Unplugging

Good afternoon, Dear Reader. I know, I know. I’m late to the party today, and I am armed with zero Flash Fiction words on a Friday. You can hop over to my poetry page if you really need to read something painful to your eyes.

My kiddo and I are headed out camping tonight. Last year I bought a car with a more extensive area in the back so we can car-camp. I received the blow-up bed thingamajig this week, so we plan to try it out. It isn’t the fire building or even the sleeping next to a stinky 9-year-old boy that has made me nervous. It’s the lack of internet service we may experience. My kid is totally addicted to his tablet. Although I’ve warned him that it will be limited, I’m not sure his little brain is quite comprehending the sheer vastness of this particular scenario. Well, he’s about to find out. It’s a good thing I’m packing Jenga and Connect Four. There are also some pretty good hiking trails, which I, seriously, just learned about this morning while reading this blog by How To Do The Ozarks.

This brings me to my point today. A digital detox is needed for both of us, and I plan to take full advantage of the situation this weekend. I might…yes…I might even lie to my kid and tell him there is absolutely no wifi/mobile data/internet available. I think, once he overcomes the initial shock, he might survive. 

Suppose you’ve been thinking the same thing – that you need a digital detox – and it’s been a while since you closed your computer and ditched your phone or other digital devices. In that case, I have some tips for you. Ready?

Good. Grab a drink and settle in. I’ve got five tips on how you can unplug and recharge this weekend.

1. Warn people.

Not only should you warn those who may be affected by your choice – like my poor child – but you should tell at least one important person that they won’t be able to reach you via FB messenger, email, etc. One friend only communicates via FB messenger and freaks out if she can’t get people. I can go days – weeks, even – without checking FB messenger, so I typically will just let her know ahead of time.

2. Hide your devices.

I don’t like being totally without my phone, but I can leave it in another room (or glovebox) if needed. My home computer hasn’t been on for days because I’m in front of a screen all day for work; I don’t want to do it when I get home. For me, television is not really an issue. I rarely watch it. It might be a bit harder to hide a 55″ flat screen, but do what you can to make it more difficult to veg. 

3. Go old school.

I have always journaled via pen on paper, so no worries there. I’m packing a crossword puzzle book this weekend and some paper/crayons. This should be interesting, right? I might also…gasp…pack an actual book with pages that turn. Wow, right? 

4. Relax.

The internet isn’t going anywhere, and you’ll be able to access it soon. Make a list of things you want to do for fun or necessary projects, and you’ll have the time if you back away from anything digital.

5. Plan your experience.

Try to get utterly disconnected if possible. I’m not gonna lie…getting away from Spotify for 48 hours will be challenging for me. But the quiet is essential, too. I have several life changes I need to consider, and the outside ‘noise’ and assault on my attention have made it difficult to think. As for killing time, there’s always rock throwing (in the lake, not at each other…), fires to build, S’Mores to eat, trails to hike. I haven’t really planned much except what we will eat and where we will sleep. Let’s see where the weekend takes us. 

I get it. You may not be camping this weekend. But you can still have a digital sabbatical. You can do all the above tips and then read a book. Or try a new recipe. Maybe take a walk or write a love letter. Here’s something…take a nap or go to the park and do nothing. 

I’m curious what you do when you ditch the digital slave-owners. Let me know in the comments. Until then, here’s your song for today. Nothing about today’s post, but I told you a few weeks ago that I really feel like songwriters never get the credit for anything. So this guy…Mitch Rossell…opened for a little-known artist named Garth Brooks last week at Razorback Stadium (WOO PIG….) with his little ol’ guitar and no backup band. Here’s another one of his I just love and bonus: Music Love Travel is featured. He’s recently released this song and is making a name for himself. However, many people don’t know that he wrote the last three songs that have made Garth a little bit of cash. (Listen to what Garth says about Mitch) So, yeah. There’s that. I love a good song…it’s poetry with flair. (And yeah, I might have a little crush.)

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No. Not really.

Good afternoon, dear Reader! The sun is shining here in the Ozarks. Bird nests are littering my trees and squirrels are facing the wrath of my stealthy hunter, Ocelot the Cat. One, sadly, did not make it through the weekend. Run faster, little squirrels. Fat Ozzie is in da house.

I’ve been feeling a bit restless this week, folks. I wish I could blame it on the Moon…don’t we blame her for everything? But, alas, I cannot in good conscience blame the moon. The full moon was a week ago and the new moon isn’t close enough to create drama. But…hang on…YEP! Mercury goes retrograde in a few short weeks. Let’s just blame that, shall we?

The truth is all this angst is just me and the changes life has presented me with over the last few weeks. I’ve mentioned I’m moving. I’ve mentioned I’m wrapping up a good year of volunteer work. I’ve mentioned I’m decluttering like a mofo right now. What else has got me thinkin’?

Well, grab a drink. Settle in.

Today’s topic: How to win an argument.

It’s not really rocket science, so I don’t want you getting too terribly excited over my revelations. Here’s the bottom line:

Don’t accept 90% of the invitations you receive to bicker or argue with anyone.

Mentally, just hold up that hand and think to yourself “Not today, Satan. You don’t get to fuck with my mojo.” I like to think I’m getting much better at not arguing than in previous years. I, literally, ask myself this question about 200 times a day: “Is this a discussion I want to have right now?” Most of the time – because I’m not a huge fan of conflict anyway – the answer is ‘No. Not really’.

Here are some ways that came up this week:

  1. “We are all a bit autistic, aren’t we?” No. Not really. In fact, that’s probably the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Autism is a neurological disorder. You are autistic or you are not.
  2. “I just ordered 40 additional widgets without any approval, okay?” No. Not really. Someone has to pay for those and since you ordered them then I guess that person is you, right? That will be $600.
  3. “Don’t you think women and black people and those with disabilities are just looking for excuses to blame other people?” No. Not really. And I have nothing else to say because honestly, I still don’t have enough information to argue my point on this narrative.
  4. “People on food stamps are just lazy.” No. Not really. In fact, when I had to apply for government assistance so my kid could eat, I was working three jobs.
  5. “You are going to help me (fill in the blank with anything this person is absolutely capable of doing on their own), right?” No. Not really. But I will get you the phone numbers and you can take care of that yourself.

These days, I don’t even bother with ‘No. Not really.’ I just answer with “Hmmm” or “Huh”. When quizzed further, I might add “You make an interesting point” or “I’ve never really thought about it.” Why? Because. When someone can get you all riled up about something, then they have all the power. I learned this lesson the hard way during an argument about fucking hot dogs. If people can’t control their anger over something as simple as a weiner, then do you really want to have additional conversations with this person? I mean, it’s probably not going to get much better than that, right?

“But, Dear Writer,” you say. “My opinion is important and I need to verbalize it 24/7. Right?”

I mean, yes, of course, your opinion is important. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Do you need to verbalize it 24/7? No. Not really.

Here’s my advice to you when confronted with a dilemma to argue or walk away, dear Reader:

  1. Don’t accept every invitation. It’s not worth it. Some people love drama. Don’t be one of them.
  2. Keep scrolling. Your opinion is important to you but honestly, most other folks do not care. Swipe left, scroll up, delete, unfriend, whatever you need to do in order to stay at peace.
  3. Get comfortable agreeing that 2+2=5 for your own sanity. You can’t out-argue stupid, so don’t try.
  4. Say less. Not everyone needs an explanation. “Hmmm” can get you far in life – or at the very least, get you out of a conversation you do not want to have.
  5. Mind your own business. Who knows why people do what they do. If you are truly curious, then ask more questions. If you just want to argue a point about why your way is better than their way, then shush your word hole.
  6. Don’t blame a clown for acting like a clown. Ask yourself why you keep going to the circus. And stop attending the ringside event of defending your opinions to those who can’t think beyond their own red rubber nose.
  7. Invoke the 5/5 rule. Will this matter in five years? No? Okay. Then don’t waste another five minutes on it.
  8. Repeat after me: Not my circus, not my monkeys. Enough said.
  9. Have some grace. People come up with all kinds of crazy conclusions about things based on their life-experience. This includes you. This includes me. Everyone is entitled to their opinion – educated or not
  10. Embrace your inner gangsta. I’ve never met a real-life gangster, but I like to imagine that they really don’t give a shit about much. Turning 50 last year kinda turned me into a gangsta, of sorts. It was like “click”. My fuck-it switch transformed its ‘automatic setting’ from “We should talk about this” to “I have zero fucks left to give”. And that is amazing.

So, that’s it today. I feel a little less angsty now that I’ve realized I can find a silver lining in the midst of pre-Mercury retrograde weirdness vibes. Hope this helps.

Oh, and….here’s your song. That one is gonna stick in your brain. You’re welcome.

PS…if you loved this post and want to share it with others on all things social, then have at it. Please and thank you!

Get An Alignment

Good morning, dear Reader! I’m writing these a week in advance so if my weather forecasts and updates don’t actually coincide with the weather you see out your window, that’s why. Today I was blessed with yet another Missouri thunderstorm, the angry claps and cascades of water waking me from a pretty darn good slumber. What’s that Matchbox 20 song lyric? She only sleeps when it’s raining… Yeah. That pretty much sums it up. It’s dark. It’s stormy. It’s raining like a sumbitch. It’s fantastic. Just exactly what a melancholy writer needs to get motivated.

If you were here with us last week, you’d remember that I picked up a copy of Warrior Goddess Training and started it a few weeks back. You can read the first post here. I hope you have your ‘beverage’ ready because we are diving back into that book, and I plan to ask you a few hard questions.

So. Grab a drink. Settle in. You don’t want to miss this.

Last week’s post about self-abuse must have hit a chord with some of you because I had more views in one week than I’ve had all month. (Thank you, dear Reader, for sharing!) I’d love to think it’s because I am such an inspiring and eloquent writer, but I think I type “fuck” too much to stand up with the greats. Nonetheless…here we are. Together. That says something, I suppose.

Chapter two leads us into our thoughts about what is essential and what is not. The chapter is entitled Align with Life. I have to admit, the subject matter was not what I thought it was going to be, but still very thought-provoking.

Do you ever think that Life is just not fair? Do you believe that Life must follow a path or plan that you’ve predetermined (the bucks, the babe, the boat…) based on what you think is ‘normal’? Do you sit and wish your Life was different because it sucks right now and wasn’t supposed to be this way?

I used to think those things all the time. I don’t so much anymore, but I used to be pretty entangled with my self-abusing thoughts when I was going through my divorce. But as the author puts it: Life is perfectly imperfect, unpredictable, and unexplainable. When you fully adopt the mindset that Life is simply unfolding, you open yourself up to some pretty awesome experiences.

My fella and I talk about this a lot because the way our relationship transpired was a tab bit unexpected. Okay. A lot bit unexpected. We met in our senior year of high school. I thought he was cute; he thought I was cute. But we never went out. (Although, there is this ongoing mystery as to why, after 30 years, he still has my senior picture. Creepy or sentimental? You decide.) Anyway…fast forward to Spring 2018. He’s single, I’m almost single. We meet for lunch. He pays. But then…poof…after that one lunch, we just…parted ways. Fast forward to Winter 2021. He’s single; I’m definitely single. We go for a drive. He holds my hand. We have a beer in a little dive bar along with a good cheeseburger. Again, he pays. We’ve been together ever since. If you had told me thirty years ago…or even three years ago…that this guy would be the one to make my heart swoon, I would have most likely said, “You’re batshit crazy.”

But let me let you in on a secret…if I had been in the same headspace in 2021 as in 2018…we would not have even made it past a text message. I believe, like the author of Warrior Goddess Training, that the choices in our lives come down to two things:

1 ) Life is a constant decision: Do I live in Fear or Love?
2) Life is neither fair nor unfair. Life is a constantly moving force. Ride or die, folks. Ride or die.

If we live in fear, we either live as a punitive judge or a flattened victim. If you live in love, you realize that Life is unfolding exactly as it was designed, even in its most unpleasant moments. And yes, I do totally understand how overwhelming and unpleasant Life can get, and I’ve come out the other side realizing that every experience is an opportunity for growth. When we are truly aligned with Life, we accept that aging, death, sickness, natural disasters, accidents, awful human encounters…all of this…is meant to alter our course in Life; to teach us to adapt and be flexible. To help us to let go of an attachment to how our Life is supposed to go and simply allow others to be themselves and for us to be our true authentic selves.

Also, I think you understand that Life cannot be controlled by now (at least I hope you do). You can plan and prepare, but in the end, the only thing we have total control over is how we respond to Life’s twists and turns. I know two people who have lost their spouses in the last twelve months, and while they grieve, they haven’t let the grief stop them from moving on in their lives. I know another soul who lost a spouse over a decade ago and is still sitting in a chair, waiting for death to take her. You must own your response to Life’s curveballs. You don’t get to choose the outcome…you only get to choose how you react. Life is going to continue whether you are on board or not. So. Get. On. Board.

As you ‘get on board’, I’m leaving you with a song. I, thankfully, seem to be off my Taylor Swift kick but have reunited with Kenny Chesney. This is a Kenny hit, but I found this story about Travis Meadows and he’s actually the one who wrote the song. Travis Meadows (born 1965) is an American country music singer and songwriter. He has released four albums, as well as written songs for other country artists. I was gonna link to the Kenny Chesney version but I think our buddy Kenny has received a lot of credit, but the songwriters are often overlooked. Not today. Not on my watch. Read more about Mr. Meadows here. Breathe in. Breathe out. Call a friend if you need to.

Until next time…bottom’s up!

PS…If you loved this post, do all the sharing things on all the socials. Much obliged.

A Goddess Calls Out

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

Anywhooo…

So I did something recently.

I called out sick to work. Gasp.

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

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

You are not responsible for his feelings.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some of those examples:

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

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

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

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

The Final Essay

Good morning, Dear Reader! I’m taking a break from Flash Fiction Friday and posting a bit early. My peeps and I are headed off to see Ashley McBryde in concert, and I wanted to ensure I did two things. But before I do that…I want to give you two bonus songs which are my favorite Ashley McBryde songs: One and Two. You’re welcome.

So, back to today’s post. First, I’m fulfilling an assignment. Secondly, I’m informing you of the changes the last few months as has brought to fruition.

So, the assignment. I’ve been working with a Life Coach now for about a year. I completed the lessons, and I was given an assignment at the end of the series. Since I share with you, dear Reader, most of the crap that swirls in my head anyway, I thought, “Might as well share this with the entire world.” So here we are today, summing up the last ten months of my life. The final question?

“What changes do I notice in how I see and experience myself and the world”?

Grab a drink. Settle in. In fact, make it a double.

This biggest take-a-way from this entire process was a lesson that focused on accepting myself and all the decisions I’ve made along the way in this beautiful life. The summation, for me, at the end of this process is this one sentence:

“I made the best decision I could with the information I had at the time.”

This one mantra (that’s what I’m calling it) led to so much self-growth, internal power, abundance, and freedom. When I think back to the amount of self-destructive blame I induced on my person this time last year…I don’t even recognize that woman.

This one mantra alone permitted me to say, “Yes. That didn’t turn out exactly as planned, but look at all the things I learned in the process…” It helped me to stop looking at situations as mistakes and instead think of them as growth opportunities.

This one mantra alone gave me the courage to release myself from Karmic relationships, find love again, say ‘no’ to so many things, and forgive myself for putting up with the same old bullshit day after day from people who – and I quote – “…just have your best interest in mind.”

This one mantra alone restored a relationship with my ex-husband (Note: We are friendly. We are not friends. Big difference.). It gave me enough courage to say no to volunteer positions. It reduced the amount of stress I had when changing jobs. And the most significant thing of all…

It allows me to stand up for myself when others try to bully me or remind me of what didn’t quite work out in the past. I was able to tell someone just this week, “I’m only going to say this one time to you: I made the best decision I could then with the information I had at the time. Do not throw this shit in my face again.”

Anyway.

Today’s post is my final essay – in the form of my Creepy Online Diary. I hope that you release yourself from self-judgment and coulda, shoulda, wouldas. Stop getting in the ring with your own thoughts about the past. You made the best decision you could at the time…with the information you had then. You can’t judge that situation based on the information you have now. You’re not Claire from Outlander. You didn’t have the luxury of knowledge from the future.

So.

Get up. Dust off. Move on.

You can now make a better-informed decision the next time a similar situation arises without beating yourself up over the past. I can tell you this for sure…there’s a shit-ton of stuff I won’t volunteer to do and a hell of a lot of people I won’t spend as much time with, so that’s a win, right?

I wish this for you, too. I wish for your empowerment to take hold. I wish for you to forgive yourself for past mistakes and decisions. I wish you to grow in peace and prosperity based on new information and the ability to circumvent the bullshit. I wish for you…love. For love is the greatest of all.

Song? Of course! I’m headed south to see this ‘local gal,’ and this is one of hers. I feel it fits for today. I had a journalism teacher in high school who told me I was a terrible writer. You know who you are and well…Bitch, where’s your blog? Enjoy!

Don’t Go Big Or Go Home

Good morning, dear Reader. You know that saying, “Spring has sprung?” Well, not here. I’m rebelling. Last week I sent my kid to school in shorts and by 10 a.m. it was snowing. I felt terrible when I picked him up and he was shivering uncontrollably. Alas, my “mom of the year” card is already in jeopardy over so much I can’t even bother with worrying about it anymore.

We enter April still focused on the ‘letting go’ theme I mentioned here, and as I’ve said, I’m really, really letting go of stuff as I pack up to relocate. But, I think I will pause on that thought for a moment and go a bit deeper. Do you want to venture into the back of my mind with me a bit? You sure? It’s kinda cray-cray there sometimes. Okay, then!

Grab a drink. Settle in. Here’s what is swirling in my thoughts today. Can we talk about this…

Go big or go home.”

You’ve heard this phrase, too, I’m sure. Maybe you’ve even said it yourself. Some self-help guru probably wrote a book about it, and it’s sitting next to the book that coined the hashtag Boss Babe. I get the sentiment. Do your best. Work hard. If you can’t/won’t give it 1000% then don’t even bother…blah, blah, blah. But…

Go big or go home is broken.

It’s old. It’s insulting. It implies that ‘home’ is a punishment.

It should be…

Go big AND go home.

Home is family – whatever that looks like in your world. Home is where your children or pets, or children AND pets live. You may live alone and that’s awesome, too. My point? Home is where your heart can find some peace. It’s where your soul can finally settle down after you’ve kicked ass and taken names all day. It’s where the #bossbabe can put on a ratty old t-shirt, go braless, and have a sip of Tullamore Dew without judgment. It’s where the bathwater contains Epsom salt and lavender, and the time you spend in that bath is limited only by your intolerance for lukewarm water.

I lived in chaos for years. I recently chose to stop that pattern and get rid of the external factors causing that (and truthfully, the internal ones, too). Last year, I literally spent thousands to find places to ‘relax’ that were not where I typically receive my mail. I practically begged people for the opportunity to housesit just to get a little privacy. I bought a new car for the sole purpose of car-camping just to get away from the ever-present barrage of questions. I lived here but I didn’t live here. You know?

Home is where our priority should be – to find the quiet spots and recharge. If you are constantly finding ways to ‘get away from home’ then something’s not working. Your home should be a place of refuge, a source of peace from the outside world.

So, let’s work hard AND THEN…go home. Shall we?

Today’s message is short but powerful. As always, here’s your song. It definitely is an oldie. Kenny Chesney still had hair, and everyone was still trying to figure out the real reason he and Renee broke up. But it fits, right? And it’s nice. So, pour that drink. Take off that bra (Dudes, go commando). Settle in and rest.

Until next time, bottom’s up! Cheers.

PS…If you loved this, then feel free to share it on all the socials. Hugs!