So, this is Christmas

… and what have you done?

The famous lyrics from John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” tune from October 1971. Many artists have attempted cover versions, some better than others. While written in the early 70s, the lyrics still appear relevant, except the war is not over and causing problems across Europe.

The lyrics attempt to unite people and share a strong message of love, obviously reflecting the political unrest in the early 70s, but not much has changed over the past five decades. Politicians are still crooked, wars are ravaging, people are pushing to divide instead of unite, oil and gas prices are silly high, and the economy is going to shits.

And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

I will kick off the post on a happier note and ask you to reflect on all the awesome stuff you accomplished in 2022.

We all have noticeable achievements (small, medium, or large), and each plays a vital role in our mental stability and self-worth.

Do not undersell yourself and your successes.

Everything count, and you need to relish and be proud.

Saying Merry Christmas

For the past decade, some people and groups have felt it is necessary to remove words from our vocabulary, claiming that it is offensive. One of these words is Christmas. For some obscure reason, we cannot say Merry Christmas because we want to be respectful of others. I’m all for being respectful and always striving to be polite to my surroundings.

Yet, we wish other religions a wonderful time during their essential celebrations, such as Diwali, Hanukah, Kwanza, and Ramadan. I share my greetings out of respect for different faiths and beliefs, and I’m fairly sure many offer the same respect when we celebrate Christmas.

In fact, many friends and colleagues I have met over the past three decades do not have issues sharing greetings for the various holidays and are not offended when they hear the words “Merry Christmas.”

The word Christmas is not offensive and is an essential milestone in the Christian religion and history. Let’s not minimize and erase the importance of Christmas by banning it from being uttered. It further distances us from others if we cannot share an appreciation for other religions and beliefs.

I will continue to wish people a Merry Christmas but remain conscious of the audience.

Reflecting on my awesomeness

2022 is another successful year for our family. Granted, we did not win the lotto millions, but our life is truly blessed with many enjoyable moments. I’m proud of my kids, my wife’s achievements and us thriving in our adopted homeland. We’ve generated a lot of memories and achieved some extraordinary individual goals.

We also had some minor setbacks and challenges, but I do not want us to dwell in the negatives too much, although we need to learn from the past to strengthen individually and as a family.

The Meal Plan Adventure

One of my 2022 New Year resolutions was to create and share weekly meal plans. Given that I usually share four dinners and five school lunches, I’ve calculated this to be 208 meals and 260 school lunches. Some meals and lunches may have been repeated a few times, such as Caesar Salad with grilled chicken, as my daughter LOVES it.

I successfully created 52 weekly meal plans covering school lunches and family dinners. All meals were planned, cooked, and published on my blog, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook page. Plenty of positive feedback, and viewer numbers have steadily increased.

Amazingly, I managed to prepare and publish meals even if I traveled on business for a couple of weeks throughout the year. I made a few more significant or extra portions and froze these for my wife and family to reheat.

My meals and recipes are from around the World, savoring flavors and combinations from East to West and North to South. Some are successful, and some will never be made again. But we explored the World from the safety of the kitchen and will attempt to visit and sample dishes when we start traveling more.

Growing Up and Living Alone

After a successful decade in the US, our oldest daughter graduated from High School. Her HS degree was well-deserved, with a lot of extra studying and learning new skills, all while on an IEP. She had been diagnosed with lower hearing due to her cleft palate and often spent her time lip reading and filtering out the noise from her classmates.

Since she did well and we wanted her to have a good education, we shipped her off to a university of her choice, which happens to be in Florida. She is not too impressed with the cold winters, the prospect of snow, and cooler temperatures. However, she loves the beach and warm weather.

One of the key learnings from attending university is learning how to live alone. Suddenly you have to be an adult and look after laundry, dinners, breakfast, classes, homework, and cleaning your dorm room, while also earning money to pay off the student loan.

It was damn easy to get a student loan and go into debt. Much easier than passing a driving test. Getting a job took longer, but she finally made it and is paying off the monthly installments.

All aboard

Driving to Florida is a minimum of 18 hours drive. So when our daughter moved to Florida, I booked a spot for my truck on the Amtrack from DC to Orlando. We packed the Viking offspring’s room, loaded the car, and headed for the warm shores. From the time they loaded the car on the train till we saw disembark roughly 13 hours. After that, we had to sit on the train, eat snacks, and watch several movies. Sleeping on the Amtrack is a lost art unless you plan and book a cabin. The seats are comfortable but not built for prolonged rest as they do not recline much.

50 Years of awesomeness

Despite my childish mindset, I finally became an adult and turned half a century old. Man, what a significant milestone especially considering where I was healthwise in late 2018 when I experienced significant heart failure – and faced an uphill battle to recover fully.

Fast forward four 4 (almost) years, and I celebrated my 50th birthday with some very good friends. We threw a fabulous garden party with meat, music, beer, laughter, and fire pits.

Roughly 30 people showed up ready to party, and it was successful. People had a blast, and the evidence is that we have no pictures. No one was constantly on their smartphone. Instead, we all laughed, ate, and enjoyed social (in-person) gatherings.

It was not bad turning 50 years old. There’s nothing to fear.

While the World is burning

On a less happy note, I want to reflect on a few things that made 2022 a shitshow. It is a harsh and honest approach and may trigger some readers. You have to park your emotions when reading some of my comments, and I will attempt to be objective, but I may fail 🙂

Political Correctness – fuck your sensitivity! We are allowed to disagree and say opinions, and we cannot censor speech and stop canceling shit because people are offended. Shop or go somewhere else. It is not that hard. I have no idea why many people seek out confrontation where they can cause the most noise and damage. Some people seek attention for unnecessary reasons.

It is an ongoing challenge and causes intense division, and every conversation is tainted by foul language and ill-intentions. As a result, very few discussions on social media are positive.

The division is plentiful – Left and right are useless – everyone is a trained journalist who thinks their comments are relevant and can only comment with angry words, attempting to assert dominance in the conversation. They believe they are right and will rarely have a civil discussion.

Being led by an older man (Biden or Trump) is a recipe for failure – we can do better. It’s a statement and a fact!

The green new deal is a hoax – bloody politicians can’t do anything right. So they take it back to the left vs. right without coming up with any meaningful plans. So instead, politicians and celebrities fly around the World in their jets and advocate for fewer fossil fuels, no cow farts, more almond fields that kill every animal, construct solar panel fields that suffocate wildlife, and provide no confidence in the science.

I say we involve and make business leaders accountable for managing their input and outputs. Make them understand what it takes to create their products, evaluate the carbon footprint, and develop ways to reduce their impact on the World.

But more importantly, hold countries accountable that produce most of the pollution by offering ideas and plans to combat the outputs. Then, again, work with the companies in these countries to improve.

Lastly, have a more targeted and meaningful conversation with kids and families, get involved with better programs that recycle waste better, and work with local farmers on better access to produce. Again, meaningful and simple action plans that consumers can support easier will start a change.

My final old man bunion is the COVID vaccine. I am not an anti-vaxxer, but we have to question what we inject into our bodies and how often, without being ostracized by society and without losing privileges. Unfortunately, the COVID vaccine is, in my opinion, not working as intended. There are too many sudden side effects and an increase in heart-related illnesses, and people are still catching COVID despite the assurances that they are now vaccinated and protected.

More worrying, why do we need to inject ourselves with several boosters, which clearly do not help or protect against and variant, and there is limited evidence that the vaccine has any impact on the virus?

It worries me that we force people to vaccinate against a constantly evolving virus and sell snake oil. Remember in the old days when a guy sold strange mixtures of urine, snake venom, dirty water, etc., and claimed that it was a miracle cure? Unfortunately, that is precisely what is happening with the COVID vaccine.

It saddens me to see how naive people have been with the vaccine, injecting this poison into their bodies and then injecting children without understanding the long-term effect. Sure, I agree with vaccines for some viruses, but not the avalanche of boosters.

We do not have to agree, but I’m entitled to my opinion, like you. I respect your decisions, but there’s no need to seek violence and foul language to discuss issues we care about.

A healthy life starts with the shit we ingest and inject into our bodies. You are not healthy if you eat cheap fast food, snacks, sugars, and sodas. Your body will be negatively impacted, and it can cause obesity. And obesity comes with a long list of known issues, including being vulnerable to severe COVID symptoms.

That is why I advocate for meal plans, shopping locally, using more vegetables, and eating better food. It is not complicated, and it is not overly expensive, but you need to invest more time in planning and preparing meals, but it is worth it.

Enough crumpy old man talk! I had to get this off my chest and feel much better and optimistic about 2023.

Promises for the future

Despite some insensitive comments and thoughts above, I’m still optimistic about the future. I have to be, as my kids are growing up too quickly and will soon inherit the shitworld we are building or destroying. But there’s plenty of hope and positive things, and I have faith in some of our younger generations to help improve this World.

Failing that, we have to watch Mad Max and Walking Dead to prepare for the apocalyptic future.

Until then, I will continue to plan, prepare and share meal plans, and I hope to improve my ability to share recipes with the World. In addition, I want to encourage families to cook more food at home by sharing simple meals, ideas, and tips for creating incredible food for your families.

I will not share my new year’s resolution but surprise you as my Viking Heart Within journey continues.

In 2023 I’ll do more old-man stuff like drinking bourbon, eating healthier, exploring the outdoor kitchen, and finishing my workshop. Plenty of exciting stuff. Did I mention falling in love with my wife every day?

I wish you a happy new year and an excellent 2023!

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