Independence Day

I’ve always considered myself to be a patriotic person. I proudly display an American flag on my porch 365 days a year. My front door decoration, except on specific holidays, is always something in red, white and blue. I sing along with the National Anthem whenever it is played, and stand tall and proud in settings where it is being played. And I’ve always said that I am proud to be an American.

All of that is still true today, July 4th, 2020. But it comes with some mixed emotion this year. I am proud to be an American, but I am not proud of America. I value and treasure the freedoms afforded me by living in this country, and I salute the many who have served and are serving for their selfless dedication to protect our country and its people. But the political turmoil in this great country leaves me with a very bitter aftertaste. Add to that political turmoil the turmoil of the people themselves – riots and lootings and desecrating property and physical brutality – and I will state again that I am not proud of America.

It’s bad enough that the current pandemic has us in a sense of being isolated. But when I look at the things that are happening out there, there is a second meaning to home being the safest place to be. People are being moved off a church property for a photo op. The entire police force of our nation is being chastised because of a few bad cops. Some people are taking advantage of the ‘extra’ income incentive in unemployment payments by refusing to return to work. And racism has reared its ugly head again as though we’ve never gotten past it in the past 40+ years since it first reared its ugly head.

Does anyone really remember 9/11? I mean, really remember it? In those hours, days and weeks and even months, our country’s people came together despite race, sexual preference, religion, political beliefs and all of the other things that can – and do – divide us. All that mattered is that we were Americans banding together for our fellow Americans and helping each other in whatever ways we could! Where did those people disappear to?

As terrible as it sounds to even say, I sometimes wonder if we need another 9/11 to happen in order for us to truly come together again. And yet, I wonder if we’ve reached the point where banding together like that will never happen again. I mean, will rescuers look at the skin color of a victim and decide whether or not to assist that person based on the skin color? Will members of either political party ask a victim to which party they belong before deciding to assist them? Will people be asked their sexual preferences before deciding if a person is worthy of being helped? What needs to happen in this country in order for us to be the united that is a part of our country’s name?

Our country needs fixing. It may well need a big upheaval of some kind to turn us back from our hatred of people who are different from us. I have friends in other countries around the world who see what’s going on here and feel SORRY for us! So how is it possible to be proud of America???

I realize this isn’t one of those ideal posts celebrating Independence Day. I think it would be awesome of me for apologizing for that. But I’m not sorry – – I’m sorry that we are where we are and have no apparent desire to make the changes necessary to overcome it. And that’s just how it is today, Independence Day, 2020.

Graston Technique

I am not a doctor. Nor do I play one on TV or in the movies. However, I am becoming quite knowledgeable in techniques that can be used in the treatment of spine and muscle issues and accompanying pain. I don’t recall signing a release stating I would be willing to be a guinea pig to these treatments in order to help educate my readers, but apparently a higher power has that plan for me.

Recently, I got to experience the Graston Technique. Graston Technique is defined as “a trademarked therapeutic method for diagnosing and treating disorders of the skeletal muscles and related connective tissue. The method employs a collection of six stainless steel tools of particular shape and size, which are used by practitioners to rub patients’ muscles in order to detect and resolve adhesions in the muscles and tendons. Practitioners must be licensed by the parent corporation in order to use the Graston Technique trademark or the patented instruments. Several examples of Graston treatment have been used in contact sports where scars and contusions are common.”

The best way I can describe it, from my experience, is that it involves a pressured scraping motion over a specific area of skin in a back and forth repetition. Dr. Craig put a few drops of a scented oil on the area before he began, and also told me to let him know if it got too painful. The first area he addressed was between my neck and shoulder on the right side, where I’ve been experiencing the aftermaths of the dislocated shoulder. I sensed that he started out with just a little pressure and continued to apply more pressure while moving the instrument back and forth. It got painful, and I know I made a couple of ‘cringy‘ faces along the way, but I was determined I was going to prove I was not the wimp he thought I was through the cupping sessions, and I didn’t make a sound the entire time. It might have lasted three minutes. He then also did the same treatment just above my elbow, where I’d been experiencing some jabbing pains. I got through that as well, though I mentioned that it was more painful than the one on my shoulder (less fat for absorption, probably?). But, at the end of the treatment, I wasn’t in tears or even close to being so. So I called it a success!

The next two days, I know that the area around my neck and shoulder was very sensitive to touch, but there was no bruising of any kind. By day five, I didn’t feel any sensitivity in the area there and had experienced none at the elbow area. After what I’d suffered through with multiple cupping sessions, I now claimed it a major success!

And a week later, when I went back for my appointment, I could report that I had had absolutely zero pain in my shoulder/neck area, other than the topical sensitivity issues right after treatment. This was a huge breakthrough! Furthermore, what pain issues I still had I was able to pinpoint and describe. There is an area in my upper arm, centered between my shoulder and my elbow, that feels like it contains a used, dry sponge. If you’re at all familiar, you know that it’s nearly impossible to manipulate or stretch a used, dry sponge. And that’s exactly how it feels. When I try to do my exercises or overextend my use of that arm, it feels like when it’s time for those muscles to respond accordingly, they just don’t! And it’s painful there when I try. Only occasionally anymore, and only for a brief amount of time, do I get the stabbing, radiating pain and it’s always when I don’t take my time reaching for something. But I’m using my arm more frequently again for normal routines, and ignoring the pain when necessary to accomplish a personal hygiene task. At my last visit, when Dr. Craig put me through the mobility tests, he says the mobility is increasing – that I’m moving more before reaching the pain level at which I’m supposed to stop. It doesn’t feel like there has been a change to me – to be honest, I think it’s more that my pain level tolerance is increasing. But hey, something’s happening!

I’m still frustrated that it seems like there is a long road in front of me yet. I’m starting to convince myself that I may have to learn to live with this limitation for the rest of my life. But then again, who knows what other tricks Dr. Craig has up his sleeve???

It’s All Trash

I’ve got a folder on my laptop entitled, “Future Blog Ideas”. In it are memes and one- or two-line phrases of thoughts quickly inspired by a moment but which need more fleshing out in order to become actual posts. Additionally, I’ve got two partially written posts in draft on here and a third partially written post I’ve already moved to the trash file.

Right now, it’s all trash. I didn’t feel that way when I collected the ideas or started out writing a post. But I’ve looked at and re-looked at it for several days now, and it all continues to be uninspiring.

I don’t know why I feel that way about it. I’ve internally inspected myself the last same days to see if I recognize any thoughts or behaviors which, from experience, have been pre-cursors to a depressive episode. Nothing is there. I don’t feel sad, or melancholy or even what my bestie and I call “meh”. Honestly, I don’t feel much of anything.

At this time last week, something big happened that rocked the world for everyone that was a part of a community I’d been involved with for about 8 months. Alleged accounts of predatory sexual behavior and racism both came to light in a very short amount of time within the community. As a result, the rest of the community sat angrily, waiting for those allegations to be addressed. Instead, the community leaders made known that, quickly, without warning and without addressing those issues, the community was being disbanded and the doors to the community meeting place were being locked shut. I felt a whole lot then – anger and horror for the members who had invested a lot of energy and time into making the community grow. I also felt helpless – unable to find a way to make things better for those who were hit the hardest by the decision to lock us out. And I felt sad about the loss of this community, where many people had become like family to me.

Fortunately, another place for us to gather had always been available, and much of the community rallied to go there and bring the greatness within us back to life. As much as this other place to gather was a lot more inconvenient to me, I didn’t want to lose being with these great people, so I agreed to meet there as well. From the outside looking in, one would interpret that nothing has changed except the venue that holds our meetings. The people are the same great people inside it, but it just doesn’t feel ‘homey’, for lack of a better word, like the other place always did.

Perhaps my struggle with that is why everything else I can think about to pen here feels like trash. Maybe I’ve lost some of my footing and don’t know where to go with whatever thoughts or feelings I’m having. Maybe having this happen – and have it affect so many people – makes me think that all of my thoughts and feelings just don’t seem to matter in the grander scheme of things.

I like having a blog. I like this source where I can go and be authentic behind the anonymity of a computer screen. I’ve often told others that blogging is something that often allows me to ‘let it go’ and then grasp again a sense of sanity. I’ve never thought that my blog posts were trash. But to be honest, I just feel like writing blog posts is a chore right now.

I know I’m not alone. I follow other blogs in which the writers have stated this same funk. But I still feel like I should be able to overcome it – because I’ve overcome far more complex emotional ‘funks’ before. Or maybe….maybe being in a funk and being a bit numb to my emotions is exactly where I need to be right now. Nothing has changed on either the political or pandemic crises and it’s getting old. In a sense, it’s like the old ‘waiting for the other shoe to drop’ feeling. And we all know that patience is not my strong suit! If the asshole in office in this country is going to be reelected for a second term, if a second wave of the virus is going to once again plague the country (and world), then just DO IT ALREADY!

Maybe I’m just afraid to have hope that things will improve because there is a good chance that they won’t. Whatever it is, I just wanted to alert my readers that my posts may be sporadic in the coming future, unless they correlate to things I can share – like hacks – that don’t require me to feel. Anything else is trash.

The Anne Frank Philosophy

Even if you’ve never actually read any books about the diaries of Anne Frank, I have to believe that by simply saying her name, you have recognition of who she was and what she lived through and that her spirit shone through all of it. If you don’t have a single clue, stop reading this now and do a search on “Anne Frank” and find some of this out!

Anne Frank is remembered for several quotes that speak of her gracious spirit. Some of them include, “I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more” and “I must uphold my ideals, for perhaps the time will come when I shall be able to carry them out”. But my favorite, and to me the most memorable, was taken from a longer diary entry but says, on its own, “…because, in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

Although my life experiences have given me plenty of reason to be cynical – and I am cynical to a small degree – I still carry on much of the hope that was part of Anne Frank’s being. For example, I trust people to be their authentic selves with me because I present my authentic self to them. I love people freely not despite their flaws, but despite my own. When I began working through my issues and still carrying around the ways people hurt me, reminding myself that they were good people who made bad choices helped me reach forgiveness so much faster. In many presidencies, when I’ve disagreed with political choices that I felt hindered humanity as a whole, I reminded myself that the President didn’t wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and ask himself, “Hmmm, what can I do to F___ up the country today?” I used this tactic often, as well, as I looked at some of the ways my parents parented, reminding myself that they didn’t wake up and ponder how they could screw up their kids that day.

There are a few definitions of the word hope, but all of them center around the idea of a want for something to happen or to be true, and usually have a good reason to think that it might. Anne Frank, despite hiding out in a darkened attic while Germany attempted to occupy the Netherlands and to take all Jews into concentration camps, kept hope alive in her heart and in her being.

I can easily admit that it isn’t easy holding on to hope as we look at our world today. I still want the world to somehow right itself, but my reasoning that it might has reached an all-time low. And yet, there is always a glimmer of hope present. Like Anne Frank, I believe that people are basically good. They may be acting out in really bad ways, but I can also step back and ponder that they have never been taught how to deal with the anger and distaste of what is happening. I surely did not have a good role model for dealing with anger and the sense of being out-of-control. In fact, I exhibited some of the behaviors that I was taught for many years. Like many of our behaviors, we use what we’ve been taught to use. And so while inappropriate use of that anger is still a choice, it may well be that those doing so don’t know any better/anything different. Each of us must choose to break the cycle of things we’ve been taught – from racism to sexual abuse to hatred and anger. We must be willing to look inside ourselves and question if what we experienced in learning those things are what we want to teach others. But we need a safe place in order to process that – and a strong desire to want to change. As a survivor of childhood incest, I would NEVER want someone else to suffer the damage that occurred to me through that. As a child for whom discipline contained a wooden paddle and suffering beneath it until the user’s anger had subsided, I would NEVER want to terrorize anyone with the kind of fear (and welts) I suffered through. My wish is that each person suffering from fear and anger would find a way to manage those emotions in much healthier ways. Unlike Anne Frank, I don’t believe without question that it will happen… or at least, not in my remaining lifetime. And I admit that, on rare occasion, my anger still gets the better of me and I lash out with my weapon of choice – my words – in an inappropriate and hurtful way. But I’m immediately contrite in those rare instances and own up to and apologize for my inappropriate behavior.

Let’s be honest – I don’t have the answer for how to fix what is going on in our society today. But I can encourage you to take a step back from people who are creating the havoc and try to be compassionate in understanding what motivates them to behave in the ways they are choosing to behave. Try and recognize what they may have suffered or are still suffering that makes them behave that way. It will not change them. But it might change you…

Words of Gratitude

I’m sure you, or someone you know, has uttered words similar to, “Thank you seems so inadequate for what you’ve done”. That’s exactly how I felt after reading the so many positive comments to my last post. It wasn’t difficult to write that post. Every thought that was put down was something that was in the forefront of both my mind and heart. I believe it was necessary to write the words, if only that it gave them voice. Publishing it, however, was another story. I was terrified that people would read it and, beyond a reasonable doubt, discover that I was an emotionally messed-up person pretending to be a strong and rational adult. I don’t think I thought I would see a bunch of negative comments, more that no one would “like” it, much less respond with support and understanding.

Those who have followed my blog for a long while know that it has moved from starting out with the desire to write deliciously descriptive posts that would allow the readers to use their imaginations in creating visual pictures from those words. Then, it turned into being somewhat of a ‘food blog” as I shared recipes and kitchen hacks. Lately, it seems to have developed into a self-growth exploration. I don’t know how long that genre will last, since the idea of being constantly vulnerable with strangers isn’t really appealing.

But, back to my subject….. So many of you made such supportive comments. Many of you also shared that you struggle with the same issue! You can’t begin to know the impact of your words on me! I was relatively sure I was a weirdo for having this issue, and certain no one else could even begin to know the impact of that struggle. But I’m not alone – and if I’m a weirdo, I’m not the only one! (Shout-out to all the weirdos!!!!)

The love and support of your comments wrapped itself around me and took me to a place of safety in being okay with myself despite this struggle. “Thank you” is truly inadequate to express my gratitude for this most generous gift! My heart aches to find the words to truly tell you how much your support has changed me. But until those words appear by magic, know that I hold that love and support tight in my heart….

When is enough enough?

I had the opportunity very recently to discover something about myself which is causing me to really think and try to uncover if what I’ve discovered is something that needs changing. I’ll be honest right now and say that exploring this through my blog is going to be a bit uncomfortable, as it exposes my vulnerability, but I think – or at least, hope – that what I share here speaks to one of my readers.

I grew up in a home that was neither physically nor verbally affectionate. Both parents worked outside the home and were busy with other activities beyond their jobs. I only have a few memories of spending time with my dad’s family but in those memories, I don’t recall a lot of affection or praise either. That is equally true in my mom’s family. A hug hello and goodbye, often required by the young children to their aunts and uncles, were all that was given at gatherings. I do, however, recall quite vividly that the easiest way to get parental attention was to do something wrong – from getting caught sneaking a quarter from mom’s wallet to buy a candy bar at the community pool to any bad behaviors at school – we were at the forefront of a parent’s attention. As the only girl, and born between two brothers, I chose often to be the ‘good’ child in order to remain invisible to that kind of traumatic attention. Don’t get me wrong, I was far from perfectly behaved, but I guess I was pretty good at hiding what I’d done wrong and being well-behaved and dutiful as my punishments happened far more rarely.

I do recall that, while not spoken of one-on-one, great positive accomplishments were noticed and used to share with neighbors and friends. This is much like the bumper stickers you see on cars that say, “My child is on the honor role”. In a sense, it was bragging rights to show others how well you’ve trained or taught your children without praising the actual child. It became ingrained in me early on that the only way my parents were going to speak positively about me, even if only to others, was to “do” more and “be” more. I can’t begin to count all of the choices I’ve made in my life that were, subconsciously and sometimes consciously, made in order to please my parents so they could tell me how proud they were of me. Meanwhile, I spent a lot of time and energy on turmoil inside myself, fighting my own authenticity in order to become the person who would finally “do” enough and “be” enough to get the praise I so desperately desired.

It was around a decade birthday (40, if you must know), that I finally admitted to myself that what I needed from my parents they didn’t know how to give. For my birthday, I gave them a booklet of some poetry I’d written over the years, hoping that my voice in black and white might break through to them. When pointedly asked, their response to “what did you think?” was a simple “it’s nice”. That response was a break-through moment for me, realizing that it wasn’t possible for them to “get” me for who I was at the core, and I had to accept that. And slowly, I made small steps to liberate myself from the constant stress of trying to please them and began to realize that I could only be enough for myself – that was the only thing over which I had power and control.

While this liberation was a long process, I thought I had pretty much conquered it. But it came up, loud and clear and very unexpectedly, and in that new realization that it was still present, I began to wonder if all I’d done was change the ways in which I chose to try to “be” enough and “do” enough and that I was still under the spell of trying to be good enough but was still chasing an affirmation of some kind in order to feel worthy. I’ve come to realize that, in some ways, my giving might be tied into wanting some acknowledgement and verbal appreciation. Ironically, that doesn’t hold so true in the ways I share financially as much as it does with the little things I give – and more often, do – for others that, if anything, might get a standard “thanks” but nothing else. Trying to draw a clear line between what I do simply because I want to and what I do that has reasonings that include the desire for validation is difficult right now. I mean, at the core, I will always be a giver, but I do believe that I need to stop doing for someone else’s validation (which I should already know from experience is not going to be forthcoming) and make a conscious choice as to whether I can translate those acts into something that is done without that glimmer of hope that this time, maybe this time, I’ll receive the validation of being worthy…. of being good enough.

Readers, I’m scared. I’m very afraid that if I stop doing those things for others, their need for me in their lives will dwindle. My true circle of friends isn’t huge by any means, but each person in it is important and the relationship matters to me. Do I dare risk the loss of that relationship? Is the cost worth it?

If I move forward despite my reservations, I think my first step needs to be to look at these relationships and ask if I am giving my best to each one. Along with that will be trying to solicit if the person is getting what they need in the relationship, in case there is something I can give but don’t know they want/need. With luck, that may open the door to each of us sharing what things the other needs from us and deciding if it’s something we can willingly and genuinely offer.

Beyond that? I guess stay tuned and find out!

It’s true, but it hurts nonetheless!

Professional Overthinker

This title comes from a tee-shirt I saw recently in a sponsored ad on social media. The moment I saw it, I knew I owned the title, and so, of course, I had to order the shirt as well!

I’ve shared here before about my self-titled diagnosis of RMS – Racing Mind Syndrome. For some, it’s what makes it difficult to fall asleep at night, others (also) go into this mode immediately upon awakening. I tend to have both of those problems but I also go in and out of RMS whenever I don’t have something going on to keep me focused. I can be in RMS while doing menial chores that are done by rote – like washing dishes or folding clothes. I often call them daydreams, places in which I think about potential things upcoming in my life and write a screen play for it as I would like it to happen, should it happen. But I also travel into RMS thinking of the what ifs that could happen in the worst case scenario of things.

When I’m tired enough physically to need to rest or sleep, depending upon the time of day, in order to be able to still my mind, I’ve found a way (don’t ask me how) to turn off the conscious control of my thoughts and let them wonder where they choose to go. Most often, those thoughts are wandering paths of travel, flitting from place to place without accomplishing anything. Sometimes those thoughts are about setting – and controlling – a potential probability of a happening upcoming in my life. Sometimes they can travel around how I would answer a specific question that would be asked of me.

As a person who is a pleaser, I like to ask questions of another to get to know them better. But what might seem as an innocuous and innocent question to another has motive. Asking, “what is your favorite color?’ means I want to know what I should wear around you that will be palatable to your eyes. “What is your favorite type of movie (or book, perhaps)?” means I want to know what makes you comfortable to talk about to keep a conversation going without being awkward. And, to be honest, asking another questions also allows my introverted side to be firmly in place without having to reveal anything about myself until I feel comfortable enough to do so.

After those conversations though, my mind will engage in RMS to relive those conversations and look for clues that tell me more about the psyche of a person. My passionate interest in the psychology of the human mind always leads me there. What are the emotions behind the choice of a favorite color? How are people who choose vibrant red different from people who choose buttercup yellow?

Psychologists and other mental health professionals will try to explain to you why overthinking is unhealthy. I suppose that’s true. Overthinking can make you create problems that don’t exist, keep you mired in thought instead of taking action. Some of those professionals will say that overthinking is when you examine and reexamine negative thoughts, emotions and memories. And I’m going to say that can be very true. But for me, it’s not just about memories, things that have happened in the past. For me, most of the time it is a sense of playing out the future.

I do not have a poker face. My emotions are easily exposed by my face – by a look I get on my face or if my face and neck skin flush. I’m pretty sure that, in the game of poker, I will physically show whether I have a good or bad hand without being aware, much less able to control the signs. Knowing that is a big part of why I hate surprises. Opening gifts is like torture for me! While unwrapping, my brain is repeating the words “Control your disappointment” in my head. It’s not that I have a preconceived notion that I won’t like the gift, but what if I don’t? How will I hide that so the giver doesn’t feel bad? I don’t want to be flourishing with praise, out of fear that the giver will misinterpret it and start gifting similar items. My mind immediately races towards how long I’ll keep the gift before regifting or donating it without feeling too guilty.

I have been lucky over time to find places where I can just be “in the moment” – where the racing thoughts become quieted and I am focused and absorbed by what is happening. Online music streams – especially with my favorite music streamer (yes, you, Desiree, in case you happen to be reading this post!) – pull me into the moment and all thoughts are quieted. I often say that those streams are like therapy to me and I truly believe that!

I know I’m not the only overthinker out there. I read others’ blogs and see that the struggle is real. And, honestly, there are some benefits to being an overthinker. It gives me a place – if only in my mind – to be in control over something I probably won’t have control of in real life. It gives me a chance to process ‘worst case scenario”, to expect to be disappointed so that I can at least move quickly through and past the disappointment. Some would say that makes me cynical and a pessimist. I think of myself as more of an equal opportunity optimist and pessimist. I still look for the best in people and hope for only positive outcomes to things. But I’m also more prepared to deal with less than positive results. I like to think of it more like, “Expect the worst, that way you’re never disappointed” and then, when something better than that happens, you get to feel positive!

How to Identify & Overcome Imposter Syndrome — Dr. Eric Perry

This article really hit a homerun with me, and I hope that, by sharing it with you, you may gain some insight into a part of you that needs to learn to be okay with yourself and to be genuinely yourself with others. For me, an added benefit is is knowing that this is common and I’m not alone in it!

Written by Dr. Eric Perry Image Credit: Pixabay “I have written 11 books but each time I think ‘Uh-oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’” ~Maya Angelou At one time or another in life, we all have felt that perhaps we were […]

How to Identify & Overcome Imposter Syndrome — Dr. Eric Perry

Around-the-House Hacks – III

Just like nail polish isn’t only for ‘females’, baby wipes aren’t only for ‘babies’. I suspect, if you’ve ever potty-trained a toddler, you’ve needed a few of those wipes on hand, even though he/she is a “big boy/girl” now. The truth is, they make a wipe for adults for that extra clean feeling, but baby wipes are the same thing, and often much less expensive!

But there are ways to use baby wipes, both in and out of the bathroom, for more than just wiping bums. In the bathroom, baby wipes can be used to tidy up a dirty sink or shine the chrome of your fixtures. Just make sure to have a clean, dry cloth or paper towel to wipe away any streaks. This is a fast fix when company shows up unannounced!

Many models and cosmetitians in the industry swear by baby wipes for removing make-up! It’s less messy than pouring make-up remover on a small cotton ball or swab, and tends to be more effective than those removers, especially on eye liner.

Have a pair of patent leather or leather shoes that always seem to be dull? Baby wipes can bring the shine back quickly. A bonus is that the baby-soft moisturizer in the wipe will hydrate the material to keep it from getting dry and cracking.

Believe it or not, some brands of baby wipes – Huggies, for example – are strong enough to be laundered and then reused for dusting or cleaning rags for mild clean-ups. (Just in case it needs to be mentioned, please only consider laundering mildly soiled wipes for future use!)

Use a baby wipe to wipe up coffee spills from your carpet (I’ve spilled often, trying to carry a “filled-to-the rim” coffee cup from the kitchen to another room!). The wipe will both blot up the liquid and the stain. They do the same thing for upholstered furniture.

We all (hopefully) occasionally remember to shake out or use an air-duster product on PC keyboards to clear dust and debris. But that’s just half the job! We should also be wiping down the keys and other portions to get rid of dried on gunk and, believe it or not, the dead skin cells that build up wherever your wrist is supported by the keyboard. Your body oils and skin build up on surfaces you touch pretty quickly – you can probably see that by looking at your mouse! – and while disinfecting wipes work too, the chemicals in them will seep into the plastic over time.

If you and/or your kids tend to snack or eat fast-food meals in your vehicle, look for some trial/travel size packets of baby wipes. Not only can they be used for a more thorough clean than napkins, but remember, they can also be used to blot up any stains that accidentally get on your car upholstery. The trial/travel packs are perfect to tuck in your glove compartment. And ladies? It never hurts to have a small pack in your purse as well!

I hope you’ve found these hacks helpful, and I’m sure we’d all love to hear of any additional uses you may have discovered!

My Weekend with St. Jude

I wrote a blog post a while ago about my discovery of family called The Mixer Community. Mixer is a streaming platform which was created for streaming video games, but has since expanded to include streams of radio and music and just about anything you’d want to sit and be part of. I have been blessed to be introduced to live musician performances on the platform, and feel like, although I still visit other types of streams, this is truly the niche that speaks to my heart.

Twenty-four Mixer live musicians of many different genres of music and instruments banded together to put on a 72-hour continuous stream of music – 3 hours each – as a charity event to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. To incentivize donations, streamers offered their song lists with a pledge amount needed in order to request a song. Other incentives, for higher pledges, included ‘live learns’ – where the streamer has to learn a song they don’t know while streaming during this event. Others offered a crazy bunch of incentives for huge donations like handwritten love letters, handwritten lyrics and CDs of original music, playing blindfolded, shaving their heads, dressing in costumes, adding layers of clothing… heck I can’t remember them all!

The original goal was set to raise $15,000. That was hit in about 12 hours. The goal kept being increased throughout the event – $25,000 then $40,000 and then $50,000. Each goal along the way would get smashed. The final 3-hour stream started with $42,000 +, and ended over the $50,000 goal!

I was not in every 3-hour segment, but I was in many of them. I discovered a handful of new musician streamers I didn’t know about and will since follow. I’ll admit that one or two of them weren’t my “cup of tea” but….. The two most important streams for me were Johnny & Heidi, whose slot was on Saturday evening, and Lady Desiree, my most favorite streamer, who finished the event. These are two streamers to which I have been loyal since discovering them.

I wish I could, in words, describe the emotions – the tears, the love, the joy – that was present throughout the event. It was truly that “you had to be there” to understand, but I promise you would have felt it too. Viewers at different times in different streams ranged from 200+ people to over 1000 people… all of them hyped and emotional and caught up in both the music and the experience.

In the crazy state of our world today, these musical streams have become a place for me to go to escape and just surrender to the moment and to just live in the moment. It is, in a way, my therapy – a place where I can go and just be authentically me (whomever I am at the moment) and feel safe and unjudged.

I could go on and on and on and on and yet, you truly “had to be there” to understand the emotional impact such a place can provide. From times of goosebumps to times of laughter (bald Johnny in a purple wig! a singing potato!) to times of tears, my heart overflowed throughout the weekend.

Each of these musicians donated their time, energy and talents. Moderators for the streams provided organization of song requests and donations, also donating their time and energy. We as a group who supported them are getting their accolades, but truly, they deserve our undying gratitude for the love for St. Jude’s and what it does for the children and for making it possible for us to be enriched by their talents!

(Oh, I also got to sneak away for another outside visit with my bestie on Sunday afternoon!)

Through the wonders of technology, I had the most incredible weekend getaway of my life!

A man totally in touch with his feminine side!
The streamer’s eyes and mouth – which did move when he spoke!