December 2016 archive

Angry People

A friend of mine texted me yesterday and asked me if I write my blog at a specific time every day. “No,” I responded. “I write when I’m inspired to write.”
I want to share my experience at the Propel Women’s conference, but I’m inspired to share something else today..

Often times, my job consists of dealing with angry people (something I’m very good at). I enjoy this part of my job because most of the time, I can help change the vibration of a situation and offer the angry person a surprise or a smile or a gentle shove towards the exit door because my goal is always to seek my own peace and happiness. Yesterday, in response to an entirely free offer, someone sent this to one of my clients:
I find it interesting that you make two really big assumptions right from the start..Your fundamental flaw…….Why your way doesn’t work. I find it a turnoff that the language you are using assumes all this to necessarily be true. Perhaps a more positive use of language such as how to improve the success of your work, or some other way of saying that would be way more inspiring.

Not the most well-written email, but you can see the point was to suggest my client use more positive language in her attempt to solve a problem and meet a need for her clients.

If you knew this client, you’d know she is possibly the most positive, attentive, life-giving, well-intended woman on the planet.

So, she forwarded the email to me because she was so flabbergasted that anyone could find her to be negative, she couldn’t even respond. I wrote back:
Thank you so much or that feedback, Name. Each time we re-write or improve a section of our work, we take this kind of input into consideration. Without it, we can’t grow! We will try to use more positive language in future versions. 
Joy!
Erin

Now, I could have responded like this:
The language you are using to point out this perceived negative language is, in fact, rather negative; which leads me to believe the common denominator in all of this negativity is you. Those coming to this site and choosing to participate in this FREE offering are doing so because something isn’t working for them, so to speak to them as though something isn’t working is only to validate their feeling that they are in the right place and that we want to serve them and hopefully improve their situation. Your feedback highlights to me that you didn’t resonate with (or perhaps didn’t even read) any of the material because you are far more interested in finding problems than in solving them. When and if that point of attraction changes, we would love to work with you.
Joy!
Erin

That second email…that felt fun to write. It felt righteous and well-stated and hilariously ironic in its tone. The person reading it would have probably felt belittled at best, revengeful at worst. The email string would have gone on and on, trading bitchy (yet proper) issues raised with the other until someone finally ended an email with “Good Day” and we all went off and talked to our friends about how right we were.

Here’s one I fielded on behalf of another client not long ago:
I fucking hate this newsletter and I hope you die or kill yourself.

My response:
There is an unsubscribe button at the bottom of every newsletter. I do hope you can find that button and click it, soon!

A little more cheeky of a response, but warranted, no? Of course, I wanted to say:
I cannot imagine what your life must be like that you have the time and the energy to produce so much hate for a digital file sent directly to the computer in your home, free of charge, using technology that wasn’t even available 10 years ago in the way that it is now. I would like to suggest that you not only unsubscribe from this newsletter but that you also seek counseling; it doesn’t even have to be professional. Just talk to ANYONE about what’s really bothering you and try to get to the root of it.
It terrifies me to think what you say to the mailman the day the local circular comes out. 

I spent years using my wit and intelligence to destroy people with words. I was good at it, too. It was pretty rare someone could top me. There was a superiority that came along with it and, for a good long while, it made me feel better.
Until it didn’t.
I don’t know if I grew up or matured or just got tired of five dollar words, but I would so much rather mind my own business now than I would getting all spun up in someone else’s baggage. If you cannot speak to me kindly, I can speak to you kindly but I can also walk away. If you cannot be constructive, I can be and I can move towards people who have a greater tendency to BE constructive. If you aren’t respectful, I can just smile and move along. I waste FAR less energy worrying about whether I’m right or wrong, and spend far more of my time focused on how I feel. If it doesn’t feel good, I don’t do it. And reading someone their proverbial rights only felt good in the moment…then I realized I’d just put time and effort into something that yielded me nothing.

So let me appeal to your greed. The next time you want to show someone why you know more on Facebook, or why your way of doing things is right, or why so-and-so is wrong…ask yourself if it actually makes you feel good. Investigate what you’re trying to accomplish. Do you want to feel good or do you want to be right? Do you want the other person to feel bad before you can move on to feeling good? Do you need to make a point or do you need to surround yourself with people who don’t need the point in order to be happy?
Like everything else, this has been a process…an evolution for me. I still occasionally decide I’m going to show someone how smart I am and how dumb they are for challenging me to a word-duel. But for the most part, I get way more satisfaction snuffing out the bitching-fires and focusing on snacks and naps and funny TV shows.

THE INSTANT POT

I was lucky enough to go to the Propel Women’s conference this past weekend, spending an entire day listening to some POWERHOUSE women talk about how to get shit done. And I need to share with you the most important details I learned from them…

…tomorrow.

Because today we need to talk about something even MORE important.

My new Instant Pot.

Look. I’ve got a beautiful crock pot. I’ve got a rice cooker. I’ve got a steamer. I’ve got the STUFF, ok? This isn’t that. This is a whole new level of life-changing.
The Instant Pot, in short, is a crock pot that cooks things in half, a third, even an eighth of the time it takes to cook conventionally.
I did not believe it either.
But not only does it cook so much faster, it cooks BETTER. It’s fail-proof. You cannot dry out chicken. You cannot mess up your beef stew. Your hard boiled eggs will be the stuff DREAMS are made of.

Am I overselling it?

I DON’T CARE. EVERYONE NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT THIS.

What is it? Is it magic?
Yes. Sort of.
The Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker, only with less pressure than traditional pressure cookers. This means it doesn’t involve your stove and it’s far safer. There is a fair amount of automation (press the “poultry” button for chicken and then fold half a load of laundry because that’s about how much time you’ll have before it’s ready). There’s also some shortcuts and a learning curve, but it’s all Googleable (it’s a word).

15328187_10155503434199829_1914045671_nMy first meal was boneless, skinless chicken breast. And what do we know about boneless, skinless chicken breast? Say it with me.
“IT GETS DRY!”
I didn’t have any broth so I tossed in water and a ton of herbs with an onion. I set the pot for “poultry”. It took 5 minutes to heat up and 20 minutes to cook. No brining the chicken. No marinating. No covering or turning or basting. Just toss it all in the pot and wait.
Guess what?
It was freaking delicious. Moist. (Sorry, everyone who hates that word.) It was flavorful. It was all in one pot. With potatoes. Also perfect.

15388839_10155503432969829_64847280_oNext I did chicken parmesan with broccoli and garlic. So good.

Tonight was pot roast. Forty-five minutes for pot roast that tasted slow-cooked. I didn’t take a picture because everyone ate it faster than I could snap it.

The most beautiful part is that you CAN start anything you’re cooking early in the day and it will keep it perfectly warm without continuing to cook it until you get home. How does it do that? I DON’T KNOW. I DO NOT KNOW.

15354217_10155503432944829_644750893_oEggs? Put them in with a cup of water for 12 minutes. Boom. Perfectly cooked with shells that fall off.
STAHP IT.
I won’t.

I don’t know where this pot was all your life, either. And I’m sorry it took so long for me to tell you about it.

No, I don’t work for Instant Pot. I just can’t deal with how amazing it is and I think everyone should own one. I’m going to be posting Instant Pot recipes as I find/create them, so follow along with your own IP if you have one.

I ordered my Instant Pot on Black Friday at the suggestion of a friend on Facebook. Regularly it’s $129.95. Now that I know what it can do, I would pay it in a HEARTBEAT.
There are also smaller versions that cost less. Mine is a 7-in-1 6 qt., which apparently means I can cook a whole chicken in 30 minutes and also make my own yogurt, so I’ll be trying that next… Different ones go on sale at different times. Right now the 6-in-1 6qt pot is a little less expensive for no real reason.

Tomorrow I’ll share something VERY inspiring and deep and memorable with you. But today. Today I just want you to know the Instant Pot is my Monday night savior.

 

Amazon 7 in 1 6qt pot (this one can make yogurt and the 6 in 1 can’t…)

Amazon 6 in 1 6qt pot:

Amazon 7 in 1 5qt pot (this one can make yogurt and the 6 in 1 can’t…)

Amazon 6 in 1 5qt pot:

We Are Still Here

A year ago today we closed on our home. It was unreal. We never thought it was even POSSIBLE. I remember walking through it at about 7:00 that night, all big and empty, looking at the floors like…woah. We have floors.

In the year leading up to that purchase, we paid off three major debts, one of which was a surprise debt neither of us knew existed. And when I say major, I’m talking nearly $20,000 between medical, credit card, and surprise debt. We thought we were at least a year away from being able to own a home. But one day, whilst on the toilet (sorry Bear), Bear told me he didn’t want to wait to buy a home, he didn’t want a starter home either, and he wanted us to start looking now. Bear tends to be a little more impulsive than me. (That’s a nice way to say it, isn’t it?) I humored his sentiments from the other side of the bathroom door and didn’t think twice. Within 4 months, though, we were moving in. (His impulses are usually right.)

Five days after we purchased our beautiful home and moved in, Bear was let go from his job as a construction project manager due to “overhead.” He was already in the interview process for another job, so that process just sped right up and he was due to begin in two weeks. That’s only two weeks between jobs!
A week after that, Bear was informed the new position was being vetoed by the executives and he no longer had that job.
Luckily, on his way out of that disappointing meeting, he met someone else who asked to interview him. A week later he was awarded another position.
I bought steaks. It was a great relief.
We started 2016 with Bear in a new job, our family in a new house, and me desperately wanting to have a job within a school or an office somewhere so that I could contribute more financially. I wanted to know that if Bear lost his job again in the future, I could take care of us.  My writing and virtual assistant jobs just wouldn’t cut it. I applied for no less than 15 jobs, all of which deemed me “overqualified” (never include your Masters Degree on an application for a desk job) or “lacking in experience” (never get a Masters Degree and then have a child two years later). I was shocked. But Bear was working full time and while he was incredibly busy/stressed/tired, we were doing just fine.
Until that one day in May when one of his co-workers decided Bear was no longer welcome back and the next day his boss fired him. A reason was never actually given.
It was riiiiiight about then I couldn’t repeat the “It’s all happening for a reason” mantra anymore.

Bear immediately created his own business, applied for a tax identification number, and began bidding jobs as though this is what he’d been doing all along.
Two weeks later, we got married.
The day we got married was the day he received his Articles of Incorporation. He was an official business. We were officially married.
It was official.
We were on our own.

It felt like floating in space, no tether.

The summer of 2016 was one of the worst of my life in terms of anxiety. I never knew from week to week if we would have enough money to pay for groceries, to pay for things the kids wanted to do, to pay for our phones! The mortgage terrified me. We OWNED this house now. It wasn’t like we could just move to a less expensive rental or ask our landlord for an extension each month. I was in a state of panic and fear and overwhelm 100% of everyday. I got depressed, I slept as much as possible, and when I was awake I struggled to function.

Bear landed his first contract in his new business in August, exactly 2 days after he came down with the flu. He was forced to work outside in the 100 degree heat for 4 days with a fever and brain fog. But he did it.
He was soon awarded another job. He hired a guy to help him with that job (our first employee!) who promptly worked for one day, texted Bear and said he couldn’t work anymore, and then left with $600 worth of brand new tools. Never to be seen again.
Bear finished that job himself.

“Are you sure owning your own business is the right plan?” I asked.
“Positive,” he said. Impulsively.

I found extra work a little at a time. By about September, I realized that I was (in fact) paying the bills. Nothing was late! After only going through about half of our savings, I was scraping enough together to keep us functioning while Bear continued building the business. I gained a little bit of pride.
Bear continued to make contacts and land contract after contract, making enough on one job to buy himself a work truck so he didn’t have to drive his own truck (which we were afraid he was about to run into the ground before he could pay it off). He gained some pride, too.

We continued to work our butts off the last three months, Bear keeping the business afloat and me keeping our house in our name.

In between all of that, the laundry room exploded, I found out I might have breast cancer (I didn’t), and…

You guys. 2016 was hard.
Really hard.

But here we are, one year later, and we made it. What have I learned…
I’ve learned, once again, that things do have a way of working out. It doesn’t mean that you can sit back and let your faith be enough. It doesn’t mean that it will be easy or obvious or fun. I just view the last two years as a sort of spiritual clean-up. We knew what we wanted (a stable life together in a home of our own) and it took about two years between us and God to tie up all the loose ends, prepare us for the next steps, and get clear on what the future looked like. The path is now clearer, and my new ability to see that everything is temporary leads me to believe that I can handle these kinds of things differently in the future.

This morning at about 6:30am, my husband rolled over and whispered in my ear, “Happy Housiversary”. I grunted at him (because I don’t like speaking before 7:30am). But today is more than just a celebration of buying our home. It’s a triumph. We are still here.

12309964_10154373759214829_5415705167843983856_o

A celebratory shot, one year ago today.

 

If you haven’t already joined me in a daily exercise of smiles, thoughts, and life, head over to my group Mind, Body, Peas. 🙂 We do life nice there.