Life’s Surprises: Ode to November…and Celebrating a Month of Me

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November – if you haven’t realized it by now from my earlier posts – is my absolute favorite month of the year when I intentionally take time to just celebrate “me” by enjoying myself and all the things I love to do, eat, see, feel, hear, savor…

(You get the point!)

Granted, lots of people tend to do so during their birthday month.  Ahhhh, yessssssssssss – but this month is special to me for more than just that.

One – it’s a month designated as Native American Heritage Month.  And, being of Tuscarora descent, I am especially mindful during this time of year of my indigenous ancestors and all they resisted and overcame for me to exist here today.

Two – two of my most favorite holidays occur during November: Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving.

Being an Air Force veteran, I have definitely made a tradition over the years of feasting at restaurant establishments that annually participate in honoring veterans with a complimentary meal.  In addition to dining out for free, I’ve discovered there are a number of other businesses that make a point of honoring vets with discounts, deals, or other comped services over the holiday weekend – and, sometimes, beyond!

And speaking of feasting, there’s no other time like Thanksgiving to enjoy the bounty of a good harvest, a close family, and a warm home.  Forget the post-meal shopping!  For me, it’s all about the pause to give thanks for what you already have – sometimes in its most simplest forms: life, health, strength, family, friends, nourishment, a roof over your head, a means of transportation, a way to earn an honest living…

And, three – November is when the (winter) holiday season slowly starts ramping up!  Starting with the decorations, then the music, the television special family broadcasts, the feelings of cheer and goodwill, the sense that all (we, others, the world) become more giving to and forgiving of each other…

That, along with all the other reasons, is what I love about the month of November.  So, in keeping with my goal this year of “intentional living,” I made it a point to take each week, each holiday, each occasion, each moment to be in the moment!

And oh, what fun I had…

More Workplace Love!

A beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers is always right on time in my opinion – especially this month!

Creative Steps Forward

Soooooooo…

This year, I started my “month of me” determined to bring a craft idea – homemade drink coasters featuring some of my own travel and nature photographs – out of my mind and into physical form.  After a year of having this on my “to make” list and months of researching all the different D.I.Y. ways of creating photo drink coasters, I stopped trying to mentally sort out the steps and materials needed… and, instead, went about the business of doing the work and making it happen.

Putting my Lowe’s Home Improvement veteran/military member discount card to use for the first time, I made a couple supply runs.  From there, the ball really started rolling.

But though the trial and error process to create those coasters was energizing, I still felt the crunch to get them done before my self-imposed deadline: a group training session the following week – the perfect time, I thought, to “test” the appeal and usefulness of my idea while getting some instant feedback from those receiving them as a presentation take-away item from me.

The end result…

A rushed crafted item with some mistakes but enough good potential that it garnered positive feedback about the concept as well as lots of compliments on the images I chose to feature.

So, as they say – practice makes perfect!  And, after a number of adjustments since this first “test” run, I’ve come to make a finished product as close to perfection as I’m gonna get!

Next up…

Veteran’s Day

Part 1 – Friday, November 10, 2017

For the past three months, I’ve been wanting to take in the Georgia O’Keefe exhibit at the Reynolda House Museum of American Art in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  And, after clearing my work calendar to have the holiday weekend off, I thought what better time than now to have a little fun!

 

 

Part 2 – Saturday, November 11, 2017

Honestly…this day can best be summed up as me doing lots of running around town – half for getting errands done (like laundry, no less) and half for enjoying my meal deals!

 

 

Part 3 – Post Holiday Appreciation

There’s nothing like “workplace love” to make you feel you’re in your career sweet spot – and this surprise (a card and sweet treat) had me grateful and grinning from ear to ear!

Workplace appreciation for Veteran's Day

Totally unexpected but much appreciated – some Veteran’s Day love from my AmeriCorps program! They know me way too well…

 

And then came…

Thanksgiving

For THE first time… in my “solo in the kitchen” culinary life… I accepted (actually, I jumped on) the challenge of cooking a traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner! Minus the stuffing, I had the BUTTERBALL – all 14.52 lbs. of it – with roasted and baked veggies, dinner rolls, and mac & cheese as the sides.

Tackling the Thanksgiving Turkey!

The ultimate test of this year’s growing culinary confidence – a traditional Thanksgiving meal!

Following The Recipe(s)

When in doubt, break them ALL out – and follow step by step if you want yours looking like theirs!

The end result…

A morning spent watching (in peace) the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Young and The Restless, and Bold and The Beautiful… all while cooking, and cleaning as I went.

An afternoon post-meal napping, then finishing up my most recent read – Big Magic… all while enjoying cups of tea flavored with mint leaves.

And as for the meal: a perfectly browned turkey – like in the recipe pictures (with plenty of stock leftover for making soup), two rushed baked sweet potatoes (because by this point it was after noon and my patience was running out along with my energy), a pan of well-seasoned roasted veggies, and a pot of stovetop mac & cheese that could’ve used more cheese (and less flour… don’t ask!).

And now…

My “Day of Birth”

Bringing my “month of me” to a close, we come to the ultimate day of celebration – my birthday, which fell yesterday on November 29th!

(though I had some belated wishes throughout today as well)

Birthday Surprise!

When your supervisor tells you to go home early the day before…and this is what you see when you enter your workplace the next morning!

 

 

My Gift to Me!

How better to celebrate my year of culinary growth than by gifting myself the ultimate cookbook, Deep Run Roots – in my eyes, the unofficial encyclopedia of eastern North Carolina cooking!

 

And though I’m sitting down now writing about my experiences over the month, especially during the past couple of days, I still can’t find enough words to express the overwhelming amount of love I felt (and continue to feel) from family, friends… but most importantly, myself.

Which lets me know, I’ve reached the “age” in life when I know what brings me peace, and happiness, and contentment, and love – as well as what doesn’t.

And, I’ve chosen to live life – more so this year than many others – in a simple way that truly embraces me.

May your day, month, or year of you bring you the same.

Blessings

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One thought on “Life’s Surprises: Ode to November…and Celebrating a Month of Me

  1. Pingback: Completing the Circle in 2017 to Start Afresh in 2018 | Ms. Lucretia King

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