Moods are symptoms. Don’t just react. Look under the surface and connect with the other person to solve or even prevent an outburst, tantrum, or other negative behavior.

I talked about this in a previous post, “Pain Is the Root Of Anger, and Why You Should Care” but today I’d like to amplify that by sharing the following post by Rebecca Thompson, M.S., MFT.

Her blog is about parenting, and this post of hers in particular reminded me of when my son was a toddler and he would routinely become annoying, fussy, and troublesome when he was tired. It was an irritating distraction for work-at-home parents. Of course the instantaneous reactionary impulse was to be short with him, tell him to stop being that way, even yell at him. But I wanted to love and help him, not hurt him. I found that all I had to do when he started acting badly, was realize that he had been awake for hours, and then pick him up and rock him on my shoulder. He felt the loving connection and quickly fell asleep. When he awoke, he was always able to behave much better.

For older kids too big to hold or too old for naps, a hug can be just as refreshing–like rebooting a computer which has clogged up and can’t function right.

For even older people or those you aren’t so personal with, look for a way to give a verbal hug. A kind word, compliment, or some acknowledgement that you are sympathetic.

Meeting and treating on a personal root level works with a person of any age—infant, toddler, teen, adult, and elderly. It can even work with animals.

Read Rebecca’s post: An Alternative View of Tantrums and Emotional Upsets

Or visit her website by clicking this image:

 

© NPM

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(Note: This will also work with hams and other cuts of meat as well, but I’m just going to talk about turkeys.)

Using my method, a complete holiday turkey dinner can be cooked in under 3 hours–or less if you have a small bird.

You can use a thermometer to tell when it’s perfectly done, or cook it until it’s falling-off-the-bones done. Either way, it will be tender and juicy!

Since store-bought birds all come with added ingredients, meaning they have been soaked or injected with water/salt/sugar/etc., there’s NO need to brine it prior to roasting. Even freshly butchered birds will steam nicely inside a covered roasting pan and not dry out.

As the cook in your household, I’m sure you’re as ready for a holiday as your family and guests are, but do you get one?

In years past you may have stressed about preparation in the days leading up to Thanksgiving or Christmas, and then drug yourself out of bed before everyone else so that you could get that big turkey stuffed and slow roasting for another four or five hours, dutifully basting it every hour or so to keep it from drying out. Well you don’t have to do it that way any more! 

I want to tell you how you can sleep late this holiday morning AND host a traditional dinner—without sacrificing the wonderfulness of fresh home-cooked foods.

Getting plenty of sleep and waking up fully rested is an important key to being able to enjoy the day with your family and guests. And of course you’d like to have time in the living room with those people, instead of being stuck in the kitchen.

Here are three keys to making that happen for you:

  1. Make sure you have the one necessary piece of equipment, in addition to a working oven: a LARGE COVERED ROASTING PAN (or a very large oven-proof pot with oven-proof lid) BIG ENOUGH TO ENCLOSE YOUR TURKEY (or other meat).
  2. Unless you are buying a fresh turkey, make sure your turkey will be thawed in time. Put it to thaw in the fridge a few days ahead (3 days for a 12 pound bird, 5 days for a 20 pounder).
    • Here’s a calculator for determining how large of a turkey to buy for the number of people you are serving, and how long it will take to thaw; just ignore their cooking times, since we are going to use a faster method.
    • There’s no problem if it thaws out two or three days early, but no more than that so you won’t have to worry about spoilage.
    • If your fridge is especially cold, or you can’t start thawing soon enough, you may find it still frosty on baking day; in that case run hot tap water in and out of both ends of the bird. But trying to work with a completely frozen bird will NOT turn out right.
  3. Get your house presentable before going to bed the night before. You may even want to set the table ahead of time, if you don’t have pets which will walk all over the place settings.

If you don’t own a large COVERED roasting pan, they are fairly inexpensive at department stores or even some larger grocery stores; or you might be able to borrow one from an elderly relative who no longer uses theirs. Ideally, you want something like this:

Large Covered Roasting Pan (enameled metal)

Large Cover Roasting Pan (enameled metal)

 

After a lazy morning and a hot cup of tea, you’re ready to start cooking. Here’s what to do:

  1. Peel and chunk a heap of vegetables. Whatever kinds you want, but I recommend a mix of white or russet potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, onions, and garlic.
    • Large pieces are best, like cutting your potatoes into thirds or quarters, carrots into halves.
    • Rinse your chunks of both varieties of potatoes in a bowl of water as you cut them, because coating the surfaces in water will prevent them from turning black before they start cooking.
    • Use your own judgment as to quantity, depending on number of people being served. Leftover veggies are great in soups or turkey pot pies.
  2. Start your oven heating to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Yup, 500 degrees!
  3. Brush the inside of the bottom half of your roasting pan with oil, so the veggies don’t stick before the turkey juices start flowing. DO NOT put a rack in the pan; you want the veggies down in the turkey juices for best flavor.
  4. Place the potatoes in the roasting pan first, followed by other vegetables (because slender or small items like carrots will disintegrate if on the bottom). Onions and garlic go on top of the other veggies, so their flavors will seep down and make the potatoes yummy.
  5. Now for the turkey. Unwrap it in a clean sink, remove all extras (organs and neck), rinse inside and out, remove the plastic or wire gadget which holds the legs together, and place the bird BREAST SIDE DOWN on top of the vegetables in the roasting pan. The turkey’s juices will run down through the breast, so the driest meat will not be dry at all.
  6. Place the cover on your roasting pan, making sure that it closes all around. If it won’t close, you may need to wiggle the bird a bit, or reach under it and push the vegetables to the corners so the bird will settle lower. The lid MUST close all around, or else steam will escape and your meat will really dry out in the extra hot oven!
  7. Place the closed pan in the oven. It does not matter whether the oven has gotten fully hot yet.
  8. Be sure to thoroughly wash your sink, faucet, and any counter contaminated by raw turkey.
  9. While the bird and veggies start to roast, start the “stuffing.” (This will be made on the stove top so the empty bird can cook faster, but will taste like it came from inside the bird because we’ll use turkey juices.)
    • Chop or crumble some bread.
    • Saute onions and garlic (optionally, add soy sauce), and add them to the bread with your favorite herbs.
  10. Prepare a pie that can go in the oven when everything else comes out. This can bake while you eat, and be eaten hot and fresh or later in the evening when stomachs have more room for it.
  11. Pull the roasting pan out and set it on your stove for a moment. Ladle out as much of the juices as you can, and return the covered roasting pan to the oven for the turkey to finish cooking.
  12. Divide those hot turkey juices. Mix some into your “stuffing” and put the rest into a pan for thickening into gravy.
  13. Lightly fry your stuffing in a skillet, stirring frequently to blend and thoroughly warm the bread. Also finish making your gravy.
  14. When the turkey is fully cooked, put the pie into the oven and serve everything else with a side of cranberry sauce. (You might want to set a timer to remind you to check your pie, so it doesn’t burn while you are engrossed in dinner conversations.)

The key to speed here is the covered roasting pan. It allows for a super hot oven and keeps all that super hot steam inside which causes quick roasting, without allowing the meat to dry out!

So now you know how to cook a complete holiday dinner (turkey, veggies, stuffing, gravy,  cranberry sauce, and pie) with most of your day left over for having fun. Enjoy!

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© 2014 Noname Porter-McShirley

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Anger Comes from Pain

Why is it really important to understand anger? Because:

  • Understanding anger is the first step in dealing with your own, so that you can behave decently, and so that you are not controlled by automatic responses to other people.
  • Understanding anger gives you helpful insight when dealing with angry friends or family members.
  • Understanding anger is important in the bigger picture of society—for preventing the formation of, or responding to, masses of angry people.

Think about what anger is: Anger is an emotion, a very intense feeling which summons your attention and energy; it is your subconscious talking to your consciousness while it rallies your body for what it expects your response will be. But if you have this detached perspective, then you are not bound to act as your feelings seem to tell you to act.

Emotions exist to serve us. They say, “Hey Master, here’s something you should pay attention to. Don’t you want to do something about this?” That’s true for happiness, sadness, love, anger, or any emotion. “Hey Master, there’s a good-looking person, don’t you want to make contact?” “Hey Master, there’s a fun game. Don’t you want to play it?” “Hey Master, this food tastes great. Don’t you want to grab another helping?” “Hey Master, notice how great if feels when you receive a compliment. Don’t you want to do that again?” “Hey Master, you’ve tried this already. Don’t you want to give up?” “Hey Master, that person stepped on your toe, causing you a lot of pain, and she didn’t even notice. Don’t you need to kick her so she doesn’t hurt you again?”

But we are to be the masters of our bodies, not leave emotions in control. The first part, “Hey Master, notice this,” is rather automatic. The second part, the “Don’t you want to___,” is trainable. Untrained, we tend to be selfish and superficial. We grab what’s fun and strike back when hurt. But we can train ourselves to look beyond the surface before responding, and to be kind when hurt.

What does it mean to be “kind when hurt”? Apologizing for existing because someone bumped into you, is not being kind. Being kind is taking note of your anger and telling it, “Okay, I got your message, now go back to work. I’ll handle this.” Then you look for more information about who hurt you and why, consider their point of view as best as you can see it, and offer some response which might actually help the other person to feel better—even if such a response has nothing at all to do with what they did to you.

Here’s the natural, untrained, emotionally reactive cycle of anger:

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Person A has a problem which generates an angry feeling, and so lets those feelings explode on whomever is handy. Person B, feeling the pain of being unjustly blamed (exaggerated by feared future consequences), yells back about the injustice they feel. Person A, being far from calm enough to admit an error, gets even angrier from the pain of being accused of unjustly yelling. Person B, feeling the pain of being in a hopelessly negative situation, yells about how absurd person A is acting. Person A not only continues to defend his or her self, but also feels additionally pained/angry because Person B has not seemed to care about the original problem.

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But when a wise person gets unjustly yelled at, the thought patterns goes something like this:

“That person is angry and it’s not my fault, which means they are dealing with something more painfully difficult than their level of strength or wisdom at this moment. They are not an absurd person normally; they are only acting on emotions right now, so there is no point in responding directly to their absurdness. I’m going to look for ways to reduce their stress, and try to figure out the real source of their pain so that I can find a solution for their problem. Then their mood will return to normal.”

When you realize that an angry person is actually a person who is in some sort of pain, you can shut off your retaliation instinct and proceed with empathy, love, patience, and possibly assistance.

Acknowledge to yourself your own anger, but shut it down by working to alleviate or eliminate the underlying pain. And if that underlying pain is someone’s unjust anger vented on you, work to alleviate or eliminate THEIR underlying pain, and everyone’s anger will vanish.

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Further reading: Here is an article on the value of seeing people’s offensive actions as stemming from ignorance and poor assumptions rather than maliciousness, thus allowing yourself to avoid reacting angrily: http://www.bakadesuyo.com/2009/10/falkenblog-epictetus-the-life-coach/

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© 2014 Noname Porter-McShirley

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Is there a bit too much of you after all those holiday dinners?

You can give “yourself” away on EVERY ordinary day.

Giving away your food, or the time you would spend preparing food and eating, reduces your intake which over time will reduce your size. This can be done within your ordinary routine—there’s no need to join a club or charity or diet. You can even give to yourself!

When you give something up, you won’t feel deprived if you focus on the joy of sharing and seeing someone else enjoy what you’ve just given (or the joy of giving yourself something unusual and fun).

Your kind act should give you an emotional boost to counter any lingering hunger. If you need extra help, take a deep breath stretching yourself tall while pulling your tommy in, and tell yourself, “I’m getting thinner.” Then go on to your next chore with a cheerful mood.

Here are some examples:

  1. If you are making yourself a snack when your spouse or friend walks in the room, give your food to him/her, or at least half of it. (This may or may not work with kids, as they might not like the kind of food you fixed for yourself.)
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  2. When making breakfast or lunch for your kids, don’t make any for yourself–just eat the scraps or their left-overs. Give the extra time saved to your kids instead, in the form of your attention while they’re eating.
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  3. When you usually eat with family, but find yourself alone for dinner, either skip dinner alltogether or have something quick and light like popcorn or a piece of toast, and give yourself the meal time for something special instead (like a long bath, or reading a book you’ve been wanting to get to, or cleaning the closet, calling a relative or far-away friend, writing that book you’ve been dreaming about, or any other thing you don’t usually have time for).
    .
  4. Taking lunch to work? Watch for a homeless person and if you see one, then give away your lunch and go without that day. (You’re more likely to see a hungry person if you are looking for one.)
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  5. Taking lunch to work, idea #2: Share it with someone who has less quantity or less quality in their lunch bag.
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  6. At home OR at work, when you’re thinking of getting something for yourself to eat, look around on your way to the food for little chores that need doing, and do them (an hour or two may pass before you get to the fridge, and by then it might actually be meal time). You’ll feel happier because you were productive rather than wasteful/waist-full.
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  7. When you’re thinking of getting something for yourself to eat, idea #2: Ask someone nearby if there is anything you can do to help them right now. (This gives you a break from your own activities, and gives you an energy boost from being surprisingly & kindly helpful, while keeping you too busy to eat.)
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  8. Planning on buying your lunch? Give that money to something later by putting it in another pocket, telling yourself it will buy XYZ (or it will go with tomorrow’s lunch money for XYZ if XYZ costs more). Make sure XYZ is something you’ll feel good about, like a present for a child or spouse, lunch out with your mom, or something you could really use that you’ve been putting off buying.
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You can probably find more ways to give yourself thin, if you get started and keep looking. You’ll become happier, and so will those around you!

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© NPM

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Happy Endings Have a Purpose

December 19, 2012


My nine-year-old son and I both “booed” after finishing a short story which started with two children being left alone on an island, and ended with them still there, abandoned by their only visitor, and one of the children vowing to find a way off of the island some day. I tried to console my son by saying that when I experience a sad story that ends without an “ending,” it makes me resolve to get busy making something happen in real life. I asked him, “Do stories always have to have a happy ending?” I continued, “Real life doesn’t have happy endings—it just keeps going and going.” To which he instantly replied, “That’s why we turn to stories!”

I think he’s right.

Most adults are busy, and we can sometimes accept taking a piece of a story to ponder its points as we go on with our activities; but remember being a kid, when a year seemed like eternity? Adults may have been around enough to know a hard time will pass in a day, or week, or year; but it’s hard for a child to hold out for relief which might be so far away—so they turn to fantasy. Time goes so slowly for children that they can’t always grasp from their own real lives, the sense of hope and joy they need; but they can get it from a happy ending to a story.

We all want to know that things will be okay in the end—the end of a situation, the end of a season of life, or the absolute end of one’s earthly life. We need hope for the future in order to keep going through anything less than perfect. We fuel that hope with stories, real and fictional. Stories give us a rest from our reality, and ideas to take back into reality. Sure, we can draw positive thoughts from a story that stops sadly, but that’s work, not recreation. We all–adults and children–need happy endings to feel relaxed and happy.

Life does keep going and going, but with lots of little happy moments, if not “endings.” For those who say that kids should not be taught to expect happy endings in life, I’d say they should be allowed the uplifting pleasure of happy endings in stories, AND taught to both look for and create happy passages in real life.

It doesn’t matter so much that life isn’t “happy EVER after” ONE struggle. It does matter that we CAN get through a struggle, and be happy—and so then we must be able to get through another struggle, and another. A happy ending gives hope for multiple happy endings to multiple struggles.

So don’t feel guilty for filling your kid’s heads with happy endings. And do make happiness come true, even in difficult times.

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©NPM

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Holiday gatherings, and the month of dread which comes beforehand, are some of the most frustrating and depressing times for many people. These are supposed to be celebrations and reunions, but one of the biggest contributing factors which makes these events problems, is that so many people are measuring themselves and others with the wrong measuring sticks.

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Tradition is to compare and judge others’ lives against one’s own life, based primarily and superficially on physical accomplishments, because these are the easiest things to put into words and are most similar across humanity in western cultural terms.

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Examples: awards and educational degrees earned; prestige or money from jobs and number of promotions; home size, toys, and cars; money spent on gifts; kids and their growth, involvements or accomplishments; fun activities and places visited; number or class of friends; club memberships; books read or written; childhood dreams realized; etc.

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But you can HAPPILY look like a failure by all of those standards, IF you have gained (or know you are gaining) understanding of humanity and of God, your reason for existing, and what will outlast the fleeting years at hand. For if understanding a good chunk of those things is what you pour your time and resources into, you can feel confident in your abilities to be an honest benefit to fellow humans and to the entire universe.

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Communicating a meaningful measurement of your life is often hard, because there’s so much value in the fleeting moments which are like little pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, and just as hard to remember or explain their context.

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Examples: the times you made someone smile, were kind to a clerk, gave a hug, answered someone’s nagging question, realized the answer to your own questions, forgave someone, lovingly sacrificed your own desires for someone else’s good. The times God’s Spirit embodied you and shined through to lighten and enlighten the world with love.

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So gather with grace, confidence, compassion and love for everyone, wherever they measure up at the moment–or think they measure up–on any yardstick. Hope for meaningful progress.

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Happy holidays!

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© NPM

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While searching blogs tonight, I came accross this great story of a little girl whose fanciful tale was published along with some other children’s stories, and how excited she was to see her own words in a book, and to see what other kids had written…

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http://rachelsbooknook.wordpress.com/2012/06/13/write4fun-35/

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I know that post was some time ago, but NOW all English-speaking kids ages 5 to 13 have an opportunity for the same kind of exciting, positive experience.

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Enjoy reading the post in the above link, and then have YOUR kids enter Rifll Publishing’s FREE Kid’s Challenge/contest right now! (Or mark it on tomorrow’s schedule, if you are reading this while your kids sleep.)

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Get all your questions answered here:   http://www.rifll.com/challenge.htm

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Why do I have to write, mom?...What if it got published?...My writing, published?...Yup! Go to:  http://www.rifll.com/challenge.htm

Give your child the thrill of being published, plus challenge him or her to coming in First Place. Help your child enter now! http://www.rifll.com/challenge.htm ~Share the fun: invite friends & followers to participate.

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ATTENTION ANYONE WHO:
has kids, knows kids, works with kids, or has a social media audience who has (or are) kids.

Rifll Publishing, Inc. is looking to tell all the kids ages 5 to 13 about a fun contest they can win.

You DON’T have to think your kid is the world’s next great author. And your kids DON’T have to love writing to enter. Rifll’s rules are simple; check them out, help a kid submit something, and the fun will follow!

Several First Place winners will be offered contracts to have their entries published in a paperback anthology of writings by kids and for kids.

All other entries will receive Second Place, and receive the option of being posted on a special page of Rifll Publishing’s website.

When’s the last time you knew of a child who had the pleasure of showing friends and family something he or she wrote, displayed on the internet; or had the pleasure of holding in their hands a book full of stories written by folks their own age?

Now you can help make that possible, for FREE.

Kids CAN write things that are fun and worth reading, and this challenge can ENCOURAGE them to love writing and reading.

Help your kids to enter.

Also please POST THIS to your blog, FaceBook, Twitter, email it out; tell your coworkers, your kids’ friends, teachers, and youth groups.

The more entries, the more fun!

See the simple details and answers to your questions on Rifll’s website: http://www.rifll.com/challenge.htm

Kid's Writing Challenge (contest) Deadline 12-31-12 ~ www.rifll.com

Kid’s Writing Challenge (contest) Deadline 12-31-12 ~ http://www.rifll.com
Kids ages 5-13 can enter & win publication!
Share the news. Help kids enter now!

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It’s been a very busy spring for me. I never meant to go so long without posting to this blog. But I’m coming back…

First stop was to check my other social sites (FaceBook, etc.), commenting on what others are up to and reposting some things I really enjoyed to FaceBook:
 http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003226279447

Next step is to add some valuable content to the web–some things I hope others will find helpful, or at least interesting. This is planned to happen really soon. I have lots of notes to edit into posts.

But right now I must complete an errand
Regarding a new business I am starting with a friend.
This will be a helpful business too,
And we hope it can help you.
I’ll let you know what it’s all about
Just as soon as the webpage is present to tout.
I have to finish drawing the logo,
And make sure the prices are in a row,
With a bit of fine print all in tow.
I have to finish the HTMLs
And double-check how everything spells.

(Yup, I checked, it spells “everything”. …..Just kidding.)

So, I’ll see you here again soon.

I’m excited!
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© 2012 NPM
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Hoping to rocket to success in order to help the world with one’s platform or one’s profits, might be blinding oneself to a lot of important things and people which should be dealt with along the way. The world is not just all those people out there. It’s also the person in front of your nose, and the person in front of my nose.

                                   *      *      *      *      *      *      *

For the top of our goal lists:
Not everyone is meant to operate alike, and no one can help every person who crosses his or her path. Maybe some ought to zoom ahead to semi-stardom in order to broadcast their insights to crowds, while others are intended to deal one-on-one, and yet others are to make a slower ascent while helping a few along the way. But I believe that for everyone there is a right way to move ahead, so that we don’t cause harm in our wake—our goals should include recognizing our own right way.
 

Take time to find our way:
I intensely do not like being told to slow down (especially by anyone who doesn’t seem to aspire as high). I have great aspirations, and I know there is a lot to do to reach my goals. I want to help everyone, and do everything, and I only have so much time. I don’t just want to reach some high point just to be there, but because I want to be as helpful as possible; I want to rightly acquire enough resources to help others beyond my own family.  But I can’t do everything, and sometimes I do need to slow down enough to sort it out. We can’t read the road signs if we are going so fast that they are a blur.
 

This way, that way, their way…Or a unique and better way for each of us:
It’s easy to be wrapped up and bogged down in each day’s chores and the closest people’s demands on my attention, never moving toward bigger things. It’s also tempting to excessively react to that by charging ahead too fast, at great expense of health and missed opportunities for good. And, there is a danger in copying whatever seems to work for moving other people ahead, without listening to God’s nudges which tell me which methods are not right for me. We can certainly learn from others’ methods of success, but we should also be seeking God’s help in creating our own innovative and doubly positive personal paths.
 

Live this moment, trusting it will properly connect:
It takes effort to maintain balance between all the responsibilities which pull at me. I have to trust that I’ll reach my proper destination in good time, if I’m not afraid to invest the moment I have in the good opportunities that I have, even when those opportunities seem off track. But it’s easier when I remind myself of the core of my goals—to help people, which means to match needs with resources as best I can, or to at least point the way. I’m not really off track, if I’m helping someone who needs help. Sometimes we have more to share than we thought; different things to share with different people: knowledge with the ignorant, answers with the questioning, food with the hungry, guidance with the indecisive, confidence with the shy, time with the lonely, love with the dejected. If I am too determined to show everyone what I think is my one big gift, I’ll offend people I could have helped with my other gifts. If our goals are to help people when we “make it big,” shouldn’t we be pleased to help people along the way, even if that slows us down? Jesus came to save the world, but He didn’t refuse to take time to help individuals.
 

Success isn’t in how many seeds we plant, but in how many grow healthy. There can’t be much growth if everyone wants to plant, and no one wants to cultivate, feed, water, and prune.  The world needs friends, not just preachers.
 

Be generous:
Sure we have to earn a living and pay our bills, and buy what interests us or fills our needs—just as we expect others to work and pay for our labors. But more goes around than money. Energy goes around. Love goes around. Hate goes around. We can choose what winds we’ll ride on—the generous and providential winds, or the selfish and fearful ones.

Of course it’s unwise to give away all of our resources including all of our time, but it’s also wrong to withhold from those who need and can’t pay.  We can measure and limit our gifts as a pro bono or tithing percentage, OR we can seek spiritual prompting from the One who knows the pasts, futures, and hearts of everyone.
 
 
Check Your Reality:
Are you on the right track, even if it meanders?

 

 
© 2012 NPM