Beach Blogging Part 2

palm trees and beach and flag of Barbados
Welcome to the beach. Long live Barbados!
cement sea wall
Gorgeous salt-ravaged wall
weathered beach gate
Beach gate, leading to boardwalk
beach door
Another beach gate
Bus stop sign at beach
Island humour. Even the bus stop signs want to be at the beach!
Ceramic sea turtle
Sea turtle embedded in ceramic wall. By Blakey’s on the Beach
beach flower
Closeup of flower seen on boardwalk
Bajan lizard
Local lizard. Very shy.
coconut palm on boardwalk
Coconut palm closeup
plant life on sea wall
Plant life cascading down wall
sunrise on boardwalk Barbados
What I see on every morning walk. Bajan sunrise Feb 17.
Bajan sunset
Beautiful Bajan sunset last night, as viewed from our balcony.

Rock on,

The WB

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Beach Blogging

Sign on the Beach. Appropriate for this post!
First night. Checked in, unpacked and made it down to Charlie’s Beach Bar in time to catch the tail end of happy hour.
First morning, capturing the rising sun through the palms.
Gorgeous flowers. Bougainvillea.
Thought this was the quintessential tropical photo. Kept waiting for this guy to move out of the frame. Then realized this local fisherman was actually posing for me. Nice!
What can I say? Dedicated AF to meeting my blogging goal for this year. P.S. my friend thinks I’m nuts but she did take my picture, which is what a true friend would do.

Rock on,

The WB

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WTF is with Blog Badges?

This week I received another email, telling me I earned a badge for being a “top 30 widow blog”.

This is what it said:

Hello!

We are a team of experts who are in search for the best blogs in the world. We find your blog to be pretty awesome and very informative. Your articles are well-written and possess the qualities of being one of the best.

We are glad to announce that your blog is included in the Top 30 Global Widow Blogs: https://www.startdating.dk/top-30-global-widow-blogs on our website.

We would like to commend you for your passion and as recognition, our team has created a special badge that you can post on your blog: https://www.startdating.dk/banners/top-30-global-widow-blogs

If this interests you, please send us a message and we more than willing to answer your queries.

Thank you and hoping to hear from you soon!

Sincerely,

Lisa Kok
Junior Project Manager
StartDating.dk

I clicked on the link to see what they had to say about my blog:

A chronicle of how a woman went through loss and came out stronger than ever, widowbadass.com is a resource that is definitely worth reading. It’s got a lot of great content to share about the matter of overcoming the sadness after losing someone and then looking forward to living again.

OK. I guess that’s all right. It sounds like someone actually read my blog.

Then I went directly to the website to figure out what this site was all about. Just the name of it (StartDating) is giving me a serious case of side-eye.

Serious side eye happening
You and me both, Prince. You and me both.

There is no English language option on this site. Near as I can figure it is an online dating site, though. For Europeans. But a team of experts that search out the best blogs in the world and they found lil’ ol’ me?

Indiana Jones side eye
Yes we do, Indie. Indeed we do.

I wonder how many more of these emails I will receive, now that I have a contact form and email address for the blog.

I won’t be grabbing this badge and I’m removing the other badge too. As far as I’m concerned, they are meaningless and/or a ploy to get bloggers to put something up on their blog to advertise their own site.

I don’t like wearing clothes that have a brand’s name (as opposed to a band’s name, which I am in favour of!) prominently displayed on them and I certainly don’t want to be advertising a dating website on my blog.

On a more upbeat note, by this time next week I will be cavorting with the tropical sea life in Barbados again. I’ll also be lulled by tropical breezes while reading lots of books under the palms and chugging back icy Banks beers with my 50 years of friendship pal, Mizz CJ. For 2 glorious weeks!

Rock on,

The WB

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Three Lessons I’ve Learned So Far About Making Art

sea turtle dot painting
Yet to be named. Destined as part of a baby shower gift. Riffing on a design I found on the Interwebs.
side view of sea turtle dot painting
Carrying on to the side of the painting
Inscription on painting back
Operating in fairy godmother mode with the wish bestowing…hehehe.

Lesson One –  It’s OK to be inspired by steal from others. There is no such thing as original artwork or original anything, really.

This was a toughie, and to be truthful, still is. Years of writing papers has instilled in me a deep fear of being accused of plagiarism. Even though I know that artists are inspired by and often copy other artists’ work (especially starting out), I feel like I have to make a disclaimer every time I do this, even though I am not selling any of stuff I am painting or drawing. HEY PEOPLE, THIS PIECE IS BASED ON SOMETHING SOMEONE ELSE DREAMED UP FIRST.  So far I seem to be the only one doing this. Huh.

Here’s a quote taken from Austin Kleon’s “Steal Like An Artist” (required reading AND re-reading for moi):

“What is originality? Undetected plagiarism.” 

– William Ralph Inge

Here’s another one, from Mr. Kleon himself:

“What a good artist understands is that nothing comes from nowhere. All creative work builds on what came before. Nothing is completely original.”

And my favourite:

“The only art I’ll ever study is the stuff I can steal from.”

 – David Bowie

Hell, if it’s good enough for Ziggy….

Lesson Two – You can get an art education from books and the internet.

You know, when I was deep in the middle of my MBA studies I came across an article that really burned me up. In it the author claimed that business school was a complete money-grubbing scam and that anyone could pick up an MBA education just by reading articles online. All the information was out there, free for the taking.

Having committed to spending 44K to get the (nicely framed, mind you) piece of parchment that is now displayed on my work office’s wall, naturally I took offence to this. And still do. Yes, the information (and much, much more) is out there. But nobody is curating it – pulling out the acknowledged, peer-reviewed, up-to-the-moment best stuff and guiding you as you take it in, process it and let it shape your own thinking.

But now I am attempting to do just that, with my artistic journey. At this point I can’t envision committing to much or anything in the manner of formal art education, so do-it-yourself it is! It helps that there are so many artists putting up how-to videos out there, and also dropping great tidbits (colour theory, brush selection, canvas prepping, composition…to name just a few) in their painting patter while showing you step-by-step how they create a particular piece. I have gleaned so much from these little nuggets, it’s worth watching just for them…even if I never intend to ever make that particular painting.

Lately I’ve been watching videos in which artists discuss their favourite books – the ones that really helped them grow in their art. One of those books I already own – Betty Edward’s Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. I bought it over 20 years ago, and had started some of the exercises but then life (as it always does) got in the way. It has survived multiple book purges and moves since then and is still in almost pristine condition. For this moment, apparently. Because I am going to work through it FOR REAL this time.

And maybe the most important lesson I have learned so far on my journey is this:

Lesson Three – Every piece you create will have its “hot mess” stage. Wait a bit, then keep going.

Resist that urge to (dramatically, with loud cursing and hair pulling) rip it up or paint it out and start over. Let it sit for a bit. Leave it alone. Go watch some Bob Ross till you feel calm again. Watching Bob, you can Netflix and actually chill.

Bob Ross Meme
If all else fails, add some happy little trees to your piece

You may grow to like what you’ve done better after some away from it. Or you may figure out the fix it needs. Or you may just paint it out and start over.

At the very least you will create some detachment from it, and be able to look at it more objectively later than when you were in the passionate midst of creating. As with writing, time apart from your piece will do you both good.

Rock (and steal, and create) on,

The WB

 

 

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Where did the Weekend Go? And My First Changing Seasons Post, for January 2018

Well, I am not entirely sure how it got to be Sunday night already but here I am, needing to make a blog post to keep up with my target of at least 1 post/week!

I might be jumping the gun a tad as it’s not quite the end of the month…but I have some lovely wintery photos burning a hole in my iPhone, so here goes my first attempt at a Changing Seasons post. (Su, I hope I am doing this right!) All of these photos were taken on the Mill Run Trail  that starts in the Village:

river ice formation
Closeup of interesting ice forming in the river. Taken on First Day Hike with Mizz J – Jan 1, 2018
river dam
Speed River Dam Jan 1, 2018
Ducks on the river
Ducks trying to stay warm Jan 1, 2018. This was as close as we could get without alarming them.
pampas grass
Pampas Grass against a beautiful winter sky Jan 1, 2018

This weekend I was back down on the Mill Run Trail again, this time with Joanne of My Life Lived Full. This was our second get-together, and my pleasure to host her at my stomping grounds. The weather was a lot milder than on New Year’s Day, and the snow showed it:

snow crust revealed
Evidence of typical January freeze/thaw  Jan 20, 2018

Back indoors, when not binge-watching Grace & Frankie, I was “arting around”:

sea turtle painting
Sea Turtle painting, almost complete. Not happy with the sky at present. Need to figure out a fix.
painting of blossoms
Blossoms, almost complete

This painting came to life while following instruction from Angela Anderson

I love the way the background came out but I could have done better on the blossoms. I want to fix some stuff and do some glazing, and then it will be done!

I haven’t proceeded any farther with my Queen of Wands idea. I’m trying to figure out the best way to take a small drawing and transfer it to a bigger canvas. I’ve looked up the process of using a grid technique (cheap but looks tiresome) and also have discovered (cue angelic singing): the Artograph. Yep, that’s about 800 dollars worth of awesome technology that I won’t be buying anytime soon. Back to reality I go…

This weekend’s January thaw also meant it was finally a good time to wash Edward II, without risk of his doors freezing shut. If the sun would come out, he’d be all sparkly again. For about 5 minutes. Until covered with wintry road goo once again…

My weekend was jam-packed with fun stuff. How was yours?

Rock on,

The WB

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Sunday Update

Things have calmed down a lot since last weekend’s unexpected appendectomy for my daughter. Mizz J is getting a bit better each day, and is ready to resume normal life again as an MSW student, after a solid week of recuperation. And I’ve been able to pay attention once again, to what I want to achieve for 2018.

Health

I am so excited to report that I’ve been able to resume working out again! Last spring, I had a bit of trouble with my thyroid, that kept me unable to exercise. The few times I did try left me feeling exhausted, dizzy and nauseous. (The last time I felt nauseous, I was about to have a TIA, so understandably I was nervous and wanted to stay away from anything that incurred this feeling.)

This week I got up the courage to try a few online workouts (with Mizz J only a couple of rooms away, in case I got into some sort of trouble…hehehe). Nothing too challenging – a 10 minute weights workout and a 16 minute walking workout. Having achieved these with no issues, I attempted AND completed a 36 minute cardio and strength workout last evening. Woo hoo!!!!

I really like Jessica Smith and her approach to exercise. I love her walk and talks…and I especially love Peanut, the French bulldog. That dog snoozing through her videos is what drew me in, in the first place! Peanut makes me laugh and want to keep going.

So that’s where I am at, at working on my Health goals for 2018. A very good start.

Financial Security

I made my first lump sum payment on my building’s demand loan this week. Unfortunately this is not something I can do online so I guess I’ll be heading to TD every payday to do this in person. It wasn’t a huge payment, but it goes directly on the principal and over the course of a year, it will certainly add up!

I also created a discretionary spending log, in Excel. With a tab for each month (and a line for each day) and spending targets for each category, to keep me on track. I LOVE data, and actually enjoy capturing it in this format. I especially love the days where I spend NOTHING. Not sure why I haven’t done this sooner….oh wait, maybe because I was too busy rebuilding my life for the past 4 years? Yeah, pretty sure that was it. 🙂

Art

Current Art Projects
What’s on my desk in the studio at the moment

I was inspired by a quote I received in a newsletter from Jessica Smith this week: Begin with the end in mind. Karen, from Profound Journey, a lovely blogger friend that I follow, says it’s from Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Which I do have a copy of, somewhere in Chez Badass. I shall put it on the Re-Read list!

So, to begin with the end in mind means to me it’s time to draft an idea for a painting to represent what I want to become by the end of 2018. Since the Queen of Wands filled that role in my Winter Solstice tarot spread, it seemed natural to me to work on a painting of that grand dame.

sketch of Queen of Wands
Close up of first shitty draft of sketch

You’ll see from the previous photo, that I took my inspiration from an Alphonse Mucha illustration I found on the internet. I have loved Mucha since I first discovered his works as a teenager. It took me a moment to realize his model was giving the viewer the finger (intentionally or not), which made me love it even more and need to incorporate into my hasty sketch.

My Queen of Wands is saying “Oh, do you not like what you are seeing? You can’t handle my self-assuredness, strength and vitality? I’m done with trying to appear small to coddle insecure fools and their egos. So, fuck you very much.

Obviously I have a lot of work to do with this before I can transfer it to a canvas. Those 4 scrawly things surrounding the circle are supposed to be sunflowers, for instance. But it’s a good therapy shitty first draft. 😉

And, also because I have my upcoming (less than a month away!) vacation trip to Barbados on the back burner of my mind, sea turtles keep popping up:

Sea Turtle on Watercolour Paper – as yet incomplete

Mindfulness

I’ve been focusing on mindful yoga and stretching this week. And mini-meditations, and pausing to notice.

Reading

Borrowed 2 books from the library this past week and finished one: Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman. Now working on Lev Grossman’s The Magicians. Three books completed already towards my 2018 goal of 50 books read!

Intuitive Processes – Tarot

I’ve been pulling a card every day and interpreting its meaning for me, before I look it up in one of my Tarot books. An enjoyable part of my morning routine.

And, looking for inspiration for my Queen of Wands painting led me down the Alphonse Mucha Google rabbit hole. Which led me to the Mucha Tarot. Which is speeding it’s way towards me, as I type, via Amazon.ca.

Looking forward to receiving even more artistic and intuitive inspiration, from these cards!

How was your week? I’d love to hear all about it.

Rock on,

The WB

 

 

 

 

 

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Back to Real Life with a Wrench Thrown In

Happy 2018! May all your intentions come to pass.

I had a plan for this weekend and it was a good one! I am trying hard to get at least some of these things done.

However Friday was spent at the hospital with my daughter, Mizz J, who was sent there forthwith after her early morning pelvic ultrasound. She was sick over the holidays (we thought it was the flu) and despite a course of antibiotics for a presumed bladder infection, was still feeling uncomfortable.

Well, no wonder. She was walking around with a burst and abscessed appendix. Go figure! Only the antibiotics for the non-existent bladder infection were keeping her from being violently ill.

After a long day in Emerg with a doctor who didn’t believe the ultrasound’s tech findings, she was ultrasounded again and immediately whisked upstairs. Surgery took place Friday evening.

All is well now. She is receiving mega-antibiotics by IV and we are hoping she comes home today.

Between hospital visits, I was able to put away Christmas:

Tree ornaments 2017
The tree was beautiful and enhanced by some special ornaments from special friends

And finish off the Aged Eggnog, which was delicious and will be made again next year. At least a double batch, this time!

Alton Brown's Aged Eggnog
The absolute last of it. So good!

While at the hospital, I noticed this on the wall outside of the ubiquitous Tim Horton’s coffee shop (really, every hospital has one now. How did that happen?):

mindfulness exercise at the hospital
Mindfulness is the new black, apparently.

Mindfulness and Mandalas seem to go together like kids and puppies; like pie and ice cream; like socks and sandals (hehehe…just kidding. Threw that in there to see if you were still paying attention).

I was able to resume some mindful yoga this morning. Holey moley, was my body tense from all the goings-on of the past couple of days!

My Mandala Days art course begins on the 16th. Eager to see what’s involved!

Hope your new year is off to a blazing start!

Rock on,

The WB

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2017 in Review and 2018: My Intentions

2017 Review

2017 was a calm and pleasant year in my personal life (as opposed to an exciting yet challenging year in my work life), for which I am so grateful. I wish every year could be 2017. I didn’t lose anyone this past year. (Not in 2016 either, although my mother’s death in late December 2015 was so close to that year that I felt its reverberations throughout those 12 months anyways.)

2017 was the year of REACH (my word). This applied mainly to my creating art. This was the first year that I applied a great deal of focus and effort in this area since I was a teenager. And reach I did! It was difficult to push past my insecurities and inner critic, and just start laying paint down on canvas. It was a reach to allow myself to fail over and over again. This painting in particular (which I can reveal now, as it has gone to its recipient) was very uncomfortable for me to create, and thus a definite REACH:

Acrylic Painting of Horse
Horse, 2017

I went to Mark Grice’s studio in Alton Mills to create this painting. I chose it because I knew it was going to be difficult for me to paint a horse AND in non-horse colours. I’m not good (yet) at so many things artists need to know and excel at, but with Mark’s guidance this painting came together. And Mizzus J loves it. She said it looks like Gavin, one of her two horses. What more can I ask for?

I finished out 2017 with this painting, completed yesterday:

Painting of Sunset on Lake Okanagan
Kelowna Sunset, based on a photograph I took on my last night there.

2018 Intentions

My intention for 2018’s art is to continue on my artist’s journey. I met an artist whose work I admired, at her studio in Bayfield 2 summers ago. When I asked her how to become a better painter, she said something that has stuck with me every since: “Just paint. Everyday.” Simple, no?

I have signed up for another online Mandala art course, hosted by Julie Gibbons: Mandala Days. Unlike Mandala Magic (the course I participated in, in 2017), this course is for creating actual pieces, not art journalling. Which is just up my alley, as I discovered this past year.

Other intentions involve:

  • Blogging – posting at least once per week on Ye Olde Blogge; find other like-minded bloggers/readers (my tribe, as it were) to connect with
  • Reading – increase reading for pleasure – my goal is 50 books. (I’m WidowBadass on GoodReads, in case you want to connect there)
  • Mindfulness – increase mindfulness in my life through activities such as meditation
  • Financial Security – becoming intentional about rapidly paying down the debt I am carrying on Chez Badass – debt I incurred by investing in much-needed improvements over the past 4 years
  • Intuitive Processes – become proficient at Tarot, because:

I believe that it is a good tool to help one develop and strengthen intuition and lead to insights – and help get in touch with yearnings/feelings that are buried deep within one’s self. So I performed a Celtic Cross spread at the Winter Solstice this year, to help me in planning for 2018:

Winter Solstice Tarot Reading 2017
Celtic Cross Spread, for guidance for the coming year

I was really surprised when the cards told me that:

  1. I have to focus on my health or ignore at my peril (5 of Pentacles) Having failed at this many times in the past 4 years, I didn’t want to write it down or even think about it as an intention for the coming year!
  2. I have the inner resources to do this. (Ace of Swords)
  3. I can come up with solutions, and to believe in myself and focus on success. (Page of Wands)
  4. My past is full of grief and regret and the belief I made wrong choices. No, duh. (5 of Cups)
  5. Renewing health; creating harmony and balance is the goal. (Temperance)
  6. Unresolved factor affecting my success – my inner “carb monster” (bondage); doubts that I can succeed. (Devil)
  7. I need to delve into why I haven’t been able to get any traction towards improving my health. (6 of Pentacles)
  8. Be the person others see you as: Adept, Reliable, Steady, Supporting. (King of Pentacles)
  9. Guidance, Hopes and Fears, Beliefs, Values – I am afraid of attracting attention from men as I lose weight and become fitter. I don’t want to have to deal with this. There. I said it. Valid or not, it is a fear of mine. (The Lovers)
  10. The outcome (when I am successful in achieving this goal) – Vibrancy, Energy, Cheerfulness, Self-assurance. (Queen of Wands)

So, an added intention for me for 2018 is to improve my health through self-caring activities including strength, flexibility and stamina-building activities, and nutritious food choices.

My word for 2018 is PERCEIVE. To understand, to become aware, to become conscious, to use intuitive judgement.

How about you? Care to share your thoughts?

Rock on,

The WB

 

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Me and My Amazon Echo

Secretly, alternatively known as “Mrs. Hughes”

My son gave me an Amazon smart speaker for Christmas, known as Alexa. I am intrigued, not knowing a whole lot about these things.

When I found out I could change her name (aka “wake word”), I was gleeful with the possibilities. Immediately I thought of the housekeeper and/or butler from Downton Abbey (hoping I could also switch Alexa to a male voice). However, when I opened the Echo app I downloaded to my phone, I only had a few options to choose from: Alexa, Echo, Amazon, or Computer. So I settled for Echo, as it had the least syllables. I am so disappointed I can’t call her Mrs. Hughes.

So I’m trying to learn how to relate to this new device. It’s more difficult than I thought. For example, it feels super weird not to be polite when asking Echo to give me information or do things for me.

After all, I am a Canadian! And yes, I have already told her I am sorry!

Conversely, it feels about as weird to be saying please and thank you to an inanimate object. I’ve had to process my feelings on this, and for now, I have decided to use my manners with Echo. She is responding very nicely to my thank yous, telling me “absolutely” and “that’s what I’m here for”. So that makes me feel slightly better about using my natural way of speaking on a THING.

A few months back, I watched a hilarious Saturday Night Live spoof on “Alexa for Seniors”.  Because I live in Canada, I can’t see the YouTube clip on this, but here is a link to the video Mizz J forwarded me from Facebook – hope it works (for my fellow Canuck readers) once this post is published!

https://www.facebook.com/william.ward.1297/videos/1488225857902559/

So far Echo is very good at letting me know the weather and setting timers. She also excels at answering random questions. Except for Game of Thrones plot lines and characters – I give her only passing grades on that. She couldn’t tell me what happened to Barristan Selmy and I can’t remember either. Maybe I didn’t phrase the question correctly. Anyhow, he’s probably dead and I forgot. Because there are way too many deaths to keep track of on GOT anyways…

There are a bunch of things that can be controlled through Echo. My son also gave me a smart plug that I can use to let Echo turn on or off (through me, of course). I’m still deciding what to use the plug for. My TV, a light, my humidifier?

Echo says she is always getting smarter. Will that make me dumber? I don’t know about that. 😉

Rock on,

The WB

 

 

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Just Wait and Yule See

I think I may have mentioned on Ye Olde Blogge a time or hundred that every year I struggle with our North American commercialization/celebration of Christmas. It has become much too materialistic and in-your-face for yours truly.

This season has become instead a time of reflection and review and planning for me as the nights get longer and longer. And I love this time of year for that!

TRIGGER WARNING: If someone holding a different opinion than your own could lead to you turning into a Judgey McJudgepants and leaving a nasty comment, please skip over this next section. If you feel you must take a tone with me, your comment may or may not be deleted, depending on how much of a chuckle I get out of it.

Oh sure, I partake in some Christian Christmas rites. It’s part of my upbringing and my history. I put up a tree. I send out cards to friends and family. I re-watch old Christmas movies and sing along to carols. I even do the gift thing, although more and more I am giving gifts that are homemade – gifts of my time and intention. I love to wish people a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year AND I mean it. I do these things because I enjoy them and I like celebrating this season (this month, especially) of long nights and waiting for the sun to return.

I am not a Christian, so there is no religious meaning to my celebration. You won’t find a manger scene at my house. But I will haul out the Seashell Jesus, because I find it amusing. I think I’ll put it next to the picture of Krampus my talented son made for me. For balance. Someday maybe I’ll add a representation of the Flying Spaghetti Monster to the mix, and my triptych of mythical beings will be complete. Ramen!

If you are reading this and a practicing Christian/Jew/Wiccan/Pagan/Hindu/Zoroastrian/Muslim/WhateverReligion, great! You do you. Whatever gives you comfort and meaning is cool with me. Please return the favour.

TRIGGER WARNING OVER.

What I am celebrating at Chez Badass is this: the end of the darkness and the return of the light. Because the longest night – tonight – the winter solstice (the official start of Yule or Yuletide) – is something I can get behind.

I do so love this rock we live on – the natural world – and the turning of the year, and I like to acknowledge this event. And this is the time and the season for me to pause and reflect and set intentions for the next spin around the sun that I am lucky enough to be a part of.

This is nothing new. Humans have been celebrating the solstice since well, we first noticed it was “a thing”. And these Yule celebrations have been co-opted into Christianity and have become integral to the Western celebration called Christmas.

For my particular celebration of the longest night, I will lighting (many, many) candles and finalizing my goals and intentions for the coming year. These include, in no particular order of importance (because they are all important to me):

  • more artistic activity
  • more mindfulness
  • more writing – specifically, more blogging
  • more reading
  • less spending – in order to knock down the demand loan on Chez Badass

I’ll be going into each of these goals in detail in upcoming blog posts. Yule see, hehehe!

I will leave you with this thought – at this special time of year why not remember to:

Keepin’ it real. Keepin’ it Yul, y(ule)-all!

Merry Christmas and Rock on,

The WB

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