Reading recipes

Are you a cook?

Have you ever found yourself browsing recipes endlessly for something interesting to make?

Maybe you like the pictures. Maybe you like the thought of putting a beautiful meal on the table for your family.  Maybe you’re searching for the perfect meal to make for that special dinner, but can never find just the right thing.

Whatever your reason is for continuing your search for the perfect recipe, what good is all that browsing if you never cook the meal?

I’m guilty of gathering recipes but never going the extra step to make them come to life.  I know lots of recipes. I can see lots of great meals landing on my table. I can hear the subtle mmmmm as my friends and family take to tasting. But, it’s not real.  It’s imagined.

Maybe it’s not recipes that you’re consuming.  Maybe it’s books on starting a business or how to play guitar or how to fly fish or how to run a marathon.  Reading is not running.  Finding is not fishing. Books are not business.  Perusing is not playing.

Go create what you’ve been consuming.

Tip Tension

That’ll be $3.85, would you like to leave a tip for your server today?

My server stood smiling at me.  Eyes locked on the pen and receipt they just handed me to sign.  I waved the pen over the tip line, buying an extra second as I thought about whether or not to tip.

There’s a line for a tip, does that mean there’s an expectation to tip?   They just grabbed my bagel and handed me a cup to fill my coffee up myself. What will the server think if I don’t tip?  What if that’s how they make money in this gig?  I don’t want to be the only guy who doesn’t tip.

What is a tip anyway?

From my vantage point a tip, or gratuity, is money offered for the value added to the item being purchased.  From the server’s vantage point, it’s incentive to provide good service.   It’s an exchange of value. The sticking point is that I as the purchaser have the opportunity to determine what that value is in balance with social norms.

Don’t tip.  You’re rude.

Tip too little. You’re cheap and offensive.

Tip too much.  You’re generous, excessive or maybe you’ve made a mistake.

Tip what’s customary. You’re safe, but come on, couldn’t you have added a little more?

Tipping is not only an exchange of value, but it’s also a statement.  It’s in this statement that lies a tension.  A tension to uphold or deny what you believe about yourself and what you want others to believe about you. It doesn’t seem fair or logical to the server, that my propensity to tip is not about their service, but has more to do with what I want them to think about me.  Maybe it’s just me.

Earn your coffee

Does your morning routine at the office consists of first getting coffee and second getting to work?  Do you arrive at your desk, put your bag down, then head to fill up your coffee cup first thing?

Try reversing that order.  First do something meaningful and then second get your coffee.  Earn that cup of joe.  Repeat.

Getting straight to work signals that you mean business to your brain.

Stand tall

I’m 6’4″ and in the way. 

I slumped my shoulders, bent my knees and leaned forward on the chair in front of me.  I don’t want to be the guy who ruins the view and experience of the people behind me.  

The room of 2,000 people all stood to sing in church on Sunday.   Rising to my feet, I realized I was head and shoulders over most people in the first few rows.  I looked around and behind to see whose view I might be blocking. 

I adjusted my posture to take into account the view of those around me.  Was this humility?  I was putting others before myself, yet I was not honoring myself and was ashamed of my tallness.

I adjusted my posture and stood tall reminding myself that this is who I am. 

What are you adjusting to accomodate the experience of others?

The gear is not the habit

I just returned an REI backpack that I fully intended to use as a running backpack.

I bought it a month ago. I never ran with it. It still had the tags on it.

It’s been sitting in my office. Staring at me every morning when I walk in. “Hey, take me running! That’s what you bought me for.”

It gets worse.

I’ve been wanting to get back into running for awhile. Like months. I just haven’t found the “right time”.

Oh, I know! I will make it part of my commute that will save me some headaches and time. First, I need a backpack though, so I can carry my stuff that I need for work on my run commute.

Let the research begin. Meanwhile, I’m still not doing the thing that I really want to do. Run.

Research disguised as procrastination.

Finally I bought the bag, but it sat there. I never committed. I just soaked in buyers remorse every morning when I saw it. The voice inside my head, hey your’re not running. So, I put the condemning little backpack back into the store where maybe it can be put to good use by someone who is ready to commit.

I’m going to have some ice cream.

18 wheel truck driver

What do you want to be when you grow up?

An 18 wheel truck driver

Why?

I like trucks and they have lots of wheels.

I don’t think the conversation went exactly that way.  In fact, if I had to guess, it was probably a finger painting exercise.

This was kindergarten.

I’m grown up now, sort of, and I’m not what I thought I wanted to be.

I had expressed what I love,  not yet inhibited by societal norms and expectations.  I’ve thought about this and tried to ascribe meaning to it.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the desire to be a truck driver is not what mattered, it was the curiosity.

I was curious about trucks.  They were big, they moved, they carried stuff.  I wondered what was inside, where they were going, what it was like to see all kinds of places.  There was a mystery about the truck.  I wanted to know more.

I’ve never driven a truck, but I see them every day.  They are no longer a mystery, but I’m left asking…

What still has mystery for me today?  What do I want to be when I grow up?

What do you want to be?

That’s Not My Job

“That’s not my job!”, she said.

My daughter resisted a request to help her brother get ready to leave for a birthday party. It was a curious statement that gave me pause.

She doesn’t have a job description written down somewhere. She doesn’t get paid for things she does around the house, but somewhere along the way she has picked up that she has a role to play and that their is line that can be crossed. And if that line is crossed, she will resist.

I wondered. What is your job? Who tells you what it is? and How should you respond to things that are outside the scope of those boundaries?

In a professional environment, there is a job description that includes roles and responsibilities. They are guidelines for your area of expertise and what people can depend on you for.

The reality of what you do and what is written down on paper rarely matches. Work is fluid. It’s constantly changing and requires you to adapt and to change to it. But there is work to be done and it’s the value you add to the work that you get paid for.

What would happen if employees lived by the letter of the job description? What would happen in the workplace if everyone only did what was written down for them? Would we do better work? Would there be less conflict because everyone colored inside their lines? Maybe. But what happens when work changes? Something must adapt, the people or the job description. Perhaps both.

At some point there is work that needs to get done and it’s up to us to decide if we want to do it. Saying that’s not my job is not helpful and it takes the responsibility off of you and puts it on the piece of paper or the person who wrote the job description.

The truth is, my daughter didn’t want to do the job. We must decide, do we want to do the job or not. Updating the job description, that’s secondary.

Just right

I love taking showers in the winter.  I turn the hot water on first then slowly turn the knob to allow the cold to come in until the temperature is just right.  Not too hot, not too cold, but just enough to warm me up on a cold winter morning.

For the first few moments, I enjoy allowing the water to warm me over.  I do no bathing during this time.  This is my moment to begin my thinking for the day.

I typically think about conversations from the day before and things I may need to follow up on.  I reflect on how I felt and question my reactions to any challenging situations. On occasion there will be inspiration or ideas, but mostly, I just let my mind wander to where it wants.

Until…

The dreaded flush or the next person decides it’s time to brush their teeth or take a shower now.

My solitude is quickly interrupted by a battle for just right.  A little less heat, a little more cold and vice versa.  Back and forth like a tug of war for a zen shower.

If I can’t get my temperature back to right, I launch into a call for “Who’s using the water?! Turn it off!”.  Like an overgrown two year old I stomp my feet and yell for some sort of resolution.   I dance around the streams of water testing and adjusting every few seconds hoping I don’t get burned or heaven forbid iced by the cold water.

If it wasn’t for “the others”, I could continue my shower in peace.  This balancing act of temperature is not how I wanted to start my day. It reminded me that the relationships in my life work this way too.

There may be periods of just right, but there is a constant ebb and flow. A give and take.  My relationships have to constantly be tweaked and adjusted.  Some grace here, some forgiveness there, an apology here a celebration there.  I owe you, you owe me.  It’s a balancing act, just like balancing the knobs on the shower.  And just like the two year old, sometimes I kick and scream because I’m not getting my way.

This relational dance, it’s what makes us human.  It’s what makes us grow deeper.  It’s what challenges us to find the sweet spot in how we interact and care for one another.

I’ve since reframed my thinking about the shower dance and find myself wondering how I can tweak what I can control to give the other people in my house what they are looking for too.  A just right experience.

A Mother’s Reflection

How did I get here?

I’m sitting in a large hallway that is filled with mismatched chairs. In these chairs are nervous parents. Some are working on their computer, some are knitting, most are on their phones. I’m one of those parents. In this hallway there is a gray door labeled 202. Behind the door I hear beautiful piano music. It’s not a concert though, or someone just playing for enjoyment.

Behind that door is 30 teenagers chasing their dream of attending NYU Tisch.

The audition started an hour and half ago. Finleigh lined up first and grabbed the audition number 1. This doesn’t surprise me one bit. She went in right at noon, an hour before the audition started, and I haven’t seen her since.

I guess I got here because we encouraged our little girl to chase her dreams. We told her that she can do anything she wants.

So, here I sit on this cold, sunny day in NYC. This little girl of mine wants to live in NYC, study at Tisch and follow her dream of becoming a choreographer.

The thought of this totally terrifies me. I can’t even begin to imagine her living a “plane ride” away from me. How will I protect her? How will I keep her safe? Who will her friends be? Will she meet nice people? Will she get homesick?

This is where I have to sit back and know that while Finleigh is my child, she is a more importantly a child of God. He knows her heart, her passions and where she is best suited.

So here I set, clinging to the belief that God knows where she should be this fall. What He wants is best. Period. It does give me great peace knowing that as much as I love her, He loves her so much more.

I have been praying for the last hour for her to shine, takes risks, be present, for His will to be done-and that we will be at peace with it.

Of course I want her to get a call back. She has her solo prepared and I know she will do amazing. So, I’ll sit and wait until the gray door opens…

She made it through!