Keep your 'life' road map handy

Do you look before leaping? Think about it.

I don't mean surveying your surroundings before bungee jumping. That would take a lot of thought for me. I wouldn't do it for a thousand dollars. But I am referring to thinking things through and making a plan before going into any kind of new adventure.

Anyone who reads my column on a regular basis, knows that I teach sixth-graders what I call “Life Lessons” at Hillsdale Christian School. Last week we made pickles. What fun! What fun! In particular we learned about half and quarter teaspoons and cup measurements of one fourth, one third and one half. We learned about store-bought cucumbers and fresh cucumbers for pickle making. We learned about 5% pickling vinegar and salad vinegar. We learned about pickling salt as opposed to iodized salt for making pickles and canning. They all ate pickles and took double-bagged pickles home with them. They learned it is important to measure accurately and cook accurately. They paid attention before putting the ingredients together. They “looked before they leaped."

I was taught how to sew when I was just a little girl, and one of the main lessons was to measure twice and cut once. We always had Mother check our plan before we used the scissors, but

sometimes I got ahead of myself because I loved to use scissors. Still do! One quick snip can ruin the fabric and the entire project. So I have learned to "look before I leap."

I learned long ago to look at all aspects of a situation before getting involved. I focused on listening, learning and exploring the possibilities. Jim always accused me of having a balloon tied to my wrist. When anyone asked for a batch of cookies, or to volunteer for a job, my hand automatically went in the air. Usually it turned out OK and I enjoyed being involved, but there were a few times I should have sat on my hands. My new friend, Helen, suggested to me to, "Learn to say no to good things, so you can say yes to better things.” Good advice.

Best to look, see and then DO. Let our intelligence help us develop what we want to pursue. Look, then leap! Directing our energies into things we enjoy will pay off. We have plenty to gain and also to lose if we neglect our personal responsibilities to take on “busy” jobs. Before we say “count me in," consider our lifestyles and own goals. Know with whom we are dealing before we commit to a project.

Best to negotiate before drawing up new contracts or reacting too fast. Discuss what we want to happen and find out who is on board with other plans. Stick to what we know and work with people we can trust. We need to keep our lives simple and our activities reasonable and our time and money spent well.

I would advise not to let the actions of others throw us off-guard. Follow our plans and stick to our standards. Unless we really know the people we are dealing with, just say “no thanks."

Others may be disappointed for a while, but they will get over it in time. Best to look before leaping.

Emotions will spin out of control if we get into discussions and conversations that touch on sensitive issues. Maybe we should listen more than talk, and intervene only is someone is offering false information or getting way out on a limb with a solution.

After my late husband, Jim, passed over three years ago, I was at a loss of how to spend my time. I had cared for him 24/7 and enjoyed every minute of it. One can clean a house just so much. One can sort and clear a garage till the cows come home, but it gets us nowhere. I continued to write my column (which I love to do) and got involved more in my church, but I still had a lot of time on my hands and lacked direction. Then the opportunity came for me to teach middle-school at Hillsdale only two days a week and I jumped at the chance. It has been a lifesaver. I enjoy every day I am with those 10 sixth-graders; I have never been sorry I leaped without looking too closely.

I have a teaching degree but let my license lapse many years ago, thinking I would never need it at my age. What I teach does not require a license since it is not a required subject for graduation. I just hope and pray I live long enough to see the tiny pre-K's in my class someday.

All of us have taken a leap of faith without much thought, just knowing that we are following God's plan for us. When we do that, we know that everything will turn out right. We just have to trust in His love and care and guidance. Sometimes we probably feel like Moses who obeyed God, not knowing the route to the Promised Land, but knowing that God was in charge. We could all learn a lesson from that delightful Bible story. We simply need to proceed without grumbling or complaining. Just trust Him.

At a friend's mother's memorial service (of all places), I had a person request that I put my pumpkin cupcakes recipe in my column again. It sure makes my job easier when I don't have to stop and try a new recipe while I am writing, and I am always happy to repeat a lost recipe if it is requested. I saw pumpkins in the stores already and heard that the “Pumpkin Patch” has their order in, so it is time for pumpkin recipes. One reason I love autumn so much is for the delicious things one can do with pumpkins. Here is that recipe:

Pumpkin Cupcakes or Muffins

1 cup canned pumpkin pulp

1 cup sugar (or less)

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

Chopped pecans or raisins if desired.

Beat pumpkin, sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs until blended. Stir in sifted dry ingredients. Then add nuts and/or raisins. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake 20 minutes in 350-degree oven. Recipe makes 12.

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Goodrich writes a weekly column for the Enid News & Eagle​. Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.

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