I Am What I Am

Good morning, dear reader! I’m late to our gathering this week, I know. I just…well…I’m exhausted. The Full Moon in Virgo on Monday/Tuesday was fascinating, and good things are happening, but I. Am. Just. So. Tired. Nonetheless, Spring break starts next week, and my kiddo and I are planning some super fun things close to home. I’ll post more next week.

As I made my coffee this morning, my mind started wandering. I don’t know why I conjured up the day when Alton Brown taught me how to make “the best” french press coffee (the secret is salt!), but that’s what started this train of thought today. At some point in our lives, we see or hear things that change our lives. I have a Keurig, too, and will use it in times of emergency (French press coffee takes eight whole minutes, y’all. Sometimes that’s too long!) But, by and large, I like my FP coffee every day. With just a splash of cream if you’re taking notes (#Stalker).

I’ve experienced some exciting turns in my life that have changed my mind, adjusted how I live, corrected trauma responses, and so forth. And I bet some of you can relate.

So, what do you say? Wanna dig in? Okay, then.

Grab a drink. Settle in.

1) Learn more about who you are. I used to feel ‘weird’ because I didn’t really like people. I was a cheerleader back in the day; I was president of a few clubs, and I’ve been in leadership positions in my community and at my job. But the truth is people exhaust me. And the sad part is…I let others tell me that I was odd because of this, that I didn’t fit in. So I decided to really dig in and learn more about myself. The Myers-Brig indicates I am an INTJ. The DiSC test tells me I’m a high D with a bit of S. Not a hint of ‘I’ (the lover of people) in that one. The Strength-Finder assessment brought something exciting into the light (wait for it…): I have zero (Z E R O) “woo”. Bottom line? I’m a jeans and t-shirt girl. Make-up is for expensive dates only. Books over bros. Bookstores over bars. House concerts over dance clubs for this gal, all the way. Libraries over libations. I am not the least bit ‘fun,’ and I don’t care. Smart is sexy. I like smart. (There’s even a word for that.)

2) Question all you’ve ever known to be ‘the way it is’. Want to know something? When my grandfather died, we found a membership card of his – to the KKK. I mean, I knew him as a bit racist…but wow. I also live in one of Missouri’s ‘most Christian’ areas. And it’s also one of the most dangerous places for people of color and the LBGTQ+ community. I mean, I love Jesus, folks, and even I (the Christ-follower with three tarot decks and full moon rituals) think he’d be a bit disappointed in his fan club around here. It’s no wonder I feel closer to God now that I’ve officially left the church. (Bonus song: The Indigo Girls have a song for that!)

3) Sometimes, fear is our greatest motivator. I never wanted children because I never wanted to be a single mom. Weird, right? My parents never divorced, so I don’t know where this originated. I can’t help but wonder, though, that somewhere down in my psyche, I must have known I have lousy taste in men, and because I feared the inevitable, I just never wanted a child. Until I had one. And his father left. And I realized I do a pretty good job as a single parent. It improves me at work, in my community, and in his life. And I have some of that drive because I fear the “single mom” stigma. People often look at single mothers as if we are all poor and on food stamps because we can’t seem to make it without a man and wine. The wine part is genuine…but I’m not buying the rest. I get that Nintendo and Mario made a ton of money off the fact that the princess needed to be rescued…but I saved myself. Give me my damn crown.

4) Less is more. Yes, you knew this was coming. I embraced the concept of rational minimalism in 2011, and it’s taken me this long to stop apologizing for it. People who buy homes that are bigger than they need or cars that cost more than some people make in a year will never understand why I choose to live in 900 square feet with one skillet and three pairs of jeans although I have two master’s degrees and have a well-paying job. I’ve even left jobs that pay more because, well, I hated them. My car is five years old. My whiskey ‘collection’ is six bottles at a time, and if the weather is willing, I’d rather camp in my car than stay at a five-star hotel. And I make these choices because I want to give my son all that he needs and grant him experiences rather than hand him another toy that he did not earn. If people think I make these choices because I have to rather than choose to…well…that’s their issue, not mine.

5) The most important ‘soft skill’ is strong Emotional Intelligence. It only takes three deep breaths to begin resetting the frontal cortex and balancing the chemicals in your noggin. And it is so tough to control the urge to tell someone to go fuck themselves. I know because I used to do this a lot. But, a guy I dated (okay, to be fair, I’ve dated a lot of ‘these guys’) can’t seem to ‘practice the pause’ long enough to get his wits about him when he’s angry, and well, that’s why I don’t even speak to him anymore. (Isn’t it ironic that the tongue – one of the smallest muscles in the body – can do so much damage? Hmmm.) The point is, you don’t get to be mean every time you don’t get your way and then try to apologize with a statement resembling “That’s just how I get.” Hmmm. Well…“Get better then.” I’m not going to say I have my EI degree or anything. Sometimes I get hot under the collar, use inappropriate language at work, and lose sleep because of my anxiety. But I’m better than I used to be, and that is what counts. So. Google Emotional Intelligence and find whatever learning tool works best for you: YouTube, podcasts, books, whatever. Because, reader, the world needs more calm people under pressure. The world needs more nice people. The world needs more people who think before they speak. Be that person.

As we end today, I found you a song. I don’t know how it relates, but I think it does. It’s a song by Dalton Domino from a few years back. It’s about simply accepting who you are at your core…changing…getting better…and being okay with your wild and wonderful self. Take a listen and tell me what you think.

Nine Incredible Ways To Usher In The New Year

Good morning, dear reader! It’s safe to say that the year is coming to an end, as opposed to ‘the world is coming to an end’ – which is how 2020 started off, am I right? There is hope on the horizon. Unless you consider the price of eggs is over $5 and butter is almost that, too, and well, of course, Ukraine. But hey. Gasoline prices are decreasing (do you know about GetUpside? Here’s a referral code: Denise345224. It may seem like a PITA at first, but trust me…it’s cool), and I found a relatively affordable place to buy plants in town. So yes, 2023 might be a decent year.

But, as we end 2022, let us remember some essential things, shall we? So let’s end the year with – my favorite – a drink and a chat. (I scored a bottle of Sassenach. Go on. Be jealous. It’s okay.)

I want to point out nine specific ways I am holding space for myself and you during this lovely week as Mercury goes retrograde and we say ‘bye ‘bye to 2022.

So. Grab that drink. Settle in. Here we go.

1) You are stronger than you think. For some of us, 2022 threw us some pretty fucking scary curveballs. But, despite that, you survived. And you’ll continue to do so.

2) Acknowledge that change and growth are hard. Things may not have been exactly like you’d hoped when the ball dropped at midnight on January 1, 2022. But don’t be so hard on yourself. Instead, ask yourself what you’ve learned and consider it a blessing you had 365 days to learn it. Here’s to 365 more. {Clinck}. Cheers.

3) Start now. If 2022 didn’t meet your expectations, then begin again right where you are – not sitting there wishing it were different. I didn’t lose the 20 pounds I had hoped to lose. BUT, I didn’t gain 20 pounds either (unlike 2021), so there’s that.

4)This is YOUR journey, not anyone else’s. Comparing yourself to others is pointless and a great way to put yourself in a shitty mood. Just do you, Boo. Forget everyone else. You aren’t on their timeline.

5)The time is now. It is never too late to go for whatever makes you happy. Go to Paris. Buy the perfume. Start that class. Build that home. Buy your first rental property. Start investing in Crypto. I don’t know what floats your boat, but I know this…boats are meant to sail, not stay docked.

6)Look through the windshield, not at the rearview mirror. The past is over. Get up. Dust off. Move on.

7) Settle for nothing less than unconditional love. Of course, everyone needs to grow and develop and be better humans. But someone out there will love you for who you are. Unless you’re as asshole. Then, well, change that first. K?

8)Celebrate the small wins. Be proud of every accomplishment you achieved this year, no matter how insignificant. I could easily dwell on the four items I did not get to check off my 2022 bucket list, but I overachieved in some areas – like seeing eleven covered bridges instead of merely four. Focus on what did go well, not what didn’t.

9)Hold on. It’s out there. Whatever you missed in 2022, it’s out there for you. True love? Yes. First home? Yes. Chocolate cake with zero calories? Um. Okay. Maybe not, but you get my point.

And with that, my friends, I leave you with the last song of the year. I love this song. It’s one of those songs that I could listen to on repeat all day long and be just fine. But, it’s best served on a dirt road in Webster County. Until you can get there, though, have a listen today. (And Chris Stapleton is sexy AF, so there’s that.)

Remember – my YouTube channel starts in January – and this will be exciting since I have no idea what I’m doing and a ten-year-old is my executive producer. But, nonetheless, it will be fun. And his allowance will be a tax-deductible business expense. Win!

Four Inspiring Points About Rest

Good evening, Dear Reader! We are just weeks away from one of the biggest holidays of the year here in the United States, and I wonder just how badly my kiddo is going to take it when he sees that he got pajamas for Christmas. Every year he gets pajamas. You’d think he’d learn to feign excitement. We’ll see, won’t we? 

What a nutty week. Last night I dreamed I was on this long-term camping trip with my family. Both my father and brother were there, and we were traveling across the country in a mini-van, pulling a pop-up camper. It was as horrible as you can imagine, but it was good to see them both. I often wonder what it means when those who have passed on come to visit us in our dreams. My witchy friends would say one thing, my Christian friends another. It doesn’t really matter. It was nice to see them.

This full moon energy has gotten me all jacked up. It has a melancholy, yet calming, feel to it. Honestly, I don’t know what to make of it. This energy, coupled with some tough decisions, had me on the sofa for most of the weekend. I stayed under a heavy hand-made quilt, submerged in movies with strong female leads like Eat, Pray, Love with Julia Roberts and Wild with Reese Witherspoon (both true stories, both great movies, both better as books). But, I did accomplish one thing on my list – to clear out and scrub my refrigerator. As my friend, Triesa, would say “Simply making a plan is a ‘goal’ in my book.” So, Triesa, if you are reading this – I overachieved because I actually did the thing.

I used to apologize for resting. I would scold myself into submission and force myself to get up and be productive. I don’t think anyone who knows me can call me lazy. I’m not slothful by nature but it’s not because I’m just some overzealous energetic woman. Nope. Truth be told…it’s much deeper than that. If you, like me, find it hard to justify doing nothing at all, then I’ve got some points to share with you and they’re a little hard to swallow. 

So, grab a drink. Settle in. Let’s talk about rest and try to swallow anyway.

1) You don’t need permission. I used to think I only deserved rest when I had earned it. I worked six days a week for six months straight; I needed a day off. I worked a twelve-hour day yesterday; I’m coming in thirty minutes later tomorrow. No. None of that is normal, and none of it requires justification. If you need rest, then rest. I have a friend who works in HR and he tells me all the time “Mental health days are sick days in my book.” (He shall remain nameless. I don’t want to get him fired.) If you still think you need permission to rest the HR Guy, literally, just gave it to you. (I still don’t think you need permission, but whatevs).

2) Find balance. Here’s the thing about balance no one ever tells you: It’s not ever 50/50. What one considers ‘balance’ another might find excessive. For example, I work 50 hours a week…and rest on Sundays. I power through Saturdays with a part-time side hustle, then run errands and do the laundry + crap, but on Sundays, I keep my body bra-free and I rest. Usually curled up with a book and some wine. I start at noon. You might think that not enough rest. You do you, Boo. My body tells me when I need the rest – like last weekend – and I listen. This leads me to…

3) Be body aware. Some of us are so out of touch with our bodies we never stop because we don’t think we need to. But, my years as a massage therapist taught me this: If you don’t listen to your body…your body will take over and get you. Stress lowers your immune system. Bad food choices wreak havoc on your body systems. Drinking alcohol puts a strain on your liver, which is the garbage disposal of the body. If your garbage disposal isn’t working well, it can’t dispose of the garbage (I know, right!?! Rocket science.) If you aren’t listening to your body, I promise you, it will get your attention – much like a hostile attention-seeking teenager. And that’s never good.

4) Don’t fear the silence. Did you know that staying hyper-busy is a response to trauma? I had a co-worker tell me this twenty years ago, and I thought she was coo-coo. Enter 2021 and trauma-informed training. I took the training course so I could help my massage clients. I had no idea I’d learn so much about myself. If you need more proof, read The Body Keeps Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD. Anyway, the point is, some of us stay busy because, in the silence, is where the ‘shit happens’. We don’t want shit to happen, so we avoid opportunities to address it. Don’t do that. Find a trusted friend, a therapist, or both, and find a healthy way to process it. Burying emotional pain is a plan…but not a good one.

Tonight’s post is short and poignant, Dear Reader. Mostly because I want a nap and then I want to gather some firewood. I’ve decided to burn all of my old journals – another blog, another time – and under tonight’s moon feels like the perfect time. As blasphemous as it sounds, I never feel as close to God as I do under a full moon. I may be a Gnostic. Yikes.

Also, here’s something: My friend, Mandy, recently told me that it feels like I’m speaking directly to her when I write some of these things. I promise you, I am not. I don’t call this my ‘Creepy Online Diary’ for nothin’. But, if what I write resonates with you, helps you, pisses you off, makes you think, or inspires you, then great. I’ll take that as a win (another ‘Triesa-ism’). I’m glad all my money spent in therapy is paying off somehow. (You’re welcome). I believe we go through trials and tribulations so that we can come out the other side stronger – forged by fire, you might say – and then we should help others based on what we’ve learned. I want to end the year believing I’ve helped you. So there.

That said, here’s your song. I’m going to warn you though…it’s not super touchy-feely so if you are looking for music to dance to, this ain’t it. This song by Trevor Hall came to me during a yin yoga class over a year ago taught by the beautiful and talented Carla, and it, along with some hip-opening stretches – made me bawl like a baby. You should find a quiet spot and something warm to drink before you click that song link. Here’s a Hot Toddy recipe. I’m not saying don’t click the link to the song. You should definitely click the link.

PS…If you liked this, feel free to share it. I don’t mind. In fact, I love it when you share. It makes me feel validated 🙂 I’m a real-life case study in dopamine highs.

Four Incredibly Easy Ways To Change Your Brain

Good evening, Dear Reader! The end of the week snuck up on me! I was on vacation and didn’t post last week. I know you were sad. Chin up, Buttercup; I’m back. I was in Florida and now I’m not. {Pouts}. But, I know y’all need a weather update from Missouri, so I’ll make it quick: It’s cold.

Moving on.

I was reading a post I wrote this time last year (go back and read it) and thought to myself: Wow. How so spectacularly…awful. How you have kept with me all these months is beyond me. But, thank you, nonetheless. It means a lot to me. And I feel I’ve gotten better. Maybe? A bit?

And that’s where I want to start today – at the beginning – of this year of change. When I wrote this post on December 1, 2021, I had no real idea how making itty-bitty small changes (redundant, much?) would impact my life. But, as I’ve read in this book – and heard in this Ted Talk – it is the sum of small, consistent daily changes that are the foundation for life-changing experiences.

So, grab that drink. Settle in. Let’s review a few shifts in perspective and how they’ve helped me heal from hurtful experiences over the last twelve months. Maybe they will help you, too.

1) Have an attitude of gratitude. Listen up. This isn’t airy-fairy voo-doo. It’s science. Neuroscience, to be exact. You can watch this video to learn more. So, I decided to try it. Each morning for a year (on most days), I’ve opened my eyes and listed – out loud – three things I’m grateful for before my feet hit the floor. Essentially, if my brain were a word cloud, you’d most likely see this: 

I’m grateful for so much, but those big things surfaced most of the time. Additionally, I started asking my kiddo and others, “What was your ‘high’ today?” Thinking about a positive experience that has happened in the past 24 hours forces your brain to relive it. This activity changes your neuropathways, and you seek out the positive more often. I warn you, though. There is a downside. You’ll start to notice how hostile and negative some folks are, which can be a bit hard to take. I said Adios to more than one of them this year.

2) Stop and listen to yourself. How often do you say, “I hate….”, “You know what makes me angry?…”, “I am so pissed about…” etc. etc. I used to do this a lot and still have my days. I’m peri-menopausal. Sometimes life is shit. BUT…I do it less often. In the book The Four Agreements, the author tells us to ‘be impeccable with your word’ and this falls in line with that sentiment. Don’t think this applies to you? Hmmm. Ask a friend or family member to hold you accountable for negativity if that helps point it out. Complaining about things you can’t control, always finding a reason to be mad about something or another, and being a general shithead isn’t helping you.

3) Watch what you put in your head. Clutter is only sometimes physical items lying around. It’s what you read, what you watch, and what you listen to. It can also be what you allow others to do and say in your presence. Put your mind on a diet. Guard your mind against negative news regularly, take inventory of the shows you watch, and – brace yourself – edit your music queue. Yikes. I love true crime, but I didn’t watch much this year, and I rationed my servings of true crime podcasts. In November 2021, Spotify was kind enough to give me an entire playlist of my most listened-to songs that year. Wow. No wonder I was depressed and angry. I wrote about it here, and I kept my promise to myself: No sad songs for twelve months. (I had a few relapses. Who doesn’t, right?) And yet…here we are. So much better off. 

4) Realize the Universe has your back. I recently read a meme that stated if you say this phrase each morning, you’ll see drastic changes: “In the next 24 hours, the life of my dreams will emerge”. I said, “What’s to lose? I’m gonna try that.” (Stick with me while I set the scene…) I’ve been mumbling this phrase each morning over coffee for a week. Here’s what has happened in a mere seven days: I was surprised by a nice check from my insurance company, along with a note stating I had overpaid…last December. Yesterday, at Goodwill, I saw a picture I loved, but I wanted to avoid paying $19.99 for it (It’s Goodwill, for God’s sake. You’d think that they would give me free shit occasionally for all the free shit I’ve given them, right? Anywho…wait for it.) I went back today. I had told myself if it was still there, it must be fate, and I’d go ahead and get it. As I walked in, I whispered, “God is in the details, right?” I immediately said, “Dummy. God has better things to do than worry about your picture thingy.” (Let’s just glaze over the indisputable fact that I had a real conversation with myself, shall we?). So, I got inside and headed straight to the back…and to my dismay…there it was. I grabbed it and headed to the cashier, who rang me up and said, “$2.07”Huh? I asked how that was possible when it was marked $19.99, to which he said “Um, {shrug} I see $1.99 so I’m just gonna go with that.” (Sometimes Gen Z is alright, you know?) When I got back in the car, I heard in my head (I shit you not) “What was that about me not caring about the details of your life?” Sigh. (The entire ‘voices in my head thing’ needs to be addressed, but not today.) My point? Your life is going to drastically improve – if you believe it will. The Universe cares about the details and your dreams, Dear Reader. I mean it.

Well, I’m out of words so, here’s your song. There is always a reason to find a reason to smile. Keep swimming. This song kicked off my newly started Spotify Good Vibes 2023 playlist this week. If you want to listen to my most listened-to songs of 2022, go ahead. Lots of Taylor Swift, though. You were warned.

And, if you are still reading and thinking, “Holy shit, this is good stuff!” please share it on all the social things.

Five Unexpected Ways Simplicity Provides Freedom

Good morning, Dear Reader! For all my complaining about the hot weather in the later months assigned to what we call ‘autumn’, I’m getting what I’m owed. Really. Freakin’. Cold. Weather. We went from summer to freezing our asses off in record time. Again – where is that one place that is between 50-70 degrees all year long?

Recently, I’ve been pondering the holidays. I’m faced with the challenge of coming up with something I ‘want’ because people ask. Truthfully, I don’t want anything that I couldn’t buy myself. And I haven’t bought it because I don’t want to clean it. Really. It’s true.

Some wait their entire lives for the feeling of contentment, and – I hope I don’t jinx it – I finally have it. I moved into a tiny home (not a tiny, tiny home…mine is 950 sq. ft) last August, and I could not be happier with the amount of space I have. I currently rent, and I realize the payments are steep, but it’s a good fit for us. At the same time, my kiddo finishes elementary school, where he started five years ago. He flourishes there, and I don’t want to be the person who yanks him out. So I’m doing my best to live in the “now”, which isn’t easy when others keep asking what’s next for us. 

I don’t fucking know, Karen. Mind your own business.

That said, about a week ago, some friends and I talked about getting together soon. One said, “We haven’t seen your new place! We should get together there!” and I don’t know what happened but…

A little bit of panic set in.

What if they think I’m poor because of how little I have? What if they feel they need to buy me stuff because I only have four glasses and two coffee mugs? What if they look in my bedroom, see my sparsely decorated room, and judge me for that? 

Wow. Right? I mean, I choose to live this way. So why am I so terrified of what others think? Because, y’all, despite all the memes about not giving a shit about what others think, not one of us is immune to society’s programming one hundred percent of the time. All of us, from time to time, feel vulnerable.

I asked a friend’s son a few weeks ago why he felt he needed such a fancy truck. Of course, he’s strapped for cash now that he bought a newer vehicle, and his reply was, “Chicks dig trucks. And good chicks dig nicer trucks.” I remember thinking, “Why would you want a snobby ‘chick’ like that?” But…didn’t I do the same thing when my closest friends asked to come over? Insecurity comes in all forms, I suppose.

Anyway, I’ve gotten over it and decided to invite people over. I told them to determine who has the best spine because that is who will be sitting on the floor. I don’t have room to seat more than five people. My dining table seats two. I have no room for overnight guests. And if you plan to shower, come on Mondays. I have four towels. Monday, they will all be clean.

Despite this, I told another friend that I’m maxed out on space I can physically and mentally handle. I work full-time, I’m a single parent, and I volunteer in my community. I have hobbies. I don’t want more rooms to clean and floor space to mop. 

Simplicity grounds me. I feel calm and peaceful when everything is in its place, yet still has a splash of that ‘lived in’ feel.

To me, simplicity offers five benefits I’ve desired for many years. I will always try to convince folks to live a simple lifestyle – and I have since 2011, when this blog first started. Of course, life gets messy sometimes with all it throws our way, so shouldn’t we rely on something ‘constant’ in those cases? Simplicity is my constant. 

So. Grab that drink. Settle in. I’m going to tell you about five ways simplicity benefits me – and you, should you accept this mission.

1. Less stress.

As I mentioned, I’m a busy gal. I don’t want to think about cleaning my house on my days off from work. My brain is often overloaded with my anxiety, so the less I have to look at, the calmer I am. I cannot function when things are messy. When I was a professional grant writer, my colleagues always knew when a deadline was approaching because I’d spend hours cleaning and reorganizing my office. I called it ‘pre-writing planning’. I had to do that before I could write. 

2. I save money.

I never set out to be a cheapskate, and I’m not one. Simplicity and rational minimalism are not really about frugality, although saving money seems to be a by-product of the lifestyle. Often, too, I can find things I need at thrift stores. I don’t buy other people’s junk for the sake of having more trash in my home. But when I can find a perfectly good Caphlone skillet for six bucks, and I need a skillet…I’m going to buy THAT skillet. I rarely go shopping as a pastime. Admittedly, during the COVID lockdown, I got pretty well-acquainted with my Amazon cart – a habit I’m still attempting to break. 

3. I’m pretty organized.

As I mentioned, I don’t function well in a messy space. The messiest area of my home is my desk. It always is, for which there is no excuse. But other than that, I pretty much know where everything I own is located. That’s not to say that I don’t have a junk drawer. I do. (And a few junk baskets, if I’m honest.) But ask me where that one little item is…and I most likely know where it resides. My car keys go in one place. My purse is in another. Backpacks, bandaids, extra bottles of Gatorade…all have a home. 

4. Less toys means more creativity.

Some people criticize the amount of time I let my kiddo spend on his tablet. But, it isn’t as though he’s just gaming all day. He’s creating games for other people. That’s different. In fact, that’s a skill set that can – and does – earn him a little bit of dough. I, too, have very few toys. This allows me to have more time to write. I enrolled in a 24 week front-end developer to gain marketable skills. After that, photography lessons. 

5. Simplicity provides space for what I truly value.

The most important person on the planet to me is my son. With less space and clutter to consume me, we can spend evenings together and take mini-roadtrips to see friends on the weekends. I can work on my own hobbies and I’m currently working through a 28-day challenge to keep my cleaning schedule intact. I am a bit stingy with my free time, but I do make time for those who are important.

So, my near-panic attack when my friend suggested coming over reinforced to me that my simple little life is okay. Of course, I’ve been living this lifestyle for a over a decade (with a few bumps in the road here and there). But, it is always good to reflect on the importance of it from time to time.

How about you, Dear Reader? What changes do you want to make to find simplicity in your little corner of the world? What do you already embrace as a practice? 

As always, here’s your song. I had no idea who Casey Abrams was until I found this little gem, but you can bet your bottom I’m going to be looking him up on Spotify this weekend. Enjoy your weekend, and try not to freeze to death.

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.

Three Simple Ways To Reframe Life

Good evening, Dear Reader! It was a beautiful day to snuggle under the covers with a good book, but I had to work. I plan to indulge this weekend, but until then, I just wanted to chat with you. 

On Wednesday before bed, my son asked me if I’d get something from his backpack ‘that was really cool’. So I grabbed his bag, and inside I found a mid-sized squishy ball. (My son is autistic, and he likes squishy things). I thought, “That is a cool ball. Wonder where he got that?”. So I asked him how he became the purveyor of such a remarkable object. He devised an elaborate story centered on wheelin’ and dealin’. He ended his narrative by asking for $2 to pay the previous owner. While I was impressed by his creativity (he’s quite the storyteller, that one), something in my gut whispered, “Lies! Lies! It’s all a bunch of lies!”

I looked at him through narrowed eyes and said…

“I’m going to ask you again where you got this ball, and if you lie to me, you will be in more trouble than if you tell me the truth.”

His eyes widened. He looked down, and his lower lip quivered. Then he looked me dead in the eye.

“I took it.”

“Took it from whom?” I calmly asked.

“From the gym teacher.”

I looked at my little thief and said, “Thank you for telling me the truth. Enjoy that ball tonight because tomorrow you’ll return it.” I kissed him on the forehead and left the room. I then located his PE teacher on Facebook and messaged him to let him know that we needed to meet with him in the morning. I didn’t mention why. 

Long story short: My son returned the ball. He apologized. The coach explained why things should not be taken from the school. He even offered to let my kid borrow the ball, informing him that it needed to be arranged in advance because other kids needed it for gym class. 

No one yelled at him. I had given prior directions on the proper way to apologize. His PE teacher informed him of the expectations for borrowing the ball. There are consequences to match the infraction. I think all of this is appropriate. I mean, the kid already felt terrible. Why shame him?

This brings me to today’s post. As adults, we constantly rehash our past mistakes and try hard to be better adults by obsessing over what we do wrong. We, essentially, shame ourselves every single day. Here’s an idea: How about we don’t do that anymore? Let’s consider stopping and shrugging while we whisper, “That no longer serves me. Think I’ll do something different.” 

I’ve got three simple ways to navigate life for you this morning that will help reframe how you’ve always done things. Frankly, they are so simple I’m wondering why it’s taken me nearly 51 years to embrace them.

Grab a drink. Settle in. Let’s go.

1) Your strength comes from knowing your weaknesses. I’m not too fond of job interviews. “Tell us your greatest strength. Tell us your greatest weakness.” Well, Karen, I’ve learned that sometimes my weaknesses can be my greatest strengths. I can be hyper-focused which makes me a good problem-solver. Office chit-chat bores me, so I finish my work and meet deadlines. When you understand your weaknesses, they can become a source of strength. 

2) Accepting your flaws makes you beautiful. I love the television shows that take a frumpy middle-aged mom (um…yeah) and give her wardrobe an overhaul, essentially turning a frog into a princess. I have flaws. We all do. But I am learning to appreciate mine. For example, since learning I am susceptible to others’ energy, I’ve learned to set better boundaries. Because I set better boundaries, I’ve become a calmer and kinder person. Instead of thinking, “God. Why can’t I be more gregarious and outgoing?”, I’ve accepted that I don’t really like people much. I’ve become more selective about where I spend my time and energy. I’m also carrying a few extra pounds – which some people may consider a flaw – but that makes me a good candidate for a “cheeseburger and a beer” date. I hear most men appreciate that. You, like me, are flawed…and you’re beautiful. 

3) Your mistakes equal wisdom. My friends and I went to hear a local favorite, Isaac Kenneth, sing his sultry lyrics. The topic of dating musicians came up somehow. My friend said, “I wanted to be a musician when I grew up.” I scoffed and replied, “You can’t be both a musician and a grown-up.” Which got a little chuckle…but still. My experience with loving a musician led me to realize that they are a lot like expensive cars: Fun to look at…but really pricey to maintain. Now, not all musicians are bad. I’m sure there are hard-working, kind musicians who aren’t prone to infidelity out in the world…somewhere. But falling madly in love with a musician is a mistake I made once and am not willing to make again. You may have learned that taking a job just because it pays well may not be the right path for you. Or maybe you’ve learned that when your child comes up with a creative story that seems a bit unbelievable…it’s because it’s not truthful. Perhaps you’ve learned that one too many arguments rehashing the same exact thing means nothing is really going to change. So, repeat this: I made the best decision possible with the information I had at the time. Then ask yourself how you can choose something different if faced with that same dilemma again. A mistake is just that… A Miss Take. Take a different route next time. The new path is where wisdom meets the road.

And with that, my friend, I leave you with a song. This upbeat 1994 song by Des’ree encourages you to dig deep and discover your true self. It promotes bravery, serenity, and honesty. I think that if you consider my three tips, you’ll become bolder, tougher, stronger, and cooler. She’s right, though, about one thing: Love will save the day. But that starts with self-love.

Dear Reader, if you liked this post, share it on all those social thingys. Please and thank you.

Build the fire. Invite the neighbor.

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

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

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

{Cracks knuckles}

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

True and…um…true.

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

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


I’m not so sure about that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Living In The Moment

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

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

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

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

Genius at work.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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