Three Steps To Take Action

Good morning, dear reader! It appears that I no longer report the weather here anymore, huh? Well, it’s windy, and I didn’t get the thunderstorm I was promised. But, considering that gusty plus thunderstorms here in the lower midwest typically equals tornadoes, I will settle for one or the other, but not both simultaneously.

Speaking of tornadoes, I’ve been dreaming a lot about them. All the dream interpretations tell me this is a sign that things are feeling chaotic or up in the air. Really? Ya think? That all may be spot on, but I will tell you what it’s made me think of so far: Create that ‘bug out’ bag.

My friend, Jay, has been telling me to create one of these for…um…the entire time we’ve been friends.

So, for giggles, I Googled “how to make a bug-out bag,” and – newsflash – there are some really crazy people out there. I got what I needed (how to create a bug-out bag for short-term emergencies) but couldn’t help and read more (like, um, how to create a bug-out bag for the zombie apocalypse). All really interesting, to say the least. And a reminder of why I don’t date.

I’ve lived in Southwest Missouri for most of my life, so I know a thing or two about tornadoes. I also spent an unfortunate year in Kansas where, as you may be aware, knowledge of how to survive tornadoes comes in handy. And there was that one year in Massachusetts where the town folk hadn’t seen a tornado for twenty years…until I moved there. I, literally, saved my entire department by telling them they needed to get under their desks immediately when I saw the green color of the sky as the rain started to soften (I call this color ‘tornado-sky green’). They all laughed at me, until they heard what sounded like a train coming. Yes, that’s the day I became a hero. (Kidding. It was just a baby tornado).

Anywhoo…the point is that I’ve lived here all my life and don’t have a bug-out bag whereas my friend in upstate New York, does have a bug-out bag. (Shhh…Probably has two). While he’s never seen a tornado, they do get a tiny bit of snow up there, so he’s into the whole “prepping” thing. And by “prepping,” I mean he’ll get his family through a month-long emergency, but not so weird that you have to wonder what he has buried in his backyard. But, back to the original question: 

Why does my tornado virgin friend have a bug-out bag and I don’t?

Because he is a man of action. And lately… I’ve not been too terribly motivated by anything – including grabbing an old backpack, buying a whistle, and putting some water bottles and spare underwear in said backpack. But my procrastination with the entire “bug-out bag thing” ends now. 


Grab a drink. Settle in. Here’s how to take action in three simple steps.

The ‘Action Cycle’ is a human potential term but here’s the basics of how it works:

Let’s say you decided to learn to walk: 

1) Act – You take that first couple steps.

And…you fall on your ass. Now you need to figure out if you’re going to be a person of action or a quitter.

2) Assess – You’re no quitter, so, you make a list of what worked and what didn’t. Maybe you leaned forward too much. Or backward. Or you tripped over your own shoe lace. Whatever. (By the way…most quitters don’t get this far in the process. They usually don’t even try to figure out what went wrong.) But not you. You’re gonna get this walking thing down! You take a look at your lists.

3) Adjust – You decide that doing more of what did work is the best course of action or, maybe, you focus on improving what didn’t work. Or you decide to start all over and try a different method all together. And different shoes, without laces. Then…

Yup. You guessed it.

Act. Assess. Adjust. Act. Assess. Adjust. Act. Assess. Adjust. Act. Assess. Adjust. Act. Assess. Adjust.

You may have to keep repeating this over and over and over until you get it right. And it will be frustrating as fuck. But you’ll be the better person. Why? As I mentioned…most stop after the ‘Act’. They fall on their asses and instead of asking “What can I do better?” they just think “It’s just the way I am.” {Shrug}.

So, back to my bug-out bag. Today, I’ll take my own advice and take action. I’ll locate one of my kid’s old backpacks and buy a whistle. That’s a start. I’ll throw some other stuff in there, then assess if this will work during the storm season. If not, I’ll act again by adding or subtracting from the contents of the magical bag. (I just imagined Jay clutching his chest and saying out loud, “Oh, Thank God!”). You’re welcome, Jay. You’re welcome.

Your song today comes from The Script and features It’s all about taking action and reaching for your dreams. You can be great, regardless of where you come from or what you’ve had to overcome. I hope you are encouraged to take control of your life and pursue those goals. Remember: Act – Assess – Adjust. Repeat as many times as you need / want to – it isn’t a race.

Hey, but before you go, what keeps you from moving on with your goals? Do you give up when things don’t go your way, or are you too scared to face what you might have to change in order to succeed? Drop it in the comments. Peace out!

Three Ideas To Handle Being “Alone”

Good morning, dear reader! Looks like I’m back on a roll, huh? The new moon in Pisces excites me. What can I say?

I had a rare weekend with no child and relatively no plans. I used all my words (that’s ‘introvert’ talk for ‘I was peopled-out’) Saturday morning helping with a free tax clinic but by noon, I was done. I went home, loaded a backpack, fed the cats, and headed out. To where? Jeff City. (Jeff-ER-SON City for those not from here.) 

I didn’t do much while I was there. I cleared my head over a beer and turkey club at Prison Brews (which, btw, was delicious) and walked through a few thrift stores. I didn’t say much to anyone unless I was spoken to directly. I half-assed wondered if anyone felt sorry for me – sad little thang, there all alone – but then I remembered: I don’t really give a shit.

This leads us here, today, dear reader. A discussion on being alone.

You know what I’ve realized? A lot of folks are afraid of being alone.

I used to be really afraid of it and its pal, ‘down time’. In my younger days I used ‘busyness’ to mask pain and tamp down whatever emotion was bubbling. I’ve learned, however, that both introspection and retrospection can be calming. But ya gotta get through the hard part first – and that often isn’t fun. 

If you struggle with down time or silence or being alone, then you might be thinking “How? How do I learn to be okay with this?” Bless your heart. Relax. I’m gonna tell you.

Grab a drink. Settle in. Here are three ways I learned to like being alone.

First, you need to understand that staying hyper-busy and always ‘needing’ to be around others or be in a relationship is a response to trauma. Trauma, especially childhood trauma where you were rarely validated, keeps people seeking validation elsewhere. It’s why your feelings get hurt when you aren’t invited to the party or someone doesn’t return your text or phone call. It is why people put up dating profiles the minute their relationship status goes from ‘in a relationship’ to ‘single’. I should know. I was that person. So, believe me when I say I’m not judging you. I know that silence can be deafening. I know that the idea of not having someone when something major happens in your life can be frightening. But…(you knew there was a ‘but’ coming…)

Validation that comes from others is short-lived. You’ve heard the phrase “Learn to love yourself“, right? I’d argue this is more important: Learn to validate yourself.

But what about connection?, you ask. Connection is also important. My friend, Machell, sent me a Ryan North quote over the weekend and it was spot on. Ryan North says “Our brains are wired for connection but trauma rewires them for protection. That’s why healthy relationships are difficult for wounded people.” In other words, until we address what has hurt us and why…we will never really have connection on the level in which we want it.  

Why? Because…You can be in a room full of people and still be lonely. You can also be happy as a lark even if you are alone for an entire weekend. Connection is essential, but self-validation is more important. (Ahem…in my opinion, of course. I’m no shrink.)

1) Learn the difference between being alone and being lonely. When I have downtime, I often spend most of it alone. I’m pretty much a fulltime single parent. I get about six days of fully alone time a month. I work full time, and even though I’m a work-from-home employee, I’m ‘on’ all day. So when I get downtown, I embrace it. As an introvert, one could argue that I need it. I’m okay going to the movies by myself, eating alone, and taking solo trips. I’m alone…but I’m not lonely. In fact, I had a three-hour conversation Friday night on the phone. I have another phone call scheduled with one of my favorite New Englanders next week. I have friends who will go out with me when I ask them to (which is, like, hardly ever). I’m alone…but I’m not lonely. It takes time to learn how to be alone without being lonely, so be patient. However, once you understand the difference…there is another name for it: Freedom.

2)  Stop caring about being normal. First, let me say if one embraces ‘minimalism’ or the choice to save money instead of spending it on unneeded stuff…you’re already ‘not normal’. So, as long as you are okay with that, you should be fine. “Normal” people stay in relationships even when they are slightly (or extremely) unhealthy and never seek out ways to be better as a person or as a couple. “Normal” people buy stuff they rarely use. “Normal” people think being alone is sad. “Normal” people would never head out with a sleeping bag in the back of their car and find a hobby farm to camp out for the night via HipCamp. I don’t care one iota about being “normal”, getting approval, or fitting in with the crowd. I do my own thing and follow my own path. Some people like me, and some don’t. And I’m okay either way.

3) Know your worth. You is kind. You is smart. You is good. There was a time I didn’t know my worth, though, so if you need help with knowing the value you bring to the table, I encourage you to dig deep (and therapy helps, too). But, first, let me assure you…your value isn’t tied up in how much time someone else wants to spend with you. Me? I know I’m kind and I’m funny. I’m wicked smart, and I also have limits on how much crap I’ll take from others before saying “Yeah…um…no”. I can be counted on in a crisis. I will take over a clipboard and organize the worst cluster fuck you’ve ever seen…and I will also stop talking to anyone who owes me a proper apology and doesn’t give me one. I’m especially quiet when I’ve been hurt by someone and I’m extremely talkative when I’m nervous. I’m kind…and, yet, I’m no doormat. That’s what knowing your value looks like.

So, as always, we end with a song. Road trips always give me the opportunity to dig deep into the dusty realms of great music. I celebrated mine with ballads from the eighties and while this was the best decade for music – I should know, I was there – I’m not sure it’s the best choice for being alone in the car with your thoughts. Nonetheless, it’s what I dug up for you. I also suggest a good ride out in the country (BONUS SONG!) and practice being alone in short spurts. I once took a nine-day solo trip to the beach and each day was delicious. (If you’re local: head north on 65, east on 73, then east on 54. Stop in at Our Orchard Country Store, get some road trip snacks and a sandwich, and say “Howdy” to the new owners.)

Three “Happiness” Fundamentals

Good morning, dear reader! It has been a while, has it not? I promised you a few posts ago that I’d only write if I had something important on my mind. By the time 2022 ended, I felt I had been writing for the sake of writing, to make deadlines, and stay on course. I was beginning to feel the content made no sense – and – even worse – made no difference.

I tried my hand at that YouTube channel I mentioned here, but alas, I’ve dropped that project. There are so many reasons, but let’s just say…it isn’t a medium I can get behind. I’m not a social/digital influencer by any means, and I’ve witnessed first hand how nasty people can be in the comments section. Heck, I had to block a twelve-year-old from my ten-year-old’s channel for cyberbullying. It’s crazy how nasty people have gotten. So I find myself centering on a few select people and sticking to a small crowd these days. To say I don’t trust a single soul might be a slight exaggeration. I trust a few, but only a few.

Writing has always been a healing process for me, but lately, I’ve been in the thick of things, too busy to write. Instead, I’ve taken on a few advanced-level courses, tried to study photography, and focused primarily on my kiddo. But if I told you I didn’t miss writing, I’d be lying. I do miss it, whether it makes a difference or not.

So, today, we are gathered for the first post of 2023. Seems silly to launch nearly six weeks into a year, but here we are you and me. So…

I believe I’ve figured out three fundamental ways to be happier – at least the three that work for me – and I wanted to share them with you. They may help. (Okay, maybe I had a little help along the way from Alexander Chalmers and my buddies over at Life Simplified, but still…)

First, let me set this up by saying: I don’t like to be idle. I’m cool with a free Saturday here and there, but the whole ‘sleep, eat, work, repeat’ routine isn’t my thing. However, nothing I’m about to suggest requires a lot of money or experience. You don’t have to fly to Brazil and eat live beetles or anything. Unless, of course, you want to. Then you do you, Boo.

No, what I’m about to suggest is more calm. So, grab that drink. Settle in. Here we go…

Find something to do. For about three months in 2021, I didn’t do much after work but dive deep into Nurse Jackie on Netflix, drink wine until bedtime, and gain ten pounds. Realizing this wasn’t the most productive use of my time or talents…I now have plenty to do. I write. I am taking classes. I’m engaged in activities in my community. For example, right now, it is tax season in the United States and every other Saturday, I volunteer with the VITA program preparing taxes for low-to-middle-income families. Do I love doing taxes? Not necessarily. But I love helping people, and it reminds me just how fortunate I am.

Have someone to love. I don’t need to dive deep into how much I adore my son. He’s the most important person in my life, and being a late-in-life mother makes me believe – on some level – that the Universe chose me to be his mom. He’s a tad bit unique, this kid, and a lot of parents don’t have what it takes to be an advocate for a child like that. If you ask him today, “What’s mom’s job?” he’ll answer, “To protect me”. And I do. I wish I had room in my heart to love others the way I love him, but honestly, I don’t think I’m wired that way and don’t have the bandwidth. He is my number one priority. That kinda sucks for my love life, but – sigh – such is life.

Have something to hope for. People in depression will often say they’ve lost hope in the future. Some people who have lost hope in the future will not admit they are depressed, too, but that’s an entirely different post altogether. I work for an organization that grants wishes to children with critical illnesses. Often, the children and their families will state that even the thought of the upcoming ‘wish’ gives them hope to carry on. So, my wish? I’m planning a trip to Norway. I’ve started saving the money, and I’ve started clipping photos to put on my Vision Board. I’ve got an entire board on Pinterest dedicated to ‘things to do in Norway’. I may never get to Norway. But I’m damn sure looking forward to it and hoping for the best.

That’s the post today, reader. Short & sweet – just like I try to be. But before I let you go…I can’t forget to share a song with you. I love it when I can highlight local artists on this blog and I checked out a local thing called Sofar Sounds last Friday (there might be one in your area. Check here.). I finally got to see and hear Justin Larkin. He’s a local guy, and everyone talks so highly of him – as a musician and good human. I liked him, his vibe, and his songs, which you can find here. This one was my favorite. Ever thought someone wrote a song just for you? Yep. Nowhere Is A Place pretty much took up permanent residency in my heart that night. The line “I’d rather spend time burning bridges than time kissin’ ass” makes me giggle every time. I was hoping you could have a listen and let me know what you think.

Before you go…tell me…what do you hope for? What do you do when you aren’t earning that paycheck? Who do you love more than life itself? Comment below and enlighten me!