Summer Rec Lists, Featuring President Barack Obama

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So, technically, President Obama isn’t a guest blogger here, but he has provided (through social media) the first two graphics of both his summer reading list and his playlist. It reminded me of some of the things I’ve been occupying my time with, and wanted to share with readers.

My current reading list includes:

  • Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore
  • 18 Tiny Deaths: The Untold Story of Frances Glessner Lee and the Invention of Modern Forensics by Bruce Goldfarb
  • A Stranger and You WElcomed Me: Homilies and Reflections for Cycle B by Jim Knipper, Richard Rohr, James Martin, Greg Boyle, and others
  • Dusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival and Courage by Anne Lamott

My Top 5 of Recently Read Books:

  1. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
  2. wow, no thank you. Essays by Samantha Irby
  3. Without Precedent: Chief Justice John Marshall and His Times by Joel Richard Paul
  4. Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and teh Crippling of American Democracy by Adam Jentleson
  5. His Truth is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope by Jon Meacham

Next in line to Read:

Presidents of War: The Epic Story, from 1807 to Modern Times by Michael R. Beschloss

Spotify Curation So Far:

<——————— Newest Link can be found by scrolling down on the sidebar.

All other Spotify links (so far):

Mental Health Monday – Lists

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Mental Health Monday is all about those little reminders that we all, no matter our circumstances, no matter our levels of anxiety, we all need to stay aware of our mental health. I had intended this to publish yesterday despite a busy morning, but at the end of the day (literally), I still could have gotten it in under midnight on Monday, rushed, and (in my mind) unfinished or I could wait until Tuesday and let that be a reminder that not everything is an urgency. Yes, some things are, but not everything.

Today I wanted to talk about the benefits of lists, and the first thing on any Mental Health Monday list is to let yourself take a break when you feel its needed.

I needed it yesterday and I ignored that feeling all day. After church and my lunch meeting, I went home fully intending to sit at my laptop and do the Monday post. I thought I’d take a short break, read a chapter in one of the books I’m in the middle of before I got started.

I fell asleep.

I woke up with a crick in my neck, so I stretched and pulled out my book again.

I fell asleep again.

This happened on and off throughout the afternoon (including the painful crick), and each time it happened I became more and more frustrated and angry at myself. I didn’t think that I must have needed the rest; I was just angry that I wasn’t getting done what I had planned on getting done.

Once I decided that I would intentionally postpone the post until today, my anger and my anxiety* went away.

[*I don’t mean that I was now suddenly free of my chronic anxiety. We all have anxiety that crops up from time to time depending on circumstances, and this was in additional to the anxiety I take medication for. It’s important to differentiate between the two, but it’s also important to treat each of them and not ignore either one.]

I’ve written previously about lists. I find them a great tool in all kinds of situations. When I was undiagnosed (for depression and anxiety) I was very forgetful. I couldn’t remember the simplest of things – did I have breakfast? Did I take a shower? Why aren’t the kids in school? Oh right, it’s Saturday. I found ways to cope – giving myself a schedule was one, getting diagnosed was a big one. I was trying so hard to not let my family know that there was a problem that I was in “fake it til you make it” mode and whatever slack I left behind, my family picked up – like cooking. I missed many school deadlines in this time and that led to all kinds of guilt, especially concerning my middle child.

One of the lifesaving tools I discovered and still utilize was making lists.

The lists range from important appointments and deadlines to seemingly mundane items like eating and showering. Some days those mundane ones are needed just to get through.

My list for yesterday was (with completed items crossed out):

  • Mass
  • See Father J.
  • Donation to St. Vincent de Paul (as part of Spark/GISH)
  • Meet M & E at bank
  • Meet M at Panera to go over information for my new (volunteer) job
  • Check in with home to see if we need groceries while I was outwe didn’t
  • Home to write MHM
  • Refill pill box for the next two week period
  • Continue reading two books.
  • Begin reading final two chapters for book club.
  • Attendance form for kids’ school.
  • Check calendar for next month’s writing assignments.
  • Find free write prompt for next week’s group that I’m leading.
  • Group rosary by phone.
  • Dinner.

It looks like I got a lot done, and I did. Even if you do one thing on your list, it is important to acknowledge that. That one thing could be everything (and some weeks, it is). I did also have a lot of little things on my list. They may seem little (even to me) but when I forget something it can be very frustrating. Why continue reading those two books? They’re library e-books, and often the library will take them back before I’ve finished, and I’ve tried to read them more regularly so I don’t have to go back on the waiting list, which can be quite long sometimes.

Today’s list was much smaller:

  • Mass – opted not to go.
  • Get gas.
  • Check out po box at new post office for new volunteer job.
  • This is where I am at the moment ——–>Lunch to write first draft of MHM-Lists
  • Pick up daughter and go to Target (with lists for home and school supplies she needs immediately of course)
  • Publish this MHM before dinner.
  • Dinner.
  • Read books.
  • Bed (hopefully early).

I think I can get through the remainder of today’s list and I know that I can make up some of the ones that I missed on Monday (like refilling my pill box and finding a free-write prompt) on Wednesday.

As we get back into the swing of things, as masks come off, and more people find their new normal, it’s okay to give yourself some time to readjust to public life. Personally, I’m still wearing masks, and I’m okay with that. And as the school year winds down, I’m making daily lists, making sure that nothing important falls through the cracks.

Try making your own lists, and let me know how you did with your week.

Be well.

Mental Health Monday – Take a Moment…And Lift

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For the early part of Mother’s Day weekend I went on an overnight retreat. It’s billed as a Girls Night Out/Day of Reflection and it was a wonderful event. They hold this every year and this was the first time I went. The theme is usually dictated by the presenter and so last week was titled Called to Wonder and Joy and the next day’s reflection continued that theme and included active listening and storytelling.

In the discussion and micro-journaling, we answered the question, “What calls you with wonder and joy? What creates wondrous and joyful moments in your life?

In this context, it’s not necessarily that joy equals happy. Joy is a much broader concept. It is only recently that I find that deep profundity that is rooted in joy. For me it was the references to joy in scripture and spiritual learning and practice. The joy that comes to me during mass or meditation. It’s not the happiness of a fun time with friends or a vacation; it is something deeper that I’ve only recognized more recently.

In the things that you like, you will find others that like similar things or extraordinarily different things, but you will discover that you are not alone. You will find things that lift you up. You will remember things that you did that might have been scary, but you got through it. You might even do them again. What are the things that lift you up?

I give all of this to you as a way of introducing a mental health exercise and to remind of the broad nature of words that we take for granted. We may hear the word “joy” and think, ‘oh, that isn’t me – I am not that kind of person,’ but if you broadened your concept you may find, as I gradually did that I can be joyful in ways and I can find joy in things, both physical and spiritual.

So, I ask you: Where do you find Wonder and Joy?

I will share ten of the moments of wonder and/or joy, some I discovered on the retreat and others that have come to me as I write.

What I would like you to do today is to write your own down. Begin with five and go for as many as you’d like. It doesn’t need a formal journal or a notebook. Just grab a sheet of paper or the back of an envelope and a pen.

Nothing should stand in your way.

When you discover and remind yourself of the things you find wondrous and joyful, you can refer back to this list on your down days, take a deep breath, and keep going.

Here are mine (currently):

the lilacs in my backyard

labyrinths

Wales

sitting quietly with a cup of tea

rainbow shoelaces

I get a deep well of peace (but also joy) thinking on the devotion to Mary, Untier of Knots

waterfalls

planning a trip

sitting in my front yard, eyes closed, feeling the cool air, and just being

the smell of freshly cut grass

early morning sunshine when the birds are noisy

The Year in Review

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Sitting in my living room trying to make a list of what snacks to buy for our “party’ tonight and I suddenly decided (after seeing David and Georgia Tennant’s silver linings video) to make a different sort of list and remember the good things that our family experienced in this year.

At the end of last year, we all looked forward to 2020, not the least of which was its looming roundness of numbers – Twenty Twenty. Barbara Walters, hindsight, leap year, THE election. It was going to be our year – all of our ours…

But it wasn’t quite, was it?

The perfect sentiment from a witch (Rowena on Supernatural)
Pin from Ruth Connell’s design for Stands, Inc. (c)2020

Our biggest blessings were living in New York with a competent state government and a governor who cared about New Yorkers; my husband and oldest continued working, the younger kids continued school, albeit remotely, no one got sick other than a normal mild cold here or there, and for the most part spending all that extra time together, we managed to not want to strangle each other more than the usual amount.

Honestly, we did good.

Continue reading

Supernatural Lists: Hunter’s Lore

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A large part of the Supernatural story is what it takes to be a hunter. It isn’t just killing monsters, eating cheeseburgers, and drinking beer although that seems to be a large part of it.

There’s research to be done, weapons and tools to be made, and a set of skills to learn, both in the “downtime” and on the job.

Here is my list of fifteen skills/Hunter’s Lore that Sam and Dean have picked up along the way, beginning with one of the most important ones –

  1. Hunter’s Journal, where the hunters keep their notes and references as well as contacts with other hunters, etc. Over the years as technology advanced, many of the functions of the Hunter’s Journal were supplemented by library research, laptop and/or tablet and online search engines. As Sam would say, “So, get this…”
  2. Anti-possession Symbol – as a charm to wear or a tattoo as the Winchesters have.
  3. Salt. Salt lines, salt circles. Keeps the ghosts at bay.
  4. Salt and burn the bones. Kills the ghosts and vengeful spirits.
  5. Iron. Gets rid of the ghosts.
  6. Lock picks and lock picking tools.
  7. Devil’s Trap
  8. Silver knives, letter openers. These can be used on shifters and werewolves.
  9. Head shots are used for vampires, ghouls, and others.
  10. Exorcizamus Te – the Demon expelling spell
  11. The Colt – kills nearly everything (unfortunately, not Lucifer)
  12. Angel Blade
  13. Archangel Blade
  14. Witch Killing Bullets
  15. Demon Knife (from Ruby)

What have I left out?

Supernatural Lists: Jobs

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Here is a partial list of some of the jobs that Sam and Dean had, actually, pretended to have. I’ve combined similar careers, and kept the list to twenty. Did I forget any?

  1. Actors, Talent Agents, Talent Scouts
  2. Animal Control, Pest Control
  3. Art Dealers
  4. Author, Blogger, Journalist, Reporters
  5. Bartender
  6. CDC Agents
  7. Coach, Janitor, Research Assistant, Students
  8. Doctors, Medical Students, Orderly
  9. Electrician, Maintenance Technicians
  10. FBI
  11. Fire Fighters
  12. Game Wardens, Park Rangers, US Wildlife Service
  13. Grief Counselors, Priests
  14. Historic Preservation Society
  15. Insurance Investigators
  16. Law Enforcement, Police, Sheriffs, Deputies, SWAT, US Marshalls, Code Enforcement
  17. Personal Trainers
  18. Ranch Hands
  19. Teddy Bear Doctors
  20. Wedding Florists

Supernatural Lists: Monsters

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Fifteen or so monsters we’ve met and other entities:

  1. Demons
  2. Djinn
  3. Ghost (also Vengeful Spirit)
  4. Ghoul
  5. Hellhounds
  6. Leviathan
  7. Phoenix
  8. Rugaroo
  9. Shapeshifter (aka Shifter)
  10. Skinwalker
  11. Vampire
  12. Vetala
  13. Wendigo
  14. Werewolf
  15. Witch
  • People (see The Benders [1.15])
  • Clowns (see Sam, Everybody Loves a Clown [2.2])
  • Jefferson Starships (aka Starships) (see Mommy Dearest [6.19])
  • Khan Worm (see And Then There Were None [6.16])
  • Faeries
  • Leprechaun
  • Zombie (but not really – see Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid [5.15])
  • Trickster (again, not really, but spoilers) (see Tall Tales [2.15])

Biblical:

  • G-d
  • Lucifer
  • Michael
  • Raphael
  • Gabriel
  • Lilith
  • Eve
  • Ezekiel
  • Gadreel

Who am I forgetting?!

Supernatural Lists: Geography

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The Winchester Brothers travel back and forth across the country in Baby, their 1967 Chevy Impala. I never much paid attention to some of the place names until in one episode Dean mentioned that he was going to Buffalo, New York because his Dad’s old storage locker was broken into. He was in Queens, New York, and said he’d be there in two hours.

I stared at my screen.

I’ve lived in New York my whole life, including spending my elementary years in Queens, and I’ve been to Buffalo. It is not a two hour drive, I don’t care how fast you’re going.

It’s almost 400 miles! That’s six hours and fifteen minutes IF, and that’s a big if, you’re going the speed limit, don’t stop off in any small towns where the speed limit is lowered drastically, don’t need to get gas, and there is no traffic.

Oh, and four hundred miles in a 1967 Chevy? You will definitely need to get gas. At least twice!

Here is a list of fifteen places the Winchesters visited during the series. I’ve included the episode when they first went there. Some places like Kansas, South Dakota, and Fall River, Massachusetts they’ve been to multiple times over the years.

Note: The notation: 1.1 is Season 1, Episode 1.

  1. Lawrence, Kansas [Pilot, 1.1]
  2. Lebanon, Kansas [As Time Goes By, 8.12]
  3. Buffalo, New York [Bad Day at Black Rock, 3.3]
  4. Lily Dale, New York [The Mentalists, 7.7]
  5. Ankeny, Iowa [Hook Man, 1.7]
  6. Sioux Falls, South Dakota [Devil’s Trap, 1.22] *
  7. Las Vegas, Nevada [Season Seven, Time for a Wedding!, 7.8]
  8. Vancouver, BC, Canada [The French Mistake, 6.15]
  9. Grants Pass, Oregon [Mommy Dearest, 6.19]
  10. Hollywood, California [Hollywood Babylon, 2.18]
  11. Cicero, Indiana [The Kids Are Alright [3/2]
  12. Sturbridge, Massachusetts [Malleus Maleficarum, 3.9]
  13. Monument, Colorado [Jus in Bello, 3.12]
  14. Fall River, Massachusetts [Mamma Mia, 12.2] *
  15. Windom, Minnesota [Jump the Shark, 4.19] *

* A couple of fun things:

Sioux Falls, South Dakota is where Bobby Singer lives. It’s like a home base for the Winchesters. The sheriff is Jody Mills, who becomes a close friend of Bobby and the boys.

Fall River is also where the Lizzie Borden House and Museum is, and Sam and Dean go there in a later episode.

Windom is where Sam and Dean meet their up until then unknown half-brother, Adam Milligan.

Which was your favorite place that the Winchesters traveled to?

Supernatural Lists: Music

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This is the first in a seven part series appearing here on Thursdays. Unavoidable happenings kept this part from publishing last week. The second part will publish tomorrow or over the weekend so it can coincide with the final seven episodes of Supernatural.

Music has been an integral part of Supernatural since the very beginning. When younger brother Sam complained about Dean’s musical choice, he was reminded of the number one rule of road trip music:

Driver picks the music,

Shotgun shuts his cakehole.

And so for fifteen years, we traveled across the country (and twice in foreign lands) with the brothers, listening to their radio or cassette tapes (until finally updating to the 21st century and iPods) while engrossing ourselves in the classic rock of our own childhoods. Their musical tastes also updated (a little) to some modern classics as the boys grew older, and there was even a fun musical episode complete with soundtrack.

I had originally picked out fifteen songs, but I just couldn’t stop, so I went to twenty-five. You can find all the songs wherever you get your music: Amazon, Pandora, Spotify.

Except for the first and the last, they are in no particular order. I did not place them by season or my favorites.

  1. Carry On Wayward Son – Kansas
  2. Space Oddity – David Bowie
  3. We Gotta Get Out of This Place – The Animals
  4. Renegade – Styx
  5. Eye of the Tiger – Survivor
  6. Back in Black – AC/DC
  7. Bad Moon Rising – Creedence Clearwater Revival
  8. Don’t Fear the Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult
  9. Cold as Ice – Foreigner
  10. Hey Man Nice Shot – Filter
  11. I Shall Not Be Moved – Johnny Cash
  12. White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane
  13. Cross Road Blues – Robert Johnson
  14. Rock and Roll Never Forgets – Bob Seger
  15. Heat of the Moment – Asia
  16. Wanted Dead or Alive – Bon Jovi
  17. House of the Rising Sun – The Animals
  18. Can’t Find My Way Home – Blind Faith
  19. Black Water – The Doobie Brothers
  20. O Death – Jen Titus (not on Spotify)
  21. A Well Respected Man – The Kinks
  22. World’s Collide – Louden Swain (not on Spotify)
  23. Simple Man – Lynard Skynard
  24. No One Like You – The Scorpions
  25. Fare Thee Well – Rob Benedict (not on Spotify)

I’ve curated this list (minus the three that weren’t available) for you to listen to on Spotify.

I Miss…..

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The five things I miss the most during pandemic lockdown are simple things; things I’ve taken for granted or didn’t realize how much I enjoyed them until they were gone. I’m looking forward to having them back.

  1. Chinese food.
  2. Sitting in Starbucks or any restaurant alone with my computer and writing.
  3. Strolling through Target rather than rushing through to only get the necessities.
  4. In person mass and in person therapy, although online/phone do have their positives also.
  5. My retreat house.

Five things I’m tired of:

  1. McDonald’s.
  2. Eating in the car.
  3. The overtaking of cans and bottles in my house and garage because the recycling centers at the supermarket are closed.
  4. The phrase, “What’s for dinner?”
  5. Empty shelves for toilet paper and soap.