A few days ago, someone on Twitter asked what biscuits and gravy was. I wrote, “They are only the most delicious and satisfying breakfast food in the world. It’s hot sausage cream gravy over baking powder and buttermilk biscuits.”
As you can tell, I think biscuits and gravy is my favorite food that is native to here in the Ozarks. It hasn’t always been that way because I have not always lived in the Ozarks.
Couldn’t Get Them in the North
Biscuits and gravy is a south-of-the-Mason-Dixon line sort of food. A few years ago, my daughter and I took a trip from here in Missouri to Pennsylvania where my family is from. While there, we went to a restaurant to have breakfast and she looked over the menu and said, “I don’t see the “biscuits and gravy”.
“Oh, honey, “ I said. You won’t find them here. They don’t know what biscuits and gravy is.”
“Are you serious?” She asked.
“That’s right,” I replied. “Here they like French fries and gravy.”
‘”Really,” she asked.
“Yes really,” I replied but I digress. This is a post about biscuits and gravy.
Making My Own Biscuits and Gravy
One of the prerequisites of living in the Ozarks is knowing how to make good biscuits and gravy.
I start by baking the biscuits. according to the recipe on the package Personally, I like baking Grands biscuits, fresh and hot because my own creations often turn out like hockey pucks so I buy a tube of the commercial biscuits and start from there.
Next, I brown the sausage in a frying pan until it is thoroughly cooked. I set it aside.
I do make the gravy from scratch. I start by making a roux. To make the best roux, I start with some bacon grease that I saved from the last time we had bacon. I melt it in a frying pan on the stove and gradually add flour until the bacon grease is absorbed and browned slightly. I put some of it aside in case I need to thicken the mixture more. Next, I add milk and whisk the mixture until the milk thickens into a nice gravy. Add more milk or roux as needed to make the desired consistency. I then add the sausage and salt and pepper to taste. When the biscuits are fully cooked and golden brown, the meal is ready to eat.
I like to split the biscuit in half and pour the gravy over it. My husband just likes to pour the gravy over the biscuit without exposing the fluffy inside. Whatever way you like it, biscuits and gravy is not only good for breakfast but can be eaten for supper as well.
Something Else I’ve Learned Lately
The nuances of biscuits and gravy aren’t all that I’ve learned. Because of all of the research that I did for Gourmet Weeds, (Purchase on my affiliate link on bookshop.org and support your local indie bookstore). I learned a lot of things that I didn’t know about foods we can forage here in the Ozarks. Not only that, but I also learned different ways of cooking those foraged foods.
Foraging is fun especially here in the Ozarks, but we have the most changeable weather in the country. When they say “If you don’t like the weather, don’t worry, it will change” is truer of the Ozarks than any other place I have been which is one of the reasons that we have such a diversity of plants and animals.
Another problem we have here in many areas of the Ozarks is the ability to get cell service and internet. These services are still spotty at times, especially along the rivers. Therefore it helps to learn the signs of incoming stormy weather.
Low Pressure Means Rain
Everyone has heard of an older person who says that the pain in their shoulders tells them when there’s going to be precipitation. Although many poo-poos this idea, there may actually be some scientific evidence that what this person is feeling is a change in the barometric pressure of the air. I know that at my age, I have started noticing that just before a weather event, my own arthritis begins to act up. Once the weather has passed, the arthritis pain subsides.
Another way to tell when the weather is going to change is by looking at the clouds. High fluffy clouds mean that there’s going to be good weather (at least until those clouds change). The lower the clouds hang in the sky, the more likely you’ll have weather. A high stacked cloud or thunderhead head indicates a thunderstorm is developing. A long rope of heavy clouds that hang low to the ground indicates that cyclonic or hail may be on its way.
There’s truth to the adage “Red sky at night, sailors delight. Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning.” A red sky at night indicates that the day will be sunny the following day. A red sky in the morning, however, indicates that there is low air pressure and it is likely to rain that day.
How are Animals Behaving?
Insect-eating birds like swallows fly low right before the rain, and ants tend to build their anthills with higher, steeper sides. They become lazy and sluggish when it’s low. Also, if you notice that the bees and butterflies disappear from the flowers they usually visit, it means the storm is coming.
Rings around the Moon or Sun
If you see milky-white rings around the Sun or Moon, it’s a sign of extreme humidity and moisture coming closer to the Earth’s surface.
Curly Hair turns Frizzy
If you’re hiking and your curly hair goes crazy and your body’s perspiration doesn’t evaporate, this is indicative of high humidity in the air. This may or may not be a sign of incoming rain.
Where’s the Smoke?
If instead of smoke rising from a chimney, the smoke goes down the chimney, this indicates a low-pressure system and possible rain.
Wind speed, direction, and consistency are very indicative of what the weather is doing. If the wind velocity suddenly picks up, with swirling, gusty breezes, a front is approaching. A steady wind—moderate or light—is typically a sign of stable weather.
Changes in wind direction are one of the best indications of changes in the weather. East and northeast winds are the counterclockwise currents of a low-pressure center and often indicate stormy weather ahead. Winds from the south often mean warm, humid conditions. They can bring rain, too, though often of a gentler variety than east winds. West and northwest winds are often harbingers of good weather—cool and crisp with a high barometer.
I have heard that dandelions close their flowers when a thunderstorm is approaching. I don’t think the dandelions in my yard got that memo because as I am writing this, I looked out at the dandelions in my yard and their flowers are open wide and I can hear thunder in the distance. They say the same about tulips and clover flowers as well.
Predicting the weather by observing nature improves with practice. If you really want to know if it is going to rain or not, I think that a good way is to watch weather forecasts and look for various ways that others say indicate rain. Now, observe what nature is doing around you. You can then write down what you observe and see if what you observe happens every time or even most of the time.
When I first tell someone that I grew up in Pennsylvania, but now call the Ozarks my home the next question that person always asks is why I moved to the Ozarks.
I first fell in love with the Ozarks when I came through the area back in 1979. I immediately felt a longing to get off the bus and stop and stay. Perhaps I should have, but it wasn’t yet time. However, the small houses and rustic gardens that I passed never did leave my mind. I vowed to myself that I would someday return.
Return, I did, in 1984 when I started buying land through a contract for deed. Later I found out that buying land on contract for deed is probably the most expensive way to buy land, but I didn’t care. I had my piece of Missouri.
Sadly, I no longer own that piece of property, and I have come and gone from the Ozarks many times over the years, but I always keep coming back.
So, what is it that keeps me coming back? First, I like the fact that where I live at least, my neighbors don’t try to make my business their business. They keep to themselves, and I keep to my own, unless, of course, disaster strikes.
People here in the Ozarks will rally around someone who they feel is truly in need. Many years ago, my house burned down, and I didn’t have insurance. Rather than people balking at my not having insurance, they helped me out with a place to stay, clothes, household items, and household money that I needed to get back on my feet. When my car broke down and I couldn’t afford to get it fixed, friends from church paid for the repairs. When we lost our car to the bank, our pastor gave us a used car. The act is reciprocal. When the same happened to others, I do the same for them.
There’s a freedom here in the rural Ozarks that isn’t found in other parts of the country as well. We don’t have an HOA telling us that we can’t grow chickens or have livestock because we’re “not zoned for that”. Of course, it can also mean that we might have a car or two on the back forty or a nonfunctioning washing machine in the front yard, but that’s changing. There’s almost always someone around who wants to help you get rid of that piece of metal that you have no more use for. (Translated, they will take it and sell it for scrap.)
Many people complain about the rocky land. I like our karst topography. The Ozarks is built on a subterranean system of limestone caverns, that creates mysterious-looking formations like caves, surface sinkholes, and rocky, overhanging cliffs caused by the interaction of the water from its rivers with the limestone bedrock. I also enjoy the clear spring fed rivers that are kept stocked by the conservation department with all kinds of fish. A trip by canoe or kayak down one of the Ozarks’ many rivers is a sightseeing adventure that displays all these features and more.
The Plants and Animals
I love the biodiversity of the flora and fauna.
As we wrote in the upcoming book that Kerry Kelley and I will be publishing soon called Gourmet Weeds, “The Ozarks are home to an amazing assortment of plant and animal life. Imagine hardwood forests, pine groves, cedar glades, Prairie remnants, river bottoms and bald knobs, all spread out in our roughly 47,000 square miles (about half the area of Arizona)
The stony hills and hollers make it an ideal area for finding many forageable foods because the variety of plant species have not been depleted by excessive cultivation. The wild and beautiful Ozarks are essentially not suitable for growing most commercial crops, although in generations past, many local families grew sizable acres of corn and cotton for themselves and as a source of income.”
Prickly pear cacti and paw paws grow near one another in white oak forests. Many plants (and some animals) are only found in the Ozarks. Plants that prefer more northern climates are found near caves. Desert species grow on the dry rocky glades. In the spring, the Ozarks explode with springtime blooms like bloodroot, trout lily, jack in the pulpit, and violets that live a short life before the onset of warm weather and tree leaf growth. In the summer, roadsides burst with echinacea, butterfly weed, wild carrot, and daisy-like Jerusalem artichokes and many other wildflowers.”
The diverse plant populations support various types of animals. In my yard every day, I am entertained by a family of squirrels and one year a family of gray foxes. (I used an electric fence to keep them from eating my chicken.) At night raccoons and opossums travel though my yard. White-tailed deer often nibble on my garden greens, but those greens often still make it to my freezer. Wild turkey thrives here. Wiped out and made extinct in the Ozarks before 1900, Elk was reintroduced and are now managed, as they bounced back so strongly their numbers became encumbering. The Hellbender is making a comeback in the Ozarks as well.
Once near extinction, bald eagles often nest here near where I live. I have seen many of these eagles on many of my trips to down at different times of the year or during trips down certain Ozark riverways.
Raccoons, white-footed mouse, opossums, otter, mink, eastern chipmunk, beaver, short-tailed shrew, quail and numerous other species of birds, insects, and animals call the Ozarks home.
What I especially like about the Ozarks is how every day can be different, and I’m not just talking about the weather. On the surface it seems like nothing ever changes, but that is deceptive. Every day there is something new to see and something new to do if you know what there is to see and do. It’s a place where imaginations are allowed to grow and flourish.
Why the Ozarks? I guess I have to say that it’s the place where I can enjoy being me.
Today I have a special treat for you! Today we have the privilege of a guest writer, Rose Atkinson-Carter, a writer with Reedsy. She also is a writer-adviser, and she has agreed to share with us why imposter syndrome is not just a problem, it can be a sign of growth! Thank you so much for sharing with us about imposter syndrome, Rose!
Why Imposter Syndrome is a Sign that You Are Growing as a Writer
Writing can bring great joy to your life, letting you flex your creativity and explore different stories, themes, and characters. But sharing your work with others — whether friends, readers, editors, or publishers — can be scary, and moments of doubt may soon start cropping up. Is your story really as good as everyone says it is? Did you somehow trick people into thinking you’re a good writer when you know you’re mediocre at best? There’s so much you could improve!
These thoughts are classic signs that you are suffering from imposter syndrome. Psychology Today defines this as when people “…believe that they are undeserving of their achievements and the high esteem in which they are, in fact, generally held. They feel that they aren’t as competent or intelligent as others might think—and that soon enough, people will discover the truth about them.” This kind of persistent fear and self-doubt can slow you down and keep you from writing altogether.
I could write a whole piece about how to fight back against imposter syndrome, but I want to take a different approach. What if we viewed imposter syndrome as a positive thing? Specifically, as an invitation to reflect on our growth and increased understanding of our craft. Maybe we could use it to our advantage and make it a motivator, rather than a cause of writer’s block.
Becoming More Critical of Our Work
I know that when I first started writing fiction in earnest, I didn’t really pay attention to whether it was good. I got so caught up in the process of creation that the question of quality was secondary. If you started young, like I did, you may have been working under the feverish hubris of youth too. How could anything you write be bad? Your ideas are fresh and new and exciting! But then, with the first critiques and a dash of maturity, you become more serious. Maybe you take some writing classes where you learn a thing or two about plotting and character development. Or you brush up on your grammar and figure out that varying sentence length and structure affect your writing quite a bit. Now you know where things can go wrong and you start seeing it everywhere in your own stories. You start to wonder how anyone can think your writing is good when it has so many problems, and you begin to latch on to anything resembling negative feedback because it confirms your fears.
When this happens, what’s really going on is that you’re holding yourself to a higher standard than you used to. You’re also probably being more critical than you would be to others if you were providing feedback in a critique circle. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, if you learn how to balance these feelings, it can be a good thing! As you develop your skills, you start
understanding more about what works and what doesn’t, what’s good and what’s bad. You’re seeing the success alongside the room for growth. And that means you’re more equipped to improve.
Other people, even editors, are rarely as critical of our work as we are of ourselves. They praise us because they see potential, which in our head has morphed into the big bad monster of imposter syndrome. But we can start to tame that monster by reminding ourselves of how far we’ve come.
We Want to be Better
When I look through my old notebooks, I’m always struck by how much I’ve improved. Even things I wrote as late as last year feel like they came from a stranger, and I wonder how anyone could have possibly agreed to publish them or given me any kind of positive feedback.
It’s frustrating when it seems everyone you show your work to only has compliments. That’s where the imposter syndrome finds its way in. But I’ve found that this frustration is really a sign of ambition. It’s a sign that we want to learn and improve because we know we could be better. Our goals become ever bigger and loftier as we gain experience and confidence. And because we can sometimes be blinded by the gap between what we want and where we really are, it can be hard to accept praise from others when we’re not meeting our own expectations.
How you approach this catch-22 really makes all the difference. Your imposter syndrome tells you that you’re not good enough and your writing is a shadow of what it could be, and eventually, everyone is going to realize that. This cycle of self-doubt, fuelled by internal pressure to perform — or, seen more positively, ambition — can be hard to get out of. The best way I have found is to acknowledge that there’s still work to be done, and that you’ll get there eventually, but for now, where you are is still pretty great.
And it helps to know that we’re not alone in feeling like this.
Remember, It Happens to All of Us
As you grow as a writer, you can’t help comparing yourself to others, especially the greats: those people you look up to and who are well-known in the community. You want to write prose with the same tension, finesse, and verve. We base our goals on their accomplishments and feel like frauds because our work isn’t as good as theirs. But I’m going to let you in on a secret. Those celebrated authors feel the same way as you do. They wonder how their readers will receive their work and how they could possibly be any good when there are people around them who are so much more talented, who will soon discover that they’re actually a hack who just has an excellent marketing team behind them. You have a lot more in common with your favorite authors than you think, and there’s no better marker of your like-mindedness than having the same thoughts as them.
If you need any proof of this, Neil Gaiman writes candidly and humorously about his experiences with imposter syndrome in this blog post. I highly encourage you to find author blogs like this because they offer a lot of comfort in moments of doubt. None of this is to say that imposter syndrome isn’t a difficult thought pattern to break out of. All I suggest is that if you’re not quite at the point where you can put yourself on the top rung of the ladder, try looking at how far you’ve climbed on your journey as a writer so far. This will hopefully, give you some perspective and the clarity to tame — or even befriend — that imposturous monster.
Rose Atkinson-Carter is a writer with Reedsy, advising authors on all things publishing, from explaining the role of ghostwriters to understanding book genres like literary fiction.
I was working at our local high school a few weeks ago. I was on Cafeteria duty when I saw a note handwritten on a blackboard in the corner of the room. The note was scrawled in chalk and the first line said,
“I never fail”
I thought that was a curious statement. How was that possible? so I read the second line:
“I either. . .”
I either what?
The third line had the answer:
“Win or Learn“
That statement opened a whole new paradigm for me. I don’t ever have to look at anything I do ever again as a fail. I never again have to see myself as a failure. If I win and get what I want, of course, I win. However, if the results are not exactly what I was looking for, I still win if I learned something in the process.
As I look back in history, I learned that this idea of never failing didn’t originate from that chalk written note on that blackboard. I had heard it all before. It just hadn’t yet resonated with me.
It’s a Lesson from Edison
Back when Thomas A Edison was trying to perfect the incandescent lightbulb. He said, “Of the 200 light bulbs that didn’t work, every failure told me something that I was able to incorporate into the next attempt.”
He later wrote of the incandescent light bulb. “The electric light has caused me the greatest amount of study and has required the most elaborate experiments. I was never myself discouraged or inclined to be hopeless of success. I cannot say the same for all my associates.”
Edison was considered a genius partly because he didn’t quit. It wasn’t that he didn’t make mistakes or that things worked out every time he tried it, it was that he learned from what he had done in the past.
Applying the Principle Using My Own Example
I can apply this principle to book sales by saying this: “I have not failed at selling 1000 books per month. I have simply learned that the ways that I am trying to sell books is insufficient to get the results that I want. “
Another example is I have been selling my books on Amazon and at Farmer’s Market and have had limited success because I don’t have much of an audience. Therefore, I need to reach out to other areas. Maybe more and better-planned tweets. More and better Facebook posts, maybe get more reliable on Instagram, and maybe open a TicToc account and utilize those sites more. Maybe I need a YouTube channel. Maybe I need to get my books in more live locations. Maybe I need to connect with more influencers. As you can see, I have not experimented with every way possible to promote my books therefore, I really can’t say that I have failed. I simply have not found the right avenue(s) to sell my books yet. If I spend an hour or so every day working on book promotion and experimentation with different modalities, I will find a way to sell that many books per month.
The same goes for any goal that I want to achieve. I will never fail.
You’re not Failing if You Decide You Don’t Want to Do What It Takes
I have had times when I decided that what I was doing was not worth it to me and I don’t feel as though I failed. I just learned that what I was doing was not what I wanted to do.
I can’t tell you how many times I have started doing something that I later decided was not what I wanted to do. Probably the biggest example I can use occurred after I was trained as a nurse. I did well in school. I was in the top 10% of my class, but when it came to doing the job of nursing. I hated it and I never was a very good nurse. I went to work every day scared that I would cause someone’s death. My health suffered. My heart rate was continuously above 100 beats per minute. Not to go into details, but one day I self-sabotaged and got fired. I was relieved. I had learned that I needed to do something else so I changed course and went to college and got my bachelor’s degree and am now teaching and writing books which I love to do.
Sometimes winning is learning to quit something you hate.
Write a Book to Ignite Your Business
If writing a book is one of the ways that you want to grow your business, a good book to start with is this book.
Are you a business owner looking for sure-fire way to get the edge over your competition? Thanks to social media, the advertising world is changing. People can connect with you and your products like never before. They want to see the face behind the product. In addition, people want to know what is in it for them. They don’t care about the features so much as they want to know how what you do will benefit them. Writing a Book related to your business opens doors like nothing else can.
I continue to think about life. Perhaps it’s because I can see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel of this life. I see that I have a limited number of these days left before I follow the light to its ultimate destination. However, I am not morbid with the idea of my final reckoning, I am, however, more interested in how I make the best use of what time I have left. I am seizing each day and making the most of every hour of each day.
Not that anyone’s day is likely to make that much difference. Each day simply is a pixel in my life. Each light of each day that shines is not bright alone, but when I stand back, it provides a picture of the life I have lived. I am determined to seize each day. Carpe Diem!
How do I seize each day? I seize it by using a system called SOFF. Start Organize, Focus, and Finish.
The first important thing to do each day is to show up. I get up at a reasonable hour and start with my morning routine which gets me ready to begin the first of my daily projects.
I try to plan each day the night before so that I don’t waste that precious time that I have. Will there be distractions? Sure, there will be, but once I deal with the distractions or any emergency that comes up, I know what I will do next. I go back to my plan and do what’s next on that agenda. That’s why I need to plan only one or two or at the most three major things that I must complete each day to move ahead on my projects.
I know that there is only so much that I can do in one day, so I choose to do what is most important to reach my goals. The next most important thing that I need to do is organize my time and my space toward reaching each daily goal simply and easily. This means that I need to look over what I must do today to reach my monthly, weekly, and annual goals.
My current annual goals that I am working on involve growing my own food, writing my two blogs each week, and writing the second draft of my next book in The Locket Saga. I also have other ideas that I want to write There’s The Perpetual Homesteader book series, I also want to write a gardening book for the Ozarks, and there are other books in The Locket Saga that I want to get to, but I am putting those on hold for now. I organize those projects that I am working on by designating certain times of the day to work on them. I have organized the materials that I use for these projects so that I don’t have to spend a lot of time deciding where what I need is located. If I need a tool or a piece of research, I can find it easily and quickly because I am organized.
I designate specific times during the day to work on the big projects. I got this idea from Stephen Covey who told a story about filling a jar. He said that if there was a pile of rocks (representing big important projects), pebbles (smaller urgent, but less important projects), gravel (unimportant urgent projects), and sand (unimportant not urgent projects). if you start by filling the jar with sand, there will be no room for anything else. If you put pebbles in your jar, there’s room for gravel and sand, but not for the big important things. Therefore, it’s important to start with the big rocks or in other words, the big important projects, and fill in the time with those other less important but often urgent tasks that we face each day.
The time provided for the big important projects needs to be focused on. If I know exactly what I need to finish each day, even a little time can be enough time especially if done on a consistent daily basis.
Finishing involves completing the designated project that we assign to a specific day. I complete the aspect of the project that I have assigned for that day. If I plan to plant a row of beans in the garden, I do that. If I intend to write a blog post, I write it and it isn’t done until it is posted and scheduled.
It also determines what it is that I want to do the next day. If on the next day, I intend to research one of my books, I set things up to make that happen as efficiently as possible. If I intend to do the laundry, I put it on my to-do list for the next day.
Once I’ve finished this day and set up for the next day, I’ve makes the strategy of SOFF an ever-rising spiral. I have already set up to start for the next day. I made a step forward and am prepared to take the next step.
Years ago, when I was working as a neuropsychiatric technician, I had a roommate who was in Al-Anon and she invited me to an Al-Anon meeting where they recited The Serenity Prayer which states “God, grant me the serenity to change the things I can and to accept the things I cannot change and the wisdom to know the difference.”
A quote by Maya Angelou
Now years later, I am reminded of this when I read a quote by Maya Angelou who had said something quite similar, “If you don’t like something, change It. If you can’t change it, change your attitude about it.”
This fits my philosophy of life. I often choose to write about what I don’t like and rather than just complaining about it on paper, I would try to determine a solution for whatever it was that I didn’t like.
What are those things that I can change? What are those things that I cannot change?
The things that I can change are things that I have control of right now. I can change what I am doing right now. I can change how I feel about a situation.
I can’t change anything I have done in the past, nor can I change anything in the future, but I can change how I react to any situation I face today.
One Day at a Time
I can determine how I will spend my time today, but when I think about it, I can never actually do anything tomorrow. Tomorrow will never come. Think about it. When tomorrow comes, tomorrow will no longer be tomorrow, it will become today. The question I need to ask then is “What can I do today so that when tomorrow becomes today?”
Nothing can happen in just one day, but string several todays together, and by doing the right thing, I am in a better place today and every day after today if I stay on the same path. So, how do I better use the time I am given?
Writing Career Betterment
If I write every day and work to get better at writing every day, even with just one percent of changes made every day, I will become a better writer. If I work to improve my marketing skills every day, I will sell more books.
I cannot change the fact that I have debt, not today anyway. Debt reduction is a marathon, not a sprint. I know better than to think that I am going to win the lottery. The only way to become financially independent is to develop better financial habits. What I can control is what I am spending my money on today. I can also determine if I am going to work today so that I can pay my debts. I can decide whether to save money or invest it. I can focus on changing my spending habits, my income, and my investments over the next series of days, months, or years, and I will be considerably better off than I am today. I just must do it one day at a time.
I cannot change any of the mistakes that I made in the past with my parents, my siblings, my spouse, or my children, but I can determine to forgive myself. I can also determine to forgive anything that my children or my spouse have done. Until I discovered forgiveness, I didn’t realize how powerful forgiveness was until I learned to forgive. Forgiveness puts me at peace. It gives me serenity. It’s not for the other person that I forgive. It is for me. No one understands its power until they learn to forgive. Becoming a forgiving person both of myself and others is something that I can change.
I cannot change the fact I will someday no longer be in this world, but I can determine how I will make the most of this time that I am given.
I can stop being a taker and become a giver. I can change how I relate to the earth I can give back to the earth that has supported me all these years. I can plant a fruit tree today and someday that tree will bloom and grow fruit, but today all I can do is support that tree in whatever way it needs right now and that is the same with anything I want to change for the better.
As an author, I find time to do the things I like to do by becoming creative with the time that I would otherwise be doing nothing. Today I’m sharing how I constructively use the time in which I am waiting.
We all have a busy life, and it seems like those times when we must wait that we find ourselves wishing we could do all those things that we can’t do because we are waiting. Whether it is waiting for a service person at our home, waiting for our turn at the doctor’s office, waiting for our children to get out of class, or even being stuck in traffic for an extended period, if we plan to do things during this time, we’ll find we could get things done that we wouldn’t have been able to do if we had not had to wait.
Be Prepared to Wait
At one time, I had a briefcase that I carried with me in the car that I kept available with all kinds of things for me to do during those long waits. I kept pens, paper, books, and other items available for me to use to accomplish some of my goals for the day.
Planning your day with appointments in mind will help you know what you should have with you. If you are writing a book, have tools like paper and pens available so that you can jot down ideas or notes as they come to you while you’re waiting. Perhaps you have a book that you what to read. Be sure that you have it available no matter where you are. Before we get to what you can do while away from home, let’s go over what you can do while you’re waiting at home for a service person.
Waiting for a Service Person
Waiting for someone to install or install something in my home used to be a frustrating experience. Sometimes I’m told that the service person will be in my home before noon or afternoon and then I would wait all day and would find that I had nothing done because I had spent the day wasting my time waiting for the service person to arrive and almost every time, the person arrived at the end of that period or would call to say that they weren’t able to make it that day and had to reschedule. I know that I cannot change the situation, but as a wise woman once said:
“If you don’t like something change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
So, I have come to the decision that if I can’t change someone else, I can change my approach to waiting for someone to arrive. I can determine that no matter what that other person does, I will make the most of my day by getting as much done as possible.
While I am at home, I start doing those things that I need to do at home. I begin by making a list of all those things that I need to do at home. I then separate the tasks from the projects. A simple definition between tasks and projects is that tasks are things that I can do within a few minutes say in 15 minutes to an hour. Projects are things that take more than an hour. Next, I look over the projects that I have to do and break them down into tasks that we have already defined as things to do that take between 15 minutes to an hour. Once that’s done, I determine what tasks need to be done next in these projects. Now I am ready to prioritize all the tasks that I have to do that I can do while at home that day. If I must pick up an item at the store to continue a project, I don’t worry about that project while at home that day. I let it go for now. It’s not on the list of tasks during that time.
Before starting my list of tasks, however, my first task is to be sure that I have done everything that I can do to make the time of the service person easiest. If the plumber is there to repair or replace the garbage disposal, I want to be sure that everything is out from under the sink before that person arrives. I might even wipe out and disinfect under there so that everything is clean so that when I put everything away, the area is clean as well. If I need to move my car to give the service person access, I may want to do that as well. If the service person is coming to deliver living room furniture, I want to have little things cleared out of the way so that the person has easy access to the room. If they are coming with a new appliance, I make sure that they have easy access to where I want that new appliance. Once I have done all that I can do for the service person, it’s time to start my list. I like to do as much as possible at a time. For instance, I like to start laundry, change bed linens, start cooking in the crockpot and clean the kitchen appliances all at once. Keep in mind that you don’t do things that will get into the service person’s way.
Waiting for a service person could also mean that you are doing work from home rather than going to work that day. In this case, plan your tasks as related to the job and do projects involved in your day job. Plan your breaks to do things around the house if you’d like to be able to get even more done during your work hours. If you do that, however, plan some relaxation time at the end of the day. All work and no fun is not what life is all about.
No matter how long before the service person comes, I want to be sure to have done as much as possible so that by end of the day I feel justified about the way that I have spent my time.
Waiting for an Appointment in a Waiting Room
The opposite of waiting at home is waiting for an appointment in a waiting room. In a waiting room, I don’t want to get stuck with a lot of different things so usually, I do one of two things when I am waiting here. First, I might read a book that I want to read, and second, I write out lists or write down a few ideas that I am able to think of for one of the books or articles that I am writing or want to write. It’s much easier to use a notebook to write than it is to use loose-leaf paper. One thing, if I had one, that I could use would be a tablet. I could do a lot of work on the table and then when I get home, I could transfer it to my computer using either Microsoft Word or Google documents. I don’t have one, so I use paper and a pen.
I do much the same when I am substitute teaching. I have been known to write out many ideas for articles or books and then later transfer them to my computer. I also do a lot of my reading when teaching. It’s just a matter of writing down ideas and organizing them. If I need to do research for the work, I write down in the notebook what items I need to research.
I wrote the idea for this article and several more the other day while substitute teaching.
Waiting in My Car
Waiting in the car is a cross between working at home and waiting in a waiting room. Perhaps you wait every day at your children’s school to pick them up. This is a good time to plan to make phone calls or answer emails. It is also a good time to listen to podcasts or watch specific YouTube videos.
Even time stuck in traffic can be used constructively if you develop a plan to utilize that time.
You could even plan to clean out your purse or pick up the trash inside your vehicle and use a wipe to clean off the dash and the door. Stop on the way home and wash and vacuum the car and you’ll have gotten a lot done because you structured your waiting time.
Now it’s your turn!
How would you prefer to spend your time waiting? Perhaps getting things done isn’t what you do, perhaps you consider this downtime. Share your opinion in the comment section below.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the problems with the electric cars and at the end, I suggested that there are ways that we can conserve fuel without everyone driving electric cars.
One of the reasons that energy conservation related to driving is so important has to do with what is currently happening in Europe and in other parts of the world. Some countries’ economies are being held hostage by other countries simply because most of the petroleum products that they use come from countries that could soon be at war especially if they were to follow their own convictions.
Because the United States produces more petroleum than any other country in the world, but also because of our consumption of oil products we also import a lot of it as well, we could do a lot here to conserve energy produced by petroleum products and share more of that oil with other countries than what we do.
So many ways exist for us to conserve our use of petroleum products especially here in the States, and one of the ways that we can do it is in how we travel around. Conservative ways of getting from place to place will not only assist Europe but by doing so will save you money in the long run.
If you doubt that conservation would make a difference in petroleum product usage, look back on what happened at the beginning of the pandemic when we all stopped traveling and stayed home. The price of fuel dropped to rock bottom prices because we weren’t using oil like we had been. The reason the price of oil went up at first was that we were using it again. Now with that war in Eurasia, the prices are at an all-time high. Supply and demand. If we cut our demand, supply will be less of a problem than it had been.
This doesn’t mean that we all need to stay home and never go anywhere, however. What it does mean is that we need to get smart about how we travel. Let’s start with getting smart with how we travel to work.
Traveling for Work
This is a lesson that we learned during the pandemic. We don’t always have to go to a job to get a paycheck. We might be able to work from home at least part of the time. Hybrid work situations can work for many people and now is the perfect time to do this especially since there is a worker shortage.
In some situations, skype or other conference calling situations could be used for meetings with associates, colleagues, or potential customers. Customers can also be found just as easily and possibly even more quickly by email, phone, or webinar than by visiting them in person.
Not every job is set up for every person in the country to work from home, of course, nor do we necessarily want to. However, what we may want to do is try to get together with others that we work with and carpool when possible.
You might also be able to take mass transit like the bus, train, or subway to work. Biking is also an option as well.
With so many people renting rather than buying homes, it might be in your best interest to live closer to your job and perhaps walk to work rather than driving or taking mass transit or riding a bike.
When You Have to Drive
There are times when not driving is not an option and there’s no one to carpool with. For those of us who live in rural areas, it is often not possible. Therefore, learning how to drive more economically is most beneficial.
First, if possible, consider getting a more fuel-efficient model of vehicle.
Second, if that isn’t possible, make sure that the vehicle you do have is properly maintained. Be sure that your car’s tires are inflated to the right tire pressure for your car. Check your tires when they are cold. Also be sure that your car has routine oil changes, and the air filter is changed when needed. In addition, be sure that your fuel firing system is properly functioning. Replacing a fuel filter, cleaning injectors, and changing plugs and points will offer improved gas mileage. Check with a trusted mechanic to see what options might benefit your vehicle at this time.
Next, change some of your driving practices. Accelerate gradually and smoothly, especially from a stop. Use a light touch on the gas pedal until you’re going about 25 miles per hour. Then continue to accelerate until you reach the speed limit. Don’t exceed the speed limit. When driving on a level highway, use your cruise control, but avoid using cruise control on hilly parts of the highway because you’ll use more gasoline rather than less.
Anticipate traffic and traffic lights. Try to maintain speed. As much as possible synchronize with the traffic lights so that you don’t have to stop and wait for red lights. Pass only as necessary and don’t slam on the brakes any more than necessary. If traffic is stopped for more than thirty seconds, turn off your vehicle and restart when traffic resumes. Take the route with the fewest stops and lefthand turns. Turn off the car whenever you are stopped and waiting for someone or something.
Remove excess items from the car that weigh the car down.
When using the air conditioner less is better. When starting out and driving at lower speeds, drive with the window open then close and use only as much air conditioning as you need to feel comfortable.
Plan Your Trips
Batch errands that need to be done at the same time in the same part of town. Go shopping when you have an appointment. Pick up the dry cleaning when you pick up the kids at school.
When Traveling on a Vacation or Get-Away
Plan activities that don’t require driving at all! Consider hiking, canoeing, kayaking, or camping near your home.
Plan other destinations where you don’t have to drive much.
Consider how you can incorporate walking into your vacation plans.
Eat meals at locations within walking distance of your hotel or wherever you are going. Eat at home more often rather than going out to eat.
Take mass transit at your destination location whenever possible during vacations. My daughter and I went to Pennsylvania from Missouri by Amtrak several years ago and another time my family visited St. Louis and took the train from downtown where our hotel was to the zoo on the other side of the city.
Make it Fun!
Whatever you do, plan every trip you take as much as possible. Give yourself enough time to go where you want to go without rushing. This includes to work, running errands, or while on vacation. Challenge yourself to reduce the amount of gasoline you’re using every day. Make a game of it. It doesn’t have to be a drag. Imagine the pleasure you’ll get by not supporting the oil industry.
Now it’s your turn. How do you save on fuel when driving?
As the price of gasoline at the pump rises, we are told that there really is nothing that we can do to alleviate the problem other than extracting more petroleum than we have and according to the oil producers, because they can’t just turn on the spigot to get more, we either have to pay what they say and have increased prices at an alarming rate.
However, what they are telling us doesn’t make sense. Why should the prices be going up so much? According to statistics, the United States only used four percent of Russian oil. The question becomes why is it that if the United States is the biggest producer of the world’s oil that we need to import any oil in the first place and what can we do to fight back to avoid paying those prices.
This increase in price has little to do with the manufacturing sector because our country’s manufacturing sector has been decreasing over the past several decades. Yes, we use plastics and other petroleum products, but much of it is made in China, so we can’t blame manufactured petroleum products for that. Much of what we use is based on personal energy consumption. If we want to fight back on the price of energy, let’s start in our own homes where we have at least some control.
What we can do is something that we learned two years ago. At the beginning of the pandemic, we learned a very important lesson concerning our use of petroleum products that we learned that we can utilize now. Stay home or at least close to home and decrease the demand for oil and price will come down.
But most people are tired of staying home. Are there other alternatives to not being able to travel?
Over the next several weeks, I will be addressing these issues in some very practical ways that if more people in the US does them, the demand for crude oil will go down and we’ll pay less at the pump.
There are numerous ways we can save money on energy, and they are not necessarily as painful as the American oligarchy would suggest. All we need to do is develop a few habits that decrease our need for petroleum through the decrease in energy use to make it so that we wouldn’t need to ever use that source of foreign oil. This week we’ll be discussing how you can save on home energy costs.
The Use of Energy in Our Homes
Many areas to save energy exist within our homes and this is a good place to start decreasing our dependence on petroleum. First, we must learn how we actually use energy. Here’s the breakdown of the average usage of energy in the home. Here in the United States, we use 47% of our home energy for cooling and heating, 14 percent for water heating, 13 percent for clothes washing and drying, 12% for lighting, 4 percent for running the refrigerator. The other 10 percent is used in cooking and entertainment.
Decreasing Energy Use at Home
Heating and Cooling-We can decrease our energy use at home very easily if we just start changing a few small habits. We can turn down the thermostat by a few degrees in the winter and raise it a few degrees. If you were to adjust your temperatures when you’re not there and at night, you’ll cut energy costs by one percent for every eight hours for every degree you adjust the temperature up or down.
If you have some money to invest, and you own your own home, insulation will also improve the efficiency of the energy used as will getting a high-efficiency furnace.
Living in a smaller home that has good insulation and a high-efficiency furnace is a better investment than a large home of equal efficiency.
Water heating can be improved by finding ways to use less hot water. This can be done by timing your showers to make them as short as possible, not running hot water any longer than possible. If you have some money to invest in your energy, consider insulating your pipes, getting a more energy-efficient water heater, or better yet, getting an on-demand water heater where you’re not dragging hot water down yards of pipe.
Washing and Drying Clothes-The cost of washing and drying clothes can be decreased by using cold water to wash only full loads of clothes and using a clothesline to dry your clothes.
Lighting can be decreased by turning off lights that we’re not using and using the most energy-efficient light bulbs that we can. Use a flashlight instead of a nightlight. Turn off the porchlight when you’re not expecting anyone to need it. Use solar lighting instead of on-grid power for outdoor lighting. Use motion sensing light instead of constant lighting.
The Refrigerator-though the refrigerator only uses a small 4 percent of our home energy bill, there are ways to decrease the cost of refrigeration. First, purchase an energy-efficient refrigerator and only have as big of a refrigerator as you need. Second, don’t open the refrigerator any more than you have to, and don’t keep it open longer than necessary.
The Final Ten Percent-Numerous things can be done to decrease that last ten percent of energy usage. First, decrease fantom energy usage. Unplug appliances that you’re not using. Use smaller appliances rather than using the cooking range when possible. Smaller appliances often use less than half what the range uses because the range runs on 220 current (if electric) whereas the appliances use 110 current. Use the cooktop instead of the oven, when possible, as well. If you are using the oven, do all the baking all at once.
What Suggestions Do You Have for Saving on Home Energy Costs?
I’m sure that this one article has not been all-inclusive regarding how I can save energy used in my home. What have you done to decrease the energy usage in your home?
Next week, I’ll be talking about how we can decrease energy usage regarding how we get our food. Be sure to like and follow this blog to explore how we can save energy on an individual level.