Category Archives: blog

Hot Enough for Ya? My Late Summer Check In.

The magnificent desolation of the marshes on the Harriet Tubman Trail to Freedom.

Europeans get it. Working in August is inhuman. Today is the first day I got back from walking my dog that we didn’t both need to lay somewhere cool and eat ice cubes for a few hours. Instead it was lovely, overcast, breezy, and a chilly 78 degrees!

In order to keep my mind from wandering to the theme song to Lawrence of Arabia during the last month of brain baking heat, I have been practicing walking meditations I find on Spotify. I really enjoy them. And I’m more patient with the heat, Abbey, and myself. I take more in. Engage with Miss Abbey more. I remember to stand up straight.

We generally walk a few blocks to a marina where there is a breeze. There are some water spigots. But otherwise it’s a tease. Water water everywhere, but I can’t jump in! And neither can my dog. But she can count “her” ducks. Make sure they’re all there. And watch over the people fishing.

Summer is usually my best time of year for about every reason. By the end of winter, “olive” is a pleasant way to say I look jaundiced. But put me out in the Sun for fifteen minutes on the first nice day, and I’m well on my way being pulled out of line at airport security.

I am here for my flight.

My hair also starts having fun. Soon I have hair that would fit in on any street corner where Do-wop is being sung. My natural olive oil starts flowing in my veins. I feel healthy again.

Missed pickling this year. But holy hair!

For me, in summer, I take long walks. Play in water. Swim in water. Sit in boats on water. Pull stuff out of the water that I consider eating. (I’ve made my own crayfish that way!) Find cool stuff that is near water. Drink water. I even actively smell water. I should become a douser.

This summer has been a big change. Some of it is where I now live. It’s technically and kind of actually is The South. One degree below the Mason-Dixon line, and people hunt muskrat in the marshes…to eat. Silly me thought it was crab bait the first time I saw these flayed monstrosities in a local seafood market.

My Fiance and I have had to keep our outdoorsying to early weekend days, or in the evening. We’ve explored the Blackwater Preserve on the Harriet Tubman Trail. You can tell why she used it. It’s a flat maze of changing tidal waters, biting insects, cat tails and muskrats (apparently).

There is also every sort of water bird, bald eagles, turtles, wee water snakes, fish, and crabbing!
Turtle friend.
Crabbing with Stan and Abbey.
Little crabby fellow.
At the nearby produce place, making friends.
Goat friend.

Earlier in the season we got lucky with some great fishing, and even spent some time at the little local beaches fishing and getting stung by jellyfish. I had forgotten how much that hurts. And Stan refused to pee on my leg to make the ouchie stop. Romance is dead.

But things slowed down recently because HEAT! Walk out the door at eight in the morning and it’s 97 degrees kind of hot. But I’ve been using the time to think about my writing, plan out the new house better, and become less paranoid and more relaxed again.

After last year’s summer of the insane harassing neighbors, and doing time in a hotel room full of fleas: I needed this. I’ve been doing a lot of work on me. Journalling, meditating, yoga (of course), reading about trauma recovery and about writing has all been inspirational and helped me feel more me than perhaps I ever have.

I also set up my luxurious pool! It’s 8 ft x 3.5 ft. I love it. I retired the 1964 Guild guitar my Dad bought long ago. It’s beautiful, but now she deserves to be prettied up and displayed. I do love playing her replacement. It’s made guitar fun for me again. Music is not my forte, but it’s lovely to play on a summer evening. And playing is a very mindful, in the moment thing. So if I feel anxious, I grab it and play.

Overall, it’s been a good summer so far despite the heat. I even finally got Covid, which let me listen to the entire audiobook of I, Claudius. (For the record, Livia is a great character, but in reality she was a powerful and wise woman, and co-ruler with Augustus during Rome’s rise to a stable, well run empire. Just sayin.)

Finally, I am looking forward to the better fishing and crabbing at Summer’s end. And the cheaper camp sites, Abbey being allowed on all the beaches. We’re even getting our little skiff legal and ready to take out now. I suppose all my American guilt at not laboring at all hours and in all climes was simply resistance to learning that Summer is when we “set” out on the porch, drink sun tea, and give ourselves a break before Autumn’s rush.

It was tough, but someone had to do it. πŸ˜‰

– JL βœŒπŸΌπŸ’šπŸ––πŸΌπŸ¦†πŸŒ…πŸΊπŸ’πŸŸπŸ¦€πŸ§˜

Check out my Instagram!! And connect with me on Facebook here and here.

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Mental Health Gamified. Why I Talk to a Finch

Meet Peter, my Wellness Finch friend!

Peter is my Finch friend. Don’t believe me?

See that.
UBER BESTIES!

This is an app called Finch. It’s a nearly complete wellness app in one adorable, fun, motivating package.

The premise is that you begin to set small goals and gain energy to hatch an egg. Then you name your new baby Finch and personalize them. You then continue working with your goals and the program to gain more energy for your Finch to grow. Rainbow Stones are earned by achievements and are your currency to personalize your little friend.

Shut up and take my Stones!
Perfect for his new sporty style!

While Peter’s on a sporty health kick at the moment. They have had many phases over our four plus months together.

Peter’s King of Love look.
When they got into thrifting.
Were into fluffy.
Went to Bali to celebrate Pride.
Obligatory hippie phase.

You can start Journeys (basically habit building) in different categories, such Mindfulness, fitness and health, work life balance, a cleaner home, etc. You then add goals/habits to hit on scheduled days over time. Earn rewards from the daily practice goals and leveling up on your Journeys!

Some of my Journeys with Peter.
Suggestions to get you started.
Tons of suggested content to explore and mine.

The app has nearly a full range of wellness content in one space. Breathwork, movement, Mindfulness, loving kindness, gratitude practices and journaling. Instead of twenty apps you ignore, you can keep one well. Bonus extra memory on your device.

Here is some of what lies inside each category.

Reflections are writing exercises to help you to see yourself and the world more clearly. Or just to Rant or remember something funny.
One of my favorites. The breathing exercises for any situation.
Ambient noise tracks with different themes that you can customize.
Ways to practice loving kindness in your life.
Do a quick mental health check in.
Ways to get your body stretched and moving. Even on the couch!
The Panic zone is useful. Especially the Rant feature. Helpline is a touch of the screen away. For tough days, you can choose goals like Get Out of Bed. “We’ve all been there,” the app assures.
Suggestions based on time of day, mood, interests.
Some of my goals with their Journey in a different color.

The more content you explore and use, the more energy and goals you hit towards each of your Journeys. And more goodies to spoil your Finch.

Leveling up my Journey towards not living in a pig sty.
Woo! New Tee and Rainbow Stones to spend!

Everyday you build up your Finch’s energy so they can go out exploring, learn and grow! Yes, grow. The farther you progress, the older your Finch grows. They go from a Infant, to Child, to *gasp* Teenager, to Adult. This is the most fraught process for me as a Finch parent.

Here’s a peek at Peter exploring.

He’s exploring the Sonoran Desert now.

When they come home, they have questions.

*Click to expand.

Yes, the personality of this little creature depends on you! Your actions, habits, and responses to them affect the growth of their character. (No pressure.)

From 9 o’clock, clockwise: Security, Curiosity, Tenacity, Logic, Compassion, and Extroversion. I’ve worked hard to give Peter the Security and Compassion they need to fill out their Personality.
After they become an adult, they leave Finchie Forest. I sent my spoiled bird to Bali!
Your answers also can control their likes and dislikes. What can I say? It’s hard to get kids to eat broccoli.

I’m noting here that your information is stored in your device, not uploaded to a server, in order to ensure your privacy is protected. You can download save files, to reload to another device. Because the app is looking at you too!

It judges your moods with check-ins and tags in your Reflections and Goals.
Note when I had Covid in June. Got disgusted into cleaning. And my Adventure of Mindful Walking and the Lost Cell Phone with Good Bluetooth.
You get updates on you and your Finch’s progress, mood changes, goals hit, and what’s lifting you up or weighing you down.

I know it seems like a lot to process, but the more you use it the more benefit you get. Especially as you start to explore the reports on yourself. You also learn how to manage your goals to better suit your needs, while handling triggers, anxiety, depression and even trauma.

If you’re wondering, is it social? Heck yeah. But it’s controlled by you and your prospective Finch Friend. Two users must share their codes to connect. Soon you have the beginnings of a Wellness support circle!

Peter’s friends right now.
Suggestions on supporting your Finch Friends!
Choose a Finch Friend.
I am a big fan of sending dance.
And more XP rewards!
You can even hang and explore with Friends.

I went to this length to cover a digital pet wellness app because it has helped me put in the work towards all of my goals and positive habit building. Finch app helps me integrate and track my goals, augments my therapy, and teaches me coping strategies. But above all, it’s fun!

A gamified approach to anything is a successful approach. Think of why you play games. Challenges. Quests. Rewards. Little celebrations with special achievements, awards, unlocks. Character/avatar creation and personalization. Exploration. Work, practice, time. It all comes from the mindset that drives you to play a game!

My absolute favorite goal. I go totally Saul Goodman/Jimmy McGill on this one. And it works!

Life is frustrating and difficult. But gamifying your outlook turns disappointing moments into learning and the drive to keep at the Boss Battle of life. Also, as the Finch app reminds you, you can try to climb Il Duomo, build that base, slay that dragon, renew your quest for global supremacy again tomorrow. The one thing about life, though, is you can’t simply rage quit. And that’s where your Finch comes in.

Remembering you have an adorable little friend who relies on you, nevermind your actual friends and loved ones, keeps you in the game. So, I hope you give the Finch app a try.

Premium is $6 month. But the resources and fun make it worth it. If you cannot afford a Premium subscription, you can get a Finch Guardian sponsor, or win a raffle for free months. Finch app is family friendly, allows you to customize or change names, pronouns, colors, skin tones, and emojis to suit you. But really, if you can’t love yourself, your Finch helps you learn to love yourself through a loving an adorable friend. Amazing concept for my new favorite app!

Peter’s tired now. But he’ll be there for me tomorrow to help me care for myself because I care about this little digital bird.

Use Finch app? Want to join me in normalizing wellness and help one another? Contact me here! Let’s be Finchie Friends!

– JL βœŒπŸΌπŸ’šπŸ––πŸΌπŸ£

Check out my Instagram!! And connect with me on Facebook here and here.

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Duck, Cover, Write. Happy Harassment-versary to Me!

Frankie & Lizzy were lovers. Lordy how they did love.

My dog and I were chased around by a gang of ducks today. It was like we picked up a horde of zombies. First it was one mommy duck, with extra mouths to feed in tow, then another, soon they were trailing us around the marina. Eventually, there was a flotilla of duckers in formation honing in on us. That’s when we made our escape.

It was as if they all were telling me something important with one quack. It was probably “bread!” But I remembered: it had been a year since the neighbors’ rottweiler ate one of my ducks. That event that began months of harassment at the hands of my community.

I’m not going to rehash all of that craziness here, a quick look back at my posts since then reveals most of the facts. But it I need a story to start telling myself so I can make sense of it. And, as it so happens, I was looking for a story to tell! Because I hate myself, I always want to write. It can be painful. But hey, writers write, right? Right!

A lot of planning and writing about writing happens when I start a project. I have a system I use, which could probably use some tweaks. The most important part is glueing your glutes to a chair. Because scrubbing baseboards suddenly seems like a necessity when I sit down to write.

I’ve been working with screenwriting a lot. So, let’s do it that way. Ugh. OK.

This is what this process looks like, but like with writing stuff.

First, genre. True Life/Psychological Drama

Now a few words on the theme: Let’s make it something about resilience. Yes! Perfect. Resilience. Resilience in the face of [awful thing].

Now we do a two sentence or so synopsis. This is the basic formula. Protagonist has thing/wants thing, Antagonist does action that gets in way of Protagonist and their thing. Circumstances get worse as stuff happens, and choices are made. But, with the help of x,y and z, Protagonist somehow manages to find/get thing but not necessarily how they imagined it.

Oh jeez, so now let’s apply that to me. Jessica, a troubled writer, finds peace in an old farmhouse with her Fiance, until her neighbors target her for harassment during the modern US Culture War. Being run out of town, she must move and hide fast, and draw upon all her reserves of strength to find a way out, a new home, and maybe a way to tell her story.

There, that’s a start. And I am exhausted! But you got to see a bit of how I write. And its tough for me sometimes. I won’t lie. But it is a discipline that requires working into a habit. But for so long my life was out of control, unruly, and lacking in any expectation of normalcy on a given day. I need habits. I need as much stability and order as possible.

So, all of this should be good for me as I recover and heal from The Year of The Dead Duck. Hey! Working title! You can do it Jess! You got this! Let’s go do this! BEATS CHEST.

So, I guess step one is less scrubbing, more staring at blinking cursor of doom or half a page of scribbled lines.

But, honestly? The thing that makes me feel great about this story is that it ends with “and then she wrote a book about it.” That seems like the best ending to that entire year that definitely was a something.

I’ll describe it better in the book. πŸ˜‰ Thanks to everyone who’s stuck with me this far. And to all my zombie horde duck friends, and Frankie, Lizzy and Mary.

-JLπŸ€žπŸΌπŸ’šπŸ––πŸΌπŸ¦†πŸ¦†πŸ¦†

A roving gang of ducks where I walk my dog.

Check out myΒ Instagram!! And connect with me on FacebookΒ hereΒ andΒ here.

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