Top 5 Tuesday…5 Reasons You Should Start Saying Yes More Often

Tina Bausinger:

Beautiful!

Originally posted on all things messy...:

adventureHello out there friends!  I know this post is going to aggravate some people, because in our busy world it’s becoming more and more prominent to say no.  No to everything.  No to anything that might take away from the busyness that our lives already are full of.  I get that, I TOTALLY get that!  My last 2 days have been filled with things that I said yes to, some of them I accepted even knowing how full my plate was.  But you know what, I don’t regret it.  Do you know why?  Because each thing that I said yes to was something I believed in, something I wanted to do (as opposed to the things I used to get roped into doing out of guilt).

So I was thinking today about how for the last few years, it’s been getting very popular to just automatically say “no” when we…

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On Loving the South and the Southern Gothic

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O magnet-south! O glistening perfumed South! My South! — Walt Whitman

Loving the South doesn’t mean we don’t hold its injustices or secrets in a faraway place of denial.

To be Southern is to identify with its beauty–but at the same time naming our wrongs to others both past and present. Though the South may be indeed mired in the past, we enumerate our sins and attempt to learn from them. This makes us unique from the rest of the country, and indeed, the rest of the world.

It’s even more difficult to explain how it feels to be a Southern woman.

We have all experienced the “good old boys” network. We’ve all scratched and clawed our ways through antiquated ideas of male dominance, whether in the workplace, the family, or in the church. We’ve been taught that to be a lady means to not make a fuss.

Sometimes it’s necessary to make a fuss.

Sometimes, it’s necessary to scream and cry and force others to hear us. In Southern culture, to attempt to move from one’s designated place, either within society, our family and our own demons will always invite opposition.

But we, the New Southern Women, dig in our heels and cry “Bring it.” Because we, of all people, know of the danger that is found within the beauty of this land. The South is not perfect–the events that have happened here in our bloody past refuse to be forgotten or buried.

It’s these past transgressions, horrors and secrets that stamp an indelible tattoo of the gothic on our literature, our poetry, our music and even our very lives. We don’t deny our past–we could not even if we tried. But Southern solidarity and identity renders within us a beauty from the ashes.

Southern women are often the first to label the wrong we see, the ones who say “no more.”

Sister, I hear you. Your voice whispers into the chilly wind of winter, but is heard nonetheless.

For after the winter, the spring blooms anew.

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On Regret and New Beginnings

My favorite pic of Dad.

My favorite pic of Dad.

The anniversary of my dad’s death is September 14. During his last weeks, our tiny family was strained beyond the tipping point. Dying isn’t easy. The soul, our very essence, does not easily part from our flesh.

Watching someone you love die? I think that’s even harder.

There’s no guide book. There’s no YouTube video on surviving grief either.

Because really, nobody knows how.

Though I’ll always treasure those last moments I spent with Dad, there will always be an element of regret associated with that time in my life. I’ll always question myself, wondering why it took me so long to realize how sick he was, hoping that Dad realized my love for him even in the gritty reality of our reversed roles.

I think that one regret I’ll always have is that before he became sick, it felt like time was plentiful–unlimited and slow-moving. I remember being annoyed with his habit of coming over early when I invited him to dinner. I wasn’t ready to see him yet. The house needed to be vacuumed, the dishes in the sink washed. When he arrived early, I always was a bit irritated that he couldn’t seem to respect my idea of punctuality. If I said, “Dinner’s at 7:00,” he’d knock on the door at 6:40.

I can’t believe that used to bug me. Now, eleven years later, I regret that attitude I had. Like Dad was going to be around forever. Like time was just standing still. I hate that it took him getting sick for me to open my eyes to the swiftness of time.

I know better now. Don’t we all? My baby boy? A man child. My little girls? Grown-up women with jobs and classes and boyfriends. My hubby? Getting a little silver around his temples and me. Well.

I asked some friends to ask me what their regrets were. Here are the most repeated ones.

1. “Not believing in myself.” So many times, we only hear the echoes of those negative voices from our past influence our present which becomes our future.

2. “Not taking chances or opportunities given to me.” Sometimes we just need to take a leap of faith, because certain opportunities (or people) are worth the risk. It’s my experience that opportunities rarely present themselves at a convenient time. There’s almost never a perfect time to take the great job, travel the world, have a baby. If you wait too long, it just slips away.

3.”Working too much.” We only have 24 hours a day, and even then the minutes fly. I’m not dismissing the importance of a good work ethic. It’s just that, in all likelihood, we sometimes put our work “family” above our real family, when the reality is that no matter how important we are at work, we are SO replaceable. But to your husband, your kids–there’s only one you and there’s no good substitute.

4. “Caring too much what others thought” or its ugly sister, “Working too hard to please others.” This is, I’d like to point out, an almost entirely female statement. It’s so easy to slide into the trap of not saying “no” because we want others to think well of us.

5. “Letting addiction/alcoholism take over my life.” This one is not so nearly black and white as it seems, because addiction wears many masks. Can an addiction to video games be every bit as damaging as alcoholism, excessive spending or a gambling addiction? Absolutely, if your whole world revolves around a game to the detriment of your health and relationships. When a pretend world is more important than the real world, it’s time to take stock. When I spend hours wasting time watching other people’s lives on reality TV while my flesh-and-blood family is right here within reach? Same thing. What about when I write for hours, giving others encouragement for raising their teenagers–obsessing about my so-called “ministry” to others, when every minute I do so at the expense of my own family time, if I’m not careful…damaging.I’m a woman with an addictive personality–predisposed by genetics and encouraged by my own excesses. Regrets in the making.

But the good thing about regrets is this: once I realize I have something to regret, I can make a positive change. I can’t get that time back with my dad, but I can use that experience to remind myself that each moment, every second, even the seemingly mundane, has the opportunity to be a precious memory one day. I can let my regrets about dad’s last days drag me down, or I can learn from them, giving myself permission to forgive myself.

I can exchange my regret for a new chance, a fresh outlook.

After all, what is regret but joy in disguise?

In the Gray: 5 Things You Need to Know About Liberal Christians

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I stumbled across David Schell’s excellent article, “Unacceptable: What it’s like to be a liberal Christian in a sea of conservatism” and I experienced a feeling very similar to when I first read Sarah Bessey’s Jesus Feminist: a feeling of coming home.

It’s been a tough time getting here. For years, I have felt left out, hiding in the shadows with my feelings of never quite fitting in with any church I joined, and never quite being able to pinpoint why.

This last year has been one of self-exploration. I’ve read more books on theology in the past year than I have in my whole life. Far from thinking I’m alone, I continue to find companionship and acceptance from others.

David Schell’s article tackles many of the problem areas I’ve discovered in my years “the gray.”

1. First of all, that it’s a possibility to be both Liberal and Christian. For years I was told that a liberals were nothing less than mini-antiChrists; that there was a good political party and an evil one. We are taught that to be Christian automatically leads to being Conservative.

I believe that true Christianity puts Jesus first, and doesn’t associate Him with any man-made political party.

I consider Jesus’s words above a political party’s rhetoric. The two are not 100% aligned, and I believe that we can’t, in good conscience, check off every box on either side of the spectrum as a Christian. I agree with some of both, and I don’t think that makes me any less of a Jesus lover.

I was taught as a Christian that straight-party voting was the key to getting America “back on track” and that the only issue that mattered is abortion. Yet, year after year, term after term, those same leaders I voted for never overturned or even attempted to overturn Roe Vs. Wade. Instead, those same leaders killed thousands of Americans and people overseas in senseless wars that were somehow sold to the American public as good and just. These people, our soldiers, sailors and airmen’s lives are every bit as precious to the ones they loved and loved them. How does advocating the loss of lives in war somehow be synonymous with being American? Can’t I be against war, love Jesus, but still love being American and respect our servicemen and women? Yes, I can. It is possible.

2. We can be liberal and still be against abortion. For some reason, this is the very first thing that arises when I talk to my Conservative friends. That somehow, liberal=deception which=the killing of babies. While I personally believe that abortion is wrong, many women will still seek them and I don’t want to see us back in the days of illegal abortion. I believe Jesus hates abortion, as do I, but I don’t want to judge those who have had abortions in the past. It’s never my job to judge anyone.

3. We believe that children’s rights should not stop once they are out of the womb. This includes children who are not American, who don’t speak English, and who don’t have money to pay. Jesus was also brought to another country by his parents, making him at one point the child of an illegal alien.

4. We love people regardless of what gender they identify with or whom they choose to love. I don’t think they should be prosecuted for loving someone of the same gender. I believe that a person can be gay or lesbian and still be Christian. I think it’s ridiculous when people believe gay people are more likely to be child molesters. I was molested three times as a kid and it was always a man. That’s my experience.

5. We believe it’s not ok to pick and choose which parts of the Bible we rage against. The same people who hate homosexuality and quote the verses they believe backs it up so easily rationalize the verses that are against divorce and remarriage which may be their own issues. Everyone has some trait, some struggle, some addiction, some excess or gluttony, something the Bible won’t condone.Why can’t we all just accept that we all need grace every single day of our lives just to take a breath? I think we need to pay very close attention to the issues that Jesus chose to address and the people Jesus spent time with and loved: the imperfect creations, the doubters, the question-askers.That’s who I am, and who you are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foodie Friday: Dallas Edition

Tina Bausinger:

Thanks for all the great ideas and pics!

Originally posted on Wandering But Not Lost:

A happy Friday to you all, my awesome readers! So, I am totally taking inspiration from my friend Jennifer over at AllThingsMessy and presenting you with my very own Foodie Friday post…because I too am SO a foodie! Lol!

So, last weekend I went on a trip to Dallas with one of my best girls, Lori (*waves* Hey, friend!), and it was an extravaganza of shopping, relaxing in the hotel hot tub, and foodie HEAVEN. You have no idea the deliciousness that was experienced! It was a fantastic mini vacay that was much needed. But oh my goodness…the FOOD. If you ever find yourself in the Dallas area, you simply must go to these restaurants! We have been a few times now, and they are officially dubbed the Faves, and we go every chance we get.

The trip started out with a morning stop at Starbucks for coffee because OF…

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Jerkwads and 1st World Problems

 

This guy.

I’m a reasonable person most of the time. I don’t have a record. I pay my taxes. I buy 2% milk and take vitamins and never litter. I follow the rules.

But when I see stuff like this…well, I feel a little like a vegan trapped at a Texas barbecue. That’s CRAZY.

Why do people think it’s ok to do stuff like this? And what’s more, when I put it on Facebook, a friend of mine responded with “Yeah! I saw that guy there LAST WEEK DOING THE SAME THING.” So this guy is a repeat offender! GRRRR!

I guess I just don’t understand this kind of entitled mentality…someone who says to himself, “You know what? Even though parking spots are rarer than a Longhorn fan in Razorback country, I DESERVE two spaces for my brand new, untagged vehicle. I JUST DO.”

I would NEVER double park my giant truck in front of a popular sushi restaurant! That is unacceptable; only the biggest jerkwads would do that! (My dad, who never cursed, would call people jerkwads.) I might have used another harsher term under my breath.

But wait. Am I REALLY complaining about having to search for a parking spot? Is this the worst thing I’ve had to endure today in my cushy world? Wahhhhhhhh!

Whenever it dawns on me that I’m just as bad as Rude Truck Guy… I’m ashamed.

I often hear people joking about “First World Problems.” That’s really a catch phrase for entitlement. I’m guilty of this, without even realizing it. If the lady at the drive-thru at Starbucks doesn’t immediately come on to take my order, I get miffed. Every second that ticks by I get more annoyed. What’s taking so long? I’m BUSY. I have classes to teach and minds to ignite with knowledge! I can’t be expected to work my magic without my triple capp frapp! THE HORROR. There are people going through serious health issues, mamas grieving their children taken too soon, children going hungry. These are the real tragedies.

How spoiled I am! Here I am, on my way to have dinner with one of my sweetest friends (you all know her as Leigh Ann), at my favorite restaurant that is NOT cheap. Minutes before, I was watching Oklahoma with my Mancub, cuddling with my chihuahua, listening to the rain fall softly on the window of my cozy house. Hours before that, I finished up my first week of my dream job teaching students the joy of writing. I have so many things to be thankful for, but what do I post on Facebook? My outrage at this guy.

Forgive me Jesus.

Thank you for my cozy house that I have the privilege of taking care of. Thank you for my sweet hubby who puts up with my crazy ideas and my obsession with writing and literature. Thank you for my beautiful girls laughing in the kitchen, giving each other a hard time. Thank you for Mancub, who is transforming into a Godly man right before my eyes.

Thank you, Jesus, for these and many more blessings. Soften my heart and show me the ones in need you would have me help.

But listen, while I have you here, could you maybe send a little smiting Jerkwad’s way? Just the smallest smidge of smiting–like a giant bird doo on his precious window. If it’s not too much trouble. Amen!

 

Do you have a First World Pet Peeve you’d like to vent about? Go ahead! I’m with you, Sister!

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5 Steps to A Great Essay: Teacher Tips

Maybe it’s been a while since your last writing class, or it might have just been last semester. Whatever your situation, it’s never too soon or too late to gain some knowledge about writing.
1. Know your professor’s expectations regarding the assignment. This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many times this step is skipped. Writing a long essay when a short one is assigned is not going to get you extra points. Many students only skim the directions, rushing into the assignment half-heartedly. Make sure you put it in the proper formatting.
2. Know your topic. Do some research so you present a valid argument.
3. Know your audience. In most cases, your professor is your audience, so writing an essay entitled “Why College Writing is a Waste of Time” may not be the best choice.
3. Try a fresh take on an old topic. For example, instead of writing about your favorite football player, why not write about the coach?
4. Take the time to do at least one draft. Don’t put it all together in one night and hope for the best. Trust me, your teacher will be table to tell, and your grade will reflect it.
5. Turn in your best copy. Don’t submit a paper that the dog stepped on (even though the paw print might be cute). Make sure it’s a clean copy, and not something that printed crookedly. Presentation matters.
6. Go to the Writing Center. Don’t know where it is? Ask. It should go without saying that your content and writing should be your best and a tutor is a professional reader.
Take a deep breath, dear student. You’ve got this!

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Authentic Chicken Cacciatore

 A few days ago, Lee and I celebrated our 25th anniversary.  That’s a long time,  but it’s not so long that I haven’t forgotten my experiences as a new bride.  I had managed to keep a closely held secret: I didn’t know how to cook.  Not a clue.
My new husband loved me so much he managed to fake enthusiasm when I tried my hand at homemade biscuits.  They were horrible, partially because I overdid it on the baking soda and they were way too salty.  This combined with the fact that I tried to compensate for their saltiness by NOT salting the gravy made the whole thing a disaster.
 Seemed like a good idea at the time.
  Somehow he managed to choke down my cooking, but it became painfully evident that I needed to learn to cook, quick, before we both starved to death.
 That’s where Lee’s little old Italian grandmother, Rae (short for Rafael) came into play.
Being in Nana’s kitchen was always such a feast for the senses.  More than once I witnessed strings of fresh pasta hanging to dry, ready to be bagged for future use, or in our case, a gift for the starving newlyweds.  She always had homemade spaghetti sauce cooking on the stove, or frozen in one pound bags waiting to be brought out at a minutes’ notice. The rich red sauce was not too tart and expertly seasoned.
 If asked nicely she would  be happy to make the cacciatore.  I’m not sure how many generations of Italians in Nana’s family knew this recipe, but Nana was a first generation American, so everything she made was authentic.  None of this shortcut business.
The only substitute she made with her own mother’s recipe was that she didn’t pour the cacciatore sauce over polenta.  The Bausingers liked mashed potatoes better.  It sounds a little strange, but it tastes delicious.
  I was hanging out with her one day when she began getting things from the fridge:  a cut up chicken, some mushrooms, a few potatoes, and then from the pantry:  some tomato sauce, a few spices.  I eyed her warily.  Whatever she was making looked pretty complicated.  But when she asked me casually, “Ever had Chicken Cacciatore, Tina?” and I shook my head, I knew I was about to learn.
  I watched carefully how Nana did everything, from browning the chicken, to adding the spices.  At first, I duplicated her recipe exactly.  It was a success the first time!  As I became an expert, I added my own touches: fresh garlic instead of powder, chicken breasts instead of bone-in chicken, etc.  I knew I had it down when my Lee finished a plate of my version and looked at me with admiring eyes.
            “Tina, don’t tell Nana, but….this is better than hers!”
            Nana died in 1990, but I have passed this on to my daughters in honor of her memory, and in the hopes that when they get married, maybe their poor husband won’t have to suffer the way their father did.
Chicken Cacciatore
1 whole chicken, cut and diced or 2 packages of chicken breasts, diced
2 large cans of tomato sauce
1/2 package sliced mushrooms
1 onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp basil
2 tsp oregano
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 small can tomato paste
For the mashed potatoes:
1 small bag of potatoes
1 cup milk
1 stick of butter
salt and pepper to taste
garlic salt
Peel 8 large potatoes, rinse and dice.  In a large soup pot, put water on to boil the potatoes.  In a large skillet, pour a generous amount of olive oil.  Heat thoroughly  Add onion, garlic,mushrooms and pepper.  Cook for a few minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the chicken, tomato sauce and paste, and spices, cooking until the juices in the chicken run clear.  Simmer about fifteen minutes until thick.
When the water is boiling in the large soup pan, add the peeled and diced potatoes.  Cover and reduce heat. Cook until a butter knife can cut through the potatoes.  Drain carefully and mash, adding butter, milk, salt, pepper and a little garlic salt.  Set aside.
When ready to serve, dollop a half a cup of mashed potatoes on each plate and top with a generous ladle of cacciatore sauce. Serve with garlic bread and salad for a complete meal.  This recipe serves 6 hungry people, or 2 adults and 3 teenagers!

 

3 Simple Ways to Improve Your Writing & Increase Sales

Originally posted on Kristen Lamb's Blog:

Image from the movie "Office Space"

Image from the movie “Office Space”

Today, I’m going to give you three ways to instantly improve your writing and sell more books. I’m blessed to have a broad base of experience/expertise which includes corporate consulting and branding. I also spent years in sales and can honestly say, Coffee is for closers. 

What Do You DO?

Last year, I accepted a leviathan project to redo copy for a website and rebrand a struggling company. I first explained my plan and reasoning in a detailed SWOT analysis. The owner was on board and signed off. The existing copy was outdated, bloated, confusing, and failed to appreciate the vast changes in our millennial culture.

I hacked through, reduced as much as possible and reshaped until the site showcased a truly fabulous company. To my horror, the owner came back and wanted me to add a deluge of changes which included mass amounts of extraneous…

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The Cost of Loving You

How much does it cost to love you
Whatever the cost I’ll pay
If you say I must wait for twenty years
It will feel as if only a day
If you tell me you need a fine castle
I’ll build one with my own two hands
If you ask me to live in the desert, my love
I’ll camp on the burning sands
If it cost me a million dollars
I’ll work until I’ve earned two
For whatever you ask it’s a bargain
Just to spend my life with you