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.

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.

Three Steps To Take Action

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Let’s say you decided to learn to walk: 

1) Act – You take that first couple steps.

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

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

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

Yup. You guessed it.

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

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

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

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

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

Three Ideas To Handle Being “Alone”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three “Happiness” Fundamentals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

Changing With The Times

Good day, dear reader. As we see 2022 come to a close, I am reminded of all I’ve gained and lost over the last year. The end of a year always begets retrospection, and this year is no different. I mean, is your life today what you pictured a year ago? Mine isn’t. Not even close.

I’ve been looking back on past posts, and while I started the year with a ‘theme’ or plan, it never seemed to come together nicely. As a result, I’ve taken a few weeks off from writing and in doing so, I’ve felt the pull of a master agenda for the coming year. I believe I can sum it up in one word:


Intention in everything, not just in writing, but in so many aspects of my life: Spirituality, relationships, finances, food & beverage choices, and most of all, time. My days of engaging in half-hearted, soul-sucking endeavors are coming to a close – as much as possible when you have bills to pay. You will see some changes as we move through the year.

Photo Ccredit:

First, I will be posting here less often. If I have nothing to say, I will not write for the sake of writing. Engagement may go down. I’m okay with that.

Secondly, I’m taking my son’s advice and starting a podcast or a YouTube channel. I don’t know how this will play out exactly – yet. But, I recently purchased the domain where I want to demonstrate how we can use the Agile project management methodology in our day-to-day living. If I think about it, I’ve been doing this my entire life – I just never realized what it was until I was forced to learn Agile Methodology for work. When I started learning about Agile and Minimum Viable Product (MVP) I remember thinking, “Holy shit. That’s basically been the last decade of my life.” In other words, Agile and MVP just seemed like the normal thing to do. I struggle to understand why anyone just can’t wrap their brain around the Agile method when I work on projects with them. I mean, for God’s sake, it’s literally JUST DO SOMETHING in fancy form. I’ve started businesses with $10 in the bank. I’ve moved into houses with, literally, a bed, one towel, and a saucepan. I’ve sold everything to move across country. I’ve been so broke only to learn how creative a cook I can be. (Beans can be fancy. Prove me wrong.)

So, at the moment, my MVP is the domain name. Gotta start somewhere. My kiddo (my audio/video editor) and I will start to plan out the year. Then, I guess, we record. I don’t know. I hope that’s how it works.

So, tonight, dear reader, I’m signing off on 2022 with a song that is near and dear to my heart for many reasons. So, grab a drink. Settle in. And have yourself a listen.

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.