Ancient Self Help from “Meditations”

Art work by David Higbee

What can I say about “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius that hasn’t been said a million times already? While I might not say something new or revolutionary about it, I can share how it’s changing my life. I’ll list out what Meditations is, why you might be interested in it, and some passages with why they have stuck with me. In this article, I’ll cover what Marcus Aurelius has to say about self help from ancient times and how it still applies today.

What is Meditations?

For those of you who do not know Meditations or The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, it is the translated personal journal of Emperor Marcus Aurelius of Rome. He lived and ruled over a turbulent period of Roman History filled with wars and plagues. Aurelius was also a Stoic and he practiced the art of journaling, where he collected his thoughts, reflected on teachings, and practiced gratitude. These were his personal thoughts, his journal and he didn’t expect them to be made public. Nonetheless, his journal has been read by world leaders, generals, captains of industry, and regular citizens for over a thousand years.

Since this is his personal thoughts, you see a very honest and straightforward writing. Notes to himself to remember. Reflections on how to deal with people, especially the more surly of them. You see an actual diary of a Stoic who was the most powerful man in the Roman Empire.

Why should I care about his Meditations?

Taking out the fact that it’s one of the most read books by successful people. That it could be seen as the world’s first self-help book or that it is the insights to the last ‘Philosopher King’ of the Roman Empire. It is a foundational book for anyone looking to improve their lives with a practical philosophy for living.

Stoicism is about living a better life here and now.

Before we go any further on the topic, I want to warn you if you are new to Stoicism, that there is a lot of talk about death. Momento Mori is a phrase that Marcus Aurelius wrote which breaks down to: Remember you will die. It’s not meant to be scary or discouraging. Instead it is meant to rally you, to remind you to act because you won’t live forever. To encourage you to doing tasks that won’t improve yourself, your family, your community, and the world. It is about freeing yourself.

Ancient Self Help

Like I mentioned above, Meditations could be viewed as the first best selling self-help book published. Within Marcus Aurelius’ writings he reminds himself about dealing with others, dealing with yourself, and pushing forward. These were reminders to himself, the emperor of Rome. Even he had to remind himself to be mentally strong.

Respecting yourself

“Everyone gets one life. Yours is almost used up, and instead of treating yourself with respect, you have entrusted your own happiness to the souls of others.”

“Meditations” Marcus Aurelius 2.6 page 19

It’s easy to take the praise of others to increase your self-esteem. It’s equally easy to take someone’s complaints or insults to heart and lower your self-esteem. But, your value and self worth are yours, that is why it starts with ‘self’. Much of the teachings from the Stoic masters is around the “self”. How you view the actions of others, what you can control, and how you view the world. When you allow others to dictate your happiness, you will never find true happiness. This is very true in today’s social media, instant gratification society.

It is not always the immediate people around you that you should be concerned about influencing your happiness. Influencers on social media have too much influence into what people think they should have or want or look like. They spend hours to stage photos and videos that last a few seconds. They paint an unreal reality that too many fall for. To quote Admiral Akbar from Star Wars, “It’s a trap!”. One that you can avoid.

Feeling wronged

“Choose not to feel harmed—and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed—and you haven’t been.”

“Meditations” Marcus Aurelius 4.7 page 39

Have you ever witnessed a toddler take a fall and immediately look around for their parent? The toddler is looking for an adult to help them understand how to react. Should they cry or continue playing? I learned two things early on with my kids. First, if they are not immediately crying, they’re not hurt. Second, if you rush to them with a concerned face, they will start crying. Instead, smile and tell them that everything is ok, and they will be.

The same is true for us when it comes to feeling harmed as adults. There are plenty of times when someone else’s impression of events paint our feelings. The Stoics talk a lot about how we view the world. We control how we see what is happening to us and we control how we respond. You don’t have to feel harmed by someone’s attitude, you can ignore it and continue on. Once you get into the practice of controlling how you see the world, you will feel more at peace.

Don’t talk about it, just do it

“To stop talking about what the good man is like, and just be one.”

“Meditations” Marcus Aurelius 10.16 page 137

It is easy to put off doing something when you have tomorrow. The same is true about doing what is right for yourself, your family, and community. Don’t talk about doing or being someone, do it. Be the best person you can be. Stop to help someone at store reach or lift an item. Be the person that is kind, happy, helpful, and trustworthy. Be who you it is you were meant to me.

More to come

This book is extremely influential and there is so much more to talk about. This could easily become a 20 page book report! So I’ve decided to break this report up and make it a series. This article covered Ancient Self-Help, and in the next one, we’ll look into Working and Endurance.

This year, I’m taking a Stoic journey and seeing if and how it will help me in life. Take a look at my first post about it this year. I’ll be covering this topic more as the year progresses.

Better User Stories From Cooking Recipes

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

A well written recipe is an amazing gateway to trying a new dish for you and your family. It’s also a golden opportunity to learn something new! The same is true for a well constructed user stories or any other type of ticket in Jira. Today, I’m going to introduce you to my recipe for success in ticket writing and why you should demand better recipes, I mean tickets before you start your sprint.

Now, if your job is related to software development (e.g., developer, tester, product) and you don’t normally cook, you might not understand where I’m coming from here. But, I’m sure you will appreciate it in a few minutes.

A taste for the past

Humans have been cooking their food for longer than recorded history. Along the way, we discovered that mixing different items together made the food taste better. You would think that if the first written document was an ancient spread sheet, then the second document would be a recipe, right? Sadly, it wasn’t. In fact for much of human history, when a recipe was written down, it was a list of ingredients with a vague set of instructions. This lack of specificity allowed for an open interpretation of what was mixed together and what the end result should be. An open interpretation of what the end result should be? I feel like I’ve seen this at work.

It really wasn’t until the last few hundred years or so that recipes began to standardize around a format of listing ingredients (with measurements) and instructions for preparation, cooking, and serving. This change allowed anyone with a copy of the recipe to consistently repeat the process or improve it.

What does this have to do with Jira tickets?

A well defined ticket allows everyone to understand clearly what needs to be done, just like a recipe. The role of the Product team is not an easy one and I give them credit for even wanting the job, but ticket writing is the most difficult. You must put down in words what the end result must be with guidelines on how it should perform or interact.

This sounds and looks like ingredients, steps to prepare, and serve. Also known as a story, requirements, and acceptance criteria.

If you look at most cooking blogs today, 99% of them start with ‘a story’ about the recipe. The difference for software is that we want to explain the “why we are doing this” in a user story, so that we understand what we need to do. The requirements are baked into the how and why we’re doing this, and the acceptance criteria tells us when it’s done.

Recipe for Success

One key difference between a recipe and a user story is the format order. In a recipe you start with listing the ingredients and the measurements you need, followed by your preparations for the ingredients and then how you mix / cook them. Finally, a recipe tells you how to serve the dish. A user story starts with the user and what they need to be able to do. Followed by the requirements and finishing with the acceptance criteria.

Bad recipes look like my post about savory oatmeal, the same is true for bad tickets. A bad ticket can have a title like this, “Add new function for Invoice”, and then have no body to it. It’s just the title. And yes, I have seen tickets like this at every place I’ve worked at. I’m sure you have too!

So how do we make the user story better?

Using our example from above, “Add new function for Invoice”. That’s not really something that can be done, because invoices are standardized, the request is probably for a new feature around the invoice like viewing in a PDF. Changing the title is a great way to improve this, “Add view in PDF to invoice screen”, helps clarify the ticket. Now we’re done, right? No, we’re not. We don’t know the “why are we doing this” part of the ticket.

We need to know who the user is and what it is they want to do with it. Obviously, the user is someone in account or finance, right? So, they just want to open the PDF in Adobe, or their browser, or to download it, right? Well, that assumption that it is for someone in accounting or finance could be wrong. The end user could be a customer outside of the company. Also, there is the assumption of how they want to use it with implied purpose that got slammed in there. These details matter, because that is how you know what you need to do. Like a recipe that tells you to preheat the oven to 400 degrees and cook for 50 to 60 minutes, the details layout what the actions are and for whom. So, let’s add story to the user story.

The accounting team needs to export our invoices into PDF, so that they can be emailed to our auditors.

In this example, we learn three important pieces of information. First, the end user is not the accounting team, but the auditors. Second, this feature will not be used every day. Finally, it must always work.

Are you wondering how I jumped to the conclusion that it must always work? That’s an implied acceptance criteria. On the average day, no one needs to interact with an auditor; however, when you do get a request from one, you need to respond quickly. This makes the process for everyone involved easier, but also show your company takes these request seriously. That means, your feature always needs to work.

We have a corrected title and a user story, so we’re ready to go, right?

Not yet.

We’re missing the full acceptance criteria still. We have only the implied one. We also don’t know if this is supposed to be a button on the screen or automatically downloaded. Should we open a modal to handle the emailing from within the system? Since this is for auditors, should we log this request (e.g., who was logged in and triggering the PDF creation, who was it sent to)? These are all important pieces of information.

It’s not easy

As you know by now, it’s not easy to write brilliant user stories. If it were, then everyone would be doing it and this post wouldn’t have been needed. So, it’s everyone’s responsibility on the team to help improve user stories, tasks, and bugs to be great recipes.

The example that I played with above was for a front end user story and I know that’s not always the case. Tickets for the backend are often vague and open to interpretation because there isn’t a visual component, but you should always know who or what the work is being done for. The creation of an API is not an isolated task for no one to use. It will be used for another application either within your company or for a customer. That changes the nature of the ticket a bit, but it improves it greatly because then the developers and testers know who they are creating the ticket for.

User stories should tell a story that anyone on the team can follow. They need to drive the team to a destination that everyone can understand they have reached. This is done by being consistent and providing structure that everyone working on the ticket can understand, much like a recipe.

If you liked this content and would like to see more of it, please like, comment, and share it. Thanks!

The Book Report, “Remote Not Distant”

“Remote Not Distant: Design a Company Culture That Will Help You Thrive in a Hybrid Workplace” By Gustavo Razzetti

The Book Report is not sponsored. They are my honest take on a book and helpful notes and / or findings from them.

One promise that I made myself in both 2021 and 2022 was that I was going to read more. To be honest, in 2021, it really was more of a ‘hope’ than a goal, but in 2022 I did find a way to make that hope feel more like a goal. One of the books I read last year was “Remote Not Distant: Design a Company Culture That Will Help You Thrive in a Hybrid Workplace” by Gustavo Razzetti. Today, I am going to offer you my book report on it.

I want to begin by saying, this was a good book overall and provided a lot of great examples and references to interviews and studies done with lots of cited sources. I would recommend it to anyone interested in how to develop the company and team culture. It is targeted for hybrid and remote companies. Razzetti starts his book off with the reality that many companies faced in early 2020, followed by the second shock of 2022. The first shock was how to work from the home during the pandemic and the second one was that not everyone wanted to rush back.

I took notes while reading and have selected five quotes to share. My intention is not to bypass your reading of this book, but to share why you should consider reading this book for yourself.

It’s about Communication

“Asynchronous communication requires more intentionality and effort. Your teams need to be obsessed about documentation which can slow down communication soon sometimes. However, when people are thinking deeply, writing down their ideas, and presenting them, better collaboration and work result — no meetings required.”

“Remote Not Distant: Design a Company Culture That Will Help You Thrive in a Hybrid Workplace” by Gustavo Razzetti page 34

For many of us, our work lives feel spent hoping from meeting to meeting, discussing problems and solutions, what’s coming next, and timelines. From a software perspective we can sum these up as Grooming, Planning, Retrospectives, and “Go Live” meetings. If you support multiple teams, then you might feel like attending these meetings is all you do.

I have begun to rely on asynchronous communication for follow up with my team, more than scheduled calls. It has been helpful when being on a Grooming call with members of my team to ping them and ask how complicated the testing effort really is, if they’ve thought about scenario A or problem B. In that respect, it’s very helpful to poke them so that a ticket is story pointed appropriately. The bigger fish in the statement being “obsessed about documentation”.

The dreaded “D word” in my industry. I haven’t found many people in my time testing software that enjoy writing documentation. Usually the arguments are:
The user story should be all of the documentation that you need.
The code is self explanatory.
I’ll remember how I test it in the future.

All of these sounds like great reasons to avoid writing documentation. If they were true. Customers Ops has to questions to ask a customer that doesn’t remember the step they did before the app broke. Product doesn’t always understand the full technical requirements of what needs to be done. Code written 6 months ago, might as well be ancient history to both the developer and tester. And that doesn’t even cover onboarding someone to the team. So you need documentation.

Documentation improves your team’s ability to work fast and return to parts of the application that they haven’t looked at for a while. It improves the onboarding experience for new hires and cross training of existing team members. All in all, documentation is not just a good thing, it’s a necessity!

Schedule Your Work Time

“Block time for focus work and invite other to do the same. Respect your own and other’s calendars. Avoid responding to emails or Slack messages immediately —- respect the agreements. Use and respect away messages, whether it’s a ‘busy’ status on Slack or a ‘out of office’ auto-response email. Be mindful of time zone differences.”

“Remote Not Distant: Design a Company Culture That Will Help You Thrive in a Hybrid Workplace” by Gustavo Razzetti page 281

This falls under revolutionary and common sense at the same time. I’m sure we’ve all heard some variation of, “Prepare your schedule or someone else will do it for you”, at some point in our life. And if you haven’t, you can immediately relate to it, because it’s true. When we don’t make time for our work, then someone else will make time for us to do their work.

But what does this have to do with working remotely?

A great deal actually. When we’re all in the office, it’s easy to see when someone is heads down doing deep work. They might have their headphones on, their body posture is different, you can see them. When we’re online, the visual cues are missing. And on a large enough team, the meeting schedules are different for everyone. This is where calendar blocking and status messages come into play.

Since reading this book, I’ve taken to sending a message to my team when I am going into ‘deep work’ and then set my status to “Do Not Disturb” with a status message of, “In deep work until” and add a time. This allows everyone messaging me to know that I might not respond until said time. This is another level of communication and an extremely helpful one that I encourage my team to follow. Calendar blocking is an excellent way to ensure that you have that time to go into deep work.

You will still need to be flexible and negotiate with people on timing and communications. Urgent matters still come up. So be reasonable when you go into deep focus. The plus side of scheduling is you reserve the same time regularly, people will begin to realize your schedule and respect it.

Keep it Positive

How often have you read a message or series of messages that had a ‘tone’ about them. You read them and thought, “Wow! Why are they so angry?”, or “Are they sad about something?”. Communication is one part verbal, one part sound/intonation, and one part visual. In the absence of body language or the voice of a colleague it is easy to supplement what is missing with your own feelings. This is very much an easy problem to overcome when working remotely.

Razzetti talks about the leaders at GitLabs, a remote company, they approached the problem this way.

“Employees are encouraged to assume positive intent. If people say something that might feel uncomfortable don’t make it about yourself. Understand that they want what’s best for the company.”

“Remote Not Distant: Design a Company Culture That Will Help You Thrive in a Hybrid Workplace” by Gustavo Razzetti page 46

Remembering that we’re all on the same team, regardless of role, goes a long way towards making sure everyone acts as a team. The quickest easiest way to do that is to default towards everyone having “positive intent” to make great software.

Get A Little Global in Your Perspective

If you’ve only only worked in small, close knit teams and companies, you probably had a harder time during the pandemic than others. This is especially true if you were a manager that managed your team by who was present. You expected your team culture to come down through your personality and charm. But that doesn’t work when your team can be anywhere and working at anytime.

“Leaders of Hybrid teams will have to do what regional and global leaders have always done: work hard to create connections between on-site and remote employees.”

“Remote Not Distant: Design a Company Culture That Will Help You Thrive in a Hybrid Workplace” by Gustavo Razzetti page 41

Your team is probably still spread out geographically and that’s a great thing! It does however, require you to change how you lead them. Like having regular one-on-ones, we need to encourage our teams to have coffee breaks with each other. Encourage your direct reports to schedule a 10 minute to get to know you with other members on their project team.

I have a team on-shore and an off-shore team of brilliant testers. We meet as a team once a month for an update on what’s working, what’s coming down the line, and my favorite part, question time. I send one “get to know you” question ahead of the call. We all take turns answering the question. This simple but powerful activity brings us all closer together. We learn something new about each other and sometimes find people with similar past, wishes, or goals. Activities like this build a team culture in an amazing and powerful way.

If You’re Looking for it, You’ll Miss it

Many people think that culture is top down and can be managed like a person. After all, people make up a culture, so it’s something you can clearly manage, right? Sadly, and thankfully, it is not.

“Your true company culture happens when no one is watching — it is the result of what gets rewarded or punished.”

“Remote Not Distant: Design a Company Culture That Will Help You Thrive in a Hybrid Workplace” by Gustavo Razzetti page 89

Your actions as a Leader have a huge impact on how your team will view what needs to get done and how it is done. When you encourage timeline over quality, you will likely get rushed, under tested code. If you encourage people to jump and get things done, you will reap that same reward. As much as I would like to say we can avoid timelines, we can’t. We all still work for a business with commitments and deadlines. How we communicate to and our expectations of our team make a huge difference! Your team will take your lead. If you want a respectful and productive team, that is for you to take the lead on.


I enjoyed this book and found myself recommending it to colleagues while reading it. There are very insightful moments as well and many common sense moments that get glossed over in real practice. I’ve definitely incorporated many of the lessons that I took away from the book. These were only 5 of index cards that I captured from my notes. This book is also loaded with exercises and additional downloads to help guide you and your team in search of an improved culture.

On the whole, this book was about company culture in the Remote / Hybrid workplace. At first glance you might think to yourself, “This isn’t relevant to me, I’m not a company leader”. If you are part of a team in a company, it is relevant to you. A company culture is made up of everyone in the company, working on a team, working to get something done. We spend a lot of time working, more since the pandemic started, on average, so the culture of your company and team is important. We all have a role to play in that.

This is the first in a series of posts that I am doing this year. “The Book Report” has a goal of introducing you to books that you might not have read yet covering Leadership, Management, Productivity, and Philosophy. I hope you enjoyed it!

If you liked this post, please be sure to “like it” and share it with others. If you’d like to see more content like this, please leave a comment sharing your thoughts!

A Stoic Journey Begins

Nicholas Keene taking notes from book
Nicholas Keene taking notes from book

I can’t tell you when I first became aware of stoicism, was it in PHIL 002 (entry level philosophy), was it while watching a history program, I’m not sure. What I can tell you is when it first began to click with me. That was when I saw my first YouTube video by Ryan Holiday in late 2018. Ryan Holiday is a writer, coach, speaker, and YouTuber focused on stoicism in the modern world. Next, I received a copy of “The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius” for Father’s Day in 2019. That copy was difficult to read because it was an early translation to English. I tried my best to read it. Ultimately, that version proved too difficult for me to read and fully comprehend.

While my first reading adventure into stoicism was difficult, it did not stop me from wanting to learn more. So, I subscribed to “The Daily Stoic” YouTube channel and newsletter (both run by Ryan Holiday). I found other videos on the topic by different content creators and then the pandemic hit.

The Pandemic, Stoicism, and Me

The pandemic changed the lives of everyone. My first day working from home was Friday, March 13, 2020. Yes, Friday the 13th. I remember picking up my daughter from school and joking with the other parents that we would see them next year. Maybe it was just a joke or maybe it was the part of me that studied history, in particular the early Twentieth Century history that came out. I didn’t realize how true that joke would be. But suddenly, I was a husband, father of two, an employee, and a teacher all at once and all the time.

And like for so many others, it became too much.

Humans have suffered through many pandemics throughout our history, but we have a short memory span when it comes to remembering them. Every time a pandemic hits, it changes us. We were lucky that this one was not as bad as previous ones. If you’re interested in learning how the world reacted to the 1918 Pandemic, I highly recommend watching this playlist by “Extra Credits History” (“The 1918 Flu Pandemic“).

Working from home was difficult for all of us at first. I was still new at my job when the pandemic started and didn’t know everyone well. The team I was part of was tiny. My wife and I were both working and different hours at that! How and where we worked all had to be figured out. Virtual classes for my daughter and then daughters had to be balanced in between meetings and calls. We figured things out, bought an extra desk, and just like that we found a new routine.

So what does the pandemic and stoicism have in common?


As I mentioned above, it was too much for me and I needed to find a way to communicate to myself what was going on, how I was seeing the world, and how I was going to remain mentally strong. That’s where stoicism came in. Unlike the English meaning of “stoic”, stoicism is not about ignoring your emotions and being cold, it is about controlling how you see the events and the world around you. It is about practicing control over yourself. You are still allowed to experience all of the happiness, beauty, and sadness, but not losing yourself to them. Remembering that you control how you view and understand what is happening. It’s about clarity.

That last bit is the important one, you control how you view and understand what is happening around you.

As the Roman Emperor and stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius put it, “Choose not to feel harmed — and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed — and you haven’t been.” “Meditations” Gregory Hayes, page 39.

You have control over your mind, so you have control over your actions. You can control how you see what’s happening. It is within you to apply meaning to what you are seeing, hearing, and experiencing.

This was extremely helpful for me. So I grabbed a copy of “Meditations” by Gregory Hayes. I bought his translation because it was in modern English which made it much easier to appreciate. I also checked out a copy of “The Obstacle is the Way” by Ryan Holiday from my local library. (Yes, I use my local library and so should you!) I found that I enjoyed Holiday’s style of writing and breaking things down.

I began journaling again, including starting each work day writing down three things that I am thankful for. In the beginning they were simple sentences without much thought in them (e.g., I’m thankful for my family. I’m thankful that I’m alive, etc.). I was thankful for these things, but I wasn’t thinking about why I was thankful. Later, I created an Apple Shortcut on my iPad to run in the mornings. It gets my meetings, my to do items, and create a new note in Notes for me. This Shortcut helps me capture what I had planned and have to do for the day. The first prompt is “What are you thankful for”. It was a great start!

Companion books, "The Daily Stoic" and "The Daily Stoic Journal"
Companion books, “The Daily Stoic” and “The Daily Stoic Journal”

My Stoic Journey Begins

I would like to explain quickly the difference between a personal routine and a personal ritual. A routine is a set of tasks that are something you think about. This makes them flexible. A personal ritual is something you do without thinking about it. An example of a personal ritual is brushing your teeth or washing your face. You do it without thought. Routines can turn into rituals over time, so be mindful of what you choose to make routine.

I start my days early for work, but I decided to start even earlier in order to make time for this. So, I started waking up 30 minutes earlier to make sure I have time to prepare lunches for my daughters, my own breakfast (see my savory oatmeal article here), read, and write in my journal. Once my morning routine became ritual, things went better. Then I noticed my problem was at the end of the day with writing my evening reflection. There were many mornings where I was writing my evening reflection from the previous day first and then my new morning reflection. I changed this, by creating a new routine, for ending my day and immediately picking up my journal to write then and there. I would take a few minutes to collect my thoughts, think about the day and return to the assignment.

This wasn’t great because I really didn’t decompress and think about my actions clearly.

The point of a reflection is to have time to look over the long haul, and truly absorb what happened and your actions to it. So, I started trying a few different approaches. What seems to be working for me right now, is ending my day and doing a small writing task for a few minutes. Usually, it’s coping notes that I’ve scribbled in books or GoodReads on to note cards. This helps improve my memory of what I’ve read, and gives me the time and space to clear my head a little. This little change allows me to be more reflective on my day. After I write down a few notes, I come back to the evening reflection, and can reflect more clearly.

Now honestly, the evening reflection should be written before going to bed. But I can’t always stick to that because I have three children and it’s a mad rush to get everyone to bed on time! So as a parent, you learn to steal a few minutes here and there where you can.

I have nearly a full year to go on this project. What I can tell you right now, is that I feel better and even have a clearer sense of myself. I look at what is happening around me differently because I am thinking about it both more and less. I think about things more in that I ask myself, how this impacts me? Is this something I can control? If it is not something that impacts me (or my family directly) then I put it aside. If it’s something that impacts me, but I can’t control it, then I accept it, prepare for it, and let it go. This is where thinking less about things comes in. Once I’ve sorted out what I can control, I stop worrying about the rest. There is a great freedom in that.

This is only the beginning. So, I plan to write follow up posts on my progress throughout the year. In December, I’ll conclude this project and share my retrospective on findings. In the meantime, I hope you are all having a great start to 2023 and wish you the best on your journey this year!

In 2020, I Discovered Savory Oatmeal

Savory oatmeal, spinach, carrots, onions, corn, bell peppers, and turkey sausage
Savory oatmeal with spinach, carrots, onions, corn, bell peppers, and turkey sausage

When the pandemic began and we all went home, all of the time, I found myself cooking breakfast more. Originally, it was the same boring meals I always made. Then I discovered savory oatmeal! It’s changed the way I made oatmeal!

I prepare most of my breakfasts and lunches in advance to ensure I eat better, but also because my days are busy with meetings and getting the kids ready for school. So, for this meal, I prepare 4 servings of steel cut oatmeal on Sunday night. Keep in mind when preparing the oatmeal, you don’t want it to be sweet. While that is cooking, I chop up my vegetables for the week and store them. I’ve discovered that preparing your vegetables like this in advance makes cooking easier and gives you more variety in preparing different types of meals. I usually toss the pre-cut bell peppers into my salads at lunch for instance.

Each morning, I put roughly a serving of oatmeal in a sauce pan with a little milk and water to reheat. Then I drizzle some olive oil in a pan and heat up my vegetables (usually onion, carrots, and bell peppers) and my turkey sausage. After a few minutes of heating, I add some minced garlic and spinach. Don’t forget to add a little salt and pepper to taste while you’re cooking. This week, I’ve been adding corn into the mix. The great thing about savory oatmeal, is that you can make it your own by adding whatever vegetables and meat you like. Think of oatmeal like rice, most rice bowls would translate well into oatmeal!

Once everything has finished reheating/cooking, it’s time to plate. Place the oatmeal down first and then add the sautéed mixture. Now, I’m not going to tell you that you should or shouldn’t do the next step, but I enjoy it. If you happen to have any of the olive oil left from the cooking process, I like to drizzle a little bit of it on the top. Olive oil is ‘healthier’ than other oils and it does add a little extra taste. Again, this is purely optional.

I hope you give it a try, enjoy!

What have I been up to?

Happy New Year!

Like most of the world the last few years have been a learning and growing experience for me. First came the pandemic which changed how and where most of work, then came the learning how to work when and where. For myself, that transition was rather seamless, I work in software testing. As long as I have a computer, VPN access, and a stable internet connection, it’s not a problem. So, I started working from home on Friday, March 13, 2020; and work I did!

Since then, I have grown in my company and started do a lot of cool new things with testing and creating test scripts. I’ve become a fan of CodeceptJS and working from home has given opportunities that I didn’t have before as a father.

I have started reading books on modern day stoic philosophy and started playing with home automation. Both of which are topics that I’m going to start writing about here as I come back into blogging. My hope is that you will not only enjoy reading about them, but also learn something new along the way. These topics will be in addition to my conversations about software testing and management.