Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Thoughts on Balance

Ironic I am writing about balance today, considering that I have been several steps behind for about a week and a half now (or maybe it's just about time). I let my stuff get on top of me and thankfully I don't have work today, so I can take the day to evaluate, recalibrate, meditate and all-round reboot.

I've noticed a pattern with myself, one that I'm seriously working on breaking. I get super balanced and start kicking major ass and then BOOM! I do something or I let something in that distracts me. The distraction starts small, one little thing gets dropped off the to-do list and then it snowballs. Within a week or two (as in today), I find myself wondering what the hell happened.

I'm not sure what it was this time, but I am sure I'm going to catch it now before I relapse into old habits. I've never been a particularly extreme person; however I have found myself in the midst of extreme behaviors in the past and when I analyze those situations, I find that they all started out the same way. Something small changed and instead of adapting, I reacted. I snowballed. All of the times I have crawled out of the mire of grief, depression or whatever else was going on, it began with an adaptation to a situation and not a reaction.

A small tweak can make a really big difference. I'm sure it's common sense, but it isn't the easiest to implement in the moment, now is it? Well, that's what I'm working on this week (and my entire life). Autumn is a great time for finding balance (equinox after all...equal), and today's the day to make a change.

Is there something out of balance in your world? Take some time to think about it today and perhaps come up with an adaptive behavior instead of a reactive behavior. Maybe just maybe it will be a turbo boost for your engine of change. I'd love to hear all about it too!

I hope you have a truly wonderful day!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Little Victories!

Hey y'all! Happy Monday! Did you have a nice weekend? Mine was great, but I spent a large amount of it at work and quite exhausted. Still, I tried to make the best of it (one must manifest the positive). Well, around here on Mondays I like to share some of the little victories I've had in hopes that you'll take the time to notice yours. It's the little victories, after all, that make progress possible. So, here we go!

*Remember that budgeting plan from last week? It totally worked. Like gangbusters, yo! Not only did we have a nice little fun money account; at the end of the weekend, we still had $14! It may not seem like much, but y'all- that's some serious progress!

*I walked/jogged six days last week. Not that it totaled that much (seven miles or so), it's still better than my ass sitting on the couch watching videos of otters. Ahem. Which is something I like to do sometimes, but never mind that.

*I finally nailed down a few smoothie recipes to try. I've been so bad about breakfast over the past few weeks and its my absolute favorite meal. So, I found a few recipes- some super duper healthy and some just delicious sounding and I'm trying them this week. Gotta nourish the body, guys!

*I got this post done. Late. Like seven hours late, but I got it done! And now this sleep-deprived little lady is going to take a big girl nap. Or at least try to!

What little victories did you accomplish this weekend or today? I'd love to know!!!

I hope you have a truly wonderful day!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sunday Affirmation

I've talked a lot about money lately. I found this today and it made me laugh at myself.

And it's true, you know? Having your bills paid is great. Awesome really. Living in an abundant state of what you need and a little extra is truly peaceful. However, it is always important to remember what money can't buy.

Have a beautiful Sunday, y'all!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Saturday Meditation

The sunset at the "lake" where I live.

Hello friends! Fall is officially here, and though it is still mighty warm outside, the breezes have been kicking up and pale yellow leaves have begun to swirl to the ground. It is my absolute favorite time of year. It makes me feel so alive and energetic. Everything seems a bit more magical. The slow, dark mornings and the blazing sunsets. Oh it's just fantastic! And don't get me started on pumpkins! Pumpkins are my favorite thing, I always joke that they are my spirit animal.

Today (or this weekend) take some time to experience the season in its infancy. Feel the cool morning  (you may even need a sweater, yay!) turn into a warm afternoon. Find a lovely place to sit and just be out in it. Don't get on your phone, or read a book (save that for later). Instead, really watch, smell, feel, and listen to this early Autumn. Feel the pleasant warmth of the afternoon turn chilly as the sunset fades.
There are already pumpkins for sale at the hardware store!

Autumn is a bountiful time, I've heard it described as Nature's big blowout party before Winter. I like that. It does have a pleasant frenzy to it. A triumphant rager before things grow quiet and still in the cold months ahead. The trees' colors are ablaze (or will be very soon), the wind whips up little tiny cyclones of leaves (I love when that happens), people dress cozily and food gets particularly awesome (hearty soups, roasted root veggies, rich and savory, yummy warm deliciousness). It really is special.

Get out in it and breathe it in. Each time you do, notice how Summer is fading gracefully away. It's breathtaking really, as Autumn sweeps in. Be present with that today. Enjoy it. Be calm and peaceful.

I hope y'all have a wonderful day (and weekend!).

Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Happies!

Well y'all, it's Friday! It's time for fun and links to all things fun, escapey, entertaining, or pretty. I have one day off (today) and am plowing through work the rest of the weekend, but I still hope you are entertained and delighted and have a wonderful and peaceful weekend. Here's the list!

*This awesome Photo booth-style picture showing a couple laughing. It is so rare to see smiling faces in old pictures because you had to stay still for so long to get the picture to come out right. Every time I see this on the ole interwebs it makes me smile.

*I love funny dogs. Enough said.

*I don't know when it started, but I've developed an odd love of wreaths.  I think its due to me rapidly progressing into my 30's. That is such a weird sentence for me to write and then read. Good grief. Well, I have so there. The ones from Terrain are so gorgeous it's ridiculous. I imagine having this beauty brightening my icky front door.

* It's getting to be that time of decade when I replace my beloved boots. These have definitely caught my eye for Fall.

*Speaking of Fall, I love sunflowers. Especially unusual ones. I found this great site, High Mowing Seeds, that has organic, non-Monsanto sunflower seeds. I love the Velvet Queen and am completely intrigued by the Italian White! For my future garden. Sigh.

*This Edamame Trail Mix looks fantastic. I must try it! I'll have to figure out how to do the dehydrating with my oven for I do not have miscellaneous kitchen appliances on principle (see this post).

*Remember Carly Jacobs, that lady that was doing silly things to get a bus for the special needs students at the school where she teaches? She made the goal!! Here's a reminder of her cause, what a lovely success!

*Moonlight Mile, a candle. It sounds so romantic and lovely. Perfect for this Autumn weather creeping in.

*Lizzie Velasquez, a role model who speaks against bullying. Awesome young lady!

*Yum times ten! Ginger sesame fried eggs for breakfast. This is totally how I roll.

*How about 35 GIFs of Individuals Who Really Did Nail It. Celebrate successes, amiright?!

I hope you have a truly wonderful day & weekend!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Love thy Home...Love Thyself

I've wanted to live more simply for a while now. I got this idea years ago from this book, Scaling Down (check it out here, it's a great read). It's all about making your home the equivalent of a vacation house. Everything you need and nothing more. It's a brilliant idea and I strive for it. I've spent years wading through inherited furniture, tchotchkes etc. etc. I've had disposable goodies, purchased for fun or whimsy that fell apart after a few uses that had to be tossed away or donated. I don't want that anymore. I want simplicity. I want quality. I want my home to feel peaceful. I want it to be my sanctuary, my safe place. That's the self love message I wanted to spread today. To create for yourself a beautiful, safe, peaceful and simple sanctuary is a truly lovely thing to do for yourself and your psyche. It shows a certain respect for your needs more so than you may realize. It certainly has me eyeing that pile of laundry on the floor with a reedy and discerning expression (crinkled nose included).

So, this is what I'm going to do this week to make it happen for myself:

*I'm going to pack away the multiples of dishes/glassware and silverware. I don't need 14 table settings and 19 glasses in my cabinet. I need 2-4 at the absolute most. The rest will be packed away safely for the next awesome party I throw (December maybe?), or in case I break any (more) of my dishes by accident.

*I'm getting rid of two large cardboard boxes worth of clothes we don't wear, books we don't read, yadda yadda yaddas etc. I've got half a box started already. Now to fill it the rest of the way up.

*Old towels. Bye  bye (they're going to protect the dishes). I need to replace those grody ole things anyhow. Plus I have like 30,000 towels of varying descents in my closet and quite frankly I'm tired of trying to be the Tetris Grand Master every time I put laundry away in my mouse hole of a linen closet (first world situation, I'm aware).

*Plastic bags. Screw plastic bags. I hate them so much and I don't throw around the "H" word very often. I'm taking a huge bag of plastic bags to my local grocery store where there is a recycling bin just for grocery store bags! You'd be surprised at how good that feels.

*Pretties that I love that I don't use no matter how much I love them. This is a challenging category, but it's the test of my ovarian fortitude. I love pretties and littles. I have no place to store/display them and I truly detest the concept of dusting all of them. It's time, friends. From beautiful pashminas, to jewelry I don't wear, figurines from my Grandmother etc. Ouch. It's true, but it's time. I'll keep the few I love the most and let go (probably solemnly) of the rest.

What will you do to make your home like a vacation home? Would you want to live more simply? Any secrets you want to share? I'd love to know! I'll keep y'all posted on the outcome!

I hope you have a truly wonderful day!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

No act of kindness, no matter how small...

It's Wednesday y'all. Lord, have I had the longest week already! Yesterday all kinds of crazy found me. I'm sure part of it is my fault for letting it find me (or paying the piper, so to speak). But man! I was a ball of stress/grumpiness/exhaustion/frustration. I wanted to vent and be a piss-ant. I wanted to drink a bottle of wine and eat peanut butter for dinner (sometimes being a grown up is awesome). I wanted to run away from everything that was pissing me off. You know, like healthy people do, right? Geesh.

I sat down at my computer to work on today's post, and laughed out loud (well, kind of snort-chuckled). I was sitting down to compile a list of people, organizations, animals etc. that could use whatever help they can get, and I've been bitching and whining and being a butt about little things that are so super controllable. I embarrassed myself, frankly. Remember when I said this blog is just as much for me as it is for everyone who reads it? Yeah, that's the big time truth.

So, I took a little extra time to find more folks to help. It made my heart feel better and maybe it can help theirs too. Here we go!

*Remember the Semolina Superhero fundraiser (the smallest American pasta company) from a few weeks ago? Well, thanks to everyone that contributed, they made their goal!! Yaaaay!! While we're at it, let's help Clark Theriot publish a Cajun-Vegan cookbook! Sounds fantastic!

*An 11 year old developed an IV pediatric backpack for kids with cancer. They're almost to their goal (only $4000 to go!!). Check out the video here!

*Help fund Thor's (the cat) surgery!! They're almost to their goal (only $40 away)!

*Spread hope through dance for Rwandan street children!

*Wow! Check this out! American Sanctuary Association has tons of great accredited American animal sanctuaries to choose from! The Forest Animal Rescue has my attention (the post about Blizzard had my waterworks a-going).

Any organizations or charities you like to give to? I'd love to know! Remember, even just $5 can make a huge difference for so many. And as for me and my mood and perspective...changed for the better.

I hope you have a truly wonderful day.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Thoughts on Mistakes (Repeating/Learning from etc.)

I spent too much money two weekends ago going out to eat several nights in a row. I was really upset with myself for being so lazy it affected my budget (greatly). I beat myself up and spent the entire week being very budget conscious (not extreme austerity, but careful). Guess what I did this weekend? I repeated the same mistakes again! Even though I didn't necessarily want to, I sure was quick to justify it! Now part of that was for social reasons and my husband's cabin fever. However, I have been so upset with myself for doing it again. I could have justified one dinner, but four?! I'm not Jay Gatsby, for crying out loud!

It got me thinking about the cycles of behavior that happen for a lot of us (well, I'm speaking directly about myself but perhaps you can relate). In other times in my life I was making far bigger mistakes than I am making now, and somehow was able to forgive myself because I knew I was struggling, growing, climbing and clawing my way up to a better existence. But why couldn't I forgive myself for two weekends of budget blow outs? What was the difference?

All I can gather is that perhaps, this was far more controllable a mistake to manage. There were no reasons other than laziness and cabin fever to speak of. I had the ability to say no every time I said yes. That's on me. It's also something that I've been so proud of lately- money management. That's why I'm so mad I could spit, I reckon. I let myself down and sabotaged my financial goals. Of course then, my mind wandered a bit to other cycles in my life that are totally controllable that I keep on repeating, the other "sabotages". Some big things, some microscopic. I chose a beer when I could have had tea and kept in tune with my health and fitness goals, for example.

 I simply do not want to repeat mistakes over and over again (I recognize that I'm a human and humans have a tendency to do that, but I want to cut as much out as is feasible). I don't want to sabotage my future goals for whatever reason I can come up with at any given moment. I want to stay true to my goals and make it happen. It's part of that "no one is going to swoop in and save me" thing.

So, this is what I'm going to do this week:

*I'm creating an adjusted grocery budget for the rest of the week so I can make delicious meals at home (and in advance) so there isn't another excuse to go out.

*Every day I keep to it, I'll transfer $20 to a separate checking account.

*At the end of the week (the tempting time for us to go out and do stuff), I'll use that money and that money only for a fun lunch or dinner with the hubs.

*I'm also going to start stashing $50 from every paycheck for the holidays. I work retail and I'm always exhausted/grumpy when it rolls around, this will be one less thing I can bitch about.

*No extraneous spending for the next week. No tchotchkes or smoothies, no candles or clothes. Nada. I've got plenty.

What are your goals? Have you ever found yourself accidentally sabotaging your goals? What do you do to keep yourself focused on your goals and not let your feelings/laziness/obligations etc. get in the way? I'd love to know!

I hope you have a truly wonderful day, y'all. Be kind to yourself!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Little Victories

My little meditation spot.

Hey y'all! It's Monday. I've found myself-- hands thrown upward calling "Whhhhhyyyyyyyyyyy? Why has the weekend ended?!"

Lord, ya'll, it is what it is. It's been a long weekend and I've got a somehow (though I'm not sure how) longer week ahead. Sigh.

Mondays are usually the day I take some time to celebrate the little victories that make the bigger ones possible. Celebrate the little things to remind ourselves that we are indeed making progress. I share mine in hopes that it will help you take notice of your little victories. Here we go!

*I took my vitamins almost every day. I'm a grown-ass woman, and yet... But, taking them most of the days this week is better than nothing, right?!

*I ordered the salad instead of the BLT, and you know what? It was incredible.

*I got out and jogged at 7 am, regardless of how late I was up the night before not taking care of myself (but having a great time!). It felt fantastic, it was nearly chilly! One morning I got in a great jog, the next day I wasn't as energetic so I had a meditation time down by the ducks instead of plowing through another lap. It was just what I needed. I watched a mother duck and ten ducklings swimming and getting organized on shore while a turtle kept poking his head out of the water and watching. All in all, it was way better than sleeping in.

What are your little victories? I'd love to know!

I truly hope you have a wonderful day!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Saturday Meditation

It's almost here, y'all. Autumn (Septermber 22nd). Down here in the muggy South it's still quite warm (92-98 as opposed to 98-103 two weeks ago!). Yet, in the morning and in the evening, I can feel the chill of Fall creeping toward us. It is so lovely to feel the wispy tendrils of the season moving ever so closer toward us.

This weekend, take some time. I always say it, but go with it y'all. Take some damn time early in the morning or at dusk, or evening. Get out in it. Close your eyes. It doesn't matter if you're taking out the recycling or letting the dogs out one more time before bed...take the time out underneath the clouds and stars. Feel the changes on the wind.

Imagine for a moment you are a part of the landscape. Not a human, but a piece of nature. A tree, a hill, a majestic ox bow lake...just step outside yourself and pretend. Then let your mind wander to what you would be experiencing as that piece of nature as the season of Fall rolled around.

Would you be orange and yellow like a tree? Would your banks be inhabited with migrating birds like your local river? Whatever it may be, let it wash over you. Let yourself melt into your surroundings. We don't always have to be so individual and yadda yadda. We can be a part of something and be just as important.

It's the time of year to harvest all the things we've been working on since the New Year. All those resolutions. I bet you haven't thought of that before. I know I hadn't until a few years ago. That the seeds of change we make in January actually do take root and bloom and need to be harvested...? It's an odd thought to many I'm sure, but it's true.

As they say on Game of Thrones (and Schmidt on New Girl), Winter is coming. What are you going to do to enjoy every moment of the tail bits of Summer and oncoming lovely Fall? Be present. That's my suggestion. Live in it and treasure it because Summer has been beautiful and so shall be Autumn.

Life- well, she is beautiful.

Be kind to each other, y'all. I hope you have a truly wonderful day (and weekend)!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Friday Happies!

Enormous sunflower at Mom's.

What's up, y'all? Is it just me or have the days and weeks just been flying by? It feels like I just put together a Friday list like two days ago! Wowsers. Well, it's time to get some happy juju flowing to gear up for the weekend.

Got any plans? I've got a few, but they mostly involve...well, I'll guess you'll find out on Monday! Now heeeeere's the list!

*I love this hat for Fall & Winter. I want to wear it and pretend I'm Carmen SanDiego, or some other woman of mystery and intrigue.

*I really enjoyed this young lady's article about Hermione and the need for strong, intelligent female characters in literature (and TV and movies etc. etc.). Well done, you!

*This thought has crossed my mind too.

*I love a tassel. I have a feeling if I owned these, I'd just rub my face on it all the time. Also, nerd-alert...love the name (Potterheads, am I right?).

*I'm fairly certain that this is what I sound like talking about any subject I'm interested in, and all my friends and family are my Bill Cosbys...Cosbies? I'm going with Cosbies.

*Some ABC's for happiness!

*Just makes me smile every time I see it. Shake it!

*I was late to the game to find Kid President, but I just adore him and the message. This one made me  laugh and tear up and feel so inspired and joyous. That means its time to do something!!! What will be your Space Jam?! Just love it. Play ball. 

*Well, this may have been me this week! It may have been, but I've still gotten in nearly seven miles so far!

*How I missed this the first and second time around, I know not. But I literally donkey laughed while washing dishes the other night when it came on. Dickies, yo!

*A great Carol Burnett  show with Betty White (looking damn foxy if I say so), Steve Martin and of course Vicki Lawrence (Thelma Harper woot woot!!).

I hope y'all laugh and smile and have a wonderful weekend, and if you have to work- you can make it through. Keep your gratitude higher than your expectations and it'll be a damn good day (or two in this case).

Later, y'all!

Love Yo'self!

My super up-close coffee scrub.

It Thursday, y'all! A good day to turn that amazing outward positive focus inward for a minute. You have to refuel your positivity, love and kindness reserves pretty regularly too, you know! Now, usually I post a bunch of fun self-care recipes and goodies here, but this week I'm doing something a teeny bit different. This week I tried one of the many recipes I've hoarded for homemade skin care products. I found this coffee scrub and decided (because I had all the ingredients in my pantry- otherwise I apparently can't be bothered) to try to duplicate it at home.

It just looks like a cup of old coffee grounds, but it's so much more!

It was awesome, if not a little messy. I don't know (or care really) about it's cellulite-banishing claims or whether it really works in that department. However, it does leave your skin feeling incredibly tingly and soft and smelling amazing.

I felt like I was brewing some artisanal hipster coffee brew though. Tub-infused lady coffee. Ew. You could make some money in Japan with that methinks. Ew again. I'll totally make this again though, it made me feel magnificently scrubbed and smooth and moisturized and it is a unisex scent so even the manliest of dudes can try it.

Give it a whirl, y'all! It took five minutes to make and the duration of a quick shower to use (preferred over an actual tubby soak because, ew ew ew!) and bada-bing, bada-boom- you've given yourself a lovely little pick-me-up.

Take the time to care for yourself today. Even if its just ten minutes. Ten minutes can be spared, I promise! It's simply ten less checks of the FaceTube, the Tweeter or whatever else you kids are doing online these days. You deserve the attention and the time, so does your psyche and- in this case, your skin.

I hope you have a truly wonderful day, y'all!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Give A Little Bit!

Image of Apalachicola River Clyde Butcher

It's Wednesday, and on Wednesdays around here I like to take some time to find charities, organizations, and good ole folks to help out. Usually I can spare a fiver here and there and still stay within my budget; but if you feel so inclined, please give more! Several folks featured here in the past have met their goals! It feels so good to give (time, energy and cash if you have it), so let's see the list for this week! Happy giving hearts to you all!

*Help Bryce recover from a devastating fire that wiped out the whole apartment building where she lived.

*ShelterBox helps create temporary shelters in disaster-ridden areas.

*Support the Marine Mammal Center, they help rehabilitate marine life and educate people on the need for ocean stewardship!

*Help Nancy, a woman who has looked out over Klamath National Forrest for years. This year the fires destroyed her home and her trusty old truck.

*Help American Rivers! Help heal our North American waterways!

*Your donation to the World Wildlife Fund can help so much! Be the voice for those who have no voice.

I hope you have a truly wonderful day!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Personal Sanctuary

If I could wave a wand and make the perfect sanctuary for myself today it would be a tiny bungalow somehow on the East/Gulf Coast and in the mountains (remember I said magic wand). I would have a brilliant homestead and gardens. Little idiot goats and chickens, some real Dick Strawbridge shit. A lovely porch in the shade and wind chimes smattered about.

Inside would be spare but cosy, clean and simple. A space for everything and everything in its place. There would, of course, be a serious bath tub because I'm a water baby.

There would be a fireplace with a beautiful (uncluttered) mantle.

There would be a wall of books. 

I would have counter space in the kitchen so I can make delicious and lovely things without knocking over my clean dish rack or having to pause to relocate things.

My bedroom would be a fluffy, calm and peaceful place with a really good fan and a nice morning view.

There would be a well-made, long wooden dining table outside for feeding and entertaining those I love on lovely nights. A small table indoors for tea and conversation or romantic dinners.

Tucked into a particularly lush corner around the back of the house would be a secret outdoor shower for the intoxicating experience of showering out in nature (perfect for the exhibitionist in me but private enough for those not quite so inclined).

This is where my mind goes when I daydream. My goal is to simplify enough to make this a reality.  I look around my house now and I get overwhelmed. I've gotten rid of such a tremendous amount of stuff and yet it still feels wonky. So I took some time today to nail down some images that inspire my future sanctuary so that perhaps I can manifest it in my present state. Have my sanctuary better represent my mind (which says so much about how my house is making me feel these days too, ha!)

What would your ultimate sanctuary/compound look like, feel like and smell like? I'd love to know!

I hope you have a truly wonderful day!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Little Victories

From my morning jog. So pretty!

I don't know about y'all but last week was a tough one for me. Not quite sure why, actually. It just seemed harder than it should have been. I have a sneaking suspicion it was due to my own laziness, but that's a whole other post. Regardless of my self-inflicted frustrations, Mondays around here all about celebrating the little victories that make great progress possible. I share a handful of mine in the hopes that you will take the time to notice yours (and even share them here!). 

*I added a tracker thingy to my phone. I'm not very technological. Well, I could be but I don't want to be- it's true. I'd rather be snuggled up listening to a record than beep beep booping on a plethora of devices. However, since I really do want to get back to my old fighting weight, I downloaded an app to track my caloric intake and fitness. It's daunting but it sure is enlightening!

*I went to talk to someone about taking tap dancing lessons. It's something I've always wanted to do. I don't think I can afford her class, but I'm seriously considering buying the shoes and teaching myself! Stay tuned on that front!

*I took my own advice. I do that pretty regularly actually, but I did it. My head was feeling cloudy about stuff (as tends to happen sometimes) and when that happens I tend to zone out. There is so much static in my head that I can't concentrate (hence the laziness from the previous week). Laundry piles up, I don't cook as much, I don't watch my money as closely as I should, yadda yadda yadda. It's kind of a cycle of mine. Anyway, I gave this advice to a dear friend and then lo and behold found I could use it myself. I sat down and wrote out in bulleted form what was on my mind. Usually I write down ways to remedy the situations at hand, but just writing it all down helped immensely. To see in tangible form what was making all the noise in my head, helped to quiet it all down. It's not much, but it worked. That's what little victories are all about, right?

What are some of your little victories last week? I'd love to know!

I hope you have a truly wonderful day!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Have an extraordinary Sunday!

Take the time to relish the small, simple things today. Nourish your burgeoning wisdom.
I truly hope you have a wonderful day!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Saturday Meditation

For a minute there it felt like Fall was on its way. Despite the heat however, it is important to get out in nature and roll about in some good old fashioned peace. For today's meditation, go find somewhere outside (and preferably shady) to sit. Yes, sit on the ground. Get dirty, muddy and/or grass stain-y. Take your shoes off and close your eyes. Breathe deeply in and out for several breaths. Count if it helps to keep your mind from going astray.

Now open your eyes. Examine the nature that surrounds you. Where I live there are beautiful canopied live oak trees, palmettos and cypress. Really take the time to look at it all. The colors, sounds and smells.

The ground. Is it sandy? The grass. Is it itchy? Is it cool or dewey? What kind of animal life is around you? Squirrels and ducks? Dragonflies? Perhaps dogs playing or  seagulls if you live near the coast.

Examine these moments in nature and draw a centeredness and a connectedness from being a part of this little ecosystem for a minute. Imagine you are in a snow globe of sorts and all the things happening around you, like the tree branches moving in the breezes or birds flying above you, as the snow. As if you are in the center of the snow globe and someone shook it creating all this beauty and movement around you.

Send out gratitude either verbally or silently for each thing you see. For the trees and the birds and the water and the grass, whatever it is you that surrounds you. Send out gratitude for your life and the little successes you have had. Send out gratitude that you have taken just a few minutes to center yourself in nature, to do this for yourself.

It's such a good feeling, and gratitude has a way of making things better just by being acknowledged.

Now close your eyes and breathe deeply again. Now go and enjoy your day and weekend. I truly hope it's wonderful!

Image courtesy of North Florida Pictures.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Happies!

It's a little late, but that's okay! I surely hope y'all are all having a wonderful Friday and gearing up for a fantastic weekend if you get one, if not- like me- use this post to get some happy juices flowing!

*This post made me laugh out loud. Any time someone references their body as "oddly shaped yams", I'm gonna snort laugh.

*I want to live in this today.

*Border collies used as patrols to reduce E. Coli on beaches. They get to chase birds and play on the beach all day!

*A great little blog for inspiring quotes. I have a sneaking suspicion my Sunday Affirmations will get a new breath of life!

*Look sharp, ya dumb-ass, and put some pants on!

*I just. I don't know why this exists, but it has entertained the hell out of me.

*Oh good grief! I laughed so loud at this I scared the dogs, again.

*Life hacks for first world problems!

I hope you have a truly wonderful day! I'm off to get some Mexican food to make up for all the wine I drank last night with friends. Totally worth it.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thoughts on Loving Yourself & A Bizarro Scenario

Usually I let Thursday and Friday's posts get a bit frothy because we're inching tantalizingly close to the weekend, however today I just wanted to chat.

I don't know about y'all, but I am pretty damn hard on myself. I come by it honestly, and sometimes it has served me well. There have been times I knew I was better than a crap job, or crap friendship, or crap relationship. There are times that little voice said I really should be closer to a 4.0 GPA than I was (and I got there).  I held myself to a standard.

This voice, however, this one that tells me to push harder, be better, kinder, gentler, eat better, exercise more, not to bitch so much, get more sleep, yadda yadda yadda...It can get dark. It can be a real destroyer.

That voice has told me that my writing isn't good enough. The one thing that makes me happier than anything. It tells me that I should be further along in my career, that I should have more money saved and less debt. This voice has compared my accomplishments, or lack thereof, to others'. That voice that says I'm getting old or I'm a bad Mama to my dogs, that I haven't had babies yet or this or that. That voice I hear all the bloody time.

I'm a smart girl. Woman now I guess, if you want to get technical about it. I am smart enough to know all of this comes from a lot of places. There are the outside influences, of course. However, it's the inner ones I want to grab by the ear and sit the hell down for a good talking to. This is what I want to say to that Little Shit Voice:

Me: Hey, you little shit. Yeah, you- the one who whispers stuff into my ears while I sleep and wakes me at three a.m. to review every bad life choice I've ever made. I know the things you tell me already, I don't need your crappy reminders."

LSV (Little Shit Voice): But you could be so much better if you just weren't so awful.

Me: I'm not awful.

LSV: You can be.

Me: Everyone can be. It's called being a human.

LSV: But you need to be better than that.

Me: Better than human? Um...like Wonder Woman?

LSV: You can always be better. I think you are lazy. I think all the bad things that people have said about you and all the things they say behind your back are true. You know you aren't as special as you think. Just think of all the horrible things you have said and done in your life! All the time you've wasted! All the stupid choices!!!

Me: Trust me, I have. But, those things aren't all of me. I know I'm good- because I work at being good every day. I know I have a lot of love to give because I try to show it every day. I know what it feels like to have your day made brighter by a stranger, so I try to do that for others.

LSV: Blah blah blah. It's not enough.

Me: I love myself more than you hate me.

LSV: But...

Me: No matter what you say, I still love myself more than you hate me. And you shouldn't hate me anyway- you're a piece of me. You are fear and regret and hurt feelings. You are insecurity and pain and so much loss. You are the pieces of my heart that broke off over the years. It's okay to feel all of it, but please don't turn it to vinegar and try to poison me. I can't let it pour out of me, it could spillover and hurt someone else. I can't do that. It hurts enough inside.

LSV: But...

Me: But nothing. I'll never get better if you keep tripping me up. Life is too short for this nonsense. I'm strong as shit. I've been through so much garbage and yes, I created some of it. But, I have a big heart always keen to love more. I want to make the world a more beautiful and positive place than it was when I got here. You get me?! I love myself more than you can ever hate me. You hear me , Little Shit Voice? Hello? Hey- where'd you go?

Weird, right? I know it seems nuts to type out and publicly post a fake dialogue between your inner voices. I really get that. I don't care though. I didn't know what my insides were going to say until I typed them out. I surprised and impressed myself a little actually. Who knew my positive inner voice had such ovarian fortitude?!

What would your inner voices say if given a chance for dialogue? Be honest. It can be pretty harsh. Would you tell your critic to go screw off and leave you alone? Would you coddle that inner cattle prod? I know I have in the past. I know many who do. They always seem unhappy.

Sometimes it seems easier to hate yourself than to stand proudly up for yourself. It may be easier to slump than stand up straight, but trust me- it's worth the fight. It's worth the tears and the sweat and the scraped knuckles.

Stand up for the good, sweet, loving, kind, badass individual that is you. Stand up and fight for him/her. Every damn day. All day. Know you are worth the love, even if you feel it from nowhere else but inside of you. Know that even if you don't see it or feel it all around you yet, it is out there and it will find you and wonderfully encompass you if you let it. It's all around us and its radiating from inside the hearts and spirits of everyday people fighting and scraping against the voices and odds and poisons too. Just like you.

Love on, and love hard y'all. Start inside. Start today, this very moment. I promise I'm right here with you.

I truly hope you have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Spread the Love

Hey y'all, it's Wednesday. I certainly hope your week is going well. Mine has been spent working, and trying to squeeze in as many workouts as I can (I've got a goal) while ceaselessly shushing my inner desire for a gargantuan glass of wine (or three...what else is new, right?). I also had a moment this week (Tuesday to be precise) in which I found myself so utterly frustrated at something that I could barely focus.

Now, keep in mind, this was a total first world problem; a nothing, a zilch in the grand scheme of things. Problems with an online account. Silly and yet, I found myself so completely pissed off I couldn't focus on a simple 10-minute jog around the lake. I did all I could to remedy the situation, and just stewed in it while I cooked dinner. After about an hour or so, I figured out something unbelievably obvious.

It didn't frickin' matter.

It wouldn't matter today, it won't matter tomorrow and it sure as shit won't matter when I'm ash. So, why is it taking up my precious waking moments? It no longer is. Bada-bing, bada-boom. Done. I fixed it by having the account deleted and moving on to focus on others which is far more important. That brings us to our usual Wednesday love-fest, and here are more deserving people, animals and organizations that need our help. Remember, even if its just five bucks at a time...it can change someone, or some animal's whole world. Be blessed, y'all! Keep the good juju flowing!

*Y'all, my cousin had the weirdest, saddest thing happen to him and his family when a bunch of bats nested in his house. His dog got sick and sadly, died. My cousin began having major problems with his lungs. He and his wife and new baby had to move out and it's been an awful ordeal. If you feel inclined, please give to help them get through this situation. It's heart-wrenching and quite terrifying.

*Help Josh Zandstra become a first generation blueberry farmer!

*Help champion education for children in Ethiopia. Awake & Alive!

*Find and support your local Waterkeeper Alliance! Here's mine!

*Help get Carrotman published! A great little picture book to teach children how not to waste their food. Four days to go!!!

*Give the birds some love and give to the American Bird Conservancy!

I hope you have a truly wonderful day!

Image courtesy of Wild Delmarva which benefits the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

La Musica!

Little me, cutting a rug way back when. Looks the same now, by the way.

One of the things I've realized over the years, during what I have caught myself referring to as the "dark ages" i.e. many years of a depression that varied in depth, is that music fell away from my world a lot.

Music always was something that made me happy. It was a part of my childhood, and an enormous part of my teenage and adult years. It was only recently that music began creeping in more into my life again after years of a personal music-desert (sort of). I laughed today when I realized there were months I wouldn't listen to music at all! Before I dipped into the pit, so to speak, music was on all day, every day. Nonstop. I went to concerts regularly; incredible, perspective & life-altering concerts. I sang. I dreamed actively of getting over my paralyzing fear of singing in front of people to realize a bucket list-type dream of performing. Ugh.

Throughout the "dark ages", music would slip in every now and then, particularly when there was something so good I couldn't resist it (and right when I got married there were several months of memory-making happy music), but honestly there has been or was a void inside. Lately I've realized that that void has started to fill back up with music again. The hubs and I have been listening to a lot of records on the ole turntable and playing Spotify through our television from the laptop. As I write this, in fact, Miss Lucinda Williams is crooning to me with her lovely raspy and lilting voice.

There is a magic that happens in the pit of my chest when I'm listening to the right music at the right moment. This magnificent resonance and a happy trance-like situation overcomes me and I cannot help but move my body and/or sing. I can feel my brain and spirit catching fire like sage brush during a lightning storm. It feels incredible to touch that again. To see it sitting across the room making eyes at me.

So, in honor of something so big returning to my world, here is some music that makes me happy or moves me. Share some of your favorites with me because I'd love to know!

Lucinda Williams.

Sally! (Salvatore Geloso, always takes me somewhere good & makes me miss New Orleans).

Jimmy Fallon with Meghan Trainor, saw this last week and a friend reminded me of it this week. Just makes me smile.

A few years old, but I still love it.

Another oldie, but it makes me laugh every time I watch the video and I always have the song stuck in my head afterward. 

This video just makes me happy and reminds me of great house parties back in the day.

And the perennial classic. You've heard it a million times, but listen- really listen. It's the happiest damn song!

I hope you have a truly wonderful day! Take some time to play some music that makes you happy. It can change your entire day.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Little Victories

Hello dear friends! I hope your weekend was wonderful and relaxing. Mondays around here all about celebrating the little victories in life that edge us closer to the big change. Sometimes it seems like you're plugging away all day every day and not making any progress. It's times like these its important to stop, take a few minutes and recognize the little victories in life that prove you really are making progress. Even if it's teeny incremental progress- you're still moving forward. I'm going to share a few of my little victories from the previous week in hopes that you will take notice of yours and even share them here with me if you feel so inclined! Here we go!

*I took a cooking class! I've thought about doing it for years, talked about it for a few more and finally just did it on Saturday. It was kind of impromptu and it was fun. It felt good to do something different, and a little out of the ordinary. I walked away from it with a few new ideas. I really enjoyed that it featured a lot of products made here in my little hometown. Check out the gal I took the class from here!

*I went dancing to live music. I use to do that several nights a week when I was a young, "foxy" little thing. Well, I definitely felt older this time around, but it was great live, local music. I cut a mean rug by myself on the dance floor and had so much fun. After so many years of depression amongst other things, it felt so good to let go and move.

*I didn't get the treat. It struck me a few times, perhaps when I was bored, or just super hungry that frozen yogurt, or nutella or a chocolate bar or dessert would be so great. I didn't do it though. I may have had a few more beers than is typical however...

*I got my hair cut. Someone massacred my hair back in March and I've been trying to grow it out and not feel self-conscious throughout the duration. It took me a while before I had the money saved and I have to say it feels so good to feel/look remotely like my old self again. It may not seem like a big deal to most people, but it was quite the victory for me.

What are your little victories? I'd love to know! I hope you have a truly wonderful day! Oh! And be sure to spend some time beneath the Harvest Supermoon tonight!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sunday Affirmation

What do you say, friends? Wanna make something beautiful out of the mud life hands us? I say hell yes! Hell yeah, I will manifest beauty from the shit-storms! You with me?!

I hope you have a truly wonderful day!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Saturday Stolen Moment

Happy Saturday, friends! I don't know about y'all, but after a fun night out last night, I need some centering...and waffles. I need...ahem want waffles. Chicken and waffles to be exact! I digress...

Autumn is creeping right up to us, I could feel it on my morning jogs this week and I just love it. It's a magical time of year and I can almost sense nature gearing up for it's farewell for the year. In honor of Summer's adieu and Autumn's approach, and to help bring yourself to a calm and peaceful place (if you feel so inclined), here's today's stolen moment/meditation.

If weather permits, try to get out in it today. I particularly love in-between times like dawn or dusk (and since I was a half hour late posting this this morning, dusk may have to do!). Make sure you are somewhere safe and close your eyes. Listen to the sounds surrounding you. Are there cicadas chirping, or children playing? Whatever noises surround you, let them. Not the specifics as much as the combined symphonic range of the goings-on. Is there anything about it that is essentially indicative of where you live?

Let the sounds of nature wash over you. Breathe in deeply and exhale deeply as many times as feels good to you. After you are comfortable, imagine in your mind one beautiful thing you could do for someone else, or nature today. Pick up some litter, pay for someone's coffee, help a person with a stroller by opening a door or carrying groceries from someone. Spend a little extra Q-time with your spouse, children or pets. Pick something that shows kindness and love and do it. It doesn't have to be grandiose to have an impact.

Send some gratitude out. Not only for the end of a beautiful Summer, or for the ushering in of Autumn; but for your blessings. We all have them. Sometimes it may not feel as such, but we do. In the paraphrased words of Ray Wiley Hubbard, keep your gratitude higher than your expectations and today will be a good day. It's a damn good day, y'all.

I truly hope you have a wonderful day!

*Is this a heron or an egret? I saw it on my jog this morning and I can never tell them apart!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Friday Happies!

Yay! We've made it to the end of the week (for those who have "normal" weekends)! For those who don't, hang in there kiddos! Here are some end of the week things to make you smile and hopefully help you relax a little. Spread the joy, folks!

*I know it's old, but I love love Jessica's Daily Affirmations. I think I'll start doing this every morning before work. What a positive way to start your day!

*This made me literally laugh aloud. Scared my dogs.

*The one weirdest thing about the state you live in. Florida's was astonishing! What is your state's weirdest thing?

*For the Supernatural fan in all of us...okay so this one too!

*The Greyhound Rescue of Atlanta, retired athletes. Aw!!

*A few years old, but I dance around like a loon every time I hear it! Primadonna Girl!

*This will be my response when my coworkers ask me about having an actual real-life two-day weekend. Gosh!

*Last but not least, a little Colin Firth, Hey Girl... Any Austen fans out there?!

I hope you have a truly wonderful day and weekend! And if you're working all weekend, you can do it! Now all y'all go out there and spread some happiness!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Love Yo'Self!

I don't know about y'all, but I need some TLC this week. I'm taking steps every day to care for myself better but I find I could still do better, especially at the tail end of a stressful week. Thursdays are all about self-care around here, so here are some fun little things to try to perhaps calm your nerves and your weary bones.

* Dinner tea to help you digest.

*It's important to laugh!

*Honey Lavender Bath Melts. That sounds incredible. I am particularly obsessed with these little buggers. I can't wait to try them!

*Oooh! And a skin nourishing bath tea from Little Green Dot. I'm kind of loving this web site these days.

*I would give just about anything to have this green tea scrub, and a spa tech to scrub me down with it. TMI? So sorry.

*DIY All-in-one balm. Sounds incredible!

I hope you have a truly wonderful day!

Image courtesy of Happy Money Saver

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Spread the Love

Hello friends! If you're ever having a hard day, do something nice for someone else. It may sound overly-simplified and perhaps a bit trite, but it really works. I've been in my head a lot over the past week and honestly the only thing that pulled me out today is finding new people and organizations and causes to give to. Every Wednesday at P&PPS is all about giving, so here's this week's list of people and animals you can help. Let's keep a cycle of generosity going!

*There are 18 days and less than $1600 away from Carly Jacobs getting a bus for the special needs children at the Waratah School. Help her out!

*And Desert Farm Initiative, featured here several weeks ago, made they're goal! Yay! Read about their mission here!

*Be a Semonlina superhero! Help this small pasta factory expand to a bigger facility. Heh. Semolina superhero.

*Help tribal peoples defend their lives, protect their lands, and determine their own futures. Survival International.

*Help fund tracking for Monarch butterfly migratory patterns. How cool!

*Help preserve the native language and culture of the Scottish Gaelic people.

*Sign the petition asking Lowe's CEO to stop selling plants treated in bee-killing pesticides, and donate to Friends of the Earth.

I hope you have a truly wonderful day!

Image courtesy of Original Only.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Yummy Sanctuaries Part Deux

Some people thoroughly dislike cooking. I find it helps clear my mind. I love creating something tangible from all the ingredients. I zone out a bit and revel in the creativity and delicious aromas. There is something meditative about all the chopping and sautéing and simmering. The melding of flavors and creating of something new and exciting or classically comforting. It brings me joy. Today, check out these yummy sanctuaries and create one for yourself. Perhaps a favorite childhood recipe or something exotic and spicy! Try to take some time to really enjoy the process of feeding your body. It's a beautiful thing.

*Garlic & Thyme Quinoa Patties. Crunchy and yummy! I may have to make these this week.

*Edamame Hummus...Intrigued! I bet it's sweet. I'm going to have to try this one too! Would you try it?

*Zuchinni Crust Pizza. I cannot wait to find out what that tastes like!

*Because Autumn is on her way! Pumpkin Ravioli with Browned Butter Sage Sauce. Good grief, that sounds incredible.

*I love a galette. They're so easy and they make me feel far fancier than most other "easy" recipes do. Plus they're a real crowd-pleaser! Potato Galette with Wild Mushrooms!

I hope you have a truly wonderful day!

Image courtesy of STL Cooks.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Little Victories

Image from F2Images on Etsy.

Rabbit Rabbit, friends!* I hope y'all all got to have the day off today, and if you didn't- I feel your pain! But there are still victories to be celebrated, as is the plan every Monday here on P&PPS! So heeere we go!

*I incrementally bettered my fitness trek. Now there were many factors at play here: 1) PMS- I wanted fried chicken smeared in Nutella, but I didn't have it! 2) I doubled my small workout circuit I do every morning to make up for the small indulgences I did have (espresso frozen yogurt & movie popcorn because I went to see Ghostbusters in the theatre!). 3) I ate a lot of apples. 4) I got outside (in the summer?! what??!) and jogged a little. It all added up to me feeling a little feistier, a little more fit, and (embarrassing to admit) a little bit cuter. Quite frankly, I needed to feel all of it.

*I closed an old wound. If I'm particularly quiet around you, then that means I'm probably in my own world hashing out something completely unrelated to what's going on. That was my weekend, in a sense. Because I worked so much, my mind just kind of put my body on autopilot and went in to the ole mine to work some shit out. Thanks to some need inside of me that surpassed logic, I stitched up an old wound, slapped a band-aid on it, and made peace with a piece of the past. It's a big little victory.

*I chose not to be a butthole about working all weekend. I volunteered for Monday and sort of got hosed for the whole four day weekend; but I chose not to be mad, or grumpy or even bitch about it (okay, I bitched a little bit, but I tried really hard not to). I chose to have a good time at work with my associates and sell sell SELL some cardigans, even though I didn't get to spend as much time with my friends and family as I would have liked.

*I said no. In the old days, when someone would ask me out for a drink at 10 at night and I was tired or fighting a cold or had a really early day the next morning, I'd most likely still go. I didn't this week. I wanted to, but I let myself sleep instead. Did I miss my friend? Of course! But that 10 hours of sleep I got was much needed (and resulted in some wonderfully scandalous dreams!) And I know I'll get to spend some Q-time with my friend when I'm feeling a little better.

What were some of your little victories this week, friends? I'd love it if you shared some with me. Keep the positivity train chugging along!

I hope you have a truly wonderful day!

*It's good luck to say "Rabbit Rabbit" first thing in the morning when you wake up on the first of the month. It brings you good luck throughout the month. If you forget, you can say it backwards (Tibbar Tibbar) first thing to counteract any bad juju. You're little dose of Southern superstition for the day!