Review: Change Your Brain, Change Your Life

I have an important book to recommend to you. Both Darling Hubby and I are reading it, often reading paragraphs aloud.

Change Your Brain, Change Your Life by Daniel G. Amen, M.D.

This book is one of the best explanations of often bewildering human behavior that I've read in a long time.

The softcover is very affordable, and it will be money well spent if it gives you some answers you may need.

Most books about behavior, habits, attitudes, etc. place the responsibility for often confusing actions, inability to change, depression, emotional problems, etc. squarely on the individual. This book explains there may be more reasons for an individual's actions than free will or lack of discipline or the right upbringing.

I saw Dr. Amen on my local PBS stations one night. He was talking about treating people for depression, aggression, anger, etc.—all the things most of us view as emotional or behavioral problems. He's done more than 100,000 SPECT scans of people's brains. (SPECT = Single Photo Emission Computed Tomography.)

The results of those scans explain what is often unexplainable: why people do the things they do even though they want to change, or know it's wrong or illegal or damaging to themselves and others.

You'll find the case histories shared and the images of damaged brains compelling. The sad thing is that most of us go through life falling out of trees, getting hard bumps on the head, playing tackle football or soccer, or getting in car accidents without a thought to the trauma it can cause to our brains.

The good news is that you can do a lot to "repair" your brain. Change your brain, and you really can change your life.

This edition of  Change Your Brain, Change Your Life by Daniel G. Amen, M.D. has been completely revised and updated. Neuropsychiatrist Dr. Daniel Amen includes effective "brain prescriptions" that can help heal your brain and change your life.

Quell anxiety and panic: Use simple breathing techniques to immediately calm inner turmoil. Fight depression: Learn how to kill ANTs (automatic negative thoughts). Curb anger: Follow the Amen anti-anger diet and learn the nutrients that calm rage. Conquer impulsiveness and learn to focus: Develop total focus with the One-Page Miracle. Stop obsessive worrying: Follow the "get unstuck" writing exercise and learn other problem-solving exercises.

The book presents scientific evidence that your anxiety, depression, anger, obsessiveness, or impulsiveness could be related to how specific structures in your brain work.

Written in easily-accessible language, this is no heavy medical tome where you need a dictionary next to you to read it. Here's a tip. Use Post-It notes to bookmark the passages you want to return to. A highlighter helps too.

Read it once. Read it again. Loan it to a friend. Tell others about it. This book offers the information we all need to understand some of the people in our lives.

Takeaway Truth

Change Your Brain, Change Your Life by Daniel G. Amen, M.D. is a stunning book. Do yourself a favor and read this book. It very well may change your life or help you understand someone you love.

Month by Month Blog Post Ideas: Part 2 of 2

Welcome to Part 2 of 2 of Month by Month Blog Post Ideas.

Did you miss Part 1 of these Blog Tip? If so, just click here.

As I said in Part 1, you should always have a list of resources that can nudge your imagination.

Your resources should be topics you can go to time and again to mine for ideas when your imagination is on strike and/or your brain is tired.

One of these resources should be the Monthly Tie-In because every month of the year is special for something: holidays, retail sales of certain items, commemorative days, etc.

You can do a Google search of what a particular month is noted for or use my list that follows as a resource. Take my topics and add to them. There are many things about each month that's special and that "specialness" may also trigger a memory of an experience you had about that event.

Not on the list below are each month's birthstones, astrological signs, and flowers as well as books with subject matter that can tie in to special celebrations and events. The list below ranges from the whimsical to the comical to the profound. Most days have several "national whatevers" attached to them, and just about every day of each month is some national commemorative day.

Some dates change every year so look up the event for 2020 to find the specific date.

My Resource List of Monthly Tie-Ins: July - December

  • World UFO Day
  • 4 - Independence Day in the U.S.A.
  • International Kissing Day
  • Slurpee Day
  • World Population Day
  • 14 - Bastille Day
  • National Lottery Day
  • World Emoji Day
  • National Hot Dog Day
  • Pioneer Day
  • Campfire Day - First Saturday
  • International Hangover Day - First Saturday
  • National Girlfriends Day
  • National Mahjong Day
  • National Mountain Climbing Day
  • National Coloring Book Day
  • National Sisters Day
  • Purple Heart Day
  • Book Lovers Day
  • National Tell a Joke Day

  • National Lazy Mom's Day
  • National Read a Book Day
  • Labor Day in the U.S.A.
  • National Teddy Bear Day
  • National School Picture Day
  • Make Your Bed Day
  • Uncle Sam Day
  • Grandparents Day
  • Mayflower Day
  • Talk Like a Pirate Day
  • Canada Thanksgiving Day
  • National Boyfriend Day
  • Do Something Nice Day
  • Golf Lovers Day
  • National Coffee with a Cop Day
  • World Mental Health Day
  • Clergy Appreciation Day
  • National Dessert Day
  • National Grouch Day
  • Take Your Parents to Lunch Day
  • Black Poetry Day
  • Mother-in-Law Day
  • Halloween
  • All Saints Day
  • National Authors Day
  • National Housewife's Day
  • National Sandwich Day
  • National Doughnut Day
  • U.S.A. Veterans Day
  • National Men Make Dinner Day
  • U.S. Marine Corps Birthday
  • World Kindness Day
  • America Recycles Day
  • U.S.A. Thanksgiving
  • National Cake Day
  • National Pie Day
  • Rosa Parks Day
  • National Day of Giving
  • National Cookie Day
  • International Ninja Day
  • St. Nicholas Day
  • Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day
  • Pretend to Be a Time Traveler Day
  • National Guard Day
  • National Cupcake Day
  • Bill of Rights Day in the U.S.A.
  • Crossword Puzzle Day
  • Chanukah
    You will too if you always know what to blog about!
  • Christmas
  • Kwanza
  • Boxing Day
  • New Year's Eve
Takeaway Truth

As I've said before, to be a successful blogger, plan in advance.

Once you have some idea resources lined up, you'll never dread blogging day again.

Amazon Prime Benefits You Should Know About

This morning when I was working out, I had YouTube on. I watched 10 Hidden Amazon Prime Benefits by NextTimeTech.

Absolutely watch his video. He lists the direct links for each of the 10 benefits he discusses.

I'm going to share 4 benefits that I haven't been using that I plan to adopt immediately. I'll admit up front that I use Prime mostly for Prime Video, Prime Music, and the free shipping.

I do take advantage of Amazon Household meaning another adult in my household can share my account. I never thought of that as a hidden benefit, but others might not know about it.

The benefits that are available that I haven't used—which means I'm not getting the most out of my Prime membership—but plan to start using are:

Twitch, owned by Amazon, this website offers video games and what they call Twitch Loot, free stuff that changes weekly. Video games are offered free. If you have a gamer in the family, you'll want to explore Twitch Prime.

Prime Wardrobe is like StitchFix and the other popular subscription online shopping websites. Simply fill out your profile, select 8 items, and it's shipped quickly to you with a prepaid mailing label and box so you can return any you don't like. No subscription fee. Pay for only the ones you want.

Prime Reading is a no-brainer. I knew about this but have been so busy buying books I hear about that I forget the ones I can read for free. This is different from Kindle Unlimited.

2 Hour Grocery Delivery is available in my area, and I'm going to start using it. If you're in a metropolitan area, it's probably available to you too. Just fill in your zip code to find out.

Takeaway Truth

If you'd like to know more about Prime Member Benefits, visit Prime Insider for a complete list.

Get Latest Version of Kindle Publishing Guidelines

Did you know that you can download and/or print all of the latest guidelines for Kindle Publishing?

Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines: How to make books available for Kindle devices and applications, Version 2019.2, is a 114-page guide, a PDF file.

It covers everything from inserting images into a text-heavy ebook to using all of the various Kindle Publishing in-house platforms.

Thought there was only one way to publish a book with Kindle? Think again.

There are many ways like Kindle Create, Kindle Gen, Kindle Comic Creator, Kindle Kids Book Creator, etc.

Download your copy today and learn all the ways to make your book into an ebook for selling on Amazon Kindle.

Takeaway Truth

Kindle Publishing really is the guide you need to read to make the most of publishing for Amazon Kindle devices.

Puppy Sitting Takes a Toll

All of my good intentions about blogging went out the window when my daughter's puppy entered the house.

Yes, Darling Hubby and I are once again puppy sitting. This stint started Friday morning and continues until Sunday afternoon.

Freddie is a golden doodle which is half golden retriever and half poodle. Fortunately, his hair is just like a poodle's—no smell and no shedding for this fur baby.

He has the best of both breeds, but his love of rain and jumping in puddles must come from the retriever part of his DNA.

Freddie is so smart. At only 5 months old, he can walk correctly on a leash, sit when his human stops, and start walking again upon command.

The only negative, if you could call it that, is that he has boundless energy and wants to play all the time. 

Takeaway Truth

So I didn't blog because the dog ate my energy. 

6 Ways to Create Compelling Blogs

The goal of a blogger is to create compelling content that educates and entertains.

Bloggers want to keep readers coming back for more—especially if the blogger works hard at creating captivating blog posts.

6 Ways To Create Compelling Blogs

1. Write with a compelling voice that makes the reader feel as if they're having a great conversation with the writer.

If you talk to the reader, not talk at them, they're more likely to read the post, not just skim the copy. Like Jared Polis said, "For me, blogging is just like talking."

2. Punch up the copy with something unexpected.

Something unexpected might be a quote that emphasizes the point, like the quotation from Jared Polis that I used above. Or it might be something that makes the reader think like what Warren Ellis said, "I think blogging is a muscle that most people wear out."

You could use a startling statistic or fact, anything that amuses the reader or inspires deeper thinking.

3. Use numbered lists.
Number those items!

Readers love this because psychologically they feel as if they're getting step by step help in an area—and they really are. People like reading lists for information.

4. Use metaphors and similes that speak to the audience's cultural experiences.

I often use a baseball metaphor because I love baseball. Just about everyone understands a reference to "hitting a home run." Sports allusions are great for male readers, but female readers understand them too. Sports are part of our cultural background. Don't be afraid to use sports, literary, political, or whatever-floats-your-boat metaphors and similes.

5. Reference what others have done. 

Why re-invent the wheel? Point your readers to other blogs that contain information that will help them. Acknowledge the body of work that has already been created. Give links if possible. Honor your fellow writers.

6. Feel free to blog about subjects many others may have already addressed.

Different writers can, and do, present the same information in many different ways.

Maybe you've read 100 articles on writing, but article number 101 is the one where you really "get it."

The way you write about something may be the way that speaks to someone who desperately needs to understand the information you offer.

Takeaway Truth

To be a blogging success, keep these 6 tips in mind as you plan and write your posts.

Month by Month Blog Post Ideas, Part 1 of 2

What I hear most often from bloggers is that they can't keep coming up with ideas for a blog post.

Here's another tip to help you with this so you don't have to get a headache dreaming up ideas.

Today's Blog Post Tip

Always have some resources that can nudge your imagination. By this, I mean a specific list of something you can go to time and again to mine for ideas when your imagination is on strike.

One of these resources should be the Monthly Tie-In because every month of the year is special for something: holidays, retail sales of certain items, commemorative days, etc.

You can do a google search of what a particular month is noted for or use my list that follows as a resource. Add to it. There are many things about each month that's special and that "specialness" may also trigger a memory of an experience you had about that event.

Not on the list below are each month's birthstones, astrological signs, and flowers as well as books whose subject matter can tie in to special celebrations and events.

My Resource List of Monthly Tie-Ins: January - June

  • after Christmas sales
  • New Year's Day
  • resolutions
  • self-improvement of every variety
  • review some of the latest books about diet, fitness, vacation planning, self-improvement
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • starting new projects in the home, work, hobbies, etc.
  • International Holocaust Remembrance Day
  • Chinese New Year
  • Black History Month
  • Library Lovers Month
  • Valentine's Day and everything involving love, romance, relationships, marriage
  • President's Day in the U.S. may spark ideas of past presidents, history, accomplishments, quotations, speeches
  • Baseball spring training starts. Whether a fan or not, did you play baseball as a kid? Got memories to share?
  • St. Patrick's Day
  • Easter
  • Daylight Savings Time starts in the U.S.
  • spring begins
  • Mardi Gras 
  • Girl Scout Day
  • International Women's Day
  • April Fool's Day
  • spring flowers
  • allergies
  • World Health Day
  • World Earth Day
  • National Poetry Month
  • National Autism Awareness
  • National Walking Day
  • May Day
  • Mother Goose Day
  • Kentucky Derby
  • Star Wars Day
  • Cinco de Mayo
  • Police Officers Memorial Day
  • Armed Forces Day
  • Mother's Day
  • Memorial Day
  • National Heimlich Maneuver Day
  • National Pen Pal Day
  • Flag Day
  • Bastille Day
  • Summer begins
  • D-Day Remembrance
  • National Cancer Survivors Day
  • Father's Day
  • Old Maid's Day
  • Graduations of every type
That should get you started. Next week, I'll post another list for July through December.

Takeaway Truth

Having a resource that generates blog post ideas each time you go to it makes blogging more enjoyable.

Our Dog's Favorite TV Show

Frosta toasting the New Year (just water).
I just read a post by Connie Vines on Romance Gems that made me tear up because it brought to mind our amazing dog, Frosta.

She was a miniature poodle and was the 7th birthday gift of our youngest daughter.

Darling Daughter of course named her. She wanted to call her She-Ra, Princess of Power, after her favorite cartoon heroine.

I cringed. "Here, She-Ra."

One of She-Ra's Power Princess friends was a superhero chick named Frosta. I thought Frosta could kind of be nudged into Frosty, an appropriate name for a white poodle.

So the compromise worked, and Frosta became a part of our household. She was the smartest dog I've ever seen and had a vocabulary the equal to a toddler's. Bed, cookie, walk, ride, sit, stay, heel, lie down—dozens of words and hand signals.

Frosta's Favorite TV Show

I'd always read that dogs don't really "see" television because their vision process "works" differently than ours.

However, one day I was flipping channels, with her lying next to me on the couch. The theme music came on with a boy calling, "Lassie." I had landed on a cable station that showed the really old black and white Lassie TV show.

Lassie barked and came running. When Lassie barked, Frosta jumped up, off the couch, ran to the TV cabinet, and looked up at the TV.

As long as Lassie was on screen, Frosta gazed raptly at the TV. I told my husband and daughter about it, and they laughed. Hubby said it was a coincidence.

A couple of days later, the same thing happened when he was flipping channels. I decided to conduct a Lassie experiment.

I placed a footstool in front of the television and turned it on at the scheduled time. The minute Frosta heard the theme music, she came running. She jumped onto the footstool. Tail wagging, she barked when Lassie barked. Then she sat on the footstool and watched the entire 30 minute show.

I'm ready for my close-up.
It was the most amazing thing I'd ever seen—until I said, "Lassie," and Frosta would bark and wag her tail.

After a few days, I always placed the footstool in front of the TV and turned it on so Frosta could watch her show. I took a picture of her on the footstool, watching Lassie. I guess the picture is in one of the dozen boxes of photographs. I'll have to look for it.

Takeaway Truth

"A dog will teach you unconditional love. If you can have that in your life, things won’t be too bad." —Robert Wagner, Actor

Training My Posture with Upright Go

I know what I want for my birthday—an Upright GO 2 NEW Posture Trainer and Corrector.

Technology meets physiology in this device.

My chiropractor has told me that part of my problem with my neck/shoulder/back pain issue is my posture.

Over years of constant computer use, I developed the terribly bad habit of leaning to the right to use my mouse and slouching when I get tired after too many hours at the computer without a break.

Bad habits are hard to break, but I think this little gadget I saw last week will help me get back to the excellent posture I once had.

Product Description

Boost Your Health: Meet UPRIGHT GO 2 the simplest, fastest and most natural way to improve your posture in just 2 weeks. Healthy upright posture strengthens back and core muscles, stimulates better blood flow and promotes overall well-being.

Stay Connected: Download the UPRIGHT GO app for iOS and Android and sync your device with your phone to start your daily training sessions and tracking your progress.

Perfect Your Posture: You can easily create custom training programs with the UPRIGHT GO 2. In training mode your device will gently vibrate whenever you slouch. You can adjust the sensitivity, training time and vibration intensity in the UPRIGHT App.

Track Your Progress: Tracking mode turns off vibration alerts, and keeps accurate stats on your posture throughout the day using enhanced, multi-sensor technology.

Create Lifelong Habits: Develop a daily practice of posture awareness and correction. Most of our users notice significant improvement within just 2 weeks of using the UPRIGHT GO 2. Discover what good posture feels like.

Takeaway Truth

I don't want to wait for my birthday to roll around. I've named the Upright GO 2 NEW Posture Trainer and Corrector my reward for finishing the 2 books I'm editing this month. Once I have it and have used it for a month, I'll give you a report.

Review: 6 Underground

Ryan Reynolds, the star of 6 Underground, a Netflix original movie that premiered Dec. 13, 2019, is a master of the stone-faced one-liner.

In a movie like Deadpool, he effectively conveys emotion even as he's mouthing a one-liner that elicits laughter and probably makes the viewer cringe at the same time.

That skill or talent—whatever you wish to call it—must be why he stars in this flick. In fact, the movie may have been built around him for that ability.


Six individuals from all around the globe, each the very best at what they do, have been chosen not only for their skill, but for a unique desire to delete their pasts to change the future.

My Thoughts

6 Underground is one action scene after another, stitched together with Reynolds and his one-liners.

The opening car chase sequence is...well, let's just say some stunt drivers got a big payday from the lengthy scene that left little room for charaterization.

In fact, characterization was tossed in as an afterthought later in the movie, rather than making it a way of letting the viewers get to know the characters and learn why they were doing what they were doing—which was preposterous in the extreme.

Rather than creating a story about a character/hero that the viewer could like and root for, the movie depended on Reynolds's onscreen personality in similar movies to make him, as hero, appealing to the viewer.

Takeaway Truth

Sorry, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Bay, and the other talented cast members. Thumbs down from me. This movie will probably appeal to people who like loud crashes, mind-numbing action sequences, stunts of all kinds, and disengaging the brain while watching. The rest of you can probably find something better to do with 2 hours and 8 minutes.

Design Great CTA or Call To Action

If you're marketing anything online with the hope of selling it, then you need to have a great Call to Action, or CTA, which it's usually called.

What makes a good CTA?

One that is not click here-do something for me.

You know, that's the one we unfortunately end up putting in our newsletters, websites, and blog posts because we're in a hurry or tired or not very imaginative.

How to Make a Good CTA

Put the focus on what you want to give the person reading your newsletter or blog post...what you want to share with the reader.

You want to give them some information that might be useful or helpful in some way to them. You want to share something interesting, something they might want to know...something that will excite them.

If the reader is already a newsletter subscriber or blog follower, then you want to reward them in some way.

Bad CTA: "Buy my book that was released today!"

Good CTA: "Want a free sample of my latest book? Here's how you can get it." (Embed the link to your NL or blog or webpage where the sample is contained in the last sentence.)

Good CTA: "My latest book contains my family recipe for Chicken Enchiladas. If you want that  recipe now, here's how you can get it for free." (Embed link etc. Of course, with the recipe you can have the book's cover art, buy link, a short compelling blurb, and where in the book the recipe occurs.)

In other words, make your CTA organic and compelling as well as giving to the reader. 

Worst CTA ever: (I get these all the time!) Someone follows me on Twitter so I follow them back. Immediately I get a direct message saying: "Buy TITLE OF BOOK by AUTHOR NAME now for a riveting reading experience." OR "Buy TITLE OF BOOK by AUTHOR NAME and leave a review!"

Nope. Won't buy, and definitely won't take the time to read and review.

Takeaway Truth

Don't be guilty of Bad CTA Behavior. Give to readers. Share with readers. Let them get to know you.

Beauty Tip: Get Blur Moisturizer Primer

I'm the kind of woman who likes to have my hair styled and my makeup on when I leave the house.

I've always been girly that way. Until...

Until I started seeing the chiropractor once or twice a week about 6 months ago.

I discovered I liked sleeping later—especially if I had a pain-filled night—instead of getting up early to do the hair and makeup thing.

But pain doesn't make one look her best, does it?

So I compromised. No makeup, but applying this "blur" moisturizing primer, Maybelline New York Master Prime.

I discovered it made me look a little less like death warmed over when I left the house on those mornings.

I was actually surprised that it helped that much. The one shown above is the one I use, and it's $5.29 for a one-time purchase or $4.50 if you subscribe, which I do. It evens out any redness in the complexion. There are several to fit various skin tone needs.

Takeaway Truth

This isn't a beauty blog, but I thought I'd share this little secret.

Add QR Codes to Your Print & Digital Marketing

Do you use QR Codes on your printed marketing materials and/or your websites?

If not, you may be missing an easy way to impart information to readers.

QR Codes are a proven and easy-to-understand technology that bridges the gap between the physical and the digital.

You can encode any type of text information in a QR Code, for example your website address, a Facebook page, a coupon for a free ebook, your blog link, text, etc.

When you create a QR Code, anyone with a QR Reader App on a cell phone can access the information whether the QR Code is printed on paper or on a website.

To get a QR reader app, just go to your cell phone's app store. By scanning the QR code, the app decodes the information and makes it available to the user.

If you have a QR reader app on your cell, scan this QR code that I made with QR Code Monkey. Yes, you can put a logo in the middle of the QR code you create. This is a static QR code meaning, it's always available.

Many websites offer QR Code Generators, but most charge a fee. However, the one I now use, QR Code Monkey, does not.

If you use QR Code Monkey, do make a donation to them so they can keep their service free.

Their Home Page has an excellent primer of what you need to know about QR codes. Just scroll down to ABOUT and read all about this marketing tool that may be new to you.

Takeaway Truth

Give it a try. Save the image on your computer and use it digitally or insert in a printed marketing promotion like a postcard or bookmark.

Catch Up on Missed Good Reads

From Thanksgiving to New Year's Day, most of us are super busy.

We're visiting and hosting family and friends, shopping, cooking, and celebrating.

We miss a lot of good posts. Here's your chance to catch up with 2nd Chance Reads.

Be Safe & Secure Online

Be Cautious Using Public WiFi

Better Security in 2020

How to Stay Safe Online in 2020 


10 Ways to Maintain Great Vocal Health

Navy SEAL tricks will help you perform better under pressure

How to Relax

For Authors

Death and the Self-Pubbed Author

Understanding Character Wounds

50+ Publishing Resources

Takeaway Truth

There's so much good information online, but sometimes it's difficult to keep up with the flow. Check into SlingWords for 2nd Chance Reads every month.

How to Wear Red Lipstick

A lot of women are timid about wearing red lipstick, a classic lip color that's a hot trend this season.

Red lipstick was the first shade of lipstick that "fast" women wore, but mainstream women quickly adopted.

I've got a lot of different lipstick shades from nude to bright red, and I like wearing red on certain occasions—usually when I'm feeling bold and assertive. *LOL*

I wear it a lot at parties. It's like makeup artist, Charlotte Tilbury said, "Red lipstick is instant glamour." I've had women say, "I wish I could wear lipstick that color." I always reply, "You can! Just wear it."

4 Steps to Wearing Red Lipstick

1. Make sure you choose a red that is in your color "wheelhouse." I still think the 4 seasons of color matching works. I'm an autumn, and I look good in orangey reds but a blue-undertone of red looks hideous with my skin color.

If you don't know what I mean about the 4 seasons of color, here's a book that explains it: Color Me Beautiful: Discover Your Natural Beauty Through the Colors That Make You Look Great and Feel Fabulous.

This book was published back in the late 1980's, but I, and millions of women, swear by it. Trust me, you'll want the print version of this book so you can see the color photographs well.

2. When wearing red lipstick, make sure the clothes you choose aren't pale pastels. You want an outfit that's bold—something black or dark. Maybe leather if you have it. With bold colored lipsticks, you want bold clothes. That's true even if you're trying the new yellow, purple, and metallic black lipsticks.

3. Put all your makeup on first and use a red lip pencil to outline your lips. Then apply your lipstick. If you put red lipstick on before using your blush, you'll think it looks too bold and your face looks too pale. You'll end up wiping it off. So do your entire face, then add lipstick.

4. If you've never worn red lipstick before, then you might need to give yourself a good talking to. Make sure your ready to go then look in the mirror and tell yourself that you are, "Bold, beautiful, strong, self-assured, and ready to have a good time."

Takeaway Truth

If wearing red lipstick requires an attitude, you can develop that attitude.

Wearing it, and liking it, is the first step toward feeling like I described, "Bold, beautiful, strong, self-assured, and ready to have a good time."

Take the plunge. It's a simple thing to do and may make you bold enough to tackle a bigger challenge.

Taking Down the Tree Day

Yep. Today, the tree came down, the mantel was cleared of garlands and swags, and the decorations in the yard were stored away until next year.

Wow. There's such a sense of satisfaction in seeing my unadorned house again. It always looks bigger and cleaner.

I saw this quotation from Greg Fitzsimmons. He said, "Taking down the Christmas tree makes it feel official: time to get back to joyless and cynical."

That gets a snort of laughter, but I don't agree with what he said.

I see the taking down of the tree as a marker that it's time to finish cleaning out last year's clutter, organize the financial papers for tax time, and generally breathe in the fresh air of an exciting New Year.

The house guests have left. Tomorrow morning, Darling Hubby will pull the Total Gym out of the guest room closet and set it up again.

Takeaway Truth

In the morning, I'll take action on my New Year commitment to take time for myself every day. Move more, sit less. See you then.

January 2 aka Recovery Day

Here it is January 2, and I'm exhausted.

Don't think I had too much to drink. I still have an unopened bottle of Prosecco in the fridge.

Of course, it's all the fault of family and friends. That's right, I'm blaming it on them.

It's like Nancie Carmody said, "I am thankful for the mess to clean after a party because it means I have been surrounded by friends."

Takeaway Truth

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

New Year & the Blackeye Pea Tradition

Happy New Year!

In many southern households, New Year's Day brings the lowly blackeye pea to the dinner table as the star of the meal.

If this tradition puzzles you, you're probably neither southern-born nor a southern resident.

How Tradition Began

I read that eating blackeye peas on New Year's Day goes back about 1,500 years ago. Part of the Talmud written in that era says it was Jewish custom to eat blackeyed peas in celebration of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which actually occurs in the fall.

One theory is that Sephardic Jews who settled in Georgia in the 1730's brought the tradition to America.
Whole Food Market's Organic Dried Blackeye Peas

Then there's folklore that says during Union Army General Sherman's march, the army stole the Confederates' food supplies but left the peas and pork, thinking they were livestock food, not fit for people. Thus, the Southern soldiers felt lucky to have the simple food to keep them through the winter.

Another Southern tradition says blackeye peas were a symbol of emancipation for African-Americans, who were officially freed on New Year's Day after the Civil War.

The simple dried legume could symbolize lack of arrogance, or, as another story says, the dried pea expands in volume when cooked, symbolizes expansion of wealth.

Most stores are sold out of blackeye peas by now.

In My Household

I usually cook dried blackeye peas. You cook them as you would any dried legume. They're best seasoned with salt, a ham hock or trimmings, bacon, or some similar pork fat.

In a pinch I have purchased canned blackeye peas like the ones from Trappey's shown at left.

When I was a kid, we lived near a Trappey's cannery. In September, the hot peppers were harvested, picked, and canned. Wow, the air would literally singe your eyeballs!

For Your Consideration

Looking for Relaxed Entertainment after a night of bubbly? Try my New Year romance, Last Chance New Year.

Last Chance New Year is only 99cents!
A Moment in Time is all that's needed for Love to be Revealed in this highly sensual romance short story.

Cheyenne Smith, better known as C. A. Smith to her co-workers, decides New Year’s Eve is the perfect time to give in to insanity.

She plans to throw herself at Luke Harper, the man she loves, and hope that he catches her.

Will Luke be her safety net?

Takeaway Truth

Whatever you serve or don't serve today, I wish you the absolute best New Year!