Monthly Archives: May 2015

Reflections on Being Facebook-less: Revisiting My First Day Blogging

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As I commented in my opening post, Facebook had become a real problem for me. I use the past tense ‘had’ because I put my account to sleep on Monday, May 18, at 12:09 a.m. My original intention was to spend the summer in hiatus, then reassess in the fall. Now, almost two weeks later, I’m not so sure that I’ll be going back on social media of any sort come September.

In recent months my political opinions, which I stand by firmly, in regards to gay marriage an2e6f1350447ee76343c375ce4c7aa894d whether or not business owners in the traditional wedding industries should be forced to provide services to gay couples tying the knot, had come under fire by a few friends who see these 8908ed4c064bef60733ef20387437751issues differently. I am perfectly happy to allow that on many topics people may amiably “agree to disagree.” Alas, I have found that is not enough for some on certain subjects. No, no, it is all or none. And in this case, the leftist consensus seems to be all who believe in traditional marriage and the Constitutional right to Freedom of Religion and Association, let alone Freedom of Conscience and the belief that the Market can decide such issues better than Big Government, must be forced into reeducation camps until we give up our convictions at the altar of Political Correctness and sell out our God. Or at least remake Him in the image of modern society.

He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.   —George Orwell, 1984

Yeah, that would be acceptable. For now. The arguments back and forth become of the circle jerk variety, and hardly worth the time for either party to continue. Still, for my part, as far as Facebook is concerned, I reserve the right to post what I want on my page, and happily allow that others have the same freedom. Discussions are fine, but harassment? Ugliness? Well, feel free to find another target.

Besides, the politics, these terrific graphics, memes, whatever you want to call them, pop up all the time. And I love them. I love humor, in most every form, and I love to laugh. But like Uncle Albert in Disney’s Mary Poppins, we can spend our time being tickled to death but accomplishing nothing, gaining, growing not at all. We post funny pics (and they ARE funny!) of our kids, our cats, our dogs, our Pinterest fails. And others laugh. It’s kind of like we’ve all become class clowns, vying for attention. Our friends and our “friends” post back, “LOL,” “LMAO,” “ROFL” and “:)” because we want to let our buddies know their comedic efforts were received as such on our end. No one wants to post into an echoless wilderness. We want to laugh with others, and we gain pleasure in making others smile. And that’s okay.

The problem is going on to Facebook JUST to be amused. Trolling for a laugh, if you will. We get so addicted to the fun stuff that we end up being “in” there for hours…all while the dishes pile up, the kids whine for dinne6004272faa7609420f2e740af4630af9r, your spouse begs for attention, your budget goes unbalanced for yet another day, and if someone were to sneak a candid shot of you, your head would be turned downward, staring at some device. Interaction with others? Unnecessary. We all have our electronic pacifiers to keep us happy instead.

And don’t give me the “All things in moderation” line. How good are you at moderation, really? For so many of us, not all, but many, moderation just doesn’t happen. Time wasters easily get out of hand, particularly for the easily distracted and addictive types. We struggle with attention as it is to the point that self-regulating on social media is almost laughable. We’re like rats at a sugar water dispenser! Like the poor Christian in C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters. Like the busy people being plagued by the Devil’s little minions! Only now, we’re simply “busy” being distracted!

Sadly, even many who didn’t used to be plagued by short attention spans are now. I was listening to one of my favorite talk radio shows the day that I went “off-air.” The host, law professor Hugh Hewitt, was interviewing (somewhat) Conservative New York Time’s columnist David Brooks about his new book The Road to Character. Hugh was asking him about a few of the issues David sees with social media (which Hugh loves!). The first problem Hugh suggested to Mr. Brooks is “amplification of the self,” which is a topic for another post; and the second is the destruction of our attention spans.

DB: …The [problem with social media] I actually worry about the most now in myself is my attention span is just shot. I just can’t go a few pages without wanting to check my phone or something. And so I do think it’s having a big effect on attention spans.

HH: When I prepare for interviews like this and I read a book, I often read a chapter and then check social media and read a chapter, and then check social media. Or if I grade exams, I grade five, and then I check social media. It is integrated, but not overwhelming. I wonder if younger people have those discipline sets left over, which I’m banking on, right? I banked the discipline set 30 years ago before social media came along. I don’t know if they ever get one.

Seriously, folks! I have enough problems concentrating, and these two highly educated, highly accomplished men have just admitted on a national radio program that they can’t go more than a few minutes without twitching like drug addicts for want of checking their social media accounts. I DON’T WANT TO BE LIKE THAT ANYMORE!

When I first got a Kindle, I used it only for reading; and I read A LOT! Then I got an android phone and used my Kindle app for reading, and my Facebook app for Facebooking, and my browser for looking up every incidental fact under the sun- just because I could! It got to where I hardly touched my Kindle app anymore, and instead of reading five-hundred page books, I was reading three page articles on the Wall Street Journal. einstein

When I realized my attention span, small as it was to begin with, was suffering (and my phone wouldn’t even work as a phone half the time), I went back to a flip phone and got a Kindle Fire, sans the 4G connectivity. That helped a good deal—except then I became pretty adept at finding Wi-Fi hotspots with which to connect—to Facebook. At home, I was rarely without my Kindle. My husband and kids commented on my continually glowing face. I laughed, they laughed, then they got out their little screens, too. Suddenly, one day I looked up to see we had all started watching T.V. as a family, with our laptops, Kindles, and DSi’s in hand!  Pathetic. Absolutely pathetic. Again, I don’t want to be like that anymore.

In the twelve days since I’ve been off of Facebook, I’ve researched and made homemade lotion bars, soaps, and moisturizer, started a cross stitch I bought at least 10 years ago, started reading (and am making good progress in) two books, created a family budget, updated our budgeting software, cleaned my kitchen, made multiple batches of water kefir, bought new carpet for our home (YEAH!!), prepared a two week dinner menu, and will be doing lunch menus for the summer today (I am so tired of hearing that we have nothing to eat in a kitchen stuffed with food!). Oh, and I’m working on walking again, too. Not for fitness, not yet, but simply for ambulatory purposes. Go, me!

Granted, not all of the above accomplishments are attributable to simply going off of Facebook. The physical “I’m at home” time to put in to these tasks has come about largely due to the fact that after a grueling nine months, my sixteen year old’s dual credit college classes are on hiatus. BUT, the fact that I’m using my at home time to be productive, time that I would otherwise, in all likelihood, be wasting sitting on Facebook for one “purpose” or another, is huge! I feel like I’ve broken lose of the addiction I had to “Facebook Think.” You know, where you go about your daily activities thinking of what to post, how to respond, how many ‘likes’ such and such post might garner, how cute that picture would be-on Facebook, etc.  It’s been very freeing. As much as I miss some of my contacts on there, It’s been very, very freeing.

I will say, too, as both a positive and a negative, I’ve become terribly disconnected to the world and national news and politics that I “love.” My Facebook news feed kept me up to date on such things-minute by minute. We only have satellite in the man cave up stairs, and I rarely bother to go up there simply to watch the news. Additionally, since I’m not in the car very much these days, I miss listening to my PragerMedvedHewitt talk radio programs. Seriously, I feel as clueless about the world as the typical college Democrat! On the positive side, however, I’m less stressed, happier (ignorance IS bliss!), and more focused on what’s mine, i.e. what I have control over. And that really is all for the best.

 

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Playing in the Kitchen

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Edited: I was a bit rushed when I first made this post. On 5/25/15 I added a few more recipes & expanded/ rewrote a bit.

I am not a cook. Despite being good with a frying pan, by the time I came along (#5 of 5), my mom was working out of the home, among other things, and didn’t get around to teaching me much in the kitchen realm. The only thing I specifically remember learning in that part of the house was how to bake bread. And my Grandma Strawn, mom’s mom, taught me that.

By the time I got to college, I could heat hot dogs, make sandwiches with wild abandon, and whip up a mean bowl of cereal. Much of what I’ve done in my adult years is what I would essentially call “playing in the kitchen.” I can’t really follow a recipe to save my life (I think there is a little OCD & ADD at work in my brain), so I usually get an idea of what I want to cook, Google recipes, print and play!

Substitutions are part of part of my game, as are additions. Recipes are just for me to have a “go-by,” since winging it completely usually results in kitchen waste. Still, about every third attempt at the oven or stove, is palatable, edible, but not much more (without lots of salt). Every other try is “pretty good.” And in one out of every three attempts, I get three cheers from the peanut gallery of critical, picky eaters in my house. Cooking is a very frustrating process for me. I want every dish to get high marks, or maybe I just want my family to be grateful, then to shut up and choke it down without complaint. Yeah, either one would be great. Regardless, I keep trying. Just call me Lambert.

To add to my difficulties in the kitchen, at least as far as my hubby and kids are concerned, I insist on cooking veggies or serving a salad with dinner. I also want my meals to be healthy, which by my current standards means low in grains, higher protein, higher fat (often), and, of course, rife with wretched vegetables. If I would serve only meat and potatoes every night, the fam would be in heaven. So sorry…

68677425_5ec04b52f3_zOne of the ways I work around their myriad dislikes is to incorporate veggies into my dishes utilizing either fresh produce or freeze dried products from Thrive Life, but I have to be careful not to select items that appreciably alter the taste or stand out too much on their own. At least if I work it into the dish, I know they are getting some green (red, yellow, purple, or orange) goodness!

Erin Chase at $5 Dollar Dinners has a wonderful King Ranch Chicken Enchilada Casserole that lends itself well to this “technique.” I just toss in some extra peppers, as I don’t like green bells, I use orange and red (I go for bright colors. Bells upset hubby’s stomach every.single. time. So, I choose bright ones in order that he can more easily pick them out!). I also toss in a handful or two of Thrive’s Freeze Dried Spinach into the sauce. I also using their  dehydrated onions ( I hate cutting onions!) and green chiles (do NOT breathe the dust of those things!) to bolster flavor on one end and make it easier on me, too. I’ve even used their Sour Cream Powder in this recipe with great results.

When using freeze dried products, I will usually add a little more liquid to keep the re-hydration process from pulling too much moisture from the overall recipe (as with the chiles and spinach), or I re-hydrate separately, then add (as with the onions). An extra bit about this particular recipe, I am so glad there are no condensed soups required. They just are not to my taste, not to mention I can’t do much to control flavors, textures, or smell when I use canned soups! And many of the King Ranch recipes I saw called for cream of mushroom soup. Since I’m the only one in the family who even likes mushrooms, cream of mushroom is out (and gross anyway!).

Another veggie-full recipe that I’ve gotten some very surprising raves from is this noodle-free Spinach Lasagna, which I stumbled upon at Linda’s Low-Carb Menus and Recipes. I refuse to use frozen spinach for anything because both the smell and the flavor are major turn-offs. Thankfully, using fresh spinach worked just fine instead of that slimy green seaweed-looking stuff. Simply use as much as you think you need. Remember though, spinach wilts when heated. Six ounces of fresh spinach may seem like quite a bit, but once it hits the sauce and wilts, you may end up wondering if you used en10463108304_61651f6c83_zough!

Taste of Home has some fantastic recipes. I actually can’t remember a bad experience with any I’ve tried in the past. Shockingly, just as with the above lasagna, I got great marks with this Zucchini Pizza Casserole. I say ‘shockingly,’ because it is loaded with zucchini, one of my favorite veggies. Alas, as with mushrooms, I am the only one in love with this easy to grow member of the squash family. It isn’t that the taste is all that wonderful, it’s just that there isn’t much of it, making it easy to shr
ed or dice (sloppy joes) and sneak into things. Unfortunately, the peeps have been on to me for a while now, and I’m pretty certain my husband has been leading a propaganda campaign to turn the kids against this perfectly harmless veggie. Oh, well…

A bonus with this Zucchini Pizza is that it calls for “Italian tomato sauce.” Any recipe that calls for spaghetti sauce or tomato sauce is just begging for additions- fresh or canned tomatoes, fresh basil, ex
tra peppers, whatever you got! Toss it in! Also, for you vegetarians, this would be an easy recipe to alter to fit your needs.

Alea’s Cabbage Rolls with Turkey and Brown Rice is a one I remember being very tasty but a ridiculous, unnecessary pain in the butt to make and eat. My notes say, “Just fix in the skillet!”  Shred your own cabbage or use a pre-cut slaw mix to cut prep time. I only have a two cup food processor, guess which one I prefer. This recipe gets altered to remove a portion of the celery (picky family) and add kale or spinach (fresh or freeze-dried).

Got any family favorites for picky eaters, but that follow my guides? Please, post!

A Day in the Life of my Knee

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Today I met with my knee surgeon: my six weeks post-op appointment. Two months ago today, I was minding my own business, eyes closed, letting my fifteen year old drive us to the local junior college where she takes a few classes, when…BOOM! CRUNCH! BAM! Breathlessness and pain rocked my world, as did the acrid odor of angry engine and airbag propellant. Dear daughter was not fit to operate heavy machinery; she was drowsy, but failed to tell me, even after I asked her directly at one point, “Are you okay to drive?!”

Yeah, about five minutes after that question left my lips, she crossed over the center line on a local two lane road, colliding with another car. Gratefully, the other driver was fine, considering a Buick LeSabre had just invaded her space, pushing her car’s tail into a ditch and requiring the driver’s door to be cut from its moorings in order to extricate her from the black Honda Accord. My daughter was largely uninjured, too. Nothing that wouldn’t heal quickly, anyway. I, unfortunately, had my knees bent, feet on the dash when our airbags deployed. I took a direct airbag blow to both knees, though the right one got the hardest impact, and my left made a beeline for my sternum. Two weeks later I was having surgery on the same meniscus I’d just had trimmed seven months before. Happy day.

I haven’t walked on two feet since the surgery, so I was incredibly anxious to talk my surgeon, to see if it was “time.” But as the minutes ebbed on in the the grocery store freezer case my surgeon’s group calls their waiting room, I got bit paranoid. I’d waited four plus weeks for this appointment and felt like this was going to turn into one of those days where the staff would keep all of his patients waiting two hours before finally fessing up the the fact that Dr. J was never coming in! It was bad enough that I hadn’t eaten anything but a Power Crunch protein bar at 6 a.m. and I had a free Egg McMuffin coupon burning a hole in my car door, a hole almost as big as the one being gnawed in my stomach by Hunger!

Thankfully, I did get a reprieve, though well after McDonald’s stopped serving breakfast! It was only fifty minutes after signing in that I heard my name called, then another twenty before his bald pate entered my room.

Our little chit-chat went well. I told him I had little faith that the repair he’d done to the medial meniscus in my right knee was healing properly. I described the “burning, tearing, searing” sensations I’d felt after the first day of physical therapy, and to a much lesser degree at points thereafter. He shrugged and casually told me, “Scar tissue.” (WHAT??)

However, Dr. J did alert me to a few things I didn’t know before today, which I greatly appreciated: 1) the tear I sustained was right at the outer margin, which is a very, very good thing. Outer margin = blood flow = oxygen = better shot at healing; and 2) he never would have attempted the repair if he didn’t feel I was a good candidate/ the tear was in just right place for a repair to work. There is a pretty good risk that I’ll be under the knife again in 5-6 months if the thing doesn’t heal; the odds are only 60/40 that it will, even in youngsters). Okay, well, I do feel a bit better now.

The last thing he said, waving his right hand towards my crutches, those accursed things that have made ambulation possible, but wreaked havoc on my ability to juggle for the last six weeks, was, “Get rid of those. You’re done with them. You can start walking again as of today.”

Gee, doc, I didn’t realize you were quite as good as Jesus Christ. As much as I was hoping to hear words similar to those today, I expected they might be tempered just a bit more! Seriously, If you don;t mind, think I’ll continue to go to physical therapy for the next four to six weeks and learn how to do that whole ‘walk’ thing again. But thanks for the vote of confidence!

So, what I have I done since returning home? Messed around with that walking thing, of course. Grasping on to furniture, counter tops, walls and door frames, I actually managed to vacuum my living room and kitchen for the first time in two months! You have no idea how good that felt! And the knee did okay, too!

Maybe in a few more weeks I won’t look more like a new born colt than I do a grown woman who had just completed a half marathon just weeks before an airbag took my breath away!

Finally! A low-carb pancake I can love

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One of the “eating styles” that I subscribe to is put forth by the Trim Healthy Mamas, Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett. This super duo of Australian sisters has meal types designated by “S” for satisfying (higher in fat, very low carb); “E” for energizing (very low fat, higher in carbs), and several points in between. Protein of some form is the backbone of every meal. Yeah! for protein!

Because it is so flexible, THM eating truly is whatever the individual needs it to be (weight loss, weight gain, maintain), I like their approach to foods. Nothing much is particularly “off plan,” unless the carb content is too high to fit within their guidelines. It really is a plan for all. And while some THMs do get very obsessive about what “type” of meal they are eating, or what is allowed or not, I don’t (I only had 10 pounds to lose in 2013-2014, and I lost most all of it before I ever found THM).  I just try to keep things low-carb and leave it at that. [For a more thorough explanation of what THM is all about, check out their website.]

So, what does THM have to do with pancakes? Well, I love pancakes. I LOVE french toast, too! But since shifting to a diet of significantly reduced wheat/ bread/ grains in December of 2013, I’ve not found a recipe for the former that really works for me…until now.

This gem of a recipe showed up on my Facebook THM group the other day, and I finally tried it tonight. Good stuff! Very fluffy, great flavor, no coconut flour taste over-kill, AND easy to whip up. I will say that I eventually added the full quarter cup of almond milk noted in the recipe, and still added a little more water to get to the right consistency.  The yield on this batch was 6 nice sized pancakes.

An excellent “faux” recipe that does a fantastic job of satisfying my deep and abiding need for French Toast on occasion is this one, which I found years ago on Three Fat Chicks on a Diet:

Mock French Toastfrenchtoast

4 egg whites
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup riccotta cheese
dash cinnamon
1 packet of splenda
sugar free maple syrup

Mix all together in a bowl and beat with a fork
pour into pan like you would as if you were making pancakes
top with butter spray and syrup and ENJOY!!!

With my low(er)-carb life style (most days), I’ve increased the amount of fat I willingly and happily take in each day. So, in making this recipe today, versus when I found it seven or eight years ago, I might follow the original, or I might just use 3 whole eggs; I’m also using Stevia or erythtitol or Swerve for my sweetener, not Splenda. Additionally, I’ve found that if I don’t have ricotta on hand, cottage cheese will work okay. Coconut oil is probably what’s in my frying pan, to, not “butter spray” or any other cooking spray. Like I said, I don’t much worry about fats these days. I am still using my sugar-free syrups though!

Am I Doing What’s Mine? or Running the Race (at my own pace)

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I’m not a big drama mama, but I do like to cut up and over dramatize silly things in such a way that, to the outside viewer, things may appear as “drama.” But seriously, the older I get, the less inclined to B.S. I am. I don’t like visual clutter, audio clutter, or verbal clutter. And, for all the good it can do, social media is all that and more.

As noted in my “About” page, I like politics, or rather I hate politics, but I love reading and commenting on the things that drive our political process. I am an unapologetic Conservative with my understanding of my Christian faith fueling many of my opinions. What faith doesn’t ignite in me, my love for this beautiful, imperfect country and the passion of its Founders does. In sentiment, I would say I side with the more moderate elements of the Tea Party. But in practice, I’m a Republican, red to the core. I don’t believe in throwing my vote away, or throwing elections to Democrats (because that’s what voting for a third party always does). So, I put up with their party stupidity, and I vote Republican. Facebook is a hotbed for political banter, though, causing some friends to scurry or put up their dukes. And sometimes results in arguments that last, and last, and last. It can be utterly exhausting. But still I rant. And post. I just can’t help myself!

Nevertheless, the other day, this wonderful article hit my feed, posted by a friend, I believe (Thankfully, I have friends who don’t get so wrapped up in politics, posting other, more useful things than the latest gripe against “X”); and it hit me like a hammer. The title of the article is ” To the Mama Who Feels Like She Never Gets Anything Done.” If that isn’t me, I don’t know who it is! I USED to be SO productive! I USED to read voraciously. I USED to have time with my kids. I USED to DO things.

Now, I sit on Facebook, reading article after article about politics, which increases my blood pressure, but does nothing to increase my true knowledge, the stuff I think we get to take with us when we die. I sit on Facebook looking at the latest funny meme (I hate that word), because I do so love to laugh, but that does nothing to increase my spirituality, or better my relationship with my family, or get nagging tasks done around the house, or increase my health and fitness (Granted, I was in a car wreck 2 months ago; had knee surgery 6 weeks ago, and will finally get to start weaning off of crutches next week. So, I’ve got that excuse. For now.). It does, however, keep me chatting with friends and some family, the few I allow into my Facebook world, but so what? It does keep me “occupied,” but there is zip, zero, zilch that is productive in that comes of that time day after day.  It is such a distraction! Just like the lotus flowers in Percy Jackson, Facebook hits our brain and we suddenly lose all of time!

Friends are great. I value my friends. I have some truly FANTASTIC friends, but if I don’t want to spend the day on the phone with them, doing nothing else, why am I spending all day ‘liking’ this or that, or checking to see if they ‘liked’ my latest 87 posts from a dozen different political sites about why the First Amendment must be protected at all costs? Really. I HAVE THINGS TO DO. Even if it is just resting on the couch working on a cross-stitch that I started 16 years ago when my oldest was a baby, I need to make space for that.

Alright, back to that fateful article. The author, Jamie Martin, is a homeschooling mom of three, an adoptive mother, a blogger and writer extraordinaire! I have down time. I “should” be able to at least do some of what she does, right? I mean I USED to write a book review column for an on-line magazine, for crying out loud! I actually used to write two columns. So, what is the problem? What is keeping me from being productive again? Time wasters. Duh! And I don’t mean the hours upon hours of driving I have done these past 5 years, hauling one kid back and forth to college classes on the dark side of the moon (and hanging out during class time because it is too far to drive home in between) or teaching art and co-op classes to other people’s kids. I mean the stuff I do, or don’t do, to try to fill the space between my next car ride, or when I’m powering down at night, or when I’m in the bathroom, or…when I have time. Really, folks, we say we don’t ‘have time,’ but if we add up all the time we waste, we do. We absolutely do!

What is Jamie’s answer to this problem of time? Well, it’s absolutely genius; and terribly, terribly simple:  I only do what’s mine to do.

“What? Could you please repeat that?” you may ask. Certainly, “I only do what’s mine to do.”

She goes on to say:

It takes a while to figure out who you are as a mother, who you are as a person now that you are a mother! (some of us need years!)

Often you only get there by trial and error, and that’s okay. The errors don’t mean you’re doing something wrong; they mean you’re one step closer to knowing yourself.

Amanda Soule’s lovely blog was the first I ever read. Her readers would comment at times that they didn’t understand how she could blog, sew, knit, farm, homeschool, and cook from scratch. Her days overflow with work from the heart, work that matters to her and her family. This isn’t a productivity secret–Amanda’s just doing what’s hers to do. And so she thrives.

Our society has made an idol of getting things done, making that our top cultural  priority. But instead of asking “Am I doing enough?,” why not ask “Am I doing what’s mine?

Here’s what’s mine right now: Love my kids through the ups and downs of parenting, homeschool, read, write, edit, cook, clean, be a friend to Steve. It’s a short list, but a full life. And it’s enough…for me.

Knowing what’s mine in this season lets me fully concentrate without being pulled in all the directions all the time. Busy mama who works all day and feels like you have nothing to show for it, don’t compare your season of spring with another mom’s season of harvest.

Run your own race…this minute, this second. Be you unapologetically. Only do what’s yours to do right now, and watch how your family, yourself, and even the world is changed because of it.

I love the idea of simplifying so much that you really are only worrying about your own ‘stuff,’ focusing on your own race, and realizing that a full life doesn’t require being everything to everyone, but being everything to those who matter most: your immediate family.

It is so easy to get caught up in the world, and in other people’s circus side shows. Facebook makes that SO easy! It’s a simple thing, to over blow our own importance as a cog in the world’s clock works (If I don’t X, then Y will be disappointed, won’t work, won’t happen, etc.). But the truth of the matter is, things do go on, things over which we often have no control (politics, crazy friends, crazy family, the price of tea in China), but only THINK we do. Yet, what we do have control over is ourselves and how we choose to spend (or blow) our time, little though it may seem we have. All that we have to do is embrace that fact, PRIORITIZE, be willing to sacrifice the easy and the mindless, then run with it. We have that much power, don’t we?

 

A man without control