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57. Hashbrowns

Photo by Wonderlane; Quote found on Pinterest

I am not the greatest cook.

I can work the microwave like nobody’s business, but when it comes to cooking basics, I used to not be able to do much past heat up the stove.

My husband, on the other hand, is a wonderful cook. He’s one of those that can take a pinch of this and a dash of that and come up with an awesome tasting meal. Sometimes I find meals from Facebook and he figures out how to cook them.

But at the beginning of our relationship, he assumed I knew the basics of cooking. Once, he asked me to make hashbrowns for breakfast while he jumped in the shower. I said I didn’t know if I could do that. He replied no one can screw up hashbrowns.

So, I turned on the stove, pulled out the enormous cube of hashbrowns from the freezer, and plopped it into a pan on the stove.

I waited.

And waited.

After a while (it could have only been a few minutes—I’m not necessarily the most patient person), I got frustrated with this block of frozen hashbrowns and turned up the stove.

The stove caught on fire.

I yell, turn off the stove, and it is still on fire. My husband hears me yelling, runs into the kitchen, puts out the fire, and looks at me in disbelief. “You heat it up first in the microwave to thaw it, not put the frozen rock in the pan,” he said.

“You didn’t tell me that part.”

“I thought you knew that—everyone knows that.”

He ended up cooking the hashbrowns that morning.

Moral of the story: stick with your strengths. It’s okay to have other people can help out where you are weak. And thaw frozen blocks of food before sticking it on the stove.

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56. The future

Photo by Jill Heyer; Quote paraphrased from Muhammad Ali

I still remember a time when the Internet wasn’t around. When I had to look stuff up in the encyclopedia collection whenever curiosity aroused.

The Internet is such a great tool. I can blow through ideas with key word searches and informative blogs and articles, and come to answers a lot quicker.

I was thinking the other day, with all this access to so much knowledge, what will be the next big discovery? Will someone put pieces together of an impossible topic discussed across the Internet, see the connections, and wow the world with their discovery?

We may not have flying cars yet or be able to teleport, but the Internet is a great invention that makes the world smaller. And who knows? Maybe it will lead to flying cars in the next 100 years.

What do you think will be invented in 100 years? Do you think you will be around using anti-ageing technology? Do you think telepathy will be a thing? Do you think bell-bottoms will be back in style?

On another note, today is Thanksgiving. While thinking about the future it is important to also not forget about the things you do have in your life that bring you joy, whether it be relationships, quiet moments, time with friends and/or family, or even listening to some great music. Be grateful for what is here now, because you never know how long it will last.

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55. Burnout

Photo by Namphuong Van; Quote by MGSpear

This past summer I pushed hard to learn how to build websites, start my blog, and polish up my horror story collection enough to sell. I ended up creating 5 different websites, wrapping up all of my short stories, and writing enough blog posts to have on hand for the next month.

I burned out big time.

It got to the point where I would feel drained, and when I would go walk in the neighborhood or on the treadmill, it just made me feel worse, even nauseous. I didn’t exercise as much as I normally do this summer.

I would feel a little better the next day and try to do some more intense work, and almost immediately my brain just lost all energy—any kind of thinking seemed to hurt. I could do nothing except sit outside on the back porch and slowly breath while enjoying the warm sun. I took a week off doing nothing to recover and slowed waaaay down.

But I did get everything I wanted done before my teaching jobs started back up, and now I just maintain everything and occasionally work on stuff.

Working all the time is not a good thing. Working full blast all the time is definitely not a good thing. Take time for yourself—work will still be there, and you’re all you’ve got. It’s not worth it to not be able to enjoy life.

Whatever you are doing right now, take a moment to relax and breathe. Because you are worth it.

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54. Being calm

Photo by Elias Castillo; Quote found in Pinterest

Have you ever been in the heat of the moment, and someone is yelling at you, and you get overrun with emotion and shut down and can’t think?

Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could remain calm during that time, and strategize a way out of the argument?

Being calm and not saying the first thing that comes to your mind is an awesome trait, which, I think, can be learned. The trick is to be confident enough in yourself to not have doubts about your stance in the argument, just enough to rationally think about the other person’s perspective and respond accordingly.

I am by no means perfect at this. There are times when I get overwhelmed by the other person’s argument that I don’t make the best decision. Hindsight is 20/20: after something has happened, then you tend to see what the appropriate path should have been.

In business, I try to lean on my partner for help. Sometimes I go out on my own, and my partner, who is more seasoned than I, will tell me I need to try X next time.

Sometimes, I get things right. I counter the argument, say the right thing, and make the right move.

In teaching, sometimes discussions and questions come up with my students. Whenever something happens, I try to deal with it in the best way possible, so that all parties feel they have achieved something.

Be confident in yourself enough to not doubt your position and make a sound argument. Be the person that holds their cool under fire.

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53. When even cacti won’t grow

Photo by Chuttersnap; Quote by Thomas Edison

I kill cacti.

I love keeping an aloe vera plant around for burns, and I have one that sits next to my living room windows. It’s not the biggest thing, but at least it’s still growing.

It’s like my 5th one.

One time I bought a really nice succulent aloe vera home from the local plant place, and my husband again reminded me to water it. I set it outside for the day so I could clear off a place for it in the house. I remembered the plant after I had already called it a day, and decided to bring it in the next day.

Well, a cold snap came through, and that poor aloe vera pretty much liquefied and turned into mush.

I had killed it within 24 hours. My husband was so mad.

You don’t have to have the golden touch for everything—find out what works for you, what your strengths are, and build on those. You can’t be good at everything, and even if you are, there is someone who can do certain things better than you.

As for me, my husband helps me keep up with the watering of my current cacti. This current one will hopefully be with us a little longer.

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52. It’s the little things

Photo by Amy Chen; Quote by MGSpear

The happiest thing in the world is a dog’s tail.

It just wags back and forth erratically without a care in the world, even if it knocks stuff over.

While I am not a dog person (cats rule!), I am happy that my husband’s dogs are happy, and their tails wag a lot, even over the most mundane stuff.

“Oh wow! That small, teeny goldfish you threw my way really cheered me up! I am soooo happy that I got to snatch it out of the air and chow down on it, even though I have a full bowl of dog food that I haven’t finished.”

It’s the little things in life that slip by sometimes and go unnoticed. A small ray of sunshine in an otherwise stressful day.

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51. Ant infestation

Photo by Vlad Tchompalov; Quote by Bossbabe

The other day my husband and I took our farm truck into town to get some supplies, and as I open the passenger door to get in, I notice ants coming out of the vents.

“I am not riding in this car and have ants crawl all over me!”

My husband came over to my side and brushed all the ants out of the car. “See? Problem solved. We won’t be gone that long anyway.”

So we make our way to the different errand stops we need, and every time (every time!) we came back to the truck after leaving the store, there were ants continuing to come out of the vents and crawl around on the dashboard and the floorboards.

After the third stop my husband informed me that the truck had had an ant problem for a while because it had been sitting for so long undriven. He just didn’t tell me because he wanted to take the truck to put wood in the back bed.

Sometimes we face a challenge or obstacle, and we do not want to do it. It might be to work with a difficult person, finish a boring task, or ride around in an ant infested truck.

Usually though when you complete it, you’ve accomplished something and perhaps learned in the process, at least perhaps how to do it better or avoid that situation in the future.

As for me, I got a nice dinner out of riding around in that truck all day. But mark my words, I will never get in that truck again if it has ants.

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50. The things we do to keep going

Photo by Martin Reisch; Quote by MGSpear

My home study/office is littered with artwork all over the walls. I look up from my computer and get inspired by art, quotes, and posters. I let my mind wander a little looking at all the abstract, a brief respite from work.

Then it’s back to work.

In my classroom I don’t have a lot of personalized stuff, but what I do have are rituals. In the mornings, I gather my notes for the day, check my emails, and get ready for my incoming classes. At lunch I take a moment to check out for a few minutes, recover some of my energy, and plow through the rest of the day. After my day classes end, I enjoy a diet Dr. Pepper—my first for the day, and for some reason, tastes like chocolate. It instantly relaxes me.

Then, on some days, it’s off to teach some of my college classes for the evening.

Having these small mini breaks and rituals keep me going and help me to not wear down as much. A small recovery to gather my thoughts, get mentally ready for what’s coming, and then march forward.

What do you do to get you through the day? What are your rituals that keep you going?

Best ritual of the day for me: hitting my bed at night and catching some z’s.

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49. Keeping everything in line

Photo by Alice Achterhof; Quote by MGSpear

Staying on top of things is important, and it keeps you from feeling overwhelmed later on.

For example, this summer I hashed out my outline schedule for what the first few months of school would be. So when I went back, I knew what papers to pull, and what things to copy. That way, I am all ready for the first day.

At the beginning of each week, I take a sticky note (one of the best inventions ever!) and make a list of things that have to get accomplished that week. I then cross them off as they get completed, and I get a little rush of satisfaction (it really is the little things you have to appreciate).

When I don’t plan ahead, I feel rushed and overwhelmed, and more stressed than I normally am. Usually, I will also burn out quicker.

With any job, business, or task, it’s important to know what you are getting into. Some people can just wing it, but I prefer to have an outline and then wing what doesn’t work.

How do you handle everything you need to accomplish?

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48. Blueberry pie advice

Photo by Nicole Honeywill; Quote by MGSpear

Over the summer I picked enough blueberries from our bushes to make blueberry pie. My husband is a great cook, while I am excellent at using a microwave.

So my husband did all the mixing while I handed him everything and read off the recipe we were following.

“Okay, sugar is added. What’s next?” my husband asked.

“1/2 cup of salt,” I say.

He measures it out and holds it over the mixing bowl. And with the wisdom of cooking for over twenty years asks, “Are you sure? This looks like a lot of salt. Can you check it just to make sure?”

“Of course I am sure. I can read the directions.”

He shrugged. “Ooookay,” and pours it in, mixes everything together, puts it in the pie crust, finishes up, and sticks it in the oven.

About an hour and a half later we cut our first slices.

And it was awful. Sooo salty.

So salty, in fact, that not even adding tons of sugar onto the slices made it edible.

Have you ever read something wrong, or done the wrong thing, and didn’t get the outcome you wanted? We might be so sure of ourselves in the moment, but then what we expect to happen doesn’t happen.

Good, pertinent advice is like grains of gold. Listening to people with a different perspective on a situation that can be helpful to you should always be at least considered. That is why I have a more seasoned business partner than I: I might be better at some things, but when it comes to sales, he is king.

Don’t throw away someone’s advice just because you’re sure—you might not be seeing all the avenues you can pursue.

As for me, I am no longer allowed to read off the recipes, and instead stick handing him the ingredients. The second pie we made tasted awesome.