Wednesday, February 12, 2014

a little bit of passion

As far as I can remember, I would always carry around a little pocket inexpensive point and shoot one that I'd take with me almost everywhere. Before the ability to take millions of photos with a digital camera,  as a child I would sort through developed photos, proudly looking at my photographic achievements.  The photos that captured what I was passionate about (I've always been  a little obsessed with sunsets) were always the most beautiful.

Those old photos may have been slightly blurry or had too much reflection, but it didn't matter to me because the photos represented a story, not a technical achievement. Even to this day, I've been reluctant to purchase a DSLR camera, not just because of the cost, but mostly because I believe too much technical "stuff" interferes with the moment.  I've often seen others spend too much time "setting up the right light" instead of just watching the story of the world unfold in front of us, and capturing just the right time.  I guess that is the difference between a run-of-the-mill "portrait" photographer, and a photographic artist like Annie Leibovitz, who doesn't just rely on her equipment, but her passionate eye and empathy of the human story behind the face, capturing the spirit in front of her. 

In this article on, author Lee Colon discusses how to spark employee passion.  I thought this was apropos in timing, as we head into Valentines (and Family Day shortly thereafter). I gave my own personal twist to his 3 "needs of employees", to demonstrate how to incorporate these needs into our personal lives.  My own little "sparks" to ignite passion in our own family.

1.  Celebration or "Purpose".  Although the article describes offering an overall purpose for employees, it is often to difficult for young children to visualize and make the connection with the task at hand to an overarching goal (i.e. "eat your veggies, and you'll be really big and strong").  And as adults, far too often we get bogged down with our daily mundane tasks, making it difficult to see the forest for the trees. (Long commutes.  Laundry.  Endless laundry.)  So I try to arrange little weekend "rewards" could be small like trying a new dish or a big family outing to dinner and a movie.  Something to look forward to, short term purposes along the path of a long one, to celebrate our determination to muddle through the mundane because at the end (of the week), it will be worth it.

Just like employees who need purpose (short or long term), I consider these little celebrations our own little versions of "purpose" (or motivation).  And trust me, nothing makes the kids eat their veggies faster than the motivation of baking cookies or treats on the weekend.

2.  Rituals or "Intimacy".  My husband often has team building exercises at his company, sometimes off-site, and often filled with fun and interesting moments of discovery.  It gives everyone a chance to know each other beyond their professional capabilities.  It's a ritual that his team I think finds comfort because they are valued and listened to as human beings, not employee numbers.  In our home, we also have little rituals (from homework rituals to mealtime rituals).  Things like always saying our blessings before dinner and bedtime.  Or having "Fish Friday" (no-meat dinners on Friday).

There is so much unknown in the world, so rituals big or small gives us the sense of comfort because we know what to expect.  The known.  And when you belong somewhere, you have the courage to fly and discover your passions, knowing there will always be a place to come home to.

3.  Count your blessings or "Appreciation".  I often think there is a misnomer in the business world that managers don't try make their employees feel appreciated.  I actually think there is a huge concerted effort by modern leaders today, more than ever, to involve their employees in many aspects of a business so they are involved, in control and feel their work and opinions are appreciated.  But the fundamental difference I see between many professionals and how I feel as a parent, is true gratitude.  We all work hard.  And yes, we'd like to hear "great job" once in awhile.  But there are many people who work just as hard (if not harder) who don't have the accoutrements that we enjoy today.

When my kids are tired of going to school, or don't like the lunch that was packed, I remind them that there are other children who have to bike an hour to school, or don't have food.  When they see others who don't have as much, they count their blessings and are grateful for what they have, and become more passionate about being better champions of this world.

With these "sparks", hopefully this Valentines you'll ignite a little work or at home.

Happy Valentines Day!!!

Cinnamon Sugar Donut Holes/Cake Pops
(Makes about 2 ½ dozen)

Our daughter received a Cake Pop maker for Christmas. In lieu of using the provided popsticks, we found it made great donut holes instead (aka "Timbits" for my Canadian readers).  However, if you don't own a cake pop maker, the batter of this recipe can be placed in mini-muffin pans (makes about 24) and baked for 20 minutes at 375 degrees.   It's not round, but the taste is the same.

  • 1⁄2 cup sugar
  • 1⁄3 cup shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½  cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½  teaspoons baking powder
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1⁄2 cup milk
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
Cinnamon-Sugar Topping
  • 3⁄4 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

    • Beat together sugar and shortening in mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in egg. 
    • Stir together flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
    • Alternately blend in flour mixture and milk into shortening mixture, beginning and
    • ending with the flour mixture.
    • Fill each cooking reservoir (if using cakepop maker) or mini muffin cup with about 1 tablespoon of batter.
    • Bake 4 to 5 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into puffs comes out clean. (20 minutes in the oven at 375 degrees if using the mini-muffin tin)
    • For cinnamon-sugar topping, combine cinnamon and sugar in small bowl.
    • Immediately roll hot puffs in melted butter, then in cinnamon-sugar mixture.
    • Makes about 2 ½ dozen
    Enjoy these little bits of heaven!

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