Justin’s Nut Butter

I love nut butter! Shocked? You shouldn’t be! I’m referring to the product of pulverized nutmeats, like peanuts and almonds, cashews and hazelnuts. In particular, I am a huge fan of Justin’s Nut Butters. Justin and I go way back. No, I’ve never met him, personally, but I like to think I was one of his first, loyal customers. On a high adventure Boy Scout backpacking trek at Philmont Scout Ranch, in our supplied provisions, we were given packets of peanut butter, all natural peanut butter. Tear off the top and squeeze the wholesome nut butter right into your mouth, supplying you with a healthy dose of protein, the right amount of natural sugars and beneficial fats.

There’s something about backpacking, if you’ve not indulged; when living on freeze dried, dehydrated and squeezable foods, you develop a certain affinity for some of this unusual fare. I, for example, am not ordinarily one to buy and voluntarily consume any kind of processed cheese-like product, but I become quite excited with packets of jalapeño squeeze cheese. Especially on about day four of a ten-day backpacking trek. Justin’s Nut Butter far eclipsed any fondness I had for jalapeño squeeze cheese. Far. As a matter of fact, upon my return home from Cimarron, New Mexico, I went in search of Justin’s Nut Butter for my own, personal consumption. I had a very difficult time locating it anywhere. I found Justin’s Nut Butter on Facebook and “liked” their page, and through that connection, learned that Justin’s popularity grew a little faster than his ability to produce nut butter. His fans, myself included, patiently waited, and, alas, Justin’s Nut Butter was spotted by a family member on the shelves of the local R.E.I.! Joy! I stocked up! Before long, Justin’s Nut Butter, in certain varieties, could be found at Whole Foods. And, now, a few years later, even my local market carries a few varieties. Justin has expanded to include candy bars, peanut butter cups and even jarred products, but I only buy the packets that I originally fell in love with.

Last night, I was craving something a little sweet, but it was late, I’d had pizza and beer for dinner, and I really didn’t want to have something too decadent. I rummaged through my purse, through my computer bag and, finally, through my daypack, and I found exactly what I was looking for. A packet of Justin’s Chocolate Almond Butter. In my purse, I’d found Justin’s Classic Almond Butter and in my computer bag, Justin’s Honey Peanut Butter. As you’ve probably gathered, I’m pretty well supplied with nut butter, Justin’s Nut Butter. I have more in each of my suitcases and various other totes, packs and bags. I live ten minutes from Whole Foods, why do I hoard Justin’s Nut Butter? I consider it a resource, a very valuable resource.

In my job, I travel quite a bit. Most airlines I fly with have a fruit and cheese tray for six or seven bucks that I consider a worthwhile meal. Occasionally, though, the don’t have it, or don’t have enough, so I can just have a couple of Justin Nut Butter packets and be fairly well nourished. True, they don’t pair with red wine quite as well as the fruit and cheese, but no need to be too picky with such limited resources at 35,000 feet above the crust of the earth. Once I’ve landed at my destination, I provide training and consulting on software and professional skills. I never know what options will be available for mid-day meals while training, so, I am prepared with, at the very least, a packet or two of Justin’s Nut Butter, and, hopefully, an apple on which to apply it. Hiking, fishing, driving, canoeing, running or any other activity I may find myself involved in often requires a quick, nutritious snack, and, again, I am always prepared with Justin’s Nut Butter.

Justin’s Nut Butter, in my opinion, is a very valuable resource and one I keep close at hand. I may go days, weeks or even a month or two without ever enjoying a packet of Justin’s Nut Butter, but, if I need it, wherever I am, whatever I’m carrying, I’ve got at least a couple packets in one flavor or another. In life, we should have similar resources. What resources do we keep nearby, on hand, within reach, as we work towards accomplishing our goals?  What tools do we occasionally need as we evolve towards a more enriching, fulfilling life of happiness and success, success in work, in family and in relationships?

For example, when a stressful event arises, how do we overcome it? What resource do we rely on? Stress ought not be a part of our daily life, it should be occasional and brief. If stress is anything more than occasional and brief, we have more to talk about. As an occasional and brief occurrence, the resource we use to resolve stress is not likely one we employ all the time, but it should be identifiable, available and ready to use. Like a packet Justin’s Nut Butter after a few hours of hiking.

Perhaps in one of our relationships, whether with family or a love interest, there is a shift or a change; a move, a new job, the loss of a job, change in health, some shift of dynamic. What resources do we rely on to work through the period of adjustment that will allow the relationship to function as it should, in support of the parties involved, sensitive to the changes, the feelings and emotions surrounding those changes? Are we, perhaps, listening more acutely, more sympathetically, offering more praise and positive reinforcement? Again, these are resources we know, we are familiar with, they are resources we use often, but perhaps we just need to employ them more generously or more frequently during this period. Maybe we find solace in a couple of more yoga classes a week, or a few more minutes a day in meditation. Maybe a weekend away, in the wilderness or a favorite urban center. It could be you find respite from stress from reading, or crafts or a good, long, hard run. Whatever the method for relief, you know it, you’ve practiced it, you rely on it. Like my packet of Justin’s Nut Butter, it is a known, proven, resource that I use often and that I always have at the ready.

When we find ourselves frustrated or unsettled with where we are in relation to our goals, our values and our guiding principles, what do we do to rectify the situation? Normally, we are, or should be, very clear about where we are headed, the direction to go, and the key step or steps to get there and it should be foremost in our daily task list or agenda. The One Thing. Or, it’s possible, that our goals are no longer aligned with our values. Whatever the change, whatever the shift, whatever the cause, we need to be able to resort to some known, easily identified and readily employable resources to get back on track. Or to lay a new track. We should have a plan for developing our plan and measuring our progress towards the accomplishment of that plan. It isn’t something we spend time on everyday, the plan, the steps towards accomplishing the plan, yes, but developing the plan should not be a daily task. So, the resources we rely on for developing, adjusting or redeveloping our plan are most likely exercises that we know of and know how to work through, when needed. Like Justin’s Nut Butter, it’s there when I need it.

So, whether you’re a fan of nut butter, or not, whether you know of Justin and his nut butters, or not, you should have, in moments of need, a supply of ready to use, easy to grab and go, effective, wholesome and nourishing resources. As we march, daily, in pursuit of our goals, in an effort to evolve, things will crop up that could delay or derail us if we don’t have quick, simple, tried and true resources to employ. Like a squeezy packet of all natural nut butter, having something quick and wonderful, close at hand, to rely on in those times of need is true wisdom.


And tonight, a packet of Justin's Nut Butter, for dessert.
And tonight, a packet of Justin’s Nut Butter, for dessert.

Ready, Set, Go

Are you ready?

Ready for what?

Anything. Everything.

The Center for Disease Control recommends we be ready for anything; earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, the latest strain of the flu, a zombie apocalypse (not kidding http://www.cdc.gov/phpr/zombies.htm). For each of these, they have suggested steps, measures, that we should take in order to be ready. I call this a plan.

We need a plan for all things in life. Big and small. I teach this in several of the classes I deliver at work. And although the plan of which I speak is specific to that particular facet of the profession, I use real life examples to drive the point home. For example, you plan what you wear each day based on the weather and what activities you think you’ll be participating in. Am I right? When you want to go on vacation, you plan your destination, your departure date, your return date, your transportation, your lodging, your activities. Am I right? Without these plans, we’d show up at work wholly inappropriately dressed, or worse yet, undressed, which I think may be a career limiting move, unless of course you work in the adult entertainment industry. When the first day of your vacation arrives and you show up at the airport without a ticket, or at your destination without hotel or campsite reservations, you’ll probably end up with a stay-cation instead. Plan equals readiness.

So, what is your plan for today? And are you ready? If you plan to run a few errands after work, there is no great amount of preparation required for that, I suppose. But lets say a friend calls and says “I have tickets to a concert and so and so can’t go, do you want to go?”, and lets say the concert is one you’d really, really like to see. Are you ready? Just like unexpected, bad things in life that the CDC warns us to be ready for, there are many good, wonderful and unexpected things in life we should be equally ready for.

If you are lounging around the house, un-showered, clothes not laundered, bank account empty, and your friend calls with those concert tickets, are you going to miss your chance to go because you aren’t ready? That would be a shame! Would you have regrets?

Personally, I prepare for each day like I have the most amazing plans in the world. I get up when I should, I eat, I shower, I get ready like I’m going somewhere, and even if I end up working at home all day long, I feel great, I look great, I smell great and if someone calls with concert tickets, I just have to grab my purse and go. The CDC would be proud if concert preparedness were something they were worried about.

In being “ready” every day, as I am, I find I am much more likely to go out into the world after work and socialize, or do something good for me, like work out at the gym or go to a fitness class, or call a friend to go out for a glass of wine. Moral of the story, I feel terrific all day and I’m more likely to have a stupendous evening, too. All because I am ready.

Let’s take this one step further. If a friend you cherish, but hadn’t seen in a very, very long time called and said, “I’m nearby, can I stop by for a visit?”, how ready would you be. Even if you’ve taken my advice and YOU are ready, are you ready for a visitor?

I happen to know, first hand, that most American homes don’t look like the homes portrayed on most television shows. Life happens and life is messy. My mom is known for having a spotless house. And while she does do a great job house cleaning, what most don’t know is, if you say you’re going to visit, she is rushing about fussing over the house until the second she hears footsteps on the porch. While there will never likely be a dirty ring in her toilet, there will be piles of newspapers, coupons, and mail on chairs, tables and countertops. The prospect of visitors totally stresses her out because she is never ready, to her satisfaction. She begins to freak out about an announced visitor weeks before they plan to arrive, and her house is really quite clean, but for the paper clutter. She vacuums more than anyone I know! I swear she has a holster for her Windex bottle! But she is convinced she isn’t ready for visitors to the point where she will turn down spending time with me, or her grandchildren, because she is “behind” schedule preparing the house for her eventual guests. To me, this is a shame. If you insist on a spotless house, keep it spotless, to your satisfaction. Be ready. Be set. So you can go!

My house used to be far worse than that. With a cluttered lifestyle, a husband who forbid anyone from touching his piles and piles of dusty papers that accumulated for years on end, and two children literally immersed, about two feet deep, in all the “must have” toys, and me working nearly full-time and leading various youth groups with my remaining time, my house was usually a disaster the CDC would have difficulty devising a plan for. For a while, when the youth group meetings were held at our house, I had a housekeeper. This translated to me scurrying around the morning she was due to arrive, before work, dealing with mountains of toys, paper and clutter so there would be surfaces exposed which could be cleaned. This was stressful, frustrating and expensive.

My philosophy has totally changed. First, I have been on a mission to de-clutter my life. This year, with my W2, I handed my CPA a stack an inch high of Goodwill donation receipts. And I am not done. With another move in progress, I intend to discard much more. I throw away junk mail before I even enter the house. What statements I still receive in paper form (damn them!), I shred, I manage all of my accounts and payments electronically. I take publications electronically, too, and those few I don’t, I toss after reading them (though I may scan an article or recipe here and there first).

This is beneficial in another stress reducing, always ready, respect; I can find things when I need them, like my W2 and all those Goodwill receipts! The time I save by having a plan, a system, a little organization and a wee bit of discipline has been a real boost! I have more time because I’m not always searching for things, and I have way less stress because when I need something, I know exactly where it is!

And, life has become a bit simpler, by design. I have de-cluttered my schedule a bit, though I thrive on being busy, and seek to have activities outside of work daily, I do plan for that extra five minutes after my shower to clean out the tub, that two seconds every day or so to swish a brush around the toilet, that two minutes every week to wash the mirror and countertop. I set aside ten minutes every now and then to chase a vacuum around a room. I hate dusting, so rather than setting aside time to occasionally dust, I just rid my life of things that require dusting. I can run a rag over shelves and tables without anything impeding my progress, and I am done. I do my dishes immediately after I eat, rather than saving them up for when I need that pan or dish. I wipe down the stove and counters, routinely, as part of my dishwashing task. I take the garbage out every night, run the dishwasher every night, and unload it in the morning while my coffee is brewing. I probably add twenty minutes a day to my routine, but my house is ALWAYS ready for visitors. And I totally enjoy my time at home, however brief.

I try to put things away, where they belong, and my only likely slip up are shoes. For as much as I love shoes, they tend to be discarded somewhere in the house soon after arriving home. I remove them in the car, too. I love shoes. I love buying shoes. I love owning shoes, but I don’t really like to wear shoes. I’ve been making a conscious effort to take them off and put them away, so things are better, but it used to be that you could walk through my front door and see several shoes scattered about the house randomly. And my kids are the same way, so when they lived with me, we were ankle deep in shoes we weren’t wearing! Now, if shoes aren’t put away where they belong, you’ll likely find them under my desk or under a chair in my bedroom. I’ve become slightly, just slightly, more disciplined.

I once heard a theory, from my son who was taking high school physics at the time. The theory is that there is only so much mess and so much neatness, and when something that was messy is made neat, something, somewhere else is made messy. I know this was true for much of the time when I was raising my family. The clutter and mess throughout the house; shoes, papers, toys, books, mail, clothes, would all be gathered up from the common areas and shoved into the usually somewhat clutter free master bedroom. The door would be pulled shut, and company  would arrive shortly thereafter. The house looked neat, the master bedroom was a mess. How this occurs, globally, though, I don’t really know. And now that my life is neater because my kids are grown and have moved away, and there isn’t a husband in the house, I wonder who’s life I caused to become messier? Is that how the theory works, or am I missing the it? If so, whoever you are, wherever you are, with the messier house, the messier life, I’m sorry.

For me, I have found that less mess equals less stress. I enjoy my free time at home more, I am happy to have people stop by, I am always ready. I am always set. I am always good to go. Well, mostly. By focussing on always being ready, by taking small, routine measures, I find I have so much more time to pursue activities I enjoy, both at home and out and about. I am way more productive, too. When I have some project for work, or back in school, and the house was messy, one of the methods of procrastination I would employ, to avoid the project, would be to clean things up, a bit, first. Funny, though, when my house was chaos with kids and the husband and pets and all, I’d procrastinate about cleaning house by working on projects instead!

Less mess. Keep it straight. That’s all there is to it. I know I make this sound really simple, but shouldn’t it be? And if it isn’t, perhaps simplifying a bit is in order. I find the simpler life is made, the simpler life becomes. You are in charge of that, by the way, and only you. But that’s a topic for another day. As the CDC suggests, take measures now to be ready. As the Boy Scout motto goes, “be prepared.” Plan for it. Plan for anything. Plan for everything. Ready? Ready. Set? Set. Go!