It's Time to Get. Serious
At any given time, I have so many plates spinning that I forget to complete things. I start new things forgetting about the new things I've already started. Then I have commitments that I've made to others. I've got my Lavender Letters Book Series, a holiday book that's supposed to be released this year, and 431 other "little" projects swirling around in my head.
This feels so weird having to admit this to you, because I LOVE organization. This, perhaps is my achilles heel. Every time a new "system" comes into my periphery, I feel I need to try it. I re-organize my office at least three times a year... sometimes more.
There MUST be a way to get all the things I need to get done completed in a reasonable manner. There MUST be! A ba-zillion people do it every day! What am I missing? We all have the same amount of hours in a day, right?
I love planners and charts and calendars and I fill them out faithfully and within a month or two, I've completely forgotten about them. Off and running in any direction that needs the fire put out next. I'm not planning at all... I'm reacting.
And, on paper, all the things I'm doing don't seem so difficult! (Another one of my loves is planning out the project... breaking it down to bits and pieces, timelines, income streams, suppliers... little mini business plans for all. the. things.)
And the way I think I'm going to fix it...
I'm creating a planner of my own. (What's one more project, right?).
I have already created the Writer's Lounge Planner which I made specifically for writers and authors to help plot out their story, have a place to put new ideas and even make some headway in the marketing department. And I love it. I still love it. (It's so happy and beachy... )
However... it doesn't encompass all of my businesses. Is it too much to ask to have all of my prompts in one place??
I'll be learning from the masters. Part entrepreneur, part creative, part ADHD, part bipolar depressive. I CAN'T be the only one struggling like this. I'll be using a combination of planners I've attempted to use in the past. Take what works, leave the rest and add a few things more specific to a multifaceted entrepreneur like myself.
The trick is to actually USE it and stop thinking I can just wing it. (I can't just wing it.) So many projects have fallen by the wayside, because I simply forgot about them! Do you know how many people I set out to help when I create courses or workbooks, or programs that never reach their intended audience?? Too many! I have so many things that are half way to almost completely finished that I've just... walked away from.
To be fair, some things are still in the holding pattern because of imposter-syndrome... (Who am I to think this will be of value to anyone? Why would anyone want to work with me? I'm just a this, that or the other... I am often very mean to myself...)
But God keeps whispering at me to create, create, create... and then ... to share... to keep loving on others. He tells me to trust Him all the time and I just pull back in fear waiting for Him to realize He meant this task for someone else.
But here I am... ready to try again.
I'll use this blog to keep you posted of my success or setbacks. And if it works, I'll actually create it and share it with others who may need just this kind of thing.
I'm drawing it out in a notebook as of right now, and my first piece of business is to actually USE IT. Every day. They say you create a habit in 30 days, right? So this planner I'm creating must be used every day, minimum of morning and night.
I'll be using Michael Hyatt's premise of 90 day goals (which also line up with annual quarters!) to get the maximum amount of goals completed.
I have a lot to do. I have a legacy to leave behind, even if it's only for my children. I no longer want God's whispers to fall of deaf ears... no that's not it... I hear Him, I just don't obey. I want Him to say, 'Well done, good and faithful servant.'
Which means, I need to get busy. I need to be confident to step into my purpose.
I have had a lot of setbacks, painful, debilitating setbacks... I've sat in that dark depression for long enough. It's time to get up and be useful.
I hope I have good news to report soon... at the very least, in 90 days!
It's been a long while since I've been able to spend the summer in my hometown of St. Louis, MO. While the call of travel and adventure still tug at me, circumstances beyond my control have kept me still.
Not to worry- I have not been idle!
St. Louis has some of the best activities to keep even my ever wandering heart content. (mostly)
The Missouri Botanical Gardens
One of my favorite places to visit. I could spend hours and hours there. It is so peaceful and beautiful. Eighty acres of landscaped gardens and water and rolling hills. They even have a garden center so you could bring some of the magic back home.
I don't really need additional entertainment, so it's a bonus that they offer FREE live concerts on Wednesday evenings. You're invited to come in, bring your food and beverage of choice (or they have options available for you as well!), sit back and listen to the live band that changes each week. What a great way to get through the work week!
The largest outdoor theatre can only be found right here in St. Louis, tucked inside of Forest Park!
I have been visiting this establishment since I was a child. My mom took us every summer and I have since passed it on to my children! And hopefully they will continue the tradition with their children!
One of the best parts about the Muny, is that for every show (EVERY SHOW) the last few rows are always free. (ALWAYS FREE!!) So even when a family doesn't have much of an "entertainment budget", St. Louis comes to the rescue. (Which was how we were able to visit it so often as a child!)
There are some shows that I will pay for tickets, but most times I like sitting in the "free seats". Maybe for nostalgia, maybe because it's a different experience, or when I'm flat broke.
I have always been a fan of live theatre so I LOVE that the Muny is in my own backyard! What great memories I have of this place and have happily added new ones to my memory back this year.
The St. Louis Zoo
No St. Louis Summer is complete without at least ONE visit to the zoo. And once again Forest Park and their grandfathered rules, comes to the aid of families. The St. Louis Zoo is ALWAYS FREE.
And this is no chincy, slap something together, see a few goats and a starving cougar someone tried to keep as a pet... no, this is one of the TOP RATED ZOOs in the world!!
I love our zoo SO MUCH! It is easy to see as you walk through, how much the animals are loved and cared for and the humans also!
They have an extensive staff and volunteers working every single day to make the experience unforgettable.
And THIS year (2023) they've added a new adventure!
FEED THE GIRAFFES!!!
Omigoodness!! This is one of those things you would have had to go to some expensive, exotic place to have such an upclose personal experience with these gentle, long-necked giants. The StL Zoo said, "Hold my beer!"
Now YOU can feed the giraffes!! And even though the experience only lasts a few moments, it is SO worth it!
The History Museum
Also FREE to get in! So much to see and do inside!
Special sections on the St. Louis World's Fair and Missouri's music history and the history of downtown St. Louis!
The StL Science Center
FREE Admission! (Did I mention FREE?). This is THREE levels of hands on activities starting from prehistoric to what's next in space and ALL KINDS OF STUFF in between! The grandkids had a blast here! I had fun watching them have fun!
So while I am "stuck" here, I might as well make the most of it.
I do not love the traffic of the busy city, but hey, we can't have everything, right?
If you are looking for a place to visit and you want more bang for your family buck, St. Louis, Missouri should be on your bucket list.
SO much to do and SO much of it is FREE!
I promise you will make GREAT memories here!
It's Spring & Seedtime!
I am so excited about our new Sponsor that I figured I should write a whole post about it!
You guys KNOW how happy I am when the weather finally breaks and spring is just right around the corner. And this year, is going to be a little bit different of a celebration.
Normally, I'd be prepping my camper getting read to head north or some new destination, but this year, it was decided for me that I am to stay put. Always looking to make lemonade from lemons, I have decided to plant my long awaited Victory Garden.
And Seedtime, just happened to show up at just the right time to help get me started and now, they are willing to help you as well!
This whole gardening thing is pretty new to me and so I went to someone who I could trust to get me off to the right start and be there to help me through the whole process. Have you ever struggled with knowing what to do, or when to do it in your garden? If yes, keep reading because I have brought some help!!
Paul Dysinger and his team from Seedtime have opened the doors to their new garden planner Seedtime.
A Garden Planner!!
Y'all know how I love a good planner!
I LOVE having a place to write everything down and visualize how things are going (hopefully) to happen!
It’s the first home garden planner that lets you easily visualize exactly when to seed, transplant, or harvest in your garden all year long - based on your location. And then after adding the flowers or veggies into your calendar it’ll give you a daily or weekly checklist of exactly what you should be doing - and when you should be doing it through your entire gardening season, based on the plants you choose.
It’s completely customizable and incredibly powerful.
This is the cool part... I mean, a secret club kind of cool part... Seedtime isn’t open to the public right now. That means you can get access by invitation only.
And that's ME!!
Paul and his team are letting me share a private invitation link for you to get early access to start using Seedtime right away - and you can get started for free.
Use my link here!
So, if you want an easier way to plan and track your garden planting schedules…. If you like the idea of following a weekly checklist instead of constantly wondering if you should be seeding your tomatoes, eggplant, or lettuce right now… If you like the idea of less stress or overwhelm… Get your free access to Seedtime here!
I am having a blast planning out my garden and scheduling how, where and when I need to get things started. I am SO EXCITED!!!!
Seedtime is making this SO much easier for me than having to research each and every veggie I want to plant. (And don't forget the pollinators!!)
And, because I am sharing this with you, the good folks over at SeedTime have offered my people an extra bonus. When you sign up using my link you’ll even get $5 of free garden seeds!
You can get started for free and have a great gardening season. But, they also have other training available for you as well. Lots of video lessons that you can tap into to get even deeper help with your planting and gardening strategies. They will help you every step of the way. Plus there's also a private community that you can ask specific questions and the people are so nice and willing to help, you will come away with more confidence.
If you're wanting to garden this year and are on a learning curve, like I am, consider letting SeedTime help you out. And don't forget the FREE SEEDS!!!
I can't wait to chat with you about our gardens on my FB and Insta pages and maybe I'll see you over inside the SeedTime community!
Here's my link so you can get started for FREE!!
Be Selfish- Help Others
We are taught to help others. I teach to help others. I, myself look for opportunity to help others. One doesn't really have to look far.
Simple acts of kindness.
We are also taught and I teach to expect nothing in return. Meaning, by you bestowing love and kindness on someone else, they don't owe you anything. You are not "one up" on them. The person being bestowed your gift of time, energy or physical product may not even acknowledge you. May not even show gratitude. Might even be crabby about it.
Be kind anyway. Help others anyway.
You are kind and helpful for the mere sake of being kind and helpful whether anything comes from it or not.
But here's the thing... something ALWAYS comes of it. I have been "catching" myself being kind, FOR the very reason that I KNOW I'll get something back from it.
I have become selfish... greedy!
I have found that when I am sad or depressed, if I focus outward, and do things for others... I feel better.
It may not come directly from the source as in say a "thank you" or a five star review, or even a smile... but, it does come back around.
I recognized this when I started being "kind" on the down low... and now it's my favorite thing to do. Help others when they don't realize they are being helped and if they did... they don't know where it's coming from.
Sometimes, I do things for others, only because I know it will make me smile. I know! Selfish!! Sure, it blesses the other person, but... oh how it makes my heart swell and feel light.
I know... I know... selfish.
I have a Book Club on this website. It's filled with books from brand new authors finding their footing in the author world which involves a heavy load of marketing. Things that most writers are not aware of when they embark on this journey. If you haven't seen it, you should really take some time to check it out... (Click here! Warning- be sure to block some time, because there is SO much to see!)
I charge a small fee to showcase their books here. I present them to you fine people and I help them build an audience. I could charge a lot of money for this service. I could do it for free. But I have found that charging a small amount allows them to feel empowered, and take the opportunity seriously.
I will not get rich from this service. Not monetarily anyway, but rich in so many other ways. I don't get to see the faces of these authors, but I remember the first time I saw my book's cover on the interwebs... it was amazing. And even if one new set of eyes saw it and remembered my name... that was progress.
Most authors don't get rich or even have a lot of money to invest launching thier baby out into the world, but one person at a time builds an audience. And so I give them access to my audience. And I get to impart small tips and tricks along the way.
I have found that when I offered to do these same things for free, it was a completely different vibe. I am treated differently. Not always, but enough that "they" trained ME how to better serve them. I still offer great advice, even if they don't order. I spend hours every day answering questions for authors, but it's different when you put money into the game. You treat advice and service with a bit more respect. You value the other person's time.
When I charge a mere $5, I am met with gratitude. I am met with eagerness to do more, learn more. I am met with a camaraderie of being inaugurated into the Author's Club. And I feed off it. Not the money... those feelings. I am selfish. I admit, I love the five star reviews. I love the thank yous and notes of gratitude sent to me... but mostly, I love seeing new authors spreading their wings and getting their work out into the world. It's no easy task. But when I scroll through the images of these books, most that are brand new to the market... I smile... selfishly, that I have them on my site. That my audience are some of the first that get to see them. That when I lay my head on my pillow at night, I know that I've helped my fellow authors in my own tiny way.
I believe I have more than one purpose. I believe we all do. I believe we are given clues to our purpose by the strengths we have been given. One of my strengths is to be able to help elevate others. It is a pure, selfish joy of mine to lift others who may be struggling in one way or another. It is a strength to help others find that missing piece of where they are to finding joy and happiness that is within reach, but they just might not be able to see it. And selfishly, I pursue this purpose. Or perhaps, it pursues me. It makes me happy. It helps me to suspend any grief I may have and I find happiness in helping others.
I am humbled that I am a person that people reach out to... to share with. It is fulfilling to me to lift others who may have stumbled. It's a privilege to be that hand they reach out to and together with both our strengths lift them back up on their feet.
When I am just focused on me... and my sadness or grief, I can't be of service to others. I am happy that my need, that selfish need to smile and feel proud of how my fingerprint was left behind on someone else's happiness propels me to stay up on my own two feet.
So, may I offer, if you are feeling sad, or disconnected or depressed... take a little bit of time to be selfish... and help others. You'll be glad you did.
Three things. I repeatedly talk about three things that help to keep people, myself included in that category, on track and self-accountable.
1. You are where you are because of the choices you have made.
2. You are exactly where you are supposed to be.
3. God has a plan. He is not surprised by anything happening in your world.
Those three beliefs have helped me for years and I know have helped others. In fact, other than, lead with love, my entire platform/belief system...whatever you want to call it, is based on those statements.
And they work pretty well. It helps us to take responsibility for the choices of our lives. It helps us to have a bit of "control" over our little corner of the world. It's an overwhelming thought believing that we have to try and "fix" others or try and change them in order to make us happy, or make our world feel orderly. It's not possible. The only person we have any say over is ourselves. The only person we can change... is looking back at us from the mirror.
It's not just a set of beliefs... those statements are based in fact. When you feel you've wandered down the wrong path and are bumped up against a brick wall, you can... every time... go backwards and see the choices that were made that got you there. And even more than the choices; the thoughts you were thinking at the time that convinced you of those choices. Which halts any kind of "victim mentality" of "why is this happening to me?"
(Yes, I realize there are things that have nothing to do with our choices, and the random acts of others, but let's focus on the bigger picture of how we govern our own lives regardless- sometimes in spite of- those around us. Okay? )
And I believe that. I believe that with all of my being. And it's easy to share these statements as advice or "warnings" to others while everything is sunny and rosy in our world.
But... what happens when it's you.
What if it's you that have found yourself in dire straits and you can't accept why or how you got there.
Do you still believe?
Are those statements still true?
Do they still stand the fact-test?
Yes. They do.
2023 began for me with the startling discovery that my husband had emptied our bank account and abandoned all responsibilities in our marriage. He broke all communication. And just walked away. (Here is where I say this isn't the first time he's walked away from our marriage... this is actually number three.)
You can see where I'm going with this, right?
While I was... (and am, still) shocked... Surprised... Hurt... I can see the path of my choices. And when I am crying to God about my anguish, He comforts me, because He knew this was coming. The red flags were there all along. I saw them. I ignored them.
I have my reasons for going back again and again trying to hold a crumbling marriage together, but they were wrong. I didn't want to see. I didn't want to believe.
I am where I am today because of choices I made... or perhaps, didn't make. I refused to see the person before me and instead chose to believe that I could love enough for both of us. I chose to believe that I "couldn't" leave the marriage because he needed me. I chose to believe that if I just hang on, things would work themselves out... we just had to get to this point... or that goal. It's a hard truth when you have to look at that face in the mirror and acknowledge that you let her down. The lack of making choices... got us here.
Abandoned and facing bankruptcy.
I may have had the best of intentions. I may have believed I could fix things. I may have known that he didn't love me in return. But the choices I made... put me right here.
You are where you are supposed to be.
How could I possibly be where I'm supposed to be? I can accept that I made bad choices. Loved the wrong people. Trusted the wrong people, but do I deserve to be here? Is this really what my life is supposed to be? I am filled with shame. I am fighting depression. I am being humiliated and lied about and slandered. I am in such a deep, engulfing pain that it can't POSSIBLY be what is supposed to be happening right now, right?
Yes. Apparently it is.
God knows what's happening. And He is not surprised.
So... if I believe number 3. I have to believe number 2. And if I TRULY believe number 3, I need to dig in and find out what He wants me to learn from this.
Therefore, I need to lean into Him even more and not do ANYTHING without consulting Him. I am obviously grounded from making my own choices for a while because I think with my heart and not my head.
God says, "come to me and I will give you rest". He says to lay my burdens at His feet. He says that HE is the way the truth and the light and HE will make all things work for those who believe in Him. He will grant me strength in my waiting and I will get through this.
I will make new choices. I will cry. I will be sad. I will allow the feelings of guilt and abandonment to pass through me, but I will choose not to stay there. I will not seek revenge. I will forgive, but I will not forget.
I don't usually stay "down" for long. And I hope and pray this year will not be any different along those lines. I will fall back on my big three:
I am where I am because of the choices I made.
I am exactly where I am supposed to be and I will allow God to use this experience to mold me and repurpose it for His glory.
God was not surprised by these events. He knows my heart. He knows my blind spots. He knows my compassion. He knows resilience.
And ... I will continue to lead with love. It may be at arms length for a while, but... love is love and I can't not give it away. It's no one else's fault. (Well... maybe ONE PERSON... but...) It's no one else's fault that I should withhold love from others.
When I feel lost in my purpose; when I feel thrown off track, I hit the reset button and always go back to the original assignment: Love others as I have loved you.
Letter of Intention
I've decided to get a jump start on all the New Year's Resolutions that are going to start popping up everywhere. It's been heavy on my mind and I need to make some changes. They say that if you're serious for a life change, a few things have to be included.
1. It has to be something you're passionate about. Something you're willing to sacrifice for and not give up easily.
2. You have to be willing to create time and space around the things you want, especially if they are going to involve some serious habit or mindset shifts.
3. The specific things must be measurable. Otherwise, how else would you know if you are making progress?
4. You have to act on commitments and not feelings. So even when you don't feel like doing it or the "muse" is not speaking to you, you have to show up anyway.
And a Bonus one: You have to be SO TIRED of the way things are, you are willing to do whatever you need to change them. That saying that says, you can't keep doing the same things and expect something different to happen. I've realized that "things" aren't going to magically happen. And no one else will bring my dreams to reality... that's on me. And... I ain't getting any younger!
So guess what...
Don't be mad... but I've just dubbed thee, my accountability team. My accountability partners!
No really, your input and advice... and even admonishing will be valuable. In some cases, I'm convinced that I will not achieve these goals without outside assistance. They say it's all about who you know, right? Sometimes it just takes. getting in contact with one person and doors just start opening. Plus another group of "theys" say "it never hurts to ask."
Plus... miracles happen when people pray for each other.
So here goes... I'm laying it all on the line...
Goal Number One: Travel
This year I want to do the 1776 Tour. New York or Bust!! I've been putting it off and putting it off, but I suppose it's finally time to head up to the northeast corner of our country. I've never been to New York. (I've been avoiding it- not a big fan of all the packed streets and sidewalks) But it's still a place I need to check off my Bucket List- plus, I am anxious to visit all the surrounding states. There is SO MUCH HISTORY that I am dying to see up close and personal. I think this needs to be that year. MO, IL, IN, MI, OH, PA, NY, NH, ME, MA, RI, DE, MD, VA, WV, VA, ,NC, and winter in SC.
So... I am basically starting at ground zero; tebula rasa. I do have my truck, but I no longer have a camper of any kind... so... yeah... but I have every faith that this trip will happen! Just think of all the amazing photos and stories I'll have to share!
And speaking of stories...
Goal Number Two: A New Book
This one has back story. I owe you all a new work of fiction... I realize I am now four years over due. Believe me, it hurts me more than it hurts you. I have so many stories that are swarming in my head, but my heart just hadn't been in it. I could not push through all the mindset issues, and heart break that was invading my space to get behind the computer. That takes self healing and I believe I am on the other side.
I did, however, have the best time writing out all of the postcards to those who participated last year on my Oregon Trail trip. So what if... I created a story, in the form of letters... and a new, either set of letters or a letter and some additional material get sent out twice a month. The letters will accumulate into a completed book by the end of the year. It would be under a subscription model, but you'd get an actual physical copy when the series is completed.
I'd start with one storyline, but... I have so many story ideas rattling around in my head! And, of course, I will begin with the Oregon Trail series... how fun would that be to get letters from the characters on the Oregon Trail!! And then... because it's me... there will be other surprises along the way to make it more than just a book... more than just a story... it will be an experience!!
As with everything I'm working on, I don't have all the details figured out... but I believe the funk that has been stopping me has been successfully locked up and the key has been tossed away. We both deserve a good year of story...
Goal Number Three: The Kindness Challenge
That funk that I mentioned has also interfered with my annual Kindness Challenge. In 2023, I'd like it to be the actual challenge I've always dreamed it could be. I've been working on it for so long and I'm done putting it to the side. This year, in June, it's going to be the BEST Kindness Challenge EVER!
This is where I'll need some help. One of the things I'd like to do is create some small handmade items (I'm thinking bookmarks) and leave them around for people to find. Along with each item will be the FB page specific for the challenge that people can send in a picture of where they found their gift. I need people from across the country to "drop" these little goodies in various locations around where they live. Parks, coffee shops, hospital waiting rooms, grocery store shelves, libraries... where ever!! I'd love to see how far and wide we can get these little gifts. So my ask here is... if I send you these gifts, would you be willing to pass them out to sneaky locations while you're out and about doing your daily outings... nothing extra.
And also, I'd like to be able to offer some... workshops? Meaningful "classes" that could help people in ways to be happier, love more, feel more gratitude... all the Leading with Love things! I'm looking for people who would want to host these short workshops. I'll need at least 4 more... so if you know of someone who has written a book, works with people or kids, has a course they need to promote... or maybe it's you!! I'd love to know about it.
(This requires me to figure out video... Yes, I'm gonna be uncomfortable, but it's going to be worth it!)
I'll probably be posting some sign up things in April to start firming up names and places.
Goal Number Four- Meet and Greets
I have been in a funk for too long. Hiding out and playing small. In my travels, I would love to reach out and meet you! I'm hoping to be able to do some book signings or some podcast conventions along the way, so keep your ears open for when I'm in your neck of the woods!
But the meet and greet I'm most excited for are Bag of Bones Podcast LIVE! I have to figure out the tech side of things and work out some collaborations, since I'm going to some of these historic places, what if we turned it into a party?!?! You could come and hang out with me as I'm recording and episodes and you can ask questions and we can interview the experts... how fun would that be??? Still plenty of history, still out traveling, but... extra!
Why have an "ordinary" podcast when you can add a little "extra" to make it...
There's still a lot of work that needs to be done to even get me pointed in the right direction, but I think this post stands as my "letter of intention" to me... well, and I guess to you too! Lol
It feels like I've been a bit lost lately succumbing to the waves around me, forgetting that I know how to paddle and that God is there to grab my hand, if I choose to reach out. I don't know how I keep forgetting that part of things. He is my lifeline. He wants me to be healed and driven to meet my purpose. I tend to lose site of that too often.
This year... things must change. Life is too short to depend on others for my own happiness. It doesn't work like that. This is my letter of intention and purpose.
2023...here I come.
A Change in Direction
The Travel Life Calls...
There's something about having to face your humanness that is very defeating. Not that I thought I was superhuman, by any means, but... stronger perhaps than others my age? Or so I liked to tell myself. Turns out I am just as human as the other fifty somethings and now a bit more fragile.
Because of the broken ribs, I've had to get my fair share of xrays over the last couple months. They have revealed more than two broken ribs. I am not one that seeks out the medical professionals at all if I can help it, so I honestly had no idea what was happening underneath my skin and I liked it that way.
Now don't be upset with me if I don't lay out all the dirty secrets here at your feet, but it should be enough to say that the doctors have discovered I have advanced scoliosis and my neck is... uh... crumbling away. They flat out told me things were going to have to change. My body was breaking down faster than it should. They said they doubt I can go on doing the things I've been doing any more and I would have to start treating my body a bit more tenderly.
I took this information and internalized it. I cried for a bit. I followed the doctor's orders and was a good, well-behaved patient.
I tried to envision the kind of life that he said was in front of me.
And then I thought... if this is really it... if these are the parameters of my future, I'd rather be happy than waiting for something to happen. What would make me happy? Being with my children, was my first thought. Since it's not fair for my children to have their adult mother sit on their doorsteps and interfere with their lives and be under their feet all the time... I had to think what ELSE would make me happy? That's easy...
Traveling. Camping. Revisiting History.
With my children's blessing- because they don't want me under their feet either, I decided to make that option happen... not sure how, but I'm going after it.
Right at this juncture, without all the sappy backstory, I literally have nothing. No home, no camper, no job, what few items I do have are sitting in a storage shed in southern Missouri. I have a truck. An ornery black cat and my lap top. I'm not in a wheel chair yet, and have no intention of going down that road until there are no more options.
I must shift my thinking. I must find a way to get back out on the road again.
This is the longest way around to have to tell you that A Touch of Spice will not be coming out December 2. Even if I finished the last word today, it couldn't get published in time. It's a Christmas story... and I want to keep it a Christmas story, which means it won't be able to be released until NEXT December. (It really is going to be a cute story and worth the wait, I promise.)
I opened up the History Revisited Group on Facebook again which I re-named Ginger Life Travel and was honestly a bit overwhelmed with the graciousness and amount of support that was extended to me. I felt so loved.
I really have no plan, but the group gives me hope. And... permission. Permission to be happy so long as I agree that they can accompany me on the journey via FB. And, I really am sorry the book isn't coming out this year. (It's been a really hard year, okay?) But I believe in order to be able to hear God's whisper,
He had to take away all the distractions and people that were in the way of me hearing my instructions.
He may tell me that I can't travel for long, and I need to be okay with that.
Also... and I guess this would be the "good news" there's nothing like getting a diagnosis that says you may not live as long as you thought to get your fired up about what legacy you are leaving behind. I have a LOT of stories I want ... NEED to tell. I guess I'd better get on it.
It's true, we don't know how long we have, but when someone comes along and so rudely tells you that you're not going to live forever... it changes the way you think about things.
Suddenly you don't want to waste time on people who don't deserve you. You don't want to waste time doing things you don't love. You don't want to waste a single moment not making sure those you love, never doubt it for a second. And... you think about the mark you will leave on the world. What will people say about me after I'm gone? I'd better make sure I have a good turnout while I still have some time.
My change in direction is... I am NOT going to "take it easy" and wait for my body to disintegrate. I'm going to go out and chase life. Meet new people. Tell others what I see in my travels and what I learn along the way. And I'm going to write. Write. and Write and Write!
So I am sorry you may have to wait just a bit longer for the next book... but not THAT much longer, I promise.
Broken Ribs and a Cup of Coffee
Here I am... just sitting... the temperatures are dropping outside and if you know absolutely anything about me, that is a sign of fear and dread in my world.
I have been a snowbird for the last seven years and was pretty happy with that way of life.
I'd winter where it was warm, 97% of the time. I was usually near water. I was able to get out and about to explore most days. (Hurricane season was sometimes tricky, but it's not like they sneak up on you. You have a pretty good idea of when they're coming and if you need to pack up or not!)
When the danger of cold weather was past, I could make my way up north to visit family and see what else I could find; dragging my camper along behind ready for new adventures.
I haven't owned a winter coat in seven years. I barely wear shoes, for that matter. I am SUCH a beach baby at heart.
Well... this year is going to be a bit different. I am officially trapped in colder weather.
The first weekend in October, I busted my ribs. I didn't think much of it at the time, but five days later, when I was still having trouble breathing, I went in and had it x-rayed. One rib broken, one fractured. Not a thing they can do for it except to tell me to be still for the next 6-8 weeks and don't lift anything over 5-8 pounds.
Trapped. Trapped in cold weather until at least the end of the year.
Trying the see the best in a freezing situation, I find myself inside a new experiment. How to make this the best winter ever? It's a big ask. The cold weather is not just something I complain about for fun (we all have to have our "thing"). The cold, damp weather is actually pretty painful for me since I have arthritis in a good number of my joints. But, it could be worse. I could certainly be worse.
I choose to fill my brain with happy thoughts. I flood my heart with gratitude. I reflect on all the ways that I am blessed.
I am near my family. A rarity since I have found wings... I haven't spent Christmas with my grandchildren in all those years of snow-birding, because... well... cold. (I transferred my Christmas spirit to Easter. Easter is my favorite holiday and I pull out all the stops for this holiday!). But this year, I get to spoil them EXTRA, actually ON Christmas! (Their parents may even INSIST I head back to the south by the time I get done! Lol!)
With out being allowed to do much other than sit around and forcefully WILL my bones to grow back together, it allows me to brainstorm and putter around with other ideas I've been wanting to do, but just couldn't find the time ... Boy, have I got time now! This is the best injury when you have a laptop close by! (Hint- I ALWAYS have a laptop close by.)
I'm ahead in my Bag of Bones Podcast episodes for the first time in... forever. That feels pretty good. I'm working on the new book that now I have NO excuse for it not being released on time at the beginning of December. Plus plans for a years-worth of new books to come out in 2023. (The way my luck runs is that I'll get all these things started then get released from couch therapy and be right back in the rat race!)
The damage was enough that I was informed that I probably won't be able to travel the way I was used to and that I will need to make some pretty severe changes in my future activities. If that ends up being the case, I am so grateful for my adventures over the years and wouldn't trade them for anything. I'll have to be more careful where I end of an invalid next time though, THAT'S for sure!
Okay fine... I know you're asking but how... how did you break your ribs? I was broken in the most loving way possible. With a hug. A hug from a 21 year old football player that was just trying to pop my back. And he did... just went a little beyond that. I heard a crunch, but neither of us believed that I was actually broken...
The evening wore on and I was hugged again and again and the more you love someone, you just want to squeeze them so tight so they know right? Can I just say, I am SO LOVED. Each squeeze probably added to the fracture.
Adding to that... I am pretty active and chest pain or no chest pain, work had to be done, so I pushed through it lifting and carrying... just doin' what I do... until I couldn't anymore.
My jaw dropped when I saw the x-ray.
So now I sit. Trying to figure out how I'm going to be able to NOT step one foot out the door until the crocus comes up. Not gonna happen, so I sip my coffee and snuggle under the piles of blankets begrudging letting others take care of me. I am so loved. I must keep my whining to a minimum.
I love to travel. And the majority of the time, I travel alone. I am often asked questions about my adventures and I love to talk about the places I go and the things I see, but I also get a lot of questions about my thoughts on safety.
So while it's fresh on my mind- since I just finished up a trip from the West Coast- I thought I'd share a few of them here and then some tips I've learned along the way.
So, just to start- I never just wander. When I travel, I always have a destination in mind... and on the way there is pretty much the only time I am spontaneous. I do like to have at least 75% of my trip planned. I usually pull a camper, but this last trip, I lived out of my truck. (I can write an entire article on the pros and cons of just that! Lol!)
I love history, so most of my sidetrips are usually triggered from that but I am also a HUGE fan of natural beauty. I'm a sucker for a waterfall or a sunset and have been known to go out of my way for some beautiful scenery. And yes, I love being outdoors, so this kind of lifestyle fits me to a tee.
I absolutely love to travel and I am always looking for a new adventure or places I haven't been. I am working on the United States and have yet to visit other countries.
Okay, now to your safety.
I'm often asked if I'm I ever scared...
Yes. Yes I am. And there's a fine line between trusting your gut and realizing you may just be looking for things to make you afraid. Trust your gut. If you are ever in a situation and it just doesn't feel right, pay attention.
- Always let someone know where you are.
I am constantly checking in with someone in my circle when and where I stop for the night and when I leave again in the morning. Sometimes I'll let them know where I'm headed, or when I've crossed markers like state lines. Always let someone know where you are. My phone is always linked to someone else, so if anything happens, they can ping my phone... which makes sense that the next one is:
- Always have your cell phone on you. Carry it with you everywhere. Don't leave it in your car, keep it with you. You may need to make an emergency call. You may need someone to find you. You may need a flashlight. You may fall and hurt yourself... and if you ever feel uncomfortable or feel you might be in a dangerous situation- call someone and just talk with them. Even better, FaceTime them. They can see where you are and can see if anyone comes up to you and most times, it will deter anyone's interest in you.
- Always have self protection.
Now, before you dismiss this one with, well, I have a gun, hang on. If you are attacked, they are not going to wait until you fish down to the bottom of your purse or unlock the glove compartment to get your weapon before they proceed. You need some kind of weapon, whatever one you are comfortable with, on your person or in your hand whenever you stop somewhere or are alone. Always, Always, Always in rest areas. Make sure you have multiple options that are easily attainable no matter where you are. Meaning. have them in several places in your vehicle as well as on you.
A caveat to that... know how to use it. And be prepared to use it. If anyone gets close enough to me that I'm able to USE any of my weapons, I won't stop fighting until I am safe.
- Don't wear your hair in a ponytail. (Researching murders and serial killers, you learn weird things.). They look for this and will use your ponytail as a handle. Does this mean you can never wear one? No, just if you're by yourself and in a not-so-crowded space, maybe not then... or wear a low one or a close to the head braid.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Look at everything. Notice where the cars are parked. Hallways. Alleys. People.
-Don't wear headphones or earbuds. When you are out there on your own, you need all of your senses. You certainly don't want to make it easy for someone to be able to sneak up on you.
- Be aware of your cell phone usage. This falls back to "Be aware of your surroundings." If you have your head down, lost in your phone, you're not paying attention to the people around you. Also, try to have your back to a wall or lean against your vehicle while using your phone, so you have one less angle you have to worry about. And on that note...
-Women are the worst about getting into their cars and checking their phones without shutting their doors or locking them. I am guilty of this too. After I fill up the tank at a gas station, I'm usually checking missed messages or my gps... and I leave myself wide open for attack. Get in your vehicle, shut the door, lock it and then check your stuff.
-Make eye contact. Attackers look for easy prey. Shy or timid prey. Don't be that. Stand up straight and hold your head up. If you look at every person in the eye as you pass one another, it's not only a sign of confidence, but you already have a solid look at the person's face. They are less likely to attack you if you can identify them.
- Always park under a light. Make sure you can see and be seen.
- Don't let your gas tank get so low that you are dependent on the "next" gas station. You don't know what that place will be! Pick ones that are well lit and "bonus" if they have security cameras. (and clean bathrooms!)
We have to acknowledge that whenever you choose to travel alone, you are accepting that there is some risk. Something bad could happen. You choose that traveling solo is worth the risk so, even though this section might be uncomfortable, it's quite necessary.
- Security cameras. Always look for and AT the security cameras. Know where they are and always let them see you. If anything should happen to you, this will give the police a time stamp and a visual of where you were. Always look directly into the camera.
- When you go into a gas station, always say something to the cashier. The more unique the better. Ask a question. Pay them a compliment. Say something funny. Drop your change. Be memorable. If something happens to you; when the officers ask, "do you remember seeing this person?" Hopefully they will say, "yeah, that's the lady that complimented me on my hair."
- Have an ICE contact clearly marked in your phone or wallet. (ICE= In Case of Emergency). Make it easy for authorities to be able to connect to your people... just in case.
- Always let those you love know you love them, because... you just don't know.
I don't say these things to be morbid, and even by doing every single thing does not mean it will be 100% effective. But it might help.
Life is too short to pass up opportunities that make you happy or to stay in one place because of fear. But you can also be smart about it.
These aren't in any order, I just added them as they came to me... and yes, I follow each one. I love my family and as much as I love going out to wander, I love coming back home to see their faces. So I try to be as safe as I possibly can.
I hope these help you too.
Follow your heart. Make some memories. Have adventures! Leave a legacy. You only get one time around so make the most of it!
Welcome to My Darkside
I have tried for decades to keep the two very distinct sides of my personality separate. I am very much a Christian and yet, there's a darkside to my creative vein.
I have always been drawn to the dark side of history. I'd dive into the outlaws and the gangsters, and then as I got older the serial killers. But the mainstream of my life was/is very clean and shiny... I am quite the rule-follower and do my best to see the best in others and lead with love.
I decided that I was so fascinated at how others function SO differently than myself. My study of the brain began here.
I eventually decided to allow the dark side some creative space knowing that God made me and knew ahead of time what He was getting himself into! Lol!
When it was suggested I create a podcast, I had to figure out what topic I could legit dive into regularly and never get bored of. History. That was easy. I love American history and am still a bit resentful of my teachers for not fanning this flame in my youth.
I knew I didn't want to do serial killers, I don't want to turn them into rockstars. They are still evil creatures and their acts are not something to celebrate, but with all the fascination of true crime and serial killers, I knew there were others (thousands upon thousands) that liked to dip their toe on the dark side. I gave myself permission to create the Bag of Bones Podcast. Revealing the dark side of American history.
Murderers, outlaws, tyranny, battles, hauntings (I do love a good ghost story!), folklore, racism, tragedy, and straight up stupidity. So things don't get too dark, I add in some quirky and strange stories that may have been swept under the rug that make us question how our species have survived some decisions. Lol.
I am having a blast. I spend a huge amount of time diving into my weekly episodes to bring you well researched and as factual information that is available to me. I read tons of articles, books, documents and court transcripts to give me every opportunity to bring you the facts from our yesterdays. I am in LOVE with my podcast. (Am I allowed to say that? Lol)
I believe I come at every single episode with a heart of integrity, not just to glorify the ugly and headline-grabbers. Many episodes are meant to shine a light on how we, as a country thought and believed, so as not to forget... and repeat. Other episodes are biographies that reveal so much more of the subject matter than just the "crime" or "tragedy". Some are very difficult for me. I am sometimes more sensitive than I should be if I'm going to share these stories. Other times, I let you see my opinion ... I tend to be quite sarcastic, I'm told...
But I love 99% of my podcast... not what happened, but the opportunity to share it with others in a way where (hopefully) it will NOT be boring and just regurgitating facts and dates. These moments in history involved real people, real emotions, real choices, real consequences... our history IS people.
All that to say, I was happy to discover that many of my Christian friends and followers enjoyed the Bag of Bones Podcast.
I was so worried about that because I am billed in every book store and webpage as a Christian Author... and I still am... but then, I just veered a little sideways. I thought I was going to have to build an entire new website to cater to this new whim of mine and honestly, that still would be the best option, but instead, I decided to embrace it. You never know who might come in for one thing and get intrigued by another.
Many have suggested that I use a pen name for my dark side activities, but then I decided that because I am very hands on... very much involved with my following, that might not be such a good idea. I love getting to know my fans and readers. Sidenote: I'm hoping to go another level of connection and sign myself up for more book tours and conventions in the future- SO, I might as well not use a pen name since it's going to be Elizabeth Bourgeret that shows up to all the things... I might as well have my name on all the things.
Yes, this does offer a bit of confusion when people are researching me...
So... after saying all that... it has been decided. If and when I write a book that slips into the Dark Side, I will use a pen name. It won't be a secret, I won't be trying to hide who I really am, but this way, I will have the opportunity to reach an entire new audience and those who have been introduced to me as a Christian author, and pick up the "wrong" book, won't be surprised.
I waffled back and forth with this decision and I've talked with other authors with multiple pen names, and they recommend this practice to help book stores and on-line formats better know where to catalogue my writings.
The answer, is ...yes, I have decided on a pen name. You will be introduced to her when I finally get time to tap into a new genre... it may take a minute.
I'm entering in to my third year of the podcast and am still learning, but I'm going to treat it more like a business this year than a hobby. So, if you are already a fan, keep an eye out for a brand new newsletter, merch and other ways to interact.
Also- because I can't help myself- I will be launching new novels that will fall under the Dark Side category. I've suppressed it as long as I could! Lol! The story ideas just wouldn't stop coming! I must write them down! So, with books AND a podcast AND merch, I will be a more welcome attendant to conventions and festivals.
You'll see the reflection in the website, there will be a Dark Side section that will outline all the Bag of Bones details and release information on the books that fit there.
Whooo!! That feels good to get it off my chest and actually make a decision! Not that I need permission or approval, but I never want to alienate someone who is new to my world and this decision has been rattling around my head for at least three years, so it's nice to be able to move forward.
That being said-
Watch for some changes on the website and for new merch and books coming your way on both the Christian side and the Dark side.
You can't truly appreciate the light without experiencing the dark.
(Pretty sure that's my new motto, because it is 100% accurate. I would have never been saved had I not first had to walk through the valley of the shadow of doubt.)
If you haven't tuned in to any of the Bag of Bones episodes, do me a favor and check them out. I promise you, there really is something there for everyone! I do my best to warn against the really bad stuff... so go ahead, cross over to the dark side... (ooo... that sounded really creepy... I love it!)
Bag of Bones Podcast can be found on any podcast platform. We really are everywhere! New episodes almost every week. (I had to build in breaks this year because it is really very work intensive and I get a little swallowed up, but I will average at the very least 3 per month.)
(I've put together a Topics page, so if you'd like to search a specific subject, you can see those here.)
Follow on Facebook or Instagram and you'll be tapping into my warped, sarcastic sense of humor.
And as always, keep checking back here, as to the new developments! I'm super excited to share these new stories and episodes with you, my friends.
Welcome to my Dark Side.
Bag of Bones on Apple ITunes
Bag of Bones on Spotify
Bag of Bones on IHeart Radio
Update! Check out the new blog Beyond the Bones! It's an extension to the Podcast but also allows a place for me to add other interesting historic stories you will love or may have never heard of but not quite long enough for an episode! Check it out here!