Three Things I Learned Last Week (November 2019 #4)

  1. What Makes A Must-Have Christmas Toy? This was the title and topic of last Thursday’s “Stuff You Should Know” podcast.

One thing I learned during this highly entertaining and nostalgic episode was the existence of “The vintage Christmas catalog archive… launched in 2006, with the initial scanning project having started a year earlier in 2005. From the outset, the goal of the WishbookWeb project has been to archive, preserve, and share the wonderful holiday gift catalogs of the past – making them freely-available to anyone with a web browser.”

The archive ranges from 1942-1996. I was born in 1980 so naturally I spent some time beholding the 1985-1992 catalogs, prime years for my catalog wishlist shopping days. Before the internet and smart phones and tablets, kids would sit down with these catalogs and a marker, circling items of interest for their parents to keep in mind.

During my trip down memory lane I was reminded how much simpler life was just 30-some years ago. Books, walkie-talkies, roller skates, tents (so many tents), and boom boxes. I was mostly looking at the toys but the fashion pages are definitely something to behold as well.

Everything in these catalogs were “must-haves” at the time. Very few turned out to be timeless but here’s to you Nintendo and Star Wars. You’ve done well.

The Catalogs!

  1. Are you familiar with the name Adam Mosseri? I wasn’t but last week I learned that he is the head of the must-have app loved by millions, Instagram. His name came on my radar when I came upon an article in LinkedIn about Instagram toying with the idea of removing “likes”.

“Today a small portion of people on Instagram worldwide will no longer be able to see the number of likes other people’s photos get. Our hope is to better understand how this idea changes how people feel about using our platform, particularly young people.”

They want followers to focus on what you are sharing rather than how many likes the post gets. Only you would be able to see the total number of likes on your posts.

After reading some of the responses, it was very clear that this idea is NOT what the people want. Basically, the majority of the feedback was “If you change this platform, we will quit you.”

Coincidentally, I had also recently learned about a thing called virtue signaling and public likes on Instagram are loosely tied to that. Virtue Signaling is the sharing of one’s point-of-view on a social or political issue, often on social media, in order to gain praise or acknowledgment of one’s righteousness from others who share that point of view. The term has negative connotations as it is commonly used to denote virtuous actions and statements are primarily motivated by a desire for social status and self-satisfaction.

I think it’s safe to say that visible likes are a Must-Have for the majority of Instagram users.

  1. Lastly, among my own personal list of timeless Must-Have’s in life, Kristen Bell (aka Dax Shepard’s wife) is among them. Well, K Bell and Dax are both are must-have’s for me but I digress.

Last Tuesday while (ironically) perusing my Instagram feed, I saw a post by Monica Padman (Dax’s co-host of Armchair Expert podcast) boasting that Kristen had received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame! If you haven’t taken the time to watch/listen to her speech because you’re over all the Frozen hype, let it go 🤓 I won’t give any spoilers, but it was clever, witty, and exactly perfect in every possible way.

Three Things I Learned Last Week (November 2019 #3)

1. Last Wednesday I listened to an episode of the podcast Stuff You Should Know (otherwise known as SYSK) titled, “Augmented Reality: Coming Soon?” and I ended up learning quite a bit. The main thing I learned (and have told no less than 10 people since) is the difference between augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality. I’m paraphrasing the podcast but the lesson was basically this: virtual reality takes you to a different world while augmented reality brings elements of another world to you.

A few popular augmented reality app examples include Pokemon Go, Wizards Unite from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the Ink Hunter app that lets you try on tattoos without the commitment and, of course, those Snapchat filters we love so much. Yes, that’s you sitting on your couch but you’re also magically wearing cat ears and glasses and you have whiskers! Also, more practical but not as fun as cat ears, most smart phones generally include Global Positioning System (GPS) to spot the user’s location and its compass to detect device orientation, which is an AR application.

Moving beyond applications, the ZenFone AR claims to be the world’s first smart phone with AR technology and is out there on the market. Apparently you can point it at a corner of a room and the measurements of the corner will pop up on the screen. Granted, I think there are probably apps that can do that as well, but I didn’t research this too deeply. 🤔

I also learned about a company called Brain Power™, which has an augmented-reality system for autism called Empowered Brain™. I did visit the website because as a person who has been working with children with autism for over ten years and someone who is very curious about AR, how could I not take the time to find out more information. The AR system is basically a pair of eye glasses that look very much like the Google Glasses that never really took off. Smart phones = cha ching $$. Smart glasses = a big bowl of collective “Nooope”.

According to the website’s mission:

Our mission is to help you empower the brains of people with invisible neural challenges. Empowered Brain helps teachers to empower their students (young children up to transitioning adults) with augmented reality experiences that teach them social-emotional skills in a social setting. The heads-up system engages and motivates students in a gamified way, and automatically generates data on their progress for IEP reports.

Basically, listening to that one podcast led me down a rabbit hole of technology. Some of it with practical uses and some that is strictly entertaining. Either way, I can now explain what augmented reality is.

2. On Thursday I came across a post on Facebook made by my local library branch. The post indicated that they would be having a “Temporary Closure” for bathroom renovations. The length of the temporary closure? “December 1 through February.”

Three months for a bathroom renovation? Does this seem a little unreasonable to anyone else?” I thought. After reading some of the comments under that post, it turned out a lot of people had the same reaction as I did. My favorite may have been the response to the following comment: That’s a loooong time to renovate a couple small restrooms.

The reply: They have a lot of reading matter to get through while they test-drive the new toilets. 😂

The funny thing is I found myself thinking, “They should get a contractor with a few of those ZenFones to help that project along. Use that AR technology to get Oviedo it’s library open!” (Full disclosure: I owe that library a late fee. I have been putting off taking care of that debt and this is a perfect excuse to prolong my procrastination.)

3. I was in Target last week in real life, walking down the peanut butter isle because between Brad, Freyja and myself we go through copious amounts of the stuff. As per a typical Target run, I found something else on that trip that wasn’t on my list and didn’t even know I needed until I saw it.

Enter Mike’s Hot Honey. That’s right. Honey infused with chilies. It was the packaging that caught my eye since it looked similar to a bottle of hot sauce. Just a few day’s prior I had initiated a five minute conversation with someone about honey, primarily how delicious whipped honey is. Then suddenly, I’m learning there is hot honey to indulge in? Take my money, I’m emotionally invested.

According to their website, the product is “Honey with a Kick: Honey infused with Chili Peppers: a unique combo of sweetness and heat that adds the perfect kick to all your favorite foods.

I saw images of this hot honey being drizzled on pizza, ribs, corn, waffles, salad, cheese, fruit and ice cream and my mind was blown. It’s almost hot toddy weather and I plan to make one with this stuff. A gallon jug of this stuff runs $119.00 but I think the bees are worth it. Plus, a 12 oz squeeze bottle seemed like an outright bargain at only $10!

As impressive and entertaining as all this AR technology is, one thing it can’t do is allow you to taste things. There are some things that you just have to experience in real life, no technology needed. I hope that no matter what technology has to offer, I never outgrow how much happiness the little simple things bring.

Three Things I Learned Last Week (November 2019 #2)

1. I’d like to think my perception of details is fairly advanced. At one point in time my resume boasted “Attention to detail” as an asset I possess. Last week I learned that while I may be advanced in this skill, I’m definitely not a master of it.

While online shopping for some fall decorations for the office with our very intelligent and perceptive Clinical Director, Chrystal, we came across a set of six decorative pumpkins that spelled out the word “thanks”. We loved the colors, the font, and the overall appeal of these pumpkins. They would be perfect for fall and we thought specifically to place them on the ledge above the double doors at the entrance to the lobby. Done and done.

When the package arrived a few days later in a box only slightly larger than a hardback novel and weighing less than an average woman’s shoe, I was perplexed. “This must be a mistake. This isn’t large enough for even one, let alone six, decorative pumpkins🤔” I said out loud to my supervisor Julio, who was sitting next to me.

The package was opened, half of it being styrofoam sandwiching the items, and inside were all six pumpkins with the letters t-h-a-n-k-s. I didn’t know what to say as I looked at them all lined up on a very small portion of my desk. Julio broke the silence by saying, “I thought they’d be bigger.” as he also stared at them.

I did too!” I said defensively to which he replied “Didn’t you look at the dimensions?”😳


I picked up the h, the smallest of the patch, and held it up outside of the window looking into Chrystal’s office. She looked up, initially applauding at the sight a cute pumpkin only to frown a second later and say, “It’s so tiny!”😧

Clearly we had both perceived this set of six decorative pumpkins to be exactly what we were looking for, the perfect size for the space we were planning to display them. We had imagined the details would match our perception of the photo.

We learned you shouldn’t judge a pumpkin by it’s photo.

2. After learning the importance of paying attention to the details of product descriptions on Amazon, I also stumbled upon a lesson in the importance of paying attention to the details of your brain and body chemistry.

Last Tuesday I randomly came across a quote on Pinterest that read, “The moment you change your perception is the moment you rewrite the chemistry of your body.” Loved it, pinned it, shared it on my Instagram because it struck a chord with me. The quote was attributed to Dr. Bruce Lipton. I wasn’t familiar with him so I did a quick Google search and found that his profession was listed as a cell biologist whose discoveries, which ran counter to the established scientific view that life is controlled by the genes, fostered the science of epigenetics.

As much as I wasn’t familiar with Dr. Lipton, I certainly wasn’t familiar with epigenetics. I’m no expert on it now, but what I read in my research delights me. (If Dax Shepard ever has him as a guest on Armchair Expert I would be straight up jubilant).

What is epigenetics? Basically, it’s how gene expression can be influenced by environmental and perceptional factors. So that common belief that anything genetic is just something you’re born with and have to accept, good or bad,  is not exactly the case. Instead of genes controlling life, life controls the genes.

This excerpt I found online from  Bruce Lipton, PhD: The Jump From Cell Culture to Consciousness was an ah-ha moment as I tried to process this epigenetics stuff:

“The blood composition is really the factor that controls the genetic response of the cell. So then, what controls the composition of the culture medium? The blood. So, the brain is the chemist.

That leads us then to the next and more important question: I know the brain is the chemist, but what chemistry should the brain put into the blood? The chemistry put into the blood by the brain is a direct complement to the picture we hold in our mind. In other words, the mind’s image is translated by the brain into chemistry, which then goes to the body to create a physical complement to the image in the mind. In ancient terms, back from the days of the Buddha, 2500 years ago, “What we believe, we become.” Basically, our perception changes the chemistry of our blood.”

Chemistry was not something that interested me in high school or, well, ever, but I could read about and discuss Buddhism and freedom from the fog of illusions created by mistaken perceptions all day. (I feel obligated to add that I’m clearly not enlightened as my recent mistaken perception of aforementioned decorative pumpkins illustrated).

What we believe, we become.” Epigenetics is scientifically proving this philosophy.

3. On July 29, 2019 I started a 100 workout fitness program on Beachbody called “Morning Meltdown 100”. On November 7, 2019 I completed the 100th workout. While commitment isn’t something I necessarily struggle with, fitness is. In July I had made the decision to commit to bettering myself. As someone who also struggles with depression, exercise has always been recommended as it boosts those happy endorphins and is supposed to have benefits to mental health as well as the sought after physical ones.

My body has changed for the fitter after those 100 workouts, but I was surprised by how much they helped me mentally as well. The end of that commitment led me down memory lane to my long-term personal journey with health and fitness.

In college I gained a lot of weight. At a certain point around age 22 I stopped weighing myself because it only made me more depressed. I had never been skinny, but I had reached the point where I was unhealthy. I made a commitment to myself in 2004 to get my body and my mind healthier by focusing on where I wanted to be rather than where I was uncomfortably stuck and align my actions to reaching the goal.

Over the course of a year I lost the majority of that extra weight by changing my eating habits, moving my body and sweating almost every day, and above all, focusing on the positive and celebrating the small milestones along the way to reaching the Me I envisioned in the future.

That was almost 15 years ago and while my weight has fluctuated a little (hello metabolism slowing down in my late 30’s), my commitment to myself and the happier, healthier Me I believed I could become in 2004 has not.

I changed my perception of my circumstance and my body chemistry aligned accordingly to keep me on the track I perceived.

What we believe, we become.” When philosophy meets science, the small details and thoughts you feed yourself add up to extraordinary outcomes.

Three Things I Learned Last Week (November 2019 #1)

1. What do Rob Schneider, Vanilla Ice and Peter Jackson all have in common? I can answer this question now because last week I learned they were all born on October 31st.

Halloween is my favorite holiday (probably because it was the very first holiday I was alive for and celebrated at six days old). Halloween is also quite possibly my favorite day of the year so to have a birthday on Halloween sounds magical. Having said that, I’m very happy with my birth date. I’ve been calling it “Christmas in October” for years because it’s the 25th of October and (spoiler alert) Christmas is ‪the 25th of December‬.

Anyway, last week I came across an article online about celebrities born on Halloween and now I know that Vanilla Ice just turned 52 last Thursday. Also, Vanilla Ice just turned 52?! 😳 I was so startled by that fact I started looking up other celebrities ages, celebrities I know are older than me but never considered a LOT older than me, and I was once again mind-blown when I read Matthew Lillard will be 50 in January. I feel like I was just watching him in “Scream” and “She’s All That” and he was nowhere near 50 at that time. To be fair, I was nowhere near 40 at that time either, yet I just turned 39 last month so….

I guess you’re only as old as you feel when all is said and done, and birthdays on Halloween are pretty cool and something to celebrate.

2. Keeping with the celebratory feels, I spent time with some of my family last week to celebrate my momma and her new husband, Jesus getting married🥳

Over the course of my entire adult life I have been learning that it’s not the stuff, it’s the people in your life that really matter. On Saturday afternoon I was sitting on a couch and when I looked to my right I saw Brad. When I looked to my left, I saw my grandmother. In front of me I could see my aunt and her husband, my momma and Jesus and some of his family and friends. Loneliness has to be one of the worst feelings in the world, so gathering together last week to celebrate two people who have committed to making the world a less lonely place for each other was just another affirmation that friendships, relationships and family are great reasons to celebrate.

3. While I appreciate the value of being social and gathering with people, I’m very much an introvert who mostly appreciates gatherings in small quantities and durations. I’ve known this about myself for basically forever. Saturday night was that magical time of year when the clocks fall back at 2AM, typically meaning one extra hour for me to spend with myself, happily sleeping my life away. However, last Saturday the opportunity arose to spend that night out at ‪Gilt Nightclub‬, where DJ Don Diablo would be performing.

Lesson 1: Don Diablo is a Dutch DJ of the electronic dance music genre. I had to look that up because I’m old and not cool and I don’t frequent the club scene much.

Lesson 2: I had only been to Gilt Nightclub once before in October 2015 for a girls night out when they had a male review. I spent much of that night hiding behind my friends, avoiding eye contact with the performers. #socialintroverting

When I looked the club up online to figure out the dress code, the first thing I saw was “OPEN AN EXTRA HOUR TIL ‪4AM‬ WITH TIME CHANGE!”

This was undoubtedly a bonus to a lot of people but to me it was like 😱

In the end we went, we danced, Don Diablo was freakin’ amazing and, as is usually the case, once I was there in that crowd of people gathered to celebrate music, the weekend, and acting as young as we felt, I regretted nothing.

I also happily learned a third lesson: That bit about staying open until 4AM was a lie. They started to close down the club around 2:30AM and to this 39 year old woman whose body very much knew it was “really” 3:30AM at that point, I was totally fine with that.

Three Things I Learned Last Week (October 2019 #3)

1. For me, trips to Walmart typically go like this: Get in, get out. No need to dilly-dally in that Circus of Chaos. Even though I live literally .5 miles away from a mostly pleasant Walmart, I rarely shop there and when I do I am usually picking up one of two specific items: Impress nails or coffee.

A little over a week ago it was the nails that beckoned me to pay a visit. When I walked into the store I was heading directly to the nail spot when I happened to glance up at a discount rack of clothing and spotted some comfy pants with various coffee cups on them. Since they were literally right next to me I slowed down, extended my arm and touched them to get a better look.

It wasn’t all the cute coffee cups and little maroon, pink and teal hearts that hooked me, it was the discovery of pockets that made me actually stop and take them off the rack. Fact: Girls love pockets. The pants were only $4.00 and I decided I needed them. I brought them home and the first time I tried them on I decided I loved them. Seriously, the most comfortable but not sloppy looking comfy pants ever.

When a random stomach virus hit me last Monday morning at work and sent me home for the day, as soon as I was able to climb the stairs in my house to change out of my work clothes (which I wore while laying on the couch dying for about 4 hours), slipping into those joggers was pretty much the best thing ever.

Like any new crush, as the week went on I found myself trying to find ways to bring them up in conversation. My co-worker Emily was one recipient of an unsolicited comfy pants monologue. Brad has heard about them for a solid week straight, and I even I took a picture of the pants for Instagram and found myself wishing I could tag them. I loved them so much that I made an unprecedented second trip to Walmart is less than a week to try to find more of them but they were not to be found.

Not ready to risk only owning one pair of the best comfy pants ever, I took to Amazon and found them. There are so many cute styles but at a slightly higher price than the $4.00 I spent for the first pair. Some hard decisions were made and I ended up ordering one pair of Secret Treasures Sleepwear Essentials joggers to add to my collection. So much comfort, so much joy.

2. I have a few friends who find joy in doing yoga. I’ve recently started to find myself enjoying it as well since it’s one of the workouts in the Beachbody Morning Meltdown program I’ve been doing. We can all agree that typically Yoga brings peaceful, healthy and comforting thoughts to mind, even if you have never done it, right?

Last Thursday while at work the topic of yoga came up while I was talking to our clinical director Chrystal (probably because I was trying to tactfully find a reason to talk about my new comfy pants) and my supervisor Julio interjected with, “Have you heard of Rage Yoga?!”

Why no, we had not heard of that. “Look it up.” he said. “It’s a thing. I saw it on the news last night. It’s a yoga class that plays heavy metal music, serves beer and encourages swearing and giving the middle finger!”

Of course I looked it up later and sure enough, people are finding joy and their inner peace via rage yoga. I’d try it if I could wear my comfy pants although I’m so relaxed in them I don’t think I’d be very ragey. Namaste.

3. Clearly we are living in a world where people are publicly and proudly seeking physical and emotional support like never before. Some say it’s due to the Millennials and Gen-Zers influence on our current culture: Everyone’s a winner. Everyone is special. Everyone has a right to Honey Badger and do what they want but no one can hurt anyone’s feelings, deliberately or not.

I was born at the end of 1980 and am in that odd group of humans who are on the cusp between the Gen-X influence of “Suck it up and move on buttercup” and this new “I feel _____, therefore you must support me.” culture. It’s not a bad place to be.

Case in point, I came across an article on Friday with the headline “Man Being Fired Brings Emotional Support Clown To Meeting”.

This man’s age was not mentioned, but the gist of this true story is when he was told by his boss that a meeting to discuss his role with the company was scheduled AND that he was invited to bring a support person with him to said meeting if he felt he needed to do so, he saw the writing on the wall and went all in. He hired a freaking clown to accompany him as his support person!

The article went on to detail how this clown mimed crying when his boss told him he was being let go and then proceeded to make balloon animals during the exit interview to “…lighten the mood”.

Grief is inevitable but suffering is not. Whether it be the most comfy of pants, profanity and beer yoga classes, or an emotional support clown to sit beside you while your boss fires you. Whatever brings you comfort and joy in this Circus of Chaos we call life my friends.

Three Things I Learned Last Week (October 2019 #2)

1. One thing I thankfully learned at a young(ish) age was to not take time with my parents for granted. While the amount of time together has changed over the years, one tradition my dad and I have shared for over 20 years is an annual visit to Epcot’s Food and Wine festival every fall. My birthday is in October, so many years we’ve reserved a day around that time to meet each other at the front of the giant golf ball, grab a coffee, and begin our adventure around the world and the Seven Seas Lagoon.

This year that day for us was last Saturday. We ended up walking around the lagoon twice and clocked almost 14, 000 steps between 9:30AM-3:30PM. All those steps gave us plenty of time to talk, and the topics varied from the Phillies to Harry Potter to shoes to teddy bears.

Quite possibly my favorite lesson of the day happened while we were spending time in the Japanese pavilion. There was a section selling little boards that you can paint using water: a zen activity, if you will. In that section was a display board that you could actually paint on, complete with a little bowl of water and a paint brush. On the display board was a sticker (most likely printed from a label maker) that read “Please do not wet the entire board!”

I liked the commitment to the exclamation point and was giving the activity a go, following directions and delicately painting a happy face when my dad came up beside me to check out what I was doing. He must have just glanced at the board, misinterpreted my smiley face, and didn’t carefully read the sticker because he proceeded to nod in agreement and say completely seriously, “Please do not wet the bear.”

I’m laughing writing this because honestly, it’s moments like that, right there, that are the reason you can’t force quality time or plan memorable moments with the people you love. For the next few hours I would tell him, “Dad, please don’t wet the bear.” and we would both crack up.

My dad has taught me many things over the past 38 years, and don’t wet the bear is just one of millions of important lessons.

2.       Moving on from Japan and bears, let’s go down under. If you’re familiar with the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, you’ll understand when I tell you the number of times Australia has come to my attention in the past 2-3 weeks is beyond weird. If you’re not familiar with the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, let me fill you in. It’s where one stumbles upon some seemingly obscure piece of information—often an unfamiliar word or name—and soon afterwards encounters the same subject again, often repeatedly. Anytime the phrase “That’s so weird, I just heard about that yesterday” would be appropriate, think Baader-Meinhof.

Back to me and Australia. I’m not exaggerating when I say the universe is shoving Australia down my throat recently, forcing me to think “Crikey mate! What’s with all the Aussie signs?” For example, two friends who do not know each other both took trips to Australia in the past couple of weeks (I’m looking at you Alex and Heather!). At Epcot on Saturday, the very first country my dad and I came across was Australia. On Dax Shepard’s podcast Armchair Expert, he randomly mentioned a pizza place in LA called Lucifers Pizza, which has an Australian man doing the welcome when you call them to place an order. (By-the-by, Dax does a killer Australian accent, and I’m still in love with him).

Then, to top it off, I randomly came across my friend Megan’s story on Instagram that featured a container of Kiwi Berries. Kiwi berries! Don’t tell me you don’t think Australia when you think kiwi. Also, I need to try these now that I know they’re a thing. I also think I need to visit Australia sometime soonish. It’s not right down the road, I get it, but I think the universe is telling me I should holiday there.

3.       Lastly, while on the subject of travel and places to holiday, one of the last places I would have ever thought to suggest a vacation would be Quarryville, PA. Never heard of it? Not surprised.

I was born right outside of Quarryville and lived there on Stony Hill Road from birth to age 8. There are lots of cows, hills, stones, too, I suppose… thus the “quarry” bit. Either way, not a place I would think to book a room and stay awhile.

While my dad and I were walking around the world last Saturday, somehow Quarryville came up in conversation and my dad said I should go to google maps to take a look at the old neighborhood. Random suggestion, but I did it. What I saw was familiar in the way things from your childhood are: kind of familiar but also like a past life or a dream. I was looking at a satellite view of my old house, and down the road (literally .3 miles down the road from that house) I saw a pin indicating Stony Hill Barn.

I clicked on it, and crikey! There is B&B on that street

now! I visited their website because the barn actually looked pretty nice and the website was nice, too! They are quick to point out all of the wonderful things to do in Lancaster County, PA and describe the perks of staying at their B&B to include:

“You are more than welcome to spend the day here and enjoy the quiet, peaceful setting on nine acres of land. Let the kids run, take a hike, stop by our goat pen, play with the dog, or watch the sunset across the open field. We have a picnic area with a fireplace you are welcome to use. Firewood is supplied.”

It’s no trip around the world, or a trip down under, but I’m sure they would also recommend not wetting the bear if you ever come across one while vacationing in Quarryville, PA.

Three Things I Learned Last Week (October 2019 #1)

1. The only time I’ve visited a country where English wasn’t the primary language was in 2014. My mom was living in Odessa, Ukraine (where Russian is the most common language) and I was preparing to visit her there around Thanksgiving.

In preparation I decided to learn a few key words and phrases in Russian that would help me blend in socially: hello, goodbye, please, thank you, you’re welcome. However, I also made a point of learning another word: help.

I figured yes, it would be lovely to be able to say “thank you” if someone held a door open for me, however “thank you” wouldn’t be very helpful if said door happened to close on my hand and my finger was stuck and I was in pain and needing assistance. Polite can’t always save a hand and since I only have two I wanted to be prepared.

I don’t know why it’s so hard for so many adults to ask for help. It’s a four-letter word, yes, but it shouldn’t be shameful or embarrassing to use. Kids do it all the time! At what age does saying “help me” become scary?

A few weeks ago on my blog I wrote about my longing to receive a code for a sample FabFitFun box. I desperately wanted to come home one day and see one of those boxes that hold so much mystery and promise with my name on it. However, I didn’t have the $49.99 in my budget to treat myself.

So what did I do? I shared my story. I asked for help (I didn’t say that all cries for help have to be life or death). And do you know what happened? My Instagram friend Amy generously and enthusiastically answered my call for help and sent me a free starter box invite!

My very own FabFitFun box arrived last Wednesday! I was the girl who came home to a box of mystery stuff just for me! It was pretty much everything I had imagined it would be. As I was opening the box I was thinking what you may be thinking now: What’s in the boooox? Well, one of the items in that box was a blanket. Need I say more? Who doesn’t want a new blanket to snuggle in?

One of the other amazing things about Amy answering my call for help is, I can now do the same for three people! If you’ve been curious about FabFitFun but haven’t been able to participate in the fun because of adulting and budgets, let me know and I’ll be happy to help you. I can’t promise a blanket, but I can promise some good old fashion material happiness.

2. In late August I received what I consider a call for help from my local government. I realize I seem to be in the minority on this one, but receiving a jury summons has brought me immense joy the two times it’s happened. It’s my constitutional duty and privilege, and it happened to come during a time I was immersed in The Handmaids Tale so I was feeling extra pro-democracy.

I answered that call for help and served one day in late September. Is jury duty a hardship? Yes. No one else wanted to be there. Technically everyone who received the summons and didn’t choose to show up could be fined, but still. Trial by jury is for us, the people, otherwise it’s tyranny. A small threat to participate in democracy is apparently necessary I suppose but that’s not what I learned. Last Thursday when I opened my mail I learned that I had earned $15 for the day I spent sitting in a room reading a book surrounded by dozens of angry, miserable citizens of Seminole County, Florida.

You’re welcome, government. I answered the call and I graciously accept my tiny reward for doing the right thing.

3. If you know me, you probably know that I personify everything. Personification- the attribution of a personal nature or human characteristics to something nonhuman. I do it all the time. That little face in electrical sockets, looking so surprised 😮 The new blanket I received, ready and willing to give me a warm embrace after a long day. My car, who’s emissions indicator lit up like a Christmas tree the other week, clearly telling me “Hey there, something is awry in here. I need some help please!”

After I promptly covered that light with masking tape for a day or two, behaving like a child playing the “If I can’t see it it must not be real” game, I came to my senses and realized I needed help to help my car feel better.

Brad answered that call like a champion. I described the symptoms, he diagnosed a probable cause, and he took action. After a trip to the auto parts store and a couple of hours in our garage under the hood on Saturday, I had six new and much needed spark plugs. Seriously, the old ones were so old and crusty I’d be surprised if half of them were still helpful. I learned a lot about spark plugs on Saturday.

When I started my car for the first time once he had finished, I slowly peeled back the making tape that had been covering the illuminated emissions light. It was illuminated no more! Brad helped me by helping my car, and he did it solely for the sake of helping a person who asked for his help. He gained nothing, but that act of service meant so much to me.

Acts of Service isn’t my primary love language, but Brad speaks it fluently and I’m so grateful for his help. I hope we can all learn to be more comfortable asking for and accepting help, in every possible language and situation.

Three Things I Learned Last Week (September 2019 #4)

1. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Those names naturally go together, don’t they? That crazy pair of astronauts landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on the moon’s surface on July 20, 1969. A few hours later they became the first men to walk on the moon. They explored for about 21 total hours together up there, collecting lunar material to bring back to Earth. What an incredible, surreal adventure to experience with someone.

I was reminded of this extraordinary pair while listening to the podcast Stuff You Should Know: How Going To the Moon Works. Of course I knew that part of the story, what I just discussed. What I didn’t remember, or maybe never actually took the time to think about and learn, was this:

There was a third person on that mission. A third person essentially went to the moon with them, all three men leaving Earth as equals. However, once they made it up there, Command module pilot Michael Collins flew the command module Columbia alone in lunar orbit while they were on the Moon’s surface.

Lord, talk about feeling like the third wheel on the way home. Imagine being Collins, taking that journey with the other two but not actually getting to walk on the moon! I know he knew that’s what he was signing up for and it wasn’t a surprise, but still, it had to feel like a bit of a slight, right? Disconnecting from them while they made history and then reconnecting with them after they shared an experience together that they could only describe to him.

I know there are lots of people who probably think of Collins when they hear Armstrong and Aldrin, but I can’t be the only one who doesn’t. What an interesting relationship these three men shared: Same mission, vastly different experiences. Yet, ultimately, they were all in it together. The three of them.

2. The Handmaid’s Tale. Lord, what a story, what a show, what ridiculously complicated, fluid, and emotional relationships.

I re-watched season 2 on Hulu over the weekend in preparation to watch season 3. If you haven’t seen it but have been curious, do it. If you haven’t seen it and aren’t intrigued, fair enough, but I’m telling you this one will rip your heart out and blow your mind if you’re at all open to seeing things from a different perspective. I thought it was a good show before but after disconnecting from it for a year and reconnecting to it now, I’m learning it’s teaching me new things and making me feel feelings that didn’t happen the first time.

3. Harmony disharmony repair. Connect disconnect reconnect.

This was the description of the cycles of a relationship, as shared by Esther Perel, who was a guest on my crush Dax Shepard’s podcast Armchair Expert last May (but I just listened to it last week because I’m still completely obsessed with this podcast).

I have to say, I had never heard of Esther before but I listened to that episode twice in its entirely because holy shit, I’ve never heard relationships and connections and infidelity and sexuality explained and discussed so beautifully and honestly.

One of the things she spoke about in relation to that cycle is how a romantic relationship is important, yes, but it’s just ONE important relationship in ones life. Family, friendships, colleagues, a relationship with oneself! They all have the potential to go through those cycles and while most people have the tendency to stop pushing forward once they reach the middle (disharmony/disconnect), they are subsequently missing out on what could be an amazing third act of the relationship: Repair/Reconnection.

Esther did a Ted Talk in 2015 that I’ll link at the bottom of this because it’s worth the 21 minutes. I promise if you invest the time to listen to it you’ll approach (or at least consider) your past and future relationships differently.

She ended the Ted Talk with this:

“Today in the West, most of us are going to have two or three relationships or marriages, and some of us are going to do it with the same person.”

People change and grow and learn and react based on connections and disconnects that happen in their lives. Those three astronauts, the characters in The Handsmaid’s Tale, they all went through versions of these cycles. I go through these cycles with myself every couple of years, and that’s a generous estimate of time. I believe in pushing through and allowing myself to experience that reconnection, that repair. No, it won’t be the same as it was before, but a new connection can be made with the same person and what is created after that may end up being a beautiful thing.