Saying what comes naturally


I was reading a great post at the Jotter’s Joint earlier and it reminded me of something that happened recently …

I was at a work luncheon the other day. It was one of those service award things  and I sitting at a table with 5 coworkers from departments outside my own who apparently weren’t in the mood to talk.

After a while it got awkward

Being the dyed-in-the-wool introvert that I am, I was perfectly fine with just munching my lunch and enjoying the scenery. But, as I looked around at the others, it seemed as though some were a bit uncomfortable with the quiet. So, beginning with the guy sitting next to me, I started asking questions.

I guess I went around the table a couple of times asking more and more questions until, after a bit, one of them commented that I sounded like I was interviewing them for a job. Without batting an eyelash, I switched gears and asked … if you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?

You see, in my job I write about HR topics and, like most folks when trying to make conversation, I tend to focus on things that come naturally to me. For example to get the conversation going, I asked …

How long have you been in your current job?

What is it about your job that you like the best?

My coworker was right

I was asking questions like a job interviewer, like the HR director I used to be. It just comes naturally. Small talk, unfortunately,  does not.

The neat thing, at least for me, was that once I asked the lame question about the tree, everyone cracked up. The ice broke.

The point is

It doesn’t really matter what your small talk is about. What matters is that you throw it out there.

Sometimes, it might fall flat. But, other times, it just may open the gate to a trip into other people’s worlds.

And, much like writing whatever is on your mind to keep the juices flowing, it is well worth the effort.

Even for us introverts.

A hearty thank you to the Jotter’s Joint for sharing some juice with this old girl!

Life is weird sometimes …


Out of the blue

There you are, wandering along having a good day and, wham, right into your email inbox comes a message from someone in your past. Someone you never expected to hear from again. Ever.

So, what do you do? Do you respond? Do you want to reconnect with that person?

If not, why? Did he or she do you wrong?

If you do want to reconnect, why? Has time faded your memory of the reality of the past relationship? Was it a positive relationship? If so, why did it expire? Was it just an “all good things must come to and end” kind of deal?

Was it a personal relationship? Or, was it a business contact? A former coworker, teacher, mentor, neighbor, friend?

Whatever it was, there is a reason for why it ended, and it was probably a pretty good one.

So, why stir it up again?

What’s in it for you?

Is it just curiosity?

The chance to see how that person has changed? Is he/she still as interesting, as thought-provoking, as entertaining, as relevant?

Won’t know until you click “reply.” Go ahead. You know you want to.

Today’s question

Is there someone from your past that you’d like an opportunity to reconnect with? Who is it? Why do you want that chance? How will you use it if you get it?

Easy Peasy Beef Stew


We all have certain things that make us feel cared for, comforted. For many it’s certain foods that evoke happy memories of home and family. Which, when it comes right down to it, is what comfort food is all about isn’t it?

I know I do,  and I suspect that most of us probably do, have more than one comfort food. My comfort foods include my mom’s chicken pot pie, warm biscuits, spaghetti with meat sauce, pot roast, beef stew, and coconut pie. My mom’s coconut pie is a slice of heaven on earth, but that’s a story for another day.

I asked her once where she got her recipe for beef stew and she said she made it up. I think I was about 10 at the time and didn’t know it was even possible to make up a recipe. (I thought they had to come from a book that some kind of professional recipe-maker wrote.) I’ve learned since that most recipes are made up by moms.

Where was I? Oh, yeah …

It wasn’t until years later that I learned that, for most people, beef stew has a brown sauce. Mama’s beef stew has a red sauce. Think that sounds funny? Don’t laugh until you’ve tried it.

Here’s the recipe …

Beef_Stew_2Ingredients:

1 Pound of beef, cut into one inch chunks
2-3 Potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
5-6 Carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 Small can of early green peas
1 Small can of tomato sauce
1 Small onion, diced
1 Tbsp Olive oil
1 Tbsp instant granule beef bullion
1/4 Tsp garlic salt (or, salt to taste)
6 Cups water

Directions:

Pour olive oil into a dutch oven. Add beef chunks, diced onions, salt, and beef bullion granules. Brown beef and onions over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to brown evenly. Add water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat after 5 minutes and cover.

Simmer for 1 to 1.5 hours (until beef is fully cooked, tender but not falling apart). Add carrots, potatoes, and tomato sauce. Continue to simmer until veggies are tender (usually about an hour). Add peas and let simmer for about 15 minutes.

Serve with a salad and hot crusty rolls. (Apple sauce is a good side dish, too.)

Now, doesn’t that sound delicious?