RAK the Advent Calendar

It’s December 1.  CoCo gave all her nieces and nephews a chocolate-filled advent calendar.  Today they will open the first little door and find a sweet surprise.

I presented CoCo and Loved-One with another kind of advent calendar. A Random Acts of Kindness Calendar.  

Won’t you join me?

thanksgiving - 6

I wish I came up with the idea on my own, but I borrowed it from Coffee Cups and Crayons. Hop over to Megan’s blog for lots of great kids ideas for the holidays.  She’s even got a blank RAK calendar, if you prefer to make your own list of RAKs.  Me?  I’m using her example, with perhaps a few tweaks.

Gratitude Monday: Overstuffed

To my Aussie, Canadian friends, and those new friends from Europe and South America, this past Thursday was Thanksgiving.  

Sunday started Advent, which is the beginning of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.  So, I began out dinner with Pope Francis’s prayer for Mercy. I’m reproducing it here, because it seems like a great way to start each day, especially in the aftermath of so much recent violence.

Lord Jesus Christ,

you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father,

and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him.

Show us your face and we will be saved.

Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money;

the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things;

made Peter weep after his betrayal,

and assured Paradise to the repentant thief.

Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us, the words that you spoke to the Samaritan woman:

“If you knew the gift of God!”

You are the visible face of the invisible Father,

of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy:

let the Church be your visible face in the world, its Lord risen and glorified.

You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in weakness

in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error:

let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God.

Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with its anointing,

so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace from the Lord,

and your Church, with renewed enthusiasm, may bring good news to the poor,

proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed,

and restore sight to the blind.

We ask this through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy,

you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.


Added to that, in no particular order some of my more mundane blessing:

 Indoor pools and early morning swims. Both Saturday and Sunday, Loved-One and I got a swim in at the local health club.  What a great way to greet the day.

Calligraphy pens.  I got a set years ago as a present.  The process is centering and the outcome is really rather beautiful.

 DIY projects with CoCo.  I really do love the way she likes to make gifts for people.  Sometimes I must breathe deep into patience, as my desire to hurry to other activities tries to overtake me.

Young love.  Mr. B is entirely smitten with Miss E’s best friend.  Remember the tingly feeling of just being next to the one you love? I do. I think the sparks flew right off of them and sprinkled down on all of us. Ahhhhh….

 Freelance work.  This month, I’m working on outreach by different community organizations.  A local city collected over 60,000 pounds of food for the Food Bank.  I meet so many wonderful people through this job. Plus, last month I learned how to make First Snow Cherry Pie from a woman I interviewed.

Left-overs.  Yup! Turkey salad today.  Turkey noodle soup tomorrow.  Cranberries in my steel-cut oatmeal is the best way to have oatmeal.  A still a lot of pie left to nibble.



 Cat nuzzles.  When the front door shut on the last visitor, Sasha climbed into my lap and buried her head on my chest.  I’m pretty sure her vibe said, “sweet, sweet silence, at last.” Perhaps that was my vibe.

 And don’t forget the candy-making.  What fun for all of us.  I am so grateful for this tradition.  It’s so much more fun for me than shopping.


STEM Tuesday: Gratitude is Good for Your Heart

bridgethanks(Yesterday, as I drove CoCo to work, I listened to my favorite radio station, WBEZ. The mellow voice of Bob Edwards introduce

It was Gratitude Monday, and the week of Thanksgiving, so of course I listened up.

Paul Mills, a professor of family medicine and public health at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, already knew that gratitude helps fend off depression.  He wondered if it could make a difference in physical health.  So he decided to do a study.  A much more rigorous study than the one I did with the “miracle” face cream.

Mills recruited a bunch of men and women who already had signs of heart disease. (186 people, average age 66) First he asked them to fill out a questionnaire to measure their level of gratitude.  He found that the more grateful people were, the healthier they were. “They had less depressed mood, slept better and had more energy,” he said. Next he took some measurements.  The people who seemed more grateful, according to the questionnaire, had lower levels of inflammation, “which is the body’s response to injury or plaque build up in arteries.” They also slept better, had more energy, and reported less periods of depressed moods.

The results were pretty interesting to Mills, so he did a small follow-up study with just 40 patients. He recorded some baseline heart disease data like inflammation and heart rhythm. He asked half the people to keep a journal of two or three things they were grateful for. After two months, Mills retested the 40 patients.

Guess what?

 Inflammation levels were reduced, and heart rhythm improved. And when he compared their heart disease risk before and after journal writing, there was a decrease in risk after two months of writing in their journals.

Mills submitted the results to a journal and is waiting for publication.  He thinks it’s because gratitude reduces stress, a huge factor in heart disease.

“Taking the time to focus on what you are thankful for,” he says, “letting that sense of gratitude wash over you — this helps us manage and cope.”

So taking a little time each week to count your blessings is not just good for your figurative heart, it’s good for your literal heart, too.

Gratitude Monday: Thanksgiving

 One day to concentrate on gratitude.  Today, I heard that gratitude can actually make you healthier.  Keeping a daily journal of the things that make us give thanks can actually reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, etc.  (More on that tomorrow.)

For today, here are some of the things that bring me gratitude.

 Snow. Yes, we got over a foot of really wet, heavy stuff.  It’s so pretty.  Now leaves fall on top of the snow, imprinting the white with a collage of color.

 A still strong body. My shoulders got tight, and my neck’s a little stiff, but I shoveled.  A little at a time is all I had to do, which brings me to the third thing on my list.

 Working from home.  Yes, I can enjoy the beauty without the pain.  Lucky, lucky me.

 Instilled independence.  I got it from my mom, I gave it to my kids.  CoCo talked me into going into Chicago on the Metra, just to show me she could navigate her way around.  She consulted the schedule, she took me into the French quarter, she walked me to the parade.  She wants to go alone. (uhh… NO.  I said independence, not foolhardiness.)

 A fireplace, gas starters, and long Sundays.  The snow looks just that much prettier with a backdrop of logs burning slowly, while I leisurely sit and do whatever I want to do, which is mostly read.

 Friendly customer service people.  I think Kevin, from Pondliner might have chatted all afternoon, if I wanted to.  He answered my questions about a heater, he offered advice about algae removers, he told me about filter sales.  He never asked me to buy anything. (I will.)

 An “app for that.” I can now buy Metra tickets from my phone and forgot about that pesky scrap of paper, or losing the 10-ride pass.

 Giant cotton balls of snow on empty branches.  As the snow melts, these lovely pillows of white remains.  Nature can be so beautiful.

All kids here for Thanksgiving dinner.  Nuff said.

Father Winter (in the window of Macy's) You can just make out CoCo outside the window.

Father Winter (in the window of Macy’s) You can just make out CoCo looking into the window.


Photo Friday: Cold Front

Yup, it arrived. 

These are two versions of the same shot.  The first one looks rather ominous, while the second one is almost beautiful. Both seem surreal. If I hadn’t seem it myself, I might not believe it real.

Cold front - 1 (1)
Cold front - 1 (2)

What do you think?

Check out some terrific photos at Pierced Wonderings.

Pierced Wonderings

Wrinkle Experiment Week 6

I created created this video after week 6, which was September 30.  I had a good time making the video and less fun uploading it to YouTube.  For some reason, my login box  no longer appeared on the screen.  In alignment with my nature, I set about to solve the problem myself.  When will I learn to search for help?  Yup, I found the answer right there in the “official YouTube help” screen.  Clear the cookies.

Through the experiment, I asked  30 people which hand looks younger. Three people said the left hand, one person answered a question that wasn’t asked, and 26 people said the hand that I applied the miracle working cream.

One jar of cream lasted six weeks for my face, neck, and one hand.

Here is my week 1 photo:

Photo on 9-2-15 at 1.09 PM


Week 2:

Photo on 9-9-15 at 2.37 PM

Week 3:

Photo on 9-24-15 at 2.55 PM

And my week six video:


You may have seen Beverly Hills Sculpting Cream advertised.  Loved-One sees a difference. I do too.

I have enough faith in the Sculpting Cream that I plan to put it in a Christmas Grab bag.  My sister, who shares the same skin type as mine, is an interpreter for the deaf. Her clients often interrupt her and offer remedies for her dry hands.  I hope she “wins” my present.  I may just take a spare along, just in case.


There should be an app for that

 The drop in:  Go over to their house and knock on the back door. (The front door was for salesmen and strangers.) If no one was home, you left a note, or came back.

 The ring up:  Pick up the phone and dial the number in your area code. (Calling long distance meant an emergency) If you no one answered, you called back.

 The send off:  A letter sent to someone too far for the first too.  A letter in the mail meant someone really cared. An upside down stamp or SWAT written across the seal meant love.

Now communication is so simple it’s become complex. No one listens to voice mail. Some people instant message, some text, some communicate in Facebook groups, some prefer emails.  Some like to SnapChat. The drop-in is impolite.

As Thanksgiving approaches, here’s how I communicate with my four kids:

  1. Text a group message to everyone: Don’t group text Wrestler #1.  Only text Wrestler #2 certain hours because according to him, texting requires an immediate response. So far, I have two yeses, an I don’t know, and one unresponsive. I’m keeping it to myself which one is Wrestler #2.
  2. Post on our Family Facebook Group.  Wrestler #2 suggested this as communal bulletin board. He even helped me set it up. Then he stopped using Facebook.
  3. Email.  CeCe and CoCo don’t read or rarely respond to email. Wrestler #1 has about six email addresses, Wrestler #2 uses his for work only. Loved-One has so many emails, mine gets lost.
  4. Telephone.  Even though no one answers the phone anymore due to too many canvassers, robo-dial political calls, and solicitations. No one listens to voicemail either. Loved-One won’t return calls with no messages. Everyone else leaves this message, “call me.” Wrestler #2 answers phone calls because he thinks it might be an emergency, then gets a bit annoyed when it isn’t. CeCe’s voicemail prompts the called to text her.
  5. Send a group invite through Facebook or E-vite. Ask for an RSPV. (Good luck)
  6. Snap-chat. Not everyone has it, but Miss E is pretty responsive.
  7. Shared calendar.  This seemed like a good idea.  I’m sure it was, since it was mine. CeCe never puts anything on it. Wrestler #1 puts everything on it. Wrestler #2 says it’s too confusing. CoCo reminds me of each event.  Loved-One likes it.
  8. US Postal service.  The invite will be posted on the refrigerator. I feel appreciated, but still a bit in the dark.
  9. Face to face. No one writes it down.  Loved-One forgets. I forget what people told me.

Everyone has their preferred method and how they think the other methods should be used. I’m still not sure who’s coming to Thanksgiving Dinner. It’ll be worse as Christmas approaches and my siblings begin to communicate. With eight siblings, their spouses, children, and grandchildren, it’s like a  TORTIPHICANE (a tornado inside a typhoon inside a hurricane.)

I wish someone would create an app that could automatically send a message I create via the receivers preferred method of communication.  The app could have an option to send a slight “shock in the pocket” (SIP) everyday until the receiver sends Respond If You Please. (RIYP.)

Am I the only one with communication problems?  How do you handle communicating with grown children or extended family? Is there an app builder out there who can fill my request?

I'm ready. What are we waiting for?

I’m ready. What are we waiting for?

Gratitude Monday

I spent the weekend on the road: sitting in the car, sitting in the pee-wee football stands, sitting in a hotel.  I had a lovely getaway. And, I’m so happy to be back home again.  Here’s my list in no particular order:

 Cuddly cat sisters.  It really is nice to have a companion who sits on my lap while I stroke her.  When they come in pairs, it’s just that much nicer.

My Office Manager

My Office Manager

  Yoga.  I mad today’s intention gratitude.  Along with several things that popped up, was the very practice.  Plus, my muscles shouted out, “too much sitting” in a way they rarely do.

  Children with good manners.   I ran into some people who lacked manners this weekend. Perhaps that highlighted that I take it for granted the consistency “please and thank you,” Continue reading