The times I have tried to simplify my life are so numerous that you would get lost in the retelling of the tales. Most of the time this process involved cleaning out closets, purging possessions and making lists. The closets never stayed clean and the possessions were still purchased. That is not the kind of simplifying that I am discussing.
So what does it mean to simplify in term of your chapter? While most chapters do not have closets to clean or much stuff, they may still need to look at what the word means for them. How do you simplify in a chapter? My first thought is that this process will look different for each chapter. Just as we are each individuals, each chapter has its own unique needs, challenges, and responsibilities. Do remember what worked for one chapter may not suit yours at all. While it is great to share ideas, please adapt and adopt them to work for your chapter.
I would begin the process with members by asking them to discuss the things the chapter does that provides the most meaning for them. What would they toss if given the opportunity? The discussion should be open, honest and non-judgmental. Just because something is mentioned does not mean that you will toss it out the window. You may find that there are marked similarities between what your members say or you may find that there is little consensus. In any case, make change with a loving hand and kind consideration for the feelings of others.
Remember, to simplify does not have to be a negative term. It can be a time of refreshing change and an opportunity to focus on things important to our members.
The second word is Possibilities which can offer exciting opportunities for our members and chapters. What can your chapter offer to its members, area schools, and fellow educators? Perhaps you can offer support to early career educators. Maybe your local library could use a donation to purchase children's books. Maybe you could reach out to young mothers by providing books for babies and toddlers. Maybe you could help the effort to wipe out hunger by supporting a local food pantry. The possibilities are literally as numerous as the needs and challenges your schools and communities face.
Spend a significant amount of time discussing your chapter's possibilities. No matter how large or how small the chapter, you can make a difference in your community and school. Do not be discouraged by a lack of funds or small numbers, just dream. When you have settled on a task or project, then begin finding ways to work on it.
As you work through this process of Simplifying and discussing Possibilities, I think you will find they have much in common. Often we need to simplify in order to tackle the important possibilities. I challenge our chapters to simplify and dream of the possibilities. In doing so we will become relevant to our members and to others who will want to join a team that is making a difference. Keep me posted and let me know how your chapter is progressing.
From the Recipe File
This recipe was a favorite of my aunt and other family members. It was served at many family gatherings.
Aunt Dee’s Firecracker Potato Salad
1 1/2 ounce envelope sloppy joe seasoning mix
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons prepared mustard
1 1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sweet pickle relish
6 cups boiled cubed and peeled potatoes
1 cup diced celery
6 boiled eggs (diced)
Mix sloppy joe seasoning mix and water together, set aside. Mix potatoes, eggs, celery in a large bowl. Add mustard, mayonnaise, pickle relish, and sloppy joe mix. Stir. Sprinkle paprika on top. One egg may be reserved, than sliced instead of dicing and used to garnish the top of the potato salad.