Category Archives: Blogging

8 Things I do for Fun

List five things you do for fun.

This was the daily prompt from WordPress and I’ve decided to go with it.

I am a fan of having fun. I think putting a pause on our adult responsibilities to be playful is good for our spirits.

Also at play here is that my birthday is coming up very soon and I’m excited to celebrate it with my family. My brain is in party mode!

I’m going to share not just 5, but 8 things that I do for fun. Because 8 is my lucky number, folks.

What do you like to do for fun?

Fun for me is:

  • Playing group board games like “Ransom Notes”, “Apples to Apples”, or “Scrabble” with family and/or friends. This is a guaranteed way to share laughs together. I love the feeling of relaxation in my whole body after some good old fashioned belly laughs.
  • Dance. Sometimes alone in my kitchen. Sometimes with my grandson when he challenges me to “dance-offs”. The more spontaneous the dancing is, the better. That’s where the joy is.
  • Creating music playlists. My method is to think of a mood I want to create or a genre I want to re-visit, then search online for songs under that category. While this is a more introverted way to have fun, often the end result is that I get to share these playlists with the special people in my life.
  • Thrift store shopping. It’s a surprising treasure hunt every time and freeing as well, as it’s guilt-free. I don’t come out of a thrift store with my purchases feeling bad about spending money, because I never spend that much. Even better, the money I spend often goes toward a cause that supports and lifts others up.
  • This. Blogging. Interacting with all of you in the comments.
  • Decorating my house. Using home decor I kept from our previous house in new ways. Finding just the right spot to put that cool piece of pottery I found at a thrift store. It’s a simple and creative activity that just tickles me.
  • Photography. Now, I don’t claim or even aim to be a professional photog necessarily. It’s just fun for me to capture shots in the day to day with my cell phone.
Karl the cat, when he came to visit last week
  • Spending time on the water. Trolling for fish in a boat while the sun warms my skin. Looking forward to doing this on our pontoon (the one we plan to buy in the next few months) this summer!

What Fascinates You?

As a Gen X er, the 1980’s was the decade that saw me through the ages of 13 through 22. Music was a huge part of that experience for me. Much of that time, though, I was listening to songs and artists from the 1970’s. The music of the 1970’s sounded better to my ears, and still does.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have a few favorite songs that were put out in the 80’s.

One, in particular, has my attention again. On account of self-help maven Martha Beck.

It’s the song “Fascination” by The Human League.

Back to Martha Beck.

For years now, I’ve been really into self-help books, as well as articles written by Martha and the like. Late in 2022, I saw an ad online for a free self-help “Master Class” led by Ms. Beck. I signed up for it and am currently 40 minutes into it (it’s an hour long and I’m not a dummy, I know it’s free so that I can be bombarded with pleas in my email box to sign up for costly self-help courses).

Anyway. I think of myself as a DIY’er when it comes to self help books and courses. From these, I take a little bit of this and a little bit of that, leaning into the nuggets that speak to me.

What caught my attention so far in this course is Martha’s idea of what the word “fascination” means and the importance it holds for finding your path in life. How I see it is that the “path” = my livelihood.

She describes fascination as “attention without effort”. That makes a lot of sense, don’t you think?

We all have those things that we can just focus on and marinate in without even trying, right? Topics, activities, concepts, fields of study.

I’ve got myself a draft folder in which I’ve started a list of the things that fascinate me. It’s going to be a long list that will evolve over time. I think it’ll be worth the effort. Especially if I do something with it afterwards.

What would be on your list of “fascinations”?

Blogging about things that fascinate me is a no-brainer. It’s an opportunity to fly my “freak flag” so to speak; to explore and experiment.

Other potential actions I could take based on pursuing that which fascinates me also fascinates me. Maybe if I follow those threads of fascination, I will unlock a skill or talent I didn’t know I had which will lead to new career opportunities. Or maybe it’ll simply provide me with some solid writing fodder.

As long I’m learning something new, it’s all good.

If you didn’t want to check out the video I shared here, let me tell you what resonated for me, as I gave my shoulders a workout while chair dancing to this song just now.

That would be these lyrics: “just looking for a new direction, in an old familar way, the forming of a new connection, to study or to play”. It’s a good way of describing what I’m trying to do here on this blog in 2023.

And you? Any song lyrics that speak to you, particularly in your blogging life?

Please share in the comments!

Ambition, Anxiety, and 2023

I am just one of a multitude of personal bloggers out there in the world. But I think what makes me unique is that I’m saddled with a complex that comedian Michelle Wolf is at least partially responsible for.

During a stand up special I watched a while back, she said something to the effect of “So you tell me you have a blog, right?”. She makes a weird face, then continues with “Oh, that’s cute. You write stuff about yourself and your life that nobody wants to read but you put it out there anyway? Good for you!” This, from my recollection, was said with a big fat smirk on her cute little curly headed face.

Don’t get me a wrong-I got over her chipmunk-ey voice enough to enjoy her comedy. She has that quality that, to me, marks a truly great comedian: she pushes boundaries and speaks uncomfortable truths. And I applaud her sensible yet hip footwear choices.

But…..ouch! I resemble her remarks.

I am curious though; can anyone else relate to the feeling of being called out like this? Totally rational as it was not a one on one conversation I had with Ms. Wolf here, right? Like being seen for who you are, but not in a good way, making you want to immediately crawl back into the hole of complete social obscurity?

If this sounds like you, please share your stories in the comments. Commiserating with you all is a huge perk for me as a blogger.

Moving on (oblivious of course to the possibility that I’m simply proving Michelle Wolf right).

I blogged in this space pretty sporadically in 2022. I blogged about the massive changes the year brought for me and my family, some aspects getting more emphasis than others. This year, I’ve shared my political opinions. I’ve talked about my grandson in this space.

For those of you who have read what I wrote in this space in 2022 and chose to come back and read more and/or gave me a follow, I thank you so very much for that. It’s appreciated.

2023 is now upon us.

I’ve got a lot of ambition when it comes to blogging and writing. I am certain that if I don’t step it up now, I won’t ever get to wherever it is that I’m supposed to be as a creative writing enthusiast.

So, 2023 is the year in which I step things up.

Baby steps, of course. But like, a ton of them.

Step #1 is to publish blog posts more frequently.

Leaning into learning is what I’ll be doing in the new year, in tandem with blogging. Gobbling up more self-help books. Taking online courses and following threads that pique my curiosity. Improving my photography skills. Gaining more knowledge about child psychology. Stuff like that. Learning about the things that I can use for good, if that makes sense.

I’ve also got a plan to improve my health by sharpening my culinary skills and keeping a food diary. I will be pursuing paid employment in 2023 as well, because at 55 I’m not interested in retiring yet. Exploring all employment options (self, at home, in a store or a non-profit) and blogging about it along the way will be happening.

The caveat for me is that going into 2023, I will continue watching my grandson most weekday afternoons. To make any headway on these plans of mine, I need to summon a great amount of self-discipline. My days will need to become more structured. I do have a plan for that. It starts with having a better sleep schedule and a set time for blogging related stuff every day.

2023 feels bright and shiny to me right now. That’s probably due to my optimistic nature. I am self-aware enough though to know the shine of the new year will fade over time. Bumps in the road will happen, as they do. I (and you) ought to remain nimble to overcome and adjust.

I realize this post was a lot. If you’re still reading this, well, thanks Pal.

You are the best.

**pic of Michelle Wolf wearing cool shoes courtesy of https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/michelle_wolf_joke_show**

**HNY image courtesy of https://www.rd.com/article/new-year-wishes/**

8 Things I Can’t Get Behind

I haven’t published a blog post in a couple of weeks. That makes me crabby. Other things in my life are making me crabby as well. I have faith I will get through it, however, and the crabby-ness will dissipate over time.

In the spirit of crabbiness, I present to you the 8 (random and completely unrelated to each other) things I cannot get behind. If you’re feeling crabby like I am right now, I encourage you to share in the comments the things you personally cannot get behind as well.

Misery loves company and all that.

This post might indicate a need for me to trash my “tag line” on the home page of this blog, which reads: “Tales from an optimist transplanted from Wisconsin to Colorado. Finding silver linings, lifting others up, sharing positively good stuff”.

At the very least, I promise to publish a less pissy post next time.

  • Grown adults wearing cartoon character clothing. I think they look ridiculous. Not that I don’t like to frequently wear my brightly colored LuLuRoe leggings purchased from a local thrift store. So you can take this opinion with a grain of salt I suppose. Just know that if you see me in a Goofy (the dog) sweatshirt in public, something is terribly wrong. I’ve either been kidnapped and forced to wear someone else’s clothes or all my clothes burned in a fire.
  • The phrase “SorryNotSorry”. To me, it’s snotty sounding. Privileged. I do think it was bourne out of good intentions though, as too many of us women run around apologizing all day long for every little thing. I once met someone through a former workplace who wore a necklace with this phrase on it. It made me want to barf.
  • Angry white men. Seriously dudes what in holy hell do you have to be so angry about? You have carte blanche in this world. A free pass to do as you please. Opportunities galore based on being born male and white.
  • Businesses spelling their names incorrectly in a “cutesy” way. Certainly this is done to stand out so that potential customers remember them next time they’re in the market for a new “kar”. Maybe it’s just me but when I see big signs on the highway with purposely misspelled names I cringe.
  • Gender Reveal Parties. You’re having a baby, people! Why put the focus on gender like this? You’ll love the baby no matter the gender, right? If not, you’re just an asshole. Just call it a baby shower FFS and let the gender be a surprise. Don’t even get me started on the phrase “we’re having a baby.”
  • When people wear mis-matched socks. This drove me nuts when my kids did this as teenagers. I assumed they did this because they lacked the motivation to find matching socks (aka laziness). But now when I’m out and about in the world I am seeing people well over the age of 14 wearing two totally different socks on their feet. Why, just why??
  • When people who I am certain have at least finished the 12th grade use poor grammar. Prime example: I should “of” instead of I should “have”. It floors me how often I come across this on social media.
  • Sweet Potatoes. Potatoes should be salty, peppery, buttery…not sweet. I feel like a real weirdo about this because it seems 9 times out of 10 when I’m engaging in foodie conversations with others and I state my disgust of these things, I’m met with “really? Oh, they’re so delicious, especially with brown sugar and marshmallows”.

Ch Ch Ch Changes, Part Two

My first ever post on this blog was entitled “Ch Ch Ch Changes”.

I wrote it as a way to introduce myself. To share the major life transitions that led me to where I was in that particular moment of my life: unemployed and living the “empty-nester” life with Hubs in a new state.

As of April 1st of this year I again am unemployed (by choice). Because of all the things that need to be done. Addressed. Thrown out or given away. Packed.

Our move back to Wisconsin is slated for late May/early June. Between now and then, my mental and physical energy will be split between reviewing the past, savoring the present, and planning for the future.

I, along with my family, are in the throes of transition. I am a bit freaked out and searching for the balance in all of this.

Reviewing the past will include playing the “should it stay or should it go” game with all of our worldly possessions and the reminiscing this will bring about. There are countless pictures and assorted memorabilia to go through. You can no doubt expect blog posts to come out of this.

This is a good thing, because I’ve got some catching up to do. I’ve all but ignored my blog for the last couple of months. Case in point: my 5 year blogging anniversary came and went with zero fanfare.

The present: practicing self-compassion and actual mindfulness, which I now realize I’m only beginning to grasp after using it as a buzzword willy nilly in the recent past. Making memories with my daughter and grandson, as these two will not be living with us indefinitely. Come summer 2022, they will most likely be living in their own place again. Spending quality time with Kid #2, who intends to remain in Colorado while the rest of us are moving to Wisconsin.

The future: staying on top of the housing market in the area of Wisconsin we plan to settle in. Finding the house that will suit us best. One on the waterfront, large enough to host friends and family on the regular. Familiarizing myself, via the internet, with the area and getting a feel for the job market there.

Time is of the essence for me right now. I aim to use it wisely so I can avoid being overwhelmed.

At almost 55

Super self-indulgent title, right?

Yet I think it works.

Buckle up while I summarize my current status:

Tomorrow I turn 55. I don’t recall freaking out inside about my birthday since the day I turned 31 (for real). But, I accept it. What’s the alternative? There is none.

Shit, I wouldn’t want to turn back the hands of time even if I could.

While “balance” is my word for 2022, “Moving Forward” is my new mantra. Or “Progress, not Perfection”. It’s a toss up.

In that spirit, off I go.

Hubs and I’s empty nesting status has been on hiatus for the last 13 days. We are now a household of 5, for the time being. It’s nothing I want to delve into on this platform at this time. But it’s important for you to know if you’re going to stick around, because my whole world is in the most transitional period since 2014, and because I know that part of my self-care routine (I despise this overused and abused term but am in the flow and choose not to google synonyms right now) is writing these blog posts. Because it’s going to affect everything you read here from this point on to some degree or other.

I’m determined to focus on the present moment. One day at a time. While of course planning for the near future (aka our move back to Wisconsin). Along with simultaneously doing my best to wrap up the Colorado part of my path in the neatest, most colorful bow, with the exception of my talented artist kid Rabbie and Karl the cockeyed cat, who intend to remain here, work-wise and beyond.

One thing I don’t believe I have done a good job of communicating to you about on this blog is that I love numbers. I find meaning in them. I enjoy making mathematical calculations in my head. I notice numbers all the time. It’s kinda weird.

That, among other reasons, is why I’m going to simply share the Top 5 things that are making me happy these days.

  • Hearing and seeing my almost 8 year old grandson laugh at his own jokes.
  • Having the support of my employer with reducing my weekly hours.
  • Listening to books on Audible (Jen Mann’s most recent one simply spoke to me while making me laugh).
  • Witnessing the bravery of my adult children amidst life’s changes and challenges.
  • Blogging, and the fact that I feel great enthusiasm about writing on topics I haven’t covered in the almost 5 years since I started this blog. The primary topic I’m feeling now is under the umbrella of “Work”.

This song is dedicated to my kids. I think you might like it too.

Recovering, Reflecting, Revealing

Since my last post, I’ve been gradually recovering from the chaos that was December 2021.

Anyone else?

I’ve also been reflecting a lot lately. Reflecting on my recent past as a blogger, my current work life, and what I’ve learned and accomplished, not only in 2021, but since moving to Colorado with Hubs in 2016.

I am in a better frame of mind than I was when I wrote the last post of 2021. Time and the quiet space of my home have made that possible.

Checking some major things off my “to do” list at work has also made that possible. Grant submitted. Inventory done.

I guess you could say that right now, I’m breathing a long sigh of relief.

Lucy Relief GIF - Lucy Relief Pfew GIFs

And I’m ready to begin to share in this space what I’ve learned so far: as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result of living, loving, and working in Colorado since 2016. As a result of parenting adults and being someone’s grandma. As a result of the meaningful friendships I’ve had (and still have) in my life. As a result of this being the year in which I turn 55.

Not to be dramatic or anything.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to go into all of that right here and now. I think it’s safe to say that I’ll get into it when I get into it. In 2022.

Because I have had a big old pin in something I’ve wanted to tell you all for the last couple of months.

If I was going to be dramatic and ridiculous here, I would show you this image before I spat out what it is that is housing (ha ha) the pin. Was that a pun?

Coffee Breaking News GIF - Coffee Breaking News - Discover & Share GIFs

Okay, so here it is:

I’m certain that for at least part of this year I will reside in Colorado. I will have a new zip code before the end of 2022. The license plates on the truck will be changing.

You get where I’m going with this?

Yes, of course you do. I know you all are not morons.

Hubs and I are moving. Our time in the great state of Colorado will come to, what feels to me, while not entirely pleasant and actually sad in some important ways, a natural end.

In 2022. To either Minnesota or Wisconsin; closer to both of our families and life-long friends. We are making some updates to our town home here, selling it and heading north.

So that’s my big news. I couldn’t just write a regular old post this week and ignore this major life decision I was holding in.

I’m going to buckle up, and if I was going to be dramatic, I’d tell you, as a reader, that you may want to as well.

2022 is bound to be quite a trip.

About 2021

I’m eager for 2022.

I feel all of this, written by Rachel Hackenberg for the United Church of Christ’s daily devotional on 12/28/21:

“If you are eager to throw your 2021 calendar in the trash, and you have all of your incense and candles and rituals prepared to sweep out 2021 and bless 2022, remember that even when the year is new: there is still rage and death and dreadful absence that haunts our collective spirit and needs to be healed. 

Make room for the rage. 

Welcome it like a weary traveler who can’t find a room in the inn. 

Give it space where it can cry and groan. 

Light a candle if it labors through the night. 

Do not be quick to console it, only keep it company to be sure it doesn’t harm others. 

Amplify its voice. 

Let it be messy and imperfect”

I appreciate this devotional because 2021 threw me for a loop (especially that last month or so). The events in my personal orbit as well as events in this country and world in 2021 have left me feeling older, feistier, and tired.

I don’t know of a better way of putting it, but I feel messy. I need time to process it all because of the emotional whiplash. I need time to recuperate.

There were happy moments for me, however. Photographic evidence:

My “Elfie Selfie” at my employers “Santa Shop” this year.
Rabbie and I at Thanksgiving
Me with my favorite 7 year old in Wisconsin on Halloween weekend
The Hubs and I in our finest at my employer’s “Adult Prom” fundraising gala

A truly inspiring and prolific blogger who I follow, Jenny, of Jenny’s Lark, asked a question on her blog recently. I have been pondering it ever since.

Here is my paraphrased version of it: if there is ONE lesson you learned in 2021 that you can keep for yourself, while all of the other lessons disappear into thin air, what would it be?

A tough, yet interesting question to consider, don’t you think?

I’m going to make a list of the lessons I’ve learned in 2021 right now. I will edit this down to just one however.

  • I realized in 2021 that my life was out of balance: too much working in all it’s forms and not enough writing and publishing.

And this is exactly why, for me, 2022 is going to be all about one word.

BALANCE

Here’s the song of the year for me. I’m pretty sure you all will appreciate it, going into the new year.

How Are You Rolling These Days?

I ask this as a sincere question.

Like, I can take it. Be real.

Think of it as a “check in”.

I also ask this because I have a full blown complex about coming across on this blog as self-centered, self-involved and driven solely by self-interest. Like “me me me me me” obnoxiousness.

Please God tell me I am not alone in this.

However, I know the nature of a personal blog is that it is personal. Attached at the hip to who the blogger is as a person. Like, no one is paying me to write news articles here. I am not beholden to anyone other than myself (and you) in this space.

It’s really quite the conundrum, don’t you think?

Also, I am not in the right head space to finish and publish the post I most recently started about work and career and me (of course).

Because of Christmas. Because of Work. Because I have the crud (aka sinus and possible ear infection, and yes I should get my ass to the doctor’s office).

So, tell me, how are you feeling physically these days?

Aside from the crud, my shoulders are aching more than usual. Likely because of the physical activity my upper body has been up to, with all the Christmas cookie baking and packaging I’ve been doing. I am hop Blah .Blah. Blah.

I freaking love baking. Christmas cookies especially. My secret? I keep it simple. No high-falutin Martha Stewart shit going on behind the scenes over here.

Though someday, I think I’d enjoy simply trying some of Martha’s recipes or DIY tricks. Maybe when I have this kitchen to cook and bake in.

How’s your attitude?

Currently, I am waffling between “let’s get Christmas wrapped up, mmmkay?” and “Christmas is my favorite!” Depends on the day. I am very much looking forward to making some merry though. Especially this weekend when I’ll be dressed as an elf while working at my employer’s “Santa Shop”, where donated presents, food, and hygiene products are given out to low income families.

How are you feeling emotionally?

Good question. Hard to answer actually don’t you think? I push those emotions of mine down during times of extreme stress. So much so that I can’t properly answer this question. Once I start seeing the light at the end of this Christmas tunnel I have faith that my body will relax and those emotions will come to the surface. I’ll sit down on my couch with Radar, sip some wine, and let it go.

All of the above and more is why I’ve determined that I’m going to choose one word to focus on in the New Year: “Balance”.

I was totally going to end this post with the loveliest Christmas music video I could find on YouTube.

Instead, I’m going to share two of my newest favorite songs; both of them stick in my head as I go about my day and lift me up. Maybe they’ll do the same for you.

I have been a fan of this dude for about 8 years or so. Can’t wait to see him at Red Rocks (or anywhere else) someday.

Doesn’t this just make you yearn for a tropical vacation this spring????

What Sticks

I’ve decided to put a pin in the post I planned to publish today. It’s about this guy:

Radar, snoozing in our camper. Isn’t he a beaut?

I want to take my time with that post and get it right. Give it the love and attention it deserves.

Anyway, what this post is actually about is words. Lyrics, specifically.

Now, as the melophile I aspire to be (because I mentioned it in a sort of recent post but quickly realized that many, many, other people are way bigger melophiles than this gal who needs to fricking catch up), I’m going to share with you some song lyrics that have stuck with me from the moment I first heard them.

From Alanis Morissette’s “Isn’t it Ironic?”: “Life has a funny way of sneaking up on you when you think everything’s okay and everything is going right… and life has a funny way of helping you out when everything’s gone wrong and everything blows up in your face”.

It’s like, we make plans and God laughs, which I wholeheartedly believe is true. We have the illusion that we are in control, then, in an instant, we are reminded that is not the case at all.

Gotta love that little “boop” on the nose!

Not necessarily “ironic”, but as you are reading this, there is approximately an 8.8% chance that I, at that precise moment, am rocking out to a live version of Alanis singing “Hand in My Pocket”. This is on account of the fact that Hubs and are will be seeing her perform tonight, on the first day of fall, in Denver.

Here’s a great cover of the quintessential song to usher in this new season.

Now, back to those lyrics…..

From the Avett Brothers “Head Full of Doubt”: “Decide what to be and go be it”. Very inspirational, while simplistic. But maybe that’s the point.

Liz Phair was supposed to be touring with Alanis this year, but a couple of months ago suddenly pulled out for personal reasons (I hope she and her family are ok). That really, truly bummed me out. I was so looking forward to seeing her play live as I’ve been a fan of hers for years now. The song lyric I’m choosing here isn’t from a song on her critically acclaimed and wildly popular “Exit in Guyville” album, but a track from a later one.

From “Somebody’s Miracle”: “There goes somebody’s miracle, walking down the street”.

Why do I love this lyric? Because it makes me happy to think that it’s true: that when I’m engaging in one of my favorite activities-people watching-I can think of this line and imagine that every soul I’m seeing is somebody else’s “miracle”. That someone in their lives adores them that deeply, no matter what they look like, how they behave, or even how they smell. I know it’s corny, but I think if we can all try to do this when in public, we can soften our hearts and suspend judgement.

So, I ask you, fellow readers and/or melophiles, what lyrics have stuck with you? Please don’t overthink this-that takes the fun out of it! I look forward to your comments.

***Header image courtesy of https://www.bigwhite.com/events-activities/events-calendar/dont-forget-the-lyrics