Monday, January 31, 2022

Back to the Clifton Strengths...

This is the "DNA" strand that represents my Strengths. The 34 Strengths are divided into four groups, each represented by a color.

As you can see I'm bottom heavy in a certain groups of Strengths. We'll talk about those next time.


Back in the fall of 2020, I read a book called “Dear Writer, You’re Doing it Wrong” by Becca Syme. In it, Becca challenges a lot of the notions handed to newbie writers as they join the ranks of writers’ organizations.

Some of the most popular are:

  • You have to be everywhere on social media.
  • You have to have a newsletter.
  • You have to plot /outline.

I’ve balked at many of the things I was taught I “must” do. For a long time, it didn’t matter much. I was nowhere near ready to publish. But as I moved forward in my writing journey, not only did I learn more about both the business and craft of writing, but I matured in my writing self.

I watched as those around me put things into practice and I drew lines for myself. I definitely felt out of synch with many of my writing acquaintances. When getting to know other authors, I’m often met with metaphorical raised eyebrows because I don’t send out a newsletter. Blech. Boring. I blog twice a week, why do I need a monthly newsletter?


In the above-mentioned book, Becca questioned every premise. And then she went on to explain why not every author has to do every thing or may not be successful at certain things.

It all routes back to Gallup’s Clifton Strengths. Becca is a Certified Strengths coach and, as she is also an author, she found a way to use the CliftonStrenths to help authors write better faster or explain why they struggle with certain things.

The case for anyone to really be successful, not just authors, is to lean on your top five to ten strengths. Those bottom fifteen strengths—don’t worry so much about them. You want to lean into the strengths you’re already using and are good at.

In the book, of course she references the Strengths. Between her premise that no, I didn’t have to do everything and that it was okay not to, and that Strengths have something to do with why I do the things I do, I was intrigued. I took the test in November of 2020 and learned what my thirty-four Strengths are in order.

Most of them made sense to me. I scratched my head at couple of them being so high, but as 2021 chugged along I’ve had some epiphanies about them.

I had planned on talking about my top ten Strengths last year, but I just couldn’t seem to make it happen.

I’m being a little more pro-active in terms of blog topics and posting for 2022, so I’m actively working on topics and will be researching when necessary and pre-writing when necessary. So look for posts about my Strengths throughout 2022.

These days, when someone says “you should do this” or “you should try that,” I have now trained myself to ask, “But should I?”

I took a class geared toward writers back in November of 2021, and I really felt at odds with the instructor because she kept making the assumption that everyone could do this thing she was telling us to do. I tried to phrase my answers to homework in such a way that the others would understand, without me calling out the instructor directly, that not everyone works the way she’s saying and that it’s okay if you don’t or can’t.

And I’m done with taking classes for a while. While refreshers are a good thing, I haven’t learned anything new from a class in a while. Not only that, but I have two years’ worth of conference presentations at my disposal as well as a folder full of emails from a writer whose teaching resonates with me. I’ve coughed up enough money for the time being.

So the first post on one of my Strengths will be forthcoming. Sometime in the month of February. Even if it’s the last day. Those posts will take a little more thought and research.

Anyway, we survived January. Here’s to a good February.

Take care friends and have a great week.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

National Spouse Day


Dearest Husband (DH) and me on our cruise in March of 2020.

Yesterday was National Spouse Day--a day created to spend time with and appreciate our spouses as opposed to Valentine's where were we celebrate love and romance.

We met in Omaha, Nebraska while he was in the military and I worked for a private contractor servicing the dining facility where DH ate--basically I was a kitchen worker!

We dated for the less than a year, much to my mother in law's consternation probably, but DH and I have been married for 28.5 years now. We had some rough and rocky patches along the way as all couples probably do, but we're here now for the longer haul.

We left Omaha and moved to Texas back in '99 when his mom went through some dicey medical issues. Thankfully, she's still with us. And now we're facing the next phase of our journey as my mom comes to live with us.

Here's to another 28++++ years.

Have a great weekend & spend some time with your spouse / significant other.

Monday, January 24, 2022

WORDS of the YEAR ~ 2022 Edition

(image courtesy of

In early January of 2021, as I was scrolling through Facebook one fine morning, I found a meme that said the first four words you found in a word-search like chart of words were your words for the year.

Last year's words were creative, adjustment, gratitude, and strength. My thoughts on their potential can be found here.

Looking back though...

Creativity--even though I struggled with the writing of books, I came up with two new series ideas to go with the Christmas books. I also came up with a new cross-stitch pattern idea which I created and which sold a handful of times.

Adjustment--there weren't as many adjustments as I expected; the wheels of change move slowly in our company. Maybe this year.

Gratitude--I have have definitely grown more grateful this year for various and sundry reasons.

Strength--looking back, I'm not sure where / how this came into play since none of the concepts I mentioned in last year's post came to pass.

Of course this 'words of the year thing' is the result of a meme, but they're fun to ponder nonetheless.

I can across another such meme a few days ago and this year's words are: creation, love, connect, alignment.

Last year I had a creativity, this year I have creation...a natural progression. We'll see what I can create this year.

Love following last year's gratitude? Makes sense. I'm trying to love people better. The world needs more kindness and love. Plus my momma's coming to live with us. I have a have a chance to be with her and love on her.

The year of connecting. Well, with Mom coming to live us, we'll definitely be re-connecting. And I'm looking forward to spending time with her after all these years we've been living on opposite ends of the country.

My last word is alignment...I'm not entirely sure what this portends. I was so excited about my personality strengths--that I still haven't fully shared with y'all--but there's a lot of talk in the Strengths group about getting into alignment with your top ten strengths so that you can be better / be faster at whatever you do because you're utilizing your strengths to their fullest potential. I'll take some of that, please. But it could also have to do with my physical body...I don't doubt a session or two with a chiropractor would go amiss. :0) There are other more internal ways for this to be important as well, but that's for me to discover.

So once again, words for 2022:


It'll be interesting to see how these play out over the next year.

Take care.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

National Squirrel Appreciation Day

Tomorrow is National Squirrel Appreciation Day and if you've read my blog for any length of time, you'll know I love the squirrels. I take picture all the time and I've shared those over the years as well. We buy squirrel food and have a little squirrel station for food and water about a dozen feet from the house at the base of an oak tree.

From several years ago...

In honor of Squirrel Appreciation Day, I decided to read up on our furry friends and share a few tidbits with you. So here we go...

  • Yes, they are in the rodent family, but not same order as rats and mice. Their order includes chipmunks, marmots, groundhogs, and prairie dogs.
  • They are indigenous to the Americas, Eurasia, and Africa and were introduced by humans to Australia.
  • Tree squirrels can descend a tree head first due to their ability to rotate their ankles 180 degrees allowing them to grip the tree bark with their back claws.
  • Not only do they have excellent vision, they have a good sense of touch.
  • They have whiskers on their limbs as well as on their heads. The scientific term for whiskers is actually vibrissae.
  • Once past the rigors of the first year of life, squirrels can live 5-10 years.
  • Squirrel tail hairs are prized for fly fishing flies due to some special quality of those particular hairs.
  • They are primarily herbivores, preferring nuts, seeds, fruits, fungi, and green vegetation. They may eat insects or meat when face with prolonged or severe hunger. Early spring is the hardest time for them to find food because the nuts they buried are beginning to sprout and they won't eat them at that point...
So there you go!

Hope you have a great rest of your week & weekend. Talk to you later...

Monday, January 17, 2022

Before And After

I love Christmas / fairy lights. I've shared that I have a string of red / white / blue lights along the chair rail in my office. They are set on a timer and are glowing and waiting for me when I get up in the morning.

Pulling down the Christmas tree is always sad for me merely because of the loss of the glow & ambiance in the living room.

So I decided I wanted to keep the warm glow to my living room. Now, years ago, I painted the living room with two colors and an interesting paint job and I wanted to put my new lights along the line that separates the two paint colors.

So I went from this...

Just FYI, the front wall is all blue.

And here's the result:

And I love the way it turned out.

Have a great week, my friends!

Thursday, January 13, 2022

2022 Goals -- Take Two!

I'm a bit behind in regards to this sentiment, but I hope the transition from 2021 to 2022 was all you wanted it to be--whether that was a glass of champagne, watching the ball drop on TV, or sleeping through it. My New Years was fine. Busy selling a record number of fireworks (for a New Years Eve). :0) Even got see a few fireworks on my drive home.

As I mentioned, my goals list needed some adjusting after the decision was made that my mom was coming to live with us. We've all got some adjustments ahead of us--not just physically in the house, but socially and emotionally and financially as well.

My original list for 2022 had grown to twelve goals, up from the eight of the last couple of years. With the new dynamics around the house coming, that's not feasible any longer, so this list will contain fewer goals. Maybe eight, maybe fewer, but not twelve!

And so, with further ado...

1. Send postcards to Grandma in Denmark. Still gonna try to get 100% on that. Considering this is my mom's mom, maybe having my mom here in the house will be the kick in the butt I need to finally make this happen monthly.

2. Continue to exercise regularly. Someway, somehow I need to up my game even though my home gym will be sharing space with hubster's home office. Of course I usually exercise in the wee hours before he's awake, so maintaining (ahem--getting back to...) my exercise schedule shouldn't be a problem at all.

3. Continue to cook / eat healthy / adhere to a food plan. With Mom coming and her health issues, there's really no choice about this. It's gonna be to everyone's benefit. But a food plan to accommodate her needs is now in the mix as well.

4. Housekeeping. Gonna stay on track with a schedule & routine. With another person in the house, it'll be even more important.

5. Keep up with my writers group duties. I do have to create a report for the monthly meeting, but I tend to let some of the other duties slide for months on end and then spend hours getting caught up. This year, I’ll endeavor to spend whatever time is needed keeping everything on track in real time.

6. Publish the one book that's ready to be published & then do my best to finish the second Christmas book and get it out on the world. That's it. No pressure. And if the second Christmas book doesn't happen, it doesn't happen.

7. Hone / learn my craft. I paid for two virtual conferences (2020 (half price!) and 2021) and have three year access to all videos--so I'm going to spend the time to watch any and all that interest me. I've also been receiving blog posts via email from an author whose information / idea resonate with me, so I'm going to make my way through all those posts I've been saving up as well as poke around her website.

8. Double my Etsy inventory--which isn't as hard as it sounds. It's mostly a "file / save as" endeavor and then change a few details. It's just time consuming and tedious, but something I can do while listening to podcasts or watching TV.

9. Read, read, read a lot of fiction to replenish the well. My Goodreads Challenge is at 36 books...that's three a month and, quite frankly, I can easily read two a week, so I might need to go raise the bar a little.

10. Keep up with / solidify the Goodreads habit. This is more of an author thing with specific tasks to do on the back end of my profile. And which I can do in those early morning hours in place of the writing.

Okay, so that's ten, but they're all low-key, low pressure items. For example, the Goodreads thing is maybe once a week, and I'd be doing #9 anyway, just not as much of it. I'd also being doing #5, just not in a keeping-up-with-it sort of way.

Now gone from the list: complete a household project; deep dive into my personality strengths; finish 2 books, publish 3 books.

The weight's been lifted already, to be honest. I don't know what's to come with Mom being here. I imagine other weights are gonna come and go, but many of the things on this list need to be done anyway, so maybe they shouldn't be here. On the other hand, I'm trying to raise the standard of some of them, so there they are.

Take care and here's to a better 2022.

Have a great week.

Monday, January 10, 2022

My Life Just Took a Detour


My big 2022 Goals post was ready to go. Pinky promise / pinky swear. But then life happened. My momma is uprooting her life and moving here to Texas. In with us. Due to medical issues. (Hers, not mine.)

It's all fine...


 The trajectory of my life for the next year or two or three just changed. As a result, my goals for the year needed to be adjusted. My original list had twelve goals on it. Some of them were big. What was I thinking? I was already stressing about them. That's no way to feel about your goals at the start of a brand new year.

So I had to do some serious re-vamping of that list. And I did. And you know what?

I feel relieved.

I wanted to be super ambitious this year, but I already felt the weight of that, and then I got to thinking and maybe a fallow year as far as actual writing goes is really more to my benefit for various reasons. And that was before my mom's arrival came into the picture.

So give me until Thursday and I'll share the updated, more realistic goals list for 2022.

I'm also really looking forward to spending time with my mom. I haven't seen her in years and years. On the other hand, it's going to be interesting around here with two mother-daughter dynamics going on, lol...

Have a great week.

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Happy National Bobblehead Day!


Yes, I have a few more types of collectibles on my shelves than I did when I last referenced my collections back in 2018. Back then I said that I wasn't (HA!) collecting salt and pepper shakers. Fast forward four years and, well, I lied. I started collecting salt and pepper shakers... see most of them here... 

But I digress. Today, we’re talking about bobbleheads because tomorrow is National Bobblehead Day.

For me, it all began on a random Tuesday (probably)(maybe) night in spring a few years ago. My Hockey Partner in Crime (aka DD) and I arrived early at a Dallas Stars game as we were wont to do in those days whenever possible. Especially on “giveaway nights” because dammit we’ve plunked down a lot of hard earned cash for the seats we have, and we want the freebies.

Now, as you can see from the picture above, I am the proud owner of five bobbleheads, four received from hockey events, one as a gift or a purchase.

There are two bobblehead giveaways this spring, and DD and I already have plans to be early enough to snag one of those puppies, er…bobbleheads.

That’s how it began for me, but how did it begin in general?

Their origins are in Asia and imported to England in the 1760s and were called "nodding-head figures" back then and were more for decorative purposes than for collectible & money-making purposes. Click here for the history page.

It wasn't until the mid-20th century that they really started to become a mass cultural phenomenon. In the 1960s, the first collectible bobbleheads were made of baseball players. In 1964, The Beatles were then commemorated in bobble form. And that was all she wrote. Fast forward sixty-plus years and bobbleheads of just about anything you can imagine are out there. All you need to do is Google-search!

McDonald's even offered mini-Scooby-Doo bobblehead figures in their Happy Meals this past year. Had I known that, I would have eaten at McDonald's a little more often! (not that I need more stuff)

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Have a great weekend. Talk to you soon...

Monday, January 3, 2022

Mourning Monday

Rest in Peace Betty White

America's beloved funny lady dies on the last day of 2021. The rotten cherry on the crap sundae that was last year. But better then than now, don't you think?

I saw a Tweet yesterday that posited that despite her not quite reaching her official 100th birthday, she'd lived through 12 leap years, thereby gaining 24 extra days. Mathematically she lived 100 years, seven days.

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Psychedelic Dreams

So I have these coconut oil supplements that I take, and they've always given me the most bizarre dreams. I was reading the nutrition label on the container the other day and it turns out, I'm supposed to be taking four of those bad boys instead of the one I do take. I can't imagine what my dreams would be like if I took the recommended serving. Yikes. :0)

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I Live in Texas, Dad-Gum-It

This is not the weather I signed up for!

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Check Out the Chimney!

I'd love to see what the inside of this house looks like, especially the room where that chimney lives. I image that room to be pretty dang warm and cozy during the Wisconsin winters.

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Hope you had a wonderful New Years Eve, aside from the Betty White news of course. I'll see you Wednesday with my annual goals / resolutions post.

Have a great week.