Gratitude Changes Everything

Good morning, dear reader! It is the week of Spring break here in our cozy tiny Ozarks home, and I gotta say…it’s cold af. Spring break would be much easier if I didn’t have to come up with ideas for a ten-year-old boy who was INSIDE. However, there will be one day when the temps are supposed to get over 55* so I plan to take him to this Missouri phenomenon and wear his little booty out climbing all day.

Today we will just continue our little low-key and awesome staycation (My theme for the week. Catchy, huh?) with some indoor trampolines, painted pottery, and the quest for a good (non-Domino’s) cheese pizza. Fingers crossed.

As I was sitting in my chair this morning, I realized it had been since September that I took an entire week off from work, and then, well, we went to Disneyland and walked over 38,000 steps over two days. That, friends, was not a vacation. Vacation? The hills of Scotland, the shores of Norway…heck…flea markets in the middle of Mississippi and odd little bookstores in Salem, Massachusetts. No, folks, Disneyland wasn’t all I remembered it to be. (Can’t swing a week? Recharge with a planned mental health day. My favorite HR guy says “I don’t need to know what you do with your sick days.” Be that guy.)

But it is now 8:36 am this morning, and the kiddo is still sound asleep. The cats have found their sunny morning spot, and I find myself here – alone with my keyboard – thinking just how lucky I am to be alive and spend the days with my son.

Being grateful for the little things prepares us for when we seemingly ‘have it all,’ and it collapses. It’s easy to be bitter in those times of demise, but if we can continue with a daily practice of gratitude, it can get us through the hardest times. For example, in my lowest time – the most difficult financially and the most difficult as a parent – I was grateful for the church food pantry. I was grateful when a friend purchased me a microwave. I was grateful when another friend paid a deposit on my apartment. I was grateful for the times when people took my son for the day free of charge so I could recharge and not end up in an orange jumpsuit.

And I’ve been doing some research, friends. Yep. On gratitude. And I’ve learned that ‘an attitude of gratitude’ isn’t just some catchy bumper sticker thingy. There’s actually some neuroscience behind what this gratefulness thing does for you. Wanna learn more? Good.

Grab a drink. Settle in.

1) Being grateful improves sleep, mood, and immunity. But don’t take my word for it. The Mayo-freaking-Clinic did an entire study on this. The challenge is the brain is designed to problem-solve. It isn’t designed to be grateful. So, for example, if your car doesn’t start, your brain jumps immediately to how to get this to start so you can get to work on time. It doesn’t think, “Oh, well, great. I’m grateful for this extra time to meditate or start a load of laundry while I wait for the Uber driver.”

2) Grateful people are more generous. Think about Scrooge in Dicken’s novel. He was only grateful or generous once he was shown all the reasons he had in front of him to be both. Try stretching yourself a bit and putting yourself out there. Instead of donating money to the school’s project, ask if you can help implement it. Instead of clicking the stupid “hug” emoji when a friend expresses a need on Fakebook, how about calling them and asking them to lunch? (And being grateful when they decline. I’m kidding. Okay. I’m sorta kidding.)

3) Gratitude can be expressed even in your darkest hours. I know this personally. In my darkest days, the Universe placed me in several situations where I had direct contact with those who were unsheltered and families who were way, way, way below the poverty line. Yet, even though I was in a situation I never expected to be in, I was grateful for a roof over our heads and a car that got me to and from work. I was thankful for all the meals people took me to or prepared for me. I was grateful for a 30-gallon tote of ‘gently used’ boys’ size 4T. And I’m still thankful today. (Today, specifically, for coffee…heat…and a sleeping child.)

If you want to know more about the biology of gratitude, here’s the link to the Mayo Clinic article. And they even have a ‘month-long gratitude program’ if you, like me, are into that sorta thing or need the structure and accountability.

And, I leave you with a song from the 70’s. (I know you are grateful I’m not linking to Dido’s ‘Thank You’. – You’re welcome.) I had to giggle because the first comment on this video link is “It is scientifically impossible to be in a bad mood when listening to this band.” I don’t know about ‘scientifically impossible’ but pretty darn impossible, I’ll admit.

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!

Four Annoying Phrases To Use When You Finally Give Up

Good morning, Dear Reader. As has been my MO lately, I’m late in posting. I try to have something delivered to you by Friday mornings, but here’s the nugget I cling to: It’s Friday morning somewhere. That’s the silver lining.

The weather has indeed turned here in the Ozarks. At least for a few days. It’s a comfy 33-degree, mostly cloudy day. You know…my favorite. 

But today is a bit different. Usually, I find a nice little nook and read or knit when it gets this chilly, but I’m feeling a bit blah. I don’t usually feel a bit blah on days like this. I’m convinced my soul arrived on Earth somewhere north, like Seattle or Norway. I just like gloomy days, most of the time. But this last week – even when it was in the seventies – felt weird. I even saged my house because there was a ‘funk’ I couldn’t shake, and I hardly ever do that. I wonder if the act did anything more than make my son complain about the smell. The saving grace of the week was the full moon lunar eclipse. The week was both magical and intense.

I’ve always been a bit transparent in these posts – at least transparent enough for you to ask yourself, “Did she just say that? Is this for real?” Honestly? Most of my writing is rooted in non-fiction, but some posts are just for kicks. For example, (confession time), I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seriously told anyone – to their face – to go fuck themselves. Although, admittedly, on many occasions – sometimes daily – I have muttered it under my breath. I talk a big game, though, right? Anyway. Fooled you.

Here’s what I regularly say, despite how much some of you may hate some of these. Ready?

Well…grab that drink. Settle in. Let’s dive into my favorite colloquialisms today.

1) It is what it is. At least one of you just shuddered at that. Yes, this one is a bit overused in the Universe, but here’s what I think about that particular phrase. First, if a person is using it as a placeholder to excuse bad behavior, that’s not the point. I use it – and so do many of us – when we’ve finally reached a conclusion about something and have leaned into accepting something we have no control over. For example, today is my father’s birthday. I’d love to buy him a lemon bundt cake from Supreme Bakery like I always did and celebrate with him. But I can’t. Why? Because he’s dead. It is what it is.

2) Fuck it. This short little phase is the saltier, more ghetto version of “It is what it is.” I embraced this phrase last Tuesday under the full moon while writing my list of things to release. I was thinking about a never-ending battle I have with a certain someone and how I’ve spent nearly six years trying to control the situation and the person. At some point during the week, I realized this situation was never-fucking-ever going to change, and under the super big full moon…I finally accepted it. Then, I wrote a brief little statement about it, lit a match, dropped it into a bucket, and whispered, “I release this”. I watched it burn to ash, stood up, and said (not whispering) “Fuck it, ” which will now be my theme for 2023. It may be flawed logic, but here’s my favorite scene from Yellowstone and how Fuck It plays out appropriately.

3) Not my problem. This one takes on a few different forms depending on how much I’ve had to drink. I’ve used “Not my cross to bear”, “Can’t blame a clown for acting like a clown,” or “A snake will never be a bunny rabbit, so stop petting it”. However, my favorite and most quoted to-date version of ‘Not my problem is: “Not my circus, not my monkey”. While those all sound a bit different, the true meaning of each of those is: This is not my issue.

4) You do you, Boo. This one is relatively new on the vernacular scene, but I’ve been using it a lot lately. It started as a replacement for “Whatever” when I couldn’t understand why a person was behaving in a manner I believed odd or batshit crazy. I ain’t gonna lie. This one has been hard to embrace as a mantra. I’m a professional problem-solver by day, and systematically controlling a project while coming in within budget and under the deadline does not lend itself to ‘willy-nilly’ behavior. But here are a few revelations: People aren’t projects, and not everyone thinks or behaves like I do. I know, right? Shocker. But, one more thing about “You do you, Boo” I feel begs to be explained is that the phrase reassures the other person that you aren’t judging them. “Whatever” (most likely accompanied by an eye-roll) can be a bit snarky with a side of self-righteousness, don’t you agree? Additionally, saying “You do you, Boo” also helps me remember that I don’t need to fix anyone or control them or even understand them to love them.

You can buy that print here from sdesignsprints on Etsy

As we end today’s post together, Dear Reader, I’m going to leave you with one of my favorite songs by Ashley McBryde. Saying that Ashley McBryde is a badass is an understatement. She’s voluptuous, brave, tenacious, talented, and just a downright good human. (Yes. It’s true. I may have a girl crush.) Anyway, as I interpret it, this song is all of my well-worn phrases wrapped up in one little package. So, sing along tonight with your drink raised and make the best of the worst day. 

PS…Speaking of worst days and raising a glass: It’s eggnog season, and I think it’s important to mention that a shot of Skrewball PB whiskey over ice topped with a splash of eggnog is perfect for a night like tonight. You’re welcome.

Oh, and please share this post with all your peeps on all your social thingamajigs. 

Five Thoughts About Self-Love We All Need To Embrace

Good morning, Dear Reader! Although I’ve been up since 2:23 a.m., I am running late on this post. Forgive me. I’ve been putting labels on my spice jars. It’s what I do when I can’t sleep. I’m still determining what I would do without that label-maker, but, as a minimalist and an insomniac, I’m running out of things to label. 

We, dear Reader, are quickly approaching the end of the year. I only have a few more weeks to convince you that simplicity isn’t “something you do” but rather more closely aligned with “someone you are”. That is not to say, “You are simple”. But instead, the act of embracing simplicity makes life more simple. Sigh. I can’t find my words today. I hope you get what I’m trying to relay. (SOS. Send coffee.)

I’ve looked back on many of my posts over the past year, and a great amount center on self-love. So today, I’d like to wrap up that concept with five thoughts on loving yourself and why it’s essential.

Most of us grew up believing that anything that looks like ‘self-love’ is selfish and we should avoid being selfish. But I no longer agree with this, and here’s why:

Loving yourself means you can be a better human. But…let me be clear about something. I believe you can be less than 100% into the whole self-love thing, AND you can love another person. Do you know what I mean? So many people cling to that old adage, “You can’t love anyone else until you love yourself.” 

{Cough} Bullshit.

I’ve loved my son more than the air I breathe since the day he arrived on this planet, and I struggled with loving myself for many of those years. So, um, yeah. You can love others while you work on yourself. 

You may ask, “What does it even mean for me to love myself?” Don’t worry. I’ve got five thoughts to share with you on that. 

So, grab that drink and settle in. Let’s get started, shall we?

1) Caring for yourself, and knowing that caring for you, is just as important (if not more!) than the care you provide to others. Since I battle insomnia, I know that there are times I require a nap during the day. If I don’t get adequate sleep, I will screw stuff up at work. I’m pro-nap on days like today, even when others need things for me. You may need to call off work and take a ‘sick day’ when you aren’t sick and go to the movies. If you read the employee handbook, I betcha it outlines how many sick days you earn. It doesn’t list the items that qualify as ‘sick days’. (Gasp! My father just rolled over in his grave because I suggested you take off work when you aren’t even sick. Sorry Daddy-O.)

2) It means being willing to set and maintain boundaries even if you sometimes feel guilty about it. I love my son’s school, and for two years, I served on the board of the PTA. I gave a lot of time and money to these efforts. However, I stepped back last year and set some boundaries around my time and money. It breaks my heart when there is a need at the school, but I have decided to give my money elsewhere for the 2022-23 school year. If you, like me, are a people pleaser, this can be a significant step in the self-love arena.

3) It means honoring your own wants and needs. I know you all think I’m the most direct and crass person on the planet, but honestly, there was a time that I would eat food I didn’t like just because I was afraid to speak up and say, “I don’t want to go to that restaurant.” These days? Well, I’m not spending time with my family for Thanksgiving. My kid is with his other half of DNA, I’m off work, and I’d really like some downtime with no dishes to wash or people to please. So, guilt be damned. Honor those wants and needs.

4) It means accepting yourself as you are…not waiting until you are (fill in the blank). Someone sent me a link to an MLM program yesterday with the subject line “Stop hating your body,” and I remember thinking, “I don’t hate my body.” Sure, I’d like to lose some weight. I want to make more money. I want to be entirely out of debt. But waiting until those things are accomplished to accept me? Hogwash. Make a list of all the things you like about yourself – get some help if you can’t think of anything – and pull that out every time you wade into negative water.

5) It means noticing your unhelpful thought patterns and working on them so you can improve how you feel about your life. For example, mid-Summer, I realized I was agreeing to things I didn’t really want at the moment because I feared the reaction of others. In fact, this irrational fear of others’ reactions actually lent itself to unhappy choices in several areas of my life. I invite you to work hard to get to the bottom of some of your limiting beliefs or unhelpful thought patterns. Once you see them for what they really are, you’ll begin to notice how unhelpful they are. Those thoughts probably create opportunities for you to shrink back, and not live your best life. 

That’s it for today, Reader. I’ve got a nap to plan. Also, I’ve been digging around Spotify all damn morning trying to find a song that fits with the theme today; alas, I just can’t find that perfect song. So, how about I give you a link to one of my favorites? This Mitch Rossell song may be new to you. But he isn’t new to the music scene. In fact, he’s written a ton of songs for Garth Brooks and if you listen closely, Trisha Yearwood provides a lot of background vocals on his songs. She even makes a cameo in this video (Bonus song!) He opened for GB in April in Arkansas, and I fell in love. (Okay, not love. Remember, I no longer fall in love with musicians as I mentioned in this post last week.) But, ain’t gonna lie. There’s something about a man and an acoustic guitar that makes me swoon. Sigh. Enjoy!

As always, if someone needs to read this, share it on all those social thingys. I’d appreciate it. And as all the YouTubers say, “Don’t forget to subscribe,” so you don’t miss a post.

A Goddess Calls Out

Good morning, dear Reader! I’m still on a high from yesterday’s thunderstorms wondering how today will ever measure up. I do love me some Missouri storms…sans tornadoes, of course. My WTForecast app tells me it is possible that we are in for more rain today. What is that they say? April showers bring May flowers? Right.


So I did something recently.

I called out sick to work. Gasp.

Now, mind you, I was actually feeling under the weather. But this action, my friend, was a whole new level of self-awareness. I hardly ever call out, even when I’ve been deathly ill. I was raised by a man who believed that you went to work unless you were dead or dying and calling out for a mild 102* temperature was for wussies. I once had my appendix removed (I guess, technically, you can only do this once) and was back to work in 48 hours. I had a baby and only took four weeks of maternity leave and secretly answered emails while breastfeeding during those four weeks. I just do not call out sick.

Honestly, the struggle is all in my head. My body was fully onboard with the notion of crawling back into bed. What was it that I wrestled with? I was afraid my boss would be angry. Or would think less of me. Or…you know {shakes head}…I’m not sure of all the reasons I had anxiety around calling out, but I did. Then I heard a little voice in the back of my head…

You are not responsible for his feelings.

Hello. Right? It sounds like all that work has finally (Sigh. Final-fucking-ly) paid off. I was, like, you know what? That’s right. I’m only responsible for my feelings, and right now, I feel like shit. I opened Microsoft Teams at 3:11 a.m. and sent him a message. Then I turned off my phone and went back to bed.

So today, we find ourselves together, going over this entire process. We are, after all, still discussing letting go of what no longer serves us, right? So, kids…

Grab a drink. Settle in. So much insight to spew…

When I was in Salem (MA) last month, I picked up a great little book entitled Warrior Goddess Training by Heatherash Amara at Wicked Good Books. Ironically, I was on a waiting list to get this book back here at home, but it had been so long that I had forgotten all about it. Until I saw it while on vacation, and it whispered to me, “I’m here now, Love. Buy me.” Or something like that.

I’ve just finished the first chapter and I’m giving myself two weeks to ponder the reading and questions before moving on to chapter two. It really is what it says it is: Training. So, no need to power through it as though it’s an easy, mindless read like…oh, I don’t know…a Nicholas Sparks novel.

It struck me how much the first few pages spoke to me. And I felt it could be something I could share with you as I make my journey through it.

Since our theme of 2022 is a bit about letting go, shall I pose a question? Cool.

Do you often use your words, actions, or thoughts against yourself?

In other words, do you allow your self-talk and actions to be used in ways that you’d never use against another person? If so, according to Amara, that’s abuse. She posits that self-abuse is a thing, and we are all guilty of it from time to time. If you need some examples, here are some of mine:

1) Saying ‘yes’ when I really mean no.
2) Staying in relationships (not just romantic) that do not nourish me.
3) Thinking and believing thoughts that drain my energy.
4) Eating foods my body doesn’t like.

I do, as in ‘currently’, most of these things. Amara encourages us to stop. Which means what, exactly?

First, I realized that those four things I listed above are rooted in a people pleaser mentality. But, instead of beating myself up about this, I looked for ways that I’ve made small (and even significant) changes to love myself more, even just recently. Amara suggests that we stop the hyper-focusing on our negative traits, and focus on what we are doing right. To put it another way: Love your flaws, as well as your strengths. So I took the time to acknowledge the things I’d like to change, coupled with examples of how I have already taken action.

Here are some of those examples:

1) It’s true that I say ‘yes’ when I often mean ‘no’…but recently I didn’t volunteer to be on the board of the 2022-23 PTA even though my brain said I ‘should’.
2) It’s true that I often stay longer in relationships that do not nourish me but…I like to believe I am starting to realize sooner when I am giving more than I’m receiving. I now understand my worth…and I’m adding tax to these transactions.
3) It’s true that I go to work when I shouldn’t because my limiting beliefs around what is acceptable and not acceptable behavior are a bit rigid, but I was able to put those on the shelf last week when I called out sick, squelching the voice in my head that said I was being silly for tending to my needs as a way to practiced self-care.
4) It’s true that I sometimes eat food that my body doesn’t like but last week, instead of full dairy ice cream I choose a coconut milk-based brand and absolutely loved it. (So did my belly.)

I guess my point today is: It’s easy to focus on our flaws. But, I’ve said it before, friend…You are fucking magical. Acknowledge the weaknesses, but don’t wear them like a badge of honor. Own that magical stuff instead. Stop abusing yourself with words and actions that don’t feed your soul.

As always, a song for you. A close friend turned me on to this oldie by Duran Duran, and it reminds me that we can often be our own worst enemy and we need others fighting in our corner. Sometimes others see us entirely differently than we see ourselves, but we refuse to believe them when they tell us how incredibly awesome we are. So, stop that, okay? You are awesome. You are a rockstar. You are fucking magical. In fact, you just might be the one to save us all.

PS…If you liked this post, feel free to share on all things social. I don’t mind. Admittedly, the dopamine hit is addictive. #PeoplePleaser

Stop Going To The Circus


I hope my shouting didn’t affect that hangover of yours. If it did, well, you must have enjoyed the evening, and that’s all that matters. Me? I don’t deal with amateurs and value my life, so I cuddled up on the couch with John Cusack (“Serendipity”) and good wine. I expanded my mixology knowledge a bit by experimenting with expensive whiskey. I learned how to make a damn good Old Fashioned (Hint: Simple syrup and good bourbon. Do. Not. I repeat: Do not skimp.).

I also found a way to make “handcrafted” Amaretto, which I intend to make a dessert out of this weekend. But, alas, you don’t come here for cooking advice and drink recipes – although my mixed drinks are pretty damn good at times – so let’s cut to the chase, shall we?

The new year is here. The slate is clean if you want it to be. This is the time of year when folks decide to make resolutions and set goals, only to break or discard them a few months down the road. So, if that’s the way it always goes, how about we turn the tradition upside down for a change. Yes, instead of ADDING to our life (more gym time, more activities, more stuff), why don’t we SUBTRACT from it? I ended 2021 with this post and encouraged you to do just that, right?

So, what shall we get rid of, you say. Well, I’m sure you aren’t surprised that I happen to have some advice for you on that. So, grab a drink. Settle in. I have one main point today to get you started.

Got that drink? Great.

Put a cease and desist order on any toxic relationships. Toxic people are really nothing more than insecure, self-loathing individuals. And here’s a shocker for you: Every single one of us has the potential to be toxic. Our odds double if we are in a relationship with another toxic person. Newsflash: you can’t control the other person’s unhealthy behaviors, but you damn sure can control yours. So, let’s get to it, shall we?

1) Admit that you might be part of the problem. Oooo. Ouch. But, as ‘they’ say: The first part of solving a problem is admitting there is one. Even if you grew up in a loving home, never do drugs, get adequate rest and eat your veggies, everyone can be toxic at times. How do you know if you’re toxic? People will finally get sick of you, put on their shoes, and walk out the door. Simple as that.

2) Learn to like yourself. Yeah, let’s not even fast-forward to ‘love yourself’. Let’s take baby steps, and begin with simply liking yourself. Get some therapy – no, really, get in treatment – to get you over yourself. ‘Tis the season (as it gets colder and darker) to get a grip on this stuff. Waiting until April, when it is warmer and there is more daylight, to be a nice person again is unacceptable.

3) Let go of your resentments. Hey, I’m a Virgo, so I fully understand that this is no easy task. Virgos can hold grudges like no other sun sign, and we can even dream of ways to hide bodies if we are furious. I was so resentful for so long that I missed out on dating a great man a few years ago. He told me on our first – and only – date that “Maybe you should get over being so angry at your ex before you date anyone”. Hmmm. Ya think? Don’t tell him this, but he was right. What happened after that date? I kept dating other people with issues that compounded my own until I couldn’t do it anymore. One day I realized that being resentful was affecting most areas of my life. So, I got up, dusted off, and moved on. Best advice I ever got? Don’t blame a clown for acting like a clown. Ask yourself why you keep going to the circus. Dang, that was good. (Oh, and that first date guy? After stalking my blog, he realized I’m fun now and finally asked me out again four years later. And bonus: He even likes expensive whiskey. Insert “Yay” gif of your choice.)

4) Act like a plant. Get more sunlight, drink enough water, talk nicely to yourself and you will grow. I’m not much of a gardener. I wrote about my black thumb here, but funny thing…the better I got at loving myself, the better off my plants have faired. Vow to save a life today – namely, yours – but also that sad-looking vine-thing you call a decoration.

5) Find some hobbies and volunteer to help others. The best advice my therapist gave me was to find three hobbies that would help me from being so self-centered: One to stoke my creative fire, one that got me moving, and one that made me money. She encouraged me to volunteer with children, so I stepped up more at my son’s school. If you help others and see that you are making a difference, you’ll feel better. It’s really hard to feel sorry for yourself when you see a child who has duct-taped his shoes together. Your so-called sorry-assed life is put into perspective really, really quickly.

6) Read a minimum of ten pages from a motivational book every day. You might read the Bible, but I encourage you to expand your reach. I personally love “The Life-Changing Magic Of Not Giving A F***”, but you do you (Not ready to read? Watch her TedTalk). Other great books to get your started are listed here. (Not a single Brene Brown book on the list. You’re welcome.)

The bottom line is that you need to recognize when you have headed down the slippery toxic slope. Here’s a great article that may help you figure out the problem. Here’s another one that may help you realize if, indeed, your relationship is toxic.

Sticking with my tradition from 2021, I leave you with a song today. If you click that link and you really do feel unwell, even though I make light of a lot of things in this blog, mental unwellness is not one of them. Please believe me when I tell you I understand depression, anxiety, and all those things bring to the table. So, I urge you to reach out and get some help. There’s power in doing that and you will get through this. {Chin up, tits out.} Claim 2022 as the year you stop going to the circus.

If you have any ideas for blogs in 2022, let me know. I’m putting together one that tells you how I raised my credit score from 480 (Do. Not. Judge. Me.) to 720 in a little under 24 months. It was all very empowering, and I never did have to give up wine or cut out Netflix in the process. Hint: It’s not magic. It’s a puzzle. You like puzzles, right? Good. Stay tuned.

Self-Love: Surround Yourself With Good

Egads. It never fails. I plan to post every Sunday and Wednesday, and yet, here we are: Thursday. Forgive my lack of social boundaries and utter disregard for organization. I try. I really do try.

As I was thinking of things to share with you this week, I remembered – vaguely – that we aren’t quite finished with our journey through the Rules of Self-Love. It seems appropriate, though, since I’ve been beating myself up for not staying the course with my writing.

I vowed to get back to my novel. Delaney and Jake need me to figure out their future. But with an imbecile still in public office (take your pick…I’m not speaking of just one…) and goofy-ass ‘Mericans doing the thing they do best (cause dissent), I just can’t focus on a torrid love story between a young man and a woman old enough to be his mother. Nonetheless…stay tuned. I’ll get revved up at some point and start rewriting the smut that makes me who I am.

So. Self-Love. Where were we?

Ah. Yes. Surround yourself with good. Hmmm. How appropriate. Let me take a swig of the goodness in this glass and enlighten you on this.

“Surround yourself with the dreams and the doers, the believers and the thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself.” – Edmund Lee

In my journey, I realized I had been consumed by non-stop long term commitments. Even then, I was lonely, closed off, anxious, and never quite sure when the other shoe was going to drop. Some of my hippie friends would say that I was the cause of my own relationships ending because of these feelings and emotions. I agree, but picking the wrong partners in the first place might have had a significant bearing on the outcome.

So, in August, I took a break for a while. I’m not really sure when I mustered the strength to say ‘Fuck it,’ but I did. I spent 90 days with no relationship, and I spent those days finding out what good things brought my heart joy. It turns out I’m not really that complicated, and I’m easily amused, so there is that.

I’ll share today with you, dear reader, six ‘things’ I did to surround myself with good during that time.

  1. I spent as much time around water as I possibly could. It started with a 9-day trip alone, landing on the beaches of the Gulf Coast. I got sunburned as hell but managed to make time every day to get near the waves. Once back home, I was at a lake, beside a creek, or seeking out waterfalls any chance I got. For me, large bodies of water are as close to Heaven as I can imagine.
  2. I chucked the past. I can’t do much about all those memories in my brain except ‘pivot’ when I start thinking about the past. But, I did spend some time learning to build a fire, and with that new skill…well…I emptied boxes of memories dating back to 1989, including two wedding albums and a shit ton of crap I shouldn’t have been carrying around anymore anyway.
  3. I made new friends. You know, it’s a hard thing to face – but sometimes, the people you hang around with are people that don’t always have your best interests in mind. Some of them aren’t even really all that nice. And me, doing nothing half-assed, I just cut, cut, cut. And it was glorious.
  4. I kept my best old friends. I made a list of the ten people who always raise my vibration levels when I’m in their presence, and I vowed to spend more time with them. If they lived too far to see regularly, I scheduled Face Time / Zoom sessions with them. My life is so much richer because of these people, and I love seeing their faces.
  5. I lowered my expectations. Please note…I did not lower my standards. Standards and expectations are completely different. I lowered my expectations and allowed myself to go to bed sometimes with dirty dishes in the sink. I don’t expect everyone I work with to give 100% all the time; I’m only responsible for my work ethic and standards. I stopped coloring my hair and decided to see what I looked like with naturally greyish hair (still not sold on this, by the way). I decided to cut myself some slack in so many ways. And I am so much more relaxed and content.
  6. I stopped attending church. I can conveniently thank COVID for this, but in reality, I realized that the only ‘good’ I was getting out of church was the message – and we’ve proven as a nation that sermons can be effectively delivered via the internet. As an introvert, I don’t really enjoy the ‘seen and be seen’ aspect of attending services in person anyway. Additionally, I can’t explain it, but every time I would leave the church building, I felt like there was this ‘ick’ I needed to wash off. I started to hate the bigotry (How ironic, huh?), the subtle forms of manipulation, and dare I say: the outright disregard for human life (“Hey…save the babies…but don’t adhere to the mask-wearing mandates.”) Anyway, my pastor and I meet each week while I listen to his sermon as I’m working my ticket queue. He may not know that, but then again, it’s not really about him, is it?

I hope these six things can help you. One I didn’t mention is: I put on my favorite playlist to begin feeling better. No sad songs allowed. If you have other suggestions for surrounding yourself with good, please do share them. In light of the shitshow America faced yesterday at our Capitol building, I could use some good ideas.

As always, here’s your song. I wish you peace, happiness, and above all else…I wish you joy. Until next time: Go out. Do good.

Self-Love: Live In The Now

The Christmas holiday is behind us for 2020, and I have to admit, I am so glad. It’s not that I hate Christmas – I’m no Grinch – I just don’t like the feeling of obligations that come with the season. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy buying gifts for my family and friends. I’m also grateful that no one expects me to drop a fortune on them, so it isn’t even that Christmas busts my budget much. It’s just that everyone seems to think that if you aren’t happy – or God forbid, you’re depressed – during the holidays, then something is wrong with you.

But 2020 hasn’t been a fun time, although I can admit to having walked away this year with some feelings of gratitude about the lessons I’ve learned. One of those is merely trusting the process no matter how utterly fucked up it all seems to be in the moment. However, I’ve also learned that to trust the process I have to surrender to the idea of living in the moment.

Living in the present isn’t something that comes naturally to me. I battle with my demons of the past, and I constantly wrestle with my fears regarding the future. Some say that depression is caused by living in the past, while anxiety is a by-product of living too much in the future. I agree with this to an extent, although I also don’t want to negate the fact that both depression and anxiety are mental health issues caused by messed-up brain chemicals. So, there is that.

BUT…having taken a nine-day trip to the coast all by myself to search my soul and lay some things to rest…I admit to myself and you, dear reader, that there is something to be said for living in the present. And this, my friends, is where we are in our journey of Self Love today: Living in the present.

So, what does that mean?

Living in the present moment means letting go of the past and not waiting for the future. It means living your life consciously, aware that each moment you breathe is a gift. In other words, don’t take today for granted. Time, if I’ve learned anything, is not to be squandered.

In doing a bit of research for this post, I came across a post by my favorite blogger/minimalist Josh Becker, who outlined his list of ways you can develop a practice of living in the moment. You can see Josh’s list here, if you’d like. I’ve been practicing a few of these things myself since my nine-day trip. So, consequently, I’m going to share with you my five favorites.

I hope they help you, and if you find yourself reading Josh’s post, maybe you can give me some insight on some of the things I don’t mention here you have employed in your own life. After all, if you are expecting me to give you all your life advice, well, hate to say it: You’re up shit creek, friend. I do not have all the answers. Hell, half the time, I barely have any at all. But, for today, let’s pretend I do.

Here goes my best attempt at being insightful on your behalf.

1) I’ve started removing unneeded possessions. This isn’t a new thing for me, but having moved a few times rather quickly in the past few years, I haven’t ‘sorted’ out my possessions before throwing them into a box. That said, I do try to live a minimalist lifestyle, which forces me to live in the moment. How? Because I can’t just delay action to the future. I have four plates, two coffee mugs, six forks/knives/spoons, and four bowls. I can’t let my dishes pile up for a week, or I’ll be eating, literally, out of my hand. The same goes for clothing. I don’t have a lot of clothing I enjoy wearing. I get teased a lot for doing laundry so much. I do laundry once or twice a week because I’d be naked or stinky if I didn’t.

2) I fully appreciate the moments of today. I’ve started thanking my ‘customers’ for the opportunity to help them each day at work. My day job consists of fixing people’s small issues and granting them access to various technology systems. My job isn’t hard, and it’s arrogant of me to say they can’t do their job without my role. But it’s true: They can’t – and, knowing this, I can still be thankful for the opportunity to be part of easing their workday.

3) I’ve forgiven past hurts. This one was a doozy. My divorce was hard on me, and I was angry for a very long time. One day, though, I just woke up and said I wasn’t going to give this any more of my energy. When I learned my ex had remarried, I honestly didn’t care. Some thought I would come unglued – maybe some folks even wanted me to – but I really was, like, “Hmm. Meh.” And that was that. I am a Virgo, which might mean zero to you, but Virgos can hold a grudge and boy, I am no exception. However, this behavior really does nothing to serve my highest good and it took me nearly 50 years to get this.

4) I love my job. I touched on this a bit in point number two, but I can’t give eight hours a day to someone just to collect a paycheck. I’m not constantly waiting for the weekend because I have found a job that I enjoy that pays my bills and allows me time in the evening to be with my son. I’ve had harder jobs, jobs that paid more, jobs that paid less, and jobs I’ve hated. In the end, when I love my job – I am more present with my customers and with the Universe.

5) I’m doing my best to stop worrying. Some folks in my life get fed up with me saying, “You need to trust the process.”  And I get it. It’s a challenging thing to do – especially when the present situation is painful or frightening. I would never say “Everything happens for a reason” because, well, I don’t believe that at all. People are stupid sometimes, and the ‘reason’ is because they made a foolish decision. But…I do believe that the Universe has a way of auto-correcting our choices and that everything that happens doesn’t happen to us…it happens for us. If that is going to be my belief, then worrying about the future or the past isn’t going to be advantageous for me.

Learning to live in the present moment is a vital ingredient for practicing self-love. And being mindful is part of that process. I will write, eventually, about how mindfulness has played a role in my recent life changes. My own journey toward embracing self-love is firmly rooted in developing the practice of mindfulness. But for today, I will close, and as always, I’ll leave you with a song and ask you this:

  • What do you do that keeps you fixated on the past?
  • What causes you to worry about the future?
  • A friend used to say, “That absolutely could happen…but it probably won’t.” So – what are you stressed about that could happen…but probably won’t?

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.