Are Day Jobs a Thing of the Past?

So much for working 9-5 each day.  Advances in technology make it easier than ever to work outside of the office.  But is that a good thing?

My corporate job comes with many great perks, such as the ability to work from home.  However, along with the perk of being able to work at home comes the expectation that I am available to work days, evenings, weekends, vacations, and holidays.  Sadly, I don’t feel singled out, because these same expectations hold true for those who commute to the office each day.

Since when is it OK for companies to expect  workers to be available around the clock 365 days of the year?  Sure, my company offers paid time off (PTO), holidays, and other kinds of paid leave, but what about their policy regarding allowing employees to take uninterrupted time off work to refresh our minds, souls, and bodies?  Not much relaxation and rejuvination can happen when someone shoots off an email at an ungodly hour and expects an expedient response.

What about “leave” is so hard to understand?  Children get the concept, but unfortunately for them, that trend is going away, thus their definition of time off will inevitably evolve.  Christmas and spring breaks bring about required reading and packets of seemingly endless homework.  In addition, school districts are begining to allow teachers to conduct class remotely when schools are closed.  So much for good ol’ snow days filled with enjoying movies and cocoa, shoveling, sledding, snowball fights, making snow angels and snowmen.  Children are learning that time off for relaxation and rejuvination is a bad thing, a lazy thing.  And that, to me, is a bad idea.

How’s your job?  Is there an expectation that you’ll to respond to messages late at night, thumb through text messages on your cell phone, and type reports as soon as you get home from your office while juggling kids homework and making dinner?

Is work-life balance even possible?  Susan Davis, author of five books, about health, well-being, education, and business doesn’t believe it is.  In her article, The Myth of Work-Life Balance, she writes, “researchers have found, American workers are spending more and more time on work, and less and less time on life — to an understandably detrimental effect”. 

Susan offers the following “Takeaway Tips” that help her strive for balance.

Figure out the foundation: In order to be inspired and productive in my work life, as well as clear and kind with my family, I need good exercise, deep sleep, and time for reflection. Other people might need massages, time with friends, six meals a day, protein drinks, regular knitting sessions, weekly poker games, or afternoon naps. What do you need to feel balanced, energized and productive?

Fine-tune the details: On some days I can’t get off first base without hearing Bill Withers’ version of Use Me. (Not a healthy emotional theme, I know, but the rhythm moves me.) Other days I can’t hit my stride unless I spend a few minutes outside, watching the clouds and listening to the hens. And there’s many a day when I can’t gather my thoughts without a cup of very strong, very hot coffee—in a the grey earthenware mug that was made by a potter in my hometown. The point? Identify what you need in the moment and try to provide it for yourself.

Go for what you need: I know some of you are reading this and thinking, “I have no time.” I have no time either — unless I understand that taking care of myself (that’s my body, my mind, and my spirit, by the way) allows me to work better, live better, and feel better. In other words, self care doesn’t take away from our work and life; it enhances it.

Do you have any self-care routines that help you survive the nearly seamless divide between work and life?  Let’s talk!

Love to all!

CC

Let’s Chat about Tea! Part 2

Now that you know a little more about the varieties of tea, let’s talk about flavors.

I love a hot cup of peppermint (or mint) tea when my tummy aches.  Some believe that the menthol in peppermint tea lends to its healing effects on nausea, vomiting, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diarrhea, and headaches.  Peppermint tea also controls mild symptoms of asthma and helps fight the common cold.  This tea is naturally caffeine-free.

We all enjoy a glass of chilled sweet tea on hot summer days.  This treat with southern origins has taken on a new life recently and is so popular, you can now find it at your local fast food restaurant.

Fruit teas such as apple, blueberry, orange, peach, strawberry, and of course, lemon, can be found in the aisles of your local grocers in both store and national brands.  I shop for generic brands quite often, but my favorite fruity or minty tea happens to be Celestial Seasonings.  The store brand mint tea couldn’t hold a candle to the national brand in this case. 

Chai (or spiced tea) is made from black tea and comes in many flavors.  The smooth taste of vanilla softens the spiciness of ordinary chai tea.  Other popular spiced teas are cinnamon, ginger, and hazelnut.

What’s your favorite tea?

Let’s discuss (over a cup of tea, of course)!

Love to all!

CC

Let’s Chat about Tea!

Black, green, white, red,  herbal, oolong, Pu-erh (AKA Puer), blends, and flavored.  Who knew there were so many varieties of tea? I’m a tea connessuier, but Pu-erh is a new one for me.

Regardless of the variety or flavor, I’ll try just about everything. Since you can’t buy one bag at a time, I’ve collected a half dozen varieties, dozens of flavors, and hundreds of bags of tea.

What’s so special about each tea?

Black tea – the most popular globally; caffeinated, bold flavor

Green tea – healing qualities; second most popular variety

White tea – rarest on earth; slightly sweet and subtle flavor; great for complexion; higher concentration of antioxidants than all other teas, fights cancer 

Red (AKA Rooibos) – Slows the aging process, treats allergies, decaffeinated, great for people prone to kidney stones

 

 

Herbal – Encourages restful sleep; helps the digestive process; eases nausea and cold symptoms

Oolong – most expensive variety; commonly found in Chinese restaurants; speeds up weight loss and boosts metabolism; excellent source of flouride; aids in digestive process; reduces risk of hypertension

Pu-erh –  cleanses blood and removes toxins; improves eyesight

Blends – just as the name implies, tea blends contain a mixture of two or more varieties

Flavored – flowers, oils, herbs and spices are added to enhance the taste

Stay tuned for part 2 where we will discuss a myriad of flavors.

Love to all!

CC

Man vs. Darkness

This just might be my most random thought this week. As I finished typing a blog last night, I turned off the light to my basement office and made the trek upstairs in the dark. Suddenly, I wondered, “Are men afraid of the dark?”

I have no idea why that question popped into my head, but it’s something that I’ve never wondered, discussed, read, or heard about before now. Surely, someone has to have pondered this question. Right?

Think about it? We all know that it’s normal for children to fear what may lurk in the dark? Authors of children’s books see fit to write about it and manufacturers of night lights aren’t going out of business anytime son. Movies address the issue of women being afraid of the dark as well. How many times have you seen an obviously frightful lady character in a movie jump at each shadow she sees while tiptoeing through a dark house and whispering, “Is anyone there?” when things go bump in the night?

Now think hard, really hard, about whether or not it’s common knowledge or common fodder when we relate men to darkness. I can’t think of any.

Do you have a story or example of a man’s fear of the darkness being exploited in the name of entertainment? Share it here!

Love to all!

CC

The Hot Food Blues

I am truly honored and blessed to be able to cook for my family, so please don’t take this post the wrong way. I struggle with finding the desire to cook a hot meal for my family each night. I’m not sure if it’s because I don’t have the gift of culinary creativity or it’s because I am not confident about being able to appeal to the palates of six people with different tastes. If I hear, “Mom, I stopped eating that months ago” one more time, I may just quit my chef job!

Who knows? Maybe I have underlying issues that keep me from wanting to walk over to the stove each night. Whatever the reason, I seldom look forward to making dinner.

I’ve tried creating monthly meal plans, then I chopped those plans down to just two weeks. All the planning in the world won’t help me to whip up one key entree, the desire to actually cook what’s on the list. Sometimes, I procrastinate so much, I end up in a fast-food drive-thru or online submitting a to-go order at one of our favorite full-service restaurants. The lowest of low is when I tell everyone that tonight’s dinner will be a free-for-all. A FFA is pretty much how it sounds: everything is a possible meal, so grab a bowl, spoon, and milk. Don’t want that? It’s OK. Just open a can of something. Another handy dandy alternative, a couple slices of bread with whatever your heart desires.

Is there a secret to finding motivation to put a hot meal on the table each night? If so, please share!

Love to all!

CC

Hello, All! I’m A Thief!

Have you ever walked toward the exit of a store and had the low, groaning alarm with flashing red lights tell everyone there’s something in your bag that you didn’t buy?

Yep, it happened to me tonight. In my “I got some great deals while shopping” afterglow, I proudly walked toward the door with my daughters and a smile on my face, because we’d found tons of great deals on our shopping trip. The smile and afterglow were immediately wiped off my face when the store’s security traps began blinking bright red lights while impersonating a nuclear power plant red alert alarm. I sheepishly began the walk of shame over to the register, where the clerk who’d just scanned my items ordered me to let her take a second look at my bag. Well, she didn’t make me feel shameful, in fact, she tried to tell me that this kind of thing happened all the time. OK, but why? I am not a thief!

While I waited for the clerk to finish checking out the customer who was originally behind me in line, another customer joked that he, too, felt like a crook whenever the all-knowing electronic security guard did the same to him.

So how did it all end?  The clerk went through my bag and found a security device on a sweater that I’d just bought for 80% off.  Purchasing a sweater at 80% off made me feel like I’d just robbed the department store, but not literally! The bright side (there always is one if you take the time to look) – I’m glad that the clerk found the security device, because I’m not trendy enough to start new fads – let alone the bold fad of wearing security devices on new clothes.

Do you have a “Hello, all, I’m a thief” story? If so, let’s discuss it here.

Love to all!

CC

Grocery Store Woes

If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time in grocery stores. Boy, has customer service changed! Clerks rarely make you feel welcome, checkout lines are long, and full-service checkout is suffering the same demise as the Sony Walkman.

Is it just me, or have you noticed that checkout clerks don’t seem happy to serve their customers and they really don’t want us to “come again”. We’re either interupting their gossip with a coworker, interfering with their text messaging or phone calls, or expecting them to return our plastic forms of payment or customer loyalty cards (as if they know what loyalty means) to our hands and not the check-writing counter. Speaking of counters, who still writes checks in stores? That’s a topic that deserves it’s own discussion.

Another trend has emerged within the past decade. Stores don’t seem to schedule enough people to work and they only open a small number of available registers even during expected rush-hours. What do they care? They already have you waiting in a line as long as a football field with a cart full of goods right? Not always! Twice in the past month, I’ve walked into a grocery store just to have to go right back out in search of a grocery cart. Seriously? Not a cart in sight? Yes, seriously; not a cart in sight.

Finally, what’s up with the move toward self-checkouts? I’m OK with self-checkouts for a small number of items, but why do these pennypinchers expect me to scan and bag large amounts of my family’s latest wants and needs? One local superstore typically has only 2-3 manned registers. Our checkout options aren’t very good; we can: use the express self-checkout lanes, use the “I’ve got a ton of groceries – maybe a cart or two” self-scan (and bag everything by myself!) lanes, or wait in a long, winding line for full-service. By the way, full-service doesn’t always include help bagging items and loading them into your cart. Many-a-times, the clerk handed over my receipt and began the next victim’s order – whether or not my items have been properly prepared for the trip home.

Fellow shoppers aren’t being let off the hook by this writer. The next time you’re finished loading your groceries onto the conveyer belt, please be courteous and use the divider thingy – especially if you’re much closer to it than the person behind you. Oh, and don’t forget to say, “please” and “thank you” to your checkout clerk – even if they don’t make you feel welcome. Then tell a store manager, so that future shopping trips can be a more pleasant exchange of money and service.

Maybe telling a manager won’t even matter, because one day, I’ll walk into a store and the only employees available will be self-scan registers that sometimes go haywire and have to reboot in the middle of my order. But hey, at least they’ll have good enough manners to thank me for shopping with {insert grocer or superstore here}.

Love to all! Let’s discuss.

CC

Are You Content?

Merriam-Webster defines content simply as “satisfied“.  While the apostle Paul was imprisoned, he wrote a series of letters to other believers.  Many of his letters contained directives on how to live a life that is pleasing to God.  Yes, even Christians need to be reminded to exhibit Christ-like behaviors.  In one prison stint, Paul wrote to the members of the church in Phillipi about contentment with one’s circumstances.

11 for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Phillipians 4:11-13

Put yourself in Paul’s shoes for just a moment.  If you were imprisoned, particularly during the era of imprisonment without television, radio, three meals/day, and access to showers and exercise equipment such as what is available in modern prisons, would you have the same attitude as Paul?  Would you be content about being beaten?  Would you be joyful regardless of your circumstances while still giving praise to God?

Now, think about your current circumstances.  Are you joyful about your relationships – even hopeful about ones that seem shattered?  Do you praise God for the shelter and food available to you?  What about gratefulness for access to the Internet on which you’re reading this blog?  Are you grateful for these things?  Are you content with what you already have and for who you are, or do you wish you were someone else, with other talents, in a different body, with a more superior mind?

Let us not confuse contentment with a lack of motivation, but even more, don’t be overly eager to block the blessings of God, because His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways.

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
   neither are your ways my ways,”
            declares the LORD.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
   so are my ways higher than your ways
   and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)

So, I ask again: Are you content?  Let’s discuss!

Love to all!

CC

This discussion was inspired by the topic discussed on my Sunday school class this morning.

I Love Jesus!

I love Jesus!  I love being in His presence, I love talking to Him, I love the peace that the Holy Spirit showers upon me, and I love that Father God showed me mercy that I did not deserve.

In a few hours, I will go to church to worship in His house with hundreds of like-minded Christ-followers.  The highlight of each week is attending Wednesday evening prayer service and Sunday’s sermon and Bible study.  Looking forward to tomorrow’s message!

Love to all!

CC

Is This Thing On?

Welcome to the first blog post of Best Books Network! My husband thought that my random thoughts might benefit the masses, so here I am. Shh, I think his blog idea has one of two purposes: 1) for dear husband to snoop or 2) for me to talk off someone else’s ear.

The pressure is on for me to create enough content to keep this thing interesting, so I need your help. Read and comment often. If there’s a topic you’d like to discuss, post feedback, so that we can begin a dialog.

Much love to all!

CC