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Genevive Chamblee: Fall Cooking (Recipe)
Thursday, September 21st, 2023

Fall is here… or so the calendar says. Is anyone getting any cool weather? I mean, it’s “cooler” here, as in, it’s lower three digits (e.g., 102 as opposed to 112). But autumn has always been somewhat of a giggle season with a spotty few cool days between warm ones. We’ll take it. Of course, it’s not like we have a choice when it comes to Mother Nature unless we move. But for the sake of the season, I’m just going to pretend that all is pumpkin spice and everything thing nice and that’s what autumn in the South is made of.

With fall comes warm, comfort foods—savory soups and hearty stews. And then there’s gumbo. Gumbo isn’t a seasonal food on the bayou, and there are about a million ways to make it—from simple to complex; with rice cooked in or prepared separately. None of these variations are wrong. Well… Okay, I take that back. Having seen boiled eggs and Pop-Tarts in gumbo, those ingredients are just plain wrong, no two ways about it. Yes, I say that with my full chest, will fall on a sword, and die on a hill with a gigantic heck-no foaming from my mouth. I don’t know who would have thought to create such an abomination, but obviously, it was by someone who has been hurt deeply. (Psst, there’s no shame in seeking therapy.)

However, there is one other way considered wrong in preparing gumbo. Now, I know when I say it, many people are going to get into their feelings but hear me out. A coworker nearly argued me to the ground, but I happened to have a couple of facts and history on my side. This is the inclusion of okra. My coworker dislikes it and doesn’t include it in her gumbo. To which, I said, “Then, it isn’t gumbo.” Shots fired. She insisted that it was, and I simply replied, “Nope.” Here’s why.

Okra isn’t an optional ingredient. The word “gumbo” literally means “okra” in West African. It’s where the recipe derived its name and originates from the African word “ki ngombo.” (See, studying for the SATs pays off.) Actually, my knowing that fact isn’t all that impressive. Most people who grew up around the bayou know this. It was something I had been taught since before I could remember. My coworker was born and raised in a neighboring southern state, and her ideas of what was considered authentic Creole and Cajun food was how Tex-Mex is to authentic Mexican food. So, when I hit her with this fact, her response (which was typical of her when she realized she had no comeback) was, “Well, I don’t know about that.” She still prepares her okra-less SOUP!

I say all that because it’s been a while since I shared a recipe. When scrolling through my blog archives, I realized although I’ve discussed gumbo numerous times, it doesn’t appear that I’ve ever shared a recipe. I give fair warning that the recipe that I used and learned from my grandmother has a lot of ingredients. (Everything is from scratch except the chicken.) However, it’s fairly simple to make.

Chicken and Sauage Gumbo

Roux Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (Hint: Sift the flower before measuring. While adding flour to the measuring, shake the cup to distribute the flower evenly. Rake a knife over the top to press it down smoothly. This will improve the accuracy of measurement.)
  • Sausage grease (Bacon dripping or vegetable oil can be substituted, but why do that when you already have the sausage?)

Roux Directions:

  1. Over medium-low heat, whisk together flour and 3/4 cup sausage grease in a large pot a(a Dutch oven works well) until smooth. Be sure to whisk constantly and monitor the heat to avoid burning.
  2. Cook until the roux turns a rich brown in color (approximately 20 – 30 minutes).
  3. Remove from heat.

Gumbo Ingredients:

  • 1/8 tsp basil
  • 1/8 tsp oregano
  • 1/8 tsp rosemary
  • 1/8 tsp smoke paprika
  • 1/8 tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp dried thyme leaves
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp white pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 large white onion (chopped)
  • 1 green bell pepper (chopped)
  • 1 cup celery (chopped)
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup shredded Rotisserie chicken
  • 2 ½ cups okra
  • 2 lbs Andouille sausage (sliced)
  • Rice

Gumbo Directions:

  1. Chop onions, celery, and bell pepper to desired consistency. (I prefer a fine dice but other people prefer more coarsely chopped.)
  2. Add the Holy Trinity mixture to the roux and simmer for approximately 10 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken both to the roux and stir to blend well.
  4. Add all of the other ingredients and cook on low 45 to 60 minutes. (Note: Some people prefer to add the rice and others prefer to cook the rice separately. If planning to add rice, be aware that more broth and a larger pot may be necessary.

That’s all I’ve got. Now, it’s your turn to sound off. What did you think? What is your take on the subject? Do you agree or disagree? Did you find this information helpful or informative? Did you learn anything new, or did it change your opinion? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section. Also, let me know if you would like me to cover more of these types of topics or dive deeper into this one. If you like this post, please click the like button and share it. Your feedback allows me to know the content that you want to read. If you’re not following me on Creole Bayou blog, what are you waiting for? There’s always room at the bayou.

Future Goals

Get ready. It’s time to hit the ice again. Future Goals has arrived and is available.

When a college hockey player needs the help of an attractive older attorney, he gets more than he bargained for when trying to sort out the troubles in his career. Falling in love was never part of either man’s plan, especially as Corrigan’s and Sacha’s lives should never have collided. Now they’re left questioning if they’re standing in the way of the other’s future goals, or if there’s room for redirection.

Order your copy at:
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Missed the first four books in my hockey romance series? No frets.

Out of the Penalty Box (book #1), where it is one minute in the box or a lifetime out, is available at It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. For more links on where to purchase or to read the blurb, please visit

Defending the Net (book #2) can be ordered at or Crossing the line could cost the game.

Ice Gladiators (book #3) is the third book in my Locker Room Love series. When the gloves come off, the games begin. Available at or

Penalty Kill (book #4) retakes the ice. Get a copy at or and let the pucker begin.

For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, New posts are made on Wednesdays, and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or X (formerly tweet) me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search for me on Goodreads, Amazon Authors, BookBub, Bluesky, Threads, or TikTok.

NEWSLETTER! Want to get the latest information and updates about my writing projects, giveaways, contests, and reveals first? Click and sign up today.

Until next time, happy reading and much romance. Laissez le bon temps rouler.

About the Author

Genevive Chamblee resides in the Bayou country where sweet tea and SEC football reign supreme. She is known for being witty (or so she thinks), getting lost anywhere beyond her front yard (the back is pushing it as she’s very geographically challenged), falling in love with shelter animals (and she adopts them), asking off-the-beaten-path questions that make one go “hmm,” and preparing home-cooked Creole meals that are as spicy as her writing. Genevive specializes in spinning steamy, romantic tales with humorous flair, diverse characters, and quirky views of love and human behavior. She also is not afraid to delve into darker romances as well.

Cynthia Capley: A Day in Istanbul
Monday, September 18th, 2023

Thank you, Delilah, for having me on your blog today!

This summer, we went on a Mediterranean cruise. Throughout this trip, I was awed by the historical significance of the places we visited.

One of our port stops was Istanbul, Turkey. While here, we visited the Grand Bazaar, the oldest and largest marketplace in the world. Built in 1455 to provide income for the maintenance of the Hagia Sophia Mosque, it spans 61 streets and contains 4,000 shops. Jewelry, clothing, rugs, lamps, and other goods are found here. The market was too large to explore in its entirety with the time we had available. We also stopped at the Spice Bazaar. This bazaar has existed since 1664 and was built to provide income for the upkeep of the Yeni Mosque. Spices lined the storefronts of the shops, making for a wonderful display of colors. I enjoyed wandering through the shops and seeing the variety of spices and foods. Both marketplaces were centers of trade for many centuries.

One thing I find fascinating about historical structures from the past is their beauty, even when built for a functional purpose. The Basilica Cistern was constructed in 532 to store water. It contains 336 columns that are 9 meters in height. The columns are in different styles, and it’s believed that some of them were recycled from older buildings. The cistern can hold 80,000 tons of water and was used to supply water to the Great Palace. Over time, it was only known to and used by locals, until French naturalist and topographer Petrus Gyllius learned of its existence in 1545. The cistern was restored and opened to the public in 1987. Today it’s filled with about one to three feet of water and there are walkways that go around the structure with art installations throughout.

As a Regency romance writer, I love exploring places steeped in history.

You can learn more about the bazaars and the basilica by visiting the following websites:

Are there places you’ve visited that you’ve found inspiring?

An Eye for Love

Coming January 2024!  

A missing heirloom. A search for the thief. An unexpected romance.

Lady Olivia Thorne’s beloved eye miniature has gone missing. She’s sure she knows who took it, but she can’t accuse an earl without proof. Instead, she makes a deal with the devil—or, rather, the earl’s cousin.

Henry Branson is a poor relation to the Earl of Comstock and makes his living by investigating for members of the ton. When Lady Olivia hires him to find her heirloom, he’s determined to prove his cousin innocent.

But there’s more at stake than either of them realizes. When late-night searches and admissions of guilt turn into feelings both are too frightened to reveal, decisions must be made.

Will Olivia and Henry risk everything for love? Or will they let passion pass them by?

If you’d like to get updates on my release date, freebies, and other content, sign up for my newsletter at

About the Author

Cynthia Capley is working on her first novel set during the Regency era. She enjoys writing stories with strong characters that triumph over challenges to achieve their happily ever after. Cynthia lives in the Pacific Northwest, where the rain and numerous tea shops make the perfect writing companions. She lives with her husband and a menagerie of pets and likes to play fetch with Natasha, a tortoiseshell-colored cat with an attitude.


Gabbi Grey: Single Parent Books — Xavier (Contest)
Thursday, September 14th, 2023

Hello Delilah!  Thank you for inviting me to visit today!  I’m publishing my third book in the multi-author, shared-world series Single Dads of Gaynor Beach today and I wanted to give you a quick sneak peek.

I’ll be honest – I’m not a parent.  I’m an aunt to a pile of awesome nieces and nephews, but I’ve never had the honor of being a parent.  That being said, I’m an author.  I make stuff up.  I draw on my experience with kids, but I’m also incredibly lucky to have other author friends who will read my work ahead of publication and point out all the misses.  I’m also Canadian and have little experience with the American school system.  The differences shocked me.  Like, we don’t have a police or resource officer at every school.  School shootings just aren’t a thing up here.  I look south and feel pain.

For parenting, I can imagine what I’d do in a particular scenario, but a parent can say what their hard limit would be.  On the flip side, they can also point out when I got it right or when something works.

I loved writing this book.  Three brave, feisty girls who lost their mother, but have kept going.  Rochelle, Nicki, and Jazz are all very different, but they are protective and loyal of each other (when they’re not fighting. Hey, I remember what it was like to be a kid with siblings…).  Anyway, I hope readers enjoy my third venture back into this world I’ve come to love so much and fans of the series will find cameos from quite a few of their friends…

As a thank you, I’m happy to give out a $5 Amazon Gift Card to one commentator.  Let me know – what’s your favorite romance novel that has kids?  I have so many faves, I can’t list them all.  Tell me which I should pick up?  Winner chosen at random.

Thanks Delilah, for having me visit.



When my wife died five years ago, leaving me alone to raise our three young daughters, only my duty to them and my work as a psychiatrist kept me from losing myself in grief. I did my best to be a good father through the darkest days, but now I can see I’ve been distant and cold. Things need to change. I’ve pledged to my daughters that I’ll start doing better. Be more involved. Show them what a great dad looks like. If that means soccer practice, violin lessons, and sitting through a dozen dance recitals, then I’m all-in.


Pliés, pas-de-deux, cheerleading practice, and enough tutus to last a lifetime— how is this my life? I’m a fisherman up in the Bering Sea. In the offseason, I travel through Alaska and, on rare occasions, drop in to see my sister and her four sons in Gaynor Beach, California. This year? She’s laid up with an injury. Suddenly I’m running her dance studio, and I’m a fish waaaay out of water. Then I meet another guy who’s equally uncomfortable. He’s working so hard to be a good dad, and I keep hoping he’ll notice me. Except, when my sister’s healed and fishing season starts, I’m out of here. Right?

This gay romance is a slow burn, mid-angst, age-gap, opposites-attract, instalove story with a fisherman who needs the ocean, a counselor who needs therapy, three young girls in need of love, and a found family that’ll change their lives forever.

Amazon US:
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About the Author

USA Today Bestselling author Gabbi Grey lives in beautiful British Columbia where her fur baby chin-poo keeps her safe from the nasty neighborhood squirrels. Working for the government by day, she spends her early mornings writing contemporary, gay, sweet, and dark erotic BDSM romances. While she firmly believes in happy endings, she also believes in making her characters suffer before finding their true love. She also writes m/f romances as Gabbi Black and Gabbi Powell.

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G.S. (Gabrielle) Prendergast: The Top Ten Reasons Book Bloggers, Booktokkers, and Bookstagrammers Matter
Wednesday, September 13th, 2023

A constant topic of discussion in the publishing profession is “how important is social media”? A lot of those discussions take the form of pressuring already harried authors to spend hours on social media promoting their books. As much as that is a reality, it leaves out another very important group of book people—those faithful Bloggers, Booktokkers, Booktubers, Bookstagrammers, and other social media reviewers who aren’t authors themselves. I can’t overstate how important these wonderful people are to the publishing industry. More than once I’ve had a review go semi-viral and lead to great leaps in the Amazon rankings, emails from screen producers, and once, a space on the Oklahoma bestsellers list!

But it goes beyond that, bookish social media fulfills any functions in publishing, helping open doors and close gaps, discover new voices, reanimate neglected genres, and much more. Below are 10 reasons Book Bloggers, Booktokkers, Booktubers, and Bookstagrammers matter:

  1. Bloggers, Booktokkers, Booktubers, and Bookstagrammers review and promote genres that rarely get media airtime including YA, romance and erotica, horror, and other genres that are typically maligned by mainstream publications.
  2. Book Bloggers, Booktokkers, Booktubers, and Bookstagrammers review indie published books. For an indie author to get a look-in at a major publication they need to be “a phenomenon” and even then, they are usually only profiled as some kind of offensive or embarrassing anomaly.
  3. Book Bloggers, Booktokkers, Booktubers, and Bookstagrammers come from all walks of life. You don’t need a degree in journalism from Stanford to be a book blogger. You don’t need to be the son of a prominent newspaper editor. You need a laptop and a library card. You don’t even need a laptop.
  4. Book Bloggers, Booktokkers, Booktubers, and Bookstagrammers can specialize in certain genres, and become not only experts in that genre but evangelists for it. Many focus on dark romance, paranormal books, or sweet YA for example.
  5. Book Bloggers, Booktokkers, Booktubers, and Bookstagrammers are often women, LGBT, POC and/or disabled and while some focus on books that represent a particular identity, which is both helpful and great, others read widely and celebrate, or criticize, whatever they see fit.
  6. Book Bloggers, Booktokkers, Booktubers, and Bookstagrammers come in all ages. Unlike the Baby Boomer dominated mainstream media, bookish social media has disaffected Gen X-ers, hyper-connected Millennials, and the online natives Gen Zs. Even “Alpha” kids as young as seven or eight post about books—it’s awesome.
  7. Book Bloggers, Booktokkers, Booktubers, and Bookstagrammers are not beholden to advertising. If they want to sing the praises of smut-tastic gay erotica, or pan a treacly and didactic Christian romance, no amount of pressure from Chic-Fil-A is going to stop them.
  8. Book Bloggers, Booktokkers, Booktubers, and Bookstagrammers ENGAGE with readers and writers. They don’t sit atop some Manhattan high-rise sipping kale smoothies with Jonathan Franzen while Joyce Carol Oates reads poetry in the light of an Arco floor lamp. They meet to drink cheap martinis in dive bars in Vegas or soy mochas in small town coffee shops with cats.
  9. Book Bloggers, Booktokkers, Booktubers, and Bookstagrammers are ON POINT with social media and new technology. If they like a book, not only will it appear on their blog, but it will be Facebooked, tweeted, pinned, YouTubed, Instagrammed, and Tiktocked up the wazoo. Not only that but they RULE when it comes to eReading and eBooks. If a book is exclusive to eBook, Book Bloggers, Booktokkers, and Bookstagrammers will be ALL OVER it. They love audiobooks, too.
  10. Book Bloggers, Booktokkers, Booktubers, and Bookstagrammers not only respect trends, they make them. They practically invented “Romantasy” which every major literary agent is now clamoring for. They love the New Adult category and are still trying to keep it alive despite the mainstream industry’s insistence to “stop trying to make New Adult a thing.” They have kept paranormal romance alive and kicking, despite agents’ weary protestations that it was “over”. Things don’t become “over” with Book Bloggers, Booktokkers, Booktubers, and Bookstagrammers. If one Booktuber gets sick of Shifter Erotica or dystopian YA, there’s always a Booktokker who just discovered it.

I could go on. While the mainstream media floats around in the haze of their own over-educated, organic lemongrass-scented farts, Book Bloggers, Booktokkers, and Bookstagrammers have revolutionized how books are written, promoted, bought, and read.

I, for one, am for it. You got this, girls (and guys). You got this.

About the Author

G.S. (Gabrielle) Prendergast is the bestselling author of numerous books for children and teens. She studied writing at the University of New South Wales in Australia, at San Francisco State University and the University of British Columbia. After years of working in the music industry, in social welfare, and the film industry, Gabrielle began writing books when she became a mother, so she could work from home. Her books have received nominations for the White Pine Award, the Canadian Library Association Award, the Vancouver Book Prize and several other honors. She won the BC Book Prize for her YA sci-fi Zero Repeat Forever and the Westchester Award for her YA novel in verse Audacious. Born in the UK and both an Australian and New Zealand citizen, Gabrielle now lives in East Vancouver in a permanent state of “under-construction.”

Deb Robinson: THE FREELANCER — Book #3 in 5 Shades of Brothers Browne Series
Monday, August 28th, 2023

Have you ever kissed a stranger?

Was it for fun? A dare?

Or perhaps it was out of desperation?

That’s the reason Cassidy Symons kisses Zane Browne in The Freelancer – Book 3 in the 5 Shades of Brothers Browne series.

As the youngest, Zane made the move to Queensland to boost his photography business and to help him discover who he is away from the shadows of his brothers.

Beneath his steely, aloof gaze is a vulnerability born from the loss of his parents, and Cass can see Zane for more than just the grumpy arsehole he is.

A weather presenter for Channel Five, Cass’s sunny personality is undergoing a test of its own. She’s keeping a secret about her father. A secret that has her kissing a total stranger.

The meet-cute first kiss plus their little white lie has them engaged at first sight and planning a wedding to be held at the Whitney Resort where her father is the General Manager. Not only will the wedding be in two weeks but her father’s secret has them agreeing to post everything to social media. How hard could it be?

One for adventure, Zane is all about pushing the boundaries but will the pressure of becoming a husband at short notice be too much for him to handle?

# Grumpy/Sunshine
# Opposites attract
# Meet cute first kiss
# Engaged at first sight
# I have a secret
# Will they/won’t they marry?

This steamy contemporary romance will be released on Sunday 10th September 2023 as an E-book on Amazon for only $1.49.
Pre-order here: The Freelancer

Books 1 and 2 in the series are available now through Amazon and KU – Buy both for $2.35.


While we’re on the topic of kissing a perfect stranger, this is also the hook for my second novella – Prince Tradie in the Sexy Tradie series.

On the night of her thirtieth birthday and swept up in a Cinderella like moment, Ava Blake kisses a total stranger. Only later, does she discover that guy is Josh Logan, a carpenter with the Lawson Crew who are renovating the building that Ava and her cousin, Nikki have leased for their new Bakery/Café business. While Josh is ready for a serious relationship, Ava’s reluctance stems from a recent health battle.

This is currently a work-in-progress but it’ll have all the sexy fun from the first novella, Mister Tradie, an Instalove vs. slow burn, steamy story for 99 cents available now on Amazon and KU.

And speaking of FUN…

My other work-in-progress is a short story I will be submitting for the Secret Identities: A Boys Behaving Badly project of our host, Delilah Devlin. It’s still in the draft stages but I’m very excited for the challenge and I’ve even roped in some friends as beta-readers, which has made them excited too. I love how the joy of reading can bring people together.

About Deb Robinson

Deb’s just a humble little writer who loves what she does. She lives with her lovely husband in their little haven in Melbourne, Australia. She loves all things romance and believes it takes many forms. Her current catalogue consists of hot, contemporary romance under two series: 5 Shades of Brothers Browne and A Sexy Tradie Novella.

Follow Deb Robinson on her official Facebook page
Follow on Twitter @DRobinsonbooks
Follow on Instagram @debrobinsonbooks
And on TikTok @debrobinsonbooks

N.J. Walters: Last Day of Summer
Friday, August 25th, 2023

Summer is winding down, but there’s still time to get out there and enjoy. If you’re looking for something to do without taking a long road trip or getting on a plane, here are some suggestions for having summer fun at home.

Play tourist in your own town or city. We’re all guilty of it. We tend to overlook what makes our town or city special when we live there. There are museums, music venues, festivals, and historical sites to be enjoyed.

Check out a new restaurant. I’m guilty of going to familiar restaurants. I don’t go out often, so when I do I want to be assured I’ll like the food and the ambiance, but it doesn’t hurt to shake things up now and maybe find a new favorite place.

Go for a walk in a new part of town. Many towns and cities have walking trails in or nearby. It’s fun to explore a new area. Maybe take a friend with you.

Go on a picnic. Whether it’s the backyard or a nearby park, pack a bag full of yummy food and get out there and enjoy a sunny day, either by yourself or with family and friends.

It won’t be long before the temperatures dip and the days grow shorter. Enjoy them while you can!

Taming the White Wolf
Lone Wolf Legacy, Book 1

The lone wolf answers to no alpha or pack. From his first transformation, he knows his destiny: to be both judge and executioner for rogue werewolves. Welcome to the spellbinding first book in New York Times bestselling author N.J. Walters intense new werewolf series.

White wolf Devlin Moore has spent nearly the last century following his destiny: hunting rogue werewolves. His fate is to be the only one of his kind—hardened, feared, and brutally ruthless. Only now, Devlin’s not alone. There are two others. And if that wasn’t unsettling enough, Devlin is drawn to New York City for what appears to be a human…

As far as Devlin can tell, vibrant artist Zoe Galvani is no threat. But there’s something about her— from her unusual eyes that look similar to the same shocking hue as his own, to his growing need to mark her as his that suggests magical forces may be at play.

Now there’s no escaping each other, or the attraction that grows stronger by the second. But no one, especially a human woman, should have this effect on a lone wolf. And just when he’s sure that having her could be his undoing…the truth steps out of the shadows.

If you want to read more, you can find Taming the White Wolf here:

Entangled Publishing:

About the Author

N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, assassins, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.

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Genevive Chamblee: End of Summer Blues
Monday, August 14th, 2023

Almost everyone has heard stories of employees gathering around the water cooler or coffee machine to gossip and/or socialize. But not all places of employment have such gathering spots—especially since the pandemic when social gathering was prohibited. Although social distancing and other pandemic precautions have been lifted for most businesses, it still remains in others. I begin this post with a business that has neither a water cooler nor a coffee machine and that still enforces pandemic precautions. I mentioned this because it seems to be relevant to today’s topic.

As August began, parents geared up for back-to-school and the anguish of locating (and paying for) all the items on the dreaded school supply list. It also included the pride of posting first-day photos on social media. Since the people who inspired me to write this post work adhering to previously mentioned guidelines, they rely heavily on social media interactions with each other. In other words, not only are they coworkers, they are on each other’s social media contacts and friends lists. To put it into perspective, since no one is gathering, employees spend their spare minutes or downtime scrolling each other’s social media.

Now one may question why this is a big deal or how it is any different than what anyone else is doing. Well, it comes down to the quantity. Pre-pandemic, a person may show one or two, or even half a dozen photos of a vacation or a newborn on his/her cell phone. But social media allows access to hundreds of photos. Not only that but when gathered to look at photos on a phone, there usually is a time limit. For example, a break may only be five or ten minutes. How many photos can be shared in that time? Furthermore, it’s at work. Thus, the person sharing is present. However, social media transcends work and can be viewed anywhere. Additionally, when gathered in an employee lounge, usually only one or two people have time to share. Yet, on social media, employees have access to everyone they are friends with. This becomes an abundance of material.

In May, a supervisor’s youngest child graduated from high school. For the first time in twenty-four years, she found herself not doing either of these things and felt left out of the “parent club.” (Psst… One never stops being a parent no matter how old the child.) However, she was scrolling through the photos and had nothing to share. You may be wondering, “What about the first day of college?” Well, for her, it was sort of a non-thing for two reasons. First, her son decided not to go away to college. That meant no room to decorate, moving in stories, or real shopping to do. The local joke about this community college is that it is grade thirteen. So many local students go there that literally it is like being in the same high school. Everyone already knows everyone. The campus is small and familiar. Every local school has at least one event at the college per year. And there’s not much to the landscape. Since the campus is condensed, there’s not much greenery—just six or seven buildings for classrooms all stacked atop each other and a few more on the backside that serves as dormitories for out-of-town students.

Second, her son did what a lot of local students do their senior year. I don’t know if it is common across the country or just in this area, but by the time most local students become seniors, they only lack one or two credits from graduating. That means, some of these students only go to class for an hour a day. For others, they take “dual credit” courses in which they receive both high school and college credit. He had done just that. But there’s more. He wasn’t interested in pursuing a college degree but felt pressured by his family to do so. In an effort to dissuade (or persuade depending on how one views it) the family that college wasn’t the right path, he enrolled in summer courses. So, come August, he already had his first semester under his belt. Thus, it genuinely wasn’t a “first” day, although, one could technically argue it was the first day of a new semester. However, the problem with that is that he’d enrolled in online courses. I guess she could have taken a photo of him in his room.

The point of all this was that this saddened her. Additionally, she hadn’t taken a summer vacation and didn’t have anything exciting happening in her life. As she began to reflect on the past months, she felt that she had missed out on summer entirely. And when she decided to try to make late summer plans, she discovered it was harder than she thought. Most places had already stored away summer inventory (e.g., bathing suits, sandals, pool toys, etc.) and stocked the shelves with fall. Summer rentals were booked, and soaring temperatures closed some events prematurely (e.g., the zoo). With each passing hour, she grew more depressed, and it persisted each day. Barely a week into the month, she was sobbing almost consistently at her desk. I knew it had to be more than about not having photos to post on social media. That was just the catalyst that brought the deep-rooted problem to the surface. She was mourning loss—an empty nest that wasn’t really empty.

Yes, her child still lived in her home but not as a child. He was now an adult, independent, and capable of residing on his own. Aside from being in college, he’d gotten a job (although it didn’t pay enough to support himself) and spent much of his time away from home. All of her children had been active in sports and activities while in school, and now that was gone. Even in church, her children had been the reason for much of her involvement. And like so many other businesses, the pandemic had affected her church in that many of the events they used to host were indefinitely canceled due to resource shortages. For example, they were unable to obtain the necessary materials to repair their recreational center; therefore, no activities could be held there. She now had spare time and no idea how to fill it.

Her husband’s job (as well as being a part of the Army National Guard Reserves) required him to travel, and sometimes, he was away for months on end. His current full-time job didn’t pay as much as his previous job (he’d quit due to disagreements with his employer), and he worked longer hours to make up for some of the difference. It also should be noted that she married her husband shortly after graduating high school and began having babies two years into the marriage. In short, she has never been on her own. There have always been parents or siblings, or children or her husband filling her space. But now, she was beginning to feel the vacancy.

Her story is not much different from many others and is a sharp reminder to not lose self or one’s identity in life. It is important to carve out a piece of life that is devoted to oneself and that is apart from everything else. Aside from occasionally reading, this supervisor has no hobbies or interests that do not involve her husband or children. She admitted that she was not used to spending prolonged periods alone and felt antsy.

I pondered her dilemma for a good while before posing the question to other friends. How can situations like this be avoided?

  1. The first step (and perhaps the most important) is to acknowledge where the sadness stems from. On the surface, it seemed like the supervisor was merely upset to not have content for social media. However, the problem was rooted much deeper. She was grieving the changes in her life and a loss of feeling purpose.
  2. Recognize that you are not alone. If your sadness is great, consider joining a support group or seeking assistance from a mental health professional. This is 2023, and there’s no disgrace in asking and/or seeking help. Besides, mental health professionals are bound to uphold confidentiality. Thus, no one has to know. Plus, there are many options for therapy, including online counseling. There are also flexible pay scales to fit almost any budget, including some free services and services covered by insurance. Some jobs offer counseling services to employees as a free, confidential services that does not require filing on insurance. Mental well-being is important, and it’s better to begin when issues are small as it’s far better to tend to a scrape before it becomes infected.
  3. As mentioned previously, develop hobbies and interest just for you that doesn’t revolve around or depend on family.
  4. Make friends that do not require you to be coupled off. For example, the supervisor spoke of having many friends. However, the only interaction she had with those friends was with her husband or family. Her only one-on-one interactions with these friends were brief—usually while awaiting their children finishing practice of some sort.
  5. Take a class. One never is too old or too knowledgeable to learn something new. If going to class isn’t your thing or makes you feel uncomfortable, enroll in an online course.
  6. Go for walks and take in nature. It doesn’t have to be long or some treacherous hike—just something to get you out of the house and moving about. Studies have shown that motion increases endorphins which may lessen feelings of sadness.
  7. Get involved with the local theatre. It’s a good way to make new friends and increase social interactions. And speaking of…
  8. Reduce time on social media. While it’s fun and interesting to peep what family and friends are doing, it also can be destructive. The saying “all that glitters isn’t gold” is true. Social media sometimes make ordinary events look more glamorous than they really are. Sure, the designer shoes on your coworker looked amazing, but the photo didn’t indicate how they pinched her toes and or caused blisters. And that fabulous vacation photo wasn’t tagged with how it had maxed out the credit card. Additionally, some photos are 100 and/or photoshopped. Using social media as a reference to other people’s reality is a bad idea.
  9. Revisit the past and reconnect with old friends whom you may have lost touch with. Chances are, they may be experiencing the same feelings as you and would like someone to go out to lunch or have a drink with you.
  10. Create a bucket list of things that you want to do and that make you happy. But don’t just create the list. Do it.

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