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!

A Penny Saved (Or not)

Good morning, Dear Reader! This probably goes without saying…but it is hot AF here. I can’t even begin to describe how incredibly miserable I am in this heat. Recent news reports indicate that 20 states are under a heat advisory, so watch those pets, stay hydrated, and check on the elderly. And put those pint glasses in the freezer. Beer tastes better in a glass. (He’s cute, huh?)

What’s on my brain today, kids? Money. I don’t know if it’s because this week was fraught with many unexpected expenses. My keyboard of four years kicked the bucket. The price of school supplies for PUBLIC FREAKING SCHOOL almost makes me faint, or it’s the fact that my internet – that I pay a lot for – goes down Every. Damn. Day. All of that has got me thinking about money. Where I can earn more, save more, spend conservatively, etc. Groceries are incredibly high right now, so I’m scaling back on recipes – going back to many with rice and beans and reducing the amount of meat I consume or opting for homemade treats. I made cookies last week instead of buying pre-made ones. (I like cookies. Every time I see “Do you accept these cookies?” I’m like, “Damn right I do!”)

I’m not complaining. (Okay, I might be complaining.) I make a good living; I save 10% of what I make in various ways (PM for advice) and support good causes when I feel led. But, still. As a single parent, I worry about money. Are you even an American if you don’t worry about money right now???

I learned that talking about money is taboo, and while I don’t bring it up at the dinner table among strangers, I share thoughts with my closest confidants. I also feel like we should talk about it sometimes, and that’s exactly what I intend to do today.

So, grab a drink. Settle in. 

I’m going to start by pissing y’all off and including a quote from Josh Becker:

You would have more money for the things you want if you stopped foolishly wasting it on other things.

Now. That said, I get that if you make less than a living wage, you genuinely are strapped for cash. Rent (even owning a home) is very expensive. Add to that the rising cost of food, personal services, and gasoline, and you probably don’t have two nickels to rub together. Hell, even I am looking for resources for free school supplies. But, if you make MORE than what is considered a ‘living wage’ in the United States, then you do have an opportunity to conserve funds.

And…Newsflash: We often assume that our financial lives are entirely outside of our control. Wrong. This IS your circus, and this IS your monkey.

I’ve made a list of some things that most of us can do to reign in our spending. I’m not telling you what you should or should not do with your money. I’m just saying that if you constantly say, “I’d like to, but I can’t afford that.” there are things within your control to fix that.

First, change your story. Stop saying “I can’t afford this” and replace it with “I can afford it, I’m just making choices that prevent me from having it.” That’s a start and forces you to take responsibility. Maybe that hit a nerve (Good!). Sorry, not sorry. Only you can consider whether or not to make different choices.

My choices? Read on.

1) Dining out. I’ve cut back but haven’t completely stopped. But even two cheeseburgers, fries, and a drink round up to nearly $7 at McDonald’s. I don’t need to go into much detail on how expensive eating out can be. BUT…avoiding McDonald’s is not going to work in my home – so I use the McD’s app religiously. I save 20% on most of my orders and earn rewards. And trust me, I use those rewards. For example, I had enough rewards to earn a free Happy Meal. So instead of ordering the #7 for my kiddo, I used my rewards for the free Happy Meal and then ordered an additional cheeseburger. My kid didn’t even notice that his sweet tea was smaller. He cares only that his cheeseburgers are plain. My point? Get creative. You can save money, but you are impatient. (PS…save your Groupon for the second date. Don’t be a douche.)

2) Streaming services. In this house, we forego cable but I’m not sure our choices are much better. We have Netflix, Hulu, Peacock, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and HBO Max. So. Many. Services. However, I come and go from some of these to justify our fetish. It’s a bit uncomfortable but I get over it. My Hulu and Peacock are not the ad-free versions (frustrating but not worth the extra money). I would LOVE to watch Yellowstone on Paramount Network during a regular season. But, {sigh} I wait for the full season release, then resubscribe to Peacock – with ads- binge the season, then cancel it when I don’t need it anymore. (Lather, rinse, repeat, inserting most subscriptions). 

3) Restaurant Booze. I like going out and trying new drinks, so I still do if that’s the entire point of where I’m going. Like, I’m not going to go to Bub’s Distillery, Vino Cellars, or Wire Road Brewing Company only to order water (Don’t buy the t-shirt!). But I’ve stopped ordering wine by the glass at dinner if it’s ‘normal people wine.’ Here’s a hint: The cost of a glass of wine at a restaurant is close to what you’ll pay for the entire bottle at a retailer. You’re welcome. Speaking of retail booze: If you like trying new wines, beers, or whiskey, check out Sam’s or Costco before hitting the liquor stores. Also, if you have sixty bottles of whiskey – you might not need more for a tad bit. Just sayin’. (You know who you are.)

4) Clothing. Research shows that we wear 20% of what we own 80% of the time. If it’s torn – can you fix it? I recently tore a shirt while camping. I pulled out a needle and thread and fixed it myself. No one has said a word. Also, I’ve started buying higher-quality items, but I’m buying less of them. I’m no fashionista, but my clothes are nice and comfortable. I don’t want or need much to be happy at my age.

Finally, if you really want to make a dent in your finances, let me be brutally honest with you. Cutting down on the items above, reducing the number of lattes you buy at places like Starbucks, and switching to generic items will help. But those are only band-aids and won’t stop the bleeding.

Housing, vehicles, and ‘toys’ (extra vehicles, motorcycles, boats, campers) are your most significant areas of financial drain. If you can reduce or eliminate these things, even for a bit, I recommend it. Sometimes one expensive toy begets another. A home that is larger than you need requires more energy to heat/cool/maintain/furnish. A camper requires a tow vehicle. A swimming pool requires expensive chemicals, and running a filter all summer is costly. A wine cellar requires…well, you know. Catch my drift? For more tips, read here.

What about you, Dear Reader? How do you save money, or what are you letting go of to have what you want? Comment below.

Despite the state of the world, I still think we will be okay. So, I leave you with this song to kickstart your weekend. These guys still have the luxury of being upbeat – they are from Canada. Who doesn’t like Canada?

PS: Share if you liked this post and thought others might, too. Sprinkle the link like glitter. Please and thank you!

Sounds Like Life To Me

Good morning, Dear Reader! It’s a scorcher here in the Ozarks, and I have decided one thing: People who like the heat are not to be trusted. There’s something off about those folks. I sleep with the air conditioner set at 68*; trust me, I’d go lower if I didn’t have a tiny human to consider. He already sleeps with three blankets. Nonetheless, there will be no outdoor activities this week beyond the scope of getting through swimming lessons. I do not like sweat trickling down my back on its journey to the backside of my panties. No. Fun. At. All.

Despite the heat, and the we-aren’t-calling-it-a-recession, and gas prices, and mass school shootings, and the “bans off my body” stuff, and…oh…yeah…a global pandemic still in full force, life is okay. I mean, it isn’t OK, but so much of this can’t be controlled, so I’m going to run with it. Not gonna lie, though; sometimes it gets tricky. Don’t you agree?

So, what do I tell myself when life gets tough?

Grab a drink. Settle in.

I will share the five things I tell myself when life gets complicated, hoping it will help you, too.

So, got that drink? Good. Let’s dive right in.

1) I can overcome this challenge, and I’ll be much stronger. My fella and I were talking about how ‘laid back’ our relationship is. We just don’t argue. I think it’s because both of us have overcome so much that we are both stronger, and it shows in the calmness of our lives. I used to sweat the small stuff until I realized that most of it was small stuff, and I was creating more than my share of unnecessary stress. I’m not saying you aren’t going to suffer. I’m saying you’re not going to regret it.

2) When life is easy, life is dull. I’m not saying I want a tremendous amount of chaos in my life. I’m just saying that I like to learn, and in every experience, there is an opportunity for growth. Growth can be challenging, but it is rarely dull. And anyone who says “I don’t like drama” is a bit sus in my book. I’m not a fan of it either, but in the drama comes opportunity. Life is supposed to have a little bit of drama. If you avoid drama, you avoid growth. But just like Netflix: Every drama must have a final season. It’s in pushing through those experiences that some of the greatest epiphanies are born.

3) Life 1, Reaction 9. My son recently broke his tablet, and I could tell he was scared to show me (maybe because of that previous unnecessary drama. Shrug.) When he finally got it out and told the truth, his little eyes welled up with tears and his voice shook. I took the opportunity to remain calm. He said, “I can’t believe you aren’t angry.” to which I replied, “Oh. I am angry. I’m just choosing my words carefully.” Life is about 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. (And my son told his father, “Mom was scary angry about my tablet.” Perspective, I guess.)

4) There’s a lesson in this. As I mentioned, I am a learner. And I can’t just sit back and go through a bunch of crap for the sake of going through crap. I have to tell myself – and I believe it – that every harrowing experience allows me to learn more about myself.

5) I’m not failing; I’m learning. Do you see a theme here? I have started three businesses and one non-profit organization in my life. And I haven’t always been great at running them. But I didn’t fail when I closed or sold those businesses. I learned better ways to operate in the future. I make it a point to journal through tough experiences because then I can look back and see how much I’ve grown. I’ve got journals on my shelf that date back to some of my darkest days – 2015 through 2021 – and I’m grateful I kept them. So many people suggested burning them to symbolize letting go, but I don’t want to. At least, not yet. The words on those pages represent an emotional growth spurt, and I am grateful for the experiences.

As we know, it’s tough to think of these little tips when we are in the midst of struggle. But I invite you to try. Life is a rollercoaster. It has its ups and downs, but it’s your choice to scream or enjoy the ride. I, myself, usually scream and cry – not gonna lie. But in the end, I always walk out the other side more self-aware.

So what about you, Dear Reader? What kind of pep talk do you give yourself when life hands you lemons? And on that topic…who says you have to make lemonade with those lemons? After all, we are adults. You can use those to make whiskey sours.

As for your song, I’m leaving you with an oldie today by Darryl Worley. You probably don’t remember him from the early 2000s, but he was a bright light on the country music scene. Worley is a singer-songwriter who rose to fame but released his last ‘real’ album in 2009. I say ‘real’ because he released another in 2019, but out of 15 songs, eight were previously released. Nonetheless, the song I leave you with is one that pretty much sums life up, if you ask me, and puts the finishing touches on today’s post.

PS…If you like this post and thought other’s would too, then please – by all means – share on all the socials. Thank you!

Quit or Rest?

Good morning, Dear Reader! Today is Friday, and I found myself with zero obligations this weekend. In fact, at this very moment, there is not one single appointment or meeting on my calendar today. This means…yep…I’m working in my jammies. I haven’t done this since full-on COVID lockdown depression days, so it feels a bit awkward. I will, I’m sure, get up at some point and put on clothing. But, at the moment, it’s just you, me, my cat, my coffee, my keyboard…and pajamas.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the emphasis Americans put on ‘not quitting’. You’ve all heard some variations of the American rally cry:
1) Never quit.
2) It’s okay to fail, but not okay to quit.
3) Quitting is for sissies.
4) If you are tired, rest. Never quit.

I don’t know about you, but I’m calling ‘Bullshit’ today. As a tenacious woman who prides herself on her ability to look adversity in the face and laugh, I still think sometimes quitting is the only option. There are times in one’s life when the desire to quit is so strong, yet we fight the urge to do it. Why?

I recommend, in these times, that you run your impulse through a few pieces of criteria to determine if you need to simply take a wee bit of a break or definitely cut ties. Ready for them? Good.

Grab a drink. Settle in.

Here are a few tips from yours truly to help you decide if quitting may be your best option:

1) Your health is suffering. Headaches, stomach pains, hives, rashes, high blood pressure, ‘pooping problems’ like constipation or diarrhea all point to stress-related pressures. The body is excellent at telling you to slow down or move on. We are just really bad at listening to it.

2) You have no enthusiasm or are carrying the weight of obligation. You need to evaluate if you are doing something because you don’t want to disappoint someone. I, too, have a strong sense of obligation, and when I make a promise, I fully intend to keep it. But sometimes, you get into things that require a lot more of you than you expected, and that’s when it gets off kilter. Last year, I volunteered to be president of my son’s elementary school’s parent-teacher association. I had great ideas and felt fully ready to rally the troops. Except only about ten folks rallied. And at the end of the year, all eleven of us were exhausted and done. I haven’t volunteered for anything since. I need a break, Yo.

3) You realize (finally!) the path is full of obstacles. I know that some of you will go quickly to the old “Overcoming obstacles is a sign of grit”. I agree. I gots me sum grit. But sometimes, the Universe can clearly see that you are a stubborn person, and It steps in to create ‘opportunities’ to slow down, switch lanes, or find a different path altogether. If I had listened to friends sooner about some of my relationships, I would not have wasted as much time on some of those yay-hoos.

4) You hesitate because you don’t want to ‘waste’ efforts. Or money. Or time. You look at all you’ve put into something, and you think you should stick it out because of the investment. In the business world, we call this sunk cost. I have friends who built their 3000-square-foot dream home on a lake to have a place for their children and future grandchildren to enjoy. Except, the children moved to the west coast, and neither of them has (or wants!) children. So my friends sold that home eventually and paid cash for a quaint, newly built 1600-square-foot home in Arkansas, only about 30 minutes from that same lake. I stayed married for the ‘sake of my child’ longer than I probably should have. And guess what? My child is just fine post-divorce. Hint: Most of them are.

5) Your values no longer align with the original purpose. I once started an organization that provided free, healthy, and non-perishable meal packs to the food insecure population in my community. While I’m still an advocate for poverty alleviation and childhood hunger, I realized that just handing out a free meal was helpful but not impactful. The original purpose was to feed the hungry – and we did – but we didn’t help the hungry. When I realized I really wanted to make an impact, I ignored the sunk cost fallacy. Instead of pouring more resources into the organization to make it possible to shift gears, I simply closed up shop. It wasn’t easy to make this decision, but it was the right thing to do for everyone involved.

In summary (fancy, huh?), there’s a sharp difference between positive quitting and negative quitting. The critical difference: self-reflection. For example, I don’t recommend filing for divorce if you are just tired of a relationship. I do recommend filing for divorce if you’re in an emotionally or physically abusive marriage. I don’t recommend quitting a job if you are simply burned out. You can take some time off to recharge or ask for a reduction in responsibilities, which might do the trick. But, I do recommend quitting that job if your values no longer align with the company or if your boss is a demon from hell. I always encourage folks to look at the commitments they have that take time from those they love or get rid of clutter to live in peace. You may love that boat, but if you don’t have time to use it and maintain it, then maybe letting go and quitting the ‘lake life’ scene is the thing to do.

As I close today, I don’t profess to know it all. I have a high tolerance for bad behavior, and much of what I do is out of obligation. However, I’m getting better at saying “no” and letting go of things and responsibilities that no longer serve me. I encourage you to do the same.

So, what are you going to quit this month/year? Smoking? A job? Criticizing yourself and others? Complaining all the time? I’m curious and really want to know.

That said, let me leave you with a song this weekend. As Shinedown sings, “Sometimes goodbye is the second chance.” I don’t know about you, but that song gets all the feels from this side of the keyboard. Enjoy.

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

Road Trips with Ronnie

Good morning, Dear Reader! I’m back from my little jaunt, and I’m happy to be home. That said, I believe these little trips are good for my soul. There are just some things that can’t be processed without the help of a back country road, a little whiskey, and gas station beef jerky. I managed to drive 1,426 miles over six days – two of which I spent working in an office. I would have liked to have more time in Minnesota. It was stunning. Iowa was…peaceful…and hot…but I can say this about the upper Midwest: People sure are friendly. And not in the snarky “Bless her heart” Southern way that I’m so used to.

Along the way, I knocked another Missouri covered bridge off my bucket list, stopping to see the Locust Creek Covered Bridge on my way home. And let us not forget: I witnessed every covered bridge in Madison County, Iowa, and even traveled down Francesca Lane. I’m amazed by the craftsmanship of these bridges and disheartened by the graffiti. People are assholes.

I returned in good spirits, although I found myself a bit sad. I read a quote yesterday that really resonated with me:

“Ironically, when we start to get better, we also often get sad. Because we start to realize just how much we missed out on, how badly certain people failed us, and what the younger version of us actually deserved. Healing involves healthy grieving. No way around it.” – Unbreakable & Uplifting

Ain’t that the truth.

I wasted many years making other people happy at the risk of my own wholeness, and this year was the year that all stopped. How do I do it? Well, a lot of therapy and a little IDGAF. Want some tips? Okay, then.

Grab a drink. Settle in.

Let’s talk about how to practice a little self-care with my five favorite things I do to take care of myself:

1) Stay in touch with those who like you despite your flaws. I typically will plan my trips around a quick little visit with a friend I haven’t seen in a while. That way, I can balance the solitude with the excitement of catching up. Last March, I visited my friend, Bonnie, in Massachusetts, getting hooked on Outlander, laughing over shots of Irish Whiskey, and freaking out a little after our tarot readings. This time, I was up north in Minnesota to visit Candi and Dave. I even met a guy I’ve worked with for nearly three years that I’ve never seen in person. September brings California, and maybe I’ll touch base with my cousin while I’m there. As I age, I realize just how much of a vital role some of these people play in my life.

2) Embark on new experiences that stretch your comfort level. Hot, sticky, and buggy is the only way I can describe the last week. I slept in my car for two nights in the middle of nowhere without electricity or ‘bathroom’ facilities. I had to plan out potty breaks and research where to wash my stinky body. Sometimes, I felt my anxiety rise a bit due to the unknown. I pushed through it and, each time came out of the experience with a better sense of ‘self’. Whether a solo trip or learning to cook, every new venture provides an opportunity to learn about yourself and others. I am still amazed at people’s generosity (strangers, even). This trip restored my faith in humanity for sure.

3) Sad songs or songs that envoke the past have no business on your road trip playlist. So, with that in mind, I binged Southern Fried True Crime podcasts. (I know. Weirdo.) But I also did listen to a heck of a lot of Pink and Eminem. My Good Vibes 2022 playlist is public. Take a listen any time you want.

4) Simplicity is always best. As I’ve preached for nearly twelve years, less is more, especially when traveling. Less clothing. Less food. Less coffee. Less alcohol. Less contact with the general public. Less self-judgment and less fear. Living your best life really starts with clearing out the clutter. My car looked like a New York City apartment – small and full of crap – and I didn’t need half the stuff I packed “just in case”. It made me stop and realize I still have so much I continue to hang on to “just in case”.

5) Epic is overrated. I’ve often said this, and I’ll repeat it today: There is something to say about living a mediocre life. And I don’t mean mediocre as in ‘less than’. I’m saying that not every experience must be epic to be memorable. I once took a road trip to Hannibal, Missouri. It wasn’t epic in the least bit, but it was memorable. And it changed the course of my life. After all, any day that ends with a cold beer and a cheeseburger with the prospect of getting kissed can’t be all bad, right? Right. Unfortunately, I’m stuck between “I need to save money” and “You only live once”. After California, I’m taking a bit of a break. Next year will bring a road trip through Yellowstone or Michigan’s U.P. And, 2024 will bring Norway, baby, and the Northern Lights.

The bottom line is: It’s okay to live a simple life, as I’ve stated for years. Your life could be mornings with coffee, watching the sunrise with nowhere to go. Or you could climb that mountain – not for the selfie but for the experience. Cook healthy food not to lose weight but to care for your body. Spend less time working and spend time with those you love before they are gone. Stop. Listen. Turn off distractions and the constant need for more. Ditch the comparisons and consumerism for a life that’s wild and free. Adventure awaits.

As always, here’s your song. And it really is YOUR song, Dear Reader. This blog – my creepy online diary – gives me something to look forward to. I love sharing my epiphanies and stories with you. I hope you are inspired, as well. Smooches all around, People. Muuuuaaaaahhhh. (For an awesome Ronnie Milsap playlist, click here)

PS…If you liked this post and thought others might, too, feel free to share on all the socials. Please and thank you.

You CAN Handle The Truth

Good morning, Dear Reader! My little stint in the upper midwest is coming to an end. Tonight I leave my friend Candi and her fantastic mate, Dave, and head south to Boone, IA. Ain’t gonna lie…the last night I spent in IA was 98* inside the car at night, and I’m not doing that again. I opted for an Airbnb and will not feel guilty one bit with my Casey’s pizza, air conditioner, and wine tonight. Not. One. Bit.

I think trips like this give me a chance to learn new things about myself – and accept those epiphanies no matter what. For example, I now know I do not like to car camp in the heat. I’m not too fond of it and will not do it again. That doesn’t mean Fall and Winter are off the table. Just not July. Ever. Also, I overpacked and realized I only needed about 20% of what I packed. But without this trip, how would I ever know that? And so, now we know, don’t we?

Like so many other endeavors in my life, this trip has allowed me to learn my truth – and not only understand it but speak it. I just told you I don’t intend to car camp again in the USA in the summer months. I didn’t know this would be true last Monday when I headed off…although I kinda suspected it. But now I do. And that is that.

I think this is a good setup for today’s post. Learning to speak our truth and doing it is so important. Some people are just born with that ability. My son, who is Autistic, tells his truth and doesn’t care one iota that his inner Sheldon is showing. I envy him sometimes. But why do I need to envy him? I can speak my truth, too, right? Right.

How about this: Grab a drink and settle in. We will talk about owning, speaking, and living our truths today. Ready? Let’s go.

Here are a few things you need to know about owning your voice and speaking your truths:

1) You’ll lose people. And sometimes, that’s okay. Some of my friends don’t understand why I want to learn to handle a firearm and be a responsible gun owner. They are so far left they want firearms abolished. I get it. I really do. I’m a little lean-to-the-left gal myself. It doesn’t stop me from going to the shooting range, though. And my less-than-conservative beliefs will also not stop me from telling right-winged nutjobs to stay out of my uterus.

2) Feeling guilty is expected once you start putting yourself first. As a recovering co-dependent, I feel for ya, baby. I felt a little guilty about taking this trip. And I did it anyway. As someone who struggles to put myself first, I want to tell you about EDMR. I’ve recently received a particular type of therapy called EDMR and it’s been amazing. I highly recommend it because it’s been so helpful. It will reset your limiting (or false) beliefs faster than traditional therapy. It’s costly, but effective when you can’t seem to move past the past.

3) It’s normal to need more time alone. Changing anything about your inner-self can bring up intense feelings, and taking time alone to process those emotions is absolutely okay. I’ve made a few substantial life transitions recently, and I’ve needed more time alone (more than usual!) to process and accept what I’m feeling. I’m already introverted and need a tremendous amount of solitude just to function without a high level of anxiety. These changes have required more. Like 30 hours in a car alone.

4) Anger is also expected. If you, like me, are guilty of shrinking yourself to fit into family dynamics, communities, or social groups, it is normal to be pissed off. Pissed off at them, at yourself, at nothing in general. It’s part of the process. Own it and then decide: Do I separate myself completely or simply limit my time with them? Either is fine. It’s your life. It’s your truth. You can bow out quietly or say “Go fuck yourself”. Either way, eventually, you will not be angry anymore. I was taught that saying “That’s not my job” meant I wasn’t a team player. I was nice and took on extra responsibilities all the time. I also faced tremendous burnout because of it. Now I simply say, “Wow, I’d love to help, but my plate is full right now.” I stay in my lane, and I don’t volunteer to be ‘helpful’ anymore. (Not my circus, not my monkey, remember?)

I’m not going to stand here and tell you I’m an asshole and don’t care at all. Sometimes, when I speak my truth, my voice still shakes. But that’s okay. I’ll take a shakey voice over miserable silence any day.

How about you? As you grow, what have you learned about yourself? Do you proclaim your disdain for sour cream? Did you admit you like a bit more spice in the bedroom? Did you sell most of your belongings to quit your job or take another one you like better for less pay? I’m so curious to hear your story, so do share.

Until you find your voice and comment below…here’s your song. Bobby Jo Valentine is such a great human. He’s a talented singer/songwriter, and I’ve had the pleasure of knowing him for a few years. On my trip mid-Missouri, I realized I hadn’t listened to him for a while so I found some older stuff and let myself feel the lyrics. Bobby Jo has a great life story and has had to come to terms with his own truth through the years. He’ll be the first to tell you that being brave and owning your truth comes with loss but also with gain.

Have a glorious weekend, and say a little prayer for safe travels as I head back home. I’ve had a good week, but I’m excited to smooch a few of my favorite people.

PS… If you like this post, please feel free to share it on all the socials. I’m picking up momentum and am kicking around moving to a podcast format, or at minimum, looking for sponsors for the blog. The more subscribers the better.

Not The Comforts of Home

Hello, Dear Reader! I’m writing this from the boonies of southern Iowa by way of my phone. I’m also without the assistance of Grammarly, so be forewarned. I’m a somewhat solid writer, but I fear I won’t win any prizes with today’s post. But, if I may redeem myself, I have sweat pouring down my back, and it’s headed to my nether regions, and yet, I’m here to visit with you. That should be worth a little grammatical grace, right?

The point of this trip is threefold:

  1. My kiddo is with the other half of his DNA this week, so I’m taking advantage of my free time.
  2. I wanted to try car camping and, yes, I’d prefer it to be cooler, but it isn’t.
  3. I’m uncomfortable, which is the point of this trip and today’s post.

I’ve spent the last few years being comfortable. Or, more accurately, avoiding being uncomfortable by ignoring my needs. Last August, I had a revelation that catapulted me into my fiftieth year with new insight. I knew I needed to make some changes, but I wasn’t sure how to move forward.

Fast forward nearly a year, and you’ll find me on the other side of several uncomfortable and challenging experiences. I’m no longer in a dead-end relationship, I sold my home in a town I never really liked, and I’ve (somewhat) reconciled with my ex-husband. (“Reconciled” as in I no longer cast spells on him. Not reconciled reconciled.) But none of those things came without some rather painful moments.

So, last night, as I sat in my car to avoid all the mosquitos, sweating my ass off and praying it would cool down enough to fall asleep, I briefly thought “Fuck this. I’m leaving and finding a Super 8”. But I stopped myself – even though it was excruciatingly balmy. I stopped myself because I want this to be the year that I continue to push through things that are challenging and hard. So what does that look like? Fuck if I know, but I can already see progress.

Grab a drink. Settle in. Let’s get real, shall we?

Before we get to my point, it’s safe to assume that no one, if given options, will choose ‘the uncomfort’. Right? If you disagree, well fine. Read on anyway. I’m not sure I believe you…but whatevs.

My point is: No one wakes up one day and says, “Hey, I think I’d like to have a negative experience today.” I didn’t plan this trip with that idea at all. I didn’t think “Hey, I’d like to camp in a hidden piece of property in the middle of Iowa in the sweltering heat with no place to shit or shower while fighting an army of pigeon-sized mosquitos. After that, I’d like to lose my deodorant and travel though the rest of the state in the sweat soaked underwear and t-shirt I slept in while I look for a public library and a free source of body-washing water facilities.” I promise you this trip did not include any of that.

We all avoid being uncomfortable as much as we can because discomfort connotates a negative experience. Don’t believe me? Then come watch my nine year-old as the Wifi goes down. 

Physical discomfort can mean pain, and psychological discomfort can mean anxiety or sadness. As I drove up on the property last night and was instructed by the owner to ‘head on up that there hill to the camp’ – while passing a homemade axe throwing station – I can assure you that my anxiety levels went up and I was glad my fella subtly suggested the Glock I decided to bring at the last minute.

So why push through the discomfort? Why put ourselves through all that? As it turns out, discomfort is the key to success. Success? You ask. Yes. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you.

  1. You could fail. Yes, you could. So what? I pushed through the night and will move through one more, even though it’s hot AF.
  2. You’ll get a good dose of dopamine. Interestingly, Forbes states that putting yourself in unfamiliar situations makes your brain produce dopamine—the feel-good chemical. In other words, once you actually put yourself into a new situation or give yourself a new challenge, you’ll start to feel good. And if you can combine those good feelings with a positive attitude regarding what you can accomplish simply by trying something new—even if you don’t get it right the first time—you can turn fear of failure into motivation to succeed. You know what I did – all stinky and needing a shower and a nap? Went to a wine tasting. And no one cared. I found a little happiness in a glass at the Madison County Winery. I had some great wine and good conversation and met a super friendly woman who offered me her spare room should I ever find myself in the area again. I could have easily poo-pooed that idea because I didn’t ‘feel’ presentable, but (you guessed it) I thought “Fuck it. I’m here. I’m thirsty. I’m going.”
  3. You’ll invite creativity into your life. I get it…the comfort zone is such a safe place. But if you don’t get out of your comfort zone, you might find yourself tuning out much of your life daily. When you go out of your way to experience new things or let new things happen to you, your body creates new neural pathways that fuel your creative spark and enhance your memory. I needed this trip because my fictional characters are just sitting on the shelf, waiting for me to develop their story. I’ve been unmotivated and uninspired for so many months because I’ve been ‘comfortable’. I’m tired of feeding the complacency. 

I’m not saying uncomfortable experiences are lovely. In fact, I’m saying that all painful experiences are scary and barely tolerable. But I am saying, feel the fear and do it anyway. Repeat that: Feel. The. Fear. And. Do. It. Anyway.

As I wrap up my time in this nice air-conditioned public library in Boone, Iowa, I give you your song. This song is the fight song of all songs when it comes to pushing through the fear. Plus, the singer/songwriter pushed through all his own anxiety and doubt to make it to where he is today. He was told a million times that he was not going to make it and he did it anyway. (Watch the documentary here).

PS…If you liked this post and thought others might, too, feel free to share on all the socials.

A Quick Check-In

Good morning, Dear Reader! I’m looking at my What The Forecast app, and it tells me that this weekend will be glorious. It shouldn’t get much hotter than 86. Can we all agree that 86 is “hot enough”? Especially since I’m hitting the road and sleeping in my car for the next five days. I will probably be a bit ‘out of pocket’ next week, but if fate gives me something important to discuss with you, I will find a quaint coffee bar and spill the beans. (Eh. Eh. See what I did there?)

Anywho, on the subject of travel: I didn’t use to travel much. I always thought I didn’t really have the time or the money. As I paired down my life and all of its commitments, I found I did have the time. The money part came with a few choices, which hurt a little bit in the beginning, but once I started to see how saving a bit can add up I got a little giddy. For example, in my ‘no spend challenge,’ I’ve already saved $286, and that’s just a little over a week. $27.40 a day adds up to $10,000 a year. Seems undoable? Okay, let’s cut the pain in half, shall we? If you spend $10 a day on lunch at the local cafe or McD’s, you are wasting about $300 a month ($900 in 3 months; $2,400 a year). You CAN afford to travel, but you don’t like making sandwiches.

So how am I saving this money, you ask? Minor changes; Nothing too monumental.

Grab a drink and settle in. I’ll tell you what I’ve accomplished in a week.

1) Shopping for clothing has stopped. Not forever, and I am ‘allowed’ to replace items. I just don’t need anything at the moment. I put the kibosh on the clothing subscription services, too. I found the quality of the clothes to be much less than what I was paying for them. If I need something, I’ll buy it locally. It just so happens that I don’t need anything right now.

2) I broke up with my Amazon subscriptions. Admittedly, this happened during the lockdown, but I had a lot of household things on auto-ship. However, in evaluating and taking inventory, I realized I already had a lot in stock. I’ll still have my cat food and coffee shipped, but I think I’ll start looking at other places to purchase it.

3) Cut down on animal protein. I’m a far cry from being a vegetarian, and to call myself one would insult people who work hard for that lifestyle. But, I have cut out about 80% of the meat I consumed. You could also try to purchase different cuts of meat. My friend, Jay, mentioned yesterday that Aldi sells lamb for much less than its beef, so he’s been buying that instead. I’ve never had lamb. (I wonder if I can get my resident grill master to make this for me? #SubtleHint) Also, don’t believe the Keto hype. Rice and beans are not bad for you, and they are inexpensive (I am not a fan of rice, but if it finds itself in a soup, I’m okay). If you’re patient, I recommend dry beans over canned, too, but who among us can say they even know how to prepare these? Probably only my friend and homesteader in Western Mass, right?

4) Switch out facial products. My esthetician friends might cringe at this, but unless you’ve got some super-specific issue with your skin, there are some inexpensive yet good products on the market. Don’t get me wrong, I love my high-end products, but I’ve realized there isn’t much difference between my Eminence and the products I recently purchased, except for about $40 a bottle. You can click here to visit FullScript and save on vitamins, supplements, and, you guessed it…facial products. I spent $56 on an entire regime yesterday (Toner, mask, moisturizer, and serum). To put that in perspective: one 4-ounce bottle of Eminence costs me about $40 and my last moisturizer set me back $90. I also make my facial cleanser (here’s the recipe) and haven’t had any issues. The initial investment of all the products to make this still cost me less than one bottle of my fancy spa-like cleansers and one batch lasts me about six months.

5) Switch to all-natural cleaning products. Some cleaning solutions can run you close to $3 a bottle, if not more, and are full of harsh chemicals. I have so many right now that I’m working through the bottles until they are gone. Then I’ll start making a citrus + vinegar solution for most countertop cleaning and mopping. My recipe for that is below. Vinegar is cheap and can be used in so many things. Don’t even get me started on baking soda. It’s a miracle.

Courtesy of Herbal Remedies

I know there isn’t anything earthshattering in this post, but sometimes I like to get out of my head and share simple, easy-to-read material. I’m the Nicholas Sparks of bloggers today, I guess.

As always, here’s your song. Nothing to do with today’s post but one that has been in my head for a few days. I like songs that feel like they were written just for me, about me, you know? The Arcadian Wild is a Nashville-based acoustic quartet that blends traditional with contemporary to create its unique sound. I came across this group via Spotify. I’m a fan of The Avett Brothers and Jason Isbell, so Spotify, like a manipulative boyfriend, tossed me a little love and plugged this song into a playlist. Of course, I fed right into it and consumed two of their albums in one day trip. Anyway, I like it, and I hope you do, too. Enjoy!

PS…if you liked this post and want others to relish in all the great advice, then share on all the socials.

PSS…I’ll be driving a fair amount this week and sleeping in unchartered areas. I’d appreciate the good vibes for safety travels if you have any to spare.