Looking at ourselves and the world through the lens of the 21st century.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Heard it on the Podcast - July 26, 2023


Did you miss a link we mentioned on the podcast? Here's a quick post we do most Wednesdays to share any links or information from the podcast. We'll also keep a running post on the "Links from the Podcast" tab so you can refer back to any previous episode. Here's the links for this week:


S3E30:  Mani-Pedi - There Can Be Only One

No links this week!

    Monday, July 24, 2023

    Life’s Little Analogies: How Seemingly Inane Subjects Are Often an Allegory for More Important Things in Life


    We like to talk. Amber, Christen, and I can strike up a conversation about almost anything. We have a lot of opinions, often very different, and we’re not afraid to speak them out loud. We enjoy those conversations that dive off into “god knows where” and we often have to reel ourselves back into the topic at hand. Maybe it’s annoying, maybe it’s charming, but it’s really just who we are…three ladies who’ve lived very different lives and aren’t afraid to share our truths with the world.

    In case you haven’t noticed, our conversations often start out as innocuous comments about such inane things as peanut butter, celebrity crushes, and Star Wars vs. Star Trek, but the zany foolishness doesn’t last for long because one of us almost always has something to say that brings us back down to earth – something deep and meaningful or thought-provoking – a point to ponder or a lesson to be learned. Star Wars vs. Star Trek conjured up thoughts about social issues and the timeless struggle between good and evil. Celebrity crushes turned towards the morality of a “hall pass”. I think the peanut butter episode even had some mentions of peanut allergies and alternatives. So, it should be no surprise that our next episode, “Mani vs. Pedi: There Can Be Only One”, which drops Wednesday, is no different.

    The premise of the episode is that many of us routinely get both treatments, but what would we choose if we could only have one of them? I won’t spoil the conclusions, but suffice it to say that we talk about why we have often chosen only one or the other, certain things to look out for in a salon, and even a bit about our need (or lack) of trust in the professionals we allow to perform these services. Thinking about that as I prepared to write this blog, I realized that these side-trips in our conversations are often allegories for other, more important things in our lives, and offer a real-world opportunity to closely examine some of our core beliefs – to do a little shadow work.

    As I considered the difficulty I have in trusting cosmetology professionals (including both hairdressers and nail techs), I realized that I often have a deep-rooted struggle with trusting anyone due to hardship and trauma from my past. This wasn’t a new revelation…I know I have trouble trusting people close to me. What I hadn’t considered is that this distrust extends far beyond my intimate peers to encompass pretty much everything in my life – even the smallest, unimportant things. It’s why I drive defensively on the freeway. It’s why I take copious notes on phone calls with business associates, clients, and doctors. It is also why I insist on being the one to make plans and organize events. It makes me a bit of a control freak (okay, complete and total). Learning to let go of that control has been a huge struggle for me, but it is also necessary for my growth. I cannot live a life of light in the now or banish the demons of my shadow self without addressing the need to let go of control once in a while.  I cannot let go of control unless I can learn to trust. 

    Learning to recognize that lack of trust in my daily life, especially when it’s not important, is the lesson of our Mani-Pedi podcast for me, but it’s not the only lesson in that episode. Like all the other episodes before it, and surely all the episodes to follow, there is always some little nugget of inspiration, epiphany, or clarity available there for anyone who takes the time and opens their mind to the deeper meaning. I think that’s true about everything in life. Every action and every thought is rooted deep in our psyche. “Why do I do this?” “Why do I feel that?” Our every function is profoundly shaded by things in our past of which we may not even be aware. Learning to perceive that influence on even the smallest and insignificant facets of our life is a significant step in healing…and in being in, oddly enough, control of your life.

    I was [TODAY] years old when I realized that my lack of trust makes me the control freak that I am and steals my ability to live a life of light in the now. What did you learn?

    Thursday, July 20, 2023

    Arrogance Builds Bad Habits


    The Ego. It’s something we’ve mentioned often on the podcast since we read Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth.” We all have one. The ego is what convinces us that we can drive a mile or two over the speed limit or sail through that yellow traffic light right as it turns red. Sometimes, it justifies our decision to grab the last cupcake in the break room, even though we already had one, or even to reward ourselves with an indulgent treat just because we made it through a tough work day. We deserve it, right? Our ego makes us believe that we know better than others, can do things our way, or can ignore the rules. The sad thing is that our ego is almost never right. All the little things we do that our ego assures us are “okay” really only accomplish one thing – making us feel like we are better than others. In short, it just makes us arrogant.

    This was the concept that landed in my lap one Saturday afternoon while I pulled out of my driveway, and it stuck with me for weeks afterward. The radio was on and it was playing one of those investing shows. I thought I knew which one it was, but I’ve not been able to confirm it. The show was not something I would normally listen to, but I had started backing out before I changed the radio station to the one I listen to on the weekend. By the time I got out of the drive and started moving forward, the host had dropped this little nugget:

    “You are different. The rules don’t apply. You know better.” 

    He was talking about people who try to “game” the system in an attempt to “get rich” quicker. The host went on to say that this attitude is “arrogance” and arrogant people usually blame others (or the system) when things don’t work in their favor. I was intrigued, so I listened to his rant and I realized that this concept applies to many things. Sometimes, the most profound thoughts can emerge from the most obscure and unrelated places. That was what happened here. 

    This was something akin to a glitter bomb, because when it went off, it threw little bits of sparkly magic onto everything, and I started looking at things I was doing in a different light. It was everywhere, and I realized I have this attitude a lot. I tend to drive a little over the speed limit rather than under it. I sometimes speed up if the light turns yellow, rather than slow down. I’ll kick up my home A/C to a frigid level for an hour or two if I’m hot and hubby already went to bed. I don’t rinse out my recycling before tossing it in the bin. I’m different. The rules don’t apply. I know better. I’m gaming the system.

    I think we all do it to some extent, but in different ways. We let our ego convince us that we can lose weight without following the diet the doctor gave us, or that we can be strong and healthy without getting any exercise. Maybe we believe that we can pay off our credit cards and get out of debt while we are still feeding that revolving cycle of credit with unnecessary, impulsive purchases. Or we can still wear that size 12 dress when we are clearly a size 14.

    I don’t like to think of myself as a cheat, but that’s exactly what it is. When thinking about my worst habits for yesterday’s podcast, I knew instantly that this one was mine. I push the limits on everything. I try to get there faster. I cram as much into my day as possible. I convince myself that I can do more, spend less, eat more, and get fit…all without putting in the effort that is required to make it happen. And I don’t blame my own choices when it doesn’t work. It’s a cop-out. It’s a cheat. And I am arrogant to think that it should be any other way.

    They say the first step in recovery is admitting you have a problem. This one is mine. Now I just need to figure out the next step. I’m ready to kick this bad habit. 

    Wednesday, July 19, 2023

    Heard it on the Podcast - July 19, 2023


    Did you miss a link we mentioned on the podcast? Here's a quick post we do most Wednesdays to share any links or information from the podcast. We'll also keep a running post on the "Links from the Podcast" tab so you can refer back to any previous episode. Here's the links for this week:


    S3E29:  Our Worst Habits

    Saturday, July 15, 2023

    Juicy and Sweet Nectarine Sorbet


    This week on the podcast, we discussed how hard it is to find sugar-free desserts. While there are some limited varieties of cookies and other sweets, finding sugar-free varieties of my favorite summer treats has frustrated me for years. Something I have been craving for a while now is a dollop of sherbet in a bit of ginger ale or 7-up for a sort-of ginger ale float, if you will, but I have yet to find a sugar-free sherbet or sorbet. Giving up after a thorough search, I decided I would have to make it myself, but even that proved challenging because all the recipes I found involved a complex list of ingredients and lots of time cooking (yes, cooking) the various fruits and sweeteners. What I finally settled on was a delicious-sounding nectarine sorbet that sounded like the perfect answer, so I thought I’d give it a try.

    This nectarine sorbet recipe (find the original here) was quite simple; the worst part was peeling the nectarines. The recipe called for very ripe fruit, and it just so happened that I had a bag of nectarines that were getting pretty long in the tooth. They were getting downright mushy and not entirely suitable for anything else, so peeling them was more like sliding them out of their already loose skins, and it was quite a messy job.

    The recipe also called for making a simple syrup out of sugar and water and then letting it cool, but in my experience with various artificial sweeteners, I’ve found that the sweetener dissolves into the water just fine, only to recrystallize once it cools. Christen and I discussed this problem and decided I should just replicate the recipe as closely as possible to judge the true merits of the recipe. So, that’s what I did. 

    I used a combination of generic erythritol and Swerve because I didn’t have enough of either one. Sure enough, as soon as the “syrup” started to cool, it became cloudy. It did not seem to affect the consistency of the finished product, though, and I wanted to change as little as possible about the recipe, so I used it as is.

    The other thing I questioned about the recipe was that it called for two tablespoons of rum, which is not a standard ingredient in sorbet, but I assumed might assist with preventing it from freezing too hard and crystallizing, which would be a granita and not a sorbet. I’m not sure if it helped or not, but it didn’t hurt.

    I put the blended concoction into my ice cream freezer and was quite disappointed that it barely filled it ¼ of the way. As a result, there wasn’t enough movement of the mixture to freeze, so after almost an hour of listening to the annoying hum, I finally poured it into a plastic container and threw it in the fridge. Thus, we didn’t get to eat any that first night. 

    I will say that the result was quite tasty, if a little too sweet. I don’t know if that was because of the erythritol (one was a 1:1, and the other was not) or if the nectarines themselves were too sweet. Either way, I think a little less sweetener would be better. As for the texture, it scooped smoothly and was not grainy or gritty in any way. I would like to try it in the ice cream freezer, though, so for future variations, I’d like to try the following:

    • Increasing the volume to see if it works in the ice cream freezer when it’s full
    • Eliminating the alcohol
    • Skip the “syrup” step
    • Adding dairy to make it a sherbet
    • Trying other summer fruits

    If you’ve ever made a sherbet or sorbet, especially if it was sugar-free, please comment below and share your experience. I’d love to hear about it. And don’t forget to check out our previous sugar-free recipes here on the blog:

    Wednesday, July 12, 2023

    Heard it on the Podcast - July 12, 2023


    Did you miss a link we mentioned on the podcast? Here's a quick post we do most Wednesdays to share any links or information from the podcast. We'll also keep a running post on the "Links from the Podcast" tab so you can refer back to any previous episode. Here's the links for this week:


    S3E28:  Sugar-Free Recipes for the Summer

    Check out our blogs this week for the recipes we'll be sharing. We also mentioned the following recipes we've shared in the past:

    Wednesday, July 5, 2023

    Heard it on the Podcast - July 5, 2023


    Did you miss a link we mentioned on the podcast? Here's a quick post we do most Wednesdays to share any links or information from the podcast. We'll also keep a running post on the "Links from the Podcast" tab so you can refer back to any previous episode. Here's the links for this week:

    S3E27:  Less is More
    And lest we forget, the phrase, "Come hungry, leave happy" is from IHOP -- the International House of Pancakes.

    Monday, July 3, 2023

    Less is More -- What Does That Mean?


    Less is more. Lots of people throw that phrase around these days, and it’s been attributed to the minimalist movement and other sources, but what does it really mean, and why should I incorporate it in my own life? That’s what I’ve been asking myself for several years now since I first heard the phrase in connection with my One Little Word project I do each year. It made sense when my word was “simplify” because I was literally trying to have less clutter and complications in my life, but I was also quite resistant to the idea of letting go of things I’d been holding onto and (let’s face it) hoarding for years. In fact, I could get downright prickly if anyone suggested I had “too much stuff” and should “get rid of most of it.” Having less of my stuff did not make me feel like I would have more. Like, more what?

    In case you aren’t familiar with the term, Wiktionary defines “Less is More” as 

    (paradox, oxymoron) That which is of smaller quantity could be of higher quality. That which is less complicated is often better understood and more appreciated than what is more complicated; brevity in communication is more effective than verbosity.

    Okay…that’s about as clear as mud, right? That’s how I’ve felt about it…until recently. 

    I’ve mentioned before that my life got turned upside down a few years ago, first after being diagnosed with both breast cancer and diabetes, then taking in my niece after my sister died, as well as moving my mother to Dallas and learning that she has dementia, the onset of COVID and all that entailed, and this past year, coming to terms with my husband’s cancer diagnosis. It’s been a lot. I’ve been in a constant state of overwhelm since 2017, and I haven’t coped with it very well at all. But with the help of an awesome counselor, my family, good friends, and One Little Word, I’ve slowly learned to let go of things that aren’t serving me. I’ve been able to pick and choose what is important and prioritize that. I’ve been able to allow myself to put aside, delegate, and relinquish a lot of activities, chores, and responsibilities that felt important, but really weren’t, and I’ve started to let go of the need to control those things. 

    Part of that letting go was realizing that progress is better than perfection and that sometimes a little bit is just enough. Let’s face it, we aren’t going to die if the towels are folded the wrong way or my car doesn’t get washed for three months. As a total control freak, it’s very difficult for me to let go of the need to manage every aspect of our life that I can, but I’m learning that there are many things that I can let slide in the interest of manageability that don’t really affect my life one way or the other. 

    As I look at the daunting tasks and piles of clutter that have consumed my time for the past few years (and still aren’t complete), I realized that “good enough” is still okay. I don’t have to find the perfect place to put my mother’s belongings, I just need to sort through them, give or throw away the items I don’t want to keep, and find someplace (any place) to put them that gets them out of my craft room, out of my garage, off the floor, and out of my way. I also don’t have to keep every treasured memento. Yes, I will keep anything scrapbookable, but if the jewelry isn’t my esthetic and I can’t use it for some other purpose, then why do I need to keep it? Maybe one of my nieces would like it. Even more importantly, all this sorting and storing doesn’t have to be done at once. Sorting is just one project. Storing them is another. They don’t have to happen at the same time. It’s still intimidating, but it’s doable.

    As I find myself letting go of tasks and responsibilities that I’ve brought upon myself – the things I really didn’t want to do in the first place, I find that I actually have more time to work on the projects that are meaningful to me – the things that I’ve determined are truly important, like my family, spending time with my friends, creating art, and writing this blog. Those are the things that I really want to spend my time on. And as I declutter the craft room and the garage, I’m able to curate the supplies and mementos that I love, letting go of (or sharing, if you care to see it that way) the things that I don’t love as much. That feels good, too. It also gives me more room to work in my craft room (I shared pictures of that in my recent Goal Refresh blog), and eventually, I will have room to park my car in my garage – something that hasn’t happened in 4-5 years.

    No, this new realization of less = more is not perfection, but it is progress, and that’s what really matters.

    Do you have a “Less = More” story to share? Are you having difficulty letting go of heirlooms, clutter, duties, and responsibilities? Tell us about it in the comments below, or share it on the MMC Chat page. We’d love to hear about it! Maybe someone in the community has insights that help us out! 

    5 Ways to Manifest Your Best Life

    Hi there, and welcome back! Since we have been heavily focusing on goals and planning, I thought we should discuss manifesting. I love this ...