Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Welcome Santa and Mrs. Claus!

©Susan Dusterhoft 2011

©Susan Dusterhoft 2011

©Susan Dusterhoft 2011

Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy and peaceful holiday season!

Susan's Blog Signature

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The day I said, "Thank You"

I slept in this morning; if you could call 6am "sleeping in". Most days I am awake much earlier. Today is Saturday and we are officially in the holiday frenzy known as "Thanksgiving Weekend Christmas Shopping".

This year it started earlier than expected; Thanksgiving evening to be exact. Who are the retailers kidding? Surely they can't possibly think the American public will fall for these advertising ploys?

We did...well, some of us did. Not me, of course, but some of us did. So what did the 2011 Black Friday and Saturday sales bring us?
  • People were camped out for days to get the "great deal".
  • Some stores opened earlier than ever before.
  • A woman peppered sprayed a bunch of people at an L.A. area Walmart for an XBOX 360.
  • A man was shot outside a San Francisco Bay area Walmart for refusing to give up his purchases to some robbers.
  • A 54 year old grandfather was "subdued" at another Walmart when police suspected him of suspected shoplifting. He claims he was trying to help his grandson who was trampled in a chaotic frenzy to get to some video games.
  • Someone else was stabbed outside a Sacramento Mall.
Oh, and let's not forget the "Occupy" People blocking entrances to the various malls. Now I just have to ask, was it worth it?

As for me, I took a more novel approach to things this year. I shopped early, mostly online, and will fill in whatever items I need by shopping locally. I think it is important to support our local businesses.

Today, on the way to a fun event, I stopped at one of the local stores that were actually open early for the sales. I didn't need much, but was interested in seeing all the holiday items. When I reached the check out line, I made it a point to actually say "Thank You" to the gal ringing up my purchases. I know she was really tired because she had been there until 3:00am and was back there again at 9:30am when I was there. She actually smiled back at me and told me "Thank You!" I think she was truly surprised. I just wanted to make her feel good because I know that all of these employees at this establishment work hard for less than what they deserve. Someone needs to tell them "Thank You", and I wanted to be the one to do it. I walked out of the door with a smile on my face. I want to remember this day as the day I said "Thank You".

©Susan Dusterhoft 2011
Afterwards my husband took me to a neighboring town so I could watch Santa and Mrs. Claus come into town on a boat along the river. While hundreds gathered for this event with their children, I just wanted to be a part of a town tradition. It made me feel young, alive, and happy...something I haven't felt like in quite awhile. Besides, I really love this time of year!

Who wouldn't, right? But the truth is, for the last couple of years I haven't liked the holidays. I think I was depressed, or at the very least, disappointed in myself and my life. Nothing was the way it was suppose to be. But things are better now. I am starting to feel a shift in things, for the positive.
©Susan Dusterhoft 2011

But I should have seen it today! There were hundreds of children lined up with their parents and families just to see The Family Claus. And what an arrival it was! I was as giddy as a child myself! And I was even able to take some really cool photos of them on their alternative means of transportation. And they weren't even strapped in! Good thing the boat wasn't going that fast - no wake in the river!

Here's wishing you all a wonderful and relaxing holiday season. And remember, if you have to go out and shop, please remember to say "Thank You" to the person who has to ring up your sale. They've made the ultimate sacrifice in order to be there to serve our needs.

Susan's Blog Signature

This post is written for The Writer's Post Blog Hop# 24: Your Choice. Interested in learning more, please check out the link below!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Don't laugh at me...

As an outsider spending most of my life wanting to be a part of the “in” crowd, I have had the extraordinary opportunity to observe people. My eyes have seen a lot of things…including what others considered funny. Back then you were laughing:

…at that boy who wore glasses and was the science geek...funny how he went on to make millions with his electronics company.

…at the girl with the bad acne…did you know she’s a world-renowned skin doctor?

…at the kid you picked last for every game at recess…well, he went on to practice by himself and is now the first string player for your favorite sports team.

Back then, those kids you laughed at were all thinking the same thing. “Don’t laugh at me. Why do they call me names? It’s not funny to take pleasure from my pain.”

Hey, don’t forget about me either! Yeah...I know you remember me. I was the one that you didn’t include in your fun on the playground. I was one that you forgot to invite over to your sleepovers and parties. I was the one who went home alone after work each night while you all went out to the club. I was the brunt of your jokes and I know what it feels like to cry myself to sleep at night wondering, "Why are they always laughing at me?"

I found this video; funny how it says what I felt like during those years...

You may have been the ones laughing then, but guess what? I am the one laughing now. I have a great life. I went on to get a college education (my mom just commended me on that Sunday night…thanks Mom!)

Thankfully, I’ve never been without a job, even in these tough economic times. As such, I constantly give back to my community by sharing my good fortune with others who are less fortunate than I. It may not always be monetary, but I give in other ways that sometimes are more powerful than you know...teaching children at the low income school the importance of getting an education, educating the homeless on resume writing and interview techniques so they can get a job and get out of the shelter, and yes, contributing to the "Ton of Turkeys" Food Drive to feed those who won't have a meal this Thanksgiving.

I don’t own my own home, but I’m not underwater on a mortgage. I don’t have children, but I am the surrogate “Auntie” to some really great kids, and I have some of the most wonderful friends all around the country (world!). I live in beautiful northern California in the heart of Wine Country. I’ve worked for a world-renowned wine writer and at an up and coming winery. I’ve taken some of the most kick-a$$ vacations ever…Florida and the Bahamas, Hawaii, and all over the Western U.S. I’m planning on some great ones for the future too! Oh…and one more thing…I am married to the greatest guy who does the most wonderful things for me. He's a great chef, lets me do whatever I want and gives me presents at the most unexpected moments. Tonight, I am doing the Dance of Joy, Hawaiian Style!

Yes, I did wish you all would stop laughing at me then...but guess who's laughing now?

Susan's Blog Signature

***I have written this piece for a group on Facebook that I joined, GBE 2: Blog On. This is week #27 and the topic is Laughter. Interested in on the picture below to take you there.

Thursday, November 17, 2011



I have spent the better part of my life putting everyone else’s needs, wants and expectations ahead of my own. I became the master juggler...

I was young...I was weak...I was easily malleable into whatever shape I needed to fit. I thought it was the right thing to do. Along the way though, I lost myself. I faded into the background…was "seen and not heard" (Anybody ever heard of that phrase?) Before I knew it…20 years of my life had past me by.

But with age comes wisdom.

The last few years though have been a real eye-opener. I could feel the change coming long before; unfortunately, I buried those sensations and following the beat of another person’s drum. Once again, I let my mind tell me it was the right thing to do. I should have listened to my heart. I should have listened to my inner voice…my spirit. I didn’t, and subsequently, I paid a price for it. 

You may all say, “I told you so!” I won’t like you any less if you do. In fact, I will probably say, “Thank you!” I admit my priorities were skewed…for a really long time. But let’s face it, whose priorities were they anyway? They weren’t mine. Wow…there’s another revelation that just hit me.


Seriously…the farther on this side of "what my life used to be" allows me to have a clearer vision of “Susan’s Priorities”.

So let’s take a look at me now…

I’m alive…I can breathe…I can feel…feel all those things around me. I’ve learned to embrace it…and finally listen to what it is telling me.

I’ve learned to believe…in myself. There’s no doubt about my talents…they’ve just been pushed aside for so long while I was taking care of “other stuff”. I realize now that while I was taking care of that “other stuff”, I was quietly building the foundation on which I was going to lay my priorities on and begin my real life.   

I have no doubt about that. No doubt at all.

Subconsciously, I must have been planning this all along. But, I’m awake now and fully conscious of everything. It’s a little scary, but somehow exciting.

I’m almost a year into this new life. I survived…all the hurt, all the ugliness. It was painful…this transition. There were moments when I was going to throw it all away. And I do mean all of it. But, once I let go of the past, everything just seemed to click. 

I still have a long way to go. Some of these priorities need a little massaging…a little shaping…a more definitive focus…a stronger beat…on my own drum. 

I’m stronger now; stronger than before. And I am ready to put Susan at the top of that list of priorities.

The start of the new me...

Susan's Blog Signature

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

©Susan Dusterhoft 2011

©Susan Dusterhoft 2011

©Susan Dusterhoft 2011

©Edward Dusterhoft 2011

©Edward Dusterhoft 2011

©Edward Dusterhoft 2011

©Edward Dusterhoft 2011

Susan's Blog Signature

Monday, November 14, 2011

Surprises (or A Hint to My Husband)

Oh how lovely it would be
to have a surprise bestowed upon me.

I never wish for a single thing,
so when it happens I will sing.

It will not matter the time of day,
as long as I can go outside and play.

I’d love for it to be bright and shiny
and I will promise you that I won’t be whiny.

 So this Christmas please give me one thing,
a tiny little surprise that carries a lot of bling.

Susan's Blog Signature

***I have written this piece for a group on Facebook that I joined, GBE 2: Blog On. This is week #26 and the topic is Surprises. Interested in on the picture below to take you there.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Mystery Photo Sunday

Drum roll please....can anyone guess what this might be?

And now, the long awaited reveal of the last mystery photo:

For those that guessed flower petals, you were correct!

Susan's Blog Signature

BFF# 140 My Hometown

I grew up in the country, away from all the fun,
where all I saw were corn fields and the bright sun.

No big city, burg or town,
I was such a klutz and always falling down.

As a young girl, I sat in my room,
while I looked out the window and wished for a groom.

I dreamed of the day when he would take me away,
from the wide open spaces and tall stacks of hay.

Years later when that wish finally came true,
I felt really sad and I was so blue.

Driving past my brick house on West Road,
I held my wedding gown that I had lovingly sewed.

Today I live very far from my hometown,
in a little city where we’ve finally settled down.

I am happy to report that I am no longer sad,
‘cause as long as I am with him, I am very glad.

And no matter where we decide to roam,
I will always think that with him, I am home.

Susan's Blog Signature

***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!

Vacation, Please?

Some of my most cherished memories are my family vacations. Back then, we called it camping (my husband said it was RVing). We went everywhere up and down the eastern part of the country from Wisconsin to Florida.

Every year we went to Florida, sometimes in the winter and sometimes after school let out. I can't tell you how many times I visited Disney World (I really need to dig out those photos....), Sea World (we saw the first Shamu there!), Busch Gardens...and the numerous other places we went.

Let's not forget about the other places we visited...Great Smoky Mountains, the Pennsylvania Dutch and Hershey, PA (chocolate heaven!), Kentucky, Michigan and the UP, and Indiana. We put on many miles over the years in a variety, yes I will admit it, RV's. To my parents...that was camping! We used sleeping bags, but we didn't have to be on the ground. Thank goodness for that! But, we stayed in lots of different campgrounds over the years.All really nice...because that is the way my Dad wanted it.,

I should also put it a note about the countless times we went to the Indianapolis 500 over the years. My Dad and brother were big race fans. Mom and I never went inside the track, save for one time. To be honest, we did not have a good time as we couldn't see much of the action except when they went around the turn where we were sitting. Afterwards, we went back to staying back at the camp and listening to the race on the radio. Mom and I enjoyed that much better.

Vacations for my husband were spent a little differently than mine. Instead of traveling to the heavily populated places that I went to as a child, he and his family went to places like The Black Hills and Yellowstone National Park. They were not into the "come see the varmint" attractions. 

©Edward Dusterhoft 2011
Since my marriage, my husband has introduced me to the real way to a tent. I think we have been everywhere west of the Mississippi River. At least it feels like it anyway, but I know that we haven't. After our wedding, we moved to Arizona and spent six years there. We camped all over that state from Flagstaff to Tombstone to the Blue Range in the eastern part of the state to the traditional deserts.

The funniest remembrance I have was when we camped out for the first time at Black Canyon Ridge. It was my indoctrination to the world of camping with my husband. We had all the gear, right down to the camp stove, kitchen fly, air mattress and tent. What was so funny about the trip? Well, the one thing you have to remember is that rainstorms in Arizona can happen suddenly. While we were setting up camp, I was preparing the site, with rake in hand, when all of a sudden it started to get very windy. Then the rain came down, followed shortly by hail.

My husband high-tailed it to the car leaving me stranded under the kitchen fly that was barely standing up. Thinking back on it now it was really funny because here I was, standing on top of the picnic table, trying to  hold onto the kitchen fly with all my might to keep it from blowing away. All the while, the wind is whipping around, the rain is coming down and the hail pounding everything. My husband just sat in the car and laughed at me. I was furious. Needless to say, he finished setting up the rest of the campsite.
Black Canyon Rim,
©Edward Dusterhoft 2011

My husband and I have had many wonderful vacations since then. We've visited Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon, and various other national and state parks all over Arizona. We've traveled up and down the state of California (Have you ever seen multiple city fireworks happen all at the same time? Try going to the central coast of California during the 4th of July...truly magical!) We've stopped at just about every lighthouse along the coast of Oregon, fished at the Rogue River, been on a Caribbean Cruise, and have relaxed on the sandy beaches of Kauai.

This past August we finally took a vacation after three plus years. We went back to visit an old favorite...Pismo Beach, CA. I just love this place!

Next year, who knows? I've always wanted to go to Australia, and we do have our passports...

Susan's Blog Signature

This post is written for The Writer's Post Blog Hop# 22: Vacation. Interested in learning more, please check out the link below!

Monday, November 7, 2011

What Do I Desire?

I looked up the word “desire” today in the dictionary. This is what it said:

“to long or hope for : exhibit or feel desire for

What do I long or hope for? Well…for the longest time, it was to be successful. I wanted to be the best at my chosen field. I wanted to be recognized and appreciated for all the great work that I did. I wanted to be rewarded for my great accomplishments.

As such, my world was chaotic for a long, long, loooonnnnggg time. Sadly, it was of my own doing and I am not proud of this fact. I was running in a million different directions, and truthfully, never really going anyway. Wow…another revelation for me. My desire at the time was to have it all. Why not! I was a modern woman. Why couldn’t I have it all? Unfortunately, I spent so much effort trying to get ahead that I forgot to enjoy the journey.

So let see what my desires got me, shall we:

  1. Earned a college education – best thing I ever did.
  2. Got married – next best thing I ever did. That man saved my life.
  3. Held 12 different jobs – all in the name of advancing my career (I didn’t count the part time jobs as those were pure moments of insanity.)
  4. Lived in three different states – Wisconsin, Arizona and California. Too bad, I didn’t really get to enjoy them very much because I was working all of the time.
  5. Taken some really great vacations to Florida, the Bahamas, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Yosemite and Grand Canyon National Parks, Oregon, Hawaii, & California (before we moved here) – don’t remember too much about them; need to resurrect the photos to trigger my memories.
  6. Owned a few cars (the blue El Camino, the white Pontiac that I crashed, the blue bomb – another Pontiac, the red Station Wagon with a shift problem, the green Focus Station Wagon with the ugly tan interior, and finally the Red Chevy HHR – my personal favorite.)
  7. Bought a lot of really cool stuff…but then had to sell it because of the financial downturn in the market.
  8. Lost out on time with my family and friends, but met a couple of new and wonderful new friends along the way.
  9. Got in debt up to my eyeballs, got out of it and then did it again.
  10. Never had a child – not by choice, I wanted one desperately. My plumbing just didn’t work right.
  11. Never owned a house – again not by choice; circumstances were just against us.
  12. Had insomnia, heartburn, gained about 100lbs, separated several ribs, had breast reduction surgery, and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on chiropractic care to fix my back because my insurance would not pay for it.
Okay…enough! I think you get the picture. I thought I had it all, but the reality is I didn’t. When my life imploded on me, I finally realized that my “great” life wasn’t so great after all. Fortunately, I figured it out before something really bad happened. Frankly, after a year of picking up the pieces, I am glad that it happened. You see, I finally realized that I desired just one thing…peace. With that peace, hopefully I would have some tranquility and quiet time to figure out how I wanted to move forward with the rest of my life; or shall I say, the best part of the rest of my life.

So today, I am working a less stressful job (no more insomnia and I get holidays all the holidays off! Woo Hoo!!!) and have accepted the fact that I am not going to be the “great” success I had hoped to be – no VP title with the corner office and the six figure income (I can't believe I wanted that...ugh!) I still don’t own a home...yet. I don’t have any children, but am working on a plan. I’m still going to take some great vacations and currently planning the next one. And, finally, I am fulfilling the one secret desire I have always wanted to do; and that is to be a writer. I still need to make my way thru the maze that is this industry, but feel confident that I will navigate these waters. It might not be the right way, but it will be my way…because it is my desire.

Susan's Blog Signature

This post is written for The Writer's Post Blog Hop# 21: Desire. Interested in learning more, please check out the link below!