Monday, January 26, 2009

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Art of Saying No

I want to be clear that whenever possible, I like to say yes. I've been helped immensely in my life by people who couldn't say no, and even better--they did it cheerfully! That being said, I want to post a small part of something I found on

How to Say NO, and Still Feel Good About Yourself

Many people find it very difficult to say no when someone makes a request of them. They will say yes even when they know they really don't want to do it or don't even have the time to do it. Keep the following information in mind the next time someone asks you do something so you can say no and still feel good about yourself.

1. It is important to remember that saying no is a choice. In any situation, you have the choice to either say yes or say no.

2. Be a person of integrity. To be a person of integrity means saying no sometimes. Saying no simply means that you want to stay true to the commitments you have already made.

3. Keep your priorities in mind. Saying no to the things that are not on your priority list is perfectly acceptable.

4. Saying no is not a sign of weakness. It indicates that you know your own strengths, abilities and limitations. If you don't want to say no, then learn to say 'not right now' instead.

5. Compare how you feel when you say yes to something and want to do it to when you say yes to something and really wanted to say no.

I firmly believe that there are times to say no. I have a tendency in my life to agree to too much. My ambitions or good intentions or feelings of guilt or wanting to please, etc. etc. entice me into putting too much on my plate. Then I end up feeling stressed and overwhelmed and guess what--I take it out on my family. It is a constant challenge for me to keep things balanced and to only take on what I have the time and energy to fulfill.

Something I learned a long time ago is that if I don't protect my time with my family, no one else will. There will always be some cause or demand that will take everything I have to give and will not care in the end that I didn't do what I really wanted to do--be loving and patient and fun with my family.

So, here's a thought for you and a reminder for myself: It's okay to say no sometimes so you can choose to say yes to the things that are really important. So if you want me, I'll be snuggled up with my 5 year old and some books and a cup of hot chocolate. Don't call.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Little Heat for January

It's cold and my furnace is having issues. If anyone else needs a little heat in their January, here's one of my favorite recipes--Cajun Chicken Pasta. Also, if anyone is interested, check out and search for her Crash Hot Potatoes recipe. I made them last night and oh, my. It's my new favorite. One other note--nothing I cook turns out like the pictures in the recipe. My potatoes were definitely nothing like hers--but they were so delicious. Keep that in mind with this recipe and know that it's yummy even if the pictures are lame.

Cajun Chicken Pasta

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut into thin strips
4 t Cajun (Creole) seasoning
4 T butter or margarine
16 slices each green and sweet red pepper
8 large fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 green onions, sliced
2-4 cups heavy cream
1/2 t dried basil
1/2 t lemon-pepper seasoning
1/2 t salt
1/4 t garlic powder
1/4 t pepper
8 oz linguine, cooked and drained

Place chicken and Cajun seasoning in a bowl or resealable plastic bag; toss or shake to coat. In a large skillet over medium heat, saute chicken in butter until almost tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add peppers, mushrooms and onion; cook and stir for 2-3 minutes.

Reduce heat. Add cream and seasonings; heat through. Add linguine and toss; heat through.

Good luck!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Here's to Plodding Along

The cat has taken over her drawer again. I had a half-finished project in her drawer for a few months and she was displaced, but she has returned. I sometimes feel like my life consists of half-finished projects. I read a blog recently where she said when we work on resolutions we should be like the tortoise, not the hare. I liked that idea because if anything, I am a tortoise. I'm not fast and I'm not flashy, but if you want consistent effort, I'm your girl.

So I resolved for the new year to get caught up on scrapbooks. When my oldest was little, I started scrapbooking for her and worked on it every month. She has a book for every year of her life. Now that I have 4 kids, it makes me crazy. But I can't give up their books--I hate the thought of the youngest thinking he is less important than my first. Isn't that what youngest kids always think since there end up being less photos of them? So I'm determined to prove something--that I'm a good parent or that I really love all my kids or something. So I counted up how many months I was behind on all their books--for a grand total of 29. I figured if I finished one month a day, I could be caught up in a month! Beautiful goal. And so far so good. I stayed on track last week and finished 2 months' worth yesterday. The success makes me giddy.

Obviously the principle applies to anything we want to accomplish. Break the insurmountable goal up into little pieces and consistently hack away at it. So that's my brilliant thought for the day. Good luck, keep plugging away, and sooner or later you'll get there and the cat can move back in.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Fresh Start

It's that time of year again. Time to evaluate where we've been and where we're going. I recently read a talk by Gerald Causse, in which he observes:

"In his philosophical short story The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery describes the confusion of a little boy who, on discovering a field of roses, perceives that the flower he has, which he has tended with such love, is not unique but very ordinary. Then he comes to the realization that the thing that makes his rose unique is not its outward appearance but the time and the love he has consecrated to taking care of it."

I thought I had learned this lesson years ago, but apparently I didn't. I have been feeling overwhelmed with my "tending" tasks--tasks which never seem to end and which have to be done over and over again. And by overwhelmed I mean that I feel like a raving lunatic by the end of the day. I seriously think they lied to me when they installed my granite countertops. I swear they're large black magnets. Yet, I should be feeling joy--joy that I've been blessed with a handsome husband who works hard to provide for our family, joy that I've been blessed with four lovely children, and joy that I'm able to spend my time and love on my little family.

So for this New Year's resolution, I hereby resolve to stop complaining so much, and to see my time tending my little roses as a consecration. To lovingly prepare dinner for them. To patiently respond to a thousand questions about why we can't wear pajamas all day or poke other people with the Pick Up Stix. To cheerfully clean all the toilets in the house.

Bahahahahahahahaha OK, that's pushing it. But I'm sure you see the point. That's the resolution anyway. Be sure you remind me on January 15 when I'm complaining about dirty socks all over the house, what my resolution was. In the meantime, stop and smell the roses, hope they're wearing clean socks and that their mom is not in the asylum. Happy New Year's!