Changing the Storyline of your own Life

I love the idea of a digital detox! Great read for those of you feeling a bit overwhelmed and needing a break.

And Then What?

Realising I was suffering from burnout I underwent a digital detox for a week. Feeling rejuvenated as a result, I took some time to step back and think about all the things that had led to my suffering from burnout in the first place.

All of the projects I am involved with are long term undertakings that will take time and effort over a number of months if not years to complete. As a perfectionist, I want to tie things up in a neat bow and then walk away. Sometimes that just isn’t possible and that’s a hard lesson to learn for a perfectionist to learn.

Long road Long road by Ozzy Delaney courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/q44Tc4 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

If you are an indie author running your business you don’t have a boss telling you it is time to leave the office. You are the boss and…

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Life Is Not Miserable

Flash mobs have always intrigued me. I think they are especially wonderful when they happen in everyday, mundane places like the local shopping mall, an airport or your library. I would love to be at my local library and have a group of people break into song! When the music is from Les Miserables, even better!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pu6y1NhECGU

This world is so full of all the bad and the ugly. Our everyday life can be a struggle to just get to work, pay the bills and put food on the table. Little moments when people sing or play the piano, or any musical instrument, need to be appreciated. None of us are so busy that we can’t take a moment to appreciate the talents that God has gifted to people.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q22o3uXvb8c

These videos are shared from YouTube. I’ve shared them because of my appreciation for people’s creativity and musical abilities. Please be sure to check out their YouTube channels for more great music.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwN2r8Lma_8

Clean Sheets to Sweat On

I would like to think that I’m a strong, survival-type person. In my dreams, I could have traveled the prairie, seeking a new home for my family. In those visions, I’m cheery as I sit beside my rugged husband, bumping over the rocky trail, just two ruts in the tall grass. I would be ready to jump from that wagon after a long day, gathering my children for the chores ahead. Building a fire and preparing our evening meal would be the perfect way to end another fruitful day of travel as we neared our destination. Sleeping under the stars, the wind whispering over my little world would lull me to sleep.

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In my dreams!

The reality is that I’m a bit spoiled. Yes, I am a hard-worker, and I could probably survive a lot. But there would be much complaining about the situation. As I sit here and type in my 80+ degree room, the hum of the fan behind me with sweat trickling down by back, I can’t even imagine what those pioneer women went through! I feel as though I’ve been traumatized by the fact that our central air needs to be replaced!

I need to be extremely thankful for all the years that central air plugged away for us. When we moved into this house almost eleven years ago, we knew the heating and air-conditioning unit was used and reconditioned. Each change of season, I’ve prayed that it would work, and it has with the exception of two times. Both times the air-conditioner needed charging, the second time last June. And it didn’t look good then. But, several thousand to replace everything is rather overwhelming. You kind of hope it will just all go away and a storm will go through, cooling everything down.

Well, that won’t happen here in Kansas. Not this time of year. We are looking at another three months or more of 90+ degree heat, every day until mid-September. And that’s when I begin to whine. A lot!

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So, I’ve been trying to focus on what I do have, versus those pioneer women. I have an actual home, not a soddy, or covered wagon. My home has windows that I can open and close. Each night I can take a cool shower in my very nice, remodeled bathroom. I don’t have to bathe in my mixing bowl, or walk to the creek watching for critters. When I’m clean and refreshed, I have clean clothes waiting for me that I’ve washed in my lovely front-loader, and dried in the machine right next to the washing machine. When we are hungry, we can go to our fridge and open the coolness within, and stand there breathing in that cold environment. I don’t have to cook over a cast-iron stove, or campfire unless I really want to, just for the fun of it. And if I’m really miserable and hot, I have a very nice car to ride in that has wonderful cold air.

When I think of it like that, I don’t have much to complain about. I have conveniences that women didn’t have one hundred years ago. I would like to think I could have survived those pioneer days. But I don’t know if I would have. Life was hard, and there wasn’t much time for whining. You just had to survive.

And tonight when I go to bed, I’ll try to remember that I have a bed to sleep on, not blankets piled upon the rocky ground. The mattress may be harder than I like, it may be stifling in the bedroom. But, I have a bed, and clean sheets to sweat on. Life is good!

 

 

Don’t Answer That Phone!

Do you remember the good old days when you would sit down to eat your supper, and the phone would ring? You would roll your eyes and sigh, maybe say a few words in your head, (or not), that you would rather the rest of the family didn’t hear. But you would always answer, because it actually might be something important that you needed or wanted to hear. Your curiosity always got the better of you. If the answering machine picked up the call, then you would have to leave the table to listen to the message, because again, your curiosity would not let you finish your meal in peace.

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Yes, those were the good old days, and I thought back then that it couldn’t get any worse, but it has.

We were gone several days over the Memorial Day weekend. It was a lovely time, and as vacations go, it was over much too soon. I no longer leave on my answering machine. I check my caller ID to see who called while we were away, and I return the calls if needed. I do not return calls when I don’t recognize the number. That has worked very well for me over the past several years. And yes, we have an old-fashioned landline for those of you that are still wondering!

When we returned home late Monday night, I dutifully checked the caller ID. I found nine calls from a number I did not recognize. I didn’t even know the area code. But that caller was persistent! The calls were all made over a period of less than two hours. So, when our daughter told me that same number called two more times while I was at work yesterday, I wanted to make sure I answered it if they called again. My curiosity was really working overtime!

They called, and I pounced!

What happened to calling at meal times? What happened to introducing yourself and being polite? What happened to calling America, and speaking clear English? Yes, I do know that America is behind in the area of languages. I only speak one fluently. At one time, after four years of French, I could read it pretty well and pick up a word here and there. But if you’re going to call someone in America, odds are, you had better speak English fairly well.

That number that I did not recognize, an area code I did not know, was supposedly from the Better Homes and Gardens magazine. Many years ago I had a subscription for one year. This man asked me if I wanted to renew my subscription. How do you renew something you don’t currently have?  After I scratched my head on this one, starting to boil a bit with his rude demeanor, I told him I hadn’t had a subscription for many years. Then I started to say, “And I don’t want to–“, and he hung up on me! I usually tell them to take me off their list. With this guy, I would have told him to quit harassing me with the phone calls every few minutes over the course of an hour or so!

Telemarketers and sales people have always been rather a pain to me. Usually, by the time I’m ready to purchase something, I’ve done weeks, months, sometimes years of research on the product. I know what I want and what I want to pay for it. If I have a question, I don’t want to be sold on the product, just  answer the question…politely please. The more I’m pushed, the further away I’m going to go.

After working retail for a couple of years, I really think most people feel the same way. People don’t want to be nagged, prodded, pushed and overwhelmed to make a purchase. And if they do agree to buy that timeshare, insurance policy, vehicle or magazine subscription, just to get that sales person off their back, they probably won’t be very happy with the product.

I pray your Wednesday is off to a wonderful start. Don’t they make you want to smile?

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Projects…Labors of Love

I love watching shows about decorating, landscaping, home renovating, and DIY projects. When the HGTV channel first came on, I was as happy as a pig in cool mud on a broiling summer day. I was amazed that other people enjoyed watching stuff like that too. I just thought I was weird, and my husband still thinks I am. I think it’s fascinating to observe something go from being a wreck, to beautiful. It just satisfies my soul.

Our house has been a project. I would have loved to have had the money and time to gut the place, and then put it back together again as I’ve seen them do on TV shows. After all, it only takes an hour or so, and you have a crew of people at your beck and call…right? And then, voila, your house is perfect and staged. If any of you have lived in a project home, you know that’s not the case. These are the facts:

  • If something can go wrong, it will go wrong, and then some.
  • The estimated cost of a project is about an 1/8th of what it will actually cost.
  • The time calculated to complete the project will be less than an 1/8th of the calculated time frame.
  • My husband loves this one…the projects will never, ever be done. Something else will fall apart.
  • You will grow to despise the big box stores and the mention of a tool.

We have lived in our house since October of 2005. We have painted the outside, which needs to be done again. We had a new roof put on, new bathroom, wiring, plumbing, etc. I’ve landscaped, and made it a real challenge to mow the grass. It would be incredibly boring to just mow straight, walking back and forth for hours. Trees, shrubs, and flower beds break up that monotony. The yard is lovely with shade, peonies and roses fragrant in the air. And it would be wonderful to sit in the yard and enjoy it, for the two weeks or so that it’s not broiling hot outside or freezing. Yes, that is a bit sarcastic, but it rather feels like that much of the time!

Whenever a little bit more progress has been made on our house, I’m thrilled. It’s something I can check off. Our kitchen base cabinets and sink was finally moved to their plumbed location about a month ago. New counters were installed. I love that little corner of the kitchen now!

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Once the wall cupboards are moved and the back splash is up, you won’t see that jagged corner line. But progress has been made.

This picture makes me feel thankful.

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The flowers were a Mother’s Day gift from our third daughter and fourth child. She made my favorite almond flour brownies and cold brew concentrate to go along with it. The little plaque was a gift from the church we are attending. The pastor and his wife had an assortment of signs from Hobby Lobby that the mothers were able to choose from. I thought that was very special. When the kitchen is finished, this will be a reminder for me, that God has already taken care of tomorrow…and all my expectations for anything in this life are really not that important in the light of eternity.

Those pictures make me thankful. Thankful for the time my husband, our son and son-in-laws put into the kitchen project. Our son’s Mother Day gift to me was installing a light in my office and lights in the master bedroom closets. Three more things checked off my list. Our second oldest took me to lunch for Mother’s Day. It was a really good day, the day after Mother’s Day, going to doctor’s appointments, oil change and shopping with a wonderfully behaved one-year old. Our oldest has been a tremendous help with my book editing, and going to events with me, a privilege I never thought I would have. Our youngest made me cake pops with the help of our second oldest daughter and her husband. All of this seems like bragging, but I’m not. I stand amazed at what God has allowed in my life, the gifts He has given me over the years. Special words spoken and written down by our children are sources of encouragement and leave me brimming with love.

This house has been a project. Many days I’ve wanted to just move, and eventually we probably will. But I walk through my humble home and think of all that has gone on here over the years. Each time I flip a light switch, turn on a faucet, or wipe down my new kitchen counter top, the love is there…the projects that have been accomplished for me by those I love. Gutting the house and having a crew put it back together again would have been wonderful. But I wouldn’t have the memories that I have.

March 8, 2008 before the Ball

This is the original corner of the kitchen, picture taken around seven years ago. The new base cabinets, counters and sink is now in that corner. Our family was heading out to our first ball that night. Isn’t my husband handsome? And this is our two youngest, ready for the ball. Fun memories!

The Creative Soul

There are days when I really feel as though I should give up writing, and go back to school to be a graphic artist. I always wanted to be an artist, a famous one of course! But then I also wanted to be a famous singer. I practiced my songs during my nap times, taking the top little finial from my canopy  and using it for a microphone. That was pretty hazardous when I think back on it, but I don’t recall my mother rushing in to pull me out of a pile of pink cotton and maple slats. And that would have made an impression on me! Although I also remember practicing my artistic drawings on the headboard of that same bed and surviving to tell about it. The metal clip on the back of my barrette made a delightful tool.

My memory drifts through when I was young, about elementary school age.  Art class, drawing, painting, pottery, and anything remotely creative fascinated me. Where ever I was, I would draw what I saw. The place-mats we used at Christmas, the view from the kitchen window, an especially pretty scene while we were out on a family drive. I wanted to transform my visions into reality on paper.

I never did take art classes beyond what I received in public school. I am very thankful for the wonderful teachers I had that encouraged my creativity, and made me aware of contests to enter. A Wilton cake-decorating course and a few pottery classes in my late teens and before children just seemed to entice me further. But then children happened, and the most drawing I did for many years was shaping the letters to form a grocery list.

Oct. 14, 1995

It may seem as though I blame my children for the squelching of my artistic dreams. I don’t. For when I had children, they were also my dream, my goal of a perfect life. I emerged myself in that. And every now and then, we made crafts at Christmas, painted ceramic objects, and built gingerbread houses. The creativity was still there, just in a different form. Enough to know that our children inherited their own creativity in diverse and spectacular ways. And that’s what it’s all about.

Today I spent several hours being creative. I designed a meme for Facebook in honor of Mother’s Day. I also made a couple posters for an event I have for my books on Saturday. I feel refreshed, and able to breathe again. Being creative seems to release pent-up emotions and frustrations in me…and not everyone would understand that.

Dunlap Church Event

Dunlap Craft and Flea Market pricing

What I am most thankful for, are the talents that God has given me. And we all have them. Some people just tap into their talents and gifts more than other people do. Maybe someday, a painting course, or learning more about using the computer for art will be an option for me. But right now, I have so many things that interest me, and I get to dabble in them all. And I like that!

In honor of Mother’s Day, I will include this meme I designed for Facebook. And if any of you have a mind to, please stop by and like my author’s page. I would really appreciate it! https://www.facebook.com/deborahanndykeman Have a fantastic weekend!

Happy Mother's Day

13 Chocolate Mocha Recipes

Okay, anyone that knows me, knows that I love chocolate. My husband and our youngest daughter know not to leave any sitting around the house. Chocolate must not be saved for later eating! That is a no-no! So when I saw these pictures, I just had to share with all of you. Agatha Chocolats@agathachocolats is a great site for chocolate visuals and recipes, as well as many other great reads. Check it out after you read this post from the site.

I have some serious cravings going on now! Enjoy this and your Friday afternoon. With a cup of coffee of course!

Agatha Chocolats

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Some things are just better with coffee…

Mornings,

Doughnuts,

Research papers,

and, ah yes, chocolate.

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13 Chocolate Mocha Recipes…that happen to go great with a cup of coffee.


Mocha Chocolate Raspberry Swiss Cake Roll

Recipehere by Cake Whiz

Frozen Mocha Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache

Recipehereby Bon Appetit

Chocolate Espresso Cookies

Recipehere by Partial Ingredients

Mocha Toffee Chocolate Cupcakes

Recipehere by Inside Bru Crew Life

Bailey’s Chocolate Espresso Whoopie Pies

Recipehere by If You a Give a Blonde a Kitchen

Triple Chocolate Mocha Brownies

Recipehere by Wonky Wonderful

Caffe Mocha Creme Brulee Chocolate

Recipehere by Diethood

Mocha Chip Chocolate Biscotti

Recipehere by All Day I Dream About Food

Mocha Profiteroles with Espresso Ice Cream & Caramelized Cocoa Nibs

Recipehere by the Brick Kitchen

Espresso Macarons with Salted Dark Chocolate Buttercream

Recipehere by Kitchenhooradventures

Mocha Coffee Cake

Recipehere

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Shopping Is…

For many, many years, Walmart was my place to shop. I was thrilled that I could go to one place and find everything that I needed for the week. And yes, I went every week. I would generally start in the garden section in the warmer months, browsing the plants and looking for deals. Then would come the shampoo and toothpaste aisles. Of course I would swing through the clothes section, always shopping the clearance racks. Then the last, and most expensive part of the trip would be the groceries. This was my routine and I thoroughly enjoyed it, sometimes dragging several children along with me.

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Last night, my husband and our youngest went to Walmart. Long gone are the days I mentioned above! That store is now my least favorite, and I don’t even know all the reasons why. But of course I’m going to list a few here for your enjoyment! And remember, for the past several years, even getting me into a Walmart is a chore.

  • The prices are not what they once were. Yes, there are some deals still. I usually get my Tide and Downey there. Some things like mini-blinds and curtain rods are still reasonable.
  • Gone are the racks of children’s clothing on clearance with prices marked down to $.50 for a shirt or shorts. I once shopped a full season ahead, praying the clothes would still fit by the time our children could wear them without freezing or roasting. To be fair, prices are higher for everything everywhere. But last night, the clearance rack was not a deal. I know because I had just spent the better part of my day shopping online for children’s clothing. I found better deals there.
  • The atmosphere is not the same as it once was. Maybe I’m coming at it with a different perspective now. My days are fairly quite with a twelve-year old at home. Going shopping isn’t a calming experience. I think that all those hours spent in Walmart were my salvation, my opportunity to connect with the rest of the world and know there was one out there! It was my little treat, and all it cost me was the price of my groceries.
  • People everywhere are over-worked, over-stressed, over-stimulated and just plain depressed about their lives in general. That just kind of oozes out when you are in places like Walmart in my opinion. The clerks usually growl at you, the customers don’t make eye-contact, even if their phone isn’t in front of their face. It just isn’t a fun place to be. And if you are there late as we were last night, the truck is being unloaded…and don’t try to shop then! You have to be one fantastic cart-driver to get around that obstacle course! And don’t even think of browsing a shelf. If you can move the pallet of boxes in front of what you need, you’d better be quick. That Walmart associate has a job to do, and you’re not part of it.

Farmer’s Markets seem to be calling me. When I had several children trailing behind, they didn’t feel like a responsible way to spend my money or time. I wanted to leisurely choose my goods in that environment, maybe sip on a coffee and have a bagel as I chatted with other friendly people and vendors. Plus, to purchase in bulk and get all my shopping done in one place probably wasn’t going to happen at a farmer’s market when all five children were at home.

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This photograph reminds me of a place called the Carrot Barn. It was located in Schoharie County, upstate New York in the Catskills region. The place smelled earthy and fresh. There was local produce, some clothing, some antiques and always a friendly person. They even had delicious baked goods. And there was always music playing. Calming, soothe-your-soul music. Even to this day, our children will hear a song and comment that it sounds like Carrot Barn music.

Those are the memories I want to make now!

This last picture is included because I just think that’s neat! What a way to store shopping carts! Try getting one of those unlocked!

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Shopping should be as it once was. Picture the Waltons, barefoot children trailing into the store greeting Mr. Godsey. They always had something to talk about, he gave them candy. Sometimes he would make a special purchase possible, even when the money wasn’t there right then. Going to the store was a time to visit, to catch up on the town’s happenings. I can even smell the atmosphere…the earthy, fresh aroma of ground coffee beans, leather, spices and the oiled wood floor. And now…

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Killer Uno, for Real!

Yes, it is two in the morning. I could probably sleep, but with the Easter weekend just past, a little more kitchen renovation squeezed in, and book edits this next week, my social media is taking a hit. So I thought, I’ll just take a couple hours to get everything up-to-date and I’ll be snoozing in no time. Wrong answer on that one!

For some reason, the world wide web is taking a break and all traffic is down to a snail’s pace. Not that I have a problem with a snail’s pace at times. Just not when I’m sleep-deprived. My yahoo won’t delete or load, my wordpress won’t save, and I couldn’t leave feedback on Ebay. So, I’ve drummed my fingers, contemplated which pots to put my plants in and sighed…a lot, waiting for this technology to get moving. So this may post, or not.

By the way, if you would like to have a chance to win the first book in the Rubyville series, A Place to Call Home, please go to Goodreads and enter the giveaway right here. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28917938-rubyville?from_search=true I will be giving away three signed copies from a random drawing by Goodreads. The giveaway will last until May 17th. If your name is chosen, you will receive a printed copy with the correct cover. I have had a real struggle to get the cover changed on Goodreads and it’s still showing with the older cover! On May 1st, a giveaway will begin for the second book in the series, A Place of Refuge. This will last for one month as well, same rules. The third and fourth books will also be given away beginning on the 15th and 29th of May. I’m so excited to see how many sign up for the giveaway! As of about an hour ago, eighty people have entered the giveaway that began on Monday!

Now that business is taken care of, back to what I wanted to post about. You’ve all heard of Uno, the rather boring card game. To be fair, it is great for children. They can match numbers and colors, learn how to skip a person and play in reverse. But for an adult, you could be taking a snooze with your chin on the table before you know it. Not too exciting! Last night, our second oldest and her husband taught us how to play Killer Uno. After a few bruises, cuts and scrapes and a very high score for us over-fifty challenged group…and points are not a good thing in this game, I can say it was a lot of fun. Why we began playing it around ten in the evening, I do not know. That was a definite challenge for moi. Colors of cards and numbers were kind of blurring together. After a few ‘draw four’ wild cards piled on my turn while my arthritic fingers sorted them into some kind of order, I just sat cross-eyed. No, I did not win. I think I lost. At least I had the highest score. Yippee! No, that’s another game.

I would like to play Killer Uno sometime again. Sometime when I’m alert, sometime when I can remember my colors and the difference between a six and a nine. That little line means something, right?

Off to bed I go with visions of snails dancing in my head. Well, I assume they dance, at a snail’s pace! I think this one would. He looks pretty adventurous! snail-2084656_1920

And now my internet connection is gone…this is not meant to be!

 

 

Short and Sweet

I love color! Vibrant hues that make you feel cheery on the inside. I especially enjoy them in spring after a long winter. Crocus peeking through the brown grass of winter make me smile. The tulips that follow those little flowers beckon me to my front door almost daily. I purposefully planted these two kinds of bulbs in a little area a few feet from our front door so I could look through the glass and watch spring bloom and grow.

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Aren’t these lovely? My husband, a very talented photographer, as I mentioned before, took a picture of these yesterday so I could share them with you. Pretty good for a phone camera!

The lilacs have bloomed. They smell sweet in that corner of the yard, the honeysuckle shrubs next to them contributing to the aroma. For me these seem like old-fashioned flowers and they make me think of days-gone-by. Just the mention of lilacs sends their enticing fragrance through my head. The hosta and peonies are bigger every day and I sigh as I walk past them. Last autumn’s leaves are still blanketing their bed and soon the hosta will cover them. I’ll try to do better this fall!

I think I’ve heard that one before!

Just a short post to say, “Happy Spring!” I hope you’re enjoying your spring.