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Posts Tagged ‘positive living’

The rule focused on for Week 1 of the Tranquility by Tuesday challenge was Give Yourself a Bedtime. I knew from the start that committing to a bedtime was going to be tough for me. Since the beginning of the new year, I have been going to bed whenever I feel like it, and sometimes it has been 1:00 in the morning by the time I climb into bed for my evening slumber. I no longer have an established morning routine, and I rarely set an alarm since leaving my instructional coaching job, but I manage to get enough sleep.

Laura mentioned (in a recent blog post about Rule #1) that she chose it first “because it’s important to get enough sleep and a regular bedtime gives structure to the day.” I could not agree more and was happy to start with this rule because as I mentioned in my post, “My RESULTS of the 2023 Time Tracking Challenge,” I want a more structured daily routine (M-F), especially in the mornings and throughout the day. 

Before the week started, I pondered the planning questions for Rule #1 that Laura sent us on Friday, 20 January and made a plan for the week.

  • What time would you like to wake up most mornings? 6:00 AM
  • About how many hours of sleep do you need on an average night? 7 hours
  • What time do you generally need to be in bed in order to get this amount of sleep? 11:00 PM
  • About how much time do you need before your bedtime to relax and get ready? 30 minutes
  • What might keep you from going to bed at your bedtime? working on video projects for my YouTube channel
  • How do you plan to address these challenges? no idea

RESULTS

    I am thrilled that I continued time tracking along with this challenge because I averaged 7.5 hours of sleep not 7 hours. This is huge because I now have to readjust the time I start winding down and going to sleep by a half hour or decide to wake up at 6:30 instead of 6:00 in the morning.

    My time tracking log also revealed the reasons for staying up later than 11:00 PM. On Friday night, I showered at 10:30 and from 11:00-11:45, I played on my phone, scrolling through social media. On Monday night, I showered at 10:15 and from 10:35-11:30, I edited a video. On Tuesday night, I showered at 8:45 and from 9:15-11:45, I was either scrolling on social media or watching YouTube videos. On Thursday night, I attended my improv class from 6:00-8:00; showered at 9:25, and from 9:50-11:50, I edited a video.

    REFLECTION

    On Thursday I received reflection questions from Laura to review how well I did with giving myself a bedtime. I did not go to sleep one single night at 11:00 PM. I missed the mark EVERY single night. Boy, do I have my work cut out for me!

    • How did observing a bedtime affect you this week? more conscious of trying to go to bed on time
    • What challenges did you face in implementing this week’s strategy? me (only see this after reviewing my time tracking log)
    • How did you deal with these challenges? sadly, I didn’t deal with it, but I can from this point on
    • If you were not able to observe a bedtime, what prevented you from doing so? getting sucked into playing on my phone (effortless fun) and continuing to work on my videos past my bedtime
    • If you needed to modify the rule, how did you do so? n/a
    • How likely are you to continue observing a bedtime? very likely; I need to take this rule more seriously

    Additionally, I realized that I do NOT have a good winding down routine. I did try to set an alarm to stop working on Monday night; however, when the alarm went off, I was right in the middle of what I was working on and did not want to stop. I still think an alarm is effective; however, I will need to set it for at least 15 minutes earlier than the time I ideally want to stop and start winding down before bedtime. I also think I need some sort of transition to signal my brain that it is time to wind down for the evening. Of course, this will take trial and error over the next few weeks.

    Participating in this challenge has been enjoyable, dear reader. I am discovering some interesting information about myself. This is definitely a know yourself better experiment. Going forward with Rule #1, I need to readjust my bedtime if I want to wake up at 6:00 AM, be more intentional with observing a regular bedtime (set a timer), create a transition to wind down before bed, and eliminate phone time prior to winding down. With a bit of practice and the right attitude, I really think I can make giving myself a bedtime a good habit. Happiness!

    “If you would like to experience the additional energy and optimism that comes from being well rested, choose a time that you would like to go to sleep more nights than not. Then, commit to getting in bed by that time unless you have a compelling reason not to.” ~ Laura Vanderkam, Tranquility by Tuesday

    Note: Photo at the top is by Kristin Vogt on Pexels.com.

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    Greetings, dear reader! I am currently reading Tranquility by Tuesday by Laura Vanderkam. It is #20 on my 23 for 2023 List. I also started the Tranquility by Tuesday Challenge today. I am proud to say that I am one of the 150 participants in Laura’s time study that produced the results she writes about in her book. I am super excited to read her book and to participate in the 2023 Tranquility by Tuesday Challenge.

    I filmed a short video about the challenge for my channel, Kat’s Novel Adventures, and want to share it with you. It explains the challenge, mentions the 9 rules, and the planning questions for the first rule. You do not need to read the book in order to participate, and there is still time to join the challenge. Just click on Tranquility by Tuesday Challenge (2023) to join.

    I am also continuing to track my time this week and have a feeling I will be tracking my time through the first few days of February. My hope is that with tracking my time and participating in this challenge, I can finally get caught up, achieve some balance, and make a real effort to get organized. I love everything I am doing right now in my life; however, I am burning the candle at both ends, not exercising, and starting to feel a bit stressed. I am ready to “calm the chaos and make time for what matters.” Happiness!

    “The good news is that everything becomes easier over time, as the grooves of habit wear deep.” ~ Laura Vanderkam, Tranquility by Tuesday

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    During the week of 09 January, I participated in Laura Vanderkam’s Time-Tracking Challenge. Laura hosts this annual challenge in January, asking her readers to join her while sharing her discoveries about how she is spending her own time throughout the week. As I have mentioned in past posts, I find time tracking beneficial, especially when I am feeling overwhelmed or need to make some changes. My one-word theme for 2023 is CREATE, and I feel the need to create better organization of my time in order to successfully create a healthier and more sustainable life.

    My week started with 168 hours on Monday 09 January at 7:00 in the morning. Two categories that took up a huge chunk of my time were creating content for YouTube and sleep. 35.5 hours were spent on content for YouTube (Kelsi’s channel and my own channel). This total includes 15.5 hours on watching movies and preparing notes for the Year of King project I did in collaboration with Kelsi and 20 hours for my own channel’s projects. 54.5 hours were spent sleeping. This left me with 78 hours to spend on other tasks or activities during the week.

    So, how did I spend the remaining 78 hours of my week?

    • Morning Routine: 2 hours 

    My morning routine looks quite differently than it did when I was working as an instructional coach at HGCS. Since I am currently taking a hiatus from working outside my home, I really do not have a structured morning routine. There are days when I have nowhere to go, staying in my pjs until later in the morning. Therefore, it mainly consists of pet care for two dogs and two cats, personal care for myself, and making myself a cup of coffee. When Barry is home, he will take care of the dogs during the day and generally make me a cup of coffee in the morning (sweet guy). My day then naturally unfolds and meanders around my responsibilities and appointments. Generally, I do not eat breakfast until about 9:00 in the morning.

    • Get dressed: 4 hours
    • Exercise: 0 hours
    • Meals: 12.5 hours (prepping/cooking and eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner)
    • Home/Family Logistics (insurance policy renewal, financial tasks, dental appointments): 7.25 hours
    • Chores: 4.75 hours (loading dishwasher, laundry, floors, trash, cat litter)
    • Travel: 9.25 hours
    • Afternoon Routine: 1.5 hours (pet care for dogs and cats, sometimes make a cup of coffee)
    • Outside Time (23 for 2023 Challenge): 3 hours
    • Blog: 0 hours
    • Read: 1.75 hours
    • Goodreads: 0 hours 
    • Marketing YouTube (social media): 2 hours

    Gretchen Rubin created the #Outside23in23 Challenge which I am participating in this year. Most days I do get outside for at least 23 minutes per day and usually because of my dogs. Unfortunately, this week I did NOT exercise (no workouts, no walking), and I barely read which is a bummer and totally unacceptable.

    • Evening Routine: 3 hours (shower, take dogs out before bed, prep for bed)
    • TV Shows/Movies/YouTube: .5 of an hour (watching Youtube)
    • Napping: 0 hours
    • Errands/Social Events: 6 hours
    • Birthday Message Project: 3 hours
    • Personal Development: 4.25 hours (improv, buddy read with sister, time tracking, self-care updates: check/record watch & Happier app)

    I took a ride with Andrew on Monday evening to pick up sushi (our dinner) from Kirin. Tagging along gave me quality time with him. On Wednesday, I went to the post office to mail a small package to Shelly’s friend (book exchange) and stopped at PJ’s coffee to pick up sausage, egg, and cheese biscuits (for me and the boys) and a mocha latte. Around lunch time, Andrew and I rode together to pick up chicken tenders from Cane’s to bring to Mrs. Billie’s house for my birthday lunch with the two of them. My social events for this week included a bridal shower for my niece Kaitlyn on Saturday and a Livestream with Kelsi (The Shining) on Sunday.

    As a result, 55 hours were spent on life responsibilities, 9.25 hours were spent traveling, and .5 of an hour was spent watching television shows, movies, or YouTube for a total of 64.75 hours.

    This left me with 13.25 hours left over in my weekly bank of hours. Of my remaining time, I spent 5.5 hours of those hours hanging out with either family or friends. This is in addition to time spent with family and friends during meals, travel, or social events. My birthday was on Wednesday, so I spent 2.25 hours of the week reading and responding to texts, emails, and FB messages, as well as opening and reading birthday cards that came in the mail. I still have to respond to FB messages because I did not get to all of them last week. The remaining 5.5 hours was spent playing Trivia Crack, scrolling through social media (mainly Instagram), texting, email, time-tracking, or puttering around the house.

    So, what did I learn during this Time-Tracking Challenge?

    Regardless of it being my birthday week, socializing with family and friends throughout the week, and preparing for the livestream for my Year of King project, I did devote time towards my aims for 2023. I was able to combine my already scheduled dental cleaning appointment with getting the impression made for my implant crown. BAM! I created my first Readathon for February and released the announcement video for it on my channel and social media. BAM, BAM! And, finally, I registered for Laura Vanderkam’s Tranquility By Tuesday Challenge which means I have started reading her book this week. Triple BAM!

    With that being said, I still had 5.5 hours that I could have read more, dealt with digital clutter, or organized spaces around my house. “Puttering around the house” is also not necessarily wasted time. Puttering is where I squeeze those little tasks in between major tasks, such as going through the mail, writing a check, putting a book back on the shelf, or taking out the trash.

    Additionally, I used the Strategy of Pairing quite a bit last week, generally when eating my meals. My YouTube watching hours would have been higher, but I watched several videos while eating breakfast and lunch. Also, my television watching hours would have been higher because I ate dinner a couple of times while watching The Shining movies. I also read a little more while waiting for my turn at the dentist. And, I listened to podcasts or talked on the phone (hands-free) while driving to improv class and Kelsi’s house.

    Where do I go from here?

    You should not be surprised I am time tracking again this week, dear reader. Last week was an unusual week with my birthday and everything related to the Year of King project. I want a more structured daily routine (M-F), especially in the mornings and throughout the day. I want to purchase a planner or create a binder to organize the content I am creating for both my blog and my YouTube channel. In addition, I need to create some time this month to get my home office organized, so I am not spending so much time get my little corner in the bedroom ready for me every time I film a video. I am actually excited about these results because they are motivating me to create a better schedule and to get me a step closer to becoming a better steward of my time. Happiness!

      “We must use time as a tool, not as a couch.” ~ John F. Kennedy

      Note: Photo at the top is by Andrey Grushnikov on Pexels.com.

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      We all have the same 168 hours a week, dear reader. How are you spending yours? As many of you know, I having been tracking my time periodically after reading Laura Vanderkam’s awesome book on time management, 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to make the most of his or her time. When trying to accomplish goals, keeping a time log of how you spend your 168 hours is a worthwhile endeavor. January is the perfect month to track your time. It provides a terrific starting point which can be adjusted as life happens.

      Like last January, I have signed up for Laura Vanderkam’s annual “Time Tracking Challenge” which will begin on Monday 09 January and run through Sunday, 15 January. Laura will send out an email on Sunday with details about the challenge. After logging my 168 hours for the week, I will analyze my time log to see exactly how much time I have left (after sleep and family commitments have been deducted) to work on my health and fitness goals, content creation, and the aims on my 23 for 2023 List. Time tracking is actually enjoyable for me, and I try to track my time periodically throughout the year, especially when I am feeling overwhelmed, feeling like I am not making any progress with my yearly aims, or there is a significant change in my life that affects my schedule.

      If you are interested in finding out more about time tracking or want to see where your 168 hours are going, check out Laura Vandercam’s website or her book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. The time tracking challenge is free, does not require a great deal of time, and can be eye-opening. Please let me know if you decide to participate in the challenge, dear reader, because it would be fun to compare notes and chat about time management strategies. You can leave me a comment or email me at katloyacano@gmail.com. Have an AWESOME weekend. Happiness!

      “Time stays long enough for those who use it.” ~ Leonardo Da Vinci

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      As promised, dear reader, I am sharing my TA-DA List for this year. 2022 has been a fantastic year for me! I am grateful for all of my adventures (the good, the bad, and the ugly) that I experienced and all of the wonderful memories I have made throughout the year.

      I may not have completed my 22 in 2022 list; however, I kept myself busy with working, traveling, spending time with family and friends, reading, acting, and taking care of my health, family, and home.

      TA-DA 2022

      • Health (Colonoscopy, Endoscopy, Nerve Test, Mammogram, Bloodwork + Yearly Doctor/Dental appointments)
      • Lunch dates, movie nights, and drink nights with friends and family
      • Instagram (Year of JOY Project)
      • Collabs with Kelsi (Year of King, Halloween, and Christmas)
      • Live Streams with Kelsi (books and horror movies)
      • Chills, Thrills, and Kills Book Club (run monthly with Kelsi; January-November)
      • Elton John Concert in NOLA with Shelly (January)
      • Matthew Morgan’s Actor Audition Workshop in MS with Brian and Maria (January)
      • Pokeno Sub (January and July)
      • Welcomed Luna to the Family (February)
      • Puppy Training Classes with Luna at Petco
      • Move-In Day for Helen (February)
      • Friends of the Library Book Sales with Andrew and Michelle (February/April/August/November)
      • Move-Back Home Day for Andrew (March)
      • Attended Plays (Puffs, Lion King, Hamilton, The Way We Say Goodbye, The Jungle Book)
      • Proctored/Supervised ACT at Southeastern University (February, April, October, and December)
      • Improv Workshops (April-Anubis; July-Rich Talarico)
      • Hand-Lettering Class (April)
      • Vera Cost in the mystery dinner theatre Phantom of the Columbia at the Columbia Theatre (April)
      • Travel (visited The Killians in Atlanta in May for Emma’s Graduation; visited NYC with Andrew in June)
      • Zombie Awareness Month (May)
      • Annual Crawfish Boil (May)
      • Van Gogh Immersive Experience with Barry (May)
      • Quit my job as an Instructional Coach at Holy Ghost Catholic School (May)
      • Subscribed to Beachbody on Demand (June); finished 4 fitness programs
      • Kaitlyn and Marc’s Engagement Party (June)
      • Scrapbooking (attended TAC Scrapbook Event with Shelly, Heather, and Donna in June)
      • Readings for The Jungle Book (June/July)
      • Oral Surgery: dental implant (June)
      • Summer Fun List (June-September)
      • 4th of July with Family @ Kerry and Natalie’s house (July)
      • Halloween Decor Shopping with Kelsi (August)
      • Volunteer at HGCS’s Book Fairs (August and November)
      • Buddy Read A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle/Zoom Meeting Discussions with Rachel (August-November)
      • Anubis: Improv Level 1 8-Week Class (August-October)
      • Connie Khan in the mystery dinner theatre Murder! At the Disco at the Columbia Theatre (September)
      • L.M. Montgomery Readathon (September-November)
      • Fall Fun List (September-December)
      • Anubis: Improv Level 1 Showcase (October)
      • Fall Fun Day with Kelsi (October)
      • Octoberfest @ Gnarley Barley with friends (October)
      • Rocky Horror Picture Show with friends (October)
      • Sleepover with Michelle (October)
      • Launched YouTube Channel, Kat’s Novel Adventures (October)
      • Anubis: Improv Level 2 8-Week Class (October-December)
      • Melissa’s 7th Grade Book Challenge (October-December)
      • Greta Van Fleet Concert in NOLA with Barry, Jr. (November)
      • Friendsgiving with high school friends @ Wendy’s house (November)
      • Cloak and Dagger Christmas Readathon (December)
      • Christmas Evil Readathon (December)
      • Anubis: Improv Level 2 Showcase (December)
      • Help Mrs. Billie with health-related issues (December)

      As you can see, dear reader, 2022 was about making memories, having adventures, and spending time with family and friends. Even though I did not cross off every item on my 22 for 2022 list, I still feel like I accomplished a great deal in 2022. I am extremely grateful for being in good health and able to have all of these experiences this year. As I mentioned in last year’s post regarding my TA-DA List in 2021, “Although I am a planner by nature and love setting goals and making resolutions, I also enjoy learning and trying new activities. When opportunity knocked, I opened the door and accepted whatever adventure was across the threshold. Life is truly an adventure.” And, I still feel this way today as I reflect on 2022. Happiness!

      “Live life to the fullest. You have to color outside the lines once in a while if you want to make your life a masterpiece. Laugh some every day. Keep growing, keep dreaming, keep following your heart. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”  ~  Albert Einstein

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      Today is the day to reflect on my 22 for 2022 list! I chose CHANGE as my word for 2022, and there have been a few significant changes that have occurred in my life in 2022. My family and I said good-bye to our 13 1/2 year old dog Sophie when she crossed the Rainbow Bridge in early January. We unexpectedly welcomed Luna, a ten-week-old puppy, to our family in February. And, I quit my job as an Instructional Coach at HGCS in May. I only completed six items on my list this year and started the process of completing four others.

      • Time-track in January. YES
      • Tweak morning routine. YES
      • Make consultation appointment with oral surgeon (implant). YES (April; implant process started in June)
      • Learn a 30-60 second monologue. YES (performed at auditioning workshop in January)
      • Buy a new vacuum cleaner. NO (suffering from decision fatigue; bag or bagless?)
      • Get wedding rings resized. NO (waiting on hubby to find jeweler)
      • Clean out and organize master closet. NO (procrastinating)
      • Plant new garden in front of the house. NO (procrastinating)
      • Purge paper and organize file cabinet. STARTED (plan to carry over to 2023)
      • Go paperless (bills and statements). STARTED (plan to carry over to 2023)
      • Scrapbook monthly. NO (only in June; not feeling it-making me sad)
      • Complete Year of Gratitude scrapbook. NO (tried in June at event; too overwhelming)
      • Have a Year of King (Stephen King). YES (collaborated with Kelsi)
      • Update theme (layout) for blog. NO (suffering from decision fatigue; super disappointed)
      • Research video editing software. YES (sticking with iMovie until new laptop purchased)
      • Complete a puzzle. NO (kept forgetting; need a space; try again in 2023)
      • Write a will. STARTED (received paperwork; need to complete in 2023)
      • Revisit A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle. YES (buddy read with Rachel)
      • Read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. NO (disappointed; plan to try again in 2023)
      • Complete the WordPress Blogging course. NO (disappointed; plan to try again in 2023)
      • Take a WordPress Podcasting course. NO (did not make time; concentrated on YouTube instead)
      • Take Becky Higgins Classroom: Photo Tips + Work Flow. STARTED (need to complete in 2023)

      In addition, I participated in three reading projects which I am still participating in until the end of December. I did the #Read21in21 challenge again, where I read daily for 21 minutes. Instead of reading nonfiction like I did in 2021, I am reading children’s literature (middle-grade/young adult) books. I joined the Goodreads Challenge again and set my goal to read 50 books in 2022. I reached my Goodreads goal back in September and hope to complete 75 books this year. The children’s literature books read for #Read21in21 will be included in that total number of books. I also read 11 awesome books with members of my Chills, Thrills, and Kills Book Club.

      I participated in Collabs with Kelsi, participated in Frugal February, and posted joyful pictures regularly on Instagram for my Year of Joy Project. Finally, I kept a TA-DA list for 2022 which I will be sharing with you soon, dear reader. The only two extra projects, where I dropped the ball, were #Rest22in22 and #Walk20in20. I just did not commit to either one.

      Overall, I think I did okay with my 22 for 2022 list considering a few of the changes in my life this year. I knew when I made my list last December that it was slightly ambitious, especially with us still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida and COVID restrictions becoming almost nonexistent. I also had more acting and improv opportunities along with all the preparations for launching my own YouTube channel. Once you see my TA-DA list, dear reader, you will understand why I was not focusing all of my attention on my 22 for 2022 list. HA!

      Currently, I am working on my 23 for 2023 list, and I think I have my new word for 2023 picked out. I usually reveal my one-word theme and yearly list in January, but I may try posting it earlier if I can get my act together. No promises, since I am up to my eyeballs in books for my December readathons and movies for my movie marathons. How did you do with your goals in 2022, dear reader? Happiness!

      “A goal is not always meant to be reached; it often serves simply as something to aim at.” ~ Bruce Lee

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      Kelsi and I hung out last Sunday for a fun-filled fall day celebrating the spooky season. We exchanged gifts, carved pumpkins, baked cookies, popped popcorn, and watched two much-anticipated horror movies (My Best Friend’s Exorcism and Terrifier 2). The highlight of our day was carving pumpkins because Kelsi has NEVER carved one, which is surprising since her family loves all things Halloween. We vlogged our spook-tacular day together which she included in her Halloweekend Readathon Weekend #2 Vlog. Unfortunately, because we live in “hot ass Louisiana” as Kelsi loves to say, our pumpkins no longer look as cute as they did the day we carved them. Mine has become moldy on the inside and has started to collapse, so it will be placed on top of my compost pile shortly. The good news is we both plan to carve another pumpkin closer to Halloween. I think Kelsi has caught the pumpkin carving bug.

      🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃

      This past week, I battled yucky, alien-looking bugs that came out of nowhere to attacked my beloved satsuma tree, but I fought back. My satsuma tree does not yield fruit every year, but this year I could glean about 60 satsumas which is a bumper crop for my little fruit tree. First, I sprayed water on them with a hose. They flew away in various directions, but returned two hours later. I sprayed them with the hose once more, and they flew away once more. Unfortunately, these vile creatures were relentless and returned yet again to attack my satsumas.

      As I glared at them, they stared back, mocking me. Fortunately, my hubby had a solution, a soapy water solution. I mixed dish soap with warm water and sprayed those pests. The battle with those leaffooted bugs (Leptoglossus phyllopus) went on for two days until I wiped them out completely. Thankfully, they have not returned, and my satsumas have been saved. Since the attack of the citrus suckers, I have happily eaten three satsumas, and they were all splendidly sweet.

      🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃

      Painting by Tweety

      When my boys were younger, I decorated our house all the time, mainly for Halloween and Christmas. However, as they grew older, decorating for the holidays fell by the wayside. Last year, I planned to decorate, but our decorations were limited to my nightstand and a bookcase in my bedroom and the front porch because of Hurricane Ida. This year, Kelsi and I went Fall/Halloween decor shopping early, plus I shopped plenty more throughout September. I decorated my guest bathroom at the beginning of October. I finally got around to putting up the rest of my Halloween decorations this past week. Halloween birds are perched on bookcases while the rest of my spooky decor is displayed on the mantle above the fireplace in our living room.

      Every time I look at my Halloween decorations, I get a happiness boost. I found so many wonderful items this year. Except for the Hocus Pocus pumpkin, the books, and the two crystal pieces holding potpourri and the dried flowers, everything on the mantle was purchased this year. I am thrilled with how it turned out. At the center of the mantle is a perfect pumpkin portrait painted by my talented friend Tweety. Since I love reading, I incorporated spooky books in my holiday display which adds a pleasant touch.

      I absolutely adore the mini wooden coffin shelf that I purchased from Target. My hubby painted it for me. I want to find some small, vintage-looking books to put on the bottom shelf. Since I am a patreon supporter of It’s A Charming Life, Lindsay and Jonas sent me a Sleepy Hollow postcard, featuring Jonas’s artwork, and a tiny, white doily this month. I put the doily on the top shelf of the coffin and set a jack-o’-lantern on top of it. I am excited I could include both items as part of my decorations.

      Well, it is time for me to skedaddle, dear reader. I still have plenty left on today’s to-do list. I must finish my Halloween cards TODAY, so I can mail them out tomorrow. I promised my guys I would make a batch of Chicken Bacon Ranch Taquitos. Thankfully, the chicken and bacon have already been cooked. I have a few chapters to read in Needful Things. Then, I have to get myself organized for the upcoming week before heading out to Metairie where I will be performing tonight with my classmates in our first improv showcase. Happiness!

      My poor jack-o’-lantern after one week in hot ass Louisiana.

      “Jack-o’-lantern, Jack-o’-lantern. You are such a funny sight.” ~ Jack-o’-lantern Halloween Song

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      Cheers to October! While autumn is my favorite season of the year, October happens to be my favorite month of the year. Spooky season is officially upon us, so I spent yesterday morning decorating one of my bathrooms with Halloween decor. It is a spooktacular happiness boost!

      We have been experiencing some beautifully cool weather lately in Louisiana which makes me want to be outside enjoying it.

      Yesterday, Gnarly Barley, a local brewery in Hammond, was hosting their first Oktoberfest. They featured four German beers and had a food truck (Fine Thyme Catering) providing German foodstuffs. The brewery is a family and dog friendly establishment, so we opted to bring Luna with us to work on her socializing skills. She is not a fan of riding in a vehicle, so this also gave her an opportunity to become more familiar with being in a vehicle.

      We are proud of our Luna Belle. She trembled some on the way to the brewery, but on the way home, she seemed much more comfortable being in Barry’s truck. No trembling! I took a selfie of Luna and me on the way home, and she looks like she is smiling.

      Luna did wonderfully on her first outing. She was a little excitable when she first got out of the truck, so Barry walked her for about 10 minutes, and she settled down. There were tons of people, lots of dogs and children, and strange new smells to give her a terrific socializing experience.

      My friends, Shelly and Helen, met us at Gnarly Barley to enjoy the beautiful weather. We are now known as the cackling hens. Apparently, this is the title of Helen’s FB album where she puts pictures of us. I am guessing we earned the name (thanks, Shelly) because we do a great deal of cackling when we are together. Shelly and I became best friends when we met in the 3rd grade at St. Matthew the Apostle School in River Ridge. We lived down the street from each other growing up and now live down the street from each other as adults. Helen joined our friend group in high school and moved to Hammond in February after living in Colorado for many years.

      Ironically, not one of us drank a German beer or ate German food (line too long). HA! I ordered Party Punch, a Berliner Weisse, which is “a luscious sour beer teeming with Cranberry and Pomegranate flavors.” Beer is not my favorite alcoholic beverage; however, this beer was tasty and tart, and it looked as if a foamy ghost was in my cup. Barry ordered a Imperial Peanut Butter Korova. The other two cackling hens did not order any beer as they had errands to run before coming to my house later that evening to watch Hocus Pocus 2.

      Yesterday, I planned to watch Hocus Pocus 2 for the first movie on my Halloween Movie Marathon list. It is currently streaming on Disney+. I thought it would be fun to invite the cackling hens and Shelly’s husband Kerry to join Barry and me for a movie night, especially since it was not a scary movie. Most of my friends do NOT share my love of horror movies. Shelly’s daughter Claire also joined us after her shift ended at work.

      We ate hotdogs with homemade chili (yum) and Bag of Bones Cheetos (yum). Barry mixed Hocus Pocus cocktails (delish) for us to enjoy during the movie. It only required four ingredients (2 Tbsp each): white grape juice, Melon liqueur, Sour Apple liqueur, and Vodka. We chose purple sugar to rim our glasses. The movie was witchy and wonderful, and we all enjoyed it. What a fang-tastic evening hanging out with friends!

      Barry and I like to watch movies together; however, from time to time, we will pick a television series to watch together. Recently, he and I started watching an FX television show streaming on HULU called What We Do in the Shadows. We generally watch a couple of episodes on Friday evenings. It is a mockumentary comedy horror series, following the lives of four vampires living together on Staten Island in New York. Barry and I think it is hilarious. My favorite character is Guillermo de la Cruz, Nandor’s familiar, played by the actor Harvey Guillén. He has been employed for 10 years as a familiar and desperately wants Nandor to turn him into a vampire. Barry and I are currently on Season 2, and Guillermo has not been turned into a vampire, yet.

      Time for me to do some more Halloween decorating. I want to tackle the mantle above my fireplace. So far, the fall season is off to a superb start. Oh, and to make it even more magnificent, The Walking Dead is back tonight for the 3rd part of its 11th season. I have to savor every episode since this is the last season. What were your plans for the first weekend of the spooky season, dear reader? Happiness!

      “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” – L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

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      My Daddy and I recently took a road trip to Atlanta (12-16 May) to visit my sister and her family for my niece Emma’s graduation from high school. I have been to Atlanta several times over the last 18 years, but this was the first time I drove there. Taking a road trip with me behind the steering wheel is 100% out of my comfort zone; however, I refuse to let that stop me from going on an adventure. If you remember, dear reader, I drove my Daddy and me to Kentucky to visit my Uncle Manuel back in September 2020. Besides, my Daddy does not like to fly anymore because he always ends up getting sick; therefore, I sucked it up and volunteered to drive us there and back. We left on Thursday, 12 May around 9:00 in the morning. Although driving to Atlanta was a piece of cake, driving through the city of Atlanta is no picnic. The last 15 minutes of our journey was daunting, but we prevailed. I am super happy we made the trip.

      We arrived at the Killian homestead around 7:30 p.m. Atlanta time. Atlanta is an hour ahead of Louisiana. We were greeted warmly with smiles, hugs, and BBQ. My last trip to Atlanta was for Emma’s Confirmation back in November 2019. My Daddy’s last trip was Thanksgiving 2021 with Barry, Jr. (my oldest son). We all hung out and caught up for the remainder of the evening. On Friday, Emma and Lee had graduation festivities to attend and my sister had to work, which was great, since I also had to do some work for HGCS. My Daddy binged-watched the Jack Reacher series. Later that evening, since Lee and Emma were attending a graduation party, Rachel ordered Chinese food for us. I finally took a ride in her elevator. It is really cool to have an elevator in your house. We took a ride up to the attic. Instead of a skeleton in the closet, they have a skeleton in the attic.

      On Saturday afternoon, Emma and I went shopping for clothes at a boutique called Vestique and book shopping at Barnes and Nobles. Emma is a voracious reader like me. Of course, we could not leave the bookstore without me buying us books and Starbucks. My evening was spent watching a horror movie called The Twin with Emma and her friend Marissa in the home theater. It is even cooler to have a home theater in your house, especially with comfy chairs. Austin does not care for scary movies, so he left quickly after the movie started. HA! A scary dog instead of a scary cat.

      Sunday rolled around for the big day, Emma’s high school graduation from Pace Academy. We all woke up early, got dressed, and headed out to Pace Academy’s Sports Complex. It was an outdoor graduation. Thankfully, it had stopped raining before we arrived, and we encountered cooler temps for the majority of the ceremony. My heart swelled with joy watching Emma walk on the field to take her seat among her classmates. I got a little teary-eyed watching her receive her high school diploma. I am proud of my sweet, talented, and beautiful niece who also happens to be my goddaughter. In the fall, she will be attending Santa Clara University in California.

      After graduation, we all went to eat lunch at Del Frisco’s Grille in downtown Atlanta. We started off with Cheesesteak Eggrolls and Del’s Deviled Eggs. Rachel and I each got an entree and split them. I ordered Strawberry Cobbler French Toast, and she ordered Braised Shortrib Hash. The food was excellent! Then, we all went back to the house. Emma had two graduation parties to attend (one in the afternoon and one in the evening). Lee helped host the afternoon party. It was nice to just relax after all the graduation festivities, especially with having to drive home early the next morning.

      On Monday morning at 6:30 a.m., my Daddy and I said our good-byes to Rachel and Lee, thanked them for their hospitality, and got on the road heading towards Louisiana. I dropped my Daddy off at his house at 1:30 p.m. and arrived back home at 2:30 p.m. Louisiana time. What a wonderful road trip, graduation, and time with family!

      The school year officially ended on Friday, 20 May along with my job as the instructional coach at HGCS. The closing of this school year ends a chapter in my work life. Technically, I have retired from the world of elementary education. One would think I was whooping it up as I left the school parking lot; however, I felt exactly the way I always feel on the last day of school – free and thrilled for the onset of summer break. The “whooping it up” will eventually happen, during the last week of July, when all of my teacher friends are going back to school to attend PLC meetings and to get their classrooms ready. I will not only feel relief at that moment in time, but I will also feel excitement and joy because I will be embarking on my next adventure.

      My summer break kicks off tomorrow morning, dear reader. I will begin decluttering and organizing my home, starting with my scrapbook room which is a total disaster. Luna is getting spayed on Tuesday and will be out of the house until Wednesday afternoon, so I plan to take advantage of that time to get my scrapbook materials organized and my photos ordered for my annual scrapbooking event that I am attending with my girlfriends in June. I have quite a few activities and appointments scheduled this summer, especially throughout the month of June. I will be making memories, practicing self-care, and preparing for the next chapter of my life. Happiness!

      “The two most joyous times of the year are Christmas morning and the end of school.” ~ Alice Cooper

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      Happy Mother’s Day! I am blessed to be the mother of two young men, Andrew and Barry, Jr., who have not only brought me an overabundance of joy, but also a fair amount of worry and frustration over the years. Thankfully, there has been way more joy than worry. I love my boys immensely!

      Motherhood can be a wonderful experience; however, it can also be nerve-racking and exhausting at times. Despite the lack of sleep during their baby years and teenage years (especially when they start driving), the worry over their well-being, and the heartache you feel when they are hurting (physically or emotionally), it is all worth it. Motherhood is one of my toughest roles, but it is also my most fulfilling one, and I would not trade it for anything. Motherhood looks differently for everyone. It is not a one type fits all kind of role. Whether you happen to be the mother of humans, fur babies, a creative endeavor, or a business, dear reader, this is your day to celebrate your path to motherhood.

      Yesterday, we hosted a crawfish boil with a few of our friends and family. It was a beautiful, sunshiny day. Barry, Sr., along with my boys and our neighbor John, boiled the crawfish. The mudbugs were spicy good! We had a great deal to celebrate – Helen moving back to Louisiana, Claire passing her Praxis exam, mothers, friendship, life in general. Unfortunately, my momma was unable to attend; however, we did send my Daddy home with flowers, crawfish, and dessert for her. Much gratitude to Helen who took the pictures of our day together.

      As you know, dear reader, May is Zombie Awareness Month, and I am completely engrossed in all things related to zombies. Currently, I am obsessed with All of Us Are Dead, the South Korean coming-of-age tv series streaming on Netflix. WOWZER! I think it is AMAZING. Basically, there is a zombie virus outbreak at a high school with a group of teenagers trapped in the school, fighting for survival. If anyone or anything is bitten by an infected person or animal, the virus works insanely fast, turning them into raging, rabid zombies. It is definitely worth a watch for zombie lovers.

      Well, it is time for this zombie lover to get on with her day. It will be a low-key kind of day. Since my mom and I cannot get together today, we will plan a mother-daughter outing at a later date. As for my plans for today, I will be hanging out at home with my guys and fur babies, relaxing, and perhaps, watching some more All of Us Are Dead with the hubster. Blessings to all the women out there who assume the role of mom. Big hugs to those of you who can no longer spend the day with your mother. Wishing all of you a beautiful week ahead. Happiness!

      “We are born of love; love is our mother.” ~ Rumi

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