Sunday, July 30, 2017

New Doghouse and Firepit = New Backyard

I wanted to share some of the things that made me happy this week. For one, we FINALLY finished building the new doghouse.

We added a covered wing for lounging. It is a doggy resort and spa now with the pool. Sadly, I noticed two small holes in the pool. They are high enough on the sides to allow a decent amount of water to remain, but that means a new pool for next year.

Secondly, since the old doghouses needed to be burned and my fire bowl was destroyed, I needed that fire pit I've been dreaming of for years.

Here's a couple videos of the demolition.

Sorry the second one is tilted. I don't know why it didn't auto adjust during filming. I know I'm supposed to film in landscape, not portrait, so I turned it, but it didn't turn with me!

With the new firepit and new doggie resort, it feels like a new backyard. Cleaning up and creating a space for something I love, fire, is a great investment.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Get on With Living and Loving

I made this meme using a quote and an image:

I like the way the devil and the angel remind us about eternity, while also about living and loving to the fullest in one image.

Plus, it's pretty hot! I saw it years ago and saved it. If you know who made it, let me know so I can give proper credit.

My husband said, "Hey, I just said that last night!" because he did say we'd better spend whatever time we have together before we don't have it anymore. As you get older, the years tick by faster and faster.

It also reminds me not to play it safe. Sometimes we have to take risks, little leaps of faith, put our trust in people or things in order to get to accomplish our goals; step out of our comfort zones.

Be intentional today.

Identify what you want your life to communicate and contribute, then set some goals.


  1. What do you want to contribute with your life? 
  2. What is your message?
  3. How will you get there? What steps do you have to take?

Overraction: What Do You Do If Things Get Out of Hand?

A friend said, what happens if you face your fear and the reaction is WORSE than you expected??

This is a valid question. I shouldn't say that if you face your fears, everything will work out okay. Sometimes it doesn't work out okay.

Step One: Reevaluate the situation. If you have time afterwards to debrief, review with yourself why things got so out of hand. What was said, by whom, when did the emotions really amp up? What was the turning point?

(I had a co-worker, the same one in the previous post, who became irate at one point in the course of our working together at the working situations. They pointed all failures at me. Our conversation was documented, by me, as I tried to puzzle out what else to do.)

Step Two: Perhaps you need to apologize for something you said, but don’t make excuses and promise not to do it again. You have to do it again! This was your fear, and it will remain in control of you if you don’t figure out a way around it.

(I don't remember making excuses, but continuing to try new things. I don't remember apologizing, either, which may have been a mistake, but the situation was a condition of our employment and these things happen. We can't prevent them all. I reached out to my support team for strategies. We had to deal with this and face it every day.)

Step Three: Prepare yourself mentally. Next time you need a new game plan. Explain how and why you are feeling what you are feeling as they happen. Yes, even out loud to another person. Communication helps you gain perspective and ground you and calm you.

(I had to help explain how the person in crisis was feeling. During crisis, I had to remind my team of procedure, the agreed upon steps to try from my support team and training. We had to debrief, what worked, what didn't, after the crisis moment was over. Then we could plan for the next time.)

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Overcome Your Fear and JUMP IN!

This little PowerPoint (you will have to click through) gives my three steps to overcoming my fears and taking life by the horns. 

Step One: You need to get curious about your fear. Analyze your thoughts, your location when they happen, who they happen around, and what your react is. Do you leave? Do your palms get sweaty and you become tongue tied? This is like analyzing a setting in your writing. Be descriptive and cover all the senses.

(I used to have a co-worker that I needed to confront. I idolized this person because they had more experience and I went to them for advice. However, I was higher in rank and felt manipulated into their ideas on how things should work. They would get really mad when I tried to do things differently, as was my prerogative as the superior.)

Step Two: If your best friend came up to you and said they were struggling with a fear, you would brainstorm with them, comfort them, and motivate them to try to face it, right? Why don’t you do that for your own fears? Replace your negative thought with positive ones and be grateful for what you do have. Ground yourself in the study of your surroundings, and shift your focus and perspective. Not everyone has this fear.

(I had to think about confronting her and her being angry with me. I did talk about this with another person and learned that they had similar feelings about being manipulated. I didn't feel alone and took comfort in this unity. I began to plan what I would say to her and how I would change the environment in my favor.)

Step Three: Then it’s time to do one small thing to face your fear. Speak up with an introduction, get closer to the thing that scares you. Many times I imagined a situation would turn out worse than it was once I had to face it. The reactions I expected didn’t occur, or they were much milder.

(When I finally confronted her, she was upset with the change I'd made. It worked out that the change was sorta her idea, however it didn't work out the way she wanted. She was put in charge of a group, but didn't get to have lunch break with her favorite conspirator anymore. Would she figure out a way to make this happen, so she could get a lunch break with her again? Probably. Would she figure out a reason to make another change in her favor, possibly. This time, I would be ready. All changes can be undone.)

Note: Since we cannot control everything, we have to let go of the illusion of control. It’s okay to cry, to ask for help, or to shake and tremble as we move closer to the thing we fear. Take deep breaths. Jump In!

(I certainly am in control of this situation, as I am the highest rank in my department. I needed to find unity and support for my actions and decisions in order to go through with them. I needed to gain some perspective on the situation and allow myself to jump in and make changes. I had to admit that not everything in my department was peachy, that I did not have control, in order to gain it back.)

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Minimalism can lead to Adventure

I made this meme today. It's kinda funny because the knight needs things like armor to have his adventures. I guess they are not adventures if they aren't dangerous.

I'm not saying to not be a little prepared. What this meme means is to save up for things you find great enjoyment from, experiences, rather than simply things.

If you are lacking in adventure, maybe it's time to re-prioritize your spending.

Are you buying collectibles, nick-nacks, antiques, or other items that do not bring you joy? Maybe they do bring you joy for a time. Maybe they do serve a purpose. Do you have any that don't continue to serve a purpose and you can sell?

Create an adventure savings or a rainy day fund.

You don't even have to plan your adventure. You can be spontaneous.

Give yourself permission to have fun.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Library Living Room Wall

Our big project this summer was to turn one wall of our living room into a library. This inspired us to make our entertainment system a display worthy of video game hall of fame.


You can see behind my sons and nephews that the bookshelves we had were full to bursting and quite unattractive, yet eclectic.

We went to Lowe's for all of our supplies from paint, to rail shelving, to cube storage.

The far wall is painted this luscious chocolate color by Valspar called Deep Earth. It complemented the espresso bookshelves well. I painted the screws and washers we used to mount the wall, but the brackets and rails being black seem to disappear into the background.


Ignore the teaching materials on the ottoman and you can see the finished product. There are more cubes behind the chair in the corner.

The decorative lamp in the middle space is standing on a 3-cube unit on it's side to give it proper height. We removed the glass shade and used an old fashioned globe style bulb to give the library an old industrial feel. Maybe a little steampunk?

The desk lamp version of this with a long ovular bulb is behind the chair.

We all have commented how inviting the living room is now! We just want to curl up with a good book and read, or turn off the lights and play a video game or watch a DVD.

What I really want is new living room furniture. The couch is falling apart, the ottoman lid is broken. The only piece still intact is the recliner!

I feel a library such as this deserves a chaise lounge. Don't you?

Fight Writer's Block and Find Your Missing Muse

While stepping back from a work is good practice in order to come back to it with fresh eyes, when you're not finished with a piece and it's not time to edit, stepping away for a break creates a block in the flow of energy. The muse goes missing. They say for every day your take off writing, your muse will take off three!

Some of the ways in which I fight back against my missing muse are to:

Read. I've devoured books this summer, most of which to honor my muse as they are his favorites.

Color. The monotony of coloring busies the right and left brains just enough to let the mind wander. You can get some problem solving done as you enter your subconscious and sort of daydream your worries into submission. This also works with cross stitch. I have a huge lion I've been stitching for 14 years. I just do a little when I feel the need to get into this subconscious flow. I used to do it on particularly bad period days when the cramps were completely unbearable and all I could do was sit, but after my ablation, I don't have those anymore.

Write microfiction. Just getting a small idea out, writing to a prompt or challenge on, can ease the desire for writing something when there seems to be no direction for such creative outlet.

Brainstorm. I have been following my muse so closely that I have forgotten how to brainstorm for myself. That's why writing Xar felt so good. I wanted to do something awesome. I had it critiqued and it got great reviews and I tweaked it. It is set to go into our short story anthology. Yet I need to keep writing my own things as Elsha Hawk, too. Get out a blank sheet of paper and just write everything that comes to your mind. When you begin to focus on one, expand it and write a few paragraphs or a character sketch.

Review old writings. Looking back into writer's notebooks, into old online microfiction, I search for one liners, or single lines, that are really good and really inspiring. Then I take them in a new direction. I've changed entire stories that way. Once I started with a cultist community that lived in the clouds who met a rival cloud community, but it changed to an island community where a stranger washed ashore and challenged their beliefs.

Doodle. Speaking of character sketches, perhaps you can draw people better than I can and you prefer to wake up your muse by drawing a character from your brainstorming session. You could also just pick up a pencil and doodle, entering that subconscious space until you've worked out where you need to be.

I don't listen to music and get inspired very often because I'm partially an auditory learner and so I pay too much attention to the music to enter that subconscious space. Some people, however, are able to do this.

Paint. Notice a trend? Creative pursuits that allow you to space out and enter that subconscious zone.

Puzzles. I get crazy when I put together a jigsaw puzzle. I sing out loud to myself, get rather loopy and silly, and say some crazy things. There's something about the quiet and concentration and failure and determination during a puzzle build that puts me in a mood of restlessness. I am determined to finish it, to not let it best me, but I want to get out of it so much that I escape into humor.

I'm sure you have other ways. Why don't you share them with the class? Leave a comment!