How To Change A lot In A Year

Good morning, Dear Reader! The temps here in the Ozarks are glorious, to say the least. I love the upper fifties in the mornings as it climbs to the upper seventies in the afternoon. My Little has taken to wearing shorts with a sweatshirt – just like I did when I was his age. And as I watch him exit the vehicle each morning dressed like a little hoodlum, I get nostalgic for more leisurely days.

Speaking of nostalgia, I peeked at my notes and blogs from last year, and it got me thinking about how much can change in 365 days. This time, a year ago, I was planning to leave a job, was pretty sure a relationship / friendship was about to end for good, and couldn’t stand that my ex-husband was breathing air. I felt trapped by my living situation, and my insomnia was so bad, I was barely clocking forty hours of rest at the most over a week.

Fast forward and I’m back working at the place I had been planning to leave, perfectly fine that the friendship came to an end, in a relationship with a pretty swell human, on decent terms with the other half of my son’s DNA, and living in a lovely small home with my kiddo and two cats. Although I’ve been awake since 2:30 a.m., sleepless nights are not as common, and for all of this…I am grateful.

All that said, I think I’ve found a magic formula for making one’s life completely different over the course of a year. I worked with a life coach last fall and made a list of the things I’d like to see change. I also started doing things to manifest or propel those changes. And this is where we are going to dive in today. You ready?

Great. Then grab that drink. Settle in.

Here are six things that can help change your life in just a year.

1) Stop complaining and appreciate how lucky you are. Listen up. If you are healthy, have a roof over your head, funds for good food, and a halfway decent form of transportation, then you are better off than two-thirds of the world. Here in America, things seem rough right now…but I promise you…they could be much much worse. I have two special people in my life facing down the wrong end of a health-crisis barrel. All of this nonsense we think is bothersome becomes less critical when that kind of call comes in.

2) Embrace loneliness and reinvent yourself. Last fall, I let go of someone who was not good for me. And maybe, truth told, I wasn’t good for them either. No matter whose story you choose to believe, I embraced being single, and I learned a ton about myself. I learned my ‘career’ wasn’t all that important to me as long as I had a job I liked and could pay my bills. I learned I liked camping in my car. I learned I enjoyed riding my bike, and most of all, I learned I really was (am?) a good parent.

3) Say goodbye to people who don’t bring positivity to your life. It’s hard to admit that some people suck the life out of you, especially when you’ve invested so much of your fuck budget into them but the harsh reality is if they aren’t adding to your life, they are subtracting. Hardly anyone close to you is neutral. I let go of several folks last fall. Some just faded from view, while others required deliberate acts of complete no contact. Either way, you’ll find that they are barely even a memory in a year’s time and you are much happier.

4) Throw off the television and set some internet controls. I wasn’t much of a television watcher unless you count the mild obsessions that come and go. I like two or three shows, but the television is off more than it is on in this home and has always been that way. But I overhauled my social media intake and started turning off my phone at 9 p.m. on weekdays. The one thing I will admit that has lessened my anxiety is that I rarely watch the news at all. Instead, in the mornings, I’ll turn on Spotify for Daily Drive, which is a mix of news and music, and that’s how I know there’s a hurricane in Florida at the moment. (Sending you good vibes, Florida. You know who you are.)

5) Pick one skill you want to cultivate and put all your energy into it. If you dig deep, you might realize you are hard-pressed to even come up with a skill you desire. That, my friend, is a good indication that you are entirely out of touch with yourself, so I suggest making ‘getting to know thyself’ your skill. This one is tough because I like/want to do many things. But last year, I decided my ‘skill’ was more of a life lesson I wanted to finally learn. So, I decided to cultivate learning to set – and adhere to – boundaries and let go of what no longer serves me. I’ve done an excellent job at laying the foundation on this one. So, this year? Meh. I don’t know. Photography, maybe?

6) Fall forward and learn from every mistake you make. Repeat after me: I made the best decision I could with the information I had at the time. Make this your mantra so that you don’t continue to beat yourself up when you make a mistake. When you fail, you can say “Yep. That didn’t quite work out as I planned. What did I learn from this?” and you can move the heck on. I was thinking recently about the phrase “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” and I’ve concluded that it isn’t entirely accurate. What doesn’t kill you can still sting a little…alot?…for a long time. How you dress the wound, however, is up to you.

With that, I’ll leave you with a song today. It follows my post from last week because I still believe in the power of connection. “Better Together” is a song by Jack Johnson about the importance of togetherness and how it can help improve everything. The song reminds us that we are all in this together and can find strength in numbers. It’s a song about hope and resilience, a perfect reminder that no matter what life throws our way, we can always find a way to get through it.

Which of my six suggestions sounds like something you can employ immediately? Do you think all six apply to you, and can you put them all in play? Drop me a line in the comments. And, if you think others might like this, please consider sharing it on all the social thingys. Peace out.

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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?

Mmmm…

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.