The Week of It

It has been a fabulous week of back to reality after the wedding of my dreams. There has been a lot of bad weather here in Texas, and a few days before the weeding, the skies opened up and it was a monsoon of rain for several days. Aaaand a huge puddle of water on the floor due to a leak in the roof. In between picking friends and family form the airport, breakfast with bridesmaids and general wedding stuff, I was talking to the insurance company, the contractor and the adjuster. Yeehaw.

And both of us were back to work, as we are taking our honeymoon in the fall. So it was back to work, and bills, and housecleaning, and laundry and life. Except it was better. Because I am a wife now, with a husband. Because we are together, bound by law and in God’s eyes. We are building this life, this love, this everything to be exactly what we want it to be. And there are blessing all around.

Indeed, I have never felt as beautiful as I did on my wedding day. It was truly magic. It was supposed to rain all day, but the clouds parted and the sun was shining for most of the day. It was glorious. And those I love and who love me where there as witnesses. And life will never be the same.

And that is the thing about love, it transforms our lives into the spectacular miracle that only love can make it. Because life without love is…nothing. And now I know what my parents talked about when they spoke about their love, and how they felt about each other, and all of the miracles it took to bring them together. And I know that they ae smiling down on my, and my husband.

And I understand why it didn’t work with any of my ex’s. Why all of the others, many of them quite nice, were just not quite…right. And I see the bullets that were dodged, and how it was such a blessing to not end up with some of them – the alcoholic financial exec, the narcissist that cheated on me with prostitutes and strippers, the one who ghosted me to mow his lawn, the one….and on and on. I understand all of those unanswered prayers. Because God knew there was someone for me, right here in Texas. He knew we were meant for each other even before we met. And maybe I sound like a mushy sap, and I am. And that’s OK, because I am also ridiculously happy.

Life is short. And finally I found my person. My partner. My love. And life will never be the same. Even in the every day ordinary of day to day dealings. And I will never be the same either. And that is the best answered prayer of all.

The Rush to Breath

It is a few days before the wedding and life is a crazy rush to get everything done. Getting the house ready, running last minute errands, sending out emails, answering questions, making sure everything knows where they are supposed to be and when, writing vows, going to alterations and fittings, picking loved ones up from the airport, practicing the first dance so I don’t trip or throw my new husband’s back out, organizing pre wedding gatherings, makes for busy and hectic days. Add to that a leaking roof and water all over the foyer, finishing up a freelance project where the clients refuse to pay the amount agreed upon (if you hire an editor, let them edit a complete document, not a half finished one you are still writing), getting legal involved, and a few ex’s popping back up (no, thank you), and trying to drink water and stay hydrated…It’s a lot. Enough to make anyone exhausted.

And sometimes when things get hectic we get overwhelmed and forget to breath. In the midst of all the hectic extraneous noise, it’s easy to get carried away in the kinetic energy of the moment. So what do we do when we find ourselves frazzled by the everything that is life? What I have to remind myself to do is take a moment, breath, pray, and have faith that it will all work out. Because at the end of the day, I am marrying the best man I have ever known (not counting my Dad). And at the end of the day, that is all that matters.

And maybe that is the key to life – focusing in on what is truly important to put things into proper perspective. In 10 years, what will matter is that I married this man, not that the house was perfect or the first dance wasn’t.

Yes, in this day and age of information all of the time, and being busy as a sign or status, we can cut out the noise. And we do that by stepping away and breathing to simplify our thoughts, calm our minds, and amalgamate what is meaningful and essential in our lives. Even if we feel so overwhelmed that we are gasping for air, we can slow things down enough to be manageable. And that is what I have had to do, even as the wedding to do list seems to grow by the minute.

It is the rush to breath, so to speak, and slow things down. Time will continue forward, even if everything on my to do list isn’t done. And that’s OK, because the things that are truly important to me are already right there.

Life is short. Too short to be so overwhelmed and busy that we forget to enjoy what is important and right in front of us. So cross your to do list off you to do list. Breath and look around you. And take the time to enjoy the beauty in this life you have created.

The Day is Almost Here

Hi Mom and Dad,

It feels so strange to be getting married and not have you here. No Mother-daughters moments getting ready, no Dad walking me down the isle. And yet here I am, just a few days away from one of the happiest days of my life. And I am beyond excited, and happy, and every emotion that comes along with planning a wedding and getting married. But you guys are really not here, not in the physical sense. And that is so very strange.

And I just wanted to say that, or write that, out loud. Because when I write it, it’s real. I wish you could have met this wonderful man, because I know you both would like him. Dad you would enjoy talking about engineering, and beer. Mom, you guys would stay up talking about about politics and the state of the world. Both of you would enjoy discussing history with him, as he is incredible well read and knowledgeable.

Dad, two wonderful men are walking me down the isle to give me away, two because they have some huge shoes to fill. Mom, you would like my mother-in-law too and I am blessed have her in my life.

I know you will be looking down on me, smiling at my wedding. Just know that you are loved and missed. And you are always in my heart.

A Glimps

It seems that life has been so busy and full lately, and I just want to soak every minute, every second up like a sponge. Between wrapping up contracts, shopping for new contracts, interviewing, planning the wedding, dinner parties, bridal showers, exercising and trying to lose that last 5 pounds…It has been crazy. And wonderful.

Sometimes in life, maybe you do get everything you want. Maybe somewhere after puberty and all the hard work of being an adult, somewhere in between hope and laughter, and in the space that separates fact from fiction, our dreams become reality and we find happiness.

And what a long strange journey it has been to where I stand now. To be here now, with a full heart and more love than I knew a life could hold. Sometimes I have to remind myself that this really is my life, and yes I do deserve it.

And I wonder would I be here now if I had not taken the roads less travelled? Would I have found my way here, in this place in this moment, if I had not had the struggles, heartaches, missteps and adventures leading up to now? Which begs the questions are we the sum of our parts in that respect?

Yes, I think we are, even though we are also more than the sum as a whole. I don’t know if I would still be in this exact place if a million little moments, miracles, and decisions didn’t line up exactly so. I do know that every experience in my life has made me who I am now. And maybe that is the glimpse into the future, knowing that all of our collective experiences lead us and build our lives into one huge, wonderful, complex novel.

We write the chapters of our lives with each step and decision that we make. And we are free to change direction nd start over anytime we want. We are never too old, too young or too anything to start over, change direction, make a new decision, or new direction. So if you feel stuck in life – whether it’s a job, or city, or relationship, you can change that with one decision. That is all it takes.

So take that chance, take the step, make the move and write the next chapter – make it whatever you want it to be. No one can change you life except for you. Remember that.

A little over three years ago I moved 1,000 miles away to where I am now. I was devastated from the death of my parents, family drama concerning the will, and a broken relationship. And then I woke up one morning and realized I didn’t have to be there any more. Some people called me crazy, but most of my friends reminded me of who I was, and that anything was possible. They helped me pack and move. And life wasn’t perfect just because I moved, but it did slowly get better, as my heartache healed.

Life is short. Too short to be stuck when you don’t have to be, and you never have to be. If we are the collective sum of our parts and experiences, then you have nothing to loose and everything to gain. Take. The. Chance. I promise you it’s worth it.

Living the Dream

The day is getting closer, the plans are being finalized, the vendors are secured, the evweything is almost done. All of the planning and dreaming and loving and the sweet and wonderful anticipation. It is all coming together.

It is almost here, the day I marry my best friend, my partner, my love. The only thing that could make it more peefext is my parents, but they will be smiling down at us. My Mom will find a way to be with me, they will send a sign that says I love you. They will find a way to make their blessing of our union known.

Family and friends will be close. And they day will be ours.

My life is bliss. At this moment, I have everything for which I have prayed. And for this I am humbled and forever thankful. My heart is full.

Ex’s and Ghosts

There are moments when you realize just how lucky you are to be with your partner. When you understand with perfect clarity why it didn’t work with any others and how blessed you are to have love of your partner. While I realize this every day, how incredible blessed I am to have my man, I was reminded again recently.

There have been many articles written on the whys of ghosting, from both points of view of the “ghoster” and the “ghostee”. Personally I have never understood why people ghost others. Unless your life is in danger, there seems to be no reason other than cowardice honestly.

Part of being a mature adult is having those uncomfortable conversations. And whether it’s the “It’s not you, it’s me” or “We’re in different places,” or whatever, talk, it should be done especially if you have been dating for a fair amount of time. And it should be done face to face if at all possible. If you are not mature enough to handle the breaking up part of dating, then you are not mature enough to date.

I have been both broken up with and the one ending the relationship. And neither is pleasant, but you do it because you are a grown. You do it because that is the right thing to do. You do not chicken out and taken the coward’s exit.

Having said that, we all have those ex’s that surface every few years, for…whatever reason. I have only been ghosted once, and that was enough. The man and I had been dating almost a year. Everything was fine, there were no issues of which I was aware. He offered to cook dinner for my friends and I, but bailed at the last minute because he “needed to mow his lawn,” (not joking). I never heard from him again. Until today, 5 years later.

Linkedin is a professional site, so I was surprised to find a message from him saying hello and that he hoped I was well.

After I recover from shock, to be polite I respond that “I am fantastic, hope you are too,” thinking that would be the end. No, the ex felt compelled to catch me up on the last 5 years, right down to what his kids were doing.

Thinking Linkedin is a wildly inappropriate please to reconnect with an old flame, I respond simply that I am very happy and getting married. That is usually a signal to most men that they should move on. This was not the case. Instead, this ex that ghosted me 5 years ago responds in a way that is pure arrogance, “I am happy for you! He is a lucky man. remind him of that, often.”

One of the blessings of being older is you really don’t care who you offend, or how you are perceived. So I remind him that he ghosted me 5 years ago, bluntly asking him why he was contacting me, on a professional site and what did he want?

Apparently he was rather upset that his bad behavior was called out and the door was slammed in his face, because he incredibly defensive and told me he was blocking me.

Life is short. Too short to deal with arrogant narcissists. Ladies, if he slides into your DMs without an apology, or explanation…have a good laugh then slam that door so fast, so loud, and so hard, that he will have to pry that doorknob out of his arse. That’s what he gets for disrespecting you in the first place. And be thankful when you find a real man who knows how to treat a woman and a lady.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 🙂

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.

The Song of Summer

Summer is synonymous with fun and relaxation, vacations and good times. And this summer is shaping up to be just that. Pray hard, work hard, play hard is coming to fruition in teh next months and personally, I can’t wait.

Sitting out by the pool, listening to music, sipping some tea, or maybe some wine, enjoying to vibes. Maybe relaxing after working in the yard, or getting the house ready for guests, or finishing up writing projects. There are plans to make, trips to take, and lots of anticipation. And there is much for which to prepare. Indeed, between war, inflation, gas prices, supply chain issues, a bear market and whispers of recession, can we even celebrate this summer?

Yes, indeed we can. In fact, it is more important now than ever before. It is during the stressful times that we must find an outlet, a place to smile in the sun, to give ourselves a break from the daily routine of work and worry. And the summer is just the time. Longer days, warmer nights, clear skies, and music can sooth the soul, even if the vacation is just to the back yard. And if there is a trip, or tow, or three? Even better.

Because no matter what is going on in the world summer is always on time, and this is the time to relax a bit. This is the time to break away, and breath, splash in the water, and let our souls feel the sun as we set the world on fire, our world.

For the two of us, it means enjoying the fruits of our labor earlier this year. The flowers are blooming in the garden, we are settled in the house, and enjoy evenings out by the pool. We are enjoying the neighbors and neighborhood and always keeping in mind how blessed we are. And at the end of the day, just as when I rise, my heart is happy.

Life is short, so step outside and let your worries go. Worry won’t change anything, but taking care of yourself and taking a break will. So listen to the song of summer, and dance. Dance in the sun and dance in the moonlight. Delight yourself down to your soul with the simple pleasures in life. Enjoy!

Choose Wisely

Sometime when I was younger, someone told me to be very careful of the partner I chose, because that would affect the rest of my life. And when you think about it, how could it not? Whom you choose to spend the rest of your life with, live with, share with, grow with, strive with, build with struggle with, celebrate with and so much more. This is the person who will know the most about you and will be in your home and bed. Chose wisely, and it can be an amazing life. Choose poorly, and you will be miserable at best.

All one need to do is watch 5 minutes of the Depp/Heard trial to see a wonderful example of bad choices for partners. They both made each other miserable and continue to do so. And think of how many friends we have that have horrible ex’s that they still have to deal with because of kids?

Who you choose can make you rich, or drain your finances. They can help build your life, and partnership, or they can break you down with abuse and manipulation. One of my best friends was married to a man who constantly over spent, regardless of how many bills were due. He wreaked havoc on their finances and credit scores. But e didn’t care, and even blamed her. My last ex was a raging manipulative alcoholic, and life with him would have been miserable had I chosen him. There are thousands of examples.

And then I look at my parents, and they were great partners. They had the same goals, dreams, and values. They helped each other build a great life and a wonderful family. There are many great examples as I look around. And maybe that is why it took me so long to settle down with someone. I have wonderful examples all around, and I knew I had to find the right partner. Someone with whom I am equally yoked.

And now I understand how important the choice of partner is even more. Because we are building an extraordinary life together. We talk about and write down our goals, and we work toward them every day. We cook together and dance in the kitchen. We are silly with each other, making faces and using different voices. We plant the garden and water the flowers together. And we work hard at communication and being good to each other. Because relationship are hard work, but having the right partner makes all the difference. When two people are constantly at odds, that energy is spent fighting instead of building.

Life is short. Too short to be with a bad partner. So choose wisely and spend your time building your dreams.

Portraits of Self

I wrote this a few years ago. Enjoy!

In light of all the doom and gloom that has been going around lately, here is a new note. If one person can laugh at my clumsiness, then my work is done… 😉 Enjoy and have a good chuckle…

It sounds sexy – the idea of taking provocative photos for your spouse/significant other. However, reality often times is not as glamorous as our imagination. Welcome to my world, the world of a clumsy girl trying to be a little bit sexy.

I fixed my hair, put on make up, a fantastic outfit and great shoes. I looked hot. Then came the ardent task of setting my little point and shoot camera up on the back of a chair because I have no tri-pod. Then trying to figure out the zoom level, the timer settings, and the flash. Then it seemed that all was ready. Somehow, when I imagined this in my mind, it did not include all the back and forthing, tripping, falling and general misadventure. The shooting session went something like this:

Set the 10 second timer, run to the spot in 5″ stilettos, figure out a pose, only to have the camera take the shot when I was moving. Run over to the camera, look at the fuzzy, awkward shot of me not ready, delete photo. Reset the camera and timer, run back to the spot, try the pose again. Run back to the camera, look at the shot (Jeeze, Am I really THAT pale??). Notice the bad angle and delete. Again. Reset everything and trip over the cat running back to spot, twist ankle in the shoes. Take photo of me flailing, on the way down to the floor, with an expression of pain and panic. Limp back to camera, reset shot. Again.

I decide to reset the flash this time to decrease the pale pasty look of having no tan for 20 years….and end up flashing myself in the eye and am blinded as I stumbled back to the spot. Do manage to smile for the shot…and am blinded by the super bright flash once again. Walk back to camera, trip over piece of floor due to blindness, fall on face and cause delicately balanced camera to fall off the back of the chair and onto the back of my head. Ouch.

Get up, spend 10 minutes resetting camera position, flash, and timer. Decide to just shoot the pics and check them out afterward. So, take several shots and am very pleased with myself. I let my inner Tyra Banks out to play. I was FIERCE. Yes, I have the hang of this. I. Am. Sexy. I own it. Check the camera only to find my cat in every shot. How did I not notice she was about 3 inches away from me, with her rump facing the camera in full view?

Erase all pictures, put camera away, and drink bottle of wine.

Party of 75

It was two months of planning in secret. Secret calls and emails, incognito communication and code words. It was finding a venue, looking over the menu, picking the band, ordering the cake, getting the decorations, and coming up with a story. And it was all done by my wonderful man for his father’s surprise 75th birthday party. And it was marvelous.

My man came up with the idea and it was a big hit. He contacted friends from 20 years ago or longer, all the way up to the most recent. He poured over every single detail, making sure it was all in place and on schedule. It was fun to be his little helper, doing the things he needed to make sure his father never knew..

And it was getting the house ready for all of the company. So many boxes were still unpacked, and family was coming from out of town to stay for the weekend. Fifty boxes of books to be unpacked, sorted, place on shelves. Pictures were hung and furniture that remained was moved in to fill the spaces and rooms. And it was marvelous. And exhausting. And inspiring. And all that work has been the spring board for the plans we have now.

And then the family came into town. And there was laughing and conversations, and showing the house, and cooking and eating and getting to know everyone better. And anticipation of the party. As I fixed and put out snacks and hors d’oeuvres, I used my mother’s dishes, platters, plates and snack forks, I thought of her. I missed her greatly in that moment. There were always gatherings growing up, and she always made sure she had the proper things about. She would have been proud of me, I think, zipping around, with all the delish treats, using the things she gave me. And I hope she was smiling.

And then it was here. And his father was overwhelmed with surprise as he smiled and hugged those he loved but had not seen for many years. and there was more laughter, and drinks and dancing, and cake.

And that is the thing when you have a family man in your life. There are always gatherings, always love, always relatives close by, always sharing.

Life is short, too short to be isolated and never have any one over. Too short for lonely nights with no family. So celebrate every moment you have with those you love. Make it loud and fun and memorable.

The Buzz of Spring

Today there is a buzz in the air. As the days get a little longer every day, the temperatures also start to rise. and slowly, nature wakes up from her Winter slumber. It is Spring and there is an excitement in the air that is tangible. It is the promise of the new, with warm days and cool nights. It is the promise of buds growing from dormant brown stems, reaching up to the morning sun and stretching into the afternoon.

And for me this Spring hold so much about which to be excited. There is everything with the new house, concerts, trips to see family, birthday parties, time with my love out on the patio, making plans and discussing life. There will be conversations and laughter by the firepit drinking wine, and smiles with friends while sharing stories. There is planting and garden with new flowers and vegetables and herbs, to make the yard a fragrant place of life, color and wonderful scents as blooms shine in the sun. It is the promise of hard work and good times.

Why is it that this time of year inspires such gentle excitement? Maybe it’s because everything is waking up from hibernation and starting new. Maybe it is all the fresh life around us that makes us want to smile. maybe it’s the warmer weather setting in so we can spend time outside in the fresh air, after being inside for the cold. Maybe it is the signal of growth before the summer, when the sun peaks out and we know that the seeds we plant to day, whether it’s a garden, or studies, or for our careers, it will pay off and grow during this season.

Find what excites you the most and makes you feel the best about each part of the year. Find what makes you smile and what makes you feel most alive. This is especially true if you are going through a bit of a tough time, because as corny as it sounds, finding those little things in each season will help because it gives you something to look forward to, even if just a few moments. A lifetime can be lived in the moments, and the moments in between.

Life is short. Feel the buzz and find the magic of Spring.