10 Things blogging has taught me

These are the 10 things I have learned in the last 2 months of blogging:

1. Spending time reading and commenting on other peoples blogs is important to growing your own blog.  I have work to do in this area, since I have limited time and I spend that trying to write posts.

2. My ego CAN handle not being an instant success.  My ego thinks the world revolves around me.  This is just another example that it doesn't and I'm ok with that.

3. I think I am really funny, but it doesn't translate into the blog.

4.  It takes a lot of time maintain a blog.

5.  It is a great creative outlet.

6.  Just like everything else it takes time to build an audience.

7.  Tribe?  I have never been easy to define.

8.   I need to get out more.

9.  I value my down time.  I have to take a break and try not to stress about my blog.  My intent was just to have fun.

10.  There is a reason I am an accountant and not a writer.

Raining Flowers

What do I see first thing every morning? & What is my favorite purchase to date?

This post answers both those questions.

How many of you enjoy going into to random antique shops just to see what their current finds are?  This is something I have been doing only recently, the last year or so.

There is the tiny shop packed with furniture, letters, lamps, anything you might want.  The first time I walked in she had 3 branches hanging for the ceiling with paper flowers in varying shades of red to pink handing from them.  The flowers were on wires and all tangled up and some had been stepped on.  I couldn't stop looking at them.

I walked around the shop for 30 minutes and couldn't stop thinking what I could do with them.  The shop owner came up and said she had those in the corner on the floor and had just hung them up this morning.  She purchased them from a display they were changing out at the store Free People, a boho style shop.

I had to buy them as a set.  I picked them up for $60.  When I got home I untangled everything got all the flowers on one branch and hung it over my bedroom window.  I get so much joy whenever I see it. Worth every penny.

The remaining 2 branches are wrapped in white lights and light up my patio during my meditation each day.

What do you have in your home that gives you joy every time you see it?

California Mountain Cows

The best thing I have ever seen on a trip?  When I saw this topic the first thing that came to mind were the mountain cows.  This memory always makes me giggle.

Brad and I decided to load up the camper and take a vacation to the mountains in Northern California.  He lived there for many years, but it had been quite a long time since he had been to this particular lake.  This lake was near Redding.  Brad only remembered the dirt road through the woods to get there.  It was late and dark by the time we got up there.  There's no way he was going to check a map or ask anyone about the lake before we ventured off road.  He just kept driving through the woods.

Honestly, I was thinking where are you taking me you crazy person.  Eventually, Brad agreed to just park it for the night.

I woke to the sound of bells clanging.

"Hey, do you hear cow bells?"  I open the camper door and we are parked in the middle of an area that has been clear cut.  I could still hear the bells, but couldn't see where they were coming from.  I decided to go for a walk down the dirt road and as I turn the corner there they were, this huge herd of cows coming up the road.

I wish I had a video of this.  We all froze for about 10 seconds.  We were staring at each other, then they all turned and ran full bore down back down the road.  I could just picture these comment clouds over their heads.

"Who's that?"

 "Run!!! Everyone Run!!!"

I was just laughing so hard.  Brad came up laughing too.  I figure HE is why they ran....hehehe.

I looked and Brad and said, "What are COWS doing up in the mountains?!"

Brad managed to find the lake he was looking for, which was now privately owned, stocked AND right off a nicely paved road.

I'd never have met them if Brad knew about the road.

I figure they're the mountain cow cousins of the California Happy Cows.

My Journey to my breaking point where change is possible.

It's time to adjust my sails once again.  I'm not complaining, every time I make a change I learn and grow.  I know this isn't going to be easy, but I've reached the point that I can't avoid it any more.  For the past few years my journey has been an inward one.  I had to understand the meaning of  "It's an inside job."  Everyone kept telling me that, but I didn't know what to do with it.  How do you fix the inside?!  What do I have to do?!  It was in the last six months that I realized that I don't fix that, God does.  I have to get out of the way long enough for Him to do it.

So I worked on my relationship with Him and He worked on the inside of me.  It is quite an amazing process.  Now it is time for me to take action on the outside.  Self-care by eating right and taking care of the body God gave me.

I don't know if you have this problem, my brain remembers that I can run 5 miles, but my body says "Oh hell no!"   When I was in my 20's, if I wanted to drop some weight, I just ran for a week and it was gone. Now I am almost 50 and 80 pounds heavier.  Exercise is much harder and I find it difficult to stay motivated.

Here's a little pictorial history with my weight in each picture.  I don't normally do this, but it's part of facing myself and being authentic with all of you.

 Senior Picture in 1982 - 145 lbs:

 My running partner, Angel, 1982, same weight:

Las Vegas 1987, 22 years old, 155 lbs:

I looked back at these pictures a couple years ago and realized that I hated myself even when I was thin. I saw myself as extremely fat.  My self-perception is what had to change.  I look back on these pictures and wish I knew then what I know now.  What I know now is that no man is going to love me enough for me to love myself.  I had it backwards.  I must love myself, exactly as I am!  Today I know there's beauty in imperfection.  I wish I knew that the harm caused me by another person, doesn't mean that I'm damaged and worthless.  I wish I would've heard the kind things people said to me, rather than focusing something that I perceived as a criticism.

Today I know I am worthy!  I am enough!  I am lovable!

These next pictures are after 15 years of working full-time, night school and raising a family, followed by a divorce in 2002.

My dating profile picture in 2002  199 lbs:
Back to dating again 2006  187 lbs:

2008 face shot only 195 lbs:

2010 after completing 3 half marathons during the year prior,  211 lbs:

December 2013, 49 years old,  232 lbs:

I love myself more today at 232 lbs than I did any year prior.  I had so much self loathing that at various points I wished I was dead.  I struggled and did everything I could to stop the pain. If anyone could just love me enough, if I wore the right clothes, had the right job, lived in the right apartment...nothing was ever right and I was never enough.

July 18, 2010 I decided to do it different, and my life changed, my spirit lightened.  Now my focus is to care for myself and not worry about what others think of me.  Honestly, I had to turn off my ego and remember that no one, other than me, is thinking of me. I think of me way too much.

Now it is time to...

Give back what has been so freely given to me.  Show myself as much compassion as I show others.  Part of that process is to nurture myself.  Spend time on my hair, make-up, saying kind things to myself, eat right and exercise.  To love the body I have been given.

I have been taking baby steps with the meditation, positive internal dialog, and helping others.  Now it's time to add balance to the mix.  Balance work, meditation, cooking/eating, exercise, creativity/play, social life, school.

Does anyone know how to do that?  I am going to make an attempt at it.  I will give you updates, share my struggles and successes.

Comment Love is appreciated.  I am reading Foodaholic and working through an emotional eating workbook.  I will be sharing my finding with you.  Time to get down to the why of my eating.

What are you struggling with?  How are you dealing with it?

My first car was a....wait for it....Yugo

 My first car was a Yugo. (pause for laughter)  In my defense, I lived in California and it was all I could afford. I have to say the payment of only $100 a month was still too high for this disposable car.

This is exactly what my car looked like, minus the happy people around it.

The good thing about Yugo's is that no cop in his right mind will write a ticket to someone for going 90 MPH in a Yugo.  I was in my 20's and had a bit of a lead foot, but was never given a ticket.  My theory was that they would get laughed out of the precinct for that one.

It had no glove compartment, but what it did have was a zipper in the back of the drivers seat.  I have to say that when you get pulled over for speeding at 2 am, having to get out of the car, take off the drivers seat cover to get the registration out of the back of your seat, then reassemble the seat, serves as a sobriety test.  I am not exactly sure how the cop kept from laughing outright at this insane process.

I loved my car. It was bedazzled with sheepskin seat covers, steering wheel cover, a Garfield in the window. If I had the money I wanted to put a wind-up toy crank on the back and spinners on the wheels.  I haven put in one of those steering wheel anti-theft devices.  It works!!  My car was never stolen!!  It won't keep them from breaking your window to steal your Garfield, but my car was still there!  Anti-theft device WIN!

However, less than a year after purchasing this car the engine seized up and the car died.  I am sure it had absolutely nothing to do with my driving.

What was your first car? Tell me about it!

My 10 Favorite Apps on my iPhone

I went for years without converting over to my smart phone.  I held out as long as I could, but finally gave in 3 years ago.  Every year I go through and revisit my expenses and consider giving up my phone for a regular one.  A week ago I walked into the AT&T store to do just that and they cut my bill by $40 a month and I got unlimited calls and texting.  I didn't think the minutes would ever be an issue, but I found out recently that my Dad is a chatterbox and my minutes were running out.

Well, I am glad I got the savings I wanted and I got to keep my phone addiction in tact.  Why do I love my phone so much?  I can access anything I want from it.  It is remarkable.  I think back to before cell phones.  Really, we drove around without being in constant contact.

Anyway, I have a bunch of apps on my phone that help me and I am going to share my favorites and most used with you:

1.  Waze Social GPS -  Not only are the graphics cute, you have other users updating on traffic status. It tells you where there are red light cameras, accidents, other "Wazers" in the area.  I recommend that you have a passenger do the updating for you.  It will ask you if you are a passenger, if you are moving.  The free version is great.

2.  Facebook - It's nice to take a break at work and check up on my friends. You all know about Facebook.

3.  Groupon - This is an awesome App and dangerous if you are a shopaholic with insomnia.  You can shop right from bed.  I have gotten some great deals at 2 and 3 am.

4.  Natursound - There are a wide variety of white noise or nature sound apps.  These help me sleep.  I keep my phone plugged in through the night.  it helps when I am traveling for work.  My favorite sounds are the Ocean or Rain.  I have to say that  before I started meditating on my patio in the mornings, I would get up and rush to get ready and go to work without looking outside.  I would be dressed for rain and it was a clear day.

5.  iTrackbites - This is an app that I actually paid for.  It tracks food with a similar point system to weight watchers, but without the monthly fee.  The app is 3.99 and worth every penny.

6. Restaurant App - this is associated with iTrackbites and it gives nutritional information on virtually every fast food  or other restaurant.  It will track your eating with the iTrackbites app.  It is cute and easy to use.  My favorite food track of all that I have tried.

7.  Audible - I love listening to Audio books on road trips, on my commute, or just doing work around the house.

8.  Jesus Calling - This is my daily devotional and I share it on my facebook account everyday.  It is the first thing I read everyday.  I think it is around $10.  I was given a leather bound copy of this book for Christmas in 2011 and it speaks to my heart.

9.  Pretty Fit - This is a new app, but I absolutely love it.  You get video workouts on your phone.  The problem is I have NO excuse anymore not to exercise.

10.  Blogger - I can post on the fly...Weeeeee

Reposted off my other blog DIYpeacefullife.blogspot.com

What are your favorite Apps?

5 Keys to Gaining Perspective

"Whatever you focus on gets bigger."  Author Unknown

This idea has proven to be true in my life.  When I'm mad about something it tends to consume my thoughts, so at least in how it is effecting me the situation is getting bigger.  My mind will even add things that haven't happened or I expect will happen, turning what might be a small agitation into a huge issue.

I have been practicing for a few years now, to do the opposite when I get agitated about something.I follow these steps and I as the result am a happier person.

  1. Pause when agitated: I count or say the serenity prayer.  I have to remember there are things I can't control.
  2. I think of 10 things I am grateful for: God,  my job, Boots, my cat, family, friends, a car that works, a roof over my head, food in the frig, bills that are paid, and my creativity.  
  3. Go over the facts and only the facts.
  4. Talk to a neutral party - usually a friend totally unrelated to the problem.  All my friends will tell me when I am out of line.
  5. Pray 
These 5 things help to keep from hurting anyone and gives me perspective.  Perspective is key to being happy, which is what that quote is about to me.

How do you gain perspective when things aren't going your way??

Personal Finance App - Awesome!!

I am always trying to find that financial tool that makes it easy to track my spending, budget and not let anything slip through the cracks.  Honestly, I will not take the time to manually track my spending, but it is SO important that I see what I am spending.  I can forget things I have spent my money on by the end of the day.

I tried an app called EEBA Budget (Goodbudget), but I didn't keep up with it so it didn't do me any good.  I am in inherently lazy.  I do accounting all day and don't feel like working on finances again at home.  It has to be very low maintenance.

I recently invested in a Kindle Fire HDX and one of the free apps it promoted is Intuit Mint.com Personal Finance. I loaded it on my Fire and linked it to my bank and  ''''POOF'''' there it was my balance, spending in a pie chart and a starter budget.  It is easy to follow and set up your own budget and it will track everything for you.

It will track your credit card spending, everything.  This is going to make doing my taxes a piece of cake next year.  Visibility is key to changing any bad habit.

Now all I need is an app that will track my food as I eat it and I'll be good!!  Hehehehe!!

How do you track your finances?

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A Childhood Easter Memory

I grew up in New Hampshire and Easter was always one of my favorite times. I grew up with all brothers so going to church was usually when I dressed like an actual girl.  I liked it.

Easter was extra special, we would attend Sunrise Service at someones house.  It was near a lake or a pond.  There was a chill in the air, the grass was wet, you could smell the grass, trees and flowers.  My mother would dress me in a white hat, gloves and shoes.  I would wear a flowery dress, which I know she hand made just for me.

When I was in school and had to wear clothes she made I hated it.  I never appreciated what it took for her to make my dresses.  I wanted store bought clothes.  Today, I wish I could tell her that I think back to those Sunday dresses with happy memories.

I remember after the service we'd go fishing or bring friends back to our house and all the kids would run and play outside. We'd have Easter egg hunts, candy would be hidden all over the house.  We each had our own baskets, but my favorite part was Sunrise Service.

I think how exhausted my Mom must have been by the end of the day.  Thank you Mom for loving us so much!

What was your Easter like?
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Quote of the day: My monkey mind.

I am one of those that my mind is constantly thinking, calculating, processing, anticipating or planning what is going to happen.  That is MY monkey mind.  It is a part of myself I have to consciously work to quiet.  It never stops, but I can quiet it by just trying to not engage the thoughts.  Let them pass like a bird flying by.

It's interesting that recently there has been a hummingbird that visits me during my meditation on my porch.  It has only just started, but I have my eyes closed and I hear the buzzing of his wings.  My brain thinks BEE!, so my eyes fling open and I jump a little, which scares him off.  I am going to get a hummingbird feeder to encourage him to hang out here.  I think that I must be giving off a good vibration for him to come so close.

Do you have a monkey mind?  Do you have a wild pet that visits you?

Quote of the Day - Compassion

Brene Brown  The Gifts of Imperfection:

"My definition of Compassion is to suffer with.  We open ourselves up to feel the pain.  This is not our default.  Only when we know our own darkness well, can we be present with the darkness of others.  Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity. Compassion is a relationship between equals."

She goes on to explain that pity is I feel bad for you, where compassion is I feel bad with you.

The most vivid experience I have had with compassion was when I was 23 and a close friend of mine lost her 6 year old daughter in a horseback riding accident.  I have never lost a child and won't claim to know that pain. I do know what I saw that day, and over the year after, was so many people saying to her, "suck it up" or "You need to just let this go."
I would get so angry and only once did I take someone out in the hall to explain that they had been hurtful and needed to leave now.  I didn't say it that nicely.

In my 20's I was not known for keeping my mouth shut, but I knew saying anything at that time was not right.  My entire job was just to be there and let her talk, cry, yell, whatever she needed.  Sometimes the only thing to say is "I am here for you and I love you."  That's it.  Nothing you say is going to make things better.

My favorite memory of Ali, my sweet little girl, was her curling up in my lap while we watched "Roseann" each week.  I think of her whenever I smell oranges. I miss you all Dodie, Ali and Brad.

Do you have an experience with compassion that you would like to share?

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Quote of the Day: Courage

Brene' Brown defines courage as "To speak one's mind by telling all one's heart.  Speaking honestly and openly about who we are, what we are feeling, and about our experiences good and bad."

I believe that anyone who writes a blog has tremendous courage. We are revealing ourselves and our creativity to the world.  I believe that we help people with these blogs, no matter what the topic or style.

Thank you to all the brave men and women that put themselves out there and started this form of expression.  I love the photo's, stories, vloggs.  I was told in college by a creative writing instructor that I should not write! I am bad at it and I should focus on something else.  I was crushed.  I had been writing poetry at the time.  I enjoyed it, but once she told me that I stopped and all the poems were thrown away.  Today I wish I had those poems.

I really enjoy anything creative, even if I am not great at it.  It is more important how it makes me feel.

I have a coffee mug that says on it "Courage doesn't always rawr, sometimes it's that small voice that says I will try again tomorrow."

How do you define courage?

Quote of the Day - Brene' Brown

I love Brene's montras.  One I am currently practicing with is her boundary montra:

"Choose discomfort over resentment."

I am an over committer by admission.  I want you to like me, admire me, think I am the most awesome person you ever met.  I know I am not, but I have spent years needing everyone's approval.  I don't need that today, but saying yes is a habit.

This is what I do to keep from over committing today:

1. PAUSE - don't respond immediately
2. I repeat in my head - Choose discomfort over resentment 10 times.
3. Kindly refuse:  "Thank you for thinking of me, but I do not have the time in my schedule for that right now, but please ask me again next time." STOP that is all I need to say.

I have learned to keep it simple.  Too much talking gets me in trouble.

How do you practice boundary setting in your life?

Things that make me HAPPY!!

There was a day it would have been hard to come up with much of a list...today look out!!

Seeing my family

Buying my niece a tutu and and fairy wings.

Making my friends laugh by doing something goofy...dancing in my cubicle like know ones around.

Feeling the ocean wash up over my feet.

My kitty Boots!

Trees in bloom in spring.

A clean house.

Creating anything: a painting, paper flowers, taking pictures, or painting furniture.

Random acts of kindness.

Having coffee on my patio and watching it rain.

Getting a call from a friend.


Having my groceries delivered.

Learning new things.


What makes you happy?

YogaQuote App - Quote of the day

"Comfort is no test of truth.  Truth is often far from being comfortable."

I have to agree, especially when the truth is something I'm realizing about myself.  I've found there are some very tough topics that I had to address in order truly love myself.  I've experienced various types of abuse since the age of six.  I spent many years with my life running in crisis mode, because I knew nothing else.

I can say I've been through Doctors, Psychiatrists, self-help...you name it.  Once I knew the truth, which is that I'm not alone, only God can fix it and that I need to forgive them and myself, I was part relieved and part "How do I do that?"

This blog is about how I did that...to forgive a predator, and to forgive myself.  These are two of the most freeing and vital experiences anyone can ever have.  This is an on going journey. The negative self talk is so ingrained and habitual that it takes regular practice to turn those thoughts around to kind, loving and compassionate thoughts.

I will say I'm not sure I'll ever be perfect at it, but I'm far better today than I was a year ago or even six months ago. I've found that being creative makes my soul lighter.  I am happy and less stressed.  The pictures in this post are things I created on my journey over the past year.

What do you do to make your soul lighter?  What is it that makes you happy?

Quote of the day

Brene' Brown, The Power of Vulnerability

"Authenticity demands wholehearted living and loving, even when it's hard, even when we are wrestling with the shame and fear of not being enough.  Especially when the joy is so intense that we are afraid to let ourselves feel it.  Mindfully practicing authenticity during our soul searching struggles is how we invite grace, joy and gratitude into our lives."

I knew that the work I was doing on myself, with the information in Brene's books, was changing me, when a man I knew, once again, crossed a boundary and rather than feeling I was to blame and I was "bad", but that he was wrong.  I knew that relationship had to end.  I also knew that I had changed.  My perspective on life and relationships had changed.

Thank you Brene' for making so clear with data, facts and personal experience that I could take these steps in a new direction and change my life.

30 day challenge number one

For this first challenge I want you to look yourself in the eye and say out loud to yourself in the mirror 5 positive affirmations.  You choose them.  I am choosing 5 things that counter the negative programmed thoughts that go through my head everyday.  I am keeping mine short.

  1. Awesome! (with feeling, fake it 'til you make it)
  2. I am enough!
  3. I am lovable!
  4. I am worthy!
  5. I love you!

What are the 5 things you need to be reminded of everyday?  Tell me how it is going.

I will check in and give you updates on how this is practice is going and how it feels.  It is going to be awkward at first, but just keep going and see if it changes you default thoughts about yourself.

Join me in this challenge.  Comment if you are going to give it a try.

Try it throughout the day when you are touching up your make-up or washing you hands.

Tell me who is joining me on this journey for these 30 days?  

Quote of the Day

Definition of love from The Power of Vulnerability, by Brene' Brown

"We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.  It is not something we give and get, it is something that we nurture and grow.  A connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them.  We can only love others as much as we love ourselves."

Who has changed your life?

Every morning I get up and take 30 minutes to an hour with God, before work.  It took time, but I made it part of my routine.  My friend Lauren calls it "Coffee with God."  I have a journal where I write my prayers, things I'm grateful for, ask questions and close with "Love, Brenda".  Then I sit quietly.  I was told that prayer is talking to God and meditation is listening to God.

It's not like I hear this voice telling me the answers, tho it would be nice sometimes.  Subtlety is lost on me, generally speaking.  Mostly I get me answers from other people... God with skin on.  I always get my answer, if I am willing to listen.

You know those friends who you knew the moment you met they would be in your life forever?  Kindred spirits, soul-mates or best friends, whatever you call them, they have a piece of your heart.  These are the people who usually deliver the answers I need.

My friend, Dee, introduced me to some books by the author Brene' Brown.  You gotta love Texas girls! They don't put up with any crap from anyone!  I am not a native Texan, but I got here as fast as I could.  I have lived here longer than any other place in my life.  I have to say that after all 19 years, I moved to the Fort Worth side for the first time.  What an amazing place to live!

Brene's book, The Power of Vulnerability, changed my life.  Her studies revealed so many of the things I have been struggling with all my life.  Her guideposts helped get me over the hump and into a place of not just peace, but a place of  joy.  Here is the link to her website brenebrown.com.  I recommend the audio book for this title.  She is so funny and so honest.  This is a brave woman with a gift.

So tell me about a person, book or event that changed your life for the better?