How To Save Time & Money with the Q.O.D. Meal Plan

As adults, certain chores get repetitive, don’t they?  Chores like meal planning and cooking 3 squares a day just burn my grits..  Eating occurs a little too predictably at our house, but I learned a secret.  The Q.O.D. meal plan saves me time and money, so it’s a win/win.

What is it you ask?  You didn’t take Greek or Latin in high school?  I did, but darned if I can give it to you in any particular language, just medical-ese.  Any nurse will tell you it refers to a medication administered every other day.  Yes, Q.O.D. means every other day.

When applied to my kitchen, it’s a prescription I find quite appealing.

  • Cook Monday, enough for two meals.
  • Cook Tuesday, enough for two meals.
  • Wednesday eat Monday leftovers.
  • Thursday eat Tuesday leftovers.
  • Friday date night go out for a bite.
  • Saturday eat light while prepping Sunday dinner

Bgrey and black pen on calendar bookoom! I cooked three times, stretched my meat, and saved money on my grocery bill in the process.  Adapt my Q.O.D. meal plan to any variance of days in the week and it still works.  Cook Sunday/Monday, reheat Tuesday/Wednesday, cook Thursday, date night Friday, reheat Saturday…it adapts to any schedule.

I know, I’m fortunate my husband likes leftovers.  As a matter of fact, he thinks they taste better the second time around. (His momma trained him well.)  I live in the fast lane on a fixed income.  Saving time and money ranks right up there with winning the lottery.  Remember: Q.O.D. and score big!

How to Debunk the Flat Earth Theory

Let me begin by qualifying my blog with the acknowledgement that not very many people subscribe to my little epistles.  Thus the scribblings of an old woman don’t affect all that many of you.  You may find this blog helpful in dealing with loss, but even if you don’t, writing serves as a catharsis for me, and so I write.

I always wondered why the ancients believed in a flat earth.  As a young child I saw hills and valleys and knew the earth held form.  Why didn’t they?  What was wrong with them?  I finally figured it out.

Since Alma’s death, new truths assail me daily.  As an adult, I know that the current life expectancy is a 20th century phenomenon.  The ancients lived with death.  Without antibiotics they lost their children to disease.  With crude hunting tools they lost their mates to hunting accidents.  Their resulting emptiness and flat lives colored their perception of the world.  I totally get it now.  They lived grief stricken lives.

Yet even now death steals loved ones away, stealing our joy in the process.  This weekend another tsunami of grief overwhelmed me.  I suddenly realized birthdays and holidays loomed before me…7 momentous days in the next two months, seven momentous days without Alma.  I felt like someone pulled the plug on my reservoir of joy and I couldn’t stop crying.  I felt empty.  Flat.  Luckily (or unluckily) I was at church when this hit me.

The natural tendency is to pull back.  Isolate ourselves so we don’t cause embarrassment or judgment as yet another wave of grief overwhelms us.  And that is the exact opposite of the approach we should be taking.  I somehow got funneled to the very front row last Sunday, so I was pretty visible and as much as I tried to hide my tears, I’m sure I was a spectacle.  The ministry of my church family, their support and prayers, lifted me over that initial wave.  In the afternoon my oldest son helped us map out a way to get past Alma’s birthday.  You see, it’s people who help us get over losing people.

So my antidote to the flat earth is a simple prescription of love from those closest to you.  If you know someone struggling with grief, just give the poor soul a hug.  Save your words for prayer.  Be the form and substance that lifts a person from the flat earth they are experiencing.  Be a mountain of strength for another.

Would You Vote for a 28th Amendment?

I know, we only find 27 amendments to our Constitution, a tribute to the foresight and wisdom of our founding fathers.  I think we need a 28th, however.  You see, I think government has gotten out of hand, and I see no inclination by those in power to reign it in.  Yup.  We need a 28th amendment on term limits.

Our founding fathers evolved into statesmen from a variety of occupations:  They worked as farmers, soldiers, shop keepers, journalists.  They served under penalty of death at the hands of the British, not for a lifetime stipend beyond the imaginations of the citizens, but for their love of country.  Their labor was a sacrifice of time, money, and in some cases, life itself.

Fast forward 200 years and we now see men and women who consider themselves career politicians with the bank rolls to prove it.  I mean no disrespect.  I merely state the obvious.  The best get the same pay and benefits as the worst scoundrels, and have you taken the time to count how many voted against their last pay hike?

I wonder how many would covet the office if they had to turn in expense receipts for reimbursement and served at the same wage we citizens earn as a standing jurist, $6 a day.  That’s right.  If the expenses were met for airfare and staples, but their only compensation was $6 a day, whose love of country would flame so passionately that he/she would serve at a sacrifice for the good of the country?

Of course, I can’t prevent money flowing under the table.  Evil will seek its own.  But I can lessen the damage done by giving each one less time and a better reason to serve.  Our two-party system may be so fatally flawed that not even a Constitutional amendment can fix it…but we owe it to our children to try.

term 1I was honored with the opportunity to meet Vice President Pence, Josh Hawley, and Roy Blunt when they flew into Kansas City last week.  I long admired our Vice President, and he was just what I expected.  Integrity gleamed from his eyes.  I loved meeting Josh Hawley.  His shy smile and honest eyes won my vote.  I already knew Senator Blunt, and I appreciated seeing him as well.  Why do I bring this up?  Do you know what goes into a visit like this?term 2

Airplanes the size of Nebraska (just kidding) fly in their armored cars.  Oceans of suits with ear buds scan the perimeter.  It’s a pretty big deal, and I realized how BIG our government has grown to require such measures.  We were but one stop…I can’t fathom what it costs to ferry around all these candidates spouting the same rhetoric we see on every commercial on TV.  I know.  It’s part of the process.  I respect that…but not what a huge thing it’s become.term 3

Will a 28th Amendment solve every problem?  No, I freely admit it won’t.  But would it be a reasonable first step?  Yes, I believe it would be.  I firmly support term limits.  I’d love to see a few million people agree with me.

How to Avoid a Moldy Life

The choice is yours:  A moldy life or living instant in season.  The Bible offers this one short phrase as an injunction for all of life.  At first I wondered what it could possibly mean, but I learned its lesson the hard way.  I now base much of my life upon it…but what does that mean to you?

Nike says it succinctly: Just do it.  I add the now.

I like this wry explanation. “Someday is not a day of the week.”  Penned by Denise Brennan-Nelson, her tongue-in-cheek view of the antithesis makes me smile.

Defined by action, being instant in season requires immediacy.  Thinking of someone?  Call or pen a note.  Yes, I’m old school.  Our children text or email, but the result remains the same.  The lifeline you toss to another may be just that.  Solomon talked about it:  “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”  A prayer into the universe gets directed to you and what? You procrastinate? You choose not to answer?  Whose hope, whose life drowns because you chose to do it someday?  Lifelines save lives and heal hearts, as I’ve learned so poignantly these last few months.  Instead, be instant in season.

We once lived in an over-sized garage. We never redecorated or made it our own because, of course, it was just temporary.  Why pour money into something we’d be leaving behind?  Four years later it looked exactly the same as when we moved in, and I learned my lesson.  Make your life your own today.  Live in the now. Embrace the tangible and make it real.

The basis of living in season is falling in love with your life.  Create a life beyond mere existence, a life of passion.  Yes, goals may be long term, but actionable steps make the promise real today, not tomorrow.  Distilled down into the nitty-gritty, it requires taking responsibility for your hopes and your dreams, being the architect of your own future.

neverWhat happens when we fail to live our lives instant and in season?  Ever have to clean moldy food out of the refrigerator?  Your hopes and dreams become diseased and unhealthy when harbored past a designated shelf life.  Turned in upon themselves, you create your own desert of depression.  The cure?  Toss out the old and dream up some new.  My planner for 2018 reminds me of a favorite C.S. Lewis quote: “You are never too old to set another goal or dream another dream.”  I look at it and read it several times a day.  Yes, I believe that.  With all my heart.

When Bitter is more than Sweet

It’s a bittersweet day at the Rhoads house.  After 8 years of having Alma’s family closer than/better than neighbors, they move into town today.  Of course we support their decision and wish the best for them.  At the same time, I’ve been crying for days now.  It’s like losing Alma all over again.

How do we deal with these times of bitter change that don’t feel sweet at all?  I ask because boomers face more and more difficult changes as they age.  Knowing we traverse an expected transition does little to ease the angst, however.  Surely something moves the sweet into the bitter?  I mean, I’d love a sweetbitter experience over a bittersweet any day of the week.

So what helps?

  • Of course, counting blessings tops the list.  I am grateful we enjoyed so much time with these precious ones.  And hopefully out of sight doesn’t mean we’ll be out of their lives!
  • Crying helps.  Wait! What?  Yes, it’s okay to grieve loss.  I feel Alma very close these days.
  • Self-indulgence is permitted.  One day I have got to give up sugar again, but I still comfort myself with little treats.
  • Find new interests.  We’re working on that.  Easier said than done, because while we are a pair, we are still two very different people.  Writing helps me a lot.
  • Figure out how to survive without help.  Really?  Alma did 90% of the upkeep, and we see no viable solution here.

So, three out of five isn’t bad, is it?  The only problem is that we’ve been mired at this stage for months now.  How long do these transitions last?  Is there ever really a cure for a broken heart, broken dream, broken life?  We wear smiles.  We stay busy.  I write a lot.  But underneath the veneer little changes.  The bitter still outweighs the sweet, and this day more than most.

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Harbingers of Fall

fall medicareThe harbingers of fall change as we grow old…or do they…as my friend Tim would say.  As a child, fall signaled stomping through crunchy leaves littering the sidewalks.  Later I cherished quaking aspen and epic watercolor scenes painted against the skyline.  Now fall’s glory is reduced to the mountain of Medicare offers I receive as unsolicited mail. Sad harbingers of fall, indeed.

How many noble trees sacrificed their lives for this growing mound of rubbish I’m accumulating?  I feel guilty, though my only complicit act was one of aging.  Yet somehow they died because of me and I feel sad. I mean, do people think I’m reading all this?  Is someone being paid to create and send trash?  Let me just say this:  STOP! End the insanity already.

medicare 2First of all, Medicare should be simple enough for failing minds.  Any plan requiring a syllabus the size of a Sears catalog and a magnifying glass is too complicated.  Second, I can’t afford it.  Looking at the proposed monthly premium I need to fork over, I’d better be getting sick on a regular basis to justify the expense.  Third, get your act together.  Half of Congress acts like they are doing me a favor by making me choose a Medicare plan, and half acts like I’m taking food from their children’s mouths by being alive enough to use it.  Sheesh!  I hear a lot of talk about abolishing Medicare altogether.  Just push me over to the side of the road when I get sick and let me die already.  Oh wait.  That’s what old folks homes are for.

Responsible legislation has become an oxymoron in this day of partisanship and lobbying interests.  Mind you, I hold the AARP in this category as well.  I remember a time when all sides sat at the table and hashed things out to a reasonable compromise, but then, I’m almost 70.  I fear our children and grandchildren have few memories of accord in the political arena, and that, my friends, is the tragedy.  Without a living memory of what Congress was supposed to look like, our hope of a return to sanity grows dimmer every year.  What can I do about this mess?  My electoral mandate is a draining of the swamp.  Strict term limits.  There will always be opportunists and self interests, but limiting the amount of damage they do is a step in the right direction.  Will government die with inexperienced politicians?  Look at our constitutional inception with farmers, soldiers and inexperienced statesmen at the helm.  I think they did a pretty good job!

In the meantime, I plan on getting back to my roots.  I’m bobbing for apples, on a hunt for some good crunchy leaves, and going for long scenic drives.  I choose to set my own harbingers of fall, and I like mine better!

Anatevka

Forty-one years is a long time to live in one place.  These days people change jobs and homes and marriages with less stress than this one life-changing decision is causing us.  We are planters, not hunters, by nature; yet we feel anachronistic when we look at the picture-studded walls depicting the epic saga of a life lived all in one place.

As we bravely look 70 years of age in the face, we wonder: Is it time to move?  A practical mind urges us to move.  Alma took care of the ten acres, and with him gone, it’s a burden for Bill.  Finances suggest the wisdom in staying put.  Zero debt is pretty compelling.  Town living is expensive.  Chronology pushes us to move.  How many more years do we have without a major illness forcing us out?  The heart begs us to stay.  All our memories of Alma lie buried within these four walls.  Our home is perfect for family dinners when all the clan comes home to be together.  In the end it will probably be decided for us, because it’s not all about us.  We have Alma’s widow to consider.

I feel like a roulette wheel, spinning round and and round and where will I land?  Nobody knows.  At least nobody living and breathing on this earth.  Pragmatic by nature, I lean toward moving while it’s our idea and we can do the choosing.  The question is simple:  Is there life beyond these walls?  Would anyplace else ever be so sweet?”  Yes, I’ve been humming Fiddler on the Roof.  My biggest fear is ending our days in a place that feels like a motel where we’ve overstayed our welcome, with no home to go to.

We’re setting apart a time for prayer and fasting before we decide, because we simply cannot see far enough down the pike to make a wise decision.  This much I do know: I don’t want to feel like I’m loading a few earthly possessions into a cart and trudging into the unknown.  If I must leave my home, I want to be excited and passionate and already imagining a new life.  But I’m a planter.  Something tells me this isn’t going to go well for me.

If You Are Breathing, You’d Better Be…

Few things in life are really one and done.  Most professional fields require continuing education for certification.  Even entry level jobs like flipping burgers have bosses that change things around and require adjustment.  In short, if you are breathing, you’d better be learning something!

When I was a teen, I thought my graduation was the end all of great achievements.  Then I went to college.  I figured out very quickly that high school had been a fish bowl preparing me for a full-sized aquarium.  I graduated college and felt elated for about 24 hours.  I worked in an ER and the skill sets of a good ER nurse were not a part of nursing school.  My field required constant education.  Then I changed fields.  Eventually I retired into a whole new world of breathing=learning=income.

It only took me 60 some years to figure out that life=learning.  Stop acquiring skill sets and find yourself kicked to the curb.  Now more than ever, I love to soak up knowledge.  My new book is about to be released and instead of kicking back on a beach enjoying the waves, I spent the weekend at a conference learning how to hone my skills.  Never.  Stop.  Learning.  If you are breathing, you’d better be learning something!

Muted Measures of Success Still Count

What defines success?  Of course, the parameters screamed at us from every street corner and plasma screen do exist for some.  Recognition, prestige, income and influence are the recognized harbingers of success.  Yet talk to the average person, and you find success abounds, measured in muted and sometimes intangible, but nevertheless real evidence.

I am composing this blog at a writing conference, hanging out in the atrium because my roommates include a snorer and an cuddler with a high BMR.  Those are the rules.  I accept them.  I didn’t come to sleep anyway.  I came because I want to hone my craft, and found myself surrounded by published and successful superheroes.  Truth: I feel insignificant when I listen to their chatter.  “My third book in that series, took off like gang busters.”  “I have four different series, and six stand alones.” Authors around me are talking about 6-figure incomes.  Gracious!  I’m struggling to get my first published late in life.  It’s not meant to be a blockbuster.  Spitting out a book a month is downright unfathomable!

Here I sit sipping coffee and penciling my blog, staring at a dark world, wondering if I am a fraud.  Don’t we all at times?believe

The measure of success for most of us isn’t crushed with accolades.  It is freed by the satisfying realization of achieving the inner light driving us.  I connect with people (a few), and lay my soul on the line, literally.  My simple truth gets flung into a universe both made and governed by an awesome God.  Jesus recognizes my own 100% contribution and He smiles at me.  That, my friends, is how I define success.

Look at Jesus today.  Give your all where you are called.  Watch for that grin speaking volumes, a grin more valuable than accolades.

How To Actually Enjoy Retirement

If you are reading this blog, you’re either thinking about retirement or enduring it.  Either way, read on! Some look at the “golden years” apprehensively, as if any change, even a good one, might be about as enjoyable (or as exciting) as boiled spinach.  Others think they want to retire…until they do.

The change from gainful employment to every day a Saturday impacts your life in several ways:

  • Income changes
  • Health insurance changes
  • Activities of daily living change dramatically

Let’s look at each one.  Income.  Most of us aren’t sure just how much we’ll have at retirement until we actually retire.  Bear in mind that pensions are fixed, and Social Security offers few increases for the AGI.  Guess low.

Medicare requires a translator even for a college-educated health professional.  Find a retirement consultant you like for advice, with prescriptions in hand.  The balancing act of a Medicare Advantage plan is like gambling with a roulette wheel.  You trade lower monthly costs for the advantage of having good health, but one major incident changes your pre-existing conditions and preempts you from a change in plan.  Medicare is not for the faint in heart, no pun intended.  Don’t try to navigate these uncharted waters without guidance.

The infinity of free time holds the key to both of the above. Find meaningful, hopefully profitable ways to employ your time at your own discretion.  I have four side gigs to contribute income, offer me stimulation, and improve my life.  I started with one, of course.  I made glass beads and sold them at trade shows.  China flooded the market with cheap beads and that ended that.  In all honesty, it proved to be very labor intensive, and it probably needed to disappear anyway, much as I loved it  What I discovered is that life is not stagnant.  Your interests change, your energy and health dictate what you can do, and that’s okay.  Now that I juggle four interests, time management requires budgeting my hours, but I’m good with that.  I don’t sit still well anyway.peeking.JPG

The long and short of it is simple.  You spent many a year preparing for a career, and many a year building a career.  Spend some time preparing for and building an enjoyable retirement.  Don’t assume you can retire on Friday and fill Monday with meaningful activity–you can only reorganize your sock drawer so many times.  Closing your eyes and peeking out to see if you’ll like it is not a good retirement plan.  I am finding ways to enjoy this season of my life despite the curve balls and losses, and think that all of us could…with some preparation.  Enjoy your retirement.  Don’t just endure it.