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Yoda, Ron Merricks, and other teachers

For almost 24 years, MG has served Chatham Hall and for our entire tenure, we have reported to Ron Merricks…until today. Today, along with many others, we celebrated his last day at Chatham Hall and the start of his retirement. Ron, like Yoda and other philosopher-teachers, is known for his “isms” — incredible wisdom contained in compact sentences. A couple favorites from Ron:

“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” (Ron said this a number of times over the years and always as he was explaining why he still chose to do business with MG.)

“Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.”

And from Yoda:

“Try not. Do, or do not — there is no ‘try.'” Yoda also said, “The greatest teacher, failure is.” In other words, be willing to make mistakes, always learn from the past, let go of old traditions or methods that keep you from growing or seizing new opportunities.

*Picture from Ron Merrick’s retirement party

Pot Roasted Cauliflower Piccata

Serves 8
1 head cauliflower, bottom & leaves removed, head intact
2 T olive oil
¼ t ea s&p
3 T butter
1 T fresh garlic, minced
3 T ap flour
1 ¾ c chicken broth
1 T fresh lemon juice
2 T capers, with a little juice

Procedure
1. Place cauliflower in cast iron skillet, drizzle oil, s&p
2. Cover with foil, cook 40-60 minutes, 400° oven
3. Sauté garlic in melted butter, in saucepan
4. Combine oil & flour to make paste, add to pan, cook until golden brown
5. Add chicken broth slowly, add lemon juice & capers, bring to boil, simmer 15-20 min
6. Remove cauliflower from pan, top with sauce

Notes:
– to make gluten free use 1 T arrowroot instead of flour
– sub vegetable broth for vegetarian

Food Messaging.. What does it tell us?

As I was prepping dinner one night, my 5-year-old sauntered by and declared in his most dramatic voice “wow, she lost a lot of weight.” My initial thought was utter cluelessness and then I realized he had caught sight of the Nutrisystem TV commercial showcasing drastic weight loss. Mind you, this is a happy go lucky 5 year old who is generally unaware of the pressures of everyday life, so his comment gave me great pause. This was followed by my 4 year old daughter quoting “bye-bye belly fat” followed by a flurry of giggles. Why did this weight loss commercial catch their attention? I pondered; what are we teaching our youth about their bodies? Already, two young ones, who in reality probably never gave their own body weight much thought, are picking up the messages that fat = bad and skinny = good. Already receiving messages of shame regarding our food choices & body weight. Yet, despite the shame & constant messaging that our life will magically improve with weight loss, we as a nation are still overweight, still depressed & still sedentary. We have turned food into the enemy, putting it in the same category as other addictive substances. The catch is, food is essential for life; we cannot sustain ourselves without it. Yet, we still are unable to make peace with food & stop thinking of food as the one barrier to our life of everlasting skinniness.

The intuitive eating & mindful eating movements have made great strides in changing our toxic relationship with food. However, they don’t offer the quick fix of diets & many people are simply unwilling to put in the long-term effort (i.e. slow results) required for healthy lifestyle weight loss success. Next month’s blog will highlight some of the main principles of these eating movements (notice the absence of diet) and how we can incorporate them into our life.

Lastly, it is useful to remind ourselves, that health isn’t always about weight. An extreme crash diet, may achieve your weight loss goal, but does it accomplish your long-term health goals?
There is obviously a reason diets are advertised over and over, they do not achieve sustainable weight loss. Sustainable being the key word.

It’s not all good all the time

Who doesn’t love the good times? Those special events that go so well. That account makeover that has long-time partners all a twitter. That simple, wowsy addition to a regular lunch meal that has the kids going crazy.

But, it doesn’t – always – go that way, does it?

Continuing on our road to Resilience, next time your team has a disappointment, practice these messages from “Feel Your Disappointment, Then Move Forward”:

We’re told not to be emotionally attached to the outcome. I couldn’t disagree more.
I want you and your team to care about results. The easy emotion is feeling the rush of excitement when your team nails it. It’s the uncomfortable feelings we try to avoid: disappointment, regret, and frustration. I used to dismiss uncomfortable emotions. I’d rally the troops with “it’s all good” and look for the “silver lining” and the “lessons learned.” While there’s still value in seeing the bright side, it wasn’t until I finally let the disappointment hit our shared ego and pride that powerful progress was made.

Speak calmly and plainly. Talk about failed promises to the customer. Talk about commitments to excellence. Ask who is willing to be the best. And when folks say “me” – ask everyone (yourself included) to share what they will do, specifically and concretely, to step up. And, boom. If you do this, you will make the most of whatever went wrong, and your team will ignite a greater feeling of pride and shared responsibility.

Pimento Cheese Grits

Serves 8
2 ½ c water
2 ½ c milk
1 c white grits
2 c pimento cheese
s&p

Procedure
1. Bring water/milk to boil, add grits, reduce heat, simmer 20 mins
2. Stir in pimento cheese, s&p to taste
3. Serve immediately
4. Can chill & reheat in casserole, 350° for 30-45 mins

Love Food, Love the Experience

After reading Loving Your Food, I thought long and hard about my current eating habits. While I enjoy the process of cooking, I admit the pleasure I derive from eating pleasure is less than desirable. My eating life has turned into a multi-tasking marathon; it is far easier for me to stand up and complete unfinished tasks as I mindlessly shovel food in my mouth (OK, maybe not shovel, but certainly not eating in the most dignified manner). Obviously, as an RD, this is certainly not good practice as half the time I don’t even realize what I am eating. This article was a good reminder that the act of eating is one of pleasure that should truly be enjoyed. When we rush and multitask while consuming food, that pleasure is gone. Furthermore, we miss the benefit of making mindful choices that not only taste good, but also are also good for us.

The last few days I have tweaked some of the habits that crept into my daily life. I actually sit down and look at my food., I take the time to drink water throughout the day & am taking time to make foods that I alone enjoy. I’m rediscovering that eating is for sustenance and pleasure.

Resolve to Be Resilient

The love of your life has died suddenly. Can you imagine feeling joy ever again?
Sheryl Sandberg went through this experience. She’s written a book about it, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resistance and Finding Joy. She believes resilience is like a muscle and can be built up, that life is never perfect, and doesn’t always go according to plan. “We all live some form of Option B.”

An FBI Agent (and former “fancy department store buyer”), shares her thoughts on resilience – discovered from her earliest experiences at the FBI Academy:

  • Accept that it’s not all about you. “You don’t need more mantras or affirmations; you need a better way to look at your world.”
  • Refuse to play the blame game. “Life is hard. Pain is inevitable. Growth is optional.”
  • Bring it on. Getting knocked down is part of life…getting back up is, too.
  • Stop trying to be happy. Happiness is an emotion that draws its power from others. Joy is an attitude that depends only on you.

The gym is crowded in January. This muscle can be exercised anywhere.

Ask Yourself

The busyness of the fall is swiftly followed by the buzz of the holidays.
But take a moment to reflect on how you and your team are functioning.
Is your team running on all cylinders? Are you operating with minimal chaos (and drama)? How is everyone’s attitude? How is yours?

If you have someone whose work is not up to snuff, ask yourself: are they not right for the position or not ready?

There is a difference. And if they are not ready – you MUST ask yourself: do I have the time and resources to develop them?

If you have someone who is regressing, ask yourself: do they know what I expect of them?

Or, have they lost interest because they’re under challenged?

If you have someone whose work is great, but they resist feedback or have a crusty attitude, ask yourself: do I have the courage to talk with them about their attitude?

A Resolution You Can Stick With

Yesterday, as I browsed through various mailers, I came across a store ad featuring a woman clad in a skimpy fitness outfit. Inside the flyer were various specials for fitness equipment. I found myself shaking my head at the irony of this ad; given less than a week ago mailers were featuring glutinous amounts of food (and toys). New Year’s resolution season has officially hit. As discussed in a precious blog. I am not big on the all or nothing mentality of New Year’s resolutions, as they often set us up for failure. As I was contemplating the year of resolutions, I came across this article The Only Way to Keep Your Resolutions which has a completely different way of looking at how we make resolutions. After decades of being told to practice self control (eat less, spend less, exercise more) we have failed miserably. The article goes on to say the way we have viewed self-control is wrong. The real key? Social emotions. “Unlike reason and willpower, they naturally incline us to be patient and persevere. When you are experiencing these emotions, self-control is no longer a battle, for they work not by squashing our desires for pleasure in the moment but by increasing how much we value the future.”

My recommendation for a resolution this year? Read this article and as the author states “reflect on what you’re grateful to have been given. Allow your mind to step into the shoes of those in need and feel for them. Take pride in the small achievements on the path to your goals. Doing so will help ensure that every future New Year’s Eve will have more to celebrate than to regret.”

Ask Yourself

The busyness of the fall is swiftly followed by the buzz of the holidays.
But take a moment to reflect on how you and your team are functioning.
Is your team running on all cylinders? Are you operating with minimal chaos (and drama)? How is everyone’s attitude? How is yours?

Deeply important to MG is the value that we are kind, positive and gracious…and that we show up every day ready to love food, people and serving others. Even when we are crazy busy!
If you have someone whose work is not up to snuff, ask yourself: are they not right for the position or not ready? There is a difference. And if they are not ready – you MUST ask yourself: do I have the time and resources to develop them?
If you have someone who is regressing, ask yourself: do they know what I expect of them? Or, have they lost interest because they’re under challenged?
If you have someone whose work is great, but they resist feedback or have a crusty attitude, ask yourself: do I have the courage to talk with them about their attitude?

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