Wishing Everyone a Peaceful Holiday…

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Whether you’re celebrating Christmas or simply enjoying some family time together, I hope it’s a happy and restful time for you and those you love.

Simplify: The Art of Making Room for Art

meal2We only have 24 hours in a day. If we want to make room for art – we have to free up time (and money) to do it. One way is to simplify our meals and clean-up as much as possible.

Many of the recipes I use have changed over the years. I don’t have a lot of them written down the way I make them now or how I change them according to what I have one hand. Most of my children have moved away, but they are always asking me to tell them how to make their favorite meals.

I used to make meals for eight – and I think I did a pretty good job of it. But now I have to re-think meals for one or two people who are adults now. And, because I am working often at dinnertime, many nights they have to fend for themselves. So, I am converting many of my meals to simpler, easy-to-cleanup, fast meals.

Another plus, is that converting these recipes frees me from the worry of cooking every night for those who are still at home – giving me more time and energy to devote to my art work.

There are still special times (days off and holidays) where I can cook larger meals for our growing family, but I also know there will come a time when I can’t do it all.  As I grow older, it makes me feel better that they will know how to take care of themselves instead of eating out all the time. And, for now, it will help them spend less and live healthier lives.

Where to start: I recently saw a video for “dorm-friendly” meals and decided to try them. It’s here below:

 

I must say some of the recipes are very good. However, there were a few problems. For example – cooking rice or macaroni in a small mug in the microwave guarantees that it boil over. It makes a terrible mess. Another minor problem is that shredded cheese and milk is probably better for you, but mac and cheese is usually made with a processed cheese food. A third problem was that I found the frozen meatballs I bought disgusting (that may be a brand problem, but I do know how to make and freeze meatballs.) The point is this: if you are going to get people to change over to good habits you have to do it gradually.

Continue reading “Simplify: The Art of Making Room for Art”

The Day Job: Shift Happens

Previously, I spoke about the challenges of working and writing.(The Writing Life: Keep the Day Job)

Today I want to say that I now understand why Millenials are having such a difficult time balancing their lives. Not only is it hard to find a full time jobs, the shift changes from day to day make it almost impossible to have a life outside of work.

Last year I worked as a waitress and, as hard as that was, I loved it. The hours were late and long, but consistent. The job I have now is also hard work, but my hours have no rhyme or reason to them. I work late several nights (past 11 pm) and then have to be in very early in the morning on other days. Shift changes like this make it difficult to get enough sleep every day. I felt young at my old job and now I feel old at my new job.
Millenials suffer the most, I believe, as they never knew a time when this kind of scheduling was frowned on. When I ask co-workers why the scheduling is like this they don’t seem to see it as a problem that can be overcome. They seem to be unaware that they should have better options and that means the job shouldn’t infringe on every waking moment of one’s life.

I’m sure that this sad situation arose out of a need for “flexible scheduling,” but it’s morphed over the years into a chaotic monster that shatters any ability to make plans off company time.  I often find I have no idea whether its morning or night while I’m at work – there’s no frame of reference if one starts work at 6pm one day and 8am the next. The hours blend together – endlessly in some grotesque cycle of work and sleep.

The paranoid in me wonders if it’s not a master plot by some evil HR head. To keep from having to listen to employees complain that they don’t want to work late shifts or they don’t want morning shifts – some genius decided to give everyone bizarre schedules . Then the misery is shared and no one can complain their schedule is the worst. They’re all equally bad.

Continue reading “The Day Job: Shift Happens”

Texas – Eclipse on Monday, Hurricane on Friday…

We’ve been preoccupied with the sky lately. Slowly, things are returning to normal around here.

Fortunately, we’re safe. My family is safe. Most people I know are okay. Still, so many are not tonight. Pray for Texas!

All The Lonely People, Where Do They All Belong?

We all have a desire to belong somewhere. But, where we think we belong has changed.Eleanorfinal1nobordera

Ah look at all the lonely people
Ah look at all the lonely people

Eleanor Rigby, picks up the rice
In the church where a wedding has been
Lives in a dream
Waits at the window, wearing the face
That she keeps in a jar by the door
Who is it for?

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong…

“Eleanor Rigby” – The Beatles

In ages past, people tended to identify themselves by family, tribe, religion or class status. “I am Tom’s mother.” “I am a Catholic.” “I am a New Yorker.” These used to help form a picture of a person’s identity.

Populations are now on the move. The idea of the nation or place of residence as an identity is not as strong as it once was. There is a growing social stigma against all religions. Families break up, reform, break up again. Indeed, many people are choosing to be childless, so they are not going to find themselves in their progeny.

In the past, shows like “Friends” and “How I met Your Mother” were shows where friends met on a daily basis well past their school years. The popularity of these shows was based on our desire to belong to a group that wants our company. These were unrealistic scenarios as most people have hectic schedules. Also, the fact that people move around a great deal make it difficult to continue school friendships beyond graduation. And while we have social media, such as Facebook, these are a poor substitute for the physical human contact friendship provides.

Populations are aging, people are alone more hours of the day. I recently read an article that most adolescents spend more time alone on their phones and only leave the house with their parents. This is called the “atomizing of society” and it is a trend that I believe will continue to grow and be a cause of concern for the mental health of individuals for many decades to come.

These trends and the desire to belong is why many popular TV shows and books today focus on character over plot. Not knowing where to turn, we look for our identity in our stories. That is, we are looking for story characters to be the place where we fit in. We “belong” in someone else’s story. Whether that is wise or not, it is happening in our culture.

So, who are we? Why are we here? Where are we going? Where do we all belong?

 

 

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The Writing Life is a category on this website where I muse about life in general and writing in particular. You can find this group of posts here.