Protect Your Happy

Sitting in the corner of the room at my desk, I raised my weary head and asked, “Is it time for chocolate cold brew yet?” She said, “Heck yeah!”, and disappeared into the kitchen. My attitude was instantly uplifted.

Stumptowm Chocolate Cold Brew

This new email platform for work is eating my breakfast, lunch and dinner, but you know what? I’m gonna win.

There’s no other option for me personally.

I don’t even think about defeat, or worry that it’s too much to absorb and learn. Every hour or so, I leave my corner and walk around the house to clear my mind and refocus. Sometimes I read something positive to reinforce my outlook. It’s important what you take in because that is what you’re going to hand out to people around you.

I posted this meme on Facebook this week and it had mixed views. Some have been taking in sadness for so long, it’s rubbed off on them and become a part of who they are.

You have to be careful with sad if you want to remain happy. I’ve followed some pretty sad Bloggers in the past, and I had to unfollow them. I can make a note of their Blogsite to check on them down the road, but I cannot read sad throughout the day and remain true to who I am. Barb is happy and wants to stay that way.

There was a saying used years ago that stuck with me. “Fake it till you make it.” No matter how I was feeling, if someone asked, “How are you?”, I’d respond, “I’m doing great!” It took years of saying ‘great’, to actually believe life is great, but every time I said it out loud, it became more ingrained until it became my first choice.

I respond in the same manner today, but I usually receive a skeptical look, or that ‘you must be crazy’ look. It’s like it’s unusual to be in a good place. If they continue to prod deeper about my upbeat attitude, I confuse them even more when I say, “Because, I’m happy.”

A friend once told me, “It’s okay to grieve and you’ll feel sad, but don’t unpack your bag and set up camp.”

Once you find your happy be willing to fiercely protect it from outside influences. Sad can overtake happy, quickly and easily. Be willing to protect your happy.

A Faithful Following

I read a post in my Reader this morning by Mama’s Empty Nest. She doesn’t know this, but she inspires me. She’s been Blogging for 10 years, but doesn’t have a huge amount of followers. (2,000ish) To me, that’s inspiring.

I’ve been Blogging for 6 years, but didn’t get serious about it until 2019. That was the year my views doubled. Today, it’s not about the likes, even though they are nice to see, it’s about the reader. It took years to come to that realization and some days I still struggle with it.

I was thinking of the Fearless Warrior program I joined in July. I’m already fearless because of my trust in God. I trust Him with my life, and He instilled a warrior in me, but there’s one thing in this life I won’t fight. Algorithms.

If you love your Blog, the best thing to do is suit up and show up and give God something to use. Mama’s Empty Nest inspires me by just showing up. She enjoys the simplicity in life and we share the same big God.

Think of your Blog as your own corner of the world.

Once you publish a post, you may see the same readers give you likes and the same writers make comments, but my darling…that is called a faithful following.

Thank you for suiting up and showing up. ~ Barb

In An Instant

As I mentioned in a previous post, my daughter met up with a friend she doesn’t get to see very often. They met on the college campus last year, and the friend moved away to attend another campus. The best thing to come out of college, in my opinion, has been meeting this friend.

They stayed out late shooting pool, so her friend came home with her and crashed here. The following morning, her friend woke up and walked through the house looking for coffee. There’s no automatic brew here my love.

But I can make you a cup of coffee that’s memorable. I stood with her at the coffee bar and went through the choices. Chemex, a vessel of coffee, the French press, or a pour over. She was intrigued by the pour over and asked, “What’s a pour over?” This made my heart sing.

Bluebottle Coffee Dripper

I have a confession to make. I’d become really slack recently about taking the time to make a Chemex, or pour over for myself in the morning. I’d walk by the coffee bar, over to the tea cart and turn on the electric kettle for a cup of instant coffee. Within minutes I was sipping on a cup of rehydrated beans, sort of, and not enjoying it.

That’s just not me. I don’t do anything in an instant.

This morning I stood at the coffee bar, remembering the fascination of the friend and treated myself in the same manner as I treated her. “What’s your pleasure Barb?”

The Chemex is what I made for myself.

Photo by Purple Smith on Pexels.com

I remember the friend sitting at our kitchen table sipping the cup of coffee made by hand. The look on her face after each sip was like she had never experienced coffee like that before. I told her, “That will get you going”, and she responded with excitement, “What are we doing today?!”

Yesterday my daughter told me something her friend said about that morning at our table. She said, “Sunday morning was one the most beautiful morning’s I’ve ever had.” Those words were music to my ears and yet it also confirmed:

Beautiful moments aren’t made in an instant.

To Step Away

I had to step away from my work.

We moved to a new online customer service platform last week, the second one since June, and there’s a lot to learn. I’ve also learned how and when to step away.

I read Stephen King’s Memoir, ‘On Writing.” He talks about how he always had a nook to write in. Underneath the stairway was one, but he does his best writing tucked away in a corner. He discourages writing out in the open and suggests going into a room, shutting the door and forbidding anyone to open it.

Well Stephen, I’m sorry, but that’s not me.

Photo by Andrea Davis on Pexels.com

I need an open, yet peaceful space for writing. I can see myself sitting outside once the weather cooperates.

Going off Stephen’s suggestion, I slid my desk into the corner of the room to do some serious writing, but here’s what evolved. It’s where I do my best work, but for my job. When I walk over to the desk I know it’s time to get serious about work, but writing is not work for me.

I don’t have a distracting environment. It’s peaceful for the most part, so I unplugged my laptop, took it off my desk and walked over to the kitchen table to write. Here I sit writing this post because this was a hard lesson to learn. I have to step away from work and take time for this Blog. It’s almost a need to take time for writing.

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

No one is going to do it for me, but if I’m not careful, I’ll get wrapped up in work and it will take away my writing.

I’m no Stephen King, but I fancy myself a writer. Life is a beautiful thing to be enjoyed, but writing can easily get knocked down the list. If it’s important it will take time and the path is long. Anything worthwhile doesn’t happen overnight, otherwise it’d be easy to succeed.

Thank you for meeting me here today. I’ll go back to work realizing writing may not feel like work, but it’s just as important as work. There are times my work can wait, but writing cannot, and it’s okay to step away.

Table for Two

My daughter has gone to meet a friend for coffee. They don’t get to see each other very often, because the friend moved, but she sent a text as soon as she hit town.

I encouraged her to go and enjoy their time. Gave her a hug and said, “Go get filled up.” That’s what friends do.

About a week ago, I received a text from my friend that I meet for coffee at least once a month. If we can manage, we meet twice a month. Once we set the day and time, I don’t let anything stand in the way of meeting her. We meet at the same coffee bar every time and it’s our spot.

About a week ago, she sent me this picture.

A Chocolate Chai Tea Latte.

I recognized the drink, the table and even the reflection of light on the table before reading the text. We’ve had many a conversation there and I always feel refreshed and renewed when it’s time to go our separate ways.

Not to mention highly caffeinated.

I wonder if it felt strange that day for my friend to sit at the table by herself. She told me that drink was her reward for driving through Austin traffic. You need a medal for that, but I was happy she thought of that drink as a reward.

It’s a rewarding moment every time we meet and we need those in our life. We need friends who fill us back up and we do the same for them. I encourage you to put that mask on that has become second nature and go sit with a friend.

My friend sat at our table by herself that day, but she wasn’t alone. We both know that table is a table for two.

The Wrong Screen

The main reason I joined the Fearless community was to confirm what’s meaningful and rediscover my meaningful work. I knew writing was meaningful, but it doesn’t feel like work, hence the confusion.

I struggled for a while finding time to blog. It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the changes happening within my job, but here’s what I know today. There’s no amount of money worth taking up all of my time.

Writing is not something I try to find time for, it’s what I want to do. It’s about allowing a space to open, sitting down in that space and not leaving until I’m out of words. It’s a sacred space to let the words spill, and spill they do.

Taking time to write in our lives gives us the time of our lives.

Julia Cameron-The Writer’s Life
Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

It’s a cool morning in Texas halleluiah!

The front door swung open early to let the cool breeze wash over the inside of our home. Our house cat, Chombus, loves sitting in front of the screen door. I noticed him staring intently at something on the front porch, so I walked over to investigate his fascination.

It was a twig rocking back and forth, being moved by the wind. Being an indoor cat, he’s never experienced a twig, so I opened the door and brought it inside to lay it on the floor in front of him. He moved it around and tried to bite it, just doing cat things to the twig.

That’s the kind of life I enjoy, where I’m never too busy to hand our cat a twig. As I finish typing this up to go back to my work, I can’t really classify writing as meaningful work. It doesn’t feel like work but is packed full of meaning.

There’s meaningful moments within our everyday life. It’s a matter of stepping away from the computer screen and standing in front of the screen door. Thank you Chombus, (the cat) for reminding me this morning not to spend too much time in front of the wrong screen.

Happy Friday my darlings. ~ Big love! Barb

Everyday is Orchestrated

‘Take what you have and use it’. That was my first thing in the morning thought. My daughter went to college via Zoom, I went for my walk and that’s where I saw it.

I wasn’t using my meditation app as intended.

Photo by JD Mason on Unsplash

It’s easy to envision mediation as the photo above.

It can be that way, but I enjoy walking and mediating. I’ve been using the free version of the Simple Habits app this year, but mainly for relaxation and sleep. I told myself if I upgraded to a subscription, I could download a mediation to listen to anywhere, anytime, and even while walking.

I rarely take my phone with me on a walk, but today I popped in one earbud, and left the other one out. Barb being Barb wants the best of both worlds. To be able to hear nature while listening to the mediation.

It was surprising how many of them began with, “Find a comfortable position, whether it’s sitting, or lying down.” I was halfway through my walk before finding what I need.

It wasn’t surprising that it was a prayer meditation by Westley West entitled, “Uplifting Morning Prayers”.

It was like being on a movie set where everything was perfectly orchestrated. As I turned the corner onto a straightaway, the clouds began to thin and the sun came streaming through. Stepping onto the street leading up a hill, I felt a light breeze and there was a spring in my step that made the hill less effort.

Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash

By the time I reached my street, I was refreshed, energized and grateful for a new day. That short morning walk helped me realize, my higher power has everyday orchestrated, if I’ll take what I have and use it.

The Moonshot Goal

In July, I joined a Fearless Community.

Every quarter Leo Babauta of Zen Habits sets an intention, or challenge and breaks it down into monthly increments. The Fearless Training program is where I learned the self trust cultivator, and became serious about a good night’s sleep.

The Moonshot Goals are meant to give you something big to shoot for, which a lot of us resist. It should require you to shift beyond your patterns (otherwise, it’s just a normal goal within what’s already doable for you). It should feel a bit out of reach, and inspiring.

Leo Babauta

We have a Monday Check-in we post every week.

I posted my Moonshot Goal, and was uncomfortable in doing so. Most people are building businesses, or ramping up their online presence, but Barb? She wants to be a great neighbor.

Here’s part of what I posted.

Imagine if you had one house on your street where you knew you could always walk to for encouragement. I can imagine it starting on my street and spreading to other streets. That’s my Moonshot Goal. To be a Fearless Neighbor in hopes that it’ll start to spread by Christmas.~Barb

This is a great time of year to begin this goal.

A row of mailboxes in my neighborhood.

I’m curious about what the holiday’s look like for people. Will they travel to be with family? Airline tickets are made of gold and gas prices will most likely increase. I know three neighbors on my street, and I want to be here for them, but I want get to know every neighbor on my street.

This morning I woke up still feeling uncomfortable about posting such an odd goal compared to others. I pulled up our Slack channel and noticed a mention of my name.

Here is part of the post.

I’ve been reading about others’ moonshot goals with curiosity and attention. I’ve yet to feel moved to set my own, feeling more committed to my process than any specific outcome. Although I do have to say that @Barb Holmes’ goal to be intentional about building community speaks to me. 

MaryAnne-Fearless Warrior

What MaryAnne wrote helped me feel at ease. It sounds like a crazy idea and I didn’t expect anyone to get it. Some may see it as going back in time to the way life used to be, but I believe it’s the way life was designed to be. A good indication is all the online groups we now call community. I love online communities, but what about the one outside my front door?

To be a fearless neighbor, that’s my moonshot goal.

Feel the Music

My daughter: “You haven’t done a Feel the Music in a while.”

Me: I don’t drive that much anymore.” I hear most of these songs for Feel the Music while driving, but I wasn’t prepared for this song to start playing as soon as I started my truck. It just started playing like it was queued up and ready, but I wasn’t.

The hard to listen to songs. The ones that bring back memories of a love gone sideways, or swept up by crashing waves and drug out to the middle of the ocean. You see, I’ve been listening to the hard songs all year, but at some point you have to dance to it.

Photo by Seth Doyle on Unsplash

This song is sang by Cody Johnson. Mr. Smith told me about Cody and I have his CD in my truck. I enjoy his music, but the first song on the CD is the one I share with you today. It’s the hard to listen to song I usually skip over, but today I was able to listen.

Just try to quit smokin’ and reel back the drinkin’
Don’t always tell her everything you’re thinkin’
And dance her when she needs dancin’

It’s bittersweet because there are parts of the song that Smith nailed, but there are also parts he didn’t. He couldn’t quit smoking, even though it was important to me. I wanted him to be around another 50 years. Smith shared at the beginning of our relationship that he knew how to dance, and was good at it.

I’ve always wanted to be good at dancing, and have a partner who would show me. He didn’t dance me when I needed dancing.

Photo by Akemy Mory on Unsplash

The part of the song he was always good at was listening. Smith never tried to fix me, but would offer suggestions on how we could fix my world when it cracked. When I would get upset I’d go sit in the middle of the bed. He’d give me some time, but eventually come in and lay on the bed as an open invitation to talk.

I wasn’t good at sharing what was wrong because I was always concerned he would laugh, or it think it was silly. That wasn’t the point though, he just wanted me to spill it.

Crawl up in that bed right next to her and listen
Instead of having all the answers

It’s a simple country song, and the name of it is, “Ain’t Nothin’ to It”, but obviously there is something to it. To the couples who have made it through the years it takes to solidify a relationship, go grab your partner and dance them like they need dancing.

My guess would be that’s all they really need.

The Basil Plant

As mentioned in my previous post, the seasons are changing and some of my favorite things will go away till Spring. I’ve killed two Basil plants this year, but that didn’t deter me from buying one more. I’m not quite ready to let go and not make pesto.

Almost every market I’ve walked into has them in stock. One store had so many basil plants, they were on display like Poinsettias at Christmas. Why not buy one more Barb?

I told myself I’d bring one home, and if it was still alive after a week, I’d repot it into a larger container. The plastic container it was sold in has three holes in the bottom for drainage. I wanted to sit it in the kitchen window to receive some light, but I learned early on that wood and water don’t mix. The window sill is wood, so I found this little dish to sit under it.

Home from the market.

I sat it in that little dish up in the kitchen window for a week and it’s still alive. I thought it couldn’t hurt to sit it in love, love, love.

Here is what I’ve learned from the basil plant.

🤍 Don’t water it at night. Even though it’s more convenient to water it before bed, it doesn’t like sitting in damp darkness.

🤍 Just let it be. I see it first thing in the morning as I walk into the kitchen and it’s still alive! I realize it’s almost out of season and it’s slow growing, but at least it hasn’t died and that’s rewarding.

🤍 It reminds me to be kind always. It looks rather fragile and my persona shifts when I see it. It has new growth, but should be nervous for the day I plop the food processor on the counter.

10 days later. It hasn’t grown much, but it’s alive.

Maybe it just knows to move at a slower pace and enjoy where it is. Plants are a lot like humans, and we can learn from them, as this little plant reminds me to be kind and relax my mind.

The photo reveals I repotted it, slid the love, love, love dish underneath and sat it on the window sill. We would all be content sitting in a dish of repeated love, just like the basil plant.