Monday, September 23, 2019

Top 5 Be's - How Will You Be?

Be...  Finish that statement.  How will you "Be"?  Go ahead.  I'll wait (insert Jeopardy music here).  In all seriousness when was the last time, you thought about that?  How do you want to be?

How we act, react and treat our family, friends and those around us is always changing and growing.  Especially as we ourselves change and grow through our experiences.  The ever disconnecting way we interact with the world is lessening the human contact, well before and beyond the realm of social media.  We've been pressing "1 for English" most of my adult life and I remember when "self-check" became a thing. 

As of late, I'm been really thinking about how I've been reacting to things and how others are reacting to me.  I'm working to change my own disconnected attitude.  In breaking my thoughts down, I hope to provide you with some food for thought and with something to consider the next time you act or react.

Here are the FIVE things I want to be or am working on being:

Be kind 
We currently live in a world where we have forgotten to be kind, or at least keep our mouths shut once in a while.  The anonymity of posting online has led to a lot of negative in our lives, leaving us on the constant defense.  We're waiting with bated breath, or should we say fingers?  Posied to respond to the next comment constantly defended our thoughts and beliefs.  We spend our time firing off responses, not really listening or respecting another person's point of view.  We put ourselves first constantly.  We feel we must "correct" the views of others that don't match ours.  We feel we must march forward always armed in constant argument against those who don't see things our way.  What happened to being kind?  What happened to agreeing to disagree? What happened to respecting the opinion of others?

Be curious
We aren't curious enough to ask questions anymore.  Instead, we correct.  We don't listen to understand, we listen to respond.  Not every conversation is about you.  Not every discussion is a platform to force someone to see things through the same tunnel in which you view life.  Be curious.  Ask questions.  Be open to learning something.  Be open to adjusting your view or at least respecting the views of someone else.  Don't create a situation where the other person has to defend everything they believe in.  Learn their point of view before you decide you must inform them they are "wrong".

Be grateful
We live in an amazing country where we're all allowed the freedom of speech, the freedom to be the unique individuals we all are.  Be grateful.   Stop tearing other people up for sharing their thoughts and their ideas just because they don't match your own.  We're constantly being told to be more accepting of "x", and yet we really aren't accepting of our own neighbors and friends that aren't of the same ilk we are.  We aren't grateful for the different points of view.  Instead, we are on a runaway train, a suicide mission, to force everyone to get on board with our way.  We view our way as the only way the "right" way.  When instead we should be grateful that there are so many different views, possibilities, and opportunities in the country we live in.

Be respectful
Respect opposing opinions and ideas.  It's really that simple.  I didn't say agree.  I said respect.  Those are two different things.  You don't have to agree with someone else's anything, but you can respect that anything.  Being respectful means that you recognize not everything is about you and your ideals.  Listen to what people are telling you, or not telling you.  Don't immediately state what is wrong with their view and don't go into a discussion ready to start an argument.  Respect the person you are having the discussion with, be curious, be open to learning something and be willing to share without imidate offense.  Open yourself up to the opportunity of teaching someone something, but again be respectful.  We're all ignorant, just about different things.  However, most of us are unwilling to learn from someone who shows us no respect and immediately treats us as if we are stupid and know nothing.

Be present
When was the last time you had dinner with someone and gave them your undivided attention? When was the last time you attended a meeting and left your phone behind?  When was the last time you went out with friends and focused on just being with them?  Stop being distracted and be present.  Be present with the people in your life.  Read that bedtime story, have that girls day, go on that trip, most importantly make that memory.  Memories will last a lifetime and they can only be created when you choose to be present. 

Friday, September 6, 2019

Lived in or Messy?

Housekeeping is such a relative perspective, isn't it?  No really.  Think about that one person's hot mess is a lived in house.  One person's clean house is another person's worst nightmare.  I'm the lived in house that finds overly clean houses to be a nightmare.  There is nothing that makes me more self-conscious than visiting someone who has one of those "everything in its place homes."

We have two cats and a dog, can you say hair?  I'm a creative, so I'd rather be creating than cleaning any day of the week.  If you came to see how clean my house is then you came for the wrong reasons.  Our house is lived in.  It's not dirty.  It's not disgusting.  It's lived in.

You don't have to take your shoes off when you come here and you'll go home with dirty socks if you do.  My animals live here, so don't sit if you don't want to go home with some sort of hair somewhere on you.  You'll often find dirty dishes in the sink and a stove that is in desperate need of a wipedown.  You'll find laundry waiting to be folded from last week's washing and our bed is never made unless of course we just changed the sheets.

If you have hives from reading that then I suggest you move on.  We won't make good friends.

The first few years we were married my mom made me feel terrible about how clean my house was, or should we say wasn't. Every time she visited there were always comments about the things I should be doing and wasn't.  For example, I don't dust.  This used to hurt, make me cry and made me feel very inept.  Then one time when she was visiting I told here where the broom was if she felt my floor was that dirty.  That ended the criticism.  I was done feeling bad about not meeting the 1950's standard of housekeeping.

There is no schedule in this house.  I do laundry when I can, usually a load here and four loads there.  I don't like to vacuum and only do it when I can no longer stand not doing.  I don't do anything on a once a week rotation.  No amount of amazing cleaning supplies makes me want to clean, there is no chore chart out there that makes me jump for joy, and I was blessed with a husband that doesn't give a damn Scarlet.

We live a full life, doing the important things that make memories and keep us happy.  No one will be remembered for their clean house legacy.  Unless, of course, it's in the sarcasm of Grandma's plastic-covered couch and floor runners to protect the carpet in the living room.  because in the end, the house is sold, the carpet is torn out and the good dishes end up at the thrift store.  Think about that the next time you judge based on the "cleanliness" of someone's house.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019


I'm going to venture into an area we're all told not to discuss.  Many of us were raised not to discuss money, faith, or politics, especially in mixed company.  What the hell does that even mean - mixed company?  Anywho...

Confederate Memorial State Historic Site - Missouri (02 August 2008)
Faith, this is a slippery slope in any conversation.  I'm guaranteed to upset someone in this post.  I was raised in the Lutheran Church.  We went nearly every Sunday, and by we I mean my mom and I.  My dad was what many refer to as a "sprinkler".  He attended major church holidays, baptisms, weddings, and funerals.  I attended the same church my entire childhood.  I took my first communion and was confirmed.  I was an acolyte and did things with the youth group.  As an adult, I got married in the same church, a church I hadn't attended in years.

Here's the catch, I left church.  Not just the church I grew up in, but the complete concept of it.  I didn't leave my faith, just the established idea of church.  As an adult I've become a sprinkler, following somewhat in my dad's footsteps.  Since our wedding, I've been to church maybe twice.

Let me set something straight, I left church not God.  I very much believe in God and we have a lot of conversations together.  I just don't go to a building once a week, sit with people who very often won't speak to me in the grocery store on Monday, pretend I enjoy listening to a pastor preach and have coffee with people who make me feel inadequate.   Some of you are going to say I just haven't found the right church, but church isn't like buying jeans.  I'm not willing to try on 100 of them to find the right one.  It's just not gonna happen.  I love that I have friends who've found the right church and I admire that.  I, however, don't believe in church.

There's always such a line in the sand between church and faith with some.  Some people feel that church and faith are one and the same and you can't have one without the other.  Some people believe that you must have an organized religion to have faith.  There are also people without both.  I'm not gonna hold any of that against anyone and I'm not going to judge you based on what you believe.  I have faith.  I believe in God.  I'm still a Lutheran, although it be a dormant one.

I often wonder why it has to be one perspective or another.  Why is someone always out to convert someone else?  I have friends from many walks of faith or nonfaith - Catholics, Lutherns, Baptists, some agnostics, even an atheist or two has been part of my life.  Can I tell you some of my best discussions about faith have been with the non-believers?  Pick your jaw up and shut your mouth.  It's quite amazing the discussions you can have when you don't try to force your belief on someone else's with the goal of changing them to your view.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Let's Be Candid Shall We?

  1. 1.
    truthful and straightforward; frank.

    synonyms: frank, outspoken, forthright, blunt, open, honest, truthful, sincere, direct, plain-spoken, straightforward, ingenious, bluff;

Being brave.  Following my path.  Following my calling.  Following my detour.  Whatever you want to call it.  I'm doing it one step at a time.  The other part of this journey is I'm finding my tribe, surrounding myself with like-minded people.

Find it on Amazon

I'm seven chapters into Lindsay McKenzie's book Follow Your Detour, about the halfway mark of the book.  I'm no speed reader, and I'm reading about 20 minutes a day while I walk on the elliptical.  Lindsay is very open and raw with how they got to be the fulltime RVers they are today, but it's about more than that.  It's about the pain, the fear, the healing and the leep of faith they had to take to follow their detour.

This read came along at just the right point in my life.  While the plan of traveling fulltime is in our future, we're not quite there yet. That's a post for another time.  This book is about so much more than just being brave enough to take the leap and travel fulltime.  Lindsay's book is changing my view of the "no's" in my life and looking at the "signs" that have gotten me here and encouraging me to keep going.

My biggest take away quote, this far, comes from chapter seven - "fear is nothing more than lies I tell myself because of my insecurities and uncertainties with the unknown."  Wow!  What a gut punch that is to the fear in our minds and our hearts.

Side note, if Bible quotes bother you then this isn't the book for you.  While the quotes aren't excessive or the focus of the book, Lindsay talks very openly about her faith. 

So, what exactly is my current detour? For me, it's building my creative life.  I'm talking about building a life I don't feel the need to shut off and hide from.  I'm talking about investing in my own pursuit of my own goals rather than someone else's.

Most days I enjoy what I do in my day job, but I don't want to do it forever.  I like seeing other people succeed and knowing I helped.  However, I can't keep doing a job that never truly shuts off and won't stay at the office.  I can't continue to give from a well that is constantly being emptied and refills way too slowly.  I care too much and it's time I start caring too much about what I have a desire to do, following my detour.

This book encourages you to stop looking at the no's in your life as roadblocks and start looking for the detour you're meant to take.  Keep going, go find your detour.  Tackle your fear and heal your pain.  

Friday, August 30, 2019

Wandering & Wondering

I go through these phases once or twice a year.  I wander through my thoughts and wonder what I'm doing, how could I be doing it better, if I should be doing something different.  I run off with wild abandon on a creative journey, sure that this will be the right one, the one that will set me free.  Only to find burned out at the end of each venture because I don't know how to pace myself or take the right steps to make it work and grow.

I've found myself exploring many things.  Some of the paths I've ventured down include:
  • Cookbook writing (wrote and self-published two books)
  • Food Blogger (wrote for 7 years and then removed it from the internet)
  • Handmade Gift Shop on Etsy (three years of thinking sewing would set me free)
  • Photography Blog (goes in fits and starts, still posting, but not consistent)
  • Card Blogger (I've learned I'm not a DIY, step by step blogger)
  • Handmade Card Artist (still doing this but in a bit of a creative slump)
  • Life Blog (you're reading it right now)
I've read books on doing what you love and starting small businesses and creative businesses.  I've listened to podcasts on how to build it and they will come.  I've made notes in notebooks.  I've talked with friends.  I follow blogs that inspire me.  Yet I still struggle.  I know, not everyone is going to understand this, but I so very much want to never work for another company again.  I want to work for myself, but I'm still searching for the thing that clicks.  I'm still wandering and wondering.  Searching for my calling, looking for the thing I want to be when I grow up.  

As of late, I'm thinking about how to put more energy and effort into my handmade card business idea.  I'm also thinking about writing more here as well.  I've been pondering walking away from Facebook.  It's a time suck and quite honestly and what a huge time suck it is.

I've read about writing in my own voice and starting by writing for myself, the readers will come.  I've been reading books on writing, exploring my own voice.  People want to read about other people's lives, I do and I'm not alone.  I live in a small town and am an people really want to read about that?  

As for the cards, I love making, sharing and selling them, but I have to be honest with myself it's gonna take years to make that pay off if it ever does.  

Wondering what I do for a day job that I want to leave?   I'm an assistant coordinator for an educational consortium.  I spend a lot of time with people, students of all ages to be more precise.  We facilitate a variety of educational opportunities.  It's an on all the time kind of job, even though I only work part-time, people ask me things in the grocery store, stop me in the post office and I never really get to shut this job off.  I'd like a more creative pathway that I'm more passionate about. 

I've been in some type of customer service/public service job my entire life.  My dad ran a business out of our home, so from the time I was old enough to answer the phone I was old enough to provide some sort of customer service.  From there I worked as a data entry clerk, did my penance in retail, sold advertising (both print and radio), ran the front lines as a receptionist, and served my sentence in the banking industry.

I've always wanted to make a living with my creativity, whether that be through things I make, the photos I take or the writing I love.  It would be perfect to find something that pulled all of this together.  So here I am at 41, wandering and wondering, still making my way toward my dream of self-employment.  

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Reflections: Summer 2019

Where has my summer gone?  Summer in Alaska always goes so fast.  Three months of 24 hours of light seems to fly by at the speed of light.

I always lose the month of June to long hours at work while we put on a Heavy Equipment Academy, in which I spend many days wearing this ensemble.

We did a little extended getaway over the 4th of July weekend and made our first trip to Anchorage.  Forrest fires in the area made it a really smokey trip, but we were there the day the state broke a temp record and it hit 90 degrees.

Had some good food, did some shopping and looked for a fifth wheel.  Ate at the "famous" Moose's Tooth Pizza.

And on our way home we held out to eat at our favorite place in Denali, aka Glitter Gultch, Moose-AKas.

Seriously, they have the best crepes we've ever eaten.

I got a bit of rhubarb from our friends and processed it all into freezer bags for us to enjoy over the winter.  By some rhubarb, I mean 45 cups of rhubarb.

I also tried to get some nice photos of a bull moose that wouldn't cooperate with the opportunity.

Went to my first Alaskan rodeo.  It sure wasn't what I'm used to seeing in Wyoming.

In August we purchased our fifth wheel, and mother what a fifth wheel it is.  It's 37 feet long, in case you're wondering.

I saw my first real-life porcupine.  I've only ever seen them as roadkill until this one wandered through our yard.

Squeezed in a camping trip in the new rig and enjoyed some mountain views at Bolio Lake.

There's something about eating breakfast while you're camping that makes it all taste so much better than when you make it at home.

We'll spend the last week of August and our Labor Day Weekend buttoning things up and getting ready for winter...sigh.  I'm hoping for a nice bit of Fall before we get to freezing temps and the dark months.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Unsponsored Review: Crio Bru

Let me start by first saying this is an unsponsored review of a product I recently purchased and enjoyed.  I thought it would be worth sharing my thoughts with all of you.  Let's start with the basics...

 Crio Bru is not coffee, it's made from cacao, also known as cocoa beans.  The beans are roasted, ground and brewed the same as coffee. 

I ordered the Little Bag Bundle for $12.95, which is two (4 ounce) bags of two different roasts.  This seemed like the perfect way to try Crio Bru without a big investment.  The tagline at the top of the website says "jump into dark chocolate heaven" and I won't lie if you don't like dark chocolate don't bother. 

When we tried our first tasting, I used our French Press to make it, as suggested in the brewing instructions on the back panel of the package. 

I liked it better than hubby did, but I'm a dark chocolate lover.  I'm one of those people that enjoys 70% cacao and higher in my dark chocolate bars.  I think it would also be reasonable to say I think since it was cocoa beans, hubby might have expected somewhat of a more "hot cocoa" experience from it.  He added a bit of agave and said it was something he was glad we tried.  I enjoyed it without sweetener but did add a bit of whole milk after a few sips. While I enjoyed it with the milk if I'm honest I preferred it "black".

Hubby and I talked about brewing it half and half with coffee, which will be happening in the future.  We also talked about it not being a daily thing.  In our defense this had nothing to do with the taste of the Crio Bru, it was more about us loving our coffee too much to leave it behind. 

In my opinion, the flavor is rich and very dark chocolate in taste.  I will absolutely order it again, even though it won't replace my daily coffee.  I would be interested in trying some of the other roast options.  I savored having something like a flavored coffee that actually tastes as good as it smelled.  I also enjoy the idea that this little beverage could be a stand-in for some of my chocolate cravings without all the added sugar of hot cocoa mix. 

My final thoughts.  I would recommend Crio Bru to anyone who fancies dark chocolate, is looking for a caffeinated beverage option as an alternative to coffee or tea, or enjoys having new culinary adventures. 

Monday, April 8, 2019

Sick & Tired of Being Sick & Tired

I've been down with a nasty Spring cold for somewhere in the ballpark of eight days.  I actually think this is worse than the bronchitis I had while we were on vacation over the Christmas Holidays. 

I took nearly an entire week off work and I still feel exhausted and rung out.  I still have the stuffy nose and congestion.  It's getting better, but this one is a hanger-on.  Hubby had it first, he was kind enough to bring it home from work.  He's a week father into this crud than I am, but he's still has a bit of a cough and is rundown.  We're both on the mend, but this one really took it out of us.  We're noticing the older we get the harder it is to get over these things.

We're both pretty good about staying home when we're sick, but not everyone uses their sick time as they should.  Seriously, that's what it's for and the rest of us would totally appreciate it if you'd use it rather than bringing your cud to the office to share it. 

Too many people think that the world won't run if they aren't there.  I've got news for you, it will and it does.  If you're hit by a bus on the way to work, work will still go on without you.  It's hard to let go and stay home.  I totally get that.  I work for a small non-profit and there are only a few of us that keep things running, but guess what the world didn't end when I didn't go in for a week.  Will there be fires to put out when I go in today?  Most likely, but nothing that can't be handled. 

I for one am sick and tired of being sick and tired.  We all burn the candle at both ends way too much, and I don't mean like when we were all in our twenties.  I mean, we work 8 to 10 hours a day, pushing ourselves to keep doing more.  We're adding more tasks and more stress into a day that is only 24 hours long.  We sleep less, spend less time with the people we love, and run faster to chase the "American dream."  Is it worth it?

When you run into someone at the store or the post office does your conversation sound like a broken record on repeat?  Does it go something like this:

"Hey, how's it going?"
"Oh you know, we're crazy busy.  You?"
"Oh, I know.  We should do lunch sometime."
"We should."
"Well it was great seeing you, I have to run."
"Yeah, me too.  Call me."
"Will do."

That call is never made and that lunch is never had because we're all too "crazy busy" to slow down and do it.  At what point do we stop having this conversation?  I'd rather not have this conversation.  I've intentionally stopped asking people "how's it going?" and started asking "how are you?" Because while I don't need a deep conversation while waiting in the checkout line, I also don't want to have the same hollow conversation with everyone.  Why are we all so afraid to have an honest conversation?  Why are we all so obsessed with the fear of missing out that we aren't slowing down to enjoy the friends we have and the family we love?

So while I'm sick and tired of literally being sick and tired this week, I'm also sick and tired of hearing how busy everyone is all the time.  Learn to say "No" to the busy and start saying "Yes" to the things that matter.  Say yes to taking care of yourself.  Say yes to sick leave, downtime, family time, time alone with a good book.  Say yes to the lunch and mean it.  Stop the sick and tired cycle.  Stop overscheduling your life and your families life.  

When you rush through everything you miss all the little things that make life wonderful.  In the end, no one ever says they wish they'd worked more.  And, yes, I probably have had too much time alone in the house while I've been sick, but I do some of my best thinking when I'm left to my own devices.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Reflections: February 2019

What did February look like...

We had a little mini getaway to Fairbanks.  It's how we battle cabin fever.  This is our favorite french dip and cheese fries from Friar Tucks.

I've been trying to use a planner for my creative work, including blog posts.

Nails for Valentine's Day.

The sun is back!  I started wearing my shades to work again because it's finally light enough again.

It was in the upper 20's and low 30's most of February.

I made an old favorite - Toasted Ravioli aka Fried Ravioli.

I painted our kitchen.  Before...


I have a bit of a notebook fetish.

My little alter of creativity in my studio.

Artwork at a Starbucks.

We also had a trip home to Wyoming.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Traveling Home February 2019

We spent the last week traveling home.  This was more whirlwind duty trip than pleasure, but it's always good to see family and friends.

I always over pack.  I need to work harder on packing less, way less.

Drinks in the airport bar before departing is kind of a tradition.

We ate at one of our old favorites when we made it to Fort Collins, CO.  Love the Charco Broiler.

Could skip the peanut butter pie.

I've always loved this statue that is outside the front door.

Had our obligatory Taco Johns stop in Rawlins, WY.

We saw more snow in Wyoming than we've seen in Alaska all winter.

We drove on some slushy slick roads with some blowing snow.

The sunrise at my Mom's house is always so stunning.

Spent a bit of time sketching while we were gone.

Journaling on the go.

One of the bronze statues in our hometown.

Second lunch. Second Taco John's meal.  Ate it in the car.  Don't judge.

One more dink in the hotel bar before our flight out in the morning.

Welcome to DIA (Denver International Airport).

We had a five-hour layover in Seattle at SeaTac. Found the sacred empty concourse and enjoyed a bit of downtime.

Had our last meal at Anthony's at the airport, they'll be closing the airport location at the end of March.  Will miss the breakfast tacos and this amazing clam chowder.

Couldn't help but have this amazing Bailey's Chocolate Mousse for dessert.

They have some unique art throughout SeaTac.

Our last morning in a hotel room.

Home again.  Home again.

Until next time...