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Jumping Out of Your Comfort Zone

Those of you who follow my blog, know I am at a crossroad, presently being unemployed.    During this time I have been  doing some contract work, and friends have called telling me about jobs out there they feel I would be a good fit for. I am so blessed for their support during this time.   Yet I feel that this situation would be wasted if I did not take time to really reflect on what should be next, instead of immediately  jumping back into what has been a sure thing and comfortable for the last 30 years.  It may be that one moment in time to really start something new or explore things I have always wanted to try, but fear held me back. The fear of the unknown.   The fear of failure.   Fear of how I’d feel not making a regular financial contribution to the household.

RangerSir and I have had many discussions about the idea of a temporary job during this time.   We have weighed the pros and cons.   The pros won.   Since that decision, I have spent time looking at the temporary and seasonal jobs out there.   I have been researching the positions, companies and interviewing.  The good news is I have secured a temporary seasonal job.   It means that this job will have a beginning and an end.   So there is no lock-in for this job if I hate it; I just have to last the season.   If I like it I have just added something to my resume.  It will use many of my skills I already have, but just as importantly it will require skills I don’t have.   This will feed my need for life long learning.  It is an entry-level, worker-bee job.   It means I have a job to do, and I will be responsible for me and my performance, that is it.   I can’t remember the last time this was true.  It feels very good. It is a four-tens, so I will still have three days a week to enjoy summer.    I will be on the road most of the time, again something I have not done for years, but exploring the back roads of Montana sounds fine for the summer.   Finally it will supply me with a regular paycheck, that I discover I need.

I admit the whole prospect of this summer job is almost frightening because it is so far out of my comfort zone.  It could be a colossal failure, in so many different ways.    Yet I find I am really excited to do something different and not to just wonder but actually know what something completely different will feel like. It will provide me with the time and space to really think about what next, while making a financial contribution to household.

Not everyone gets this chance.   Not everyone sees this chance when it happens to them.   I was lucky in that I got the chance and recognized it it.   Thanks to my friends, family and blog followers who have been there with words of encouragement during this time of great unrest.     Now on to the next great adventure.

Watching TV when you have no TV

We are a bit of an unusual family in that we have no broadcast television.   By that I mean that we have no over-the -air television, no cable, nor satellite television to watch.  This is not to say that we don’t watch TV and we possibly watch too much TV as thousands, perhaps millions of Americans do as well.    Having no broadcast television  makes our TV watching somewhat different than most in that we can never turn on TV and surf the channels and pick the best of what is currently broadcasting.   For us deciding what to watch on TV is a an active and  conscious choice.     We must put an effort in to deciding what to watch.   The household mood is the overriding factor as we choose what we will watch, along with how much time we are willing to commit.  We can pull out a DVD with a movie or a TV series we have purchased and watch that for the second, third, or possibly even more times than we can count.  If the night is right we can stream something with Amazon Prime.   Our high-speed internet is questionable at best and if all the other neighbors decide to stream too, it is instead slow-speed internet, we understand the limits of the bandwidith.   We never imagined that we be streaming TV but we do.

We are very much behind the times because of TV watching limitations.   We know what we have seen in hotel rooms and as a result are pretty sure what we are not missing.   Yet we hear the buzz and wonder sometimes what we are missing.

Our most recent discovery on Amazon Prime is Downton Abby.   Now I know millions of of you are already huge fans, but we haven’t had PBS since we left Michigan.  We have finished episode one and are working our way on episode two (our high-speed became slow-speed part way through and so we stopped for tonight).   It is so different from the Master Piece Theater of old with Alister Cook, where a long series would take up a month of Sunday nights.      I sure wish that we had found this show during the long nights of winter, because the nice weather is coming on in Montana and there is much more to do besides watch TV.   In spite of that I am wishing for a snow/rain just plain nasty evening so RangerSir and I can binge  watch the down and catch up with the rest of you.   TV or not, good shows seem to always find an audience.

One of This and Two of That – Chicks!

A sign of the times...Chick Days.

A sign of the times…Chick Days.

Every year at this time there is a phenomenon going on called chick days.   It is when local tractor/ranch supply stores bring in baby chicks for sale.   Most of the ranch supply stores bring in an assortment of breeds which proves to be a great challenge for me.    I am one of those folks who wants my chickens to be cute, no standard white, red or black for me.   I find myself buying more than I should and it is not because baby chicks are cute.   No I imagine what the feathers on all the breeds will look like and get caught up in the possibilities down the road.   This year I ended up with ten chicks.   I was planning on six….tops eight.   I ended up with gold lace wyandotte, silver lace wyandotte, light Brahma, buff Orpington and barred rocks this year.   Time will tell how they all fare and how I fare with my choices this year.

In the next couple of days I will update my backyard chicken page and get some pictures up here for all you chicken owners and want to be owners

Crazy for Corned Beef

OK that title is a little crazy, because I would not say we are crazy for corned beef, but we do enjoy it at our house.    We live near Butte, Montana a town rich in Irish history.  According the 2010 US census it is the most Irish town in the country with over 23% of the people having Irish heritage, as opposed to Boston where just under 20% of the folks claim their Irish roots.    I could talk about the crazy St. Patrick’s Day traditions, but being the foodie I am I will skip over it all to the Irish-American dish corned beef.   I call it Irish-American because it did not come from Ireland, but became a staple of the Irish who immigrated to the USA.

I grew up eating corned beef and cabbage.  The beef my mother bought in the Midwest was that nasty stuff you bought in a sealed plastic bag with brine and pickling spices.   It was salty, fatty, and well-preserved in that cryopack bag.   Not much nice I can say about it except it was dinner and it filled our stomachs.    Here in Butte you will find that the local meat shop actually brines the brisket in their own recipe.   The brisket here is fresh and lean.  If you have never had an opportunity to eat fresh corned beef it is  a completely different animal than that thing from the plastic bag.

We bought our corned beef on Saturday and we could not wait until today to fix it.    We made the “traditional” dish of corned beef and cabbage on Sunday.   Our version is a bit of an updated recipe.   We highly recommend the cooking of your corned beef with Guinness, though in a pinch a good stout will work.    We have also learned that unless you like your veggies cooked to mush they should be cooked separately in some of the juices.  A favorite recipe for this can be found on the website Steamy Kitchen, and here is a link to the recipe we use.

Guinness Corned Beef with Cabbage

So after doing the corned beef and cabbage we had some leftovers that we made in to a chowder to go with the chilly rainy day we had today.   It was a new recipe for us Corned Beef and Cabbage Chowder from the website The Foodie Affair.   It was a flexible recipe that could be made with or without leftovers.   We opted for the leftover version using our potatoes and carrots along with the broth and corned beef from Sunday.   We added some fresh onion, celery, some more cabbage and beef stock along with the milk base.   I serious had some reservations but I can tell you this is going to be a new favorite with us.   Both RangerSir and I agreed it was well season and worth repeating, though not as often as we would like due to the scarcity of corned beef.

Corned beef and Cabbage Chowder

What did you cook for St.  Patrick’s Day?   Did you include corned beef in your day?   If so how did it turn out?    If it wasn’t so great, might I suggest you bookmark this page for next year.

Change is Frightening and Hard

As I work through the changes I have thrown myself into it has been amazing and frightening all at the same time.   This quote captures the essence of my life during this time of change.

I thought that life would immediately reveal itself to me and I would be clear where I was headed and I would quickly move in that direction.  To quote a friend of mine “Was I smoking crack?”   I am old enough and experienced enough to know that isn’t real life  Some days I struggle with this change I have made to my life and other days I am riding forward in a new direction with self-assured with no reservations.   I continue to move forward,  full of questions, second guesses, wild discoveries and affirmations about who I am. It is easier and more difficult that I imagined, but now that I have stepped off the path I have no choice but to move forward and finish what I have started.

Creature of Habit

One of the things that multiple people  have said to me multiple times  that now I can sleep in and do nothing since I am no longer employed by someone else.  Interesting thought, but not happening.    First and foremost I am a creature of habit and routine.  So in spite of this big change in my life there is so much I do that I have always done and will likely continue to do, but I am seeking something different.

For this creature it means that I get up each morning and almost universally am rocking and rolling each day by 7.   It is my internal time clock.   It is part of me.  Regular time or daylight savings time each day at 7 bells each am I am getting up, no alarm required.  I am a morning person it is part of my undeniable chemistry always has been and not likely to change.

Another piece of my make up is the need for some kind of control.  It is that type A, analytical business analysis that I spent most of my life being speaking up here.  To satisfy that need to plan and have some control I still use  a planner.   In my planner you will still find a to-do list, though I will freely admit it looks much different.   No longer is full of things my employer needs from me.  My day is no longer driven by the obligations I have as an employee.    Instead it is full of ideas that pop in my head, people I want to call, appointments I need to make for myself or the animals, things I want to learn more about, places I have wanted to visit and other things that are on my personal wish list.  Each morning over that first cup of tea I look at the list and decide what on my list I want to do today.   Some days it is one thing and other days it is five things.    It depends on if the weather calling my name to come out and play in an early spring day in Montana, or my creative muse is begging me to spend the day in my studio space, or a book on my reading list just became available at the library, or a million other things that can make that day just right for me.

So maybe my method has not changed, but what I am doing with my time has changed.    Lets see what the changes bring into my life.

Moving Forward

CourtneysDigiscrappin_YourLife_WA12

As I start this next chapter of my life, I am finding that it is really all up to me what my life looks like.

I have worked ever since I was old enough to babysit and have not stopped since.    For the most part I have been lucky and have had some pretty good employers and jobs.   I have been been blessed to not only have a great career but one that has allowed me to have a great life and experience the changes of the world of technology.     I have  had the opportunity to be a rising star and a be a leader in different business settings.   I thrived in that environment, thought at times it was all consuming. There were sacrifices made by not just me, but my friends and family as well. At times I became my career and it became me.

Now that I am am unemployed and of a certain age,  I am looking at the idea of moving back to a work in role of a worker bee rather than a leader.   I suspect that it will be hard after years of being a leader, but it is now someone else’s time to shine. I want to leave at the end of the work day, knowing I did the best job possible for that time, but the work day is over and I get to leave.  I no longer wish to be at my desk at 6:00 in the morning and still be there at 6:30 at night.  More importantly,  I don’t want my mind to race at night mulling over business problems and wondering how I can improve the situation.   It is now my time to make a contribution in ways with my talents outside of my job.  Those extra hours at work have a new place to go.  I have in the given past, but my heart tells me it is now time to look at more and different ways to give back to my community.    My creative muse is screaming to get out and play.     The impulsive person in me, who has been under lock and key is just clawing to get out, and do something spur of the moment.

So as I celebrate five years blogging here at LookingOutTheWindow, I invite you to ride along on the next chapter as I explore life looking out a new window and what I find along the way.