My Christmas story is a couple of days late because my keyboard ran out of juice. It has a weird battery. It will go for months without needing a recharge, but then right when I absolutely, positively need to use it, right now is when it doesn’t work, and with Christmas being Christmas we had other family goings-on, and cooking and present things to do instead, and I let this wait until now.
A few days ago I was scrolling through Twitter. My Twitter is mostly fandom and politics, and so far, I’ve been pretty lucky about staying off the troll radar for my politics (and believe it or not, my fandom also), so it’s not a terribly awful place to be for me, and I get my punditry and news headlines to look into more closely on other sites and I get to make comments somewhere other than talking to myself, although Twitter often feels like that too.
Read the Psalm for today’s readings and meditate on what it is saying and asking of you by way of compassion and kindness. I think that we all could use more of both in our lives, and this psalm is perfect for a reminder of that, and a way to include G-d in how you go about your day with more kindness and compassion.
Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.
R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
and your kindness are from of old.
In your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O LORD.
R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
he teaches the humble his way.
R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.
The first time I saw Yvette Nicole Brown was on AMC’s Talking Dead. She was a guest, invited on to talk about AMC’s hit TV show, The Walking Dead. When she pulled out her Walking Dead notebook that she kept notes in, I grinned. I also had a Walking Dead notebook. After I agreed with her show theories about three times, she became a favorite of mine. I looked forward to her appearances on the show.
During one episode about Fear the Walking Dead, she referred to her Instagram, and I followed. I had only intended to follow for a few weeks. I mean I didn’t watch any of her shows despite liking her as a person on the talk show.
At some point during those few weeks, I got to see her as a person. She posted honestly, about everything. She posted links to organizations that do good. She posted graphics with encouragement. She posted politics.
If I had to pick two words to describe Yvette Nicole Brown, I would choose Honest and Encouraging. And Kind. And lovely. And supportive. Her Instagram was a breath of fresh air, and not only that, it gave me some moments of clarity and showed me how to stop and take a deep breath.
Her website has the title: Actress, Host, Champion of Kindness, and that pretty much sums up this lady born in Cleveland in 1971. She holds a Bachelor’s in Communication, and was cast in her first role from sending a postcard to the casting director. She has done numerous commercials and small roles, moving to series regular on The Odd Couple and most recently co-starring on The Mayor on ABC. She voices Amanda Waller on DC’s Super Hero Girls and Luna on Elena of Avalor. She is currently also the host of Syfy’s Cosplay Melee. Her CV is too long to list here, but visit her website; you won’t regret it.
Yvette Nicole Brown is uplifting and inspirational. She shares her faith readily, and through that helps me explore my own continuing to grow faith, and helps make me a better person. Just simply by her being a better person. She also doesn’t roll over, she doesn’t pull her punches, and she does it all in a way that she doesn’t regret. I really do admire and try ot emulate her. It is a privilege to read her on a daily basis. I thougth it appropriate to showcase her today, on Thanksgiving, when she gives so much to be thankful for, but not only that, reminds me, and her fans, of what’s important and not to forget what we should be thankful for.
I don’t know about other parts of the country, but fall is filled with fall foliage, back to school, sweater weather, and of course, applepicking.
*I first discovered snapdragons when one of my writing group members brought one to try. It was perfect. Bright red, creamy white inside, crisp. It snapped when you bit into it. I’m not sure if that’s where its name came from, but it fit.
I always try to get a few snapdragons. They are good for pies or just to grab one for a snack.
By the time we went picking this year, combined with the summer weather not cooperating, there were very few of them in the field. We walked about halfway down the aisle, and I was about to give up when a young boy, about twelve on the other side of the fencing heard me, and offered that there were snapdragons further down, and pointed out where we should go.We thanked him.
And then, he turned back and offered me the apple that was in his hand.
Really? I asked.
He nodded, and I took the apple.
I thanked him profusely, and added that snapdragons were my favorite. All the rest of the day, I thought about his generosity, and I enjoyed that apple more than any other that I’ve had in the past few years.
That is the apple in the bottom picture.
Each month I have tried to use one of my new 52 weeks to talk about a person or personality who has been an influence on my life. In past weeks, I’ve talked about the Blessed Mother, Mary, journalist Ezra Klein, artist and author Brother Mickey McGrath, writer and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, writer and actress Carrie Fisher, and St. Elen of Caernarfon.
With Gishwhes beginning at the end of this week, I thought that I would briefly introduce this audience to Misha Collins.
I became aware of Misha through a friend of mine who convinced me to join his gishwhes team, which ended up being all full up. That’s another story, though. Gishwhes is the acronym for its description: the greatest international scavenger hunt the world has ever seen. Misha pronounces it gish-ways; I pronounce it gish-weeeessss.
In addition to Gishwhes being a scavenger hunt, it is also an opportunity to move out of your comfort zone by being creative, artistic, and kind. Part of the fun of gishwhes is trying new things, meeting new people, working together as a team even if you never meet them, and connecting through art and kindness.
Misha’s an actor who I’ve seen several times before although I don’t remember any of the ones before Supernatural.
He’s married and he and his wife, Dr. Victoria Vantoch have two children. They live primarily in California, but also spend a large chunk of the year in Vancouver where Supernatural films.
Misha began the charity, Random Acts in 2009, showing his fans how to direct their energy to make lives better by doing small, seemingly insignificant things, but that were huge things for the families involved, and of course, as anyone who does any kind of volunteer work knows, it gives great joy for the person on the giving end of things.
Some of the bigger things that Random Acts has done over the years has been bringing hope to Jacmel, Haiti after the island’s devastating earthquake, building a free high school in Nicaragua. Last year, they helped two Syrian refugee families, and this year they began a crisis support network to help those in danger of suicide and self-harm. Sometimes, all you need is someone to talk to at the right time. it doesn’t make it all better, but it does help.
Recently, he’s been involved in political issues like resisting the current Administration’s and Congress’ rollback of civil rights and environmental protections, and encouraging petitions and supporting candidates across the country. Many would say that this isn’t the role of a mere actor, but this is not out of the realm of his skill set. Of course, any member of society can and should involve themselves in politics and political causes, but in his case for the many naysayers out there, he went to the University of Chicago for public policy, and was an intern at the White House during the Clinton years.
I attribute what I did yesterday with my kids directly or indirectly to Misha’s influence as well as my experiences in Gishwhes. I saw a friend’s post on Facebook about something going on in the capital. I thought that it would be fun to visit, and maybe I’d take the kids on Friday or sometime next week. I looked at the clock, pretty much decided to miss church, and go back to sleep when I was jolted. It wasn’t anything paranormal or a voice in my head, but suddenly, I was bolting out of bed, waking my two youngest kids, telling them they had ten minutes to be ready: we were going to church, breakfast at McDonald’s, and then a huge surprise.
They were not terribly put off, although they don’t usually go with me to church, and they really don’t like it very much, but they didn’t argue, they didn’t badger me about what the surprise was, and to be honest, they were extraordinarily well behaved and cooperative all throughout the day, never once complaining about the heat or that they were hungry.
I’m not sure i would have had the energy or the wherewithal to just get up and go like that if I hadn’t been participating in Gishwhes for the past five years. It wasn’t as though I was doing anything crazy; just a little out of the ordinary.
And that’s what I should be teaching my kids. There are times for order, and there are times for spontaneity and surprises. Except for breakfast (and the subsequent parking ticket), this was a free day. And it was so inexpensive that I treated them to another surprise on the way home: 50c Frosties at Wendy’s.
Misha Collins is that bee in your bonnet, Mona Lisa smile, Jiminy Cricket, and he’s the friend who pushes you just a little, but holds on so you don’t fall. And he’ll bring the band-aids.
Waiting in line today, I did a thing.
I don’t want to talk about the thing because it was a small thing, it was a kind thing, it was a spontaneous thing, and talking about the actual thing sounds like I’m asking for a pat on the back, which in reality I don’t deserve. It really was that small.
So I did a thing, a good thing, a random acts kind of thing.
The woman was surprised.
I was surprised at my stepping forward so publicly.
The people between us weren’t quite sure what to make of it. They could have done the thing, but it didn’t occur to them. That’s not a value judgment. I went back and forth for what seemed like a long time deciding if I wanted to go ahead and draw the attention to myself. That’s just how it is for all of us. We’re going about our days, and the opportunities arise. We either take them or we don’t. It doesn’t actually matter either way, but what happened today was –
The woman received something unexpected that wasn’t about the specific thing, but about something else, and I received something unexpected as well.
We shared this moment, but it wasn’t just our moment. It was her toddler son and her husband across the way. It was the women between us, and the women behind the counter; a moment shared by all.
A shared thing.
I didn’t realize how good it would make me feel. It wasn’t hubris or pride, but it was that I did something that made someone else’s life a tiny bit easier, and it made my life a bit better and positive.
So when the moments appear, do the thing.
I’ve been donating a photo through Johnson & Johnson for The Trevor Project.
There are several other groups to donate to. For each photo (once per day per person) J&J will donate $1 to the charity of your choice from the group listed.
It’s so easy to help someone out!