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!

Advertisement

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.

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: https://shelleyflett.com/intention-action-impact/

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 http://www.myagilelife.org 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.

Four Annoying Phrases To Use When You Finally Give Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can buy that print here from sdesignsprints on Etsy

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

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

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

Five Life Changing Truths To Inspire The New Year

Good evening, Dear Reader! November is upon us, and while I love cooler weather, I can’t shake the feeling that the end of the year is looming, and I still have a few goals to accomplish. However, making a list of small goals helped me get a bit out of my comfort zone. I got to experience a few really cool things that I would not, most likely, have branched out to do if it had not been for the personal accountability you provided. So, um, thanks. Check out all I accomplished in 2022 and take a peek at my 2023 Bucket List, which is still a work in progress.

I have so many topics swirling around in my brain tonight, and I’m not sure what I really want to share. I thought about a theme centered on No-vember, but so many other writers have done an excellent job explaining what to say “No” to this month that I feel like my message would really not do the idea any justice. I mean, “No Spend November” seems kinda like a no-brainer. Plus, do any of you really need to consider the benefits of owning fewer possessions after reading my posts over the past ten years? Less to clean, less debt, less to organize, less stress. 

So what to write about today when, frankly, I’m exhausted. I’m facing a few things personally, and I’m so drained mentally and physically; I’ll stick with what I do best: Plan ahead and think about the coming year. 

That said, I have some ideas for the new year as we stare it right square in the face for you. So…

Grab that drink. Settle in. 

Let us go over here in our comfy chairs to discuss the five truths to live by in the upcoming year.

1) Settle for the fact that sometimes there isn’t any closure. For about a year after my divorce, I behaved like a private investigator. I dug deep into every text message and email I had received from my ex, dissecting each one like a cadaver worm in an eighth grade biology class. I tried to piece together dates to form a timeline where all the lies made sense. I questioned and requestioned people. Then finally, I realized, who the fuck cares anymore? The facts were: He left. I was financially broke. And I was angry. The sooner we accept that we will not receive closure in every situation, the sooner we can create our own closure. Create my own closure? By how? Hmmm. Like this: Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Now exhale and softly whisper…“Fuck it”. And there you have it.  

2) Everyone on the planet is self-centered. Yes. You read that correctly. Most of what other people do is about them, not you. As it is written in The Four Agreements, stop taking things so personally. If they wanted to, they would, right? There’s this thing called the 51% Rule. The 51% Rule states, “You are always doing what you want to do.” For example…I want to lose weight. But I wanted to eat that cookie 51% more than I wanted to go for a walk (49%). See? Basic math. In most cases, we’ve all lost the ability to think beyond our own amygdala, and eveyone is operating by the 51% Rule. This leads me to…

3) You cannot change anyone. And if you are changing someone by wearing them down…that’s not “change”; that’s manipulation bordering on bullying. Shame on you. I’ve heard it said that people will not change until the pain of staying the same exceeds the pain of changing. Read that again: (Insert His/Her Name Here) will not change until the pain of staying the same exceeds the pain of changing. 

4) Be realistic about the big things. I am wary of anyone who doesn’t have a Plan B in most cases. Here’s the thing about ‘big things’: They always take longer to accomplish than you ever thought they would. It always costs more money than you expect. Personal growth is always more painful and terrifying than ever imagined. Be realistic and always have a Plan B. Repeat after me: “Hope for the best, plan for the worst.” 

5) Some people won’t apologize because they can’t. They either don’t accept they are wrong or can’t cognitively grasp that their actions hurt you. It’s up to you to decide whether to admit if you are okay with their inability to say “I’m sorry” or walk away. Because, as we’ve already covered, they aren’t going to change. Plus, there’s an art to apologizing correctly, and most people need to learn how to do it. I encourage you to learn how to say “sorry” correctly and then, once mastered, listen carefully to so-called apologies. Then, when you start tuning in, you’ll know where you stand – and how to better gauge how emotionally mature someone is. 

I’ve done my best to sum up what I plan to do and accept as truth over the next twelve months enough to leave you as I always do. Funny story: I had talked to someone about taking my blog to the ‘next level’ and the feedback was that I’d need to clean up my language a bit to move through the blog-o-sphere successfully. So. Um. I’m going to just let this thing grow organically, and with that, I’m going to leave you with this song.

If you liked these tips, share away. Apparently that’s the only way I’m going to get famous 🙂 Smooch!

Five Thoughts About Self-Love We All Need To Embrace

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

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

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

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

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

{Cough} Bullshit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three Simple Ways To Reframe Life

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

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

I looked at him through narrowed eyes and said…

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

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

“I took it.”

“Took it from whom?” I calmly asked.

“From the gym teacher.”

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

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

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

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

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

Grab a drink. Settle in. Let’s go.

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

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

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

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

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

Three Surprising Ways Road Trips Resemble Relationships

Good evening, Dear Reader! I just want to say that tomorrow is a beautiful day to get a colonoscopy (consider this your PSA if you are over 50). I’m headed over to do just that in the morning, and {insert sarcasm} I am so incredibly excited…about the large pizza and frozen custard I’m going to get as soon as it is over. I’ve been doing all the prep stuff for the last two days – the clear liquid diet, the delicious gallon of prep-juice they make you drink, and doing my best to stay close to home just in case I…um…well. Yeah. Anyway – I just want to tell you, Dear Reader: If you ever thought I was completely full of shit, I assure youI. Am. Not. At least, not anymore.

Now, all of that is out of the way. Let’s kick off the weekend early because of, well you know, by setting up today’s post. 

Last Saturday I found myself with an infrequent day of bliss. All my ‘people’ had other commitments, and I had none. So I jumped in my car and headed out to finalize one of my 2022 Bucket List items. I located the Sandy Creek covered bridge near Hillsboro, MO, along with a lovely state park. This completes my goal of seeing all four covered bridges in Missouri. (Watch out, Arkansas. You are next.) Before heading out, though, I had the wherewithal to pack some car-camping stuff and used the HipCamp app to locate a place to sleep. Hummingbird Hollow is a lovely private (primitive) camping site at an animal rescue sanctuary. And, it just so happened that it was the night before the full moon. When I stepped out of my car at 2:30 a.m. into the pitch black night to potty, the Hunter’s Moon (literally) was breathtaking. Or maybe it was the 32* weather that took my breath away. {Shrug}. Nonetheless, it was exceptionally awe-inspiring.

(I wasn’t drinking and driving. I was in for the night.)

I say all that to finally get to my point of today’s post. So, if you are ready, let’s go over my musings and how I realized that road trips and relationships have a lot in common.

Grab that drink. Settle in. Try to follow along. Here are three surprising ways road trips are like relationships.

1) Hazard lights are vital to your safety. If you’ve ever traveled east on I-44 through the Show-Me State, you’ll get this reference immediately. Once, my fella and I were traveling to the home of Mark Twain and rounded the corner on the interstate to find ourselves face-first in a traffic jam. He, the experienced transportation guy, immediately punched his hazard light button, and I remember thinking…“Oh yeah. Those.” Up until that point, I thought those things were just for when you were stranded on the side of the road. Well, I experienced the same thing on I-44 last Saturday. I topped a hill just east of Conway and realized traffic was at a stop. I hit my hazards and held my breath and watched, via my rearview mirror, while a Prime Trucking, Inc. semi-truck nearly ended my life. (Sorry, Mom. These are the things I don’t tell you.) I was slightly shaken by this and exited at the World’s Largest Gift Store to regain my composure. But, I thought about that near-miss all day. I sat on my bumper, resting for a bit and sipping my coffee at the bridge, and something occurred to me. Several times in my life, my internal hazard lights begged to warn me about some of the relationships I was in. Some only required a slowdown, and some were downright dangerous. It would have been nice if I had remembered my internal hazard lights in those cases, listened to my gut, and exited the relationship immediately.

2) Nothing fun happens on the interstate. After said near-miss, and a purchase of fudge in Uranus (I. Am. Not. Kidding.) I exited just past Rolla (hoping to run into the infamous Joshua Rogers) and decided to take Highway 8 towards Potosi and then north on Highway 21. First, let me just say: Both of these roads feel a little like a drunk toddler designed them, but if you can stomach switchbacks, there are a lot of fascinating sites to see along the way. The same goes for relationships. You gotta mix up the stuff sometimes. Frankly, getting out of my normal routine for a fancy, expensive dinner takes effort on my part. I know this. If you haven’t guessed, I’m more of a backyard-firepit-grilled-steak-two-shots-of-Scotch-via-lawn-chair kind of gal, preferably dressed in my “mom clothes” while I listen to Alan Jackson sing about what time it is somewhere (bonus song!). But every once in a while, a nice dinner out where I am required to wear a dress and put on perfume, or a trip to the beach for the holidays instead of watching Home Alone and Elf for the forty-millionth time, is nice. More than nice, really. Possibly necessary. So – get off that relationship interstate and have a little fun, for goodness sake. You may discover something about yourself and the person you love that surprises you.

3) Use a map, but reserve the right to take a detour. When I turned 18, I wanted to drive to Rockford, IL to see my friend, Ryan. My mom was nervous, but my dad handed me a road atlas, highlighted my route with a yellow marker, gave me $50, and said, “You’ll go North or East. On the way home, you’ll come West or South. And for God’s sake…stay out of East St. Louis”. To this very day, I always have a Rand McNally Road Atlas in my car. I have a $50 bill tucked away in a secret spot. And, I do my best to stay out of scary spaces (although some rural Ozarks counties are just as spooky as East STL). My point? Every relationship requires goals. Planning for the future together is essential and possibly life-saving. But I always reserve the right to live in the moment and throw caution to the wind. I may want to take a side road here and there or slow things down a bit. Let’s suppose you know a thing or two about generalized anxiety disorder. In that case, you know that anxious people are hyper-focused on the future. And…90% of what we worry about never comes to fruition. So, I try not to get too ahead of myself in life and in relationships. It’s just more fun that way. 

So, with that I leave you with a fourth bonus analogy: Sometimes the road…and that relationship…gets bumpy. Hang on and stay the course. As always, I leave you with a fun little song today. Send me good vibes, and let me know your relationship advice. Or, drop a comment below and tell me about your favorite road trip. I’m always in the mood for ideas. (Saturday, off to Eureka Springs, AR to meet James Dean, the author of my favorite children’s book, Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons. Read my post about that book here.)

As always, if you liked this and thought to yourself, “All my friends need to read this!” then do all that social stuff that makes us all famous and paranoid.   

Sandy Creek Covered Bridge – Hillsboro MO