Category Archives: Uncategorized

PSA on Pumpkin Pie

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Back in the day, before Miguel, before owning a building, before marriage, I had a subscription to Cook’s Illustrated. Those were the days of much entertaining in the guise of (non)planning meetings for Critical Mass in the little coach house on Paulina. Everything I made from that magazine turned out perfect (except when I left the sugar out of the cheesecake, which Gareth charitably reframed as an appetizer), and I loved its lengthy articles disguised as recipes and its focus on science and process.

In the mid-90’s, I made a pie from this boldly named recipe: The Only Pumpkin Pie Recipe You’ll Ever Need.* It Was Awesome. And awesomely a PITA to make. But it remained a staple until my baking attention span shrunk to the scope of instructions on the Libby pumpkin can label, i.e., after home ownership and kiddo.

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Oops, didn’t mean to put allspice in pic. Supposed to be cloves. Immersion blender is on top of pan of filling. Cuisinart and icy booze are for making the crust.

 I recall my trepidation when I bravely decided to try a different recipe. It felt like a betrayal. I already had the Only Pumpkin Pie Recipe I’d Ever Need. But Libby’s short paragraph won out over Cook’s two page, 8 point font treatise.  However, I did remember two key tips from those halcyon baking days:

  • When using canned pumpkin (oh, the horror!), cook it on low heat for a bit. This supposedly releases any lingering notes of whatever funk cans impart.
  • Blend the pie mixture to smooth out any fibrousness.
  • I also upped the spices and added nutmeg, just because.

The pie was awesome, and awesomely easy!

So, here are my modifications to “Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie Recipe”

  • Mix pumpkin goop, evaporated milk, sugar, and spices in a pan and cook over low heat for a while.
  • Use an immersion blender to make it silky smooth. Mix in eggs.
  • Bonus tip: Let pan sit for a bit so the bubbles evaporate and/or lift the pot an inch and drop it on the counter a few times. Basically, whack out those air bubbles. Pour mixture into crust carefully to avoid adding more air pockets. Repeat dropping procedure if that’s the kind of thing you are into. (I find it strangely satisfying.) This also works well if you like
  • Proceed per Libby’s cooking instructions.

*Cook’s doesn’t give this recipe away for free, but I did find it faithfully recorded in this blog post, which is also a rumination on Team Libby and Team Cook’s. http://www.thedeliciouslife.com/pumpkin-pie-recipe-cooks-illustrated/

**Did you know standard immersion blenders also fit into the mouths of mason jars? Great for salad dressings and whipping up a little bit of cream. And you never have to transfer hot soup to a blender again!

 

A Slow, Full Teardrop

Early this morning, I swaddled myself with the large purple blanket and lay down on the upstairs couch. It is Miguel’s cocoon when he watches teevee, and it holds the smell of his hair and the echoes of the videos he loves. (Hello, Dan TDM!)

I took a deep breath and prayed for Miguel, the 10 year old light of my life who has wrangled with his share of shadows.

I do not believe in God, so praying is always a little awkward, but over the years Notgod and I have developed an understanding (I hope!) which helps me focus on the feelings at hand instead of getting caught in a recursive loop of apologizing to Godifyouexist for appropriating the habits of true believers.

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Calvin and Hobbes, Bloom County, Carl Sagan, and Douglas Adams–so formative for this secular humanist.

Please let Miguel’s eye surgery go well.* Please let this be a good decision. Please let him be calm about the general anesthesia. Please, please, please, please let his vision improve or at the least be no worse.  And, selfishly, very selfishly: If there are  complications or disappointments or unpleasant side effects (of course there will be at least some), please let him forgive us and the world. Please, universe*, let him know how much he is loved, let him feel that love to his core. Please let that be a light during dark times.

Horizontal tears move slowly, descending the contours of our faces like switchback down a mountain. A fat one rolled along the ridge of my nose and curved around my nostril.  It paused and quivered before dropping to the corner of my mouth. Still intact, the ball of salty water followed the slope of my lips until it found a place to rest for a while. Eventually it relaxed into a wet spot back under my nose.

Water is amazing. Soft enough to wash a baby, strong enough to split mountains. It can tremble between a liquid and solid state, surface tension holding it together, even if just for a few seconds. In freezing, it preserves warmth, expanding like a down* comforter to protect what lives below.

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Lady’s Mantle from my garden after an April showers to flowers.

Tears are apparently amazing, too, featuring different chemical profiles depending on their trigger. See See Rose-Lynn Fisher’s Topography of Tears project. I’m not sure what recipe was called up to make this morning’s tear. Not sadness or joy, anger or pain. Not even fear, though that might be the closest emotion.

I think I was just swelled up with love. They say a drop of water holds the universe. Maybe the tear was a conjuring of that complicated vastness, a reassurance that my love is more broad and deep than I ever can fathom.  Maybe I needed to feel it in the universe, held in a drop of water.

Please help me show Miguel that our love is infinite, never contingent, always expanding. 

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*Elective cataract surgery on one eye. Long story. Not a life or death situation.
*I no more believe the “universe” listens and has agency than I believe in a deity. But I don’t feel too disingenuous yawping into the ether. Forces, vibrations, we’re all stardust, that sort of thing. I’m sure Godifyouexist understands.
*Synthetic, please.

A Message re: Game 5 of the 2016 World Series

Instead of spending hours noodling around with a blog post that few might read, I decided to take the quicker route and make a video. Tonight is Game 5 of the 2016 World Series and the last baseball game of the season in Wrigley and perhaps the last game of the year.  In Chicago, we have had an extra month of baseball, and an extra month of great weather to go with it. Just today, I was doing some last minute garden transplanting, hence the dirty finger nails in the video. My message has 5 audiences: social justice friends, White Sox “haters,” bandwagon fans/cultural phenom witnesses, long time fans, and my friends and fam. Feel free to share because I know for sure I am not the only one who feels this way because I have had the radio tuned to 670 the Score pretty much non-stop for the last few days. Go Cubs! Go Baseball! Go Chicago!

Must. Not. Fiddle. With. Tinsel.

Sing it with me now: “It’s the most difficult (for productivity) time of the year.”

Ah, working from home in December. When I struggle to resurface from the deepest sleep and the desire to stay in PJ’s is stronger than ever.  When I want to eat peanut butter all day and bake all night. When I itch to finish the house projects on 2015’s docket.

And when all I want to do is decorate! It’s not just for my pleasure, of course. It’s a civic duty.

Frank Lopez keeps the bar (and electricity bills?) high in Logan Square

I’ve been running in the evening this week, in part because of the waking up problem, but mostly to enjoy the neighborhood’s evolving light show. Tis the season of bright vs night. It’s easy to imagine the relief of the ancients each time the sun started climbing again. My mood follows that arc as well, so the winter solstice means more to me than Christmas, which we celebrate more as a matter of tradition than religion.

Before leaving town to spend Thanksgiving with my parents (who are paragons of seasonal decorating), I had carefully unpacked and organized our tools of Holiday Cheer. Checked the lights. Smiled at recent thrift store scores and the memory of finding a tangled heap of red garlands in the alley. Less than 12 hours after our plane landed back in Chicago, Michael and Miguel set off to find a tree while I started untangling the garlands and understanding why they had been pitched.

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See the black hole towards the bottom left?
See the black hole towards bottom left?

Once the tree had fluffed out, I approached  it with reverence and a plan. Taking a page from Dad’s playbook, I strung lights outside *and* around the trunk. No more shadows for deeply nestled ornaments. After about an hour, I decided a little mystery isn’t so bad and punted the excess of Strand Three over the top. By tinsel time, things had taken a decidedly haphazard turn.

This morning, Michael bounded into the kitchen. “The tree looks great!!!”

But I’ve analyzed the photos. There’s a dark spot in the lower right. And the tinsel! Ow, my eyes. I should really redo it before we add anything else. Maybe uncrowd some of the ornaments Miguel hung last night? Shhhh, don’t say anything.

 

The tinsel--so meandering! And is that a red ornament behind another red one?!
The tinsel–so meandering! And are there two red ornaments right next to each other?

Gah! I must resist. I have work responsibilities. But, but. . .the ornaments on the tacky little gold tree in the back room are not balanced. And I haven’t finished the lights and garlands out front. I need a runner for the dining room radiator. Not all the windows have been cleaned and time is running out before it’s too cold. The bathrooms could use a scrub down. . . .

I think this needs to be a work from a coffee shop kind of day!

 

Last Three Innings

Thoughts during what I hope are not the last three innings of the season. But if they are the last, this won’t feel like 84 or 89 or 98 or 03.

I’m 43 and all that means is that

Foul by 15 feet

I’m a little older which doesn’t mean I finally realize *it’s just a game.* I’ve always known that.

If tonight is the end of the season, or even if we go all the way, the end will mean the one thing I have learned the end of baseball season means: The end of summer.

Miguel’s birthday is tomorrow. On 10/22, 2006, we spent the night in the hospital with him in a bundle and Jennifer, his birth mom, recovering in a squeaky uncomfortable bed. So many stories live in that night.

Schwarber gets the walk. The Cubs desperately need a long ball.

But one of the stories is that Detroit was playing for their league.

Inning over. Cubs don’t score. We move to inning seven.

Michael is from Detroit. We considered Detroit as a name for our hypothetical son. A girl would have been Quetzal—a beautiful bird and an awesome scrabble word. It all happened so fast. We chose Miguel Burton Kilgore.

We found out that we had been selected by Jennifer and Robert as prospective birth parents when their baby was due in two weeks. Before we could meet, Jennifer went into labor.

Murphy just missed another home run but at least it was not a home run. Mets outhitting the Cubs 9-4. Just one of them things (ron) This inning belongs to Strop. The wind is still blowing out. Strop really needs a strike out here

The social worker told us to wait for the call.

What do you bring to a woman who is having a baby and may or may not want to ask another family to be his parents, and who may or may not want us to be those people?

Our garden was already asleep. I printed out pictures of flowers and secured them to pipe cleaners.

Now the bags are loaded. Basio is going to the mound. Strop trying to keep the Cubs within five (why does ron say strope and pat strop—who is correct?)

We brought Jennifer a bouquet of photo flowers, printed on the high quality setting. It’s a long but amazing story, those next 48 hours.

I don’t remember what happened with Detroit. Michael probably does. But that night, in a small room, baseball was on, and Jennifer showed us how to feed and change Miguel. She explained the sludge and assured us that not all diapers would be like that. “It’s Ok, I didn’t know what I was doing with my first child either.”

Mets don’t score. They lead 6-1. Eddie Vetter for the stretch. “We want more baseball!!!”

Hey, he sounds good. Ugh, now I am going to start crying. Come back and win the game!!!! Because that circles to the point. The end of baseball means the end of summer.

One of the great things about having an October baby is that you get to cuddle him and swaddle him and keep him off cold floors and then hell yeah April comes and baseball is back and your baby has left the 4th trimester and wow—that first summer was amazing.

It is easy for me to say this because I was not pregnant in summer. I can’t imagine being pregnant, let alone in late summer.

Cubs with only 4 hits in the game. They’ve managed only 5 hits in each of their first three games.

(writers block while the cubs go quietly 1-2-3)

I don’t want to backspace, because we can’t back spacelife. And while writing is not life and baseball is not life, we don’t backspace baseball so I won’t backspace this.

If the Cubs lose tonight, I will have no sadness except for the end of summer and also for the feelings of the players. For the past 8 months, I have enjoyed this team. I have dragged my radio around the house and garden during puttering times. When I left my radio in the rain, I bought another (and returned it because it could not grab 780am) and another (ditto) and finally went online and did a bunch of research and ordered something that can actually grab the station.

Access to the Cubs is one of the reasons I was a south side Cubs fan. On the radio, on the teevee, latch key kid. Lee Smith, shadow line. Jodee, Jodee Davis! My favorite animal was the penguin after Ron Cey. I sent him a fan letter and got a “signed” photo back.

I wrote a cheesy book of poems the fall of Steve Garvey, illustrated with clippings I had kept under the bed. When I taught grade seven writing, I used to trot the collection out to encourage, uh, expression and lack of self-censorship.

Television showing fans with blank stares and confusion.

Easy for me to say, chin up. . .

Daniel Murphy has just hit a home run. Has just set a record. Mets have opened up a commanding 8-1 lead. I can’t believe it.

I don’t believe in much except for the amazing story of how Miguel came into our lives, but maybe this series was not meant to be about the Cubs. Maybe it was meant to be about Daniel Murphy.

And guess what, if we lose tonight, I will root for the Mets. Summer will be over, and I probably won’t watch (need to catch up on garden work), but my philosophy is that you keep the love in the family. I am happy for the White Sox unless they play us. Hands up for the Midwest over the coasts. And for the love of all things elegant, National League forever.

Soler has the leadoff double. Cubs have yet to have a big inning in this series.

Long home run for Kris Bryant. Cubs now trail by a score of 8-3.

(pee break and husband convo interlude)

Bottom of the ninth. Not feeling optimistic about the game. Less than five months until spring training.

Two down

I hope you get a standing ovation. I hope you take the field. Let the Mets have their moment, but not without yours.

Left handed pitcher, right handed batter.

Pat talking about all the great teams that did not make it this far.

2-2, inside to Montero.

Joe Maddon is in the first year of a five year agreement. A lot of tremendous young players.

Pat is using contorted math to imagine a win.

Fowler at the plate. Montero will not be held. Fowler trying to give it a good at bat, right up until the end. Soler on deck. High ball three. Dexter really battling, trying to keep the Cubs going. No one wants to be the last out. Fowler really grinding. Fouled away again.

Delayed call. And the New York Mets win the National League Pennant. And it’s stupid, but I am crying. I know it’s just a game.

5 o’clock and other Shadows

Perhaps avenging his ancestors? This links to the video.
Perhaps avenging his ancestors? Click for video, and skip to the end for fun facts about Feb 2.

Before I started tracking the sun, Groundhog’s Day baffled me. There will always be at least six more weeks of winter in Chicago whether 2/2 is sunny or cloudy.  It usually feels more like sixteen. Our spring is a slug fest between December and June.  Perhaps Punxsutawney Phil sets the odds, while the vernal equinox simply marks half-time, indifferent to the score. Before I started tracking the ground, I was anything but indifferent. Like so many others, my mood was tangled in the temps. I compulsively checked the forecast for any promise of warmth. After the first balmy afternoon shook off the gloves, I cried foul at  subsequent highs below 60 and protested rain showers in the 40’s. Weather stats brought out the taunts: “Get it together, April 17th! In 1976 you set the record at 85 degrees. Now you’re letting icy death grip lake breezes reach all corners of the city!”crocus2014Now that I focus on the predictable growth of shadows and sprouts, I don’t mind the melodrama of spring. A lifelong Cubs fan, I can handle its shitty record. No matter what coat we need on April 17th, the sun will rise at 6:07am and set 13 hours and 26 minutes later, the crocuses will be yielding to the tulips, and Wrigley Field will host the Padres at 1:20pm.

Jan 28, 5pm sunset. Clockwise from left: Scott Kroll, Catherine Murphy, and Erin Rensink.
Jan 28, 5pm sunset. Clockwise from left: Scott Kroll, Catherine Murphy, and Erin Rensink.

Last week closed with the first 5 o’clock shadow of the season. Today, the sun will set at 5:09pm, and nautical twilight will extend to 6:12pm.   It doesn’t matter that Monday’s blinding sun on thick snowbanks startled the critters back underground, and that the temps will plunge tomorrow. We are halfway to the spring equinox—only six weeks. I finally understand why Groundhog’s Day is on February 2. It signals the start of the 2nd quarter. Who knew there are three types of twilight?While writing this, I discovered a wealth of fun facts and conjectures about traditions related to this time of year, too many to do justice here. I’d like to write more soon, or at least before the next Super Bowl.

  • Did you know that, in the late 1800’s, after the groundhog prognosticated, it was prepared for dinner? Or that it used to be considered good news if six more weeks  of winter were predicted?
  • Then there’s the classic case of the unclean woman. After giving birth to Jesus, Mary couldn’t go to church for 40 days, i.e., until she had completed her first postpartum menstrual cycle. February 2nd is 40 days from Christmas Eve. It is celebrated as Candlemas.
  • And, what a coincidence. . . those dates just so happen to align with the Celtic celebration of Imbolc (ewe-milk), which honors the earliest signs of spring, such as lambs being born.
  • It’s also curious that house-hunting usually ramps up after the Super Bowl, as if the end of the football season marks the end of weekend hibernation.
  • Oh my goodness! I just realized spring training opens on Ash Wednesday and that Opening Day is about 40 days after that. My mind is boggled.

Blink and You’ll Miss It

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One of many views of a mid-winter Chicago sunrise. More examples below. Credit: Christy Prahl.

The crowd-sourcing of sunrises is one of my favorite midwinter* traditions. When the book of face glows with oranges, pinks and purples, we share the relief of the ancients. Once again the days are stretching, and I have the stats of moderns (below) to prove it.

I noticed a hint of brightness yesterday, while huddled with some friends at the playground. Our children were romping in the snow after school. The gray sky was lighter than dark. It was as though a film of gloom had peeled away from the familiar scene.

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Yesterday’s after school scene at Goethe’s playground. It was brrrrr, but bright.

It’s still cold, and it will be cold for months to come, with little regard for the growing arc of the sun. That’s the Chicago way. By the time it’s warm enough** to enjoy late sunsets, the days will already be shrinking; the summer solstice marks the slide back to winter.

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Our “skyline” view. That’s a streetlight, not the sun.

That’s why I watch the sun now, nose and camera against the windows. Even though I can’t touch it, I can trust it. There will be a chilly day in mid-March when I can count the tips of tulips in the back yard, then sit against the south facing wall to soak up the warmth starting to collect in the yellow bricks.

If you also like to track the daylight, here are some stats and dates to keep your chin (and eyes) up even when the temps remain low.

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Note that the meridian today is at high noon. The stats are courtesy of TimeandDate.com. Fun website! My math might need checking.
  • Hours in the shortest day of this winter: 9:07:43
  • Hours today: 9:28:31, which means we have gained about 21 minutes in less than 4 weeks.
  • January 28 is when the sunset will hit 5pm. Hours in day: 9:53, which means about 24 minutes more than today.
  • On February 15, the sun will rise at 6:47am, which is about when Miguel wakes up. Hours in day: 10:36:46.
  • On March 7th, the sun will rise at 6:16, which is when I often meet friends for morning runs. Yay for sunny runs!
  • On March 8th, we will be plunged back into morning darkness. This is my least favorite day of the year. However, the sun will set at “6:49pm” after 11:36:16 hours of daytime.
  • By April 12th, my precious running sunrise will be back. Sunrise: 6:15am. Sunset:7:28pm. Hours in day: 13:12:29
  • June 21st is the longest day, at 15 hours, 13 minutes, and 43 seconds, which is about 6 hours and 5  minutes more than the shortest day. Sunrise: 5:15 Sunset 8:29.
  • It’s all downhill from there!

*Meteorological winter is Nov 1-Feb 28. Of course, I prefer the astronomical (is that the correct way of putting it?) dates, but like the sound of mid-winter

**I’m not warm until it’s 75 degrees. And that’s a stretch.

More of today’s sunrises:

Credit: Gabriela Fitz
Credit: Gabriela Fitz
Credit: Lisa Phillips
Credit: Lisa Phillips

Good Enough Defeats Perfection

There is much I did not do last year. I did not write a book, lose weight, market my business, do 10 push-ups, grow all my own greens, or fix the intersection of Fullerton and Rockwell.

But I did haphazardly replace a button, send impersonal holiday cards, bring Dunkin Donuts to play group, do 5 push-ups, and grow enough kale to keep me pooping this fall. And I fixed a toilet (unrelated).

Mission accomplished! Over and over, I kept my promise to not let perfect be the enemy of the good. By expecting—and accepting—less, I am getting more done.*

Can you spot at least three egregious mending errors?
Can you spot at least three egregious mending errors? Answer below.
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Since I always forget what I plant where, I took pics  of bulb packages as markers. Alas, the 11/10 batch was out of focus. Mini Dutch Irises?

During the last quarter of 2014, I used my affinity for alliteration and aphorisms to test out other tips for managing daily life.

  • Make the Bed Monday.
  • A Place for All Some Things Tuesday.
  • Write it Wednesday.
  • Think Like a Waiter Thursday.
  • Don’t Freak Out Friday.
  • Sow Spring Bulbs before the Soil is Frozen Solid under Snow Saturday (forget what I said Friday!)

Few were particularly original, and many were different ways of saying the same thing. But for some reason they are guiding me past entrenched roadblocks, ranging from managing junk mail to managing myself.

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Downstairs sewing kit in old (surprisingly large) glasses case. Second kitchen drawer, across from stove.

Don’t Let Perfect be the Enemy of the Good was the most powerful, which is why I have not redone button number three.** It is out of line, off kilter, and attached with the wrong color thread. Ack! Twitch!  But at least I fixed it right away instead of throwing it into the “to mend” black hole, where the button probably would have gotten lost anyway. (Think it, Do it!) I was able to fix it right away because of the mini sewing kit in our kitchen drawer. (A Place for All Things, and All Things in their Place!) The sewing kit was there because I am keeping tools where I need them, even when that means having multiples spread around the house. (I Don’t Have a Catch Phrase for This!)

Stay tuned for more case studies about which mantras helped the most and/or generated interesting conversations with friends via the book of face.

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*Over the years, I have learned I am not a colossal screw up as much as I am a short perfectionist whose crappy executive functioning skills and irrational fears of failure have cultivated counterproductive behaviors such as procrastination, impulsivity, and intellectual paralysis. Bi-polar Disorder is in there somewhere. Chicken/egg—doesn’t matter. I know many others share this profile, which is why I post about this stuff even though the world already has plenty of words about how to get one’s act together.

**In truth, I did not even need to replace the button. It is decorative, on a sleeve. Few would have noticed it missing. Most who did would not have cared. But, I am not ready for that level of “imperfection.” (Should there be a comma between did and would? But and I?)

Project Push-Up: Form vs. Time

This is my first effort at making a video selfie. I am old school, preferring to read on-line than click on talkies.* However, in my quest to perfect the push-up and do ten by year’s end, I submit today’s efforts for public critique. Are push-ups hard because my form is off. . . or just because they are hard? Ok, I know the answer is to just keep at it, but any tips are welcome. Out of nervousness, I say I am working on handstands in the video. Oops. Well, this should help me with handstands eventually, right? I am also not too keen on the boob shot, but my arms would not have allowed a retake!

*From wikipedia: By the early 1930s, the talkies were a global phenomenon. In the United States, they helped secure Hollywood’s position as one of the world’s most powerful cultural/commercial systems (see Cinema of the United States). In Europe (and, to a lesser degree, elsewhere), the new development was treated with suspicion by many filmmakers and critics, who worried that a focus on dialogue would subvert the unique aesthetic virtues of soundless cinema.

End of Year Pep-o-Meter

Warning: If you are not in the mood for peppy encouragement and extended ice skating metaphors, read no more. But if you want to sprint skate triumphantly to the end of the year, I can help.

Haven’t lived up to your 2014 resolutions? Do not despair! You have 14 days to close the year with head held high. Maybe you aren’t going to nail the quadruple lutz you hoped for, but the show is not over. Modify an unfulfilled goal, add some short-term, achievable tasks, then check them off with a smile. A double lutz is still something to be proud of, especially if you add a few elements to compensate. Or maybe try to squeeze in a daunting move. Even if you miss, you’ll be one step closer to mastery. And give yourself credit for what you did accomplish last year, no matter how shitty it was. This will quiet December’s reproaches, and give loft to January’s promises.

Examples of shooting high, falling, and recovering start at about 3:00.

If you need help lowering refining 4th quarter expectations, I can run your current report through my Pep-o-Meter (POM)* to create a short term work plan and increase confidence for the weeks ahead. For example, take my brilliant friend, Clare, who just bought a fixer upper. When asked to weigh in on the question of year-end resolutions, she sent a classic self-rebuking response. But hidden within were concrete, achievable, short term accomplishments. Missing were examples of kick-ass moments from previous months.

Original:
I must admit you’ve caught me at a weird time. This time last year I was killing it with my goal to run every day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s — a relatively straightforward goal that I could check off my list every day.  This time I’m just trying to get the downstairs bathroom functioning by the time my in-laws come for a visit this weekend –right now it’s just a homemade subfloor and a sewer-gas emitting pipe. I’m trying to grade final exams, unpack one box every day, get the kids to school on time, and tell my husband that I love him at least once a day. I have zero fitness goals.

Pep-o-Meter revision:

Note Clare's speed.  I dare anyone to complain that their first floor bathroom has no toilet.
Note Clare’s speed. I dare anyone to complain that their first floor bathroom has no toilet.

I got a lot done this year.

  • I bought a fixer upper! And I have the skills to fix it up.
  • I write an awesome blog with thousands of followers.
  • My fixing-upping will provide lots of inspiration for said blog.
  • I crushed a half marathon and 10-K, and will have no problems upping my miles in the New Year.

Between now and the end of the year, I will:

  • Tell Scott I love him at least once a day
  • Unpack a box a day
  • Grade final exams with vim and vigor
  • Write at least one more blog post
  • Get my kids to school on time or close enough (just one more day!)
  • Not beat myself up about running less than usual
  • Strive to get the first floor bathroom functioning by this weekend. But if I don’t, oh well. People will understand (they better understand!) that we just moved in to a fixer upper.

If you are feeling disappointed by what you did not do in 2014, and are succumbing to the torpor induced by short, dark, gloomy days, I would love to run your self-reproach through the Pep-o-Meter. (For another example, see some of my POM results below.) Let’s use these next two weeks to meet some easy-ish goals, aim high for some tough ones, and gain momentum for kicking ass in 2015.

Noodle arm, circa January 2014.
Noodle arm, circa January 2014.
  • I am not going to lose 15 pounds by January 1st. POM: But I did start doing push-ups a few weeks ago. Increasing upper body strength is more important than fitting into aspirational red jeans anyway.
  • My goal was to do 10 by January 1. I can now do about 5, which is 5 more than when I started, but I slacked off last week. My biceps softened as the days darkened. POM: But I have decided I am still going for 10. If I miss, so what? At least I will have momentum, and my noodly arms can raise a champagne glass with pride on New Year’s Eve.
  • I started the year intending to blog a lot, submit writing to publications, and build a wide audience of adoring fans. I wrote less than I hoped, and blog-published even less. POM: But I am happy with some of the pieces in terms of capturing a moment/memory, and I have great friends and family (Hi, Uncle Jim!) who cheer me on. My mini goal for the next two weeks is to complete some posts and a poem I have been wrangling with for months.
  • My go for gold effort is to draft a children’s book. Even if it’s crap, or spiraling out of control, I will have something to work from in January.

*Thanks, Clare for pointing out that Pep-o-Meter>POM>POM POM>cheerleading!