How To Change A lot In A Year

Good morning, Dear Reader! The temps here in the Ozarks are glorious, to say the least. I love the upper fifties in the mornings as it climbs to the upper seventies in the afternoon. My Little has taken to wearing shorts with a sweatshirt – just like I did when I was his age. And as I watch him exit the vehicle each morning dressed like a little hoodlum, I get nostalgic for more leisurely days.

Speaking of nostalgia, I peeked at my notes and blogs from last year, and it got me thinking about how much can change in 365 days. This time, a year ago, I was planning to leave a job, was pretty sure a relationship / friendship was about to end for good, and couldn’t stand that my ex-husband was breathing air. I felt trapped by my living situation, and my insomnia was so bad, I was barely clocking forty hours of rest at the most over a week.

Fast forward and I’m back working at the place I had been planning to leave, perfectly fine that the friendship came to an end, in a relationship with a pretty swell human, on decent terms with the other half of my son’s DNA, and living in a lovely small home with my kiddo and two cats. Although I’ve been awake since 2:30 a.m., sleepless nights are not as common, and for all of this…I am grateful.

All that said, I think I’ve found a magic formula for making one’s life completely different over the course of a year. I worked with a life coach last fall and made a list of the things I’d like to see change. I also started doing things to manifest or propel those changes. And this is where we are going to dive in today. You ready?

Great. Then grab that drink. Settle in.

Here are six things that can help change your life in just a year.

1) Stop complaining and appreciate how lucky you are. Listen up. If you are healthy, have a roof over your head, funds for good food, and a halfway decent form of transportation, then you are better off than two-thirds of the world. Here in America, things seem rough right now…but I promise you…they could be much much worse. I have two special people in my life facing down the wrong end of a health-crisis barrel. All of this nonsense we think is bothersome becomes less critical when that kind of call comes in.

2) Embrace loneliness and reinvent yourself. Last fall, I let go of someone who was not good for me. And maybe, truth told, I wasn’t good for them either. No matter whose story you choose to believe, I embraced being single, and I learned a ton about myself. I learned my ‘career’ wasn’t all that important to me as long as I had a job I liked and could pay my bills. I learned I liked camping in my car. I learned I enjoyed riding my bike, and most of all, I learned I really was (am?) a good parent.

3) Say goodbye to people who don’t bring positivity to your life. It’s hard to admit that some people suck the life out of you, especially when you’ve invested so much of your fuck budget into them but the harsh reality is if they aren’t adding to your life, they are subtracting. Hardly anyone close to you is neutral. I let go of several folks last fall. Some just faded from view, while others required deliberate acts of complete no contact. Either way, you’ll find that they are barely even a memory in a year’s time and you are much happier.

4) Throw off the television and set some internet controls. I wasn’t much of a television watcher unless you count the mild obsessions that come and go. I like two or three shows, but the television is off more than it is on in this home and has always been that way. But I overhauled my social media intake and started turning off my phone at 9 p.m. on weekdays. The one thing I will admit that has lessened my anxiety is that I rarely watch the news at all. Instead, in the mornings, I’ll turn on Spotify for Daily Drive, which is a mix of news and music, and that’s how I know there’s a hurricane in Florida at the moment. (Sending you good vibes, Florida. You know who you are.)

5) Pick one skill you want to cultivate and put all your energy into it. If you dig deep, you might realize you are hard-pressed to even come up with a skill you desire. That, my friend, is a good indication that you are entirely out of touch with yourself, so I suggest making ‘getting to know thyself’ your skill. This one is tough because I like/want to do many things. But last year, I decided my ‘skill’ was more of a life lesson I wanted to finally learn. So, I decided to cultivate learning to set – and adhere to – boundaries and let go of what no longer serves me. I’ve done an excellent job at laying the foundation on this one. So, this year? Meh. I don’t know. Photography, maybe?

6) Fall forward and learn from every mistake you make. Repeat after me: I made the best decision I could with the information I had at the time. Make this your mantra so that you don’t continue to beat yourself up when you make a mistake. When you fail, you can say “Yep. That didn’t quite work out as I planned. What did I learn from this?” and you can move the heck on. I was thinking recently about the phrase “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” and I’ve concluded that it isn’t entirely accurate. What doesn’t kill you can still sting a little…alot?…for a long time. How you dress the wound, however, is up to you.

With that, I’ll leave you with a song today. It follows my post from last week because I still believe in the power of connection. “Better Together” is a song by Jack Johnson about the importance of togetherness and how it can help improve everything. The song reminds us that we are all in this together and can find strength in numbers. It’s a song about hope and resilience, a perfect reminder that no matter what life throws our way, we can always find a way to get through it.

Which of my six suggestions sounds like something you can employ immediately? Do you think all six apply to you, and can you put them all in play? Drop me a line in the comments. And, if you think others might like this, please consider sharing it on all the social thingys. Peace out.

Build the fire. Invite the neighbor.

Good morning, Dear Reader. The Universe heard my cries and finally answered my prayers. Yes. Fall weather has arrived, for now, and I’m going to enjoy these sixty degree temperatures for the next few days. How? By cramming as much pumpkin spice crap into my body as humanly possible before Mother Nature screams “Psych!” and drops another ninety degree day in my lap. I don’t even really like pumpkins. Or spice. But I’m not about to let that stop me from pretending we might actually have Autumn in our midst. So I’m over here, hoarding all the flannel and cinnamon oil while I can, before the outdoors decides to act menopausal and drop a hot flash on us.  

Now that I’ve given you a weather report, how about we start today? I’ve got 1456 words in me just waiting to spew out. So…

Grab a drink. Settle in. Let’s start the weekend off with a light topic, shall we? 

{Cracks knuckles}

September is National Suicide Prevention month. That said, I get really irritated by the number of well-meaning Suicide Prevention memes passed around on social media by people who won’t even answer their phones when their family calls for fear they might have to listen to someone talk about their divorce or opioid-addicted child again. I’m all for setting boundaries and protecting your energy sphere and all that jazz but come on. Sometimes folks just need to know that someone anywhere will pick up when they reach out. People are hurting.

I think that’s why people don’t reach out. And why suicide has become the second leading cause of death for people under the age of twenty in the United States. Because they fear voice mail. I know I do at times.

So, now that we aren’t on lockdown, can we all agree to stop being scared of each other and learn to be connected again? Even I, the introvert with generalized anxiety disorder, enjoy having an Old Fashion with people I like. In fact, last weekend, my fella and I hosted a Whiskey and Wine tasting at his house, and it was so great to feel a connection with so many who came. One couple said it was their first invitation in over a year. A year. Damn. That’s heartbreaking.

My point today is that we all need connection, whether we admit it or not. What I’m thinking today isn’t so much about my utter disdain for social media – it’s about how to take some simple steps to build genuine connections. And I’m also not considering ‘likes’ or ‘retweets’ to be anything near connection. I’m talking about connection. You have to actively make that happen

Yeah. I know, right? You have to do some work. But don’t worry. I’m going to give you some tips. I hope some of them stick.

  1. Set a time and place. This whole “We should get together soon” bullshit is for the birds. Be a leader. Plan the party. Or, if parties aren’t your thing, ask one person over for a glass of whatever. I made an effort a few weeks ago to ask two people I barely know to go have pizza with me. It was great. They both said so. Make a date and get some people together.  
  2.  Make the effort. This is so hard for me. I put so much effort into everything else I do that putting effort into building connections is not a pastime I’m excited to embark upon. I recently told my son that we will have “No Tablet Tuesdays” because I realized he grew an entire inch, and I was so busy I didn’t even notice. And by busy, I mean I was trying to get through five seasons of Outlander. So. Um. Yeah. My child is the most important person in my life. It’s time I act like it. 
  3. Connect in the present. We all have a person in our life who lives in the past. They bring up how they almost won Star Search back in 1996 and how the band members were ‘so tight’. Others bring up a conversation that happened three decades ago. But hello. We live here now. It is 2022. Obama…and Trump…are no longer presidents. It’s time to forgive and forget. It’s time to connect in the present moment. Yes, the past may have been the catapult to the relationship today. Still, one person is trying to grow and develop. At the same time, the other keeps bringing up the high school cheerleading competition. Have you ever been in a relationship where you feel like you can’t move on because you are stuck in a historical vortex? It’s impossible to feel connected in that scenario. And frankly, it’s boring.
  4.  Connect on a deeper level. I’m not a hyper-fan of Brene Brown, but I do like some of her stuff. To her point, I cannot stress enough the importance of being vulnerable. Although I’m not vulnerable with everyone in my circle, I still think connecting with empathy and past experiences is essential. I’m an INTJ, so if I click on a level like this with people, I’m pretty much connected for life. Be okay with saying “I have struggled with my weight all my life.” Or “My boyfriend and I just broke up.” Or, for reals, “My dad died nearly twelve years ago. I miss him every single day.” 
  5. Connect to a Higher Purpose. Have you ever heard the phrase “Don’t hide your light under a bushel”? It means…people need what you have to offer in terms of your time and talent. My friend, Machell, feels her calling is to feed people and give them handmade quilts. I’ve been the recipient of this kindness many times. I guaran-damn-tee it is her calling. My fella, the ex-cop? Well, he’s the protector. He checks all the doors and windows and reminds me to put my car in the garage at night. He never lets me drive when I’ve been drinking and never runs a red light when my child or I am in the car. Everyone on the planet has a talent. Maybe you can’t make a quilt…but you can buy a cupcake to share, right? Then do that. {Ahem. Chocolate with white buttercream.} You don’t have to be a minister or a nun to care for those around you. Even I have a superpower. What is it?, you ask. Finding just the right song and texting it to people when they need it the most. 

And, on that note (eh, eh…) I want to share this little ditty with you (click that link, dammit. You won’t be sorry.) I somehow stumbled upon it one day and three of my favorite people came to mind instantly. We tend to think that to ‘connect’, we must do it BIG. Plan the party. Be the keynote speaker. Bake all the things. But honestly, if you connect with just one person on a deep level, you’ll probably do more good for the Universe than if you ran for public office. My friend, Andrea, and I connect over memes about anxiety. Whatever works, right? Finding those who let you be who you are at your core…and love you anyway…is pure bliss. So, yes, our little party last weekend was fabulous. But I’m also just as happy to crack open a bottle of Jameson and sit around a campfire with two or three good folks. Call me and we’ll get together.

I’m curious if you are feeling disconnected or if you plan to try any of these suggestions to make some changes in your life. Also, how do you find a connection with others? Comment below. And, if you liked this post, feel free to share it.

True and…um…true.

Good morning, Dear Reader! There’s a spring in my step because…wait for it…IT. IS. 68*. RIGHT. NOW. Sure, it’s rainy, but I don’t mind the rain. As a brooding writer, this is the perfect weather to contemplate my true crime novel. (What true crime novel?!? Sigh. There is no true crime novel. That’s why I’m contemplating it, Silly.)

Actually, don’t you worry. My brain is on overdrive. I’m thinking about things that can be the same today. Sometimes we try to make the world fit into this little black and white box, or we believe that something must be either true or false. If something is not right, then it must be wrong. Right?

Mmmm…

I’m not so sure about that.

I’m over here in my tiny, uncluttered home (sparse is more accurate), and I’ve had a lot of time to process the quirky things that come into my brain. I haven’t plugged in a television yet, so I’m literally working from sun up to sun down. More accurately, ‘son’ up to ‘son’ down. (I love that little human and he wears me out sometimes.)

I’m also without whiskey or wine over here, but I’ll join you with a cup of coffee – black – this morning if you’d like.

Go on. Grab a drink. Settle in. Let’s go over a few things, shall we?

More specifically, let’s talk about things that can be equally true. Not true or false. Not correct or incorrect; right or wrong; yes or no….you get the picture. Ready to dive in? Good. Here we go.

1) You are resilient and you need a break. I know you pride yourself on the fact that you are the ‘strong’ one. The person who has overcome. The gal who laughs at adversity. The man who doesn’t let his hurt-side show. But it’s okay to need a break. I take them all the time. Solo road trips. Babysitters. Lunch breaks on the patio. It’s okay to put yourself first.

2) You gave your all and needed to back out. There are times when you think moving forward is all you want to do…and then you get there, and you think, “Holy shit. I’m not ready for this.” It’s not always pleasant to be in that position, and others may not understand. Some may even be hurt. While I don’t enjoy hurting others, I’ve learned that ignoring my well-being for others’ feelings is counterproductive. I was PTA president for a year and a half. I was all in, but now I’m barely visible. I took a job last fall that paid a shit-ton, and six months later, I resigned. It’s okay to say, ‘Whoa, Nelly. Slow your roll.” Ya feel me?

3) You are independent and still need others. Read that one again. I admire an independent soul. There’s less babysitting to be done with folks like that. In fact, I reckon I’m one of those people. But that doesn’t stop me from asking for help when I genuinely need it. I didn’t use to…and I’m not saying it’s easy…but I can do it if I need to do it. So can you.

4) Others have it worse, and your own pain is still valid. Oh. My. God. I cannot tell you how much I hate the phrase “Practice gratitude. So many others have it worse than you.” First, yes. Practice gratitude. But that other part? Also true…BUT that kind of thinking completely invalidates the pain of your experience. Here’s a secret: Life can still suck in a first-world country. Shit happens. People die. Jobs disappear. Relationships fail. Houses burn down (literally and metaphorically). Acknowledge that it hurt or that you’re scared. Own it. It’s okay. Yes. Others may have it worse, but you are still allowed to break.

5) You were sure and things changed. This one. My goodness. Last Spring, I agreed to do something, but I had to back out just four months later. I thought I was ready. I wasn’t. You gotta understand that you don’t owe anyone anything except the truth. If you can’t be honest and vulnerable about the fact that you made a mistake, moved too fast, or thought you wanted the blue one when you really needed the green one, then you’ll continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. Repeat after me: I made the best decision I could at the time with the information I had at my disposal.

Today, short but sweet, right? {Shrug}. It’s the weekend. I wanted to touch base without overwhelming you. But, alas, I did dig up a great song for you this weekend. (Pssst…that’s a hyperlink. It will take you right to the song. Go on. Click it.) After all these years, this is one of those songs that makes me stop and listen anytime. To me, this song is about our own contradictory nature. Perfect for today, me thinks. He basically is saying “I can’t ask for help…but can you just hang out with me for a little bit and love me through my dark days?” Of course, your interpretation of this song is welcome. I’m curious. What do you think he’s saying?

PS…if this post was all you ever wanted it to be and you can’t get over how awe-inspiring it is (scoffs), please feel free to share it like glitter all over the interwebs. Please and thank you.

Living In The Moment

Good morning, Dear Reader! I stepped out of my home this morning and did not immediately start sweating, so I’m going to call that a win in the Ozarks weather department.

I’m also doing something new today. I’m putting that link to your song right here – front and center. Please take a moment to listen and then read on…

I recently took possession of a tiny 964-square-foot home (Rented, not purchased; I have enough commitment issues. I just won’t buy a home in this market). I currently have a sofa, a folding table as a desk, and a bed for my kiddo. Some would freak out in this environment, but I’ve been here numerous times throughout my life – sometimes on purpose (like now) and sometimes not. There wasn’t much to do last night but read and hang out with my kiddo learning all about Scratch and a new game he was making. Halfway between “Mom, you should play it” and “Blah, blah, this gamer that and that gamer this”…I realized how distracted I’ve been over the last six months. Actually, frenzied is a much better word to describe the previous year. I learned so much about my son with nothing to compete for my attention.

First and foremost, I realized how incredibly talented he is. For the first time, I also noticed how his beautiful grey-blue eyes sparkle when he is fully engaged in conversation. I kind of teared up a little. Okay. A lot. {Ahem}.

Genius at work.

I used to be so good at knowing when I was not living in the moment. I could take a break from multi-tasking. I could step away for a few hours and take a walk near the lake. What happened to those times? What had happened that I was so ‘busy’ that I was missing out?

Name it, really. Too much television. Too many commitments. Too much work. Too much house. Too many people. Too much…too much… too much…

Living in the moment is difficult at first. It may seem unproductive or even a waste of time. But there is so much for us to gain when we stay present and remain in the moment with ourselves and those we love. My fella and I went out to dinner recently – I even put on a dress and eyeshadow. I mean, it was swanky. We sat across the table from one another and actually talked. I asked him silly questions. “Who was your favorite teacher and why?” and “Out of all the jobs you’ve held over the last 35 years, what was your favorite?” Things he has probably told me a dozen times, but I was too busy to listen. We sat there, fully present, in each other’s company. It had been for-freakin’-ever since we did that. And, of course, that kind of intimacy usually leads to even better stuff (wink, wink), so I highly recommend it. I give the night five stars. Would do it again. 

Living in the moment opens up our hearts to new experiences. It’s easy to become engrossed in the mundane, but living in the moment is available to us anytime. I’ve driven through my city thousands of times with my brain on autopilot. Still, yesterday I decided to live in the moment and be totally aware of my surroundings. With the radio off and my brain engaged, I noticed the most beautiful oak tree. I don’t think I’ve seen that tree before, although I’ve driven past it every day since my son started kindergarten. In fact, if it hadn’t been so enormous, I would have sworn it was just planted because I could not remember ever seeing it in my life. And it was beautiful.

Living in the moment helps us to know what is really going on. Ever had an argument with your spouse and danced around an issue to the point of total exhaustion? When I have “discussions” with my guy, he often talks, and I think about how to respond even before the words get out of his mouth. Taking a breath and truly living in the moment allows us to truly ‘hear’ what is being said amidst those uncomfortable times. It will enable us to hear beyond the words and see into a person’s heart. If we do this and stay present, we can usually listen to what isn’t being said: I’m hurt; I don’t feel respected; I need time alone; I need you to hug me. Those are all vulnerable statements, especially when anger and sarcasm come more easily. But being fully present and vowing to stay in the moment during those tough conversations can keep both parties calm and collected for the most part. I’ve been working on how to stay present during times like these. Learning to respond rather than react takes work. I know I can sometimes contribute to someone else’s pain – and I’m learning to acknowledge that when it happens – but I’m not responsible for their feelings. I can respond in love, with kindness, without owning their anger. This is a difficult transition for me – the fixer and the fighter – but it is worth growing out of old patterns. Some people are worth a better version of you. 

Living in the moment is a gift. The more we allow ourselves to remain in the present moment, the more we honor those we love. When we give people our full attention, we receive so much clarity, and they receive so much love that new realities come to life. What better gift than to give honor and respect to those in our presence?

Living in the moment takes practice. I don’t expect you to get it right away. But today, I ask that you do one task and entirely give it 100% of your attention. Last night, I was listening to my son explain some game I’ll never understand. I’ve watched him lean over his tablet for over a year and never really paid much attention to what he was doing. I realized how much I have missed and how incredibly talented and creative this little human is. I was in awe of him. When was the last time you were in awe of someone?

None of us are perfect, and we live in a busy world. But I encourage you to simplify your life. Take each day as it comes. The present moment can be extraordinary and lead to much you never expected. Try it and report back. I’m eager to hear about your experiences.

PS…If this post was the answer to all your prayers (insert “scoff”), share it with others on social media. Please and thank you.

How Low Can You Go?

Good morning, Dear Reader! Today is FRIDAY, and I am so ready for the weekend. Thanks to this pandemic (We are still in the middle of a pandemic, you know!), I am not inclined to accept every invitation. When all the shit hit the fan in 2020, I gave myself permission to relax and do a pretty good job setting boundaries on my time. It’s vital for everyone to recharge and I, the quintessential introvert, need more time than most. Almost everything works better if you unplug it sometimes, including yourself.

I embraced the ‘simple life’ back in 2011. I’ve lost my way a time or two, but I have learned to just walk out of chaos or clean out a closet when things get crazy. Reclaiming and embracing a simplified, minimalist lifestyle have allowed me to declare Saturdays a day of rest. Complete and utter rest. I try very hard to plan absolutely nothing but relaxation activities on Saturdays, which has been so wonderful.

I want to point out that my ‘simplicity’ is less about minimalism and more about boundaries. I didn’t always know how to set boundaries. In fact, I was pretty fucking bad at it. But I follow and learn from others in this simplicity-sphere, picking up some life hacks along the way. I hope to be a teacher of simplicity for you, too, Dear Reader. 

I’m a huge fan of Becoming MinimalistZen Habits, and Miss Minimalist. I encourage everyone to check these sites out because these people have been my teachers for almost a decade.

This morning, by accident – which is usually the case – I again stumbled across The Happiness Project, which I had forgotten all about. Author Gretchen Rubin reminds me often that ‘lowering your standards’ and ‘lowering the bar’ is not the same. This concept, coupled with a conversation with a good friend yesterday, helped me formulate my thoughts for the day.

First, if you want to understand the difference, please read Gretchen’s post, so I don’t have to repeat all she said. I agree with her 100%, so my post today is about the simple application of such thoughts. Here are a few areas to which I have decided to lower the bar in my own life…

So, go on. Grab a drink. Settle in. Let us kick off the weekend with wit and honesty, shall we?

1) Religion. Yup. I said it. It’s been a while since I was on a dating site, but there’s always this awkward pause when filling out the form. Christian? Agnostic? Spiritual but not Religious. Geesh. There really should be a box for “Who the fuck knows anymore” because honestly, living in the bible belt amidst a sea of Red Ridiculousness is enough to make me say “Fuck the whole damn thing.” So, I guess I just answered my own question: Spiritual but not Religious. I’m sure I’m inviting hostile comments here, but here’s my truth: I feel closer to God, more connected to Spirit, and more confident/better about myself since I stopped attending church. Don’t misunderstand me…I love Jesus. It’s his fan club that gets on my nerves. My 30-year-old Self would have struggled with this. I’m not saying everyone should abandon church… I’m just saying that lowering the bar in this area means fellowship with others I consider spiritual with totally commitment-free Sunday mornings. Bonus.

2) Dinner (or any meal for that matter). Speaking of dating sites, do you know how hard it is to get a date at my age when you admit you don’t like to cook? *Rolls Eyes* It’s true. I mean, I can cook. I just don’t like to. As Gretchen states, “An imperfect meal that I serve is better than a perfect meal I never serve.” I don’t even judge my ‘dinner’ of an apple with peanut butter or a bowl of Cheerios imperfect. Not making dinner frees up time to read. So, have you really ‘lowered the standards’ when you swapped out trading your time to engage in something you enjoy? Yeah…um…no.

3) Relationships. Instead of being all things to all people, I’m going to just be myself – the messy, outspoken, kind, and generous conglomeration I am. It seems nuts that anyone would think they just couldn’t be themselves…but I had been conditioned to believe that being honest about my true Self was somehow unattractive. So, I hid. BUT… to lower the bar, I will just be myself and those who can’t handle it, well, you know…they can find someone else to bother. It’s not calloused… it’s just simple math. I don’t have the fuck budget to please anyone who isn’t in my inner circle.

4) Entertaining. Tomorrow I move into a house that boasts less than 1000 square feet. So, yeah. You may have to bring your lawn chair when you come to my house. You may have to eat your dinner while sitting on the sofa. The silverware doesn’t match…and I only have 6 plates, so you may have to eat off throwaway plates. There are nights I drink wine from a mason jar and eat my Chinese food directly from the cute little red and white box-thingy. Get over it. I have.

So, that’s been a review of life applicable, lowering the bar situations in my life. I’ll leave you with a song (can’t let you down, now can I?). Go on. Click it. It’s catchy. I’m so tired of living for other people and so tired of living in fear. Turn off the news, tune out the people who aren’t on your team, and (in my best Webster County voice) ‘Git on out dare…”. Be fearless. Lean on others. Wear your heart on your sleeve. And…tell anyone who tries to tear you down to politely go fuck themselves.

If you liked this post and didn’t think anyone in your circle would mind that I sprinkle the F-word around like glitter, then share with others on all the socials. Please and thank you.

Buttons Come and Buttons Go

Good morning, Dear Reader. One of you mentioned that you noticed I had gone ‘radio silent’, which is true. And thank you for noticing.

During the first week of absence, I had COVID, and while I wasn’t on my deathbed, I wasn’t well and didn’t have the energy to write. The following week ushered in the full moon in Aquarius and all its nonsense, which kinda sucked. The next week I just didn’t feel like it. How’s that for honest? I’m rarely at a loss for words when writing, but truthfully…I had a case of the blahs. I was all out of plant analogies, and sometimes, when your heart is not ready to share…the keyboard is, well, a foe.

I’d love to tell you that the autumn season may have finally arrived here in the Ozarks. The weather has been in the upper 80’s which has been a blessing, but you gotta love Southern Missouri and her fickle nature. I bet we are in for a few high temp days still yet, but for now it’s cool enough to walk around the block without passing out, and I ordered a hot chocolate at Scooter’s yesterday, so there’s that. 

The ‘fall’ is coming early for me regarding moods and transitions. I felt a shift coming on a few weeks ago, so I haven’t had a drop of whiskey since early August (or wine or coffee). There is no need to throw depressants and stimulants into a body that is already feeling some funky vibes. Feel me? 

So, I guess…grab that drink and settle in. I’ll join you with a cup of Earl Grey with milk – you know, British style – and we can talk about change.

I won’t go into any personal details today, but there’s always change, right? That’s the one thing we can count on in life. I used to fight it like a Highlander in the middle of a Scottish revolution – gathering my sword and blindly swinging, kicking, and screaming the entire time. (Too much Outlander, maybe?) Now, I just think, “I’m not sure I really understand what is happening here, but it’s happening. I’ll just buckle up and close my eyes.” Not great in war. But okay when anxiety levels are through the roof. Amiright?

With all change, it doesn’t just affect you, I’ve learned. Others are either directly involved or catch some shrapnel in the process. When I make inevitable decisions, my heart breaks – not only for myself but anyone else who may suffer the fallout. As much as I wanted to sell a recently shared home with a relative, I also knew that she would be sad. That made me sad. I’ve been a people-pleaser for so long that I sometimes can’t separate my feelings from those of others. Being an Empath can really suck at times. My sense of loyalty encompasses me in a shroud of guilt, even when I know the change is best for me. I guess I haven’t really learned the difference between ‘selfishness’ and ‘self-care’ as much as I’d like to have by now. I ‘grin and bare it’ so often that there are moments when I just can’t move for fear I will explode into a million tiny pieces.

When I struggle with certain decisions or challenges, I (as a writer) will typically look to children’s literature for the answer. Adults can make life so complicated, and sometimes I need a new view. Take Charlotte’s Web, for example. This novel is a great children’s story even if Kansas banned it once. Stupid, Kansas. If you think about it, the story is one of vulnerability, friendship, diversity, inclusion, and grief. Reading such a book through the lens of adult experiences reveals themes one can’t visualize as a child. By the time we reach adulthood, we’ve experienced all of that, right? We can see how mean that rat is. How much Wilbur wants to have friends. How grieved all of them are when Charlotte dies. (Ooops. Did I just spoil the ending for you? Sorry ’bout that.)

This entire month, I’ve wrestled with change, and while I cuddled in my blanket in a quiet space, I reminisced about another story that was one of my son’s favorites. Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin and James Dean is – at it’s core – a story about non-attachment, letting go, and moving on. It is a story about accepting that change comes and goes, and it’s up to us to decide how to handle that change. (That link is an audio version of the book. Come on. Take five minutes. It’s really good.)

When faced with change, we can do one of three things: Accept, fight, or ignore it. I don’t recommend that last one. The change will happen whether we participate in it or not. If we can stop kicking and screaming long enough, we might see that change often happens for us, not to us. And sometimes…sometimes…the lessons amid change are not just your lessons. Maybe, just maybe, there are lessons others are to learn during that time, too. 

I don’t know. Too deep?

{Sigh} Okay. Well. 

Maybe it’s a job. A relationship. A pattern of behavior. Whatever. We can always find something in our life that is begging for change. Transitions are complex – I’m not invalidating that at all. But there are some ways we can navigate change to stay as calm as we can during it. I can offer two nuggets today. That’s all I have the energy to deliver.

First, admit to yourself that change is hard. Change can be both good and challenging at the same time. Give yourself time to process the change. ‘Sit in the space’ and accept that you don’t know what will come next (Buddhists call this space “emptiness”). I’ll readily admit – this is absolutely terrifying to me. The Type A, Virgo, INTJ gal that I am prefers the ‘waterfall’ method rather than Agile (That’s project management speak. You can google it.) But rarely is life consistent with the ‘waterfall’ method. Most of the time, in life, the minimum viable product is all you get. At some moment, it will all be clear. Not usually during the process, though. The hope is that in the end, we all have what we need and what we want. But the process can be daunting and frustrating. I won’t lie to you about that.

Secondly, avoid asking everyone you know for their help and opinions. I went through my most recent change in absolute silence. I only shared with others after the change was in motion. I don’t know if that was helpful, but it was certainly out of the norm. I knew though that I didn’t need a bunch of other people clouding my thought process and projecting their own fears and anxieties on me. So, I didn’t gather the masses and start asking for their advice. I went to Spirit, and I listened to my heart. My heart. Not my head. Big difference.

How do you like them apples? Fun times today, huh? Yup.

And, in my melancholy mood, I leave you with a song. Life’s changes can feel like a landslide at times, but there are so many seasons of our lives, and each one brings a new direction if we let it. You may be going through the worse time of your life right now – and I empathize with you. I really, really do. I also know that it will, eventually, get better – especially if you lean into it.

(Oh, and next week is my birthday. Send me good vibes. I’d love some of those.)

Elsa Was On To Something

Good morning, Dear Reader! I’m up early again today and thinking I really enjoyed that thunderstorm that woke me up yesterday. I can’t begin to tell you how much I adore a good Missouri storm. The only thing missing during that storm was a glass of wine and a metal roof. I’m not prone to drinking at 6 a.m. , but if I had a metal roof and I suddenly found myself amidst a thunderstorm, I just might.

I’m struggling to come up with a good metaphor that relates to my mood this week, and I must tell you, I’m not sure I’m going to come up with something riveting. But I’m going to try my darndest because you clicked the link, and I believe I need to inspire you to do something great.

I’ve patiently been waiting for the trees to lose their leaves and Dunkin to launch All Things Pumpkin Spice season. I don’t want to rush my life, but man it’s hot here and it’s been hot for-fucking-ever. Our trees – and all living creatures – are under a tremendous amount of stress. People are acting batshit crazy and I, for one, am eager for a change in the weather. If you look closely, you’ll see that some of the trees are even starting to lose their leaves, and that’s because of environmental trauma – not because autumn is around the corner. (Although, we are seven weeks from October. Sigh. Seven long weeks.) 

So, there you have it, folks. Even the trees know that lessening the load is the best way to cope (survive?) with trauma. (You’re welcome. That’s my third ‘plant’ metaphor in a row.)

I think we can learn a lot from this. I could go on a big tangent about trauma responses and how our bodies trick us into doing stuff to keep us from dealing with it. I fear, though, that would be very uninspiring. I’m going to do my best to bring this back around to how our lives – like those of the trees – can be enhanced by letting go.

Grab a drink. Settle in. Today I’m going to give you some tips on how to let go.

Before I dive in, though, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say: Letting go isn’t as easy as it seems. But, I’ve found three major themes when I decide to let go, and that’s where we are today.

1) Purge shit you no longer need. I like to pretend I’m moving from time to time (if you know me, I’ve moved 18 times in 16 years, so it isn’t a stretch for me to get in the ‘I’m getting the heck out of here’ mindset.) With this last housing transition, I didn’t even think twice. I barely reminisced over anything at all. I chucked so much that I don’t even own a skillet of my own at the moment. A lot of letting it go was to make room for the things I really wanted and needed. So far, that’s been minimal.

2) Avoid nay-sayers. Some of those people in your life who are taking up space in the VIP section need to be reseated to the regular seats or escorted out of the viewing room altogether. At the risk of sounding dramatic, this can be heartbreaking. And still, maybe you need to get on with it. I faced the music last year and watched as people floated magically out of my life. In the past, I would have chased after them. This time, I didn’t. I went through the gamut of emotions – hurt, anger, relief. They don’t get to be courtside if they aren’t cheering you on and rooting for you. 

3) Excuse yourself from the table. I once had a friend who said, “I hate being the source of conflict. When that happens, I’ll quietly exit the room.” I finally got that about a year ago. I made of list of all the things I no longer enjoyed doing and a list of the people I no longer enjoyed being around. And I started crossing shit (and people) off the list. I ignored my sunk costs in everything: the knitting supplies, the house, the time spent trying to make relationships work, and the expectations of others. I finally came to the most challenging part of letting go when I realized that the place I’ve called ‘home’ for nearly 33 of my 51 years is a terrible place for me. It isn’t healthy to walk among my demons, and I got tired of dodging people in Wal-Mart. So I moved. And while it wasn’t far…it was far enough if you know what I mean. You don’t need to be so extreme. Still, I think you can apply this to anything that no longer brings you joy including, but not limited to, bras, Sunday dinner with your in-laws, meetings that get you no closer to the goal, etc. This past year, I let go of several toxic relationships, ridded myself of 90% of my belongings, moved to a new place, quit two jobs, stopped volunteering at my son’s school, and stopped drinking cheap whiskey. I am happy to report: All is well in my world. I don’t miss any of it. I’m better because I made all those choices – even when it was difficult – and you will be, too, Friend.

As I close, I’m reminded of a song by Dalton Domino. The lyrics are: I’ve burned some bridges. Torn down some fences. Some I’m still mendin’. Some I’m leaving the ashes where they lie. And I can’t think of a better metaphor for letting things go and not apologizing for the reasons why. Who you were is not who you are. You are allowed to shed all the leaves and grow new ones.

I get that this may not have been highly inspiring today. Still, I promise you it’s a segue into what’s been happening since making these decisions. I like teasers, and this one is a doozy….so wait until next week. It’s just starting to get good.

PS: If you liked this post and thought others might, please share on social media! Thanks, Sugar Britches. Much appreciated.

A Body In Motion Stays In Motion

Good morning, Dear Reader! I come to you from what feels like the depths of hell. It’s a gazillion degrees outside and rising. How people can live south of the equator and still function is beyond me. I can’t wait for this heat to break. Even though we did find ourselves with a 77* day over the weekend, I’m feeling a bit ungrateful.

I’ve been mulling today’s post over in my mind since arriving home from my little road trip through Iowa and Minnesota last month. I was able to see all of the covered bridges in Madison County, Iowa. Still, the one bridge that stuck out the most was the one I saw as I crossed back into Missouri on my way home.

The Locust Creek Covered Bridge is located in Linn County and was built in 1868. It is the longest of Missouri’s four remaining covered bridges – almost 151 feet. 

As I arrived, I noticed no bridge at all, only a little walking bridge that took me over the fair-sized river. I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to find, but I’ll tell you one thing: I was a bit confused. This little walking bridge was definitely not a covered bridge, and I was concerned I was in the wrong place. 

As I read the posted literature, I realized the bridge I was there to see was about a quarter-mile through the woods. Odd, huh? I grabbed my water bottle and proceeded with caution on the trail nonetheless. As I meandered through the forest, I realized I was walking away from the river, which seemed problematic. Despite having no knowledge of the bridge’s history or of Linn County, I stuck with it.

And then I saw it.

It was breathtaking.

And it was in the middle of the prairie. Which made zero sense.

How in the world does a bridge end up in the middle of the woods, with no running water under it? I mean, isn’t carrying folks over a body of water the entire point of a massive bridge? 

And that, folks, is where we are today.

So grab a drink and settle in. Let’s discuss what can happen when you refuse to be flexible.

According to the overly reliable source, Wikipedia, I was able to find out this about our beloved state bridge:

After World War II, the course of Locust Creek was changed and the bridge spanned a dry creek bed. Over time the creek bed filled with silt, leaving the bridge resting on mud much of the time. In 1968, the State of Missouri acquired the bridge and established the Locust Creek Covered Bridge State Historic Site, then repaired the bridge, replacing its roof, sheeting, and flooring. The Missouri Department of Conservation undertook another major improvement in 1991, raising the bridge by six feet to protect the wooden frame and flooring from the marshy ground.

Did you catch that? The creek’s course was changed. To put it another way: The creek moved, but the bridge did not. (You can read more here). And because the bridge could not proceed with the creek – its original purpose was no longer viable or valuable. Now, it’s just a place for older people to take pictures, young people to have parties, and stupid people to ruin with their graffiti.

The point? A body in motion stays in motion. 

To fulfill our purpose in life, we must be willing to move and be transformed by whatever nature throws our way. I’m still unclear on who or what was responsible for changing the creek’s course. Still, I am sure of one thing: Due to its inability to move with the water, the bridge is magnificent – and basically worthless.

Fast forward a month. Over the weekend, I sat with a dear friend who lost the love of her life to brain cancer last year. It was her birthday, and we enjoyed the company and drank copious amounts of wine. This year has been everything for her: devastating, foggy, blurred. I’m sure it sometimes felt as though she was standing in quicksand. And yet, her business is growing, she enrolled in University to earn her undergrad, and she started teaching courses. Although the course of her life was altered, she did not stand still. She grieved – and is still mourning. In fact, proven by the number of tears shed at one point in the evening, it is clear that we all are still grieving the loss of the man everyone liked. But instead of sitting in a recliner and waiting to die, she got busy doing the things he would have wanted her to do. The course of her river changed. Unlike the Locust Creek Bridge, she moved with it.

Our lovely bridge was acquired in 1968 (a hundred years after it was built) by the State of Missouri and deemed a historical site by someone important. The bridge was repaired and is now maintained by the Missouri Department of Conservation. People come from all over to see it. But it stayed dormant for a century before anyone cared enough to invest in it. What a waste of time.

When life experiences change your course, you have every right to mourn the loss of a dream, a job, a relationship – whatever. Facing grief and its insidious scramble of emotions is normal. But, after a while, staying put and waiting for someone else to fix the issue will only result in you missing the entire point of living your life. 

I get it. A bridge can’t really fend for itself because it is an inanimate object. But we aren’t. We can fend for ourselves. And we can nurture others along the way, too. We must be willing to go with the flow and move with whatever life throws our way to remain in service. In service to what, you ask. The fuck if I know. At the bare minimum? Ourselves.

You may not feel like it. You may not want to right away after something devastating changes the course of your life. My divorce and all its deception left me stagnant for a bit while I caught my breath. For you, it may be the loss of a loved one or a business that simply never took hold. Life will throw us all kinds of situations, and we will all find ourselves a bit off course at times. It’s okay to grieve. It’s not okay to stay in the prairie where the silt and mud will eventually take over.

That’s a lot to swallow this morning over coffee, isn’t it? Well, then, I suppose I need to leave you with this song today. There were quite a few suggestions from my fan base on how I can get you to listen to these. The songs – for the most part – wrap the story up neatly. I often spend more time researching the right music than I do figuring out how to make sense of the stories I want to share. If I laid on enough guilt, now you can have a listen.

Until next time, if you liked this post and thought others might, too, then share away on all the socials. Hugs and kisses, Kids. Hugs and kisses.

Time for Thyme

Good morning, Dear Reader! I think we’ve finally gotten a bit of a break from the oppressive heat. At least, it seems like that. My air conditioner isn’t running today, so that’s a start. I seriously was getting a bit crabby over here. My tiny little garden was watered by none other than Mother Nature herself yesterday and this morning, so that, too, is a blessing.

I’ve never been much of a gardener. In fact, I can take an ‘impossible to kill’ plant and murder it by neglect within a few weeks. But lately, I’ve been tending more to them and even find myself nursing a few back to health. 

But, this post isn’t about plants, and you know it – especially if you follow me. As with most of my writing, I like to grab you with an excellent old metaphor, and killing something seems to be all the rage these days.

So. Grab a drink. Settle in. Let’s discuss how gardens and time are related – metaphorically, of course.

Seeds – like minutes – must be cultivated, protected, and loved. There’s a reason they say, “Time is money.” It’s because it is true. Like money – I also tend to be a bit selective with my spare time.

I am a single parent working full time during the day, trying to keep other relationships from fizzling out and getting some time with my hobbies and interests. Top this all off with daily laundry, meal prep, house cleaning, and showering (yes, I haven’t given up on showering yet, even if it is midnight). I’m left with about 10 minutes of unaccounted-for time. Which I spent last night sitting under the stars anticipating the new moon.

You can’t have a bountiful crop without good seeds. Likewise, it’s hard to nurture relationships when time is a commodity. Time, like money, has to be budgeted. And, as with all budgets, my time budget and my buckets often seem empty.

But bringing it back to my point, which is seeds and plants and time and harvest, I pondered this: The problem with budgeting our time is that we feel sad about all we might have to give up. But what if we, instead, started focusing on what we would gain by managing time better?

We are all responsible for our time and how we choose to spend it. Some have the luxury of lazy Sundays where napping and road trips are the norm. Many, myself included, do not have the seeds to sow into something so glorious regularly because our to-do lists have yet to be pruned. 

If, like plants, relationships require cultivation, then wasting energy on things that are no longer fruitful can build resentment. Much like planting seeds in infertile soil brings no harvest, sowing into projects and people who don’t appreciate the effort is like watering a weed. It will only get worse and the longer it goes on, the harder it is to rid yourself of the responsibility. It’s like in this TedTalk by Sarah Knight I love so much. You have to decide what will and will not be in your fuck budget. 

As a mother of a young boy my first responsibility is to care for his needs. Before you get all ‘therapist-y’ on me…caring for his needs also means caring for my own. I need to rest. I need to eat well. I need to move my body. I need to sow seeds into myself so I can be strong and healthy for him. Everyone else, who isn’t me or my son, is responsible for their damn row of seeds. I cannot meet everyone’s needs, and neither can you. 

I know this balancing act with time is difficult for some people to understand so, I just stopped trying to explain it to them. But let me tell you…guilting me into giving up some of my seeds just isn’t something that works on someone like me. If I’m honest, that stuff is one of the best ways to piss me off. My seeds. My choice.

The bottom line is: Time is currency. Time, clearly in this post, are seeds. If you want a bountiful harvest and a good life, you have to determine where to plant those little seeds, and you need to plant them so they become ripe for harvest. 

Dharius Daniels, in this sermon, says it best:

“Time is the seed you must sow and the currency you must exchange to experience the life you want to have. The life that you want to have is going to be determined by how you sow the seed of your time. When you look at your life this time next year and compare it to this year, you’re going to be standing in a harvest that is a result of where you sowed the seed of your time.”

I don’t know what my harvest will look like next year, but I know I had to consciously choose to look at my priorities and stack them up against my resources. After looking at these two lists, I realized an authentic, candid picture: I can have a tiny but mighty garden. Translation: My social circle has gotten a lot smaller. And that is not a bad thing.

I don’t know all the answers. If I did, I’d make a shit-ton more money at blogging instead of zero. I wish I had all the seeds in the world to sow into all the relationships connected to those I love. But I don’t. 

When I look at the people in my life, I look for the helpers – not the complainers – to lift me up and restore me. Life is too short, and time is too valuable to spend wondering why my needs aren’t getting met while everyone else demands that I meet theirs. It just isn’t humanly possible to do it all.

So. Pick a seed (a minute). Pick a row (hobby, person, experience, task) and plant. Plant, then water. Water, then watch. Watch what grows. It might be you. Who knows? The harvest you reap may surprise you and everyone else around you, too. Happy planting.

Until then, here’s your weekend song. It’s by Nickelback, and before you even start…I get that Nickelback has been criticized heavily over the years, but they have quite a few songs that remain relevant. This is one of them, a song about time, making the most of it, and never giving up until you find that one special person you’ll love forever.

Self-Care Six Ways

Good morning, Dear Reader! Today we face 100+ temps again – which makes me grumpy. But, fingers crossed! Possible rain at the end of the week just in time for a New Moon in Leo. If you aren’t familiar with a new moon, it’s the perfect time to set intentions for the next six months. I begin my ascent into the new moon season by journaling what I’d like to start/stop over the next six months. Later, I’ll take a peek at where I when it’s the Full Moon in Leo. Progress, Babycakes, is made one step at a time.

For me? I’ve got a few things I’d like to start and stop doing, so you better bet I’ll be outside the night of the 28th with my journal and a nice glass of buttery Chardonnay. If you want to know where I landed on my no-spend challenge – I did okay. I managed to save about $400, which I used on my trip. Now that the challenge is over, I’m kicking it into overdrive and going in for the long haul. I managed to NOT go to Menard’s yesterday to ‘look around,’ which I’m going to wager saved me at least $100. That said, I am on the lookout for a massive “Bird of Paradise” plant. Hit me up if you find one locally. Tending to and nurturing plants has become a new part of my self-care routine, and I’m digging it. I planted tomatoes, peppers, and herbs in a tiny little garden – some of which will end up in a lasagna at the end of the week.

Speaking of self-care…I harp on this a lot, but I do it more to remind myself of its importance. As a recovering people-pleaser, I make sure to take time to recharge. If you’re new to the whole self-care movement, don’t worry. Since COVID lockdowns, I’ve become quite the pro at it. I’ve learned so much about who I am, what I need, and how to break cycles that no longer serve me by making myself a priority. And that, folks, is where we find ourselves today.

So, grab a drink. Settle in. Let’s talk about self-care.

(But, before we get started, let us all congratulate my friend, Bonnie, for marrying the love of her life last weekend. Thumbs up, Girl!)

Now, let me just say that self-care isn’t all about chocolate and bubble baths. Sometimes self-care is the decision to simply not engage in any more idiotic fuckery. It can be something minor, like not responding to a text. Or something significant like moving across the planet to prove you are no longer accessible to dumbasses. Whatever you need to do to draw that boundary line, do it…with permanent ink. Ya feel me?

Thanks to Daylight Illustrations for this nifty infographic. Hop over and buy something.

To aid you in your self-care journey, I’ve compiled a list of six types. Got that drink? Good. Let’s do this.

1) Physical. Our bodies often tell us before our head does that something is off. I always know when I’ve consumed too much sugar – my joints ache, I’m tired, and I barely want to move. Physical self-care is anything we do to care for our bodies. Big or small – it all counts. More sunlight. A walk after dinner. A nap. A few laps in the pool or simply floating on your back. If it makes your body feel good…do it. (Yes, sex counts. So does masturbation if the idea of finding a sexual partner makes you break out in hives.)

2) Emotional. This one is about becoming more in tune with our emotions. It’s about being mindful of your triggers and the thoughts that you have. And on that topic, your triggers are your responsibility. It isn’t someone else’s job to tiptoe around you, so do the work to figure out your shit. If you are in a relationship that drains you, take steps to work on it or let it go. If you don’t feel valued at work, start looking for a new job or career. Limit your time with those who annoy, anger, or degrade you. Learn to say “No.” It’s a complete sentence in and of itself.

3) Spiritual. Do you know how I take care of myself spiritually? I don’t go to church. (Everyone in the Bible Belt just gasped.) Yup. Why? Because some of the nastiest, most hateful people I know go to church every Sunday, I cannot deal with those hooligans anymore. I prefer to grab a book, practice deep breathing, take a nap, or find something creative to do. Sometimes I’ll just sit back in my quiet space and pray/meditate. I mean, I’m a sinner saved by grace, and I dig Jesus. But his fan club is batshit crazy sometimes.

4) Intellectual. This includes doing something you enjoy to nourish and challenge your mind. I like documentaries about subjects I’m interested in, and recently I’ve started taking some online courses on herbology. It’s a break from my left-brained life of HTML and spreadsheets, but I’m still learning something. I’ve learned a lot about Bourbon from YouTube.

5) Social. Humans, by nature, are social creatures. Even I – the quintessential introvert – like a bit of human interaction. Each night I (still) tuck my kiddo into bed, and we snuggle for a few minutes. Fortunately, he is still into snuggles. I don’t want to think about the day he no longer wants those. I also take solo trips and love them. I get just the right amount of social interactions along the way to balance out the “Ew. People.” feeling I have 90% of the time.

6) Sensory. This self-care category includes anything that engages the senses in a positive way. Baking, listening to soft music, and getting a massage can accomplish this. Me? I love my peeps, and still…my favorite days are when the house is empty for a few hours. I carve out time to sit in silence. I don’t read, listen to podcasts, or distract myself with my phone, television, or computer. I sit in the absolute quiet and breathe. This simple act of self-care fills all my buckets.

So what about you, Dear Reader? How do you practice self-care? Which of these six categories is your favorite? Comment below – I love those!

Until next time, here’s your song for the week. Self-care is about embracing the simple things in life and saying ‘no’ to anything that doesn’t support you. I like Teddy Swims and have followed him on YouTube and Spotify for a while. His voice is like butter. And we all know that everything is better with butter. Amiright? You betcha!