldn’t do half of the recipes I’d planned for the week!)
  • tortillas (for quick wraps, quesadillas, and for my daughter’s favorite snack, a tortilla filled with shredded parmesan!)

What do you make sure you have on hand? And even more helpful (I hope ;) ) , what should you start making sure you always have on hand?

One big (simple!) tip:

I have a whiteboard on my fridge, and as soon as I get close to running out of a staple, I write it on the board. Then when it’s time to write out the grocery list, I grab the whiteboard to make sure they get included. So no more soy sauce emergencies!

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What day is the most stressful for you?

What day is the most stressful for you?

I think for me it’s Thursday. There are no classes Wednesday, so it feels like a mini-Monday. But unlike Mondays when I feel optimistic about tackling everything on a to-do list, Thursdays feel exhausting.
Today’s letter is as much for me as for you, because I need this encouragement big-time!
First off, it’s important to show yourself grace
No, more than that. It’s vital that you show yourself grace. We need to recognize that we can’t do it all…and that that’s okay. We need breaks.
Of course, that doesn’t mean we let our commitments drop. We still have to eat. Our kids still need to have school and make it to dance.
But on days like this, maybe dropping the to-do list is the kindest thing you can do for yourself. Instead of trying to tackle more projects, find something unusual to occupy your mind. Listen to a podcast while you go for a walk, call a friend you haven’t talked to in awhile..something that elevates the day from ‘let’s just make it through’ to ‘hey, this is a good day!’
If you just have to do a long list for the day, though, and there’s not room for something extra, you can still squeeze in moments of joy.
Here’s stuff I do:

  • Turn on fun music while you go about your day. Whatever music makes you happiest, make sure it’s playing when you’re doing your thing.
  • Find mini rewards for getting things done. I’ll pause my coffee break until after I knock something unpleasant off my to-do list, so it feels even more like a prize for accomplishment. And coffee makes everything better (can I get an amen?)
  • Remind myself: this is a stage in our family’s life. Someday our schedule won’t be so packed.It may be that a few years from now, I’ll be snuggled up with my husband, watching a movie every Thursday evening, instead of running to the dance studio. And I know I’m going to miss being surrounded by the dance life. (of course, I’ll still be taking pictures, so I won’t be completely out of the world of dance).

 

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Simplifying Meals

Simplifying Meals

Because of our busy dance schedule, I’ve found some little things to plan ahead on our meals. This is not to say I have it all together. I’m not that amazing, but I know that if I don’t have a few standard things pre-prepped, I’ll never make those recipes.
And none of these involve spending all day Sunday in the kitchen. I’ve never gotten into doing the whole week’s/month’s meals in one day.

What I do:

  • bacon: a lot of recipes need a small amount of crumbled bacon. I like to cook up a package, and freeze it in 2-3 little containers. Often I’ll cook it up so I can use half that day, and then freeze the other half for a quick addition later.*
  • chicken. So many recipes call for cubed cooked chicken, which is such a pain when all the chicken in the house is frozen and raw. Even with my Instant Pot it’s still more work than I’m willing to do. So I do a bunch at once, boiling it with my favorite spices (or throwing them in the Instant Pot), then cubing and freezing in one-cup portions.
  • Ginger: If you like Asian food, you probably use fresh ginger a lot. I buy a big piece of it, peel, and chop the whole thing. Then I can just grab a little bit. It thaws quickly since it’s tiny pieces.
  • If you’re making a recipe later in the week that needs cooked rice (like this week’s meal), that’s something you can do on a separate burner while you make tonight’s dinner. I have to admit, I’ve always liked this idea but I’ve never actually pulled it off. But it helps the consistency if it’s not fresh for this kind of recipe.

*We like turkey bacon. I know it can be not as crispy as “real” bacon, but I’ve gotten it closer lately. When it’s getting close to being finished, I add about a tablespoon of oil to the pan. This gives it a crispier texture that’s closer to what everyone expects out of bacon.
What’s your favorite shortcut? I’d love to hear!

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Self Care

Self Care

Can I be honest? I hate this concept. People use it all the time and seem to imply you need to spend copious amounts of money. Or at the very least time I don’t have.
I don’t go for manicures. The last time I got my hair styled was probably 4 years ago. A simple cut is all I do. I’m low-maintenance and don’t want to feel guilty about that!
BUT!!! taking care of yourself doesn’t have to mean spending money. My wise friend said a dance mom is like the pit crew.  If the pit crew isn’t at the top of their game then nobody else is either! We’re so busy getting our dancers’ schedule organized, getting them to and from class, balancing activities for non-dancing members of the family, and making sure everyone has dinner, but are you taking the time to take care of yourself?

Here’s what I AM good about:

  • getting enough sleep*
  • drinking enough water (guideline is to take your weight, divide by two, and drink that many ounces of water each day.)
  • getting time to myself. Reading, playing mindless apps…it means more if I use these with intention (either as a reward for getting something done that I’ve been putting off, or just in specific times and not whenever I get a spare minute)
  • eating well. I know I could make even more improvements, but at this point I feel pretty good about what I’m putting into my body.

I’m not going to challenge you to do something that I don’t find necessary. BUT!!! I will challenge you to give this some thought. Is there an area of this that does need more attention? Do you get enough water? healthy food? sleep? time to yourself? Make a small challenge for yourself in whatever area needs some help (if you want to reply to this email and tell me what you’re going to work on, that will help you stay more accountable).

*It’s best if you can wake up naturally. But not everyone homeschools and has a husband who works from home, so here’s my recommendation: If you have to use an alarm to wake up, I recommend the app “SleepCycle.” It pays attention to your movement as you sleep and senses when you’re between cycles of sleep, so it wakes you up when you’re closer to waking up naturally, and not in the middle of a cycle. It makes a huge difference in how we feel when we actually do need an alarm!

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