Sunday, October 30, 2011

BFF# 137 Spooky

I was outside this evening shooting more photos of my 2011 Halloween Display, complete with a fog machine, broom and torch:

©Susan Dusterhoft 2011
The theme this year was orange and black...
©Susan Dusterhoft 2011
 Things were photographing nicely...

©Susan Dusterhoft 2011
 I was really liking the shots...
©Susan Dusterhoft 2011
My broom looks totally cool...

©Susan Dusterhoft 2011
Then this happened, and I was totally not prepared...look closely...this is no joke.

©Susan Dusterhoft 2011
Then I took this one, look closely again...he seemed to be a bit more friendlier...

I know I said I was becoming more "in tune" with everything around me, but this is S-P-O-O-K-Y!

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Friday, October 28, 2011

On This Night All Hallows' Eve

Off to storage to retrieve unholy treasures,
climbing up to the rafters to seek out dark pleasures.
Box after box thrown down to the ground,
open them all to unearth lost and found.

Years it has been since they’ve last seen the light,
shiny bits and dark baubles destined to take flight.
One by one and two by two,
ideas formulate…let the designs ensue.

Orange and black is the theme tonight,
with burning candles to shine ghostly light.
The path is narrow and shadowed with fog,
no gates to open here but watch out for the dog.

Vampires and werewolves, zombies and witches,
hold onto your hats and take hold of your britches.
Knock on the door and hold our your bag,
cover your eyes and pray for some swag.

She’s wicked they say and don’t touch her broom,
her many spells have enchanted her groom.
She dresses all in black and has several wands,
loves her candles and pampas grass fronds

Look! Her torch is lit to scare the sainted,
be careful of smells that could leave you fainted.
The cauldron is lit and the liquid is bubbling,
the scene is all set…this could be troubling.

Do not be fearful, it’s not what you think,
she’s just boiling water for a hot fruity drink.
She appears quite normal but looks can deceive,
on this night All Hallows’ Eve.

Eerie noises escape as the door opens wide,
out of the darkness we see a hand to provide.
The sweets we have waited all year for free,
but what she picks up is just her cup of tea.

“So sorry children, I am all out of candy.”
“I have PMS and it was all that was handy.”
“Do you like my decorations? I had lots of fun.”
“Too bad it’s just one night and not a dry run.”

“Don’t look so disappointed. I’m just the first stop.”
“Head for town quickly to the ice cream shop.”
“All the kids will be there lost in sugar reverie.”
“Here’s ten bucks for cones compliments of me.”

She says good night and closes the door.
Why did we worry? We couldn’t ask for more.
Heading off on our bikes with the loot in hand,
never hearing her cackle as she chants her command.

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This post is written for The Writer's Post Blog Hop# 20: Thrills and Chills - Halloween Style! Interested in learning more, please check out the link below!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


In my career, I have seen people come and people go. Their achievements were dependent on how much ownership they were willing to take to make themselves successful.

For years I sat on the sideline wishing I was one of them, wanting desperately to be someone, to be somebody. The one true constant I recognized in all of these individuals was that they all took ownership of their destinies. They were in the driver’s seat of their lives and they made things happen for themselves. They were leaders.

I always thought I was happy being the support person. The one behind the scenes, doing the dirty work, making everything happen for the benefit of the whole. Secretly, I had hoped and prayed that someone would see the value of my contributions and recognize the fact that I was just a leader waiting in the wings. Somehow…that never happened completely. I continued to stand on the sidelines, wishing it was me; but on occasion, I did own the night, singing and dancing.

Over the years, my love for music and dance has helped to inspire me to achieve some success. Although, I have found that when I was not in control, when I didn’t accept the responsibility to make things happen, or when I failed to take ownership for my actions, I literally gave up the rights to my own life. The music died, the stage went dark, and the I couldn't bring myself out of the wings to dance in the spotlight.

Now, coming out of the whirling vortex that has been my world for the last couple of years, it finally hit me like a ton a bricks what I had done to myself. On the one hand I was bitterly disappointed, but on the other, I just made an astounding revelation.

They say that with age comes wisdom. But why does it have to hurt so darn much in order to gain that knowledge? I know I have made some mistakes. I can accept the fact that I made a judgment in error once. It was because I was naïve. The second time, well, maybe it was because I was trying to give the benefit of the doubt. But after a third time, it is my own fault because I chose to believe in the goodness of others.

I am not that same person anymore. I am done. I’m finished with letting others have control over me. I’m finished with letting others attempt to make things happen only for themselves and leaving me in the dust. And I am totally finished with letting others use my actions for their own personal gain. Finished. I am F-I-N-I-S-H-E-D!

I’m back in the driver’s seat and taking ownership of my life. I will be in control of my own destiny. I will be responsible for making things happen. And, I will make darn sure everything that whatever I do from this point forward will be a positive action to fulfill my needs, wants, desires and dreams.

This is my life.This is my new and improved life!

Thanks to all my writing friends for your support and encouragement! You have given me the strength to find my voice to sing and dance again. For this, I will truly be grateful to all of you!

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***I have written this piece for a group on Facebook that I joined, GBE 2: Blog On. This is week #23 and the topic is Ownership. Interested in on the picture below to take you there.

Wordless Wednesday

©Edward Dusterhoft 2011

©Susan Dusterhoft 2011

©Susan Dusterhoft 2011

©Susan Dusterhoft 2011

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

BFF# 135 Witchy Woman

Ok, so I don’t have raven hair or ruby lips, and I haven’t driven myself to madness…yet. However, Halloween is almost here and I must admit I have secretly loved this time of year forever.

 Not only is it the chance to let loose and decorate like a mad woman (time to bring out the cape, broom and all the cool Tchotchkes), but it allows me to stop wearing the mask that I have on most of the time. I am like an onion, and I have many, many layers.

I have been hiding for is only recently that I have decided to start peeling away a few layers to reveal who I really am.

For some, this day brings thoughts of terror, haunting and distress, but frankly, I’m not into horror or the macabre, so those aspects of this holiday hold no interest for me whatsoever. However, since the Harry Potter phenomenon, I have decided to explore some of my inner “witch”.  And, since I really like to read, there is a lot of interesting stuff out there to explore, not to mention the fact that I really need some answers to a few things.

I have always had a strange connection to things around me. I wouldn’t call it an impending sense of doom, but rather a strong feeling that something is about to happen…whether bad or good. For years, I squelched these feelings probably because I didn’t understand them, but more than likely due to a staunch religious upbringing. I am not afraid anymore to have an opinion that goes against my ingrained traditions. More importantly, I have decided to not stomp out these feelings and run with them instead. So, I have thrown open the door, the windows, my mind, my heart and anything else I can open to become more in tune with the elements around me and try to make sense out of it all.

Now that I have opened this portal to strangeness, I just want to say that I am not trying to search for the meaning of life. Rather, I am just trying to figure out why I can feel things about to happen, interpret the reoccurring dreams I have, understand the connections I have to people and things, discover why I have this incredible and intense need to unearth these deep, dark secrets about myself that I never knew existed, and find out the answer to why I sometimes get pulled in another direction when I am in the middle of writing.

There are so many roads to take and I am almost giddy with excitement. I hope I can stand the ride as I don’t do well on the twists and turns. Maybe I should stock up on the Dramamine now, or at the very least, some ginger pills. (Oh man…I’ve done it again…holistic versus traditional medicine??? This is not the time to go there!) But, for now, I am going to explore my love of Halloween art – the fun side of it – not the creepy. It’s time to start peeling away another layer…

Yes...I do feel Bewitching...
...and Beautiful!
Time to go out and show the world!
So this Halloween, why not peel away some of your layers, and explore your inner "whatever"? You might be surprised by what you'll find and realize that it is the hidden gems that make us really cool and unique individuals!

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Take Me to the Movies

I rarely go to the movie theater. It has to be something really big in order for me to go. So what constitutes big? Well, the whole Harry Potter phenomena for one. And before that, I think I saw all the Santa Clause movies with Tim Allen.

Now, I scour the entertainment news looking for interesting flicks that I want to see and wait for them to arrive on tape…no wait…DVD…oh…now it’s Blueray. Whew!!! Thank goodness for technology. I have worn out many a tape because when I find a movie I like a lot, I tend to watch it over…and over…and over…and over…well, you get the picture.

I thank the Lord every day for the invention of the DVD player (and microwavable popcorn)!

Now, I own more movies than I can count on two hands (time to do another inventory!), and on a variety of topics including:

• Holiday Movies – Halloween & Christmas
• Family
• Girl Movies
• Classic Films
• Comedies
• Dramas
• Disney/Pixar Cartoons

I have so many favorites that I just can’t pick one. All are really important to me as I have found some sort of inspiration in each and every one of them. They speak to me during times of sadness, happiness, weakness and strife. And without them, I would be lost.

I don’t like scary movies, but oddly enough, I really enjoy watching things blow up! Lethal Weapon 2 happens to be one of my favorites in that category. I love the exploding toilet scene!

Some of my best stories stem from the movies I watch. Someday I will share them with you. But for now, I write…

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This post is written for The Writer's Post Blog Hop# 19: Take Me to the Movies. Interested in learning more, please check out the link below!

BFF# 133 Talking In Your Sleep

I don’t know how much I talk in my sleep, but my husband says I snore. I do have some weird habits or rituals I need in order to go to sleep.

Let’s see…

• I need the closet doors to be closed. If they are open and I am in bed with the lights still on, I either get out of bed to close them or make the husband do it. Thanks go out to Mike and Sully of Monster’s Inc. for this quirk.

• I like the room to be totally dark. I can’t fall asleep otherwise. My husband thinks it shouldn’t matter since our eyes are closed anyway. But for me…the darkness covers me like a big old blanket.

• I have to sleep with an air purifier. My allergies keep getting worse every year. So, in addition to the allergy medication, I turn on this cleaner and it helps me breathe a bit better.

• When it is really hot out, I need a fan in the window and a Chillow under my back. This ice pack creation has been a lifesaver in more ways than one. (Can anyone say “early menopause”?) With the fan in the window, the bathroom doors need to be open so that the air can be drawn in and through the upstairs and then promptly out the other upstairs bedroom window fan.

• It takes me a while to settle down at night so I have to go to bed first. You’ve seen Ice Age, right? There’s a scene where they are all settling down for the night and Sid the sloth did his usual nightly ritual. The first time I saw it, I shouted out, “That’s me!” Sid was me and I am Sid.


• I’m a nester. I have lots of pillows and blankets wrapped around me. When I roll over, I take it all with me. My husband says he has to hang onto those blankets with a vengeance otherwise he has none. Actually, I could say the same about him!

I occasionally moan, groan, run like a rabbit and cry out when I am having a bad dream, but there hasn’t been too many of those lately. And, I take my half down the middle. When my husband is out of town, I sleep diagonally and sometimes horizontally across the bed. I probably not the best bed partner. But hey! It’s who I am! I'm not about to change any time soon!

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***I have written this piece for a group on Facebook that I have joined, BFF Blogging For Fun. Interested in on the picture below to take you there. Don't forget to check out my friends at One Stop Blog World, a collective of all the great blog sites of which I am a member!

Safe Haven

Have I ever told you about my safe haven? If I had, you would know where it is. But that is not what I want to talk about today. Someday I will tell you about it. For now, I want to talk about something else.

It's getting on toward the end of October. The evenings are cooling down quickly and it is actually cold in the morning when I get up. Time to put that extra blanket on the bed. The holidays are just around the corner and the rain is not far behind.

Recently I went to visit a local shelter to meet with some people to discuss a program about coaching people to find a job. While there, I got to see the harsh reality of homelessness. Here is a small facility, one of a few in my area, trying to cater to the needs of a city with more than 160,000+ people. I was overwhelmed by the generosity I saw and the cohesiveness of the staff and residents.

After the visit and when I got home later that evening…I started to think about those who don’t have a place to go every night. I was overcome with sadness. Then I just felt very, very tired.

There are a number of homeless people who camp out or walk around the downtown area where my work. On one hand, it’s rather depressing and unsafe for me to be walking alone in the area. On the other hand, I feel sorry for these people because of the very same reasons. All over this city are men, women, children and sometimes their pets, camped out with all their worldly possessions. They are sleeping on sidewalks near the library, under bridges, beneath trees along the river and anywhere else they can find.

It breaks my heart to know that children (and pets) are outside in the cold and other elements with no place to be warm. I know it is not their fault. They have to live with the actions of their parents and subsequent consequences. It wasn’t their choice to live like this. But my thoughts keep leading me back to this question: Where is their safe haven? Who can they turn to when their parents let them down?

I guess it is up to the rest of us to help out. But there is only so much helping a person can do when the ones who you are trying to help don’t want the real help. Oh…don’t get me wrong, they are right there asking you for your change from your coffee run or for the food you just bought for your lunch. It just seems like they don’t want to get a job so they can feed their families or put a roof over their heads.

But is it right to deny them the basic necessities of life? Once again it all comes down to choice. We all have to make a choice in how we live…

So this year, my choice is to donate a turkey or two to the shelter who serves over 5000 meals at Thanksgiving. I will put some money in the little red buckets that stand next to the Salvation Army Bell Ringers. And, I will participate in the coaching program at that shelter so maybe, just maybe, one person will take what I have to offer in order to go out, get a job, and give their child a “safe haven” starting this holiday season.

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***I have written this piece for a group on Facebook that I joined, GBE 2: Blog On. This is week #22 and the topic is Safe Haven. Interested in on the picture below to take you there.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

© Susan Dusterhoft 2011
© Susan Dusterhoft 2011

© Susan Dusterhoft 2011

© Susan Dusterhoft 2011

© Susan Dusterhoft 2011

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Thursday, October 13, 2011


Sometimes your words need to be expressed in other ways. This is one of those times.

I am a strong, capable woman. I consider myself really lucky because I have a good man who is supportive, loving and caring. He would never raise a hand to me. I know that there are other women out there not as lucky. Please...break the cycle, and don't be afraid to call. There are people that can help.

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This post is written for The Writer's Post Blog Hop# 18: Atmosphere. Interested in learning more, please check out the link below!

Monday, October 10, 2011

BFF# 130 One day at a Time

…isn’t that what life is all about?







When life hands me more than I can bear, I try to think of the Tom Hanks line in my favorite movie, Sleepless in Seattle…it goes something like this, "Well, I am going to get out of bed every morning. Breathe in and out all day long. And then after a while, I won’t have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breathe in and out. And then after a while I won’t have to think I had it great and perfect for awhile.”

It took a lot of days to figure out this realization, and the sad part is that I really didn’t have it all that great and perfect before…it’s 1000 times better now.

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Below is the full scene that features that quote from above. (It starts at :25, but you can watch the whole scene because it is really good. Sorry about the subtitles...this was the best video clip I could find.)

***I have written this piece for a group on Facebook that I have joined, BFF Blogging For Fun. Interested in on the picture below to take you there. Don't forget to check out my friends at One Stop Blog World, a collective of all the great blog sites of which I am a member!

BFF# 131 I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

Growing up, I had few friends due to living out in the country and having really over protective parents. There were two neighbor girls who lived in the houses next door to me and some other girls who lived way down the road from me. Sadly, we have long since lost touch and I am no longer friends with any of them. I doubt they ever think of me today.

I went to a Catholic college that consisted of a single gender campus - female. I garnered my true friends when I went to school here. It wasn’t easy living with a bunch of girls; all with different hormonal schedules. In fact, I remember some very painful moments. I recall a time when my father had to install security locks on my suite doors because of one very unpleasant situation that I don’t care to remember. (Unfortunately, I do…and it really irks me to this day when I think about it.)

The friends I made in college have remained loyal to me these many years since graduation. Although we are separated across the miles, we still keep in touch and have tried to visit each other when we are able. My dearest friend, Shelli, even flew out to California when my husband had to fly overseas for business. It was probably one of the most selfless acts ever performed for me. She could have gone anywhere for her vacation, yet she and her husband came to visit anyway. I was fortunate that they had business clients in the area, but nevertheless, she and her husband John, have been there for me whenever I have needed them.

I have made few friends since college; mostly from places where I have worked. While in Arizona, I met my friend Debbie while working at the paper mill. We are still friends today even though she and her family have now moved backed to the Midwest. How funny that they are living in Minnesota and the snow, while I fled the Midwest snowy winters for a sunnier lifestyle in California!

I have made another work friend while living out West. But alas, she too has moved away and I don’t see her nearly as much. I have an upcoming opportunity to visit Rona in about a week, but it will be a very short social call as I will only be in her area for about a day.

I’ve made some new friends recently. I’ve joined some Facebook groups and interact with many wonderful people who have been instrumental in helping me grow as both a person and a writer. They have stood by me as I worked through the various writing prompts and unburied parts of me that I thought were long since buried and dead. The ladies of The Writers’ Post, GBE 2 Blog On, and BFF Blogging for Fun have been extremely supportive and I value their friendship more than ever. But alas, we are all spread out across the country and only connect when we are online.

Does anyone see a pattern here? It seems all of my friends are far away. No one is really close by. Maybe that is why I feel so lonely sometimes...

I had the day off today, but I didn’t have anyone to spend it with except for myself. But here’s a shocker for you…I really had a good time! With all the turmoil that has been going on in my life, it has taken a long time to really enjoy being by myself. I rarely had days off during the week before things started to collapse in my former life, so it felt a little strange to be off without having someone around.

I had an epiphany recently. Life’s lessons can be a struggle, but the truth is, I may be lonely sometimes, but I am never really alone. All I have to do is turn on my computer, and I am connected to my friends, wherever they may live.

“A friend is one of the nicest things you can have, and one of the best things you can be.” ~Douglas Pagels

Before I go to sleep...I want to share this with you:

Good night dear friends…I give thanks to all of you…and surprise…I am not crying.

(((Hugs))) to all of you!

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P.S. My best friend...well he had to work today, but I spend every weekend with him. Love and hugs to my husband, Edward.

***I have written this piece for a group on Facebook that I have joined, BFF Blogging For Fun. Interested in on the picture below to take you there. Don't forget to check out my friends at One Stop Blog World, a collective of all the great blog sites of which I am a member!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Clarity - Showing Me The Way

"Whether you fear it or not, true disappointment will come. But with disappointment comes clarity, conviction and true originality." – Conan O’Brien

Is he sure? It sure didn’t feel like it at the time…

The last several years have certainly brought enough disappointments in my life – failed career, the inability to have children, and the permanent cutting off of all communication with the one person who knew me the best. All bitter disappointments.

With the setting sun of each day, I had hoped for a better tomorrow. It never came. There was no sunshine, just a whole lot of rain. I watched as life passed me by and everyone around me garnering more than they deserved. I continually felt a mounting resentment boiling beneath the surface. The toxins churning within the depths of my soul threatened to erupt releasing years of pent-up frustrations and anger towards everyone and everything that held me back.

And then it happened…

And now it’s over…

And I feel such relief…

Time has passed, the tears spent, and I have put a little distance between those painful events and now. Why do I see with more clarity than ever before? Because somehow, I finally found the courage to let go, and when it happened, I was able to peel away the dry, cracked, and weary layers that were hiding the true identity of who I really am.

I no longer feel like I need to be identified by a job, whether or not I have children or the number of friends that I have. I am tired; my heart feels a little less heavy. There is a brighter tomorrow after all, but I must rest first.

What have I learned? My “lost years” don’t feel so lost anymore, but rather they were part of the journey to get to here. Despite continued moments of sadness and feeling afraid, I am discovering more about myself every day. With the support of new friends, I am revealing parts of myself in the hopes that someone else will know that they are not alone.

I no longer feel like I have to be the one to fix everything because my new found “clarity” has shown me that it is not about having all the solutions. I just need to trust in myself and the rest, well…the rest will take care of itself. The sun is coming out and the rain has gone.

Most importantly, when I look at the person who I have become, I see that I am unmistakably a one-of-a-kind original.

I guess Conan was right after all.

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***I have written this piece for a group on Facebook that I joined, GBE 2: Blog On. This is week #21 and the topic is Clarity. Interested in on the picture below to take you there.