Summer Storms

Good morning, Dear Reader. I cannot believe Friday finally arrived. It’s been a long, hot week. One that has left me feeling anxious and tired. The new moon is upon us, so it’s a good time to think about what you want in your life for the next month and set your intentions so that they support your journey. On another note, if you step outside tonight, you should be able to see all the visible planets lined up in a neat row. Isn’t science cool?

I feel like I’ve been walking in quicksand this week, not accomplishing much yet feeling drained. I’m allowing myself to step away from anything that requires a lot of energy this weekend. Sometimes self-care means doing less, and that’s what I intend to do. I hope this weekend is nothing more than board games, beer, lake swimming, and good food. But it will also be hot – which means sweaty private parts. Blech.

Speaking of food, I’ve been plant-based for a week and feel better. I’m not vegetarian or vegan or even lacto-ovo. I’m just reducing the amount of meat I eat regularly. Some of it was driven by my desire to lose weight. Still, I’ve also been reading a lot about blood glucose (it turns out its too much fat in your diet and being overweight, and not so much about the number of carbs one eats.) I’m sure that will get some raised eyebrows, but honestly, everyone is different. Some people thrive on the Keto diet. For some, like me, the Keto diet tries to kill us – bad pancreas’ run in the family. I’ll stick with my veggies and grains.

Anywho. What’s been going on in my brain this week? A heck of a lot, I can tell you that. I’ve done a pretty good job over the last few months focusing on the positive aspects of life and being grateful for all I have in my life. But this week, ripe with two difficult dates, I’ve been lucky to get out a few sentences. I’m feeling the need to retreat and withdraw but forcing myself to stay somewhat in the moment.

This leads me to today’s ‘stuff.’ Toxic positivity is something I’ve decided I can’t handle anymore. I mean, there’s a fine line between being a pessimistic asshat all the time and acknowledging that sometimes life isn’t fun. I look for a silver lining in most instances, try to remain calm, and attempt to keep my shitty moods contained for the most part. But can we please, please, please stop with all this false positivity when things don’t feel or seem right with the Universe.

Case in point…I was thinking about a friend who passed away this week and found this meme (below)…which I sent to his widow. She replied, “Amen”. See. She gets it. Sometimes life just is…well…life. Whatcha gonna do?

So that’s where I come in. I’m gonna tell you what you can do instead of falling in line with the ‘just think positive’ movement when the ‘just think positive’ movement is less than helpful.

Go on. Grab a drink. Settle in. Let’s go.

1) Feel your shit. Remember when I was a ‘Let that shit go’ person? I’m not anymore. Feel all your feelings so you can move through them. I ask my son a lot what he’s feeling because if he can name it, he can move through it. Ignoring feelings is a good formula for anxiety, restlessness, and stress.

2) Permission granted. If you were waiting for permission to fully exist in every mood and season. I hate when anyone makes me feel bad for being grumpy. “Gosh, you’re in a mood, aren’t you?” I don’t need to apologize for being grumpy unless I hurt you in the process. Guilt trips won’t help your cause any, though. I promise you that.

3) Watch your inner dialogue. Be mindful of the stories you’re telling yourself. My son said last night, “I have autism. I am stupid.” First, being Autistic and being stupid are not even related. There are very smart Autistics (like my son) and very stupid non-Autistics (like nearly 1/3 of the politicians in office). One does not beget the other. So I told him, “If you tell yourself this, then you’ll believe it when others say it about you. And it isn’t true, so stop with that negative self-talk”.


4) Get curious. I do a lot of inner work to find out which parts of me still need healing. I know I’m still furious at some folks, and I also know if I don’t get real and raw about why I won’t move past it. If you find yourself in that same boat, release any judgment you have for yourself (judge them all you want, for now) and speak compassionately to yourself. The most healing sentence in my life? I made the best decision I could with the information I had at that time. Go on. Write that on a post-it and stick it on your mirror.

5) Embrace the seasons. Every human experience comes with a full range of emotions. I gave birth after 23 hours of labor. I was exhausted and excited to meet the beautiful human I had co-created. I also was okay with them sweeping him away so I could sleep. I still love that small human beyond measure, but I look forward to the weekends he’s with his father. It’s okay to be sad and relieved at the same time.

My point today? Honestly, just stop apologizing for the day-to-day stuff we all experience. If someone writes you off for being sad too many days in a row, I invite you to do two things: Ignore them and maybe, just maybe, book a session or two with a therapist. Brief bouts of sadness or moodiness are one thing. Prolonged feelings signal to your body that something needs to change. And if you don’t take control of the course of action required for change, your body will do it for you. This part I know for sure.

I’m leaving you with a song (I know, SURPRISE!). I like this one because it acknowledges that life isn’t always rainbows and butterflies, but it can still be lived. I know I’m heavy on Mitch Rossell’s songs this season, but forgive me. I really like him, and he’s still a humble guy, despite his incredible talent and success. We should all take a piece of that lesson, right?

PS…If you liked this post, please feel free to post it on all the socials. Please and thank you.

A Lesson In Less

Good morning, Dear Reader. If you are local, I hope you survived the heat stroke you may have endured last weekend. For those of you in colder climates…I am so very jealous. I get it. It could be worse, I suppose. Some of my friends in Phoenix said it was 112* last week. I guess I shouldn’t complain. But I will. I absolutely will complain because it’s my blog, and I can do what I want.

So, on a more interesting note – not that wet armpits and sweaty private areas aren’t interesting – I’ve been reading a cool little book called “The Year Of Less”. I guess I didn’t realize the author of one of my favorite blogs had written a book (actually, two – of which I’m aware), and it was pretty overwhelming (emotionally) for so many reasons. I’ll summarize here: She put herself on a ‘no spend year’ and chronicles her journey. You know I love new challenges and am always up for experiments. So. Let’s devise a plan, shall we?

Grab a drink. Settle in. Let’s see where I’m going with this.

Where I’m going begins here: How do I continue to put $350 a month into savings for my child’s future when the source of that income is a bit ‘hit and miss’. I can get a part-time job or I can cut my spending. The bottom line is: $350 a month belongs (technically) to my son and I need to figure out a way to get it into savings.

Sigh. Deja Vu, amiright?

I also have other goals – pay down debt, travel, and buy a mandolin. Okay, maybe not buy a mandolin, but still. So, while eating my scrambled eggs today, I decided I, too, would try a ‘no spend’ period.

Now, you know me. I’m about as committal as a feral tomcat, so the thought of actually committing to a full year makes me a bit itchy. But, as my personal trainer used to say: You can do anything for thirty seconds. She was talking about walking at a 10-point incline and a thirty-second plank. But still. Based on that logic, I landed on a timed challenge that might work for me. I’ll document the progress here, just as Cait did. I can do anything for thirty days. Right? Right.

I gotta say: I’m somewhat excited about this and also slightly afraid of epically failing. I do that sometimes. Fail epically. Except now I’ve got you, Dear Reader, to hold me accountable. Yay, me. I’m not sure I like this but let’s see where it leads us, shall we?

First, I started by agreeing with myself on what I could buy. Those include:

1) Consumables (food, wine, toiletries, gasoline, etc.)
2) Gifts for others
3) Items that could result in saving money (i.e. Nail polish to replace bi-monthly manicures)
4) Services that are health-related

Then I decided what I could not buy:

1) Clothing (unless I lose weight, then I’m allowed a small replacement budget)
2) Decor or things for the house ‘just because’ that really do not add value
3) Art supplies (Shall we discuss my already great magic marker collection?)
4) Books. Yes, books. Not even the digital ones.
5) More tarot cards. I have four decks. I’m good here.

Finally, how long will this self-imposed challenge last? I’m going with sixty days. I’ve got a birthday party right in the middle of this, and I’m going to lean on my friends to borrow things I do not already own. Thirty days didn’t feel long enough to make a lasting impact. A year seemed like – frankly – I’d be setting myself up for failure. I like attainable and realistic goals. Maybe it will end up being a year, who knows. But for now, it’s sixty days.

So – what do you think, Dear Reader? Wanna join me? I’m going to post at the end of every two weeks what I was able to move into a savings account. That way you can keep me accountable. In fact, for those still reading, I’m journaling this process here.

Until then, I leave you with a song. This one has nothing to do with today’s post – those are sometimes my favorites. But it is from a local artist named Lyal Strickland. Lyal’s unique voice is yummy and let’s face it; he’s not hard to look at, either. He’s got so many songs that I love, but this one is my favorite. Maybe because I kind of feel it in my core. Enjoy!

PS…and if you liked this post and think others might like it, too, feel free to share on all the socials. Please and thank you!

Damns Not Given

Good morning, Dear Reader. As I mentioned in my last post, it is hot AF here, and I do not like it. But the good news is, I can afford air conditioning and ice cubes. That says a lot about what it takes to make me happy.

I’ve been thinking about you, Dear Reader. I was thinking about how I can offer you some advice on getting rid of even more things. Honestly, I’d love to spend our time together today, helping you eliminate some limiting beliefs. I’ve collected all kinds of golden nuggets of wisdom over the last few weeks. Enough that, I think, I can piece together a patchwork post of wit and good information. So. Shall we?

Well, go on then. Grab a drink. Settle in.

1) Enough is a decision, not an amount. Case in point, I used to be a huge fan of Milk Duds. I mean, I still am a huge fan of Milk Duds. But I used to devour an entire box of those babies. I now can have one little handful and save the rest for another day when murder is on my mind. Same with wine. I can make a bottle last two, sometimes three, days. I used to consume wine like a thirsty redneck at a free beer trailer at the local truck pull. I have enough clothes. I have enough glass jars (Sigh). I am enough just as I am. And, you are, too.

2) Reactions are overrated. I’m learning that even if I react, it rarely changes anything and doesn’t make people suddenly love or respect me. It is sometimes better to let things be, let people go, don’t fight for closure or ask for explanations. Chasing answers and running down theories require a level of energy I no longer wish to expend.

3) Don’t be afraid to say ‘No’. Boundaries, baby, boundaries. You don’t even have to go any further into an explanation if you don’t want to; “No” is a complete sentence. You can be polite (“No, thank you.”) or you can be like me (“Fuck no. That’s ridiculous.”) On the other hand…

4) Don’t be afraid to say ‘Yes’. When I got a text asking me if I wanted to go on a road trip as a first date, I had to catch myself. I typically would say ‘No’ to something like this because of the guts it took to step outside my comfort zone. But I didn’t. Against my better judgment, I said “Yes,” and I’m glad I did. Still hanging with that guy, and I kind of like him.

5) Trust your instincts. If it feels wrong, don’t do it. I sometimes get some pretty strong signals from the Universe, and I’ve learned when to trust that. Some things I’ve experienced have given me a firm idea of what is good and what is not. If you start to quiet your mind, you, too, will better tap into that discernment.

6) Get real damn good at not giving a damn. If I’ve taught you anything this year, it’s to avoid the drama while whispering to yourself: “Not my circus. Not my monkeys.” I also like the version “Not my pasture. Not my bullshit”. This one little truth can bring you right back to the present moment and permits you to look away, swipe left, or keep scrolling. You do not have to attend every argument you are invited to. Amiright?

With all that said, I’m keeping it short today. It’s Friday. We want to get down to the weekend business, don’t we? So, let’s kick this one off with a good song by a lovely little band out of Texas. I missed them in concert recently, and I’m sad. Thank goodness for Spotify, right? And you’ve got me, of course, feeding you all kinds of good music. (He’s got one that’s kinda naughty if you listen closely). You’re welcome.

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it on social media. I was looking at my stats, and I’ve had as many visitors since January 2022 as last year. Thank you for that, Dear Reader. I appreciate the nod.

The Heart of the Matter

Good morning, Dear Reader. Welp. We certainly went from 0 to 60 in the weather department here in the Ozarks. Or, more accurately, from 70 to 100. It’s hot AF here. And I do not like it. I think I might have been a penguin in a past life. Or a polar bear. Or something that would melt in weather like this because I’m evaporating over here.

Anywho. The full moon in the fiery sign of Sagitarrius is upon us; this one is about letting go of the past. You can read all about it here in a post from my fellow blogger “Cosmic Cannibial.” While I do buy into most of this stuff, I think everyone is still responsible for their behavior regarding moving on and healing. I used to tell my students in massage therapy school that I do believe in the Law of Attraction, but you can’t simply sit in a lotus position and OMMMM your way into a successful practice. You must still do the work. And it is the same when it comes to healing and moving on.

You gotta put in the work. You. I get it; I am no stranger to getting knocked on my ass by circumstances beyond my control, but I also know I’m responsible for allowing these things to pass through me like a storm. Some storms are more significant than others. A thunderstorm is vastly different than a tornado. And rebuilding looks different for everyone – wind damage versus complete destruction (I sure do loves me sum good ol’ metaphors, don’t I?). But, no matter the size of the storm, moving on requires five common things (I’m sure there are more, but five is where we find ourselves today). So.

Grab a drink. Settle in. Let’s go deep, shall we?

1) You have no ‘right’ to closure. In other words, you will not receive closure in every situation, but you can create it. I know, I know. I’m a digger – I want to get to the bottom of why something went wrong. But the tenacity that serves me well at work isn’t always healthy when it comes to letting go in my personal life. Trust me…I know that wanting closure can become kind of an obsession. But you wanna know what mantra helps me let go? Ready? Fuck it. Yep. At some point, you just gotta wave your hand and say “Fuck it” and accept that you ain’t gonna get closure from someone else. Ever.

2) It isn’t always about you. In fact, most of the time, it never is about you. Most of what other people do is about them, and you are simply collateral damage. The author of “The Four Agreements” puts it another way: Don’t take anything personally. So, repeat after me: Not my circus. Not my monkey. Or, for more of a dramatic flair: Fuck it.

3) Accept the unexplained. This one goes hand in hand with the first two, but I am feeling this one strongly this week. Like a spoiled two-year-old, I’ve been watching the news and going through past pictures, saying, “Why? Why?!?” Why did my brother die at 27 with a six-month-old child left on the planet? Why did someone as good and pure as my friend, Bill, pass away when asshats like (fill in the blank with your least favorite person) continue to walk the planet? Why do some people snap and walk into a school, leaving 19 young fatalities in their wake? Some things cannot be explained. It is okay to feel the pain of these things. Feel it, process it, and then…get to the point where you can accept that an explanation will likely never happen. As much as that really sucks.

4) Apologies are rare. In fact, most people don’t know how to apologize, so they just don’t do it. A good apology looks like this, but most people don’t do it correctly. They say something like “I’m sorry you were hurt by that comment” instead of “I’m sorry I hurt you”. It seems silly – the words are not much different, but if you see them, you can quickly notice slight difference. One infers that YOU are the one who took something wrong when the latter implies that THEY did something wrong. Some people can’t accept that they are wrong. When my son apologizes, I make him dig deep to accept responsibility for his infraction. He’ll say “I’m sorry” and I’ll ask him “What for, exactly? What are you sorry for?” to teach him to name his action (“I’m sorry for yelling” or “I’m sorry I lied to you”). I’m working really hard to do the same.

5) People change themselves. No matter how much you think they need to change, you are not in control of this. SURPRISE! And…you know who you are. You believe that buying more vegetables, will ‘help’ the other people in your house stop eating so many oatmeal cookies. You think that by signing yourself and your partner up for a 5K that this is the year you will BOTH lose weight. Nope. Ain’t happening. (And by ‘you’, I totally mean ‘me’). To put this another way: People don’t change until the pain of staying the same exceeds the pain of changing. You can tell your spouse that eating too much butter leads to heart disease all you want. She probably won’t care until she has a heart attack shoveling snow. And even then, she still might not care. Ready for the tough love? Not your circus, Friend. Not your circus.

I leave you with this song because I think moving on really comes down to one key thing: Forgiveness. I’m getting to the point where I actually like talking to my ex. I joke with co-workers who stabbed me in the back. I’ve forgiven myself for so many things. I wrote a post about a year ago about that very topic, and honestly, at that point, I don’t think I was really buying into what I was writing. Fake it ’til you make it, right? But at the heart of the matter, it comes down to your choice. The only person who can decide to move on is you.

So what about you, Dear Reader? Have you been waiting for an apology that will most likely never come? If so, drop it like it’s hot and move on. Have you been carrying that anger? Don’t. Move on. Are you expecting an explanation? You will probably won’t get it. Move on. Are you waiting for closure? Yep…you guessed it…move on. Write your pains down on a piece of paper tonight under the full moon, light a match and burn all those written infractions down. Then, take a sip of whatever it is your drinkin’, and whisper, “Fuck it”.

If you think this post might help someone, feel free to share on all the socials. I’m cool with that. And you might warn them about the language. Despite my potty mouth, I recently moved over the 14K views point on this blog (in less than a year, so, ‘yay’!), and I owe it all to you. I certainly don’t do much to promote it 🙂 To me, it’s nothing more than a creepy online diary. But I’m glad you like it, Dear Reader. I really do.

This Is Progress

Good morning, Dear Reader. It. Is. Friday. And I don’t know if you can tell from how I typed that, but I. Am. Ready. I’ve got three books, and I can’t wait to cuddle up in an armchair with a little swig of Eagle Rare or Jefferson Reserve over one colossal ice cube with the likes of these smutty ‘romance’ tales. Before we get started…I need some recommendations: What are you reading, and is it worth it? Because my TBR pile is dwindling, and I’m in the market for some freshly pressed smut.

Anywho…today, I’ve been feeling a bit out of sorts. June isn’t a fun month for me. I don’t know if it’s because my late brother’s birthday is the 22nd or because the one-year anniversary of losing my friend, Bill, is right around the corner, but it’s stirring up a little sadness. Plus, the full moon is Tuesday, and ‘they’ say it will be a doozy. (Who the fuck are ‘they’ anyway? I mean, really?)

I’ve been in my head a lot this week. I was thinking back to the disaster that was my life in 2019. I’m facing another week-long vacation from my kiddo as he goes to hang out with his other half of DNA, and I’m itching to get out of town. In 2020 I did this and headed to Florida. It was nine glorious days with zero schedule or responsibilities. I’m headed north this time, though, through Iowa and Minnesota. I’m trying out the Subie and will be camping along the way. Too hot in Florida for that business, that’s for sure. Fingers crossed. If the blog just up and goes dark, you’ll know I was murdered in cow country or kidnapped while trying to order tapioca.

What has been on my mind, you ask. Well. Let’s dive in.

Grab a drink. Settle in. I’m sharing the three things that are no longer the same as they were just two years ago.

1) I care less about you and care more about me. I know that sounds really horrid, but stick with me here. I was so far out of touch with what I needed in my life, from the food I wanted to eat to the places I wanted to rest my head at night, that I was a walking zombie. Really. I can barely remember 2017-2020. If you are one of those people who doesn’t believe in trauma responses, then, um…I need you to unsubscribe. Because trauma is real, people’s ways of coping with it are unconventional. Add a global pandemic and world economic disaster to the mix, and well, let’s just say there’s a good reason I switched from wine to whiskey. But, alas, no more. I come first. Repeat that in your head until you believe it: I. Come. First.

2) I’m okay with mediocre. I’m an overachiever. I always have been until this year. While I’m not okay with the status quo, I don’t need everything to be ‘epic’ to feel satisfied. To paraphrase Mitch Rossell: I’ve never been to Venice or danced under the Paris lights. I’ve never seen Willie Nelson live. But that’s alright. And honestly…it is okay. I’m just as happy curled up in an armchair rereading “One Day In December” sipping a mid-shelf bottle of Chardonnay as I am galivanting all over the world. In fact, I’m probably happier with the former, if I’m being candid.


3) I ask for help. Okay. Before anyone calls me out on this…I am better at asking for help – I’m not great at it. But progress is progress, and I’ve leaned on more than one friend over the last twelve months to get me to where I am. One gave me a really great job which boosted my confidence. One insisted I buy some perfume and skirts. One suggested I start taking Vitamin D3 with K2 and magnesium. Help is help, right? All of those things have been good for me. But my favorite: To the person who suggested I start watching Yellowstone. You are my hero.

Today’s post is short because I want to leave you with some questions and, of course, with your song (go on…click that link. You’ll like that song. It pairs nicely with a crisp Reisling and while I’m not really a sweet wine fan, I can support it this one time).

So…riddle me this:

1) Are you putting so many people ahead of your own needs? If so, why? And how can you ease up on that a bit?
2) Are you ‘trying’ too hard? I was. I gave up all volunteer roles, and ‘downsized’ my career a bit. Where can you adjust back to ‘mediocre’ and still be happy?
3) Are you asking for help? We lost several good humans to suicide in May (Mental Health Awareness Month, nonetheless). Don’t let life get to you. I’m always here and my patio is always open for a pour. Come on over and chat.

If you liked this post, feel free to share on all the socials. Please and thank you.

PS…I don’t think my life is ‘mediocre’ at all. To put this post in context, I invite you to read this post about living a mediocre life. It’s not at all what you think it might be.

Stop Shoulding Yourself

Good afternoon, Dear Reader. I bet you ask yourself, “When can I expect Denise to make a post?”. And the answer is, “There is no rhyme or reason to my schedule.” I’m all willy-nilly these days. I’ve been playing around with my analytics, though, and it seems that Tuesdays and Saturdays get the most traffic. Hmmm. Interesting.

I’m stepping into my space as the self-proclaimed logophile and asking you, Dear Reader, to examine the word “Should”. How often do you say this to yourself or allow others to say it to you? Here are some examples of how the word should have impacted me this week (and it is only Tuesday, FFS.)

  • “You should exercise more.”
  • “You should totally quit that job.”
  • “You should drink 128 ounces of water each day.”
  • “You should tell them you were the PTA President.”
  • “You shouldn’t borrow against your 401K.”
  • “You shouldn’t drink wine on Mondays.”

Should. Shouldn’t. What awful words. Why? For an elementary-level term, it’s full of judgment and conditions. I’ve grown weary of anyone who says to me, “You should (Fill in the blank)”. Should I? Should I really? Why? So you can feel better about passing your judgment on to me instead of worrying about what you should do? See what I did there.

As I age, I realized I’ve spent the better part of my life shoulding myself – not to mention listening to the other shoulders (should + ers, as in ‘people who use the word should’ not ‘shoulders’ like the body part. And yes. I think I just made that word up). I’m taking a stand this year, and I’m not gonna let such a little word hold so much meaning over me. I hope you’ll read on and join with me in blocking out the shoulds I tell myself and ignoring other people’s shoulds.

How?

Grab a drink. Settle in. I’m about to tell you.

I’ve placed all kinds of limits, expectations, judgments, and decision-making merit on myself in the past because of that little elementary-level word. I’m totally into embracing a new narrative this year, and I’m going to start with these five. Maybe some will resonate with you.

1) I should be further along by now. Um. Nope. I’m right on time. Case in point: I recently went back to work at a place I really enjoy, and I took a salary reduction. A few of my colleagues made some jokes at my expense about returning, and for a few days, I humored them. Then it got old. And I called them on it – in a sidebar conversation that included a few choice words resembling something like “Fuck you. You don’t know my story.” Here’s the thing: I’m right on track for my own path. You are, too. Stop telling yourself you should be further along by now.

2) I should do what makes them happy. Um. Nope. I don’t have to live up to others’ expectations. Not at work. Not at home. Not anywhere. I am not responsible for anyone else’s feelings or emotions. And while the recovering co-dependent in me sometimes thinks differently and even, at times, feels differently in my gut…my soul understands this ancient truth.

3) I should look more like them. Um. Nope. I don’t need to look like anyone else but myself. I work with many Millenials and Gen Z., And I have a full head of gray hair that I have colored to ‘fit in’ with the gang at work for years. But every one of those hairs on my head represents wisdom, experience, and a level of patience that I didn’t have when I was ‘their age.’ So yeah. I’m fluffy in some places. I’m going grey. I have laugh lines and forehead wrinkles. I’m embracing these things.

4) I should be working harder/longer. Um. Again, nope. I can listen to my body and take breaks when I need to. All those years of ‘wisdom and experience’ I mentioned above? It means I can sometimes do in 20 minutes what it takes a new person 40 minutes to do. I don’t believe that it’s my fault they are inexperienced and not as bright as me. (Wink wink) Right? Right. I also have learned to embrace a dirty kitchen if it means spending time with my child in the evening. I didn’t use to think this way. But life is short. Spend it with the people you love before they are gone. There will always be a kitchen to clean, trust me.

5) I shouldn’t be thinking about what I need. Um. (You know where I’m going with this…) Nope. It is not selfish to take care of myself, and therefore I will start asking myself, “What do you need, Babycakes?” more often. For example, I am an insomniac. It’s not easy for me to fall or stay asleep. I used to just roll over and embrace another sleepless night when snoring came – loudly – from the other side of the bed. I don’t do this anymore. I need my sleep, and if there are other bedrooms or sofas in which I can find that rest, you best believe I’ll be there. The same goes for anything I needed that I used to ignore. I will think about what I need because I count, too. Right? Right. And so do you.

So, Dear Reader, how have you been shoulding yourself these days? I can’t be the only one telling myself I should drink more water, drink less wine, exercise more, and rest. Spill it. I’m all ears.

Until then, here’s your song. I just spent the better part of 895 words telling you to ignore ‘should’. I still think, though, you should be dancing. Just sayin’.

If you love this or any of my other posts for that matter, feel free to share on all the socials. Please and thank you.

Five Harsh Truths

Good morning, Dear Reader! It’s a glorious day in the Ozarks. I’m sure it’s gonna get a bit warmer, but at this very moment, Mother Nature is hanging in there with an excellent 70-something temp that I adore. (Sidebar: Is there any place on Earth where it is in the 70’s all year long? If so, I want that. Unless it’s New Jersey, nobody wants that.)

I’ve been thinking a lot about our 2022 theme of letting go, and while this post today isn’t so much about ‘letting go’ of something, it does fit with the ability to let go of old beliefs. In the book Warrior Goddess Training, I was prompted to write a list of “Things I Know For Sure” at the end of a chapter. That’s harder than it seems, folks. But I encourage you to do it, too.

As I made my list, I realized there were themes – or categories – that each of the listed items fell into, and here is where I share those five categories with you.

Ready? Good. Grab a drink. Settle in.

Here are the five harsh truths about life I wish I had known earlier:

1) “Meaning” is up to you. If you feel like life is meaningless, or you’re wandering around with a lack of purpose…may I be blunt? It’s your own damn fault. Non-profit agencies do so much good work and they need volunteers. You can plug in to just about anything you want. For me? I realized I was ‘too plugged in’ and that my true meaning was tied directly to being a good mother in this season of my life. So, no volunteering for me for twelve months. I’m on Total Mom Duty (well, as much as a working a mom can be).

2) Forget perfect. Nothing, not a home, partner, job, car, school, etc, is perfect. The ‘perfect’ (fill in the blank) doesn’t exist. Concentrate on finding the (fill in the blank) with most of the qualities you like/want and accept the rest. The only exception is if ‘the rest’ is dangerous or costly. Like – you love the house, but the roof is about to collapse. You mostly like everything about your partner…but they are a drug dealer. See my point? Everyone loads the dishwasher differently (and don’t even get me started on laundry), so you must let go of the control. Do the dishes get clean? I mean, did your fight over whether the forks go in tongs up or tongs down really matter in the grand scheme of things? Yeah, um, no. Pick your battles. Same with work, a vehicle, friends, etc. Nothing is perfect.

3) Adapt Realism As A Mindset. Okay, Optimists and Faux-Positivity people…I’m talking to you. True, there’s no need to be a pessimistic asshat all the time, but it’s also important to not bury your head and ignore facts. Life isn’t a movie, you do need to have a plan, and sometimes you don’t get what you want no matter how badly you want it. Adapt an artist’s ambition but an engineer’s mindset. In other words: Hope for the best, and plan for the worse.

4) Life is a game. And friends…no one is playing fair. Find the games you want to play, learn the rules, and find a way to succeed at the games you’ve selected. I’ve learned this about my day job. Some folks thought I was crazy to take a salary reduction to return to a place I really love to work. And I might not have returned if I hadn’t let “Not my circus, not my monkey” permeate every cell in my body this year. Now I can shut out the drama because that drama does not belong to me. I am not here to fix the entire organization’s issues. I’m here to do {this much} in the grand scheme of it, and that’s all I’m doing.

5) Everything ends. Okay, here’s me being morbid, but here’s the facts: Everyone you love will die. Every job you love is going to change. People you enjoy working with will eventually find other places to go. The house you love will no longer serve you at some point. Your vehicle will become a rust-bucket death trap, and you’ll turn it out to pasture. Your children will fall in love, move out of state, or worse, assert their independence so that it feels like your heart might break every day over the choices they are making. I’m sorry. That’s just the plain old truth. The sooner you get this, the sooner you can trust the process.

But, there is hope. All those things may seem all ‘doom and gloom’-ish, but honestly, I feel as though having that mindset keeps me from forming unhealthy attachments to the outcome of anything. And isn’t that what we all really want in life…to have no attachment to the outcome and simply trust the process?

Yes. I know. It’s not easy. Why do you think it’s taken me this many years to get it? I feel you, Boo.

With that, here’s your song. I love this song. I don’t know if it’s the lyrics or its melody that I like. But here’s what I do know: It’s a song about accepting that this relationship must end. Its lyrics imply that time has proven over and over that this is simply not meant to be, and goodbyes need to be said and accepted. (Want a ‘country version’?) Leave it to me to love a break-up song. I mean, my favorite Christmas song is, literally, a break-up song. Clearly, I need to drink some Positivity Punch and get out more.

So, there you have it, folks. My 978 words of wisdom for you. If you loved it, then please – help a gal out and share on all the socials. Until we meet again, have a wonderful weekend.

A Life In Moderation

Good morning, Dear Reader! It’s a dark and stormy day here in the Ozarks. Yep. My favorite. The minute I heard the first clap of thunder, I was inspired. We should probably dive right in, then, huh?

Sorry if you miss the chit-chat. I’m trying to keep my posts to 1000-1200 words, and besides, I just figured you’ve got things to do.

So, grab a drink. Settle in. Let’s talk about personal connection (again), shall we?

Last night I took my son over to the new school he’ll attend this summer, and let’s just summarize it by saying this: We were both a little anxious, sad, and weepy. His old elementary school was good for him, and all the teachers/staff knew him. I was also pretty entrenched in the culture of that school, so, needless to say, we were both a bit apprehensive. I grew up in the same school (K-12) and never had to experience switching schools. I felt so bad as a tear fell from his little cheek while he shared he would miss all his friends. I, too, had friends at that school, so I get it. We were both trying to be brave, but I could sense just how much stress both of us were under, and it was un-fucking-comfortable. I, along with him, was feeling the desire to connect but also fighting the urge to isolate and process these emotions alone.

It got me thinking about so many things and aspects of life. Even pre-pandemic, I felt we were losing the ability to form genuine and meaningful connections. Still, I don’t trust many people these days. Frankly, if we are honest with each other, not many are trustworthy to begin with. So it is difficult to form connections when one is so suspicious. 

So, I’m taking you back a few years into my lessons from my Yin Yoga class (which I also miss). According to the Eight Limbs of Yoga, this lesson or practice called Brahmacharya is where we find ourselves this morning.

Brahmacharya is about the practice of moderation. Doing anything to excess in our lives—food, sex, work—typically leads to imbalances, leaving us with low energy and high frustration. Brahmacharya can help us find balance if we let it. Half the battle is knowing where we’re going into excess and why we’re doing it. Then we can make changes.

There are some very significant ways that our lack of connection leads to overconsumption and minimizes moderation. Here are some ways we can all practice Brahmacharya to live a more moderate lifestyle while combating fear and boredom:

1) Balance the sloth and work-a-holic in you. Okay, typically, I’m not prone to laziness – ask anyone who knows me. I work hard and stay really busy. I’m not much of a television consumer, although I can binge-watch with the best of them. I love to read and write, but honestly…I don’t rest enough. However, for the last two nights, I have crashed hard. This is a good indication that emotionally and physically, I’ve been way too keyed up. 

2) Living inside my telephone. In his song If It Takes A Lifetime, Jason Isbell croons about fighting the urge to live inside his telephone, and I have to say, “Yes. This is an issue.” Last night I ‘gave myself permission’ to doomscroll for five minutes before turning to a guided meditation and trying to tamp down the anxiety of the day. But, for all the apps designed to ‘connect us’ I’ve learned I just don’t like any of them. The revelation – and I’m checking my call log as we speak – is that even though I pick the damn thing up to see if I have any messages about 400 times a day (and trust me, there are messages), my actual ‘recent calls’ list indicates that I haven’t had a call lasting over two minutes in two weeks. And if I have, it’s because I initiated it. But, sure as shit, when faced with going out or staying in…I will choose to stay in 98% of the time. 

3) Overthinking. Okay, admittedly, I haven’t mastered finding moderation in this. Hell, I’m convinced that if you look ‘overthinking’ up in the dictionary, there’s just a photo of me – no definition. I’m an INTJ and a Virgo. I was born to overthink things. I’d like to say this is easy to stop doing – but it isn’t – so I’m asking you, Dear Reader, for some tips and tricks. How do you get out of the overthinking mode? I’m a thinker by nature, and I actually like this about myself. I am proud of my ability to think through a problem and come out the other side of it with several solutions. But, at times, overthinking can drive me temporarily mad, so I have to learn to practice Brahmacharya, especially on this one.

So – of course, I’m going to leave you with a song today. It seems a bit ‘religious’, but it’s really just me staying engulfed in my Mitch Rossell crush. Hope you like it. 

I will also leave you with some questions, and I’d love to hear from you.

How has this pandemic created imbalances in your life? 

Are there areas in your life where you can practice Brahmacharya and find moderation?

Can you digitally disconnect your life for a bit? How would you make a shift to connect with others if you weren’t simply able to scroll through your Facebook feed?

Stop storing. Start living.

Good morning, Dear Reader! The weather today is a bit dreary but I’m a writer. I like depressing days. Nonetheless, I’m settling into my new life and closing the chapter on several others. If you know anyone who wants to buy a spacious three bedroom two bathroom home that requires a bit of elbow grease, I know where you can find one a tad bit below market.

Me? I’ve either sold or given away all my shit and damn it feels good. This isn’t the first time I’ve done this kind of thing, but it is certainly one of the few times I’ve done it voluntarily. Years ago I was inspired by Adam Baker, who sold everything he owned to backpack with his family, but never really took it that far. Each year I re-watched the short documentary, I’m Fine, Thanks!  (And, if my new friend is reading this…I’m talking to you. If you were looking for confirmation to follow your dreams…you’ve come to the right place. Watch that film!) 

So. Grab a drink. Settle in. I’m feeling inspired and inspiring all at the same time.

In the documentary, one of the folks they interviewed says “I climbed the corporate ladder only to learn it was leaning against the wrong wall”, I felt that. I had changed careers in November last year and the opportunities for growth and earning were like none I’d ever experienced. But…I missed what I had done before. So, I left that position to return back to my old spot on my old team. It feels good when you finally realize you don’t need a lot to be happy, but when you aren’t happy you know it in your core. 

But, back to you and me and that drink. How did I decide what comes with me and what goes over to Goodwill? Here we go…

1) If I didn’t love it or use it regulary, it goes. At some point today I will relinquish some of my glass jars to my friend who has decided that she wants to “can things”. I know. This is a big move for me. Additionally, the cast iron skillet that I wrote about here, was returned back to its rightful owner – my ex-husband. I didn’t use it much the last few years and I’m not super crazy about the person who gifted it to me, so I figured, it can be his problem to solve, not mine.

2) I want a life of experiences, not stuff.  Does this item lend itself to that? Hiking boots, bicycles, camping gear. Five years ago I wouldn’t have been so keen on keeping these things. Now I am. But electronic devices? Unnecessary clothing? Ridiculous kitchen gadgets? Gone. 

3) I want to say “YES” more often. Imagine this if you will: Your home is organized and clean. Your social calendar is empty. It’s a beautiful day. Over coffee, your favorite person says “Get in the car. We are going to (insert whatever cool thing you’ve been waiting to do here)” and you can. Because you’ve simplified things so much that you can say “Yes” without guilt.

4) I want to be creative. Recently I’ve taken up learning to read tarot. I’m not great at it, but I do okay. Also, I’m working toward that bucket list item: Grow something I can eat. And finally…well…there’s my writing. Opening up some space allows me the opportunity to be more creative. Creativity comes in all sort of ways from quilting to canning food to writing to building the business of your dreams. Maybe you like whiskey and coming up with good drinks or trying out new brands is a thing for you now. My point: With less to tie you down, you can do the things you love to do.

So, if you’ve been looking at Winnebago’s online now just might be the time to sell your crap and live your life. I walk around my new space and it’s so…calm. Just the right amount of ‘stuff’ that I don’t feel homeless but not enough to consume a weekend cleaning and organizing. I’ve even thrown stuff in a Goodwill box as I’ve unpacked. Bird By Bird is how you and I can choose to move down this path of simplicity.

And so, for today, the sign goes in the yard and, hopefully, the house will be under contract by the end of the week. Fingers crossed. Send good vibes. Until then, here’s your song. It’s a bit older and was featured in 50 Shades of Grey so there’s that. I mean…not that I watched 50 Shades of Grey or anything.

SIlly. Of course, I watched it. What were you thinking? 

PS…If you liked this post, feel free to share it on all those social things. Please and thank you!

A Poorly Managed F*ck Budget

Good evening, Dear Reader. The quintessential Missouri summer has arrived, and my disdain for soupy air is suitable. It’s been so muggy out that even my cat is, like, “Yeah, um, no” opting to stay inside instead of killing moles. And this isn’t even hot weather. Can’t wait for July. And yes, in case you were wondering. That was sarcasm.

As I mentioned last post, I wondered if this – this writing thing – was something I could continue doing knowing only a few folks were reading. I decided to put out a ‘fleece’. For those not familiar with a ‘fleece’ in this context – it’s essentially a test of the Universe. Mine was simple: If I get twelve visitors, I’ll stay. So…here we are. You and I. Whiskey lovers and foul-mouthed friends, indeed, right?

My nine-year-old keeps telling me that fame and fortune come from having a YouTube channel, and while fame and fortune isn’t the end goal, I’ve been pondering this. WordPress also has a plug-in that can turn any blog into a podcast, and we all know how I loves me sum good podcasts. Of course, this would require me to have some kind of theme, and at the moment, I feel as though I’ve done an excellent job this year honing in on three specific topics: Being smart with money, reducing clutter, and being a somewhat responsible minimalist.

Um. Or not.

Speaking of that…gosh. The sale of this house has led me to realize that I absolutely suck at keeping purchases at bay. I have taken so much crap to the DAV Thrift Store over the last week, and I’m not yet done. Again, I ask you, how many magic markers does a grown woman need? My child has fewer toys than I do. And the number of weird kitchen gadgets? God. Where did these come from? I finally gave up and rehomed my Instapot. And what’s with this bread maker that found its way into my space when I am not really eating bread anymore? Sigh. Goofy, really.

Honestly? When something is missing in your life – and you can’t quite put your finger on what it is – it can be easy to try to fill the void. So last week, after my third trip to the donation center, at the stoplight by my favorite grocery store and Pineapple Whip, I asked myself: What the hell has been going on with you, Girl? The answer?

Grab a drink. Settle in. You’re gonna wanna hear this.

With every box I delivered, I felt freer. But I also questioned those other emotions bubbling to the surface (hello, INTJ much?). I felt something, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. But then, right after dropping off box number eight, it was there – like a redneck at a fried food stand at a carnival – halter top and all…

Shame.

Shame in all sorts of shapes and sizes. As I handed off some pretty good shit to the teenager doing community service, I realized every bit of that box represented a total failure in managing my fuck budget. (Not sure what a fuck budget is? Click here.) All. This. Money. Wasted. And not just money…the time I wasted at work to pay for it. And the energy I’ve expended to maintain it. I could have spent time, money, and energy on an experience with my child. Time, money, and energy could have been spent building my own home, writing my book, or becoming healthy. Time, money, and energy spent could have allowed me to move to the coast and buy a corner bar where I serve good wine and halfway decent whiskey with tapas to underdressed vacationers. (Yeah, I dream of this life.)

So why? Why did I waste all this time, money, and energy? What happened? I think it’s what happens to most of us, if we are honest with ourselves…

Sigh.

Because I could.

Let’s explore further, shall we?

  1. My income increased this year. But I hung onto the scarcity mentality. Most people, when their income increases, spend more and I was no exception. However, I had been living paycheck to paycheck for so long, that the scarcity mentality had crept into my headspace, and was living there rent-free. I was buying used items at thrift stores that I really didn’t love but thought I needed and hanging on to other things ‘just in case’. For the record, ‘just in case’ rarely happens.
  2. I gained the COVID-20. I wasn’t happy with my body, and when momma ain’t happy, she shops. There were other things, too. I was in a relationship that wasn’t healthy. I was in a job that was unhealthy. I lived in a home with a relative that brought all my triggers to the surface – again, unhealthy. It was a trifecta, I guess. So, I’ve changed my eating habits, I’m getting more rest, and moving my body in a way that works for me. I’m no longer tolerating unhealthy relationships in any form or shape, and I’m setting boundaries. I’m settling into work I enjoy, and I’m relocating. (Fortunately, my new fella doesn’t mind a thick gal, so that pressure is off. These changes are for me.)
  3. I wasn’t mindful. Mindfulness teaches us to be responsible for our feelings and intentions and to be present. I’ve volunteered a lot, worked on fixing the house, and spent many hours simply doomscrolling. I have not, however, been mindful. So, back to my roots. Back to some meditation and breath work. Back to making intentional decisions. Back to protecting my time, my energy, and my money. Essentially, back to managing the Fuck Budget.

So, what about you? Do you look around and see some misplaced emotions? Are you filling voids with people, items, or activities that are not good for your soul? What can you do to combat these things? For me, being intentional is…well…intentional. (I don’t know how else to explain that. Sometimes, as a writer, I’m amazed by how badly I can explain these things.)

For what it is worth, May is Mental Health Awareness Month so here’s your song for the weekend. Keep swimming, kids. Just keep going.

Also, if you are reading this, feel free to share out on all the socials. And, also also [sic]…my fiction writing is moving to another site. So, I will keep you in the loop. (Hint: Pseudonym).

All the best, Lovely Reader. I wish you peace. I wish you joy. I wish you…above all else…love. For love is the greatest of them all.