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Wrapping Up 2021

Thought-provoking inspiration as we complete the year

The end of the year offers an opportunity to reflect on what’s most important if we’re willing to pause and take a moment from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. That’s something our readers shared in their top 2021 memories.

Kelly Townsend, principal of the business-building Leaders Team, offers strategies for leaders to awaken the real possibilities 2022 holds, and internationally acclaimed speaker and best-selling author Karen Siff Exkorn offers insight on eliminating what you don’t want in your life so you can get what you do want.

It seems fitting that the holiday season is also Love Your Neighbor Month. But as humans sift through emotional upheaval, Rabbi Adam Miller sheds light on what it truly means to honor our neighbors.

We explore a few recipes and ideas about how to creatively reinvent those holiday leftovers, and tie up this Wrapping Up 2021 chapter with a contemplative quote to inspire you.

We wish you joy, health and safety as we collectively wrap up 2021.

 
 
 
 

CHAPTER 65

 

EMPOWERED LIVING

Preparing for the New Year

Despite adversity, leaders choose to make things happen

by Kelly Townsend

As 2021 enters its final weeks, we still have a high level of uncertainty and potential obstacles to contend with. For leaders, this time of year usually elicits conversations of reflection and potential goal setting for the New Year. But how can a leader have what they create truly be created?

Recently, I engaged in a two-hour conversation with 40 accomplished leaders from around the world during which I asked how the last couple of years have occurred for them and what possibilities they are creating. Most looked at me with incredulity: “You have got to be kidding,” they said sarcastically. “We can’t even think about possibility!”   

It was clear the prevailing context had become surviving their volatile circumstances. It certainly is a valid response to the current world breakdowns and uncertainty.

But what worked about the conversation was people could hear themselves in each other. They discovered they weren’t alone; that it was great to be with people, and to be able to tell the truth about what they were dealing with. They saw the prevailing theme was just getting by, just taking it day by day with a context of doom and resignation.

This conversation was the first step in getting complete with the past: acknowledging disappointments, regrets, accomplishments and resentments.  They had a choice of taking those conversations into the future or acknowledging that they were the authors of their upsets. They could let go of making the current condition “wrong” to free up and create some new space to lead in.

We determined it was time to get out of the rut of survival inside a “there is something wrong here” context and get going on a conversation for possibility: creating new aliveness for themselves and the people they lead.

To begin discovering new ways to create accomplishments, you first have to give up that there is something wrong with the current state. As leaders, we don’t always have a say about the situations that come our way, but we do have a say in how we approach and engage with life.

Rather than assessing if life situations are going according to your fantasy life (generated by your brain’s comparisons and predictions from the past), you can engage directly with what is in front of you from choice.

 

Leaders’ Creativity Checklist

Create what your leadership is going to be about for 2022. Leaders make something happen that wasn’t going to happen.

What would be worth transforming yourself in honor of?

What truly seems impossible to you that, if accomplished, would be a game changer?

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Being up to something bigger than just going through life — actually living life — requires a certain discipline of practice. In fact, it’s only possible if you make it a practice to say what you’re going to do and honor who you are. Use this checklist as your guide.

  • Complete your past year’s accomplishments. What happened and what didn’t happen that you said was going to happen?

  • Then, reduce any significance around it by giving up making anything you did or did not do “wrong.” Making yourself wrong makes it hard to create something new.

  • Create an impossible future that requires something new from you and who you have known yourself to be.

  • Take a stand for your new future. Get emotionally connected to it with an attitude of “this shall be.” 

  • Declare to others what you are creating as a matter of your word.

  • Create daily practices that demonstrate actions consistent with your impossible future.

  • Share your future in conversations with people who can support you in realizing that future.

Approach 2022 newly, engaging in situations from discovery and giving up what you think you know about life and your future. I gave an example of this to the group by sharing pictures of my 2-year-old granddaughter discovering flowers, sand and cracks in the sidewalk. That used to be each one of us and we have forgotten we have a capacity to rediscover something previously discovered.

We could not help but see the presence of joy. It is easy to say, “Well, it’s a child.” But maybe the joy is not because of age; maybe — just maybe — it’s from discovering and engaging in life newly.

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Kelly Townsend is the principal at Leaders Team (www.leadersteam.com), an organization that calls itself “Codebreakers for Human Performance.” The team is comprised of experienced professionals who work to unlock human potential, helping organizations create breakthrough results.

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HOLIDAY SPIRIT

Love Your Neighbor

Knowing and understanding the needs of the people around you

by Rabbi Adam F. Miller

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Language is far more complicated than we realize. The words we use change meaning based on context, tone and punctuation. The possibility for complexities in our interpretation only grows when we are speaking of famous quotes from texts written generations ago and in a foreign tongue. Even familiar quotes from the Bible carry broader interpretations than we might initially realize. These openings offer the opportunity to explore a text and find deeper meaning.

Many of us are familiar with the text of Leviticus 19:18, “Ve-ahavta le-re'acha ka-mocha” — “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We are called upon to feel the positive emotion of ahava — love toward our neighbors. Jewish sources link that text to the story of creation, where we are told that all human beings are created “in the image of God.”

If we are all created in the Divine image, then many sages conclude that we should treat ourselves and all others with a sense of respect and care. The command to “love” adds another layer of meaning for us to explore.

How does one love one’s neighbor? A helpful starting place would be to distinguish “love” from “like” — two words we sometimes conflate — a significant problem in our polarized society.

Too often, I hear stories from people that their family members and friends who once espoused love have cut off relationships over differences in political or societal views. The problem with that is that it assumes our relationships hinge on the idea of liking or agreeing with someone.

Love Goes Deeper

One of my seminary professors explained love in terms of parenthood. A parent may not like the attitude or choices a child makes. Despite those differences of opinion, the parent still loves the child, seeking to protect and care for him or her.

Similarly, children may not like the boundaries imposed by parents, but they still love them, understanding on some level that parents are acting out of love, protection and nurture.

Given this parental example, loving our neighbors means opening ourselves to being in a complex relationship in which our concern for others extends beyond our viewpoints.

 

Supreme Court justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Antonin Scalia demonstrated that this type of relationship is possible even in today’s world. In their professional lives, they represented polar opposites of the legal spectrum, rarely finding common ground. But outside the court, they were the closest of friends, spending weekends together at family gatherings. When news reached the court that Justice Ginsberg’s husband had passed, Justice Scalia burst into tears on the bench. Truly, Ginsberg and Scalia modeled the sentiment of loving one’s neighbor.

Nobel Laureate author and noted Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel offers this: “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”

We love our neighbors when we demonstrate that we are not indifferent to their pain and suffering.

Loving our neighbors requires that we know them meaningfully and understand their needs.

We are often quick to judge others and make assumptions based on what little we know. We let a person’s education, origin or culture influence our perceptions. As Ted Lasso of Apple TV’s “Ted Lasso” admonishes, “Be curious, not judgmental.”

If we are curious, we look at others with a sense of wonder and awe, genuinely desiring to know more about them and letting go of preconceived assumptions.

As we begin this new year of 2022, let us learn to be curious about one another; to be aware of the suffering of our neighbors; and to love them regardless of our differences, understanding that we are all, indeed, created in the Divine image.

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Adam Miller is the senior rabbi at Temple Shalom in Naples. In addition to supporting the congregation, he is involved locally with the boards of Meals of Hope, Jewish Federation of Greater Naples, the Catholic-Jewish Dialogue and Jewish National Fund, as well as nationally serving on advisory boards for the Lake Institute on Faith & Giving and URJ Camp Coleman.

 

AT-HOME DINING

Leftover Do-Overs

Creative suggestions for post-feast feasts

by Kathy Grey

It’s the day after the big holiday feast, and we seem to have forgotten how stuffed we were 24 hours ago. Hmm. What to do with all those leftovers, besides sandwiches, soups and salads?

Turkey Tetrazzini

Our foodie friends overwhelmingly recommend turkey tetrazzini, a century-plus-old throwback that folks still adore. Turkey tetrazzini is made with diced turkey and mushrooms in a creamy cheese sauce, served hot over pasta. Here, we present the link to “Pioneer Woman” Ree Drummond’s highly rated take on the recipe.

https://www.thepioneerwoman.com/food-cooking/recipes/a11691/turkey-tetrazzini/

Leftover Turkey Pad Thai

For something a little different, we found this 2-serving Pad Thai recipe. It’s a little untraditional, but if you like Thai food, take a gander at the link below.

(Note that 120g of rice noodles is about ½ cup, and 150g of leftover turkey equals ¾ cup. And, of course, the recipe can be doubled or tripled as needed.)

Leftover Turkey Pad Thai | Foodtalk (foodtalkdaily.com)                                                                      

Breakfast Egg Cups

We really like the idea of leftovers for breakfast. This is a hearty way to start your day that’s reminiscent of the day’s past repast:

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  • Heat oven to 400 degrees.

  • Butter muffin tins.

  • Press stuffing into a ½-inch layer.

  • Layer turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes or leftover casserole on top.

  • Top with a freshly cracked egg.

  • Bake 15-20 minutes.

  • Turn out when slightly cooled and pour hot gravy over the top.

Other Suggestions

Food fans also recommend turkey pot pie, hash, waffles made from stuffing, tostadas, enchiladas, shepherd’s pie, potato pancakes and turkey or ham croquettes.

Whatever you do to use up what’s left of your holiday dinner, we hope you’ll take this time to creatively extend your holiday joy.

EXPERT ADVICE

The Choice is Yours

Weighing the difference between surgical and nonsurgical facial procedures

by Kiran Gill, M.D.

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For years, the trend has been to eschew surgical for nonsurgical treatments, accepting less significant results for less downtime. However, post-pandemic work and lifestyle changes have minimized the need for this tradeoff, inspiring a surgical comeback.

Consider the choices: Botox browlift or surgical browlift? Mid-face filler or facelift?

There are many factors to be considered under the guidance of a board-certified plastic surgeon who can recommend surgical, nonsurgical, or a combination of treatments for optimal, individualized results.

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FYI: FOR YOUR INSPIRATION

Mindful Musing

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“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning, but a going on — with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.”

 

— Hal Borland, American author, 1900-1978

 
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Internationally acclaimed speaker and bestselling author Karen Siff Exkorn has been featured on the Today Show, GMA, Nightline, The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. As founder/CEO of Speak On, she leads corporate training programs with Fortune 500 companies. She received her B.A. from Brown University and M.A. from NYU.

EMOTIONAL EMPOWERMENT

See You Soon … or Never Again

Seven tips on eliminating what you don’t want so you can get what you do

by Karen Siff Exkorn

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Actress Melissa McCarthy spoke the words, “See you soon … or never again!” in the Hulu series’ “Nine Perfect Strangers.” She delivered the line with just the right amount of attitude, and I thought to myself, “Wow. There’s a message here.”

Are there people or things in our lives that we really need to say goodbye to?

A man was working for a boss who made his life miserable. Over the course of 10 years on the job, he went into therapy and was asked to explore the depths of his relationships with dominant male figures in his life. He did this diligently, but still felt miserable. The man found a new therapist, who, at the end of the first session, asked, “Why don’t you quit your job?” The man did, then found a new job. His life got better.

Life isn’t always that simple, but it can be. Sometimes it’s about taking a pause and asking yourself, “Who or what doesn’t belong in my life?” 

What Doesn’t Bring You Joy?

The pressure to find and live in joy can be enough to suck the joy right out of your life.

Psychotherapist Dr. Deborah Adamy says, “Identifying what you don’t want in your life can lead you to discovering what you do want.” 

Dr. Adamy emphasizes the importance of taking time to stop (or at least pause) to identify things that don’t make you happy. Ask yourself: What old things in my life can I let go of that will open the door to new things?

Zoom Out

Not that Zoom. This “zoom” is all about taking a new perspective. Are you wondering why things don’t feel right in your life, but you can’t pinpoint what is going wrong? Sometimes, we’re too close to our own existence.

“Imagine that you’re looking at yourself from a birds-eye view. See yourself in that meeting or in that marriage and view the scene as if you’re watching a movie,” advises Ian Warburg, a marriage and family therapist and organizational development expert. Warburg emphasized the importance of stepping outside oneself in order to gain clarity about what’s inside.

Ask yourself, “Am I in the right place in my life right now?”

Once you’ve established this view, you can act as your own life coach.

What do You Really Want? 

In the process of growing into your adult self, you might notice that friends, jobs or marriages that used to be right for you are no longer right. By allowing yourself to let go of the people and things that don’t serve you today, you allow the possibility of new people and things to enter your life.

If you want love, happiness and other good things, look around you. Are you surrounded by people who are lovingly supporting your journey? If so, keep them around!

Are there people in your life who are energy vampires: “friends” who are negative, envious or unhealthily competitive? Let them go. The more you surround yourself with your own support system, the more you will move forward in life.

Don’t Repeat. Don’t Repeat.

When we let go of someone or something, sometimes we experience a void that can affect us on physical, psychological and/or emotional levels. In order to fill that void, we often gravitate toward the familiar, filling it with the same sort of person or thing and causing the same lack of fulfillment as before.

Overcome this by taking time to live in the void. This is where serious self-reflection comes into play. Examine your feelings. Think about what was wrong in your life so you can determine what is right.

“No” is a Complete Sentence

Sometimes it feels too difficult to fully cut someone or something from your life, especially if it’s a family member or a job you really need. The next best thing to removing the people or things that don’t serve you well is to create boundaries.

“Creating boundaries is the key to stepping into your power as a healthy adult,” says psychotherapist Michelle Chalfant. As host of “The Adult Chair” podcast, Chalfant suggests creating emotional distance and saying no to social events that feel like shoulds.

Say Goodbye to Guilt

Even when we do extricate or distance ourselves from unhealthy relationships, we’re often left with an overwhelming sense of guilt. That guilt might be the result of knowing that the other person is hurting or because, intellectually, we rationalize that we should stay in the relationship.

Don’t take care of everyone else’s needs before your own. Remind yourself that it’s healthier to experience guilt than to stay in a toxic or unhealthy relationship.

How do you handle the guilt? Sit with it. Accept it. Know that it will pass.

See’ What You Want

Studies show that visualization is a powerful tool in terms of manifesting life goals. Visualize what it is you want. Use your imagination to see yourself with the love of your life or in your new job. Other helpful tools include journaling, creating a vision board and sharing your dreams with friends.

Take a proactive approach to getting what you want. You are the architect of your life. Allow yourself the time and space to rebuild and redecorate as you move forward in your journey.

Create the life that’s right for you and fill it with the people and things that will help you experience happiness and find your true self.

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READERS' TOP 2021 MEMORIES

2021 in Review

Southwest Florida readers weigh in on their top memories

As we turned the calendar from 2020 to 2021, the advent of the COVID-19 vaccine gave us a sigh of relief. Still, there was much more to reveal about our readers’ 2021 life-enhancing experiences as shared below. Take a look at some of their 2021 journeys.

 

• My best 2021 memory was a trip to D.C. in September. Beautiful surroundings and wonderful museums. So much to see and do. A lot of history to absorb. ~ Maria Parillo

 

• My granddaughter and her husband moved to Naples with their one-year-old in 2021. Baby Cora is my first great-granddaughter, and we are all in love. ~ Susan Barton

 

• The highlight of 2021 for me was being able to travel again. I went on a weeklong trip to New York City with my mom, who has dreamed of seeing the Big Apple since she first moved to the United States in the 1980s. My other best moments of this year included catching up with longtime friends I have not seen since the start of the pandemic, being appointed to the Florida Bar’s Student Education & Admissions to the Bar Committee and celebrating my one-year work anniversary at Henderson Franklin. ~ Iman Zekri

 

• Rather than remember all of the negatives of the pandemic, I choose to focus on how working from home allowed my husband and me to complete renovations on our home. We had wood floors and new countertops installed. We installed cabinetry, sinks and lighting. The rooms were painted and the lanai updated. With the help of our son and daughter, we accomplished so much. Adding some new furniture, bedding and garden plantings, it almost seems like a different house and shows how well we work together on projects. ~ Marsha Litsinger

 

• My daughter, who is on the autism spectrum, has made major gains since middle school. She worked hard, got superior grades and became the darling of her schools by performing as their mascots. Five years ago, I had no idea what her future would hold. In 2021, she graduated high school magna cum laude and is now in her freshman year at Florida Southwestern State College. ~ Kathy Grey

• Selling my house and getting out of crazy debt. ~ Barbara German

 

• Addressing medical and dental concerns, and visiting my mother before she passed. ~ Jan Neff

 

• Moving from the nonprofit sector into my own business. Taking pieces of my life back: sleeping more, reading more, taking more time to do nothing. It’s been strangely rewarding. I love having a weekend! ~ Lydia Antunes Black

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• I finished visiting all 50 states this year. ~ Mike Donlan

 

• Sometimes we need a wakeup call in order to change things we wouldn’t normally of our own accord. I learned I was a diabetic and was told that I was on the verge of a heart attack or major organ failure if I didn’t make immediate lifestyle changes and go on medication. I became the healthiest I’ve been in years. I’m down 25 pounds, eat healthy, drink 80% less than before, have fabulous energy … and my husband of 34 years says I’m sexy! ~ Michelle Caulkins

 

• Giving up the executive director position at ArtFest Fort Myers so I can focus totally on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) for the art festival. It’s exciting work. ~ Sharon McAllister

 

• Being diagnosed with colon cancer, which “young” people are not supposed to get, as they say, and no family history of that cancer type. Going through chemo and all the aspects associated with it was an awakening. I try not to take my life for granted and I am more aware about doing what makes me happy. I realize that I was lucky, not just because I survived, but because I found out with enough time to do something about it. I’ve become an advocate for early detection through colonoscopies. ~ Lauren Redeker Miller

 

• Being adopted by a cunning kitten. Babies of any kind bring joy and happiness, no matter what’s happening in the world. ~ Cathy Cottrill

 

• Embracing the need to retreat from social life because of the pandemic has enhanced my life because it reminds me that I like being by myself, and I have such a fascinating mind and hobbies and interests. Feels like I have been willing to focus more on myself and entertain some of my own curiosities this past year, while healing a lot of very painful wounds. ~ Stacey Joy

 

• Making the commitment to get healthy by eating to keep my diabetes in check. Have lost 30 pounds and am off all diabetes meds. ~ Angie Koch

 

• Embracing (what I once called a “living rock”) our tortoise, Steve, as an entertaining new family member. ~ Chris Andruskiewicz