How To Make The Perfect Cup of Coffee

I LOVE coffee.  But to be honest, I rarely have “The Perfect Cup” and when I do, that's when the heavens open up and everything is right in the world.

The Perfect Cup, it's something we coffee lovers are always seeking.  It's the Holy Grail, the unicorn, the best orgasm ever.  However, James Radcliffe  claims to have not only have tasted the rare gem, but he shares that moment and how to recreate it.

My hand trembles while writing this, as I want to believe in this almost unimaginable achievement.  Yet, there it is… the directions and science behind it.

Could it be?

I do hope that like the Loch Ness Monster   dragon, that this is not a work of some demented mind.  Only further investigation will tell.

Love, Crysta - Dancing With Fireflies

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Let it Linger

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There have been times that I truly wish could have lingered on a little longer. Moments when I knew this was one of the best moments of my life and I wanted to hold on to them. Sometimes in daydreams I go back in time, trying to feel that specialness again. They sit on the protected shelves in the halls of my memories and from time to time I take them down, dust them off, and cherish them for what they are.

When I was little, perhaps only a couple of years old I have a special memory of splashing around in my tiny pool on the rooftop of our apartment building. The water was cool on my tiny pink toes and the contrast against my hot skin made me feel exhilarated. The freedom of being alive, happy in the comfort of my toddler bubble was appreciated so much that I placed it as one of my favorite memories to be cherished my whole life.

The memory didn’t need to have other complex attachments. Even though in spite of my age, I knew that things would not stay this way forever and I had a need to appreciate the memory. Isn’t it funny how even little children have an understanding of important things?

CastlesA few years later I was snuggled close in the big bed with my great-grandmother. The covers were pulled up around us as we sat back on big fluffy pillows. Between us we had a bag full of snack sized 3 Musketeer bars that we shared. We were watching Gallagher, a comedian popular for smashing watermelons on stage and splashing his audience. Truthfully, I didn’t get most of his jokes. But I loved watching it with her and I laughed every time he took a sledge-hammer to a melon. I knew this was a special time with her. When she died many years later, the only thing I wanted was to crawl in bed with her again and pull the covers around us.   Now, from time to time, my daughter who is 15 and I will crawl into my bed for that special place and snuggle close to talk about life and share some chocolate.

First dates, first kisses, and first intimate moments all take their place in the halls of my memories. Laughing in the rain as it poured down on our heads as my husband and I danced through the mud to the music only we heard in our head as we fell in love. Hanging on to the moment as tight as we could, not letting anything spoil the memory we were making, that became part of our love story.

More recently I was sitting in a coffee shop overlooking the beach with my daughter. She and I love it there, we sit for hours watching the waves, look for seals, enjoying free wi-fi from the coffee shop. There was a moment that I drift to regularly that takes me to this favorite spot. I was writing on my laptop, reflecting on life and happiness. The sun was shining and it was just one of those incredibly beautiful days. As usual, Lance called for his daily chat. And I remember saying to him that this was possibly one of the happiest days of my life. For a rare time, everyone was happy. I was feeling really good. I was so thankful for the people in my life. I wanted to save that moment forever.

He had such a great way of looking at things. He and I talked about how our lives were actually taking a turn for the best. We were both making efforts to capture the spirit of true happiness in our lives. He was going to ask the girl he loved to be his wife. I was going to make some changes that were long overdue. We talked about a friend of ours that we were both overjoyed to reconnect with. He was going to call him and I had just came home from a visit. We talked about wanting to stay in the glow of this amazing day. It was one of our best talks in one the best places. We laughed and said he needed to come to the beach with me next time he was visiting and we talked about him coming to visit for Thanksgiving. He didn’t make it. He died in an accident just a couple of weeks later.

Amazing days all have to come to an end sometime. We get them and we save them in special places. When we need them, we get to go back to those days and linger in their warmth. I know I’ll have many more moments to add to as time goes by. Hopefully I am included in some of the special moments with others I love too. I know that for those that have passed on, these special times I shared with them make me feel like they are still with me. It’s as if we have this common place that we return to together and we can linger there in this timeless place.

Some choose to fill their memories with sadness or anger. Those feelings make it hard to take comfort in the times that were good. I don’t want to be that sort of person. I don’t want the images in my heart to be of tears or rage. I want to be back in my Gram’s big bed instead of hiding behind locked doors. Or sitting in the perfect coffee shop talking to my best friend, not knowing that it might be the last heart to heart conversation he and I would ever have. We actually get that choice. We have the option to accept this day as one of the best ones of our lives and breathe in this sense of joy or to be so busy and consumed with the negative feelings that we let these moments pass by without saving them for when we might need them.

Not every day is perfect. We have those frustrating days to make us appreciate the ones that are magical and worth putting on a special shelf. We all need bad days to make the good ones feel ever better, don’t you think?

Love, Crysta - Dancing With Fireflies

 

In sickness and in health

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When we got married, we had a lot of crazy things on our minds. For us, it was already complicated.  We started things off by throwing every obstacle in the world at our marriage.  We launched right into having a family, not a small one.. one cute kid and a dog, but a large one ending in 5 kids, dogs, cats, and a ton of debt that we managed to dig out of and turn around into forging a life that is both comfortable and stable.  My husband was and is a fighter, not the mean fist kind of fighter, but the kind that tackles the problems head on and solves them. He is great at solving problems. But I know that my diagnosis of having Chronic Lyme disease has been a frustrating problem that even he hasn’t been able to solve.

Featured on BlogHer.comWe knew that forging a family was going to be hard.  We came from different backgrounds and locations. We had different views about parenting and money.  But we managed to work out how we were going to both be equals. But what we didn’t know was that I was going to also be fighting a bigger battle with my health in addition.  I wasn’t diagnosed with Lyme disease until a few years after we were married.  I’d gone to so many doctors asking what was wrong with me and coming home with results that were either terrifying or depressing. I’d been diagnosed with MS, Chronic Fatigue, depression, PCOS, Hypoglycemia, Anemia, thyroid issues, hormone imbalances, even questioned if a brain tumor was hiding in my skull. Until I was finally diagnosed and treated by a Lyme literate doctor who truthfully learned how to treat Lyme patients through trial and error in my case.  We didn’t get the newlywed world of bliss, instead we were tossed into the reality of life together.

02aThe marriage question.. “Do you take this person to be your spouse in sickness and in health?” always comes to mind when I feel my worst and my husband is there at my side trying to find something, anything to ease my pain and discomfort. And I am not always the easiest to get along with when I don’t feel well. He should have married a healthy wife. He should have had the chance to climb mountains, windsurf the wild oceans, or at least someone who can keep up with him on a walk. I can only try. But sometimes I just can’t. I sometimes think about what choices I would have made if I knew I was sick when it happened. For me, I was a kid, probably younger than 12 when I was bitten by a tick in rural Tennessee.  At the time, tick bites were common.  I would come in from being in the woods, and if I happened to spot a tick latched on to me, I’d flick it off.. or ask my Gram to take a match to it. That was how it was done. There wasn’t a worry that in the future that bite might change the course of my life and that of my family I didn’t know I’d have.  I’ve had moments after being diagnosed, that I worried that I’d passed on this illness to my children. They have had issues with pain and inflammation, but the doctors try to reassure me that there hasn’t been any proof that Lyme disease can be passed on from mother to child. But admittedly there were moments when I was so scared and frightened of this disease that I questioned if I ever should have been a mother. It was my husband who crawled into bed beside me and over and over reminded me that our children are smart, healthy, and wonderful. I couldn’t have known I was sick before they came.  I only started experiencing the worst symptoms of Lyme after the birth of my daughter.   Still the fear haunts me that somehow I’ve damaged my children’s futures.

Lyme disease added a lot of complications to my marriage. But I am beyond thankful that unlike many, my husband is here for me.  Through the scary appointments and frightening test results, he has been the strong one and held me while I worked through the anxiety and depression that often comes with having an illness that has been described as both debilitating and even deadly. My husband had taught me that Lyme is just a part of life, our lives together. And never once has he said out loud that he wished he married someone who wasn’t sick. Instead he’s said he loves the wife he married, even though she wakes him up in the middle of the night with tremors and crying spells.

I’ve heard many times how lucky I am to have a strong support system, people who love me and understand what is happening with me. I know I am blessed to have them, even more blessed to have a husband that I respect and love more each day than the day before. Even though I daydream from time to time if it would have been better for him if he’d never met me. I know I am better for having him in my life.

02aI feel like we are stronger now than we have ever been. We’ve encountered the hardest trials of marriage, children, money issues, deaths in the family, moving, and even a chronic illness.  As we’ve grown older, I think that we’ve found a  better rhythm, a beautiful song we dance to together that is sometimes tinted Lyme green.

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month.  I hope that you will reach out to someone you know and let them know that they are not fighting this battle alone. Every year Lyme survivors will end their struggle through suicide. Taking their own lives because they can't stand to be a burden to anyone else, because they are so tired, so sick of being sick.  I hope you will take a moment to let them know that they are important in  your life and they don't have to be alone.
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Blogging Basics: Tweaking your Twitter

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Better Blogging: Tweaking your Twitter

It took me a long time to warm up to Twitter. It felt awkward, impersonal, and as a writer I don’t like being restricted to only 140 characters. But when I started to actually use Twitter more, I have found that Twitter is one of the most valuable tools that a blogger has to engage readers, bring in new eyes, and to connect with your audience.

Since making Twitter a part of my blogging routine, I have found that it is one of the most important things I do in my work week. Not only am I able to connect with other bloggers and see what they are writing, I am able to connect with readers on a personal level.   I want to know them, and I love that I can be myself on Twitter as well.

Do your Twitter Followers know you blog?

Beyond asking your visitors to follow you on your blog, is your blog address easy to find on your Twitter account?

Your Twitter name doesn’t have to be the name of your blog, in fact many of us started using Twitter before launching our blog. But that doesn’t mean that your Twitter page can’t point in the direction of your blog and tell people what it’s about.

You want to make sure your blog is Twitter friendly, and your Twitter feed supports your blog.

Who are you?

You want your Twitter page and your Tweets to be a reflection of who you are, your blog, and interests.  Don’t be fake, that will just turn people off quickly.

Update your Twitter Bio to reflect who you want people to know you as.  Don’t be afraid to change that often.

Talk to other Tweeters!

Tweet! If you are just on Twitter to promote your latest blog post or to retweet the cool things other people say, you won’t have many interactions with your followers.  So go on, say something!

Comment on other Tweets too!  That was the hardest thing for me to start doing. I am an introvert and it was terrifying to start commenting on other tweets. But I realized that that was exactly what I needed to do in order to participate in the social part of Twitter. Guess what… it was awesome!

#Hashtags aren’t that hard

Hashtags are links to trending topics. When you click on a hashtag you are taken to all of the other Tweets that are also talking about that subject. If you aren’t using them, you are losing the opportunities to have readers check you out. Try to use 1-2 hashtags each tweet and see what happens!

Use Pictures in your Tweets

People are very visual. A picture will grab their attention faster than text.  So don’t fill your Twitter wall with line after line of boring text, links, and nothing visual to grab their attention.

One of my biggest mistakes was linking my blog posts directly to Twitter. Every time I would post, Twitter would just post the link.  I wasn’t getting any attention from Twitter at all. But after I started personally adding header photos and talking about the post along with the link, I started seeing people loving my twitter posts as well as tons of views from Twitter.

Have fun!

There are so many ways that Twitter can not only promote your blog, but also be a really enjoyable part of your day. Sometimes it feels like as bloggers we spend so much of our day promoting our blogs and feeling like we don’t see much from all of the work.

When you relax and enjoy the fun of social media along with promoting your blog, it feels less like work and more like the life we want for ourselves.

 If you would like to follow Dancing with Fireflies on Twitter, or just want to see what geektastic things I like to Tweet about, follow me @MorningTempest on Twitter.