Sunday, December 19, 2021



You may be asking quit what? I have come to the conclusion that in reality, my life will be happy and I have made a choice to be joyful if there are 5 things that I remember to quit doing. Sounds easy. I can attest that it is not always easy. If I remain aware of them, it does help. So, I thought that I would share. 

Who knows the exact key to success? It is different for most of us; however it is a for sure thing that the key to failure is trying to please everyone. It simply can't be done. If I just believe in myself and do what I know is right for me, then I know it makes me a happier and more positive person. If others don't like it, then let them be. As I have stated before, happiness is a choice. Life is just not about pleasing everybody.

There seems to be a fear of the unknown and of being judged which leads to being shamed. It is a good lesson for me to stop regretting past choices. They are over. There is nothing wrong with asking others for help if I need to have a sounding board to talk out where I am and where I want to be. 

Really, I have to state to myself to remain happy then live in the present. Forget the past and as for the future, that is something to work and look forward to. If I ground myself in the present and stop putting myself down for what I have perceived as past mistakes then I am a much happier person. To dwell on the past is a way of just overthinking which I can tell you is a way to go in a downward negative spiral. I like to call it decluttering my mind and focus on the present.

A very good way that I use to visualize staying grounded in the present is to look at this illustration below:

I do not want to hold the honor of creating problems that really were not there to begin with. 

Nothing is wrong with thinking through my situations, like the statue of The Thinker. Where it all goes wrong is if I decide to plop myself down and overthink my situation. Mindset shifts will take me out of there. I like to find things that make me laugh. It can be a story, a book, something on social media...really the list goes on forever. Just like finding what I am thankful for. Most of the time these gratitudes are right under my nose.

Learn to laugh!


Sunday, December 12, 2021



The holidays can be as warm and fuzzy as you want them to be or they can be a horrible nightmare full of stress. I have come to the conclusion that I am over allowing our holidays (talking about Thanksgiving through the New Year) to add stress to our lives. Looking ahead and planning is the key. It can be easy to lose yourself in the shop till you drop syndrome and bake until you have everyone's favorite dish completed for the major holidays. You may be asking yourself, how did I manage this?

Actually, the idea formed in my mind throughout the pandemic. The times that we could not get together allowed me to see that it is ok to allow more "me time" and do what I want. Why? Well, actually there was no one to stop me? The vaccines had not been out and we could not be together. A new plan and way of thinking came forward.

It was just my husband and our two dogs. We used the phone and FaceTime to communicate. Along with shipping gifts to one another and opening while on Zoom. FINALLY! We had what I consider a close to normal Thanksgiving this year. We had just the two of us for the actual day that is Thanksgiving. Steve and I did none of the cooking. We ordered from a wonderful place that makes traditional Thanksgiving meals that actually (in my humble opinion) were as good as I could make them. We purchased small amounts and it was so worth it.

The next day, our daughter and granddaughters who live close by came over with our one son who lives nearby. Everyone had been vaccinated. The granddaughters' Dad worked the night shift at the busiest package delivery company in Memphis so he needed to try to sleep some before the next shift. Still, I chose to take the stress off and enjoy everyone. I put together a charcuterie board.

The board had things that I normally keep in the fridge, plus with a little thought of my grocery list, I was able to add some items that I know everyone would like. The major thing to note is that there was no cooking involved. I did need to put the brie in the oven with the fig and walnut topping in for a few moments. No big deal.

I think this was the most relaxed Thanksgiving we have had in years. Not a lot of dishes, pots and pans to keep someone in the kitchen washing and scrubbing. It was delightful. At some time in the future, we may end up with larger groups of our family and that will be fine. There still will be prioritizing how to make it work so that I am not stressed. Many dishes will be bought in larger portions and other things will be made ahead at our own time. It is a great way to keep negative feelings at bay. It means do not set unrealistic expectations for myself. 

  • Get the sleep that I need 
  • Stop for a cup of tea 
  • Eat as healthy as possible 
  • Take those vitamins
  • Schedule those spa days
  • Do those workouts 
  • Close my eyes and meditate  
  • Write in my journal reflecting on what I am grateful for
  • Read and paint 
  • Keep the smooth jazz playing on Miss Alexa
  • In other words, be creative

Dashing through the snow does not happen often here in Memphis at this time of year but I think you get my drift. Dashing off everywhere to pick up this and that...just adds to the stress. Why dash off anywhere? I try to shop locally and have it delivered and do it at my speed. Not the shop till I drop mode:

Wrapping as we go and writing down what has been received is a positive way to keep track of what has been purchased, has arrived and has been wrapped.

Also it is a matter of good planning from last Christmas. All of the Christmas decorations are in one easy location that the two of us can manage. Plus in boxes that are not too heavy to lift. This includes the wrapping paper, cards, bows and tags. It was a breeze this year. I must give some credit (most of it, actually) to one daughter who helped take downstairs the boxes that I pointed to that would be needed. What a trooper she is! Plus, when all was down, Steve and I could take our time to decorate. 


One more method that I incorporated on taking good care of ourselves through what could be an otherwise stressful time is that we BOTH have December birthdays. This year we decided to splurge and NOT buy gifts for each other. Instead we went to a fabulous dinner place and watched the sunset over a lake. Treated like royalty. The shrimp and grits and crab cakes with corn brulee were delicious. Then, because it was our birthdays, they brought out two small ramekins of a raspberry creme brulee with candles. How special!

Then to top it all off, the next day we had reservations at the famous Peabody Hotel for High Tea. Again...treated like royalty. Started off just walking around looking at everything. The lobby, as always, was full. When we made it over to the restaurant we seemed to have received the best seat in the house. A curved bench seat for two facing out at all of the other tables. Perfect!

My ending question is:
Do you have a plan to take good care of yourself through not only the holidays but for the New Year?

Sunday, December 5, 2021



"Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. Nothing is that important."  
Natalie Goldberg

This is exactly how our brain is wired. I know that it is time for me to have a one on one conversation with myself to take back control. My brain is just like everyone else's brain. It is there to steer me from danger and that sometimes means to give in to the worries. A good question that I ask myself is will it help and change things if I worry. The answer is always a loud NO! There must be action. Take a thinking moment to reflect on the stress that is bothering me then focus on what would be the appropriate way to solve the problem.

First, I tried a little test in a magazine that had questions to ask myself and based on my answers it determined that I did not try to avoid my worries, nor did I get stuck in a rut mode with my worries and best of all, I was not someone who put every worry into a catastrophic state. I was quite happy that I ended up as a wise worrier. This simply stated told me that I was on the right track by dealing with issues as they popped up while keeping them in perspective. 

We all have a lot on our plates. This pandemic doubled up on all the stress that we have ever known before. Even making a list of how I was going to de-stress seemed to be overwhelming at times. It really is a matter of self-care. There will always be stressors to deal with so changing my habits of dealing with stress seemed to be the healthy way to go. Even Dr. Fauci needed a reminder from his wife to slow down and take care of his health. Think of what all he deals with in his job. And he is a healthy 80 year old because he does what he knows is good for his body. 

Stress hormones are not healthy for our bodies, yet stress is all around us. Too much is way too depressing and dangerous for all of us. The best thing that I have discovered and actually read an article that Dr. Fauci wrote is to let what you can just go; like in the Disney movie.

There are many ways to do this. Gaining power over stress is one of the healthiest things you can do.

It is so important (and yet I still MUST remind myself) to relax more, exercise more and get enough sleep. These things help to make our immune system stronger. I have a physical therapist who has shown me the types of exercises that are right for me. If I skip a session, my body can tell it. Same thing with sleep. I know when I have not had enough. My body feels it and reacts and those are days that a power nap is in order. Even when I have had enough sleep, I find it is a good idea for me to take a relaxation period on the sofa and just close my eyes a bit, cuddle up with one or both doodles, listen to some smooth jazz, read a book, paint or write. Something that is just for me. I am most definitely better for that. I can hear the song by Bobby McFerrin:

It has been proven in studies that sleep makes us smarter, better looking, more creative and can add years to our lives. 

Of course, we all know there are major crisis events that fall into our laps and we must deal with them. I believe for me that remembering being defeated is optional when it comes to allowing worries and challenges to defeat me. It is a matter of being strong and taking care of myself. Also, allowing others that help to support me...being aware that they are only trying to help me not to be defeated when things seem to go topsy-turvey. I must open my ears to listen to them.

We are in this together!

Sunday, November 28, 2021



The one thing that I think we all as humans believe is that there are only certain kinds of people who are extraordinary. They may be movie stars, rock stars,  authors who have New York Times #1 books, etc. I think you get the picture. What I want to put out there on a shelf for others to mull over in their heads is that the word ordinary is actually in the word

There are times in all of our lives that we face struggles and challenges when we must overcome our own self-doubts. The person who will be the one to help us out of self-doubts is actually our own selves. We don't do it alone. It will be someone who came along at the right time and place to actually listen to our story which in turn helped us to see the light. 

It helps when others share their own personal stories because we see where they were and how far they have come. Therefore the inspiration is out there for us to see. Simply because they were willing to listen and did not judge us helped to wipe away self-doubt. We all need to share the journey of our own struggles to get to where we want to go. It works every day. All it takes is to pay attention to others, as well as ourselves.

Small steps make the little things grow into big events. It is a part of being kind to one another. There is a way to help stay connected to others. Some people along the way you may know and others you may never have met before. The only major rule is to say hello and ask how someone is doing, then really listen. No judging. Just listening. If you find yourself at a get together where most people seem to already know each other then have the courtesy to go up to someone to introduce yourself. Use the words please and thank you. You may be surprised at how this simple act of etiquette opens doors.

The important thing is to remember that you are not doing this for the impact you may have. It is based on the humanity for others. We are all unique and we all have our own stories. These stories can change someone's life at that time or in years to come.

Sharing our stories with one another can help to inspire each other. We may not even know how much hope we may have given to someone, just by listening and sharing.

Just remember the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little "extra."

Sunday, November 21, 2021



There are so many times that I just want to go to the rooftops and scream out, "Can't we all just be kind to one another?" Apparently, it is not that easy for some people probably because of the misbelief that being kind means never getting angry. This is so wrong. It does not make anyone a pushover, simply the fact that it is treating others with the same respect and dignity that we deserve to be treated. Yes, even when we disagree. Everyone is allowed their own beliefs. Kindness actually takes some serious courage. In order to get along, we have to learn to let it go.

Kindness is good for our brains and body. Having empathy for others by taking a moment to realize where another person is coming from instead of jumping to judgments helps us all to be a kinder human being. Kindness is actually not a personality trait. It is a skill that needs continual practice. I have to ask myself if I reacted to others' views too quickly or if I raised my voice? Usually, this is a no for me. It is a little harder when I need to try to wrap my head around another person's point of view when it is so different from my own. By taking a moment to think about it instead of rushing in with my point of view usually works for me. And yes, sometimes it may mean, TIME OUT!  Sometimes it is best to not get into a debate about a subject. Make being kind a habit. It is a way of building your kindness superpower. This blog was based on some research done by Dr. Jamil Zaki, an associate professor at Stanford University. 

There is a link between kindness and empathy. They are two separate entities, just closely related. Kindness is doing something to help someone else without expecting anything in return whereas empathy is feeling what someone else is feeling. They don't always go together. Dr. Zaki's research revealed that people tend to feel happier and less stressed after doing something kind for someone.

Is there such a thing as being too kind? It is if you show kindness without some self-care. We must be kind to ourselves too. Two examples:
  • Yesterday I did something really, really dumb. I was not thinking and had too much on my mind. When I discovered my mistake I started calling myself out on what a stupid thing to do. Never would I have treated a friend this way so why did I do it to myself. Instead, I had to go and sit myself down, take deep breaths, go through my thoughts of how it happened and what I can do to correct the problem. It is a matter of being kind to myself. 
  • Another example are our front line workers. They must take time for themselves, just like we do. Take breaks, even if it is a moment's walk outside or go outside for a picnic lunch on a bench or a jog around the building. 
Each daily choice we make, no matter how big or how small will either nurture our well being or aggravate stress. We all face huge challenges and kinder communities - ones that allow for all to have equal opportunities work best for all. We do have far to go on this note. We must continue to do better. During the pandemic we were able to witness that disadvantaged communities have faced much higher forces in fighting the pandemic. Our bodies are made for working better when our lives are filled with more empathy and kindness. Dr. Kelli Harding stated that "kindness helps us with whatever illness or other adversity shows up." 

When we are kind to others, it not only benefits that person but we all benefit from it as well. Studies have shown that being kind can and does actually lower blood pressure and anxiety. It can lesson depression. Feel good hormones get released. 

Sunday, November 14, 2021



The other day a good friend of mine shared an article called "Six Little Stories." After reading it, I really felt the need to find out if I could source where it came from. It was quite easy to do this research. A sign came up immediately:  



It seems that they accept blogs from writers on various subjects that help others. A blog writer named Ben Peters shared the Six Little Stories that he found circulating on social media. He tried to find the author and when he came up for now, empty handed he declared that he was chalking it up to the "Wisdom of the Internet." I agree with him. Definitely something that I needed (and I believe most of us can) to move forward with the simple truths that are all ready accessible to us. Right in front of our faces!

  • Once all villagers decided to pray for rain. On the day of prayer, all the people gathered, but only one boy came with an umbrella. That is FAITH!

When you throw babies in the air, they laugh because they know you will catch them. That is TRUST!

Every night we go to bed without any assurance of being alive the next morning, but we still set the alarms to wake up. That is HOPE!

We plan big things for tomorrow in spite of zero knowledge of the future. That is CONFIDENCE!

We see the world suffering, but still, we get married and have children. That is LOVE!

On an old man's shirt was written a sentence, "I am not 80 years old; I am sweet 16 with 64 years of experience." That is ATTITUDE!

If nothing else can show me how precious good friends are and how difficult they are to find and impossible to replace, then I shall read over and over these six little stories.

Sunday, November 7, 2021



Please let me be the first in line to say that I already know that I need to consistently work on keeping my life decluttered. Things pile up. I know. There is a way to help me work on this issue. It is really a never ending job. I have to be able to do things my own way. Looking at it as a type of housework chore and taking it one step at a time is what helps me attack the clutter. 

Some things are just a no brainer for me. There are a few things that really help if my husband and I take care of daily. It is, at least for us, our secret to a neat home.  One thing is making the bed when we get up. The last one up takes care of that. When it is time to go to bed, it sets the tone for a wonderful night's sleep. That goes with the nightstands beside us. He has a valet that keeps his things organized and I have a basket. No cluttered mess. Really you must admit that one is inviting and the other is a disaster. (At least in our minds!)

The next daily 'to do' is making sure that dishes are not piled up in the sink. The dishwasher goes on at night unless there is space for morning breakfast dishes. 

The last thing that either one of us want to see is this picture. The least we could do is hand wash them if there is no more space in the dishwasher. 

Sort of on the same thinking is leaving clothes on the floor. When we are showering, throw the dirty clothes in a pile and take them to the laundry room once dressed. That is what the laundry hamper is for. Actually, I was truly wishing that we had a larger laundry room plus or added in the laundry room would be a mud room. Our home did not have these amenities. So the deal is to make every space count. We have a space for jackets, hats, gloves, laundry hamper and dog supplies. Plus closed off cabinets to store laundry essentials and items like batteries, insect spray, sunscreen - all those items that need a home without cluttering.

This would be the best of both worlds. Unless we had walls knocked out and added a mud room on then we will make our laundry room work for us. It is a matter of optimizing available space.

There is something to say about a cluttered entry hall to our home. That is an area that we can keep decluttered, mainly because we do not have a lot of entry hall space. The important thing is knowing that this is the first impression of those coming to our home. Our staircase is not at the front door. In a previous home we were lucky enough to have a winding staircase and a place for a large pillowed bench to sit (and it opened for great storage). Every home has what we have to make do with. A friend noticed that the next lead in from our current entry hall was a living room. We never use a formal living room so his suggestion was to make it a formal banquet room and it turns the entry hall into a glamorous entry into our home. All that was required was to move the chandelier from the dining room into the banquet room. Having an open mind and being creative... a fun thing to do and helped tremendously in decluttering.

Next in my mind was to create a home command center. This has the calendar that we live by, files (yes, I do still keep paper files in a wooden file cabinet, as well as on the computer).

And the command center is my study that I do my writing from. My husband has his study upstairs that is for his writing, as well as exercise equipment. One command center is what works best for us. 

The next three items are always "work in progress" for me. First, I do try to take care of getting rid of things in the kitchen cabinets that we do not use and have found storage space in a rather large pantry for kitchen equipment in order to keep countertops clear. The coffee maker and tea kettle must stay. There is no way that the air fryer, crock pot and large mixing bowl (as lovely as it is) need to take up space in our kitchen. Only things that are used on a regular basis should be out. Even then, there are times I put things away. I am working on a few items in my mind already. 

The last two items continue to be a source of monthly clean outs. I would love to say that our closets look like these.

There are times that the upstairs and the downstairs linen closets come close. I have been working on having space for extra meds, band-aids, as well as towels and sheets. (including large folded beach towels for our pool weather)

However, once upon a time, my precious daughter, who is a definite Queen of organization, worked on my closet. She made me look and touch each item of clothing to decide if it made me happy or not. My closet was totally organized when she finished. I must say that the basics that she did are still there. Skirts, dresses, pants, longer tops, and then folded tanks, etc. She put all of my shoes out across the bathroom suite which is very large. When she finished she had my granddaughter come out to get me and her words were, "Lola, you have your own shoe store!" She was correct. It was absolutely crazy how many shoes were in that closet. Any shoe that no longer made me happy (and yes, there were some) or if they hurt when I wore them - they were tossed to go to a charity. Actually, I probably need to do that again. Soon. As far as clothes go...I also am weeding through them, step by step. 

Once, maybe twice, I managed to get Steve to go through some of his clothing to put in a bag to take over to a charity center that accepts clothing. Yes, we need to do that again soon also. I did clean out my drawers of clothing not worn. Soon, my mission is to go in to Steve's, with his permission. He knows there are things that he no longer is in need of and they are taking up precious space. 

It is a matter of demanding that our space work for us and not against us. We have been talking of downsizing and this is just the start. We are making a list of what we want and what we do not need as far as space and rooms.