The Happiest of Times

There are times in life when you look around and realize that you are the happiest that you have ever been. And this is where I find myself. In this moment, right here, right now, there is no place I’d rather be (as Jesus Jones sang). At this moment I have everything for which I have prayed, and then some.

As I sit in bed, writing before sleep, in this beautiful home I am in with the love of my life, my heart is beyond thankful. And when you are in this happy space, your soul is simultaneously at peace and on fire.

Indeed, this is the best time of my life. After working hard to build, and all of the everything it took to get here, I thank God every day that His Wisdom and guidence brought me to this place.

Life is short. If you are going through a hard time, maybe even the worst time, hold in and hang on, because a day will come when all of that is in the past. All that sorrow you felt will have carved out such a deep space within your soul, that the love that fills you afterward will seem like a beautiful, deep infinite pool of everything wonderful. And that is when you know you are in the happiest if times.

Say Goodnight Gracie

It’s always hard saying goodbye to a pet. Especially so soon after such a recent loss of another. But that is where I found myself this past week.

Gracie. Miss Gracie Girl, to be exact, came to me almost 9 years ago. She was a rescue kitty who had come from a horrible situation where she was in a house with dogs that were kept in kennels 22 of 24 hours. Those dogs eventually started busting out of their kennels, and in fits of energy and kennel rage, would chase the cats in the house and kill them.

Little Gracie survived those conditions by hiding, and not ever coming out really. I cannot imagine the fear and trauma those conditions would cause any animal, imcluding the dogs.

She lived in my guest bathroom, under the sink for the first 3 months she was with me. I put a comfy bed under the sink and she had plenty of room to stretch and decompress. Food, water and litter were in the bathroom, just outside of the cabinet. I have no dogs, so she never had to hear barking or fear death.

At 4 months she crept out of the bathroom and lived in the guess bedroom, mainly underneath the bed. I would spend time with her every day and take naps in the room to get her used to me. At 6 months I started picking her up and placing her in the bed with me, for snuggles, pets, and treats. At first she would run back to her safe place under the guest bed. But slowly she began to trust and would stay and socialize, accepting scratches and pets.

Then her personality really came out. She was playful, sweet, affectionate and loved exploring, especially outside in the fenced yard, where she came to feel safe, knowing she could come back in whenever she wanted. She would chase bugs, lay in the grass, and do other happy cat things.

And so the years with her passed by. And she moved with me to Texas. Once here she became more and more friendly, coming out to say hello to guests. She would frequently sing to her favorite socks that she carried around, her song interrupting many Zoom meetings as my coworkers stopped mid word. I would reassure them that she was not being tortured, nor was she in any pain, she was just singing. Loudly.

She was diagnosed with hyperthyroid at the ripe old at of 16. And for 2 years I gave her medicine everyday to keep her from losing weight. And after 2 years, hyperthyroid finally caught up with her, as it always does. She was 18, and getting weaker every day. She was having trouble swallowing and was skin and bones. But she ate and drank every day, even though her condition would often make her throw up. So I made the decision to call the vet to come to the house.

It was the right call, but never an easy one. When we adopt a pet, it is a promise to love them to keep them safe, healthy, and to do the kindest thing so they don’t suffer.

Miss Gracie Girl was rare- a female orange tabby. And she knew it. And I will miss her little spirit. Life is short, especially with pets. Always love on them when you can.

The Best Things in Life

There is a saying that the best things in life are free. I do have to agree. And the best thing in the entire world? Love. Loving others and feeling loved is a wonderful thing. And this month, my birthday month, seems to be an extreme expression of being loved. This past weekend I did a first for me – through myself a birthday party. Complete with a theme (the 70’s, in all of it’s disco glory), catered food, costumes, and good music. I invited friends that I have made in the short 3 years that I have been here in Texas. And it was fabulous.

In addition to my friends here in Texas, one of my best friends flew in from Atlanta and my “sister from another mister” flew in from South Carolina to celebrate with me. Everything, from the moment they arrived, to decorating, to the party, to a tea at St. Regis, to a fabulous dinner, to them flying back out was a reminder of how much I am loved. And that is not to brag, it is actually quite the opposite actually.

Sometimes we get so caught up in our daily lives, and the rat race, and everything in between, that we forget to look up and look around at all of those who love us. Sometimes we are too busy, too unassuming, or simply too un aware, of all the love that is around us. And it is a beautiful and wonderful thing to be reminded.

And I was reminded in spades, as my friends arrived to celebrate with me. As my in-laws helped decorate (there were disco lights, disco ball balloons, lava lamps, beaded curtains, and glow bracelets). And as my friends came to eat, drink, be merry, and celebrate me. And everywhere I looked there were smiles and fun being had. And then I saw my wonderful man, who had been pretty quiet about his costume, as he came out in full 70’s disco, complete with groovy round sunglasses, 70’s wig, paisley shirt unbuttoned half way down and a peace sign necklace. He went all in. As did several other friends.

There were people talking and laughing everywhere, inside, outside, and even some kids in the pool.

And my heart was thankful and happy. When I moved here three years ago I was pretty broken. Coming off the death of both parents in less than a year, all the family drama associated with being the executrix of the will, and having had a relationship end shortly before the move. I was heavy with grief and sad in my soul. The move to Texas was a new, fresh start after devastating loss. And as I looked out at my birthday party, at the smiles and laughter, at all of my friends who had come to celebrate, including those who flew in from out of town, at the love of my life having a fun time, I realized things have come full circle. And this year is going to be the best one yet. Because of all of the love, that wraps around me like a warm blanket and provides a soft place to land.

Life is short. If you are unhappy where you are, or if you just need a fresh start – move. You are not a tree. Go where you can rebuild yourself and your life. Go find your self again, find your purpose, and your joy again. And when you get there, celebrate yourself and others will celebrate with you. The best things in life are truly free, because friendship, love, making memories, and sharing a good life are priceless.

The Birthday Month

God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living it well. – Voltaire

The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age. — Lucille Ball

Age is a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter. — Satchel Paige

Whatever with the past has gone, the best is always yet to come. — Lucy Larcom

Every age can be enchanting, provided you live within it. — Brigitte Bardot

Oh it is that time of year again, my birthday month! Oh, how I love it. The holidays are over, and just when you think things are gong to slow down a bit…it’s time to have more cake and celebrate another year. And to be honest, I have always considered my birthday to be the start of the new year for me. I It’s not really a new year until I have celebrated my birthday. Then, I can start all of those resolutions.

And thought it is not a popular opinion, I do love getting older. Always have, always will. There is just something magic about it. About how we change, our bodies change, our lives change thorough out the years. The things you learn and unlearn. The adventures and experiences. May I never sit still and be an old lady, no. While I do want to grow old I want to do so gracefully. And bee unabashedly unashamed of my age. No Botox, fillers or filters. And while other ladies are living up for such things, I’ll pass.. First that stuff freaks me out a bit, second I am proud of my fine lines and wrinkles. I’ve hard for them.

It is also important to realize that growing old is not a luxury not afforded to everyone. And maybe you realize that more as you get older. But also the last few years have taught me this in spades. I said that to a good friend over the summer after he was complaining of getting older and gaining weight. He actually died about a month later.

I went to a someone’s birthday party in November, and she was sobbing almost the entire night she was so upset about her milestone birthday and the fact that she was getting older. I almost wanted to slap her. Getting upset about it doesn’t do anything – time is still going to pass. You are still however old, and time isn’t topping – unless you die. So why get upset about it? At least she was alive and had friends and loved ones to help her celebrate.

So on this milestone birthday I will also throw a party, which is something I have never actually done. I usually just go to dinner with friends or my man. But this year, this wonderful year that all these amazing things are going to happen, there will be a party to celebrate. Indeed friends are flying on (if airlines and the FAA don’t have another major malfunction), the cake and catering are ordered, the theme chosen, and the pool is heated. Because I am alive, and here, and loved.

And this celebration will continue the entire month, as it does every year. But for some reason this year is special. maybe because of all that is coming this year, all of the celebrations, and changes, and people and everything. I remember when I was younger and I would wonder what this birthday would be like, what I would like like and what my life would be like. And while it looks much different than I thought it would be, it is the best life that I could have ever dreamed.

Life is short. We only have this one life. We are only here for such a short period of time. Let or birthdays be reminders to celebrate not only ourselves, but our lives as well. Don’t worry about those little wrinkles, or if things are drooping a little bit. Look around, and see all the good that is in front of you, surrounding you. Appreciate every moment, every year that you have. And celebrate it, every day.

The Review and the New

The beginning of the new years is a time when many look back and reflect upon the past year, and what they want for the next 265 days. Maybe it is human nature, maybe it’s part of being self aware, maybe it is our quest to always keep searching and improving. But whatever the reason, none of us are really immune. And as I think back of this past year, with it’s mix of ups and downs, and ins and outs, I am sure that I have much for which to be thankful.

My career was fantastic during the past year. And while there were challenging clients, for the most part, all of my projects were very enjoyable with amazing teams. And I have learned that accomplishing high goals means consistency, perseverance and excellence. If people know what they can consistently get from you, then they trust you, your word, and your work.

I had to say goodbye to several dear friends this past year. One owned a distillery, one was my first director on stage, and one was a good friend from high school. And I also said goodbye to a dear pet. These losses taught me once again not take take a single day with those you love for granted.

I have learned about Grace and patience as my wonderful man has both of these in spades when dealing with me, a red haired, strong willed, spitfire of a woman. Every day this man amazes me, and I am beyond blessed that he is mine. Every day, he embraces me with truly unconditional love that I had only read about in books and fairy tails. He is as steady as the Earth herself. He teaches me about God’s love, and how to be a better person every day, and he does it by example. And every day I am thankful that he is mine and I am his.

This is reinforced as hear I bits and pieces about the lives of various exes that made me cry over the years. The ex-finance ex lost another job and is selling another house to relocate who knows where, again. Another ex continues to chase the youngest and easiest in Brazil and other countries known for trafficking. One laments online how ever girl he meets is a sociopath. Still others seem to walk from one disaster the next. I see all the bullets that I dodged over the years, and how many times those unanswered prayers were truly a blessing. It is true that God hears conversations you don’t you, sees things that you don’t. I have learned to trust this over the last year.

We made the new house a home in 2022, settling in quite nicely, unpacking, hanging, organizing, repairing, entertaining as we have friends over, and swim a lot. There were gatherings and conversations, laughter and a few tears. We have made this space a place we love, and a place where our friends feel warm and welcome.

I have also learned the power of being inspired, and having a reason to achieve beyond your own desires. It is different when you are working toward something. And it is gratifying and fulfilling to work together, as partners, in achieving what my man and I both want. We discuss our goals on a regular basis, and we work toward them together. We move as one unit, in mutual respect and support.

I have also learned the value of health. I started 2022 in physical therapy after ignoring an injury that got increasingly worse. Now it is much better, but still something that must keep up. As it turns out, exercise doesn’t just keep you in shape, there are actual tangible health results that I had not had to experience before, because I had never been injured.

I’ve learned the power of relaxing and downtime as well. I can be a bit of a work-a-holic, and working from home doesn’t always help. So my man getting home form his office forces me to stop and change direction. Balance is a struggle for most and we are no exception. How can you get everything done? I have found the secret: First, make peace with the fact that you can’t. Second, have a schedule that includes time to relax. While that may sound counter intuitive, for me it seems to be the key to me not getting exhausted and overwhelmed. And if I can stick to somewhat of a schedule, then I can breath.

And so I say goodbye to this past year 2022. It seems it was a bad year for many , but it was quite a wonderful year for me. It wasn’t an easy year, but they never are completely. However, it was a great year, filled with great lessons, conversations, trips and moments. Mostly because, all because, of love.

Life is short. And now that my life is calm and wonderful and filled with so much love, I can see the tattered landscape of the past. And I say goodbye to that as well. It is a new era, a new year. But saying goodbye does not mean that we forget or let go of the good stuff. For me, it means that I cleanse myself of the bad, but hold onto the lessons and wonderful memories. It means that I carry all the good of them in my heart and use them to enrich the year ahead. And that is what I wish for you.

Jazz it Up

When you adopt a pet, it is a promise to keep them safe, healthy, happy and make sure they are loved. And also a promise to never let them suffer if they are sick. In return we are given pure, unconditional love and joy.

Yesterday I had to let go of Jazz who had lymphoma. He was a love-bug and always wanting to snuggle. He would raise his arms to be picked up, insist on snuggling at night, often sleeping on my head or right under my arm, and was always purring. I was honored to be his human for 10 years. I will miss him.

As the crazy cat lady, here are a bumch of pictures of my wonderful cat that I loved dearly.

The Exciting New

It comes every year, with parties and people, and resolutions, and new beginnings. It is the new year. And as I look out over rim of the past year, I feel my heart smiling. Indeed this year has been about building up, settling in, being present, and enjoying all of the everything that has come to fruition.

Indeed, there have been notes and letters, websites, contracts signed, and peoms scribbled across napkins and envelopes. There have been books read, and left open, meals cooked, eaten, and cleaned up, glasses of wine consumed and copious amounts of love made. And for the first times in so many years, there have been more smiles than tears, more laughter than frowns, and more hugs than I could count. There have been promises and proposals, trips, plans, drives, and adventures. And yet…

And yet I have a feeling that this next year will be even better. Because there is love, there is family, there is all that I have ever wanted and never knew existed right before me, begging to contain my heart. Because this year, we have worked hard and laid the foundation on which this next year, and many, many more to come, will be built. We have planned and discussed and are moving as one in our lives and goals.

And so for this reason, and this man and our lives together, I am ridiculously happy and perpetually excited to see what amazing advenutres we will have together.

Life is short. So raise a glass, have a tpast, and ring in the mew year, with all of its promise and mystery. This year can be whatever you want, whatever you make of it, because it’s a blank slate.

Some random shots of the year we leave behind as we bring hope to life for the new.

The Great Season

The holidays are a time of both wonderful and hard, with all of the hectic energy, parties, decorating and shopping. Since I have lost family members I am also acutely aware that it may also be hard for those who have lost loved ones, or those who are alone.

It is the slow week between Christmas and New Years when everyone is recovering from the hectic holiday season. And indeed this is one of my favorite weeks of the year. The quiet week of in between, as we wrap up the last in order to make room for the first part of the new. Everyone is settling in and resting up. It is the time for warm tea and hot coffee, fuzzy blankets and all that is comfort.

And as I reflect on the past years I have to smile and my heart is full. This year has been the wonderful everything. There has been much hard work, but it has been beyond worth it as we built the next chapters of our lives. We moved in, unpacked, made memories, discussed dreams, and are building the life and the story that we want.

And this Christmas was even more spectacular and joyful than any I have experienced in many years. The house and yard were almost decorated to the point of obnoxious, but not quite. The house had Christmas in every room, and the 2nd annual Christmas Tree Competition. There was hot chocolate, spiced apple cider and neighborhood festivities, parties, and most of all love. So much love as my in-laws came over and celebrated gifts, family, and a delicious Christmas dinner, – the fist my man and I hosted.

This life now is so different from what it once was, almost unrecognizable. Indeed I have a hard time believing this is the same life, my life, but on a different plane of existence. I think back to the holidays of the past, with my parents and sibling. We would drive to Mom and Dad’s place, spend time wrapping in warm blankets, visiting and catching up over hot coffee. Then stay up all night Christmas Eve wrapping gifts, laughing and drinking wine. How can that be the same life?

Indeed, it seems my life has been split in two – before and after. And it is hard to grasp all those memories of so many years ago, in places that no longer exist, with people who are no longer here. Indeed, thinking of my past holidays before my parents passed is like an out of body experience. And I wonder if everyone experiences such?

And maybe that is the things about life and love and the holidays and memories. That as we get older, and as families shrink, change, and grow again. how do we reconcile the life that we once had with that we have now? Or nary the two shall meet? Perhaps the latter, and perhaps that is why the sweet in the bitter still makes us smile, even as a tear dances on the rim of our eyes, never escaping down our cheeks? And maybe that is why pictures are worth a thousand words.

Life is short. So celebrate what you have, and what you had. There is room for both, as both continue to shape our lives and who we are.

Lit Up

It seems that after Thanksgiving and before Christmas is the busiest time of year for many people. Work, family, shopping, decorating, parties, and just a general rushing around before the lull after the new year keeps everyone extra busy. And my life is no exception. This year has been an wonderful mix of everything and the kitchen sink. But it has been glorious. I don’t think I have ever been so happy about being so tired and overwhelmed but so happy.

And that is the thing about this time of year, it is crazy, joyful. sad, overwhelming, hard, soft, and everything in between. As we get ready to let go of the old and ring in the new while holding down the fort, decorating the tree, and wrapping it all up, it’s easy to need a moment of quiet reflection to take it all in.

Work has been crazy with starting a new contract and wrapping another one up, and there have been very long hours, little sleep and dark circle under my eyes. But the work has been meaningful with a wide audience. And then there is all the decorating. My wonderful man loves Christmas and the more Christmas lights there are the better. We only had time to put the trees up last years because we moved in 2 weeks before Christmas. So this year we had to make up for lost time.

The yard is fully lit, as in we don’t even need to turn on the outside security lights. We could pull up a chair and read a book it is so bright. And it is beautiful. The inside is just as bright with the garland and lights up the staircase, down the banisters, along the hearth and on mantle. The decorations are everywhere, wreaths hung, and every trip to the store is a “oh, this would look good…”

But the best thing for me, is looking at my man’s face as he looks around at our home, and he smiles and lets out a contented sigh. “It feels like Christmas,” he says, beaming from ear to ear, unable to hide his child-like enthusiasm for the holiday season.

And so we launch into the social aspect. This past weekend was the neighborhood Sip,n Stroll, where houses set up tables of drinks for adults and children, along with snacks, music, as other neighbors have a chance to walk around, sipping and meeting your neighbors. It rained but that didn’t stop us or our festive visitors who came with coats and umbrellas, eager for some spiked apply cider and good conversation. It was glorious and fun. We were going to have a blow-up movie screen playing A Charlie Brown Christmas, but the wind lifted the screen up and sent it flying down the driveway, with me chasing it in the rain. Another time, on a still night, then.

Celebrations continued the next day with a Christmas party for friends that went from 1-11pm. Everyone was there to eat, drink, and be merry, as we opened gifts, laughed, and enjoyed being with good friends that are our chosen family. Indeed the event was full of surprises and an over abundance of love.

And that is the thing about being with someone who loves the holidays as much as you do – you get to have a great time, even when exhausted. Because you are making memories and creating a home. The truth is, the holidays are still a little hard for me after losing so much of my family. I still miss my parents and always will around this time of year. And that’s OK.

One of the things that I realized over the last few days is that in addition to loving my man very much, I am also very thankful for him and his family and friend oriented view of life and the holidays. I love the fact that he loves celebrating Christmas for all of his friends and family, and now we get to do it together. His has a life – giving way, meaning that he gives and loves with all he is and all he has, which is similar to myself. And when two givers get together, magic happens.

The holidays were hard the last few years of my parents life because they were so sick and I was the one who did and created the holiday magic for the family. And I always felt like I failed at it a bit because I wasn’t as good at it as Mom was. And I was creating from a deficit as Mom and Dad were so weak and siblings weren’t really interested beyond collecting gifts. It was exhausting to do myself, to bridge the deficient. After the family was gone. I created out of desperation. I didn’t want to be alone, so I invited everyone I could and tried to establish as many “new traditions” as possible since the old ones were gone. The thing is you really cannot create that way and you can’t force it either.

But now we are creating from a place of love, peace, and abundance, and it makes all of the difference. Everything is multiplied and nothing is forced. It’s all easy and flows from our hearts to those whom we love and back again. And that love, our love, lights up the sky, lights our hearts and lights our path as we make this life together. It lights our life and makes celebrating effortless. All the work is worth it. And maybe that is the secret of life and love, find someone who makes it all worth it, even when you are tired.

Life is short. Celebrate it. Decorate it. Share it. And make the most of it. Because we only get this one little life for a short time. Make it spectacular. Make it lit up.

The Untraditional Grateful

Thanksgiving is a very traditional holiday, filled with family, friends, and lots of the traditional foods. But this year was a very non traditional, at least for me. My family was extremely close growing up and the holidays were an especially happy time. Mom would start cooking days in advance, and all of our favorites would be on the menu. In addition to turkey and fixings, there were always yummies like cheese balls, sausage balls, Fantasy Fudge, the Burch family World Famous Cheesecake, pineapple upside-down cake…The list goes on and on.

I loved our Thanksgiving dinners. Afterwards we were all in a food coma, Dad napping and us girls chatting while sipping wine.

Since my parents have passed, it has been a mix of new and old traditions. Everything from Day before Turkey Day Tacos to driving to see family, to lots of food, and after dinner Zoom calls with loved ones. Last year it was last minute, as we had planned to go to Georgia to see my family, but had to cancel due to the house (finally!) closing the day before. It was Chinese food left overs, wine and lot’s of love at the table with my almost in-laws. This year we were planning to see my cousins, but they had their first grandchild born a few days before, so we made other plans.

We still went to Georgia, but we saw friends I had not seen since before moving to Texas. We were invited to eat with one of my best friends cousins whom I had not met before, but who welcomed us into their home with warm smiles, hot turkey, and cold drinks. Then back to my friends farm where we spent time catching up and feeding the animals. There was also time to see more friends in Atlanta, those who I had missed and had not been able to see for years.

And even as Thanksgiving will never be the same as when I was younger, and many of those traditions will not continue, there is plenty for which to thankful. There is plenty of joy. And that is the thing about life, we are constantly rebuilding, developing, and creating our lives. Just because the holidays will never be the same because loved ones are gone, doesn’t mean that we cannot still find the joy of the season. We just have to find new joy in our own time.

And that’s OK. Because our lives are ever-evolving brilliant works of art, a best selling novel with twists and turns even we don’t see coming. For me, I have found joy in celebrating with those I love and who love me, be it friends or family. And there are always things for which we can be grateful, if we look hard enough. Chances are we really don’t have to look that hard. And if you have lost a loved one, and don’t feel like celebrating, that’s OK too. Take time to cry and reflect. Take time to miss them. But know that they would not want you living in sadness and grief for an extended time. You can smile through tears and laugh through heartache. And eventually, you will feel joy again.

Life is short and so is the holiday season. So look around and find what makes you smile, what gives you joy, and pay attention to who you are with when your heart is full. Take lots of pictures and make the time to connect, because we never know what might happen in the year ahead. If you can’t do old traditions, do you best to make new ones, or participate in someone else’s traditions. Why not? Life is what you make it. So celebrate now and worry later.

The Crispy

Summer changing to fall and winter happens a little later in the year here in Texas The leaves start to have the slightest color of red or gold creeping across them, the nights go from being 89 to a nice 80, then eventually down to 75. And slowly the water in the pool goes from a nice 95 to 68 and COLD when you first get in. And the breeze starts to get just a little cooler. Even now in December, the highs are int he low 80S, the lows at night in the 60s, maybe low 70s.

The change might be undetectable to some, but I pick up on it immediately. And it is perfect. After a ridiculously hot summer that went from winter, to a week of Spring, to triple digits in May, the cooler temperatures are more than welcome. Even the plants in the gardens are responding to it being cooler – everything is growing. The garden is suddenly bursting with life that was simply scorched in the heat of the hot summer sun.

And to me this change in temperatures also signals a change in pave. A slow down where we can catch our breath a bit, Indeed, work has been fast and furious with many tight deadlines, long meetings and late night writing sessions. While I am so blessed to have a full plate of work during the recession, the start of the holidays has been a nice break from the hectic.

there have also been many home projects that have added to the chaos. Having plumbers out to prepare and connect the pool heater and generator, and inspectors to make sure everything is up to code. New HVAC systems and discovering a few leaky places in the roof, and having roofers diagnose the cause and cost of repairs and replacement. Getting a new water filter, softener and reverse osmosis system put in which came in handy during the boil water order. And let’s not forget the chimney inspector and the news that the chimney needs to be rebuilt for safety. All that in the same month.

So now I am ready for the longer nights of cozy weather, warm blankets, fuzzy socks, hot tea, Hallmark movies, and cuddles on the couch. I am ready for the slowdown and hibernation of the season, as the decorations go up, the lights some on and the AC goes off (eventually). I am ready for the crispy in the air and the bowls of chili and delicious creamy soups.

As good and blessed as this Summer has been, I am ready for all the Fall and Winter brings and all the wonder that they hold. The Christmas lights and decorations are already almost complete, Christmas shopping is all done and life is good.

Life is short, so enjoy each season as it comes. They all have something wonderful to offer, and I am looking forward to the slowdown from all the hustle and bustle of the summer and the Crispy of this winter.

Stay For a While

It’s been a minute since my last post. Somehow life gets busy with everything, then everything in between. And I have found myself my often this passed 6 weeks or so with so many ideas of what to write, but too busy or tired to take the thoughts down. I hate when that happens. Writing for me is such a natural form of expression – a joyful noise, silently existing on the page, waiting to be read in the colorful descriptions of black and white words.

And yet in the crazy business of work deadlines, searching for and obtaining new clients and contracts, neighborhood social gatherings, and endless home projects, I am exhausted and tired of looking at the screen all day to even think about a post. It’s on those days that sinking into the couch, watching tv, or curling up in bed with my man and the cats is the most wonderful thing in the world.

And so my mind wanders to the idea of balance. Indeed, working, exercising, reading, staying hydrated, completing the ever growing To Do list, travel, keeping in touch with friends, and trying to catch my breath…can all seem impossible at times because where is the time to do it all?

And there en-lies the question that begs for an answer. And the truth is, I don’t know. It seems that something has to give sometimes, because we simply cannot do it all. And maybe that is the answer, simply knowing and understanding that it will never all get done. Because our lives are a constant work of art in progress. So maybe the secret is the counterintuitive and to just slow down. If we can’t get it all done, then why not slow down enough to breath, and enjoy?

Maybe the key to balance is accepting the TO DO list will never be done, because we have a new task for each one that is crossed off. And that’s ok. Why are we in such a rush then? We are only competing against ourselves.

Life is short, too short to stress out, overwhelmed by everything. Breathe, take a few steps back and play as hard as ypu work. You’ll be glad you did.

Authentic Imperfections

Something I wrote a few years ago

Merriam-Webster defines authenticity as real or genuine, not copied or false, true and accurate And this is one of the many things for which I am thankful. In life we hear the term “authentic” thrown around a lot. But even with the definition, what exactly does it mean in life?

To me it applies to the kind of people I have in my life and how I want to be myself and with others. It means that nothing and no one in my life is fake. No one is pretending. The older I get the more important this is for me. When I was younger, I am not sure if I didn’t notice it is as much or if it has just gotten worse and more widespread with social media. Indeed, it is easier now than ever to pretend to be something you are not.

If you are depressed, you can slap a few pictures up on Facebook and voila! You and happy and life is perfect. Put a filter on a selfie, and suddenly you look better than you do even on your best days. I refuse to use filters. Don’t get me wrong, I am a very vain woman, and I am acutely aware of my flaws. But to cover them up completely and make myself unrecognizable for the sport of it. No thanks. Our flaws are what make us our most beautiful and out most human.

Truth be told, I want people who flawed in my life. I want the authenticity of imperfection, of vulnerability. Why? Because I am light years away from being perfect. I am clumsy and can fall, trip, stumble, fumble or spill at the drop of a hat. Most of the time it is funny, sometimes embarrassing and most of the time needs up in laughter. Well, at least it is not boring. I love when someone is authentic and imperfect around me. When they are vulnerable and admit some silly thing about themselves. IT makes them relatable and human. Because we are all acutely aware of our flaws. And it is nice to not have to hide them for acceptance.

I want to know when the people in my life and having a hard day, or are lonely, or are scared or are depressed and why. I want to know when they are sleepy and what kept them up? Was it a hot night? Or was is worry? Because we are all in this together, so I want to celebrate the good and be there in the bad. That is what makes life, life. And that is what keeps it from getting so lonely.

I have also long said that those who are fake will hurt you more than those who are authentic. Why? Nothing is wrong with sparing someone’s feelings, but to lie about intentions, motives, outcomes, or facts? Who has time that? It causes more drama than it is worth. People who live like that are manipulative and usually have their own agenda. My agenda? TO be the best person I can be today, hopefully better than yesterday and to be kind to my fellow humans. There are a few other things, like win an Oscar, travel the world, etc. but you get the picture.

Don’t hide that from me, your authenticity and vulnerability. Let’s laugh, cry, win and lose together. Because we are all broken in our own beautiful and magnificent ways. Our imperfections and cracks are where the light comes in and shines to highlight our many facets…throwing off brilliant colors of light. We are the prisms of life. So, let’s shine authentically, beautifully, brilliantly, and let our imperfections be the beacon of others who are trying to be authentic too.

The Happy Bliss

Sometimes in life we get to a place where we are so happy, and so fully living in the moment, that we have no choice but to drink it all in, every moment, every second. And this is my current position. Life is bliss.

And there is a happiness to all of the busy that I am. And even when exhausted, after a busy day of working and goal setting and reaching, there is such a level on contentment that has never existed until now.

Life is short, so let it be blissful. Stay tuned.

The Other Side of the Tracks

There are always two sides to every coin, and two sides to every set of tracks. And this past weekend was a prime example. And on the other side of the tracks, away from the bullies, we hosted a wonderful dinner party with amazing neighbors that are fast becoming friends.

Part of making a house a home are the memories you make there. We want a house full of good times with friends and family. We want our house to feel warm and welcome to those who enter, so that they feel relaxed and at ease. We want conversations by the fire, drinks on the patio, and smiles all around as we build ties that bind.

It makes a big difference when you know your neighbors and when you don’t. I’ve lived in both, and the former is much better than the latter. And in an increasingly digital world, many don’t talk to their neighbors, which is a shame because your area can be your community. I think the best way to fight loneliness, which is especially a problem in the senior community, is to know those close to where you live. Your neighbors are part of your world, they are the ones who can help out in a pinch or check on pets when you are out of town. they ae the ones who can offer support when you need it and have wine with you as children play together. My last neighborhood was like that and they are still some of my best friends even though I moved. And I am lucky enough to have built relationships like most everywhere I have lived. Indeed, some of my best friends over the last 20 years have been my neighbors.

Our new ‘hood has a dinner groups, where everyone is assigned a group and takes turns hosting. It’s a great way to get to know those in the subdivision and have some delicious food. Each one we have attended has been fantastic and this past dinner was our turn to host.

And so my man and I spent a few week getting the house ready, as we are still decorating and deciding how we want our home to be, look, and feel. I took care of the house, my man took care of the food and garden. It was a flurry of activity as we excitedly checked things off our to do lists. In the end we didn’t get everything done but it didn’t matter. We make a great team together and it showed.

Our guests showed up one by one, for cocktail and hors d’oeuvres out back. The weather was beautiful, the company great, and the conversation interesting. We are blessed to have such a great mix of people in age age and interests. It is a joy getting to know them. It is a joy to live where people are so friendly and eager to learn more about each other.

The people of Houston constantly impress me with their kindness and hospitality. I have only been here a little over two years and in the neighborhood 10 months, but I know that I am home. I realized, as I looked at my guests in that moment, that this is a space where memories will be made and a life full of wonderful will be lived. I am truly excited and I have everything for which I have prayed and my life is full. I am beyond happy here, I am blissful.

Life is short. Soak up every minute, be thankful for it, even for the not so shiny parts. It’s all part of building an amazing full, well-lived life.

Neighborhood Bullies

“I realized that bullying never has to do with you. It’s the bully who’s insecure.” – Shay Mitchell, Canadian actress, model, entrepreneur and author. 

“Bullying is so common that it’s viewed as almost ‘normal,’ but it should never be.” – Choi Si-won, UNICEF regional ambassador for East Asia, actor, and singer

“You can’t be against bullying without actually doing something about it.” – Randi Weingarten, American labor leader, attorney, and educator. 

I think bullying n general is for cowards. – Eddie Alvarez, American mixed martial artist Lightweight Division One Champion

These days it seems that every group has bullies, which is something I will never understand. And it seems especially prevalent with women. There always seems to be a group of nasty “mean girls” who take pleasure in knit picking and making sure everyone one else is miserable. They love to be catty and cause drama, Those people get on my last nerve. And I don’t play well with bullies because I can’t stand them.

Unfortunately our wonderful neighborhood has these bullies as well, who showed there asses over the weekend. Anytime someone makes comments that they disagree with, these rabid hyenas pounce, aggressively dominating the conversation and gaslight anyone dares challenge them. They will be nasty then criticize others for responding. I don’t cotton to that well.

There have been small discussions on our group neighborhood chats over the last few months when they jumped on innocent comments like being willing to donate to certain neighborhood funds, or just anything in general. I really can’t find a pattern. I am new to the hood and they smell fresh blood, so they better establish their dominance with me and make sure I fall into line. Except I don’t. And I didn’t.

Our neighborhood is fighting off three apartment complexes that developers are building because we don’t have the infrastructure to support the increase in population. These developers are not paying any taxes either, so there is no money being put in for the needed infrastructure improvements. About 97% of our neighbors agree to fight these developers, the remaining 3% are the bullies. Unprovoked, they started bullying everyone about how fighting the apartments was not the right thing to do because it would make no difference and more people in the area would mean better stores for their shopping. I, along with a few others disagreed, and boy did they get ugly insisting that they were right. The main girl was so bad, even one of her own was actually brave enough to suggest that “maybe she was coming across a bit aggressively.”

But the real ugliness didn’t start until the next morning, when I relayed their view points to others who did not understand the hold up on certain efforts concerning them. Wow, you would have thought I accused them of murder. I didn’t share their view points maliciously, just as a matter of fact since all of them were so adamant and the discussion was out in the open on that channel. The bullies didn’t like at all because apparently they have been misrepresenting a few things. The result? Many attacks against me, them calling me names, and being kicked out of a social media group the main bully runs because I didn’t back down (I’ll try to overcome my tears of dismay). And more than a hundred messages of support from other ladies in the neighborhood who had been also bullied by them.

So why do people, especially women, bully others? I honestly don’t know. Maybe it is insecurity, maybe it is a controlling nature, maybe they have been bullied on their own lives. Or maybe they are just low evolved, petty bitches with nothing better to do. What I do know is that they create toxic environments where no one but other bullies can survive, unless you are extremely quiet and have no back bone, none of which apply to me. I am a very live and let live, mind-my-own-business type of person. And I’ll will help anyone in need. But try to bully me…and you get what you get.

Life is too short to deal with or tolerate bullies. Don’t seek them out, but don’t allow yourself to become their victim either. It will cause some unrest and some loss of friends, but that’s OK. Trust me. Some short term strife caused by standing up for yourself against bullies and getting them away from you will actually make things more peaceful in the long run. And trust me, once they find out they can’t run over you, they will extract themselves from your life. In that respect the trash will take itself out. And you can get on with the businesses of having a fabulous life.

The Best Day

Rarely are there days that measure up to the fantasy in life, and if we are lucky, we get a few of those. And indeed, this day surpassed anything that I had imagined. And I had to savor it for a while, enjoy the wonderful splendid before sharing,

The trip was planned for months and we were both excited. We were going with great friends and my man’s God daughter up into the Colorado mountains for day hikes and good unplugged quality time spent together. A beautiful cabin where we could see the stars, hear the crickets, and enjoy the clean fresh air. We would cook, laugh, drink, hike, and have a great time. It was beautiful. The day before we left was a flurry of activity getting everything ready and packed. And then the morning of the trip, I only forgot one thing as we headed to the airport – my make up bag. But we were going hiking in the mountains, I wouldn’t need make up anyway…

The best day started out like any other – coffee in my PJs, but with the added benefit of siting out on the deck enjoying the crisp mountain air. Then it was time to get ready for our first hike. I was a little nervous as I haven’t been hiking at that elevation in a long time.

The start of the hike was good, but hot and I was sweating. The young girl who was with us had never been hiking or at that elevation, so I was thankful when she wanted to stop quite often to rest, because then I didn’t have to ask. As we hiked up toward the middle of the mountain it got cooler and soon I got a chill. My man and his best friend noticed that the clouds were gathering in the distance and it looked like rain, a lot of rain. At first they thought the weather wasn’t moving fast enough to get us, but they soon changed their minds as we picked up pace to the top of the mountain.

At first it was just a few sprinkles, then a few more and increased until it was a good rain storm. I was thankful that I had my raincoat and put it on as we headed up toward the peak. And then I felt several small hits on my head through the rain coat and looked to the ground…Hail? Was it actually Hailing? Yes it was. The last track to the top was a sprint as we all headed towards a hiking shelter. The five of us, soaking wet, got in laughing and happy for the structure, complete with benches, tables, nap space, and a primitive bathroom. We ate lunch and rested as we waited out the storm.

When the rain cleared it was time to walk around outside and explore the views. Our friends asked me to check on my man who was sitting up on a rock, while they looked around a bit. As I slid beside him and asked how he was, he answered that he was good, and was just thinking about what a long journey it had been. Me, not thinking anything of it, responded with something like, “Yes, but the rain and hail didn’t last long and look at this beautiful view!” I was about to find out how wrong and clueless I was.

He smiled, let go of my hand, stood up, turned around, and then dropped to one knee. He was almost halfway though before I actually realized what was going on. And in that moment, the whole world stood still.

“I love you. Will you marry me?”

I was shocked and had no idea he was planning to ask that day. I started crying and I wanted nothing more than that moment to l last…I took a deep breath and said…”Maybe,” and smiled ear to ear. And then burst into tears and said “YES!”

And that was the best day. A day that I was reminded of all my prayers that were answered when this man and I found each other. A day that will forever make me smile and ever so thankful that such a wonderful man loves me . And how blessed were are that we have a love, deep in faith, that will last.

US

An on the humorous side of fantasy versus reality, when a woman thinks about the moment the love of her life proposes, she automatically assumes she will look good – hair and make up done, and wearing a great outfit. In the reality of the moment…I forgot to pack my makeup so wasn’t wearing any for the trip. My hair was pulled back in a common pony tail, and a but frizzed from all of the rain and hail. I was wearing wet hiking clothes and I looked like a confused squirrel. And it made no difference. In that moment, I felt like the most beautiful woman in the world. And I am the luckiest and most blessed woman in the world to have this man by my side, in love.

Slience Repost

I wrote this 6 years ago about grief and my mother’s death. I hope it helps all those who have lost…

In the silence of your absence
I am acutely aware of the space
Between the raindrops
And the heartbeats of each minute

I have deep knowledge of
The distance a whisper
Can travel in a quick breath
On the thick summer air

In the silence of your absence
I have felt, with keen understanding,
The depth of love and pain
And loss and hope

I have heard and follow
The cries of the doves
And the joy of the butterflies
As their wings work their magic

In the silence of your absence
Though deafening as it may be,
I comprehend the bittersweet
Celebration of all the love you left behind.

In the silence of your absence
I recognize you calling, hear your voice
In the songs of the hummingbirds
As the silence is broken.

Ada Burch
9/13/2016

Ada Burch
9/13/2016

The 86th

Happy bithday Daddy. You would be 86 today. It’s still hard not having you here, not buying you socks, not hugging you, singing happy birthday. It is still strange to do other things today, or this weekend, that is not your birthday. This day, this weekend was always reaerved for tou.

Yes here I am, having a wonderful time with wonderful friends without you. And as wonderful as it is…I nevwr want to forget to take time to recognize this day.

So I hope you are having a greatbday today. I hope you are with Mom and everyone you love. And I hope you know how much I loce and miss you.

Adventures and Balance

“One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure.” – William feather

Sometimes you have to step away from the desk and saddle up for an adventure. We all need to play as hard as we work, and we all need some adventure to remind us that we are alive, that there is life beyond our daily grind at our desks and Zoom calls. And so the Human Spirit calls for exploration.

I have long said that one must always remain curious about life and the world around us. As a write, it is my inquisitive nature that leads to many adventures. I am constantly looking to see what is in this room or around that corner. I just want to see. And there is where we find the magic.

This past weekend it was another visit to New Orleans to see friends from Belize. A quick trip to see them, see new things, and try new food. A quick trip to remind us that there is more to life than work and planning. The recent loss of friends has made me even more aware of this fact. The term work hard, play hard has taken on new meaning. There are things to accomplish, for which I am working extremely hard, but there must also be balance to be healthy. And I think that is one of the biggest secrets to happiness – balance. Something for which I strive but often come up short. Which is one reason I think that I haven’t been writing much as of late, which hopefully will change now that there is ore balance, more fun and more hard play to balance the level of work.

Life is short. And balance is key to insuring we keep our curiosity and sense of play in tact.

Follow the Research

I’ve been writing and researching stories for over 20 years, and in that time I have gotten pretty good at researching the truth and finding facts that have long since alluded others. No matter who you are, you have a trail and unless you live off the grid, no matter how careful you are, you have associates and connections. Fifteen years in broadcast news and broadcasting taught the value of good research and asking questions. What if…is always my best start to an inquisitive nature. And often those who are the most uncomfortable are those who have something to lose with the truth.

Everyone has a story to tell, whether they want to tell it or not. And if you look closely at the cracks, in between the this and that, lining up the stitches and connecting the dots – you can find it. But it’s also more than that. It’s talking to people, paying attention, listening to what they say – and don’t say – and reading body language. Everyone has tells. And if you look close, you can find them.

Some people are offended at being underestimated or considered a bit flakey. But not me. I love it. Because then people put their guard down. Really, why would you need tp protect yourself against someone you think is harmless?

And so in back rooms with dirty handshakes on secret deals, looking the other way, and even getting upset at innocent questions in neighborhood meetings, the tells tell the tales of the liars holding their breath before those thoughts can escape through their lips.

Research pulls it all together like breadcrumbs leading the way through a complex labyrinth of mirrors. All you have to do is … follow it….

Live life Out Loud

A good friend had this as one of his tag lines for his company, and I always always loved it. But what does it mean? Well, I think the definition can vary depending on the individual, but for me it simply means to live your life honestly, in full throttle, and with integrity. To be authentic, and to go after what you want honestly. And do it with 100% of your soul. Simply put – don’t half-ass life.

But let’s break it down even further. You cannot get what you want if you are not willing to be honest about whatever that is. And go after it unapologetically, with passion and fire. Because we only have this one life and today is not a dress rehearsal. There are no do overs, so while you do not have to do everything perfectly, you should do your best because you may not get another chance to travel that road.

And whatever you do, have the discipline to be dedicated. If you want to travel, travel and enjoy every moment. Balance that out with quiet nights on the couch, snuggling with the one you love. Be present and not distracted. Laugh with your whole body, love with your whole heart, have fun, be loud sometimes, be quiet, but give yourself completely to the mystery, the adventure, the magic of this life.

But the most important thing, I think, is to be honest and have integrity. There are so many who keep secrets, or to try to run a parallel life. And I don’t understand that mentality, because it takes so much energy to run that many secrets and keep all of the lies straight. My memory is not good enough and surely it would lead to a lot of stress. Think of the wonderful things that could be done with all of that energy?

And what happens to all of those secrets when they die, if they pass away before it’s all sorted? Loved ones are left shocked and further traumatized by learning things that they didn’t know. And it makes you doubt who that person was to you, to their life, to your life, makes you doubt everything they ever said to you, makes you wonder what else you don’t know, and can even make you suspicious of other people. It is a terrible legacy to leave behind. I’ve know people that found out about siblings, spouses, property, tax issues, houses, cars, bank accounts, businesses. And it’s beyond unfair because those left behind have no way to question or confront their loved one. That leaves a mark. And if you are going to have an impact on the lives of others, it should be a positive one.

We have all done things for which we are not proud and all of us have chapters in our lives we would rather read alone. We all have things we keep to ourselves. But there are normal things, and then things that hurt others. And if we live our lives out loud, honestly, authentically, and with integrity, we will hurt a lot less people.

I also think that living out loud means celebrating who you are – faults, scars, and all. It is our faults that make us our most human, and it is our scars that make us our most beautiful. I once had someone tell me that they hated getting older, they hated how their body looked at it aged and how it felt. I told him that yes, getting old is hard, but it is a privilege denied to many. So while we may not like getting older, there is nothing we can do about it, so we might as well make peace with it and celebrate it. Yes, celebrate that wrinkle or that bum that is drooping with gravity. Why not? It is better than the alternative, and hating it isn’t going to stop it. Even having a aging body is a gift, because so many never get the chance to grow old. So celebrate it, out loud.

Life is short, so live it out loud. Laugh, run, play, work, love. Do all of it, and celebrate all of it. Because you are here, we are here, and that is is gift. So even if life isn’t perfect, and it rarely is, that’s OK. It doesn’t have to be perfect to celebrate it, love it, live, and be happy with it. It doesn’t have to be perfect, we don’t have to be perfect, to live life out loud.

Great Consciousness of Life

I hope it is true that a man can die and yet not only live in others but give them life, and not only life, but that great consciousness of life. – Jack Kerouac

It is always shocking when a close friend passes away, especially when it is sudden. And Thursday I received a message that no one wants to get, or give – a good friend was gone. He passed peacefully in his sleep after a short trip. And I immediately felt gutted at the news.

I had just seen him, a month before. He owned a local bourbon distillery and tasting room where I loved to visit to catch up. I almost text messaged him that night, to say hello and see how he was doing, but I was tired and got distracted. I wish now I had sent that text, even if would have not been answered. He always had something interesting to say and I often messaged him to talk about politics or the state of the world. He was kind, funny and a gentle soul. He was artistic and creative and just one of my favorite people.

We met through a mutual friend 12 years ago in Atlanta when he owned an art gallery, and I asked asked him to paint a picture of my parents for their anniversary. He had me take pictures of them, then he chose his favorite one to paint from. To say my parents loved their portrait would be an understatement. It soon became one of their most treasured things, and it became a family heirloom after they passed away.

We talked often about a variety of things. He often talked to me about grief after losing his father, knowing I had lost both of my parents. We talked about cancer after he was diagnosed. We talked about whiskey and he sometimes listened to my suggestions on things to do with his tasting room. He was an amazingly talented artist, and many have posted his paintings. It is a delight to see so many things that he did.

I will miss him, my dear friend. It seems strange that he is no longer with us. It seems strange that I will never again go to the tasting room to say hello and catch up over one of his custom drinks. It seems strange that we will never again have conversations about politics, books, history, or random things.

I am glad that I saw him when I did and that I hugged him tightly before I left. I am glad that I told him I had missed him, and that it was so good to see him again. I am glad for that one last visit, which was such a gift.

And it has reminded me to never take for granted that your friends and family will always be around. Hug your loved ones, tell them you love them. Call your friends, catch up with them and be not distracted with phones and technology. Be present with them.

Life is short – too short sometimes. And I have been reminded once again to live life out loud and full throttle. I was blessed to know him and call him friend. And we should all be so lucky to pass peacefully in our sleep. Thank you for your friendship, the laughter, the conversations, the painting and more. Rest in peace my dear friend.

A Michael Leidel original:

I Hope You are Well

Someone posted on Linkedin that with all that is going on in the world, they feel disingenuous starting a message with “I hope you are well.” This was my response:

I don’t think it is disingenuous at all. Is it not kind to hope that someone is doing well? Can we not still be happy? Can we not still have gratitude for our lives? Can we not still appreciate the little things, which in my opinion, are even more important to pay attention to right now? Are we not allowed to celebrate milestones and things that make us smile? … I hope you are well. I hope you find something, no matter how small, that makes you smile every day. I hope you have a life that fills you with gratitude, because no matter how bad it is, someone somewhere always has it worse. And I hope that there are so many things in your life that make you smile, make you happy, and make you celebrate, that you go to bed every night with a thankful heart. And I hope that these things, these wonderful things that add so much depth and breadth to your life, also expand your capacity to feel empathy and compassion for others. And that is what I mean when I say “I hope you are well.” And I really do.

Honor Thy Mother

Hi Mom, It’s been six years since you passed away, and I still miss you every day. There are still so many times I think about calling you, when I have good news, or just have a slow moment in the day. I will never stop missing you, because it will never feel normal for you to be gone.

And thank you for my sign today. When I asked you to make it personal, and a sign that could only be from from you, you delivered. But I am not surpised, you were magic when you were here, of course you are even more so in the afterlife with God.

This is the first year where I am not completely gutted about today. Probably because I am so happy. You wouldn’t recognize my life now, or maybe you would. You know how much I wanted to leave GA, even when I tried to keep it from you. I know you would have encouraged me to go find where I want to be. Texas. Oh, and how you would love it here. You would love the people.

We live in such a wonderful home, in a great neighborhood we love as well. And you would LOVE him. He is everything I ever wanted and everything I never knew I needed. And he is so patient with me. He is teaching me Grace by example. I am beyond blessed to have him. I can just see you guys debating history, politics, scientic theories and books.

I can’t help but think that your brain just withered being out so far in the sticks with no one to really talk to, no one to challenge that ever so active and brilliantt mind of yours. I know why you moved out there, and I know you made a beautiful home, but I know you missed being busy and around people with whom you could truly relate. You were always reading and watching TV shows about political and business strategies.

It’s been a good day and I have tried to honor you by being happy and getting tbings done. You would think it’s so silly to sit amd be depressed or long faced about it. So I have listened to my favorite muaic all the way up, and sand as loud as I could. I danced around a bit in the house even. I ate one of you favorite meals, and enjoyed every bite, then had one of your favorite treats. I looked at pictures of you and thought of my favorite memories. And I remembered this day 6 years ago…

It was my honor to be there and hold your hand while you slipped from this world to touch the face of God as He held you in His hands. It was the most difficult and most beautiful moment, to be there with you, the woman who gave me life, as you took your last breathe. Thank you for that honor.

I took these pictures on July 13, 2015, and you died exactly 12 months to the day theynwwre taken. And I remember looking out at the horizen as the sun was setting in the distance, wondering if you would live another year. You held on as long as you could. You are like the sun, always there to greet me around the next corner, reaching out your arms in infinate love. Love radiated from you like light from the sun…

I love you always and will miss you forever. Say hello to Dad, and please visit me in my dreams. ❤

Push Yourself

I did not write this but read it this morning. And to me, these are wonderful goals. Too many times we rush around, placing ourselves last on the to-do and forget to take care of ourselves. Written by Emma Elsworthy, enjoy!

Push yourself to get up before the rest of the world – start with 7am, then 6am, then 5:30am. go to the nearest hill with a big coat and a scarf and watch the sun rise.

Push yourself to fall asleep earlier – start with 11pm, then 10pm, then 9pm. wake up in the morning feeling re-energized and comfortable. lie in your garden, feel the sunshine on your skin.

Get into the habit of cooking yourself a beautiful breakfast. Fry tomatoes and mushrooms in real butter and garlic, fry an egg, slice up a fresh avocado and squirt way too much lemon on it. Sit and eat it and do nothing else.

stretch. start by reaching for the sky as hard as you can, then trying to touch your toes. roll your head. stretch your fingers. stretch everything.

buy a 1L water bottle. start with pushing yourself to drink the whole thing in a day, then try drinking it twice.

buy a beautiful diary and a beautiful black pen. write down everything you do, including dinner dates, appointments, assignments, coffees, what you need to do that day. no detail is too small.

strip your bed of your sheets and empty your underwear draw into the washing machine. wash, then hang them in the sunshine with care. make your bed in full.

dig your fingers into the earth, plant a seed. see your success as it grows everyday.

organise your room. fold all your clothes (and bag what you don’t want), clean your mirror, your laptop, vacuum the floor. light a beautiful candle.

breathe. practice your deep breathing. ground yourself.

have a luxurious shower with your favourite music playing. wash your hair, scrub your body, brush your teeth. lather your whole body in moisturiser, get familiar with the part between your toes, your inner thighs, the back of your neck.

push yourself to go for a walk. take your headphones, go to the beach and walk. smile at strangers walking the other way and be surprised how many smile back. bring your dog and observe the dog’s behaviour. realise you can learn from your dog.

message old friends with personal jokes. reminisce. suggest a catch up soon, even if you don’t follow through. push yourself to follow through.

think long and hard about what interests you. crime? sex? boarding school? long-forgotten romance etiquette? find a book about it and read it. there is a book about literally everything.

become the person you would ideally fall in love with. let cars merge into your lane when driving. pay double for parking tickets and leave a second one in the machine. stick your tongue out at babies. help an animal. compliment people on their cute clothes. challenge yourself to not ridicule anyone for a whole day. then two. then a week. walk with a straight posture. look people in the eye. ask people about their story. talk to acquaintances so they become friends.

lie in the sunshine. daydream about the life you would lead if failure wasn’t a thing. open your eyes.

take small steps to make it happen for you…”

Author: Emma Elsworthy

Dis Obedience

I have been reading a story from Humans of New York, the latest story about a woman who was expected to be a submissive wife to her mentally and physically abusive husband. She finally escaped to start a new life, and she is now telling her story. And I wonder how many other women have been through similar? Many.

And I think that is why it has taken me so long to find the love of my life, because I have never been submissive, or subservient, or controllable. I was raise by a strong feisty woman to be a strong feisty woman. But strong women like that are not appreciated and we make many enemies. I have been told by so many men that I needed to me “tamed,” so I would do what they wanted. Or they would just come in and try to tell me what to do with my life, what they wanted me to do how how they thought I should do it. I didn’t listen. It is my temperament to do exactly the opposite. It is my temperament to instead be rebellious.

As you can imagine, this hasn’t always won me the most fans. And there have been plenty who didn’t like it and offered sharp criticism. Everyone from boyfriends, to friends, to bosses even. But that’s OK. A strong women doesn’t care what others think because she won’t need anyone’s approval. I’ll let you in on a secret – no one’s opinion pays the mortgage, so I know where to tell them to stick it.

An ex I lived with tried to control me and break the strong-willed disobedience out of me for 3 years. He didn’t succeed. He did get an assortment of shoes thrown at him. Another man actually beat me to get me to “obey.” That didn’t work either and he ended up being slapped with a lifetime restraining order among other things. In an effort to break me down and control me, my last ex criticized me, called me dumb and said that my writing was stupid. He said I could never be as smart as he was as a healthcare manager. I now make more than he does with my “stupid writing” while he works at some tiny hospital in the middle of nowhere.

I have been accused of being controlling because I don’t want to be controlled. I have been accused of wanting someone take care of me, because I would not bend to their will (I take care of myself, thankyouverymuch). I have only depended on a man once, who used his money as a weapon of control. After that I vowed I would never be in that position again and would always have my own money. And I have. Again, the whole rebellious thing.

Others have said that I cannot do anything right and am crazy for trying to be a writer, saying needed to settle down and be realistic. One “friend” criticized me and called me tempestuous, adding that if I would just do as I was told my life would be much easier. One manager, after I caught him lying, mismanaging, and blaming others for his mistakes, told me that I was stupid and he was going to make me take an IQ test. I now make more than he does too (And he recently visited this blog). Why would they criticize my passion and feisty nature? Who knows. Some are jealous, some feel threatened, some are those who will try to break others down to feel better about themselves. Why doesn’t really matter, because there is no reason to stick around long enough to care. Whatever it is, it’s their problem. Again, the rebellious nature of caring more about your own self worth than putting stock in the opinions of others.

It is this same rebellious nature that has made me successful in writing. The fact that I don’t care what anyone thinks or says of me. It is this same nature that has made me succeed when everyone said I couldn’t and wouldn’t. And it is this same nature that finally led me to that man, the partner I had prayed for for so many years.

So if you are rebellious, independent, and strong, you will get a lot of hate and animosity thrown at you. And some of it will hurt, because some of it will be from people about whom you you care and thought were on your side. It’s easy to say that you should ignore them and move on, but it will sting first. It will not be easy, but it will be worth it. Because when you look back, you will see this amazing life that you have built on your terms, without compromising yourself or your values. and it’s ok if you start out small at first. If you build up your confidence little by little. Rome wasn’t build in a day, neither was the Eiffel Tower, and neither is a different life. It’s Ok to take your time. Be patient with yourself, because at least you are trying, and many don’t even do that.

And what about love? That is one of the hardest things, because most men do not appreciate a strong outspoken women and don’t know what do with them.

Indeed, it takes a strong man to know how to handle a strong woman. The man I am with now is amazing. He doesn’t try to control me, and he doesn’t allow me to control him either. And more importantly, he understands that I do not want to control anything or anyone, I simply want to work together to make a life. He gently helps me channel my energy into accomplishing our goals. He challenges me to do better every single day, not by telling me what to do, but by simply trying every day to be a better man himself. He leads by example, not by force or control. He inspired me every day, and every day I love him more because he accepts me as I am. You may think you will never find him, a man like that, but you will. He is out there, I promise. Don’t compromise or settle, no matter how lonely it gets or how discouraged you become.

So ladies, be strong, be feisty, be tempestuous. Don’t worry about the criticism you will receive, or about those whose friendships you lose. You don’t need them, you need people who are strong enough to handle your strength by being strong with you. You do not need anyone’s permission to forge your own path. It will be a lonely path at times, maybe even dark in a few spots, but you will come out just fine. Because you breathe fire. Enough to light your own path and scare away those who would do you harm.

Life is short, too short to be controlled. Don’t listen to the naysayers or care about those who no longer have your best interest in mind. Let go, carry on, and succeed brilliantly so dreams fall like rain.

You Can You Will

A few emails have landed in my inbox from readers who are going through a bad time. And these eails have me thinking. When you are going through the thick of it. the bad times, it just seems overwhelming. Especially grief. It is as if you are moving through mud and everything takes effort, even sometimes just breathing. But that is when you have to work the hardest. You have to concentrate on life, and making a decision to be happier that day, a nd every day afterwards. Oh, it is hard at first, but it is worth it. And at first it may not seem like the needle is moving at all…but keep doing it because it has to build enough momentum or get you unstuck.

There are some people though who like being miserable and they will stay right where they are at, because it is comfortable and gets them sympathy. Don’t be one of those people, because eventually the sympathy will run thin and they will find themselves alone. And you cannot help those kids of people either. So don’t waste your time. Time is precious and finite. IF you help others, make sure that you help those who will actually make the necessary changes.

In this day and age of high gas prices, inflation, Covid, Monkeypox and ridiculous grocery bills, how can we find the strength to get up and be happy even when we are at our worst? I don’t know exactly, but I can tell you what worked for me. And you have to go really deep, down where the soul meets the heart, and things get quiet in at night in the dark. That place where you can hear your own breathing. And you have to make a decision to get out of whatever situation you have found yourself – a bad job, career, relationship, marriage, whatever.

You get up every day, take a deep breath, and pay. Then, you take another deep breath and decide that today will be better than yesterday, even if it’s just by a little. And you work at it, even when you are tired, even when you are discouraged, even when you think you can’t, you make an excuse to work on it anyway. And you take baby steps. And one day, when you look back you will se that you have traveled miles because those baby steps add up to a great journey, they journey that is your life and your story. And when you have gathered the strength, you leave, you change, you do whatever you need to do to get out of what is making you unhappy and you leave.

You must be patient with yourself, because it may not happen over might. Or maybe it will. I woke up one morning and decided to move to Texas anyway, regardless of what anyone did, thought, or said. And it was the best decision I made in my life. But before that morning, there were a hundred days or getting to that point, of dealing with family, death, bad people and my own unhappiness. But I did it. And you can too.

Life is short. And precious. And you cannot afford to waste time were you are not happy, where you are not loved, where you are not thriving. You can change at any time, it’s neve too late. You are the writer of your own epic novel of your life. You decide what adventures you have and what chances you take. Forgive yourself and move on to the next happier chapter, even if it takes several chapters to get there. If I can do it. so can you. 🙂

Picture Perfect

The days are good and the nights are warm. Life has settled into a good rhythm with fulfillment at the helm. Our goals are coming to fruition, and everyday we wake up thankful that we are together and working to build this, our wonderful life.

This is the love I have waited to find, and I pinch myself every day because I can’t believe this is my life. We thrive and thrill on seeing each other happy. I love working in the garden, but he loves it even more. And when I see him, planning and planting, watering and caring for the things growing, and I see the amount of joy it gives him, my joy multiplies ten fold. That is just one example. When two givers get together it is truly magical. I have always found takers who took advantage. But two givers truly thrive on the joy of their partner and it is magnificent.

And my mind wonders back a few years, when I was still in Georgia. I was heartbroken with grief over the loss of my parents and siblings, and in a horrible relationship with an emotionally abusive and manipulative alcoholic. I picked up what was left my heart and moved 1,000 miles away to start a new life, my life, on my terms. I wanted to be where there were no bad memories of death or loss. And I knew, I prayed, that I would find my heart. And indeed I did.

And now here I am, with the love of my life, living my best fabulous life. So no matter where you are, or what you have been through, or what you are going through, there is a better life waiting for you. You just have to pack up and go get it. And you can. Because what you seek is seeking you.

Don’t listen to the anxiety and those people or thoughts that tell you that you can’t do it, shouldn’t do it. Yes. You can. And don’t listen to those who criticize you. An ex told me I was moving to Texas to get back together with him, following him. Nope.

The moral? It didn’t stop me. Who cares what he said and even told others? Don’t pay attention to any of that extraneous noise. Do what you know will give you the best life and move forward without guilt or care. Do what will give you peace. Because what gives you peace will bring you happiness. There is a saying that you should follow your bliss, but i say follow your peace.

I did. And my life is better than it has ever been and I am the happiest I have been in my life.

If you are searching for answers, be still, get quiet and pray. Listen for God’s voice whispered in your ear. You will know the right decision, if you listen.

Life is short. Too short to be unhappy or live in bad relationships with sub par people. Get up and move. You are not a tree and you can change your circumstance. It’s worth it. Trust me. I thank God every day that this is my life.

The Time of the Klenex

It is summer and life is good. My world has been full of backyard conversations by the pool, making plans, laughter, music and planting the gardens to make the yard beautiful and in bloom. And work has been especially busy as well. With so much on my plate life has been moving at a fast speed, and to be quite honest, as wonderful as things are, I have ben feeling a bit exhausted, run down and burned out. I know that I need to slow down, but it’s so hard to do when there is so much to do.

Life has a funny way of slowing you down when you need it. It started out as maybe some allergies. Then a bit of a cold, then developed into a sinus infection. And when I still didn’t listen, it morphed into a sinus infection on steroids, going into my eyes and ears. The was it, I threw in towel, not that I had a choice. I looked as sick and as run down as I felt – I looked like Rudolf’s pale, gooey-eyed, glowing red nosed cousin, but probably not as attractive. Coughing, blowing my nose, rubbing my eyes. Oh yeah, sexy.

A visit tot he doctor and I was told to rest, drink fluids and take my meds like a good patient. And I didn’t argue. For the first time in a long time, I obeyed the doctors orders. I went home and went to bed. And I spent the next week and weekend taking it slow as well. Going to be early, sleeping late, getting rest. I spent my downtime inside watching TV or reading a bit instead of trying to accomplish everything. But it should not have taken me getting sick to force me to take care of myself.

That is the thing about us extremely stubborn women, it’s hard to stop and rest until we have to. I am extremely goal oriented, but sometimes we need to make slowing down and taking care of ourselves the goal. The result is that not only do I feel better physically, but I feel refreshed mentally and emotionally too. Imagine if I rested and took care of myself on a regular basis?

I don’t know if it’s part of our culture being women, or just part of our wider culture in this country, but slowing down to take care of ourselves is often seen as lazy and we feel guilty about it ,especially women. Why is that? I am honestly not sure. My friends and I are all feeling the burned out in one way or another. My wonderful man and I have talked about it and he feels that way too. We have just been so busy with work and life. And it seems that a lack of time seems to be the new currency in which people measure their importance and flash their clout. After all, if you are so busy that you have no time for yourself, then you must be an important person. But at what cost? And important to everyone but yourself?

As a child I remember my parents being proud that they never saw doctors, because they never needed them. And many of my friends have been that way too. But the fact is that seeing a doctor for regular checkups is taking time for yourself and care of yourself. Because by the time that there is something wrong, it’s usually too late to be caught early. But you have to take the time to make the appointments, then take the time from your life to actually go.

But then you might have to miss that meeting. You might have to miss that assignment. Or you might have to miss picking that up, or going here, then there. Why have we been conditioned to put things like that off? Or feel guilty for taking time for you health and well being? I don’t know, but it’s something I do as well. And this year I have placed my health as a priority, even though it is easy to get caught up in the fast pace of life.

My man and I are turning off, unplugging, and relaxing soon. Taking the time to relax and take that break. Life is busy and stressful, but we can step away. And so can you. You just have to look at where your priorities are. And you should always by your own priority.

Life is short. Take the time. Take the time to slow down before you get run down and burned out. Take the time to get the check ups. Take the time to just breathe and relax a bit.