Sunday, February 28, 2021


This week's card from the Spiritual AF desk is fantastic. It's a definite step up from the old adage about dancing like no one is watching.

Yes, people are watching. And many of them are just waiting to find something to criticize. I'm not blogging enough. I'm blogging too much. I'm talking about them. I'm not talking about them.

Sometimes, dealing with other people and the demands they feel free to put on me is just too much. And I'm learning to walk away from that shit show and enjoy and even celebrate all the things about me that bring me joy and happiness.

This week, I was talking to myself.

I do not need someone else's permission to find joy in a book, a movie, or a song. I don't need someone's approval to make choices for my own self-care. And I don't need other people to chime in and tell me if my decisions are the ones that they would have chosen. I trust that I am a good person who would never knowingly take an action that would hurt someone else, so I can have faith that taking care of me is a good and right thing to do.


I'll dance if I want to. And I'll laugh and be silly and enjoy things just because they are amusing to me. And I won't need anyone else to say it's okay. It's okay because I say it is.

And anyone who thinks they still get a vote in my happiness should feel free to read the card at the top again.

Date Night and Beers of Europe

It's been nearly a full year since the COVID lockdown, and that means it's also been a year since Ric and I we were able to go out for our Monday date nights. I miss that. So we've come up with a way to start it up again... sort of.

Saturday night, we went to our own backyard with a six pack of beer, a portable speaker, and the determination to at least feel like we were out on a date together.

Of course, I also have a John and Ric Mix playlist. It's some country, some pop, music everyone knows and some tunes you'e probably never heard before. It made for the perfect musical backdrop.

And it wouldn't be about me if there wasn't something more to the story, right? Well, here's that part.

Ric and I are planning a trip to Europe in September 2022. Yes, I know that is a long way out, but there is still a global pandemic and international travel concerns. So planning that far ahead seems like the smart thing to do.

Our itinerary is still a work in progress, but we do know that we want to visit Italy (and see our friends, Juliet and Tom), Switzerland (so Ric can see The Eiger), and Scotland (just because I've always wanted to).

And this is where the story of the beer comes in. Even though the trip is eighteen months away, I want to start enjoying the planning. And how better to prepare than to join a Beers of Europe club and sample beers twice a month? Fun, right?

(It's actually an International Beer Club, but you can specify which countries you want to sample.)

And that was how we spent date night, sampling a delicious Kostritzer Pale Ale from Germany. It tasted a bit like Guinness but not as strong. In two weeks, we will be sampling the Dark Lager from the same brewery. I'm thinking it will be much more of a full, heavy beer taste.

It's a long way from San Diego to Bitburg, Germany.

Hopefully, by the time we get to September 2022, we'll be more knowledgable about European beers and know exactly which ones we want to enjoy while we're there. And we get to enjoy International Date Nights between now and then!

Saturday, February 27, 2021

"What are the qualities you want in a friend?"

Affirmators for the Week Ending Friday, February 27, 2021

 My inspiration card over the last week:

So, how did I do?

Looking back over the week, I’m happy with how I did. The card did what it is supposed to do in that seeing it all day, every day made me more aware of my thoughts and helped me to redirect them as needed. The week was a tough one, with the terrible news on Friday of losing a friend as the worst of it all. And no amount of “positive thinking” changes that heartbreak.

But, I am still considering this as a win for the week. I kept my focus on good, upbeat things whenever I could, I shared that positivity with those in my path, and I am ending this week with a full heart and an outlook I can be proud of. Can’t think of anything more I could ask of myself right now.

And a sneak peek at next week's card:

Friday, February 26, 2021

New Music Friday

Welcome to #NewMusicFriday. I was inspired by my own Apple Music library and the magic algorithm that gives me a new 25-song playlist every Friday morning. The app/website/magic machine analyzes the music I listen to all week and chooses new music - most newly released, some classic tunes - and drops them into a customized playlist just for me. And each Friday, I listen to that playlist a few times, delete the songs I don't care for, and then add whichever tunes remain to my larger playlist, "Apple New Tunes."

I've been doing it for nearly a year now, and my ongoing playlist has just over one thousand songs right now. And it's mostly new artists that I would never have heard if it wasn't for Apple Music and iTunes. So now, each Friday, I'm going to share a few of the highlights from this week's new tracks.

First up is country singer Carly Pearce. I haven't heard of her before today, but I guess she's had a few hits and is a rising star. Good for her. The track I heard is "Should've Known Better" and I think it's fantastic. Definitely country music and she's got a fantastic voice.

I'm also a fan of Hauskey and the song, "Go Wrong." He's an Australian named Andy and the song is all about the daily worries of a not-so-lucky guy. I dig it.

And my last new music surprise is a beautiful song from the amazing, wonderful, 80's folk/rock/blues/pop Edie Brickell & New Bohemians. I had no idea they had released a new album this year and I can't wait to listen to it all. 

Read about Hunter and the Dog Star here.

And that's new music for this week. See you back here next Friday with more!

"What Seems Easy But Really Isn't?" (John)

"What Seems Easy But Really Isn't?" (Ric)


"Something Wonderful..."

This is definitely John. John is a glass half full, positive person. But not only does he believe something wonderful is just around the corner, he also makes wonderful things to come round the corner. He is always setting up future Zoom calls and home date nights and caring notes in pockets and surprise gifts fund raisers for strangers in need and support for those who are down. John doesn’t wait for wonderful things to just happen, he makes wonderful things happen. 

~ Ric

"Let's Run Away..."


This note today reminds me just how lucky I am to have Ric in my life. He's always up for whatever random adventure or outing I suggest, and that support means I am free to be wild and creative. He never says no, and that means we are free to be silly and funny and try all kinds of different ideas. Ric is willing to go along for whatever ride and always finds a way to make my plan even better.

For example, tomorrow is our first "Pandemic Lockdown Date Night" and we are going to drink our new Beers of the World while sitting in our own backyard. We'll sample German Dark Lagers, listen to relaxing music, sit under our beautiful lighting, and spend a couple of hours hiding away from the world with just each other. That's a great way for us to run away from everything, even if just for a bit. And I love it.

~ John

Thursday, February 25, 2021

"Favorite Memory So Far" (John)

"Favorite Memory So Far" (Ric)


Throwback Thursday - Palm Springs Poolboy

Palm Springs, August 2002

Come on, who didn't bring their own inflatable sunshade so they could spend the day in the pool without burning their oh-so-white body?

Wait. Just me? Okay, then.

"Butterflies and Caterpillars"

If ever there was a saying that described Ric's life since meeting me, this is it. Ric has never really been an extrovert and he really isn't a fan of other people, especially strangers. His circle was always small and he didn't really see the need to bring more people into it. Then he met me, and since then, his life has been one new person after another. And sure, some of them have been caterpillars. (Or worse, mosquitos, sucking everything they can from us before moving on to the next victim. But I digress.) As I was saying, not all of them have been great. But so many have. So many still are. Our lives are infinitely better for the wonderful, loving, amazing friends we have allowed into our lives, and we are forever grateful that they are with us. And Ric continues to balance being an introvert who likes his privacy with being a grand and gracious host welcoming his ever-expanding tribe. 

~ John

"Being Nice Makes You Cool"

I completely disagree with this statement that "Being Nice Makes You Cool.” The definition of “nice” according to Websters is “pleasant; agreeable; satisfactory.” This seems very blah, middle of the road, whatever, to me.  To me, blah is not cool. John Hulsey is not a “blah.” John is passionate, overtly loving, truth driven, compassionate, and action based. Does that sound like “blah” to you? John is cool because of his loving, caring, truthful, over the top good deeds and selflessness, not because he is “satisfactory.” 

~ Ric

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

"Ambition or Contentment?" (John)

"Ambition or Contentment?" (Ric)

"Anything but not Everything"

John can do anything. He can motivate people for good, run marathons, organize people’s financial lives, write blogs, teach classes, organize, lead and mentor. But do not ask him to drag a line under the spider filled crawl space under the house, bake a quiche, build a shed, re-wire a circuit or fix an engine. That is not in his wheelhouse. He could figure out who to hire to do those things and budget for it. Cooking and construction, it’s not something he is willing to take on. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and choosing to excel at one’s strengths rather than use valuable time to fumble on weaknesses is smart. 

~ Ric

"We Are The Story"

"We are the story."

Finally, after more than twenty years and more mistakes than I care to think about, I can say that Ric and I are the story. Who we are to each other and what we are with each other... that is what feels more important to me than anything. And it only took a global pandemic and a lockdown at home to realize all of this.

Sure, I look forward to a post-quarantine world where I can spend time with friends. But I never want to lose sight of this lesson, that my husband is the foundation I stand upon and the air that moves me to ever greater heights. Simply, I am greater with him than I would have ever been alone. And I will do anything to help ensure that he feels the same.

~ John


Have you ever seen driftwood art? Amazing artists take old wood that has been beaten and battered by the sun and the sea and use it to make the most beautiful pieces. Like this one from Sandra's Driftwood:

I'm thinking about driftwood today because my Grateful AF card uses it as an example for all of us to remember our worth.

Driftwood is proof you can go through some shit and be even more beautiful for it.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not an advocate for suffering for suffering's sake. But I like the message here, that we are never made less because we have experienced hardship or endured trauma. In fact, the things we learn about ourselves - and the strength we discover in those moments - can be something powerful and wonderful that will serve us throughout the rest of our lives.

Me? I am grateful for the person I am today - loving, caring, and kind - and I attribute much of that to my experiences when life wasn't full of love, or care, or kindness. Those moments made me that much more determined to never let others feel as I did, so I will take my painful history and appreciate that it helped form me into the man I am today.

And for all of that, yes, I am grateful AF.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

"If you could take a cooking class..." (Ric)

"If you could take a cooking class..." (John)

A Little Good News


There's so much happening around us that makes us feel anxious, stressed, and worried. So what if we turn that off for a few minutes and enjoy some #GoodNews, instead?

Texas couple saves stranded delivery driver from brutal winter storm

"Unravel Your Mind"


I think this is a very hard thing for John to do. He keeps so many irons in the fire. I think the way he unravels is through Zoom calls with friends and on Facebook. John is very social and that both lets him unburden his mind with friends but also takes on more knowing what friends are going through. I think he unwinds by sharing collectively and being shared with. It’s a very delicate balance. I get concerned when he backs away from those outlets because then he holds things in. 

 I also think John uses music to release or work through feelings. When he is sad he listens to sad songs and when he is happy he listens to fun music to enhance his feeling so he can deal with and make sense of what he is feeling. That is why I feel good when he is humming or singing with a song because I know he is connected in a good place. 

~ Ric

"You are more capable..."


Ric grew up in an environment that never encouraged his greatness, and that absence of support created the feeling that he just wasn't someone who would do great things. What a shame that message was, and what a horrible thing to believe. For more than twenty years now, I have watched as Ric repeatedly rises up to meet any challenge. He really is capable of so much more than he knows, and I'll gladly spend the rest of my life working to make sure he knows that.

~ John

Monday, February 22, 2021

"I will never get tired of watching you ________. " (John)

"I will never get tired of watching you ________. " (Ric)

"Each Morning, Born Again"


Each day, Ric goes to work in a hospital and is confronted by so much. He helps people often coping with fear and anger as they deal with their medical issues, and he somehow manages to meet those feelings with compassion and empathy. And then he carries that all home with him, quite often sorrow and sadness from the suffering that others are going through. And yet, each morning, he rises anew to face it all again with a warm smile and a kind, open heart. 

Instead of, "ugh, here we go again," Ric meets each morning with, "ok, what can we make happen?" And that strength each day is truly a superpower.

~ John

“Explore the World”

Since March 2020, John has explored every centimeter of the world around him. He has been working from home and stuck at home because of the Pandemic. But he is definitely not letting that stop him from exploring the world on a digital level. He has worked on his blog, made up a Funhouse group on Facebook, organized baby showers and events via Zoom, organized fund-raising events for people in need, and really tried to keep in touch with friends and family. He is exploring the world on a much larger scale for sure these days.

- Ric

Welcome to Meme Mondays!

I want to start each week with a laugh, so I’ll be posting “Meme Monday.” And this one feels appropriate to kick us off. 

Sunday, February 21, 2021

"Forgive the fuck out of someone today."

As I've said already, I am trying to focus on myself right now and get to a better place. And that means working through some crappy things along the way. With the help of the Spiritual AF cards, I am determined to finally put a lot of old demons squarely behind me.

Where else would I start but with the person who has lied to and betrayed me the most, my own mother?

We haven't exchanged so much as a word or a text since this past October when I found out that she has known all of my life who my biological father was and yet she lied and said she didn't. Now, after that man has passed away and any chance of me getting to know him died along with him, she thought it was the time to say something.

Those were the last words we spoke to each other. And they will be the last words we ever do speak to each other, because that lie was the last straw for me. I refuse to continually offer my love to someone who has only denied me the single most important truth I ever needed.

So, we are done. And she will never be in my life again. But I realize, that is only true once I find a way to forgive her. Not for her sake, honestly, because I am done caring what might be good for her. I need to find a way to forgive her for my own emotional well-being. As the poet and author Merrit Malloy writes, "relationships that do not end peacefully do not end at all."

Well, now is the time for this relationship to end, once and for all.

I forgive you, Shirly Ann. I forgive you for being so ashamed of your own behavior that you chose to deny me what was rightfully mine. I forgive you for being so afraid of the consequences of your own actions that you manifested your very worst fear, losing me. And I forgive you for being just another link in a long chain of horrible mothers who passed on to their children selfishness instead of compassion, lies instead of honesty, and betrayal instead of love.

I'm letting go of all of this because it no longer serves me. I needed the rage to finally sever all connection to her, but I've done that. I'm standing completely on my own and I no longer look to her for anything. She is now a stranger to me, no more or less important than any of the other millions of people in this world.

This is the last I will speak of her. With these words, and this forgiveness, she is gone.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

"What can you do to improve the listening process?"


Affirmators for the Week Ending Friday, February 19, 2021

My inspiration card over the last week:

So, how did I do?

Candidly, I did not do great. My very first opportunity to put this into play and I failed. I was on a work conference call and something came up that absolutely was not directed at me, not about me, and not because of me... and I promptly took it personally, anyway. Even worse than feeling that way was the fact that I decided to give voice to those feelings and took a well-crafted (albeit impulsive) shot at someone who was no doubt already having a shitty enough day. My "Mr Positive" reputation definitely took a hit over it. 

So, no, I do not get to consider this one a win. Despite staring at this card on my desk all week, I still managed to do exactly the opposite of what it suggests. I'll be thinking about this one for some time in hopes of taking it a bit more to heart.

And a sneak peek at next week's card:

Friday, February 19, 2021

"Which would you rather have, more time or more money"? (John)

"Which would you rather have, more time or more money"? (Ric)

DailyOM - "Grateful"


There is always something to be grateful for, even when life is hard and times are tough.

Everyday is a blessing, and in each moment there are many things that we can be grateful for. The world opens up to us when we live in a space of gratitude. In essence, gratitude has a snowball effect. When we are appreciative and express that gratitude, the universe glows a bit brighter and showers us with even more blessings. 

There is always something to be grateful for, even when life seems hard. When times are tough, whether we are having a bad day or stuck in what may feel like an endless rut, it can be difficult to take the time to feel grateful. Yet, that is when gratitude can be most important. If we can look at our lives, during periods of challenge, and find something to be grateful for, then we can transform our realities in an instant. There are blessings to be found everywhere. When we are focusing on what is negative, our abundance can be easy to miss. Instead, choosing to find what already exists in our lives that we can appreciate can change what we see in our world. We start to notice one blessing, and then another.  

When we constantly choose to be grateful, we notice that every breath is a miracle and each smile becomes a gift. We begin to understand that difficulties are also invaluable lessons. The sun is always shining for us when we are grateful, even if it is hidden behind clouds on a rainy day.  A simple sandwich becomes a feast, and a trinket is transformed into a treasure. Living in a state of gratitude allows us to spread our abundance because that is the energy that we emanate from our beings.  Because the world reflects back to us what we embody, the additional blessings that inevitably flow our way give us even more to be grateful for. The universe wants to shower us with blessings. The more we appreciate life, the more life appreciates and bestows us with more goodness. 

I've been thinking a lot about gratitude recently. It's hard not to, I suppose, watching people elsewhere struggle to find shelter, heat, water, and food while my biggest challenge is staying on task with work. Having so much, sometimes I look right past it and fail to see how very fortunate I am.

Quite frankly, there is nothing that I need and very little that I want that I do not have right this moment. And that is such a place of privilege. It's important to never forget that. It's even more important that my privilege sparks me to action whenever possible.

Today, that means make a cash donation to help the people of Texas. There are many options available, but my personal choice is Feeding Texas. I prefer to give money to a group that has already proven themselves as worthy and committed long before these storms.

If you can, I encourage you to donate. If you cannot, I ask that you help spread the information about the importance of donations right now. And if you cannot do that, I ask that you at least refrain from jokes at the expense of these people, some of whom are literally freezing to death. 

"You Are Magnificent."



You are kindness, generosity, and compassion. You truly are magnificent.

~ John

Thursday, February 18, 2021

"What is your new favorite discovery?" (John)

"What is your new favorite discovery?" (Ric)


"Life is Just a Moment."


Especially in these times of COVID, when we see so many lives cut short. Life is just a moment, and I enjoy every bit of it with you.

~ John

DailyOM - "Goals"


Our desires act as fuel, propelling us toward new horizons. Without something to strive for, we stagnate and become stuck in ruts of our own making because we are unsure of what to do next. Goals are the dreams that we are willing to work for. When we set goals, we take responsibility for our lives and choose to wholeheartedly devote ourselves to our aspirations. Even if we only take the smallest steps toward achieving our ambitions, it is vital that we actively pursue our goals rather than just daydreaming about them. Having goals makes us feel good because it adds a sense of purpose and direction to our lives.  

When you endeavor to achieve clear and quantifiable goals, your choices and actions take on new significance. Consciously creating your goals can help ensure that the success you seek is attainable and serves you. Your plan must be conceivable, tangible, and measurable. If you cannot visualize your goal in great detail or believe that you can realize them, you may find it difficult to commit to your goals and take the necessary steps to achieve them. Make sure that your goals have the potential to be emotionally satisfying. You may even want to write them down. Putting your goals into words can keep your intention fresh in your mind and remind you of your purpose. As you make progress toward realizing your goals, give yourself a reward each time you take a step forward so that you have the incentive to keep going. If you find yourself stuck in a rut, examine ways in which you can revise your strategy so that your plan can work.   

In creating goals, you create your future by outlining your destiny. When you choose your goals using your head and heart, you take the first step in manifesting what you want. You grant your own wishes every time you achieve another goal.

Another day, another DailyOm that strikes a chord with me. These days, I'm very specifically working on several goals concurrently. And it's a little stressful, and I'm wondering if I have taken on more than I should at one time.

But these are all things that are important to me. 

To reach these goals, I will stick to my schedule, stay focused on my tasks, and hit my target dates. 

I can do this. And the rewards will be worth every bit of the challenges.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

"What does your partner need?" (John)

"What does your partner need?" (Ric)


"Life is Beautiful."



No matter the challenges, no matter the pain along the way. You remind me every single day that life is beautiful.

~ John

DailyOM - "Contracting Before Expanding"

I subscribe to the DailyOm, and for the attractive price of zero dollars, each weekday I receive a thinking prompt. Often, I skim through it because I don't feel connected to the topic, but sometimes... wow. And a couple of days ago, the message felt spot-on targeted directly to me.

Contracting before Expanding

It is a natural part of being, that our lives sometimes contract before expanding.

Sometimes our lives contract before they expand. We may be working hard on ourselves spiritually, doing good in the world, following our dreams, and wondering why we are still facing constrictions of all kinds -- financial, emotional, physical. Perhaps we even feel as if we've lost our spirituality and are stuck in a dark room with no windows. We may be confused and discouraged by what appears to be a lack of progress. But sometimes this is the way things work. Like a caterpillar that confines itself to a tiny cocoon before it grows wings and flies, we are experiencing the darkness before the dawn.  

When things feel tight, it's easy to panic or want to act in some way to ease the feeling of constriction. We might also spin our wheels mentally, trying to understand why things are the way they are. However, there is nothing we need to do at this time other than to be patient and persevering. We can cling to the awareness that we are processing the shift from one stage to another, and the more we surrender to the experience, the more quickly we will move through the tightness into the opening on the other side. 

I recently stepped back from Facebook for two reasons. One, I need to spend some time focused on my own emotional and mental wellbeing and not just worried about helping and supporting everyone else. And two, I want to work on my course content for upcoming webinars. But I've been struggling with my own mood and with staying on track with the work.

And then I got this DailyOM email and the words resonated so strongly with me. Yes, it feels like I have contracted and my world got smaller. But that's okay and even to be expected. I have turned my energy inward and I'm concentrating everything on two tasks. I don't need to worry that my absence from the spaces I normally occupy are somehow permanent. Everything I know and love will still be there waiting when I return.

And that helps me focus even more intently now on the work I really feel called to do.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

"How much sleep did you get last night?" (John)

"How much sleep did you get last night?" (Ric)

"In thickest darkness, the stars shine brightest."


Every work day, you descend into an emotional, stressful environment. The people in need of medical care are not at their best. And still, you handle the work, care for those most in need, and put your feelings aside to make sure others are okay. In the thickest darkness, the stars shine brightest. And you are that bright star.

~ John

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Introducing "Affirmators"

First, let me just say... I'm back. It's been months since I have felt like posting anything to my blog, but that changes now. And I'll start with a selfie I took yesterday. This is me, nearly a year into pandemic hibernation. The hair and the beard grow a little longer, but then Ric gives me a haircut, I shave, and I look cleaned up again.

In other news, I'm spending several weeks off of Facebook. I am isolating a bit from social media and working on a few personal things, instead. I'm puttering around on Twitter a bit and dusting off this blog, but FB is on hold until Spring, at least.

I've been trying to focus on my own emotional and mental well-being. Dealing with a global pandemic in 2020 was tough on all of us, of course. On top of that, I went through an ugly personal  situation that resulted in a painful, permanent, but necessary separation from a family member. And also like many of us, I spent time soul-searching and made the decision to distance myself from many people who have demonstrated that they have very different priorities regarding political, social, and cultural issues. They likely feel the same about the positions I take, but candidly, that isn't my concern, anymore. I wish them good lives, but I no longer wish to be in them. It's better for all of us, I'm sure.

So, all of that said, it's been a tough year with new challenges. Add to that the unresolved issues of the past that I seem to routinely drag back out into the light, and clearly, I need to get my shit together once and for all.

And that brings me to the "Affirmators." They are described by their creator like this:

Even pessimists like a little positivity, so comedian Suzi Barrett created these inspirational-but-not-cheesy affirmation cards. Providing the fun of a horoscope with a little less woo-woo, and full of positive affirmations, this whimsical box will help you help yourself, no shamanistic consult required!

Here's my plan. I am not going to preview any of the cards. Instead, each Saturday, I'll select another one, read the message, and spend the next week trying to incorporate whatever positive lesson there is into my day-to-day living.

There are fifty cards, so I can do this for almost a year. That sort of consistent positive thinking has to have a good influence, right? I'll find out.

So, this is a little weird right out of the gate. The instructions with the deck suggest shuffling them without looking at the front of any of them, and then selecting one that feels like the message I need right now.

I did.

And I got a card that feels tailor-made for me in this very moment.

Week 01: Don't Take It Personally

This one is pressing all the buttons, mostly because I am currently putting distance between myself and many of my Marine Corps brothers. We were friends thirty years ago and have stayed connected since, but truthfully, many of us have grown apart and developed very different views on the world. Seeing this card - with the camouflage backpack - feels like it's speaking directly to those military connections.

So, this week, I'll keep this card front and center at my desk and put some real thought into the message. And if someone is less than kind to me, I'll try to remember that it's all about them and what is happening in their life. It's only about me if I let it be. Instead, I need to remember that they are free to say whatever they want and I am equally as free to not bother listening.

Let's see what kind of impact a full week can have when I keep repeating,"if you don't enjoy the message or the messenger, feel free to disengage."