Posted in leadership, What I Read

Read What Ops Leaders Read

Ops Boss Pink Carpet Photos
Kacee DeVore and CeCe Mikell at Ops Boss Leader Retreat 2019.

It was #OpsBossLeaderRetreat 2019. #WeGotBossy.

  • 13 hours of scheduled retreat: speakers, workshops, masterminds
  • 18 hours of unscheduled retreat: dinners, lunches, train rides, the National Mall at night

Homework #1: schedule reading these books that ops leaders use in their thinking and doing every day

Miracle Morning, by Hal Elrod: recommended by Kristen Brindley. Structure your morning to get your head right and maximize the day for success.

High Performance Habits, by Brendon Bouchard: recommended by Kristen Brindley. And get the planner to go with it. It’s about the questions you ask yourself every day!

Procrastinate on Purpose, by Rory Vaden: recommended by Kristen Brindley. Focuses on the significance of time

13 Fatal Errors Manager Make and How You Can Avoid Them, by W. Steven Brown: recommended by Adelina Rotar. There are a lot of ways to mess up managing people, and some key corrections YOU make to make managing others more successful.

Scaling Your Business: How to Drive Revenue, Save Time, and Create Your Dream Company, by Daniel Ramsey: recommended by Daniel Ramsey. Text SVP to 31996 to get this book free

The Art of Gathering, by Priya Parker:  recommended by Sheena Saydam. About creating meaningful client events that they’ll fight to come to.

Stand Up: 75 Young Activists Who Rock the World…and How You Can Too!, by John Schlimm: recommended by John Franklin Stephens. Bust through limiting beliefs!

The Power of Moments, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath: recommended by Stephanie Bracket. Creating a culture that makes agents and staff seek out your company to join.

Getting Things Done, by David Allen: recommended by Stephanie Brackett. Check out the workbook too!

The One Thing, by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan: recommended by literally EVERYONE

Visual Journaling
First page of my visual journal. Same concept as a vision board with more focus on discovering yourself and your goals.

And you can see the full list on Amazon here!

There’s more…soooo much more. I’ll share it over time.

PSST: when you go to order your books, make sure to order through smile.amazon.com and choose a charity to receive a donation from Amazon for every purchase you make. I choose Special Olympics South Carolina because it’s through sports and training that my brother, a brain injury survivor, has continued to set and achieve goals in his life, including as a public speaker and advocate for others with disabilities.

Posted in Everyday Musings

Why I Call Myself a Grinch – but I’m Not Really a Grinch

It’s like a switch that automatically turns me off as soon as the Advent 1 church service starts. All of the joy and excitement and celebration that suddenly becomes the center of everyone else’s life for four weeks to Christmas just falls right out of me. Dries up. Heck, runs away screaming.

Because of this, I’ve always called myself a Grinch, sometimes a Scrooge or a Humbug.

But dammit, I’m not. I’m none of those characters. I’m not mean or nasty or heartless. I don’t steal anyone else’s fun and cheer.

I don’t hate the holidays – the secular ones or the holy ones. I don’t hate the traditions, the gatherings, the food, the songs, the colors, the festivities.

But I’m an introvert. The holidays, and my reaction to them, is one of the few ways I know, truly know that my Myers-Briggs 1-point preference for introvertism is really true; seven other behavioral analysis, several repeated, confirm this. I know, it’s hard to believe of me, right?

“The holidays” are inherently a social phenomenon; they can’t happen without the tacit cooperation of groups – mostly large groups – of people, whether parade marchers or watchers, naughty and nice list comparisons, and the most basic present giving and receiving. Even more so, the religious foundation of holi-days is social, beginning with and culminating in a collection of the largest worship services of the year for most churches.

Think about it. There is not one single holiday tradition that carries a positive connotation and is experienced without engagement with others.

And for me – an introvert with a 6-person max – this is excruciating. Even if I’m mostly left to “wall-flower” (which is what I always secretly hope will happen), I watch the clock so that I can cut and run as soon as I’ve attended for a respectable amount of time.

And I do want to be respectful when I choose to attend; I never want to make a host/ess feel like s/he has done something to make me uncomfortable or unhappy. It’s why I choose quite carefully and deliberately when and how and with whom to engage during the holidays.

If I cow to expectations and attend, I’m often noticeably reserved, even if I have a drink. In fact, I willingly – actually cheerfully – volunteer to cook, serve, and especially clean up just so I have an easy excuse to just be rather than interact.

If I do what I want and RSVP regrets in favor of Die Hard and Home Alone marathons, I’m labeled a Grinch, a Scrooge, a Humbug by others.

It’s a Catch-22 of the purest variety.

Because I’m not a Grinch with a heart too small to love others. I’m not a Scrooge who’s been hurt by others and just wants to hurt people back. I’m not a Humbug out to squash others’ celebration. (While I do detest yard decorations with a passion, I’ve never once suggested that others stop decorating or take theirs down.)

But I don’t have any other cultural references to use when trying to simplify my discomfort with the norms of the holidays than to call myself a Grinch, a Scrooge, or a Humbug. They serve to convey that I don’t want to participate, certainly. But the edge of negativity they come with is something I’d like to figure out how to divest.

Posted in Being Healthy, Cooking, corn free, gluten free, nut free, soy free

Prep-ahead Clean Lunch for $3.72: Ginger Chicken, Brussels Sprouts, Asparagus, Roasted Potatoes

You know those prep-ahead clean eating lunch videos – often from Tasty? Well, I decided to give one a whirl.

Here’s the basic concept: pick 1 protein for 3-oz servings, 2 vegetables, and 1 gluten free carbohydrate (rice, potatoes, quinoa).

IMG_2144Mine: chicken breast with ginger aioli, brussels sprouts, asparagus and mushrooms, and creamer potatoes.

I took some help from my local Harris Teeter produce: cut and salt/pepper/garlicked brussels sprouts and asparagus pack ($3.99 each) and a ready-to-bake-in-pan package of creamer potatoes (also $3.99). The potatoes came with a seasoning packet, which I chose to use because the sodium was really, really low.

The only thing I made was garlic aioli. How? Peel some garlic – about 2 inches worth – and pour 1/4 cup of your good oil (olive, grapeseed, coconut) and a pinch of salt into your bullet blender and let it go. Then I brushed it directly onto my chicken breasts. I drizzled the little bit left over onto the brussels sprouts, just because.

Into a 450°F fully preheated oven for 30 minutes. That’s all it takes.

IMG_2148Let it cool and divvy it up into four microwave safe food storage containers. Voila. Lunch for the week – for me, at least, since I have only four days with a fixed lunch hour.

Cost Analysis

  • $2.90 – Chicken Breast – one giant one from a 6-pack, cut into 4 pieces
  • $3.99 – pre-cut asparagus with sliced mushrooms and minced garlic
  • $3.99 – pre-cut brussels sprouts seasoned with salt and pepper
  • $3.99 – creamer potatoes already in a baking pan and including seasonings

Total = $14.87

Cost per lunch = $3.72

Posted in God Loves Me!, Singing

Overcoming Objections for Joining the Church Choir: They’re watching me!

Yep, they sure are! And you can watch them right back…hehe!

One of the most common objections church members cite as why they don’t want to join the choir – after not being “good enough” – is that everyone is looking at them through the whole service. Naturally, this objection is only relevant for churches where the choir sits up front and center-ish.

I get it. I was thinking about that today during church, specifically during the special music when a dear friend and I sang a duet. Yep, we accepted a request that put us in even more of a spotlight than when we sing as part of the larger choir group.

But what I get as the trade-off to being watched is such an exquisite blessing. You who sit in the congregation and never venture to the chancel (front) and turn to face the congregation never get to experience this. You’re just facing the wrong direction entirely and can’t.

Here are some of my favorite things to see each week that you don’t get to:

  • the smile on a congregant’s face when communion is carried to him/her – usually someone sitting pretty far back in the pews – and since we don’t usually turn around, few get to see the gratitude, the inclusion
  • the children when they return to the sanctuary during the Offertory or Doxology, their faces eagerly searching for mom and dad, hands grasping or heads wearing their Children’s Church creations
  • the people who know and love a hymn so well that they put their book down, look up and into my eyes, and smile as we share the joy of that song, those words, God’s love
  • the usher who brings a walker up the aisle at the end of the service to make post-service fellowship that much easier and more comfortable and safer to enjoy

Our choir boasts singers with asthma, allergies, limited ranges, melody-only skills, and we love them all. They sing to the Glory of God, and are blessed to witness each week the unnamed kindnesses and brilliant joys of others because we can see the whole congregation right back!

You can find me singing in the choir most Sundays at Palmetto Presbyterian Church in Mount Pleasant, SC.

Posted in Being Healthy, corn free, gluten free, nut free, soy free

Day-of Homemade Baked Beans

IMG_2085
That splatter around the rim is a result of the sauce reduction process. Yum!

Earlier this year, I made from dry-bean-scratch baked beans for a group of out-of-towners, and well, I think it blew their minds. And I get it. Even my family’s “Aunt Von’s Baked Beans” come from the 1940s, a time when country cooks like Aunt Von would have made most bean meals from dry beans, but even her recipe starts with Campbell’s Baked Beans – already seasoned and sauced.

But c’mon, what’s it gonna cost you to experiment and really understand and control exactly how your baked beans taste instead of trusting what comes out of a can with ingredients made or refined in a lab? These are my day-of baked beans – the only difference is that I start with plain, unseasoned, unsalted canned beans because they are pre-soaked for me. Everything else is the same as my regular dry-bean recipe:

  • 2 cans of great northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced tiny
  • 1 small or 1/2 large sweet onion, diced tiny (try to get Vidalia or Wadmalaw)
  • 1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can of tomato sauce (try to get no salt added)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup brown sugar – for my family, I use 1/2 c, for out-of-towners I use 1/4 c
  • 1/3 cup worchestershire sauce – I use a gluten free, corn free, soy free version
  • 1T apple cider vinegar (more if you like it more tart than sweet)
  • 1t salt
  • 1t pepper
  • 1t ginger (ground for sweet, fresh diced for spice)
  • 1/2t all-spice
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes (literally 10-15 flakes)
  • 3-4 slices of bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

IMG_2083Mix everything together in a bowl at least 2 hours before you need to start baking (at least 4 hours before serving). Taste to see how sweet, tangy, tart, spicy it is and add seasonings as desired. Keep in mind that at this stage, the tomato sauce is the main source of tangy and that will mellow into sweet during baking; be careful not to go overboard on sweet at this stage.

Ingredients that contribute to sweetness are tomato sauce, sugar, bell pepper, onion, garlic, and ground ginger.

Ingredients that contribute to tangy- or tartness are tomato sauce, apple cider vinegar, worchestershire sauce.

Ingredients that contribute to spiciness are garlic, fresh ginger and red pepper flakes.

Cover with plastic wrap or lid and let marinate on the counter for at least 2 hours. It’s important to NOT put it in the refrigerator because that will slow down the marinating – not ideal for day-of beans.

IMG_2084Pour into 8×8 or 9×9 casserole dish and top with bacon pieces. Put in 350F oven for 90-120 minutes. Test at 90 minutes by lightly jiggling the dish. If it moves like liquid, makes a ripple, it’s not done yet. You’re looking for the liquid to reduce to a thick glaze and fully cooked bacon on top, not a thickened sauce and still-white fat on the bacon. And the bacon won’t really start to cook until the liquid stops touching it.

Another way to think of the ideal consistency of baked beans is that when you spoon then onto the plate 1) you don’t need to use a slotted spoon to drain them and 2) you don’t have to worry about the juice contaminating anything else on the plate.

Naturally, these are my ideals as a Southern cook in South Carolina who learned to cook from a Texas and Oklahoma ranch or cowboy style of cooking. Think about it: you can’t ride a horse around with a pot of juicy beans sloshing around.

 

 

Posted in Being Healthy, corn free, gluten free, soy free

Gluten-free Italian Dinner: Pesto Chicken and Tomatoes and Rice

IMG_2078Gluten-free means you can never have authentic Italian food again, right? WRONG! There’s so much more to Italian food than pasta. Here’s one of my favorite 1-pan Italian dinner bakes that hits the rights notes with the whole family.

Ingredients (in order of use):

  • 1.5 cups white rice (long grain, jasmine, basmati, whatever)
  • 1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings already included
  • 2 cups water, chicken stock, or combination (especially if you have some you just need to use up in the fridge)
  • 2 lb. chicken breast and/or thighs, skinless, boneless (roughly 4 pieces, 1 per person)
  • 1 8 oz container of pesto

NOTE: this is the semi-homemade version, as Sandra Lee might say; you can certainly make your own chicken stock, dice your own tomatoes, and blend your own herbs into pesto if you’re so inclined.

Pre-heat your oven to 350°F.

In an 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish, combine the rice, diced tomatoes, and chicken stock (or water). Put in the oven for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove and stir mixture; most of the rice will still be small and hard – don’t worry – that’s normal!

Add your four pieces of chicken. Spoon roughly equal amounts of pesto over each one – approximately 3 Tbspns – and spread to cover the chicken.

Return to oven for 30-45 minutes, depending on how large/thick your chicken pieces are.

This dish is really great for Southern American families where red rice is king; the minor change up in herb seasonings helps keep things fresh without completely blowing picking kids for a loop.

TIP: make ahead and reheat or freeze. When you thaw it out, add about 1 cup of stock or water to make sure the rice doesn’t dry out when heated in a 350°F oven for about 30- minutes (assuming thawed to room temperature.