Weather: 39 degrees
What I’m listening to: Oceans (Where Feet May Fail), Hillsong

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about influence. We all have it. We each leverage it in different ways, whether it’s deliberate or unintentional. We influence those around us, those with whom we come into contact each day – in the home, in the workplace, out in the world, and on the internet/social media. We are all influencers.

I often hear people say that social media sites like Facebook are ‘just a distraction.’ Yes, they certainly can be a distraction. They definitely have the potential to become that. However, it entirely depends on how we approach it. Regardless of how many ‘friends’ or ‘followers’ or ‘fans’ you might have on any of the various social media sites, or how many people are in your family or workplace or neighborhood, you have influence. You have the power to inspire or to enrage, to empower or to antagonize, to uplift or to tear down. Things like complaining and arguing are contagious. But thankfully, so are things like encouragement and hospitality. It all depends on who we decide to be and what we decide to be about. What is the message we are sending? What does what we are putting out there say about us and what we value? This translates into all areas of our lives, not just social media or the internet, but everything.

Are we most often showing up to give or to receive?

Are we wastefully spending our influence or are we investing it in ways that make a difference? 

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Recently, there was a lot of media buzz and uproar about Martha Stewart, particularly about some comments she made discrediting food bloggers. Martha Stewart (whose recipes I’ve respectfully adapted, credited, and featured on my blog multiple times) has an incredible amount of influence. Huge. Enough influence to really change the world and do some amazing things (which, undoubtedly, she already has. Thank you for that, Martha).  And yet, she leveraged her influence on this particular day to degrade tens of thousands of others with less influence than she has, in one massive, resounding blanket statement. This simply makes me sad. Influence is such a powerful thing and she leveraged it in a deliberately hurtful way. How discouraging.

I don’t want to be an influencer like that.

A Christian author/speaker whom I like and respect recently posted to social media channels to hundreds of thousands of people, complaining about how long he had to sit on hold with a certain company (which he named). Then, comments and responses flooded in, everyone sharing their own unfavorable experiences with sitting on hold specifically and customer service in general, naming other companies and jumping on the complaining bandwagon. I’ve occasionally been guilty of jumping onto just such a bandwagon. These sorts of things happen all the time – someone complains about something and then, as a result, people get all stirred up and angry. While I don’t think that this person was intentionally leveraging his influence in a negative way that day, I do think he was careless with his influence. This, in my mind, is not a helpful way to leverage influence with hundreds of thousands of people watching and listening. It was, however, an expedient way to generate buzz and get lots of attention in the form comments, hits, and new followers.

I don’t want to be an influencer like that, either.

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This whole thing has really challenged me to be even more aware of my own influence and how I choose to leverage it. I am by no means perfect and I have a long way to go, but I have a clear idea of who I want to be and what messages I want to be putting out there.  I want to be someone who is consistently here to give, not to receive – someone who approaches each interaction as the meaningful opportunity it has the potential to be. I want to invest whatever influence I have, now and in the future, in things that truly matter. I want my influence to be contagious toward positive ends – to inspire others to give back, uplift, encourage. I want to be helpful opposed to hurtful, careful opposed to careless. I fully acknowledge that saying or doing things for shock value or to get people stirred up or angry may get my website more hits or may generate more comments or ‘likes’ on my Facebook/Twitter/Instagram posts. I’m simply not interested in that. That’s not what I’m choosing to be about. It may not make me popular or famous, but I’m ok with that.

Because influence is such a powerful thing.

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As for this pumpkin tart, it’s awesome. It packs a double-ginger punch with powdered ginger and crystallized ginger in the filling. The custard is creamy and smooth thanks to the help of some cream cheese. And the graham cracker crust offers great texture and crunch that is often missing from traditional pumpkin pies. It’s an impressive new way to serve up your dose of pumpkin dessert this holiday season.

Ginger Pumpkin Tart

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A flavorful double-ginger pumpkin tart, an impressive alternative to traditional pumpkin pie. Adapted from [Fine Cooking|http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/double-ginger-pumpkin-tart.aspx].

Yields: 8 servings

  • For the Crust:
  • 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • For the Filling:
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon crystallized ginger, finely chopped + more for serving
  • For Serving:
  • Lightly sweetened whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350.

In a bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press the crumb mixture firmly into the bottom and up the sides of an un-greased 9 ½ inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom. Bake 10 minutes. Allow the crust to cool on a rack while you make the filling.

Reduce oven temperature to 325.

In the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth. Mix in the pumpkin, spices, salt, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla until smooth, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Fold in the crystallized ginger. Pour the mixture into the crust and spread it evenly with an offset spatula.

Bake the tart 25-30 minutes or until set (the filling should just barely jiggle when the pan is nudged). Cool tart on a rack. Refrigerate the tart in the pan until chilled, 2-3 hours. Remove the tart from the tart pan, slice, and serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream and crystallized ginger on top.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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