Fandom Friday – SPNFamily, YANA

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This was just a silly thing from last week. I can’t explain why when I saw it, it gave me feels. It’s another example of a small thing that pulls the fandom family together, and reminds us that we aren’t alone. We have allies and friends, and support.

I belong.

This photo links to the original tweet from Misha Collins. (c)Misha Collins, 2018


(c)Misha Collins, 2018


(c)Misha Collins, 2018

It’s the Last Midnight…the last wish…

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​I have it from an unreliable source that this will be the last gishwhes.

I call the source unreliable because it’s Misha Collins, and I’m sure that there is something else up his sleeve. There is also the qualification made that it’s the last gishwhes “as we know it.”

I’m actually kind of happy in a melancholy way; even bittersweet, but the fact was that it was hard for me to pump up my enthusiasm to run around like a lunatic, forcing my kids to help me. I have no one else in my neighborhood to join my team, and that leaves some items off limits. I do tend to focus on the artistic ones, the writing ones, and the kindness ones.

I really liked that last year the focus moved to slightly more random acts of kindness rather than impossible to do crazy ones. I think that Misha put some on that were literally impossible to do, but then people tried them, and he discovered that people are generally crazier than we would give them credit for. Disclaimers had to be included over the years to avoid hurting yourself or your pets or doing something illegal. One would have thought that a participant would have put those under the common sense categories, but nope.

I love my team. I have found lifelong friends in the Brave Little Ants. I’ve found some people who I agree with ideologically and politically, and I’ve found others who I don’t. And that’s the point, isn’t it? We don’t live in a self-contaitned bubble. We need others to survive on this great big blue ball we call ours, and gishwhes was one way to prove that to a lot of naysayers and unbelievers.

Disagreement fosters discussion, and discussion creates education and understanding.

My new friends include military personnel, a gun owner in Texas, atheists, religious people, conservatives, liberals, progressives, married, divorced, single, homeschoolers, teachers, artists, writers, jewelry makers, parents and non-parents.

In our three years, we’ve covered Canada, Denmark, Spain, California, Colorado, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Utah, Georgia, Texas, and Missouri.

Our ages ranged from 19-50.

Earlier in the week, I grabbed my kids and put gas in the car and headed on an adventure. I know that the spontaneity of that was directly linked to my years of gishwhes, and how it let me push myself a little farther and become a little freer.

Without gishwhes in its official capacity I’m hoping that it has given me enough confidence that I can continue to create art and be kind. Like a habit, but a much more positive one, like buying coffee for the guy behind you in line.

I’ll miss you, Gishwhes, but I also know that you’ll be with me and within me for the forseeable future.

P.S. Thank you, Misha Collins.

26/52 – Misha Collins

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​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.

Gishwhes 2016 Wrap-Up

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On the most recent Saturday, Gishwhes 2016 came to an end. I think this might have been the best year yet. The items were a nice balance of good deeds, insane impossibilities, creativity, and small doses of public humiliation.

This year we squirted milk out of our noses, sold bottles of air, helped the homeless, raised money for FOUR Syrian refugee families (two was the original goal), tweeted Mike Pence the dangers of smoking, tweeted Lin-Manuel Miranda other historical raps, and sent postcards to William Shatner, who had the last laugh by giving out Misha Collins’ address. Well played, Bill.

The whole family got involved whether they wanted to or not. And they liked it.

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Gishwhes By the Numbers and Charity Links

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Gishwhes for 2016 has ended, and it’s taken me these two days to recover-ish. I’ve got 99% of my leftovers in a bag for next year or for supplying the kids for craft projects that they come up with for the rest of the summer and into the new school year.

Second year in a row that we’ve had a phenomenal team. We had eight returning teammates and of the new seven members, we had only one MIA.

We’re named Brave Little Ants, which is a Supernatural reference. We’ve managed to find a boatload of motivational ant graphics, highlighting their strength and teamwork.

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Miss Jean Louis, Babysitter Extraordinaire

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For a time in Boston, Misha lived near Miss Jean Louis. She was an odd duck and she was ancient then; there’s no telling how old she really is.

Through gishwhes we know her as Misha’s elusive babysitter, but she actually babysat for him and his brother as well as some of the other neighborhood misfits when Misha was young.

She discovered the group figgzerblatzing behind the school and after loudly admonishing them, complete with gesturing wildly with hands and feet, she was the first to tell them that proper figgzerblatz was only to be done in the privacy of your own home, preferably alone and when no one was in the house. Misha never forgot this important life lesson. In fact, it deeply scarred him. His brother, not so much.

Miss Jean Louis fixed snacks for the neighbor kids every day. She had, and still has an odd obsession with k*le and rainbow sprinkles. She put them in, and on, everything. K*le cupcakes. K*le popcorn. K*le salad. K*le pizza. All with rainbow sprinkles.

When Miss Jean Louis would send Misha home after babysitting she would tell him to gish on. He wasn’t sure what that meant back then; I’m not sure he understands any better now.