Dance A Blue Streak In The Living Room

Oh my goodness, Dear Reader. What a 12-hour period of emotional challenges I’ve experienced. My son has had a runny nose and cough for a few days. No fever, eating like a typical nine-year-old, lots of energy despite his congestion, blah, blah, blah. I sent him to school and told him to wear his mask because…well…his ‘cold’. Last night through a series of my ‘investigative journalism’ skills, I realized he might have been exposed to COVID as early as Monday. I reach out to the school nurse and yes…he had been. We weren’t notified (by no fault of hers, I add) until last night. It’s funny what emotions can be called up during a time like this: Fear. Anxiety. Anger. Empathy. Guilt. You know, all the makings of a sleepless night.

I quickly canceled a coffee date with a girlfriend who, consequently, mentioned she had an extra home test if I needed it. Now, it’s important to mention this to set up today’s post. Because just one year ago I would have declined. I would have said “Ah. Thanks, that’s okay. I’m fine. It’s fine. We’re all fine.” even though I had just spent the last hour trying to find a testing center in the area that could get him in faster than next Monday. Even though I had called nearly every CVS in town to learn each store was out of home tests. Even though my anxiety levels were rising on the inside while I’m trying to calm my kid who is freaking the fuck out with his own anxiety. Even, despite all of that, I would have declined the help.

This time? I inhaled and surrendered to the absolute lack of control I had at that moment. I sighed and said, “You know, Steph? That would be so fucking fantastic.” (Even though she is a radio personality for the local Christian radio station she ignored my flavorful vernacular and said “I’m on it!”).

And this, folks, is where we find ourselves today. We find ourselves in a sea of self-awareness. We are swimming in the power of self-growth that can occur once you decide you no longer want to continue living in a manner that no longer supports you.

So, Folks. Grab a drink. Settle in. I’m going to share with you how I get out of a funk. Turns out it’s rather simple.

Music.

Every once in a while I’ll get asked why I include a song at the end of my posts. First of all, because I want to. But here’s a little back story on me: I majored in radio broadcasting because I wanted to be a famous Disc Jockey. Yup. I wanted to be the female version of Casey Kasem. I was going to slay “American Top 40” like no other female radio personality could and people from all over were going to ask for my autograph. I was going to be so good at my job that John Cusack was going to call me and ask me to be the music supervisor for every film he was in. (For the record [puns are fun!] I am, still, to this day the “Queen of the Mixtape”. Do not challenge me on this.)

However, thanks to a sourpuss Director of Programming at the college radio station who would not let me play Belinda Carlisle repeatedly and a follow-up, well-timed internship at a local station, I found out that most folks working in radio are cranky, practically starving and, working eight jobs to keep their utilities on in an apartment they shared with three other people. I figured I could accomplish that as an unknown writer, so I quickly changed my major to business and bought a journal. Nonetheless, I never have underestimated how influential and powerful a piece of music can be.

Case in point: This morning I was still extremely stressed over the events of the previous COVID-positive-maybe evening. I didn’t sleep well and had already popped half a Xanax by 5:30 am. Within a few minutes of grabbing my first cup of coffee, I received a text with a link to a playlist on Spotify. First song out of the gate…I was already in a better place. Who knew Duran Duran had so much power?

In December 2020 – after Spotify recapped my historic sad state of affairs by providing my ‘most played songs of 2020’ – I decided I would not listen to one single sad song in 2021. Nope. I put a moratorium on any song that reminded me of my ex (ironically…a musician)…our divorce…my anger and resentment toward him…none of that. That meant hardly any of Taylor Swift’s “Red” album, Pink or Jason Isabell for me in 2021. {Sad face}. I had a new rule: Only happy and empowering songs. I kicked off 2021 with this song and decided to compile a playlist for the year. You can find it here if you want to follow it. Happily, I report to you that my ‘most played songs of 2021’ recap was a lot more positive. I’m looking forward to 2022.

As we close today, you and I both know a lot of this blog is dedicated to discussing self-care. It practically was the entire theme of 2021. But I want to remind you this weekend that self-care is not only massages and chocolate cake (although, I do love me some chocolate cake…). Self-care is also about what you will and will not allow into your life. It’s identifying what you will and will not tolerate any longer. It’s about owning your power and committing to self-discovery and personal awareness. As I mentioned in this post, I’ve worked extremely hard over the last twelve months to overcome the trauma of my past and come back into my strength. I’ve realized what I deserve in my life and know that settling, to me, is akin to just giving up. In other words, I refuse to settle. I simply will not do it. And…I know you can do this, too. I absolutely believe in you, Dear Reader.

Now…with that said…I am going to leave you with this song. You’re going to click that link and think to yourself “What the f*ck?”. So here’s the story: When my son was a baby I worked from home and every Friday I’d ‘wear’ him in one of those baby hugging wrap-around thingys. He was, literally, ‘on my person’ all day long. At 5 pm, I’d unplug my headset, look down, and say “You ready for the weekend, baby boy?” and I’d click the link. To this day when that riff kicks off in my playlist, I see him look up from his tablet and wink at me. (He wanted me to include the link to this song today.)

Gotcha. You just got Rickrolled. I sure do love that kid.

Have a great weekend, my dear friends. And remember: No sad songs. Chin up. Tits out. You got this.

Drop me a link in the comments to your favorite fun song. Maybe I’ll start us a playlist. (Dang…I sure do miss those blank 90-minute cassettes, don’t you?)

And, for those of you reading this far, according to Abbott’s BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card home-test, the kiddo is negative for COVID. I can stop day drinking now.

Self-Love: Self Care

It’s 9 am on a Sunday here in the Ozarks, and I’m still in my pajamas and cuddled into my bed. The holiday weekend has been glorious. Some are complaining about being unable to see family over Thanksgiving due to the pandemic. I get that, but I am secretly hoping I never have to go back to a holiday filled with chaos and unmanageable expectations.

I am taking Monday off, too, so I’m indulging in some self-care over these five days. Some much-needed self-care, for sure. Mostly, I’ve napped. And for those of you who don’t really know me, I don’t rest much. This has been an unexpected request from my body, and I’ve listened to my inner-self. In fact, I’ve napped every day so far since Thursday. Can’t wait to see what today brings. The cat is already nestled next to me, and if I didn’t have company coming over, I’d just stay right here in bed. I’m not prone to laziness, so this slothful nature of mine is definitely my body and soul telling me to chill the fuck out. My child is with his father this holiday weekend, and my inner-self is saying, “Take advantage of this time.” So…I have.

We are continuing our series together on Self-Love, and, yep, – you guessed it – self-care is next on the docket. I’m a huge proponent of self-care, having neglected myself for most of my life but definitely over the last nine or ten years. The thing about self-care is that it doesn’t have to be complicated or financially indulgent to be helpful.

When most of us think of self-care, we think of massages, facials, beachy vacations, and weekend retreats at high-end resorts. Yes, those can be forms of self-care – I get massages and facials regularly – but self-care doesn’t have to be economically draining or time-consuming.


My favorite form of self-care is coming into my own bedroom with a glass of Barefoot Chardonnay (see…I told you it didn’t have to be expensive), picking up a book, and reading for as long as I can before I can no longer keep my eyes open. My next favorite is the Gentle Yin Yoga class I participate in each Thursday night. It’s yoga by candlelight; it’s relaxing and also very spiritual for me. I find I am closest to my Higher Power when I am on that mat breathing in and breathing out than I am any other time during the week.


Of course, all the ideas mentioned above and activities can be forms of self-care: massage, facials, vacations, reading quietly, but there are so many other forms of self-care. As a single mom, it took me a very long time to realize that if I didn’t fill my cup first, I couldn’t pour into my child the love and attention he so deserves.

So, what really is self-care if it doesn’t have to be expensive or indulgent to make a difference?

It’s activities we do to keep us as our best selves. Practicing self-care is an action-oriented way that we can show ourselves self-love. … It means loving all aspects of yourself by accepting your flaws, weaknesses, the things you don’t always like, and holding high standards for your own well-being and happiness.


What is self-care to one may not be self-care to another. My friend, Machell, is one of the best seamstresses in the county, and she designs and sews the most beautiful quilts. She engages in self-care each time she turns on a football game and begins to bind together pieces of colorful fabric so that they can live on in the form of comfort and warmth. For me, making a quilt would be self-torture, not at all fun in the least bit. Definitely not a way I’d express self-love. But, I find drinking a cup of black coffee while a cat is nestled near me as I write this blog to be quite delightful – and some of you may disagree with me. And so, proving my point of what is self-care to one may not be self-care to another.

You can type in ‘What is self-care?” into a Google search bar and get all kinds of ideas on how to engage in self-care, so I won’t bore you with a list of ideas. (In fact, here’s a good one for you!) What I will tell you is how essential it is to show kindness and gratitude to yourself. You are fearfully and wonderfully made…even if you don’t feel like it sometimes. It isn’t easy in this ‘season of COVID’ to find joy in the simplest acts, but I implore you to do your best to try. I think it is essential to recognize your mental and physical state when considering ways to practice self-care. For example, if you are physically and mentally exhausted, then forcing yourself to go for a run or a hike in the name of ‘self-care’ may not be the best route for you. Maybe a nap is better. Or perhaps merely sitting by a fire counting your blessings would refill your soul in a much better manner.


So, I’m curious – what are your ideas for self-care? What is the most expensive ‘self-care’ experience you’ve had and the least expensive? Do you regularly engage in self-care, and if so, what brings your heart joy?

Here’s your song for the week ahead. I would love to hear from you, so drop me a line. I’m always up for ideas to love myself.

Self Love: Gratitude

As I continue this series on developing self-love, I am fascinated by how the Universe opens up chances for me to write in the most perfect timing. Isn’t it amazing that the topic of gratitude comes up in the same week that we are to celebrate a day of thanks? I don’t believe in ‘accidents’ and this is no exception.

I am so grateful for many aspects in my life. The first being that I’m still here to experience both the challenging and the joyful experiences but also that I get to share those experiences with people I love.

There is so much research out there about how expressing gratitude is right for your soul. Words are powerful and using yours to speak words of love into another person – and yourself – is one of the easiest and direct ways to express gratitude.

Expressing gratitude is linked to happiness, success factors, and even receiving more of what you are grateful for as a ‘reward’ from the Universe for merely acknowledging the goodness in one’s life. In her book, The How Of Happiness, author Sonja Lyubomirsky posits that 40% of our happiness and success can be attributed to partaking in intentional activity – and part of that is expressing gratitude regularly. (Here’s a great PDF with ideas on how to practical intentionality) Additionally, David Steindl-Rast tells us that the key to being happy is in the practice of being grateful.

I think I am a grateful person. From a young age, I realized that the hand I’ve been dealt could always be worse. I am extremely grateful for the items and materials I have at my disposal. Having worked with the unsheltered in my community in some form or another for nearly 30 years, I’ve learned to be less materialistic and more cognizant of the importance of a warm bed and a roof over my head. As a minimalist, I don’t care too much about amassing a lot of clutter and I am grateful for all the things that I own that allow me the opportunity to live a comfortable, albeit simple, life. (Like, for example, a coffee pot.)

But what about those experiences that aren’t so great? The divorce? The disappointment? The struggles with anxiety and depression? The job losses? The holidays that can’t be shared with loved ones because of a global pandemic? And speaking of a random global health crisis…are there aspects of that we can be grateful for even in the midst of calamity and setbacks? I don’t have the answers to my questions – I’m putting these are there for you to ask yourself. Some folks, like Brother David Steindl-Rast (see his Ted Talk), suggest that we don’t have to necessarily be grateful for negative experiences…but rather to be grateful for the opportunity to rise to the occasion of becoming resilient.

I am grateful for my life. My brother died at the age of 27, leaving a six-month-old child and a life of possibilities and what-ifs ahead of him. I am grateful for all the experiences, even the painful ones, because I know I am a calmer, gentler person than I was even twelve months ago due to those life lessons. I am grateful for the little things: How my child has learned to push the button on the coffee maker if he gets up first so that I have freshly brewed coffee when I wake, the texts from my friends telling me they are thinking of me, the sounds of the birds who wake me in the morning. I know from experience how hanging on to bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness only breeds discontent and rage. In contrast, gratitude begets more for which one can be grateful.

So what really is gratitude? Well, I think the expression of gratitude is unique to every individual but gratitude in and of itself is wonder…appreciation…looking on the bright side…fathoming abundance…counting your blessings. There are many ways to which one can start expressing gratitude and begin an intentional practice of becoming a grateful person. Here are some ideas:

  1. Say Thank You. I work an IT help desk for a national nonprofit organization. When the customer tells me I’ve fixed their issue or answered their question, it would be really easy for me to simply mark the ticket ‘resolved’. But, in most cases, I don’t. I say “Thank you for allowing me to be part of the important mission you carry out each day” because first, I realize I am here to help and if they don’t need my help, I’m out a job…but also because I’m grateful that my skills and my knowledge can be of service.
  2. Give A Gift. Ok, I admit…gifts are not my first love language, and I don’t like to spend my money on items that seem completely impractical, but some people love this expression of love and gratitude. When choosing a gift aimed specifically at expressing gratitude, opt for meaningful over monetary value.
  3. Ask how someone is and actually listen to their response. In this age of COVID it is easy to feel overwhelmed; the simple act of listening to your loved ones can be an effective way to show them that you value them. Put down your phone, remain attentive, and let them steer the conversation. Listening rarely requires you to respond. Keep that in mind.
  4. Keep a gratitude journal. Psychologist Sean Achor talks specifically about how expressing gratitude can rewire your neuropathways and can result in feeling happier. He suggests that grateful and happy people are more successful (not the other way around: “When I’m successful I will be happy”)
  5. Say it outloud. Dr. Wayne Dyer once spoke about how he, before even placing his feet on the floor each morning, opened his eyes and expressed gratitude outloud for three things, thanking Source for the opportunity to have another day.

Today I don’t have song for you but rather a short gratitude story for kids that I love to watch. Also, know this…I am grateful for you. Not for the increasing blog stats but rather for your presence on this planet.