Lately I’ve been experiencing a lot of shifts in my life as I transition from student to young professional. Obviously there are a lot of great things about this transition (hooray for getting paid!), but there are some things that I definitely miss (like skipping my morning engagements to sleep in an extra hour; “it’s just one class…”). On some days, the transition seems easy. I’ve been in university for six years (!!), and I was so ready to be outta there. On the other days, those six years of student habits die hard, and I just really miss certain aspects of my old, carefree life.
Today, as I was surfing around on Pinterest, I actually found something that opened my tired, naive little eyes a bit wider:
Why is it that common sense is never my instinct when I’m looking to solve a problem? Shucks. I’m not as smart as I thought I was. Well, maybe.
I actually do a pretty good job in other aspects of my life when it comes to moving on to that next chapter. As I mentioned, I’ve been doing yoga a lot recently, but going to the same type of class 4-5 times a week isn’t as rewarding as it was in the beginning. So I progressed, and I progressed very measurably. I decided to take the next step and move up from hatha, the slower, tamer, and very beginner friendly yoga, to power flow, the faster and requiring-more-muscular-strength yoga. And you know what? I loved it. My mat was drenched in sweat and I wasted a good hair day when I had to re-shower afterwards, but I definitely felt like I’d done the right thing in moving on and up and trying something new. +1 for Erica.
And in further reflecting, I’ve been doing a slammin’ job of trying new things when it comes to my meal-experimentation too. I discovered a phenomenal, vegan cheese sauce that will (and has, I’ve seen it) knock the pants of even the most fanatical cheese lover. Who doesn’t love finding a new favourite food (I’ve literally eaten it about six times in the last 10 days, not including leftovers!)? I know eating isn’t exactly a ‘new chapter’ for most people, but for someone like me, facing the digestive limitations that I do, it’s a new chapter in dinner-fulfillment for sure.
So why is it that I can’t seem to stretch this to my work life? I’ve set my goals (as you might already know), but sometimes I have difficulty overcoming certain obstacles (usually my own pride) to meet these goals. What this quote gave me today though was this: as a co-op student (i.e. doing 4-month work terms throughout my degree), I was content to go to work every day, blend in, dress for mediocrity (in terms of how professional I looked), and do what I had to do. At the end of the job term, I’d take my dad’s advice and ask for a reference letter. The letters never came.
Why? Because I wasn’t exceeding, and I wasn’t noteworthy. In a forest full of trees, I was nothing special, at least in the eyes of my employer. So now, today, I realized that I can’t expect to be living and working like I did as a student, and somehow receive different results. For the math-savvy out there (you know I had to go there), it’s just a formula. If you don’t change the formula, you don’t change the final product.
I’ll be honest, I have made some progress on my goal for the week, but it’s not what I hoped it would be. If I want to be noticed, for my work and for my professionalism, I need to stand out. I need to learn to swallow my pride, ask someone for a coffee chat, organize a lunch get-together, and be involved. Move on to the next chapter.
And you? What are you going to do to take the next step? I’m not asking you to run a marathon tomorrow or anything, but I am suggesting that you ask yourself “What’s next?”. If it’s something you’ve been thinking about for a while, do it, or start working towards it, I dare you. And if it isn’t, maybe you should think about it. And if that’s too hard still, I have something stellar for you to try, and that you’re going to love.
Vegan Butternut Squash Macaroni & Cheese (from Oh She Glows)
- 1 butternut squash (peeled & chopped) or 1 cup canned squash/pumpkin
- Olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter (I used non-dairy butter but you don’t need to)
- 3/4 cup almond milk (you could, again, use regular milk if you’d like)
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 6 tbsp nutritional yeast (this is what gives it the great cheese flavour. I found mine at a health food store!)
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 4 servings of cooked macaroni
- Vegetable mix-ins (my favourite is sautéed mushrooms!)
- (if you’re using fresh squash) Preheat oven to 425˚F. Mix chopped squash with olive oil. Roast for abotu 40 minutes, uncovered, until tender.
- Prepare the cheese sauce in a pot on the stove. Add butter over low-medium heat. In a bowl, whisk together milk and cornstarch until clumps are gone. Add into pot and whisk. Stir in the nutritional yeast, Dijon, garlic, and salt. Whisk over low heat until thickened (about 5-7 minutes)
- Cook your pasta according to package directions.
- In a blender or food processor, blend the sauce with 1 cup of roasted squash. If you have a hand-held immersion blender like I do, you can add the squash chunks straight to the pot and blend in there. If you’re using canned squash, just add it straight to the sauce and stir until blended.
- Add cooked, drained, and rinsed macaroni to the pot, as well as the mix-ins, and stir until thoroughly heated.
- Be absolutely amazed and shout “I can’t believe this is vegan!” (I still do this when I eat it)
I am aware that the word vegan scares the boogers out of
carnivores people, but this recipe is absolutely, 110% meat-lover approved (I promise). So no matter what you’re going to do to push your limits this week, make it count. And if you feel so obliged, leave me a comment to tell me about it. I’d love some inspiration myself. xo