Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Begin with the End in Mind

Begin with the end in mind. I have been revisiting a number of books that made a deep impact on my life. Right now I am working through Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. I was caught off guard by an exercise at the beginning of Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind. Although I could paraphrase the exercise, I am going to quote the whole thing here. I am making a personal commitment to take my journal (one of those black and white hard cover school notebooks) to a quiet place and work through this. Here goes...

"Please find a place to read these next few pages where you can be alone and uninterrupted. Clear your mind of everything except what you will read and what I will invite you to do. Don't worry about your schedule, your business, your family, or your friends. Just focus with me and really open your mind.

In your mind's eye, see yourself going to the funeral of a loved one. Picture yourself driving to the funeral parlor or chapel, parking the car, and getting out. As you walk inside the building you notice the flowers, the soft organ music. You see the faces of friends and family you pass along the way. You feel the shared sorrow of losing, the joy of having known, that radiates from the hearts of the people there.

As you walk down to the front of the room and look inside the casket, you suddenly come face to face with yourself. This is your funeral, three years from today. All these pepole have come to honor you, to express feelings of love and appreciation for your life.

As you take a seat and wait for the service to begin, you look at the program in your hand. There are four speakers. The first is from your family, immediate and extended-children, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents who have come from all over the country to attend. The second speaker is one of your friends, someone who can give a sense of what you were as a person. The third speaker is from your work or profession. And the fourth is from your church or some community organization where you've been involved in service.

Now think deeply. What would you like each of these speakers to say about you and your life? What kind of husband, wife, father, or mother would you like their words to reflect? What kind of son or daughter or cousin? What kind of friend? What kind of working associate?

What character would you like them to have seen in your? What contributions, what achievements would you want them to remember? Look carefully at the people around you. What difference would you like to have made in their lives?"

Am I looking forward to this exercise? Of course not! Will I do it? Yes!

Monday, November 5, 2012


Money. Time. Food. The first two seem to slip away and we don't know where they have gone. The third seems to slip in unnoticed and end up on our tummies, hips and thighs. When I was in a class for new home buyers, we had to keep a journal of every penny we spent. The very act of having to write it down made me think twice about every purchase.

When I am on Weight Watchers, I have a little calculator that tracks the point value of everything I eat. If I have to enter 13 points for a single serving frozen pizza when I only have 29 points for the day, I will seriously think about whether it is worth the points.

Those of you who know me, also know that I work a lot. I also do a lot of my work from home. I recently started tracking how I use my time. I made a little spread sheet in Excel with 15 minute increments. After a week of time tracking, I was amazed at how much I do and also about how I "zone out" for periods of time where I honestly don't remember what I was doing!

Tracking things like spending, eating, and time use makes us aware of what is really going on in our lives. Tracking raises awareness. Awareness is the beginning of change. Once we take a look at what we really are doing, we can decide what we want to change in our lives.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

For the most part, I am vegetarian. Although every now and then bacon gets me to fall off the wagon! I also love my slow cooker. I turn it on in the morning and come home to dinner. But all my recipes hinged on meat. Browsing the cookbooks in my public library, I discoverd several slow cooker books for vegetarians and vegans.

I made this very yummy recipe from The Vegan Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester:

Tempeh Braised with Figs and Port Wine
2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 package (8 ounces or 25 g) tempeh* cubed
8 fresh figs (may substitute dried figs)
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon (15 ml) balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon (6 g) vegan chicken flavored bouillon
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and saute the onion until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute one minute longer. Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

Yield 4 servings.

*Tempeh is a soy product and a good source of protein. In this recipe, it totally absorbs the all the flavors. The texture is more "toothsome" than tofu. I am not overly fond of tofu, but I love tempeh. You can find it in the refrigerated section with other meat substitutes at health food stores or in the organic part of the produce section of some grocery stores like Publix.

Happy eating!