Saturday, December 31, 2011

BFF #154 GOODBYE 2011~HELLO 2012

It’s time to say goodbye… goodbye to an old friend.

I followed that old road until the bitter end.

2011 was a year of changes and transitions.

Now I am here at the crossroads, time to make some admissions.

Needing a different direction, have to start something new.

So I turned around and bid adieu.

The storm has passed and I feel a little lighter.

The clouds are clearing and it’s starting to get brighter.

I made my decision and thanked God for this day.

Everything felt right, I am on my way.

The sun is rising and the view is amazing.
.
My heart is soaring and I feel like praising!

Now it’s a new day and a new year.

My soul is free and it’s all so clear.

Hello 2012 I am so happy you’ve arrived.

The possibilities are now endless, I am so happy…I survived!

It's time to put an end to the pain and strife.

I'm ready to become the Queen Of My Own Life!


Susan's Blog Signature

BFF #153 My New Year's Resolutions

I know that for some New Year’s Resolutions are a big thing, but for me not so much. Oh I always want to do this or that, but never really speak about it out loud for fear that I will just put my foot in it again. So I tend to be a bit closed lip about things.

Every year at this time, I try to think about the past twelve months and look at all the things that I have learned. I think about my mistakes and also the accomplishments. Depending on the year, there might be more mistakes than accomplishments, but the important thing is to not dwell too long on those mistakes.

Unfortunately, I spent the better part of the first half of 2011 dwelling on the “could haves, should haves, and would haves” of the past several years and being really, really angry. It inhibited my ability to be successful and put me in a place where I just did not want to be. I broke my own rule and paid dearly for it.

Not this year though.

Now here I am this afternoon, writing this post while I think about this past year. I have briefly thought about the mistakes, but I am concentrating more on the accomplishments. There seem to be more of those this year than in the past. Instead of being angry, I am actually pretty happy.

What a difference a year makes!

As for those New Year’s Resolutions…I’m going to follow my own rule and keep them to myself. I know what I need to do and how I plan on making it happen. I just have to put the plans into action.

May all your New Year’s Resolutions come true!

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***I have written this piece for a group on Facebook that I have joined, BFF Blogging For Fun. Interested in more...click 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!

I Wonder As I Wander

I am a little late in posting this, but I wanted to share this anyway. When I saw the topic of "Wonder" for GBE:2 Blog On, this song immediately popped into my head.



As I said...music is my life. This rendition from Nevada and Mindy Brandt is so unusual that I just had to share.

Wishing you all moments of wonder,

Susan's Blog Signature

***I have written this piece for a group on Facebook that I joined, GBE 2: Blog On. This is week #32 and the topic is Wonder. Interested in more...click on the picture below to take you there.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

15 Minute Free Write

So I was challenged by GBE: 2 Blog On to a 15 Minute Free Write. Here we go…

One year ago and a few days I took a huge leap of faith and started down a new fork in the road. After weathering several huge storms and surviving what I have affectionately referred to as the “implosion” of my life, I think I can finally see why this all happened to me.

I am a firm believer in destiny, but also making things happen to achieve that destiny. Over the years, I have learned to listen to my inner voice and tune into my surroundings. I heard the phrase once, “there are signs everywhere…”, and I can really say, that yes, the signs are everywhere, but you have to be able to read them.

I know that over the course of the last several years, I wore blinders to shield my eyes from what they needed to see. I guess you could say that I wanted to see the good in everyone, but I failed to see the flip side. Not only did I fail to see, I purposely chose to ignore the signs. While I thought at the time I was making the right choices, sadly, I think I was only causing more harm to myself. I can say this now, but then, well I guess I will just toss it up to naiveté.

2011 started off a bit rocky, but by mid-year, I finally let it go and then somewhere by the end of summer, things just started to click. Now, as I write this on the evening before the last working weekday of 2011, I can say that things have turned out quite nicely for me.

My accomplishments:
1. Started and successfully learned a new job.
2. Connected with several writing groups through social networking.
3. Completed my challenge of reading 52 books in 52 weeks.
4. Wrote some blog posts that have helped me purge my angst and challenge my mind.
5. Set up some tentative plans/goals for the coming year.
6. Made some really great friends by channeling my free time in a more constructive way.

All in all I feel pretty good about the way I spent my time in 2011. I probably could have started out the year a bit more constructively, but when I finally let it all go, everything just fell into place. I read the signs. I listened to my inner voice and heard what my surroundings were trying to tell me for the last several years. I don’t regret a single minute of my life. It all brought me here to this evening to write this for you. All I can say is thanks for hanging in there with me this last year.

2012 is going to be a great year. It’s going to be the year of Susan! I have so many ideas and things I am going to do and I can’t wait to share them with you!

Susan's Blog Signature

***I have written this piece for a group on Facebook that I joined, GBE 2: Blog On. This is week #32 and the topic is 15 Minute Free Write. Interested in more...click on the picture below to take you there.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Favorite Holiday Traditions

Watching holiday movies – everything from Rudolph to Christmas Vacation. I think I have over 50 different holiday movies!


Sitting around in my PJ’s all Christmas Day – since we rarely go out, today is the perfect day to be comfortable. And, a perfect excuse to take a mid-day nap!

Baking cookies – we have to make cookies or it just isn’t Christmas! Lots and lots of chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies and sugar cookies to decorate. If I am really feeling festive, I will make something fancy like chow mein noodle candy.

Christmas Pizza 2011

Christmas Pizza – We could make something fancy, but I’d rather eat comfort food! Pizza is comfort food for me.

I made this wreath from last years grapevines!
  

Holiday Decorations – no matter the year, we always put up at least something. Some years it is more, and some it’s less. Whether indoors or outdoors, a little holiday d√©cor goes a long way! I just love it when a plan comes together!

A Charlie Brown Christmas Tree














Lovely and unique Poinsettia
Love my light up snowmen!


Wishing all of you all your favorite holiday traditions!


Susan's Blog Signature

This post is written for The Writer's Post Blog Hop# 27: Favorite Holiday Traditions. (I didn't quite make the hop this time, but that's okay!) Interested in learning more, please check out the link below!

Celebration!

When it comes to celebrating…I am more of a behind the scenes type of person. I’m the one that plans the party, not actually celebrate or partake in the festivities. I suppose this could be a good thing as I tend to be a solitary creature and prefer to interact with others on more of a one-on-one basis.

It’s funny; most of the people I come in contact with seem to know this about me. I rarely get invited to parties and when I do, I tend to fade into the woodwork. I guess I don’t make much of an impression, do I? That is what I used to think anyway.

Actually, it's okay because I’ve come to accept that about myself. I’m really, really fine with it. I have some very dear friends that I hang out with, and then we all go our separate ways until the next time. It just makes our visits all that more special since we don’t see each other that often. Each visit in itself is a celebration. When I am alone again, I give thanks that I have these opportunities and plan for the times when we can get together again We just need to plan those visits a bit more frequently.

When I was younger, it bothered me a lot that I was alone so much, but as I’ve gotten older, I have come to relish the time that I have by myself. I am no longer sad and I always have my husband (he's my best friend!),  my writing and other hobbies to keep me busy. And when I really get lonely, I pick up the phone or I turn on the computer!

Today, instead of being sad, I celebrate the uniqueness that is me. 2012 is going to be the year of Susan. Every day will be a celebration! When my friends come to visit, I will have even more to celebration!

Wishing everyone moments of celebration during this holiday season!

Susan's Blog Signature

This post is written for The Writer's Post Blog Hop# 26: Celebration! (I didn't quite make the hop this time, but that's okay!) Interested in learning more, please check out the link below!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Twelve Drummers Drumming

When I married my husband, we each came from different families with very different holiday traditions. He open his presents on Christmas morning and my family opened our presents on Christmas Eve after Church and dinner. Edward was adamant about opening presents on Christmas morning, so that's when we do it.

My mom used to make a full blown dinner, but since my marriage, we've either had hors d'oeuvres or what has since become our tradition in my house...Christmas Pizza.

And of course, we watch a lot of movies...Christmas we usually watch Christmas Vacation and a Christmas Story. Oh and just so you know, we were watching A Christmas Story before it became a cult classic! In fact, if we recall, the critics at the time all hated it. My how a few decades can change the thoughts of peoples' minds!

Cookie baking is another thing that I love to do this time of year. I always have grander aspirations than what I can produce, but it sure is nice to see everyone's faces when I bring those gifts to the door.

This year, the stress level is way down because I gave up trying to do everything. As my husband says, I've finally "taken off the cape". Very Funny Edward! Actually, it feels pretty good to just "let go". The world didn't come to an end because I wasn't Secret Santa for someone. In fact, I did something completely different this year with our charitable dollars. My heart feels light and I am much happier compared to Christmases Past!

The biggest change in tradition is the fact that we are alone on Christmas. Although we are over 2000 miles away from our families, we try to talk with them several times during the holidays. Usually a phone call on Christmas Eve to my parents and my brother and his wife who are spending that evening together.

Christmas Day the hubs and I open gifts, have breakfast and then call my parents to say thank you for the wonderful gifts. Sometime during the day we try to reach Edward's sister. Hopefully this year we can make that happen.

Whatever the traditions that we have, I know that I have my best friend here to honor them with me. Also, if we don't happen to do one thing or another, it really doesn't matter as long as we are together.


MERRY CHRISTMAS TO THE READERS OF TODAY'S WORKING WOMAN!

Susan's Blog Signature


I've written this post for the 12 Days of Christmas Challenge, sponsored by the Casa De Hansen. Today's topic is Traditions Marching On based on the 12th Day of Christmas: "Twelve Drummers Drummer".

BFF #151 Winter Wonderland



I grew up in Wisconsin, where the winters were truly Winter Wonderlands...except for the below zero temperatures! I've been living in California for the last 12 years so it's been a long time since I've seen the winters of my youth. I don't miss them often, but I do enjoy looking at an old photo or two and listening to the appropriate music!






Wishing you the Wonders of Winter!

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***I have written this piece for a group on Facebook that I have joined, BFF Blogging For Fun. Interested in more...click 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 #149 My Favorite Christmas Song




Oh me...oh my! I have many Christmas favorites! How do I chose?!?!?!?!? Hmmm....the truth is I can't. So I guess I will just have to share a few of my fav holiday tunes here with you.

Enjoy!
















Wishing you beautiful Sounds of the Season!

Susan's Blog Signature

***I have written this piece for a group on Facebook that I have joined, BFF Blogging For Fun. Interested in more...click 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!


Friday, December 23, 2011

BFF #148 An Old Fashioned Christmas

Christmas the way it used to be...





Wishing all of you an "old fashioned Christmas",

Susan's Blog Signature

***I have written this piece for a group on Facebook that I have joined, BFF Blogging For Fun. Interested in more...click 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 #147 My Favorite Things...




Peace and quiet time,
Silence,
And the simplicity in the little things.  
Books, books and more books,
Reading and writing,
And music of almost all kinds.
Dancing to the beat of my own drum,
And sometimes to the beat of others that I like.
When my husband reads to me,
And taking a nap in the middle of the day.
Love…from my family and friends.
Food…that nourishes my body and feeds my soul.
Softly falling snowflakes,
And walking through the woods
Puppies and kittens,
And wildlife in out of the way places.
Dolphins, whales and oceans,
And sitting in the sand of the beach while I watch them.
Rain and thunder,
and other comforting sounds of water.
Vacations in Hawaii and Florida,
And Oregon and California,
And don’t forget the places I call home:
Sonoma County, CA and Racine, WI.


Susan's Blog Signature

***I have written this piece for a group on Facebook that I have joined, BFF Blogging For Fun. Interested in more...click 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!


Eleven Pipers Piping

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For those of you who don't know me as well as others, music is my life. It has sustained me through the good, the bad and the ugliest times of my life. It is always there for me like a faithful friend, never judging, providing comfort and wisdom.

I typically start playing Christmas music around Thanksgiving and it stays on until Epiphany in January. However, it has been known to sneak out once or twice sometime during other times of the year when I am in need of holiday lift!

My mom and I share a love of one particular holiday song...Silent Night as sung by Stevie Nicks. Rather odd I know, since my mom is not much of a hard rock lover. I guess she just got used to listening to Stevie playing on my bedroom stereo when I was growing up. This one is for you mom!


There are countless other Christmas songs sung by artists that I truly enjoy, but it's the obscure ones that tend to evoke emotions for me. Here is a little something from The Washougal High School Chamber Choir performing at the Grotto Christmas Festival of Lights on Nov. 30, 2011.



Here is another one for you...might not be obscure, but the movie it came from was kind of popular awhile ago...




And because I really love Rudolph, I couldn't resist this one...(I even have it on my mp3 playlist!)





Wishing all of you moments of beautiful music!

Susan's Blog Signature






I've written this post for the 12 Days of Christmas Challenge, sponsored by the Casa De Hansen. Today's topic is Music based on the 11th Day of Christmas: "Eleven Pipers Piping".



Thursday, December 22, 2011

BFF #146 Once Upon A Christmas....


...I had the most glorious dream.

I dreamed of something so simple.

It was all I wanted...

...it was all I needed.

I wanted peace and a little quiet.

But to get the want, I had to satisfy the need.

I needed to be still…still enough to hear the sounds…the sounds of silence.

Like the sounds of falling snow…

...like falling snow while walking through the forest.

I needed to lay my head back and close my eyes...

...and let the quiet sounds wash over me.

I needed to breathe...in and out...

...silently and peacefully.

I dreamed...

...dreamed of comfort...dreamed of joy...

...dreamed of peace...and of the beautiful quiet.

It was all I wanted...

...it was everything I needed.



Wishing you all peace and sounds of silence,

Susan's Blog Signature

***I have written this piece for a group on Facebook that I have joined, BFF Blogging For Fun. Interested in more...click 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!


Ten Lords a-Leaping

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It's hard to believe that 2011 is almost over. It's been a long year and I have many reasons to be thankful. While the list of accomplishments may be small, 2011 turned out to be much better than recent years past.

I rang in the new year with a new job, and for most people, it should have been a blessing. It was, but I was still harboring feelings for lost years, disappointments and the needless waste of sacrifices I had made. For those of you who haven't followed me very long, my life literally imploded in 2010 and I was left practically in ruins. I had the absolute worse birthday in all my years, my self confidence was shattered, and I felt like everything I had worked for was for naught.

I did have a inkling that things were not going well in my life long before last year, and I slowly began to make plans. But alas, they were not put in place fast enough. I guess I was hoping against hope as they say. I waited too long, or so I thought. 

2010 ended, and while I was happy and excited to start my new life, I was also terrified, disappointed, sad and disillusioned. My husband kept telling me not to worry and treat it like a vacation, but I just wanted my old life back. I think I spent months in 2011...no...I know I spent months during the first part of 2011 doing whatever I could to get back what I thought I wanted. Then I had a huge epiphany...

I didn't want it anymore. I wanted me...me to be happy, me to do what I wanted, me to fulfill my dreams and not someone else's. So I set my sights on doing that. I changed directions on Facebook, I did some research, joined a few writing groups and started networking.

So what have I accomplished...I am writing, not only for myself, but the day job has figured out how good I am as well! I have met some wonderful new people in the writing community. I am contributing to two online publications. I have picked up an editing job and I am doing book reviews. I am so grateful and feel wonderfully blessed!

Things are definitely looking up indeed! Oh yeah...one more thing...my husband is a lot happier too!


Wishing all of you a moment of reflection on all of your wonderful accomplishments in 2011!

Susan's Blog Signature

I've written this post for the 12 Days of Christmas Challenge, sponsored by the Casa De Hansen. Today's topic is 2011 Accomplishments based on the 10th Day of Christmas: "Ten Lords a-Leaping".

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Pre-Christmas



Ahhh....peace and quiet...and an outdoor Christmas Tree!


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Nine Ladies Dancing




The month of December begins the hibernation season in my home. While everyone around us is celebrating and having parties, we are finally enjoying some quiet time and moments of reflection.

This year, I am especially grateful as it will be the first time in many years that this month has not been stressful. Actually, this whole year has not been stressful. What a novel concept!

While others are celebrating kith and kin, I am celebrating the return of my life and embarking on a new venture. My husband is celebrating the fact that I am not married to my job and that I am able to spend more time with him.

So while my party may be somewhat solitary, I am dancing (just like these beautiful nine ladies) to the beautiful music that has finally returned. When all the other parties of the season have faded away, I will still be celebrating and planning for the year to come.

Yes, I do love December and the rest of the winter months. I have much to do inside these walls of my hibernation. But first I will begin with a party of my very own.



Wishing you all time to party with Kith and Kin this holiday season!


Susan's Blog Signature

I've written this post for the 12 Days of Christmas Challenge, sponsored by the Casa De Hansen. Today's topic is Party Time based on the 9th Day of Christmas: "Nine Ladies Dancing".

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Eight Maids a-Milking



Walk into my kitchen during the month of December, and you will be able to immediately tell that, I am in full-on baking mode. Our kitchen is really small, so every available flat surface is covered. Fortunately, I have a very forgiving husband as he is the usual recipient for my efforts.

©Susan Dusterhoft 2011


In years past, I often gave most of my holiday bakewares away and completely stressed myself out if I couldn't get all the baking completed. Today, I am much more relaxed and if it gets done, then it gets done. But first, I make what I want to keep for the family and then I make what I want to give away.


My husband loves Toll House Cookies, and lucky for me, he actually helped prepare the batter so that all I had to do was the actual baking part. I still need to prepare another batch without nuts and then of course a batch of sugar cookies that I can decorate with royal icing.

©Susan Dusterhoft 2011
Although it seems like I am just getting started, I really am much further ahead than previous years. So have I tapped into your sweet tooth yet?

©Susan Dusterhoft 2011

Wishing everyone moments of holiday eating goodness!

Susan's Blog Signature

I've written this post for the 12 Days of Christmas Challenge, sponsored by the Casa De Hansen. Today's topic is Holiday Eats based on the 8th Day of Christmas: "Eight Maids a-Milking".