Looking at ourselves and the world through the lens of the 21st century.

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Out With the Old

It’s the summer of 2014 and I’m standing in the house I grew up in amongst the trash and remnants of my childhood. I feel sadness about the years of neglect as the last of the boxes are hastily packed in a moving truck and carted off to storage. When does a bit of clutter turn into the tendency to hoard?

Hoarding is the difficulty of parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. When we think of hoarding, we often think of the popular television show that airs on A&E. Those, of course, are extreme cases of hoarding. I never thought that it could run in my family. However, according to Psychiatry.org, hoarding does run in the family, and I fight my tendency to hoard constantly because I love to shop. That summer, my dad was downsizing from a three-bedroom house to a two-bedroom apartment, and I discovered that my parents kept everything. They never threw anything away. As I was going through 20-year-old bills and throwing away food that was years out of date, I thought to myself that I would never become a hoarder to this extent.

Boy, was I wrong!

At the time, my mom explained to me the sentimentality of 40 plus years of marriage, and how one just “collects” things over the years. Yeah, I got that, but I only had a few possessions that I could never get rid of. I will admit that I am a book hoarder; I’ve kept every book that I ever read, and carried every book (including a dictionary collection) with me every time I moved once I turned 18 – and I moved every two years. I couldn’t fathom hoarding bills and receipts as my mom had done. I regularly shredded my mail. I have never been a fan of clutter, but it was something I dealt with growing up. I always remembered our house being so full of things that it was oftentimes hard to walk through.

As an adult, I thought I was done with the clutter and the hoarding, but then I married a hoarder. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my ex-husband did little things that bothered me, like never throwing away trash, and it reminded me of my dad in the sense that he didn’t throw away trash either. They say women tend to marry their fathers, and I felt like I was always picking up after both of them. Throughout our relationship, my ex and I also began to pick up clutter and possessions. After we moved from a three-bedroom house to a two-bedroom, I realized that we had become hoarders. We kept everything that anyone had ever given us, and it was hard to neatly organize our living space.

When quarantine hit in 2020, I suddenly had to teach from home, and I found I had no space in which to even set up a desk. My ex-husband and I had so much stuff that we were navigating through little trails to get through our house and the piled-up boxes. Deja vu. After our separation, I made some SMART goals that would get me through 2021 and one of them was to get rid of the clutter.

Christen gave me some sage advice when I started the process. She quoted Marie Kondo, “look at everything and ask yourself, ‘does this make me happy?’” So, I did. It took me three months and about 10 trips to the thrift store to downsize my life after my divorce. I went through every possession I owned and considered whether it made me happy. When I was done, I no longer felt like a hoarder. I felt great…accomplished.

So, why does getting rid of stuff feel so good?

According to the article “Why Getting Rid of Stuff Feels So Good” by Shifrah Combiths, there are several reasons why getting rid of stuff makes us feel so good, but the reason that resonates with me the most is that “separating from the past can heal” and that is what I did. I hung on to so many things because there was a sentimental value attached to them. I didn’t want to get rid of certain things because “my mom gave it to me” or “my dad used it” at this certain time. But, I realized that possessions aren’t memories, and I can still keep the memories of my parents within me without keeping every single thing that they owned. That, in itself, was freeing.

So, whenever I tend to hoard or my house gets to the point where the clutter is out of control, I remember that moment I had eight years ago when I realized that there is such a thing as “too much.”

Are you a clutter bug? Are there things that you keep and you don’t know why? Let me know in the comments, and let’s continue the conversation in our Facebook Group.

You can find Marie Kondo’s website here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Heard It on the Podcast - March 30, 2022


Did you miss a link we mentioned on the podcast? Here's a quick post we'll do every Wednesday to share any links or information from the podcast. We'll also keep a running post on the "Links from the Podcast" tab so you can refer back to any previous episode. Here's the links for this week:

S2E14: What Kind of Clutterbug Are You?
Please note, as an Amazon Affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Monday, March 28, 2022

I'm a Clutterbug

This week on the podcast, we are talking about Clutterbugs and the idea that each of us has a different organizational style that can be categorized as one of four different kinds of bugs: the cricket, the bee, the butterfly, and the ladybug. When I took the quiz, it said I was a “Bee”, and when I read the description, I felt like it described me to a “T”. For instance, Bees are generally very organized, but they also like to keep their tools and supplies close by in plain view, and if they are working on a project, they will keep all the supplies out until they are done. The bad side of that is that if the job doesn’t get done right away, Bees tend to make piles of things to put away later, and those piles can be a big, hot mess.

Yes, it really does get this messy sometimes.

Organizing has been an ongoing project of mine for years. I am constantly organizing something, so there’s always some part of my house that’s a total mess. Right now, I feel like my whole house is a total mess! In December and January, we remodeled our living room and dining room. We had to move everything out to the garage so the contractors could rip out our carpet, install hardwood floors, update our baseboards, install crown molding, and paint. And while all that was going on, we were caring for a sick friend and so had also emptied one of our bedrooms to make room for his belongings. That meant I had stacks and boxes all over my house, too.

We had 3 rooms of stuff stored in the garage.

Bees make lots of piles until they're ready to file things.

Some of my displaced craft supplies.

It’s hard to get motivated to put a whole house back together. It’s almost like moving, so I’ve decided to give it a “moving” type of approach. Rather than just bring everything back and put it back where it was, I’ve decided to go through my belongings box by box and decide what to keep and what I can give away or trash. And like moving, I’m being a bit selective about which boxes I open first.  Do I really need to open the box of knick-knacks that was on the top shelf in the hallway closet before I sort through that box of linens? Probably not, so boxes and tasks are done by priority, and that way I can do it a little at a time. Taking on one box or one small task at a time is a lot easier to manage than putting away all of the books or setting up the whole guest bedroom. So that’s what I’ve been doing, tackling one small task at a time whenever I can. It might take me a little longer to get it done, but I’ve already lived with this stuff in my garage for nearly 5 months, so what difference will one more week make?

One of the handy tips I picked up from the Clutterbug website was to stop worrying about finding the “perfect” storage solution. One of the Bee’s traits is to pile things up while trying to find the best way to store them; we also like to wait for better timing to put things away. That is a bad habit of mine that I am trying to break! I have piles and piles of paperwork that I “mean to” do something with, but haven’t. Sometimes the relevance expires before I get it filed or put away. To fix that, I’m using a couple of different techniques that I’ve learned from Totally Tiffany and another that was inspired by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. 

I’ll start with Tiffany. Tiffany Spaulding launched her company, Totally Tiffany in 2003, and since then, she has been dedicated to producing innovative scrapbooking and craft storage products as well as providing free, no strings attached, virtual classes on getting organized.  I took her online classes about 10 years ago or so when I purchased a “Scrap Rack”, one of her early products. The storage system was awesome, but it was her organization technique that really makes it work. For starters, she broke down and categorized almost all scrapbooking supplies into four simple categories: alpha-numeric, date-specific, themes, and colors. By sorting all of my stuff into those four categories (in that order), I was able to arrange six tubs of stickers and embellishments into one neatly assembled Scrap Rack. Even more importantly, I can quickly find just about any item I might be looking for. Bear stickers…got that! It’s in the “Animal” theme category. Working on a page and need something pink? I can find that, too, because everything pink that doesn’t have a specific category is right there in the pink section.

One tub of craft supplies that I loaded into the Scrap Rack.

More of my craft supplies.

The Scrap Rack with my supplies in it.

I can even apply this technique to other things in my house. My closet uses a similar system, but instead of “themes” and “colors”, my clothes are sorted by type.  Sleeveless shirts here, then short sleeves, then long sleeves, followed by t-shirts. The pants are sorted by length and use: yoga pants, sweats, capris, jeans, dress slacks, and so forth.

Shirts organized in my closet.

Another key point that Tiffany teaches is the “touch it once” principle, which I’ve mentioned in the podcast coming up this week.  I go back to this concept all the time because it just makes so much sense. The idea is that you should never wait to put away new items you bring into your house (or to put away items after you use them). In her example, Tiffany uses ice cream. If you go to the store and you buy ice cream, what do you do with it when you bring it home? You put it away in the freezer – immediately! You don’t set it on the counter while you make dinner, walk the dog, or do a load of laundry. You simply put it away. It takes two seconds and it’s done. That’s what you should do with everything you bring into the house. Bring in the mail, sort it, and put it in its appropriate place: the bills go in the bill file, the correspondence goes in the correspondence file, the junk mail goes in the trash. You should never leave it in a stack somewhere to deal with later. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way more times than I can count. Bills that I thought I paid were found months later at the bottom of a pile. Correspondence was ignored. Opportunities were lost. But by handling things once and only once, to put them in their correct place, documents can be found, bills can be paid, and you won’t accidentally buy the same craft punch twice because you’ll know that you already have one of those.

My last trick to organize comes from President Dwight D. Eisenhower, but it was my daughter Christen who pointed it out to me. Several years ago, she introduced me to the Eisenhower Matrix, which is a very simple time-management method that stems from a quote by President Eisenhower (read the quote here). The basic idea is that you categorize your objectives or tasks by their urgency and importance. It’s a very effective technique for prioritizing tasks, and, as Christen also pointed out, it can be adapted to other sorting methods. She recently used it to prioritize her crafting projects, and that prompted me to use it for prioritizing my household remodeling “recovery”. 

For my restoration projects, I set up the matrix to differentiate the tasks I needed to manage myself versus what my husband could tackle. These were arrayed across the grid so that they were further divided between tasks that could be done by one person versus tasks that would require help. Within each quadrant, I also sorted the items by urgency and whether another task had to be completed first. The final list looked like this:

My remodeling matrix.

I had the good fortune of a friend stopping by to help me unbox books one day this week, and Christen is often quick to offer suggestions or ideas on how and where to store things, so my mess is dwindling. There’s still a lot to do, though; I’m still working on my organization projects, and probably always will be. For me, organizing is always a work in progress, and I don’t think I will ever be completely satisfied with just one method…I just keep adjusting and looking for whatever is “good enough” for now, and when that technique no longer works, I’ll just have to think of something else. 

Be sure to listen to the podcast on Wednesday to hear more about the Clutterbug technique, and join the conversation on our MMC Chat Facebook group!

Download a FREE copy of an Eisenhower Matrix HERE.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

My Favorite Flavor

If you know me, you know I am a sucker for weird holidays. Did you know that March is “National Peanut Awareness” month? According to Peanut Allergy Facts, about four percent of teens and adults have peanut allergies. Peanuts have always had an important role in my life. Another little-known fact about me: My family, and by extension I mean “I”, owns a peanut farm.

My whole life, I have always said “my family” because I never felt part of that equation. I have always felt far removed from that scenario as it never seemed possible t that I would inherit the farm; the farm would never make it past my mom’s generation. Then, my mom died, and now I own half of a farm.

Going back generations, my family had always been farmers. My mom even grew up on the farm until my grandparents moved permanently to town when she was in college. That was when they allowed someone else to farm their land for a share of the profits. The farm grew other things besides peanuts depending on the season and who was in charge of farming it. Somehow, though, the farm was always there in the background. We visited it during crop seasons, and my grandparents dealt with the taxes. 

Growing up, I have many memories involving peanuts. Mid-fall, whenever the crop was harvested, my grandmother would receive bags of raw peanuts that she liked to shell herself. So, I would sit with my Maw Maw and shell peanuts; I began to hate peanuts.

As I mentioned in my last blog, I grew up poor. A staple in many less-fortunate households is peanut butter and white bread. Peanut butter is pretty sustainable and if you are hungry, it can be satisfying on the cheap. Aside from peanut butter sandwiches, we ate peanut butter and saltine crackers almost every day. To this day, my grandma still likes peanut butter and saltine crackers for an afternoon snack and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner.

After I moved out, I didn’t eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches because they reminded me of my childhood and poverty. Then things changed. Three years ago, I had a life-changing surgery that altered the way that I eat and taste food (watch for a blog post in the near future). If you ask me to name my favorite thing to eat, my answer now will be peanut butter (or any kind of nut butter, really). Why? Quite simply, my taste buds changed, or adapted, since I started my weight-loss journey. Despite my earlier disdain, I am obsessed with the flavor. It no longer represents poverty but protein, and protein is life-sustaining. Nuts and nut butter were among the few things my stomach could tolerate post-surgery, and I enjoyed a bite of peanut butter as a “sweet escape” if I wanted something to curb my cravings.

It’s funny how we tend to avoid certain things that remind us of our childhood. It’s not like peanuts held a particular trauma for me. I may have simply not enjoyed the taste. I’m thankful now that I can look back at unshelled peanuts and be reminded of my Maw Maw but I will always buy them shelled in the store.

My favorite ways to eat nut butter:
  • Perfect Bars™: Perfect Bar™  is an organic, gluten-free, high-protein bars made out of nut butter. They offer many different flavors at your local grocery store, but my favorite will always be the dark chocolate chip.
  • Spread on a keto waffle: One of my favorite things to make is a Birch Bender’s® keto waffle. You can buy waffle mix or ready-made frozen waffles. I like to pair my waffle with Fix and Fogg Everything Butter®.
  • Keto Peanut Butter Balls: I use this recipe from Beaming Baker, and I like to use Swerve®, sweetener, and 365 Organic Creamy Peanut Butter®.
  • Keto Fat Bombs: I recommend this recipe from That Low Carb Life using Swerve® and Lily’s® baking chips.
  • As a dip with Cauliflower Pretzels: My favorite cauliflower pretzels are From the Ground Up®.
  • Keto Peanut Butter Pie: I found this recipe from All Day I Dream About Food using the same keto ingredients mentioned above.
  • Keto PBJ: My favorite keto bread is Chompie’s®, and my favorite sugar-free jam is Good Good®.
  • Smoothie King Keto Champ Coffee™: I love a good protein shake and this smoothie features almond butter.
  • Premier Protein™  Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake: I can’t leave this out because protein shakes are a part of my everyday life now.

I also want to give a small-business shout-out to Spread Happiness Nut Butters and their keto-butter products as well as Ten Berries and their low-sugar jams. I first ran across these businesses at the Denton Community Market a few years ago when I moved back to the area.

I want to hear from my readers. Do you like peanut butter? What are some of your favorite peanut recipes? E-mail me at modernmusingsmmc@gmail.com and share your recipes with me.

As an Amazon Affiliate, Modern Musings earns from qualifying purchases.

Thursday, March 24, 2022


With all the talk last week about bad luck and superstitions, this week’s topic of manifesting is a welcome change. When I read Christen’s blog about positive affirmations last Thursday, my first comment to her was, “I don’t do that,” a phrase often used by my granddaughter in answer to something she doesn’t want to do. I laughingly told Christen that I’m always afraid to say some affirmations out loud (or even think them) for fear of jinxing myself or tempting fate…you know, say something positive and then knock on wood to make sure it stays true. Wow, I am superstitious, aren’t I? The funny thing is, I do believe in positive affirmations, just not in the same way that Christen does.

Last month, we talked about vision boards as a method of visualizing the things we want, and that is the start of a technique I have dubbed, “See Think Believe Do Be”. The idea started when I was working on my vision board for One Little Word. We make a vision board every year for this project, and I usually go about it the same way, as demonstrated on the blog linked above. But this year, we had a guest instructor “Lu” lead us through a few alternative ways to approach the vision board, and one of them reminded me of a positive affirmation technique I’ve practiced many times through my morning “mindfulness” ritual.

Visualize the life you want to have. Plan out the perfect day. See yourself doing the things you want to do. Feeling the feelings you want to feel. Imagine yourself being the person you want to be and living the life you want to live.

This is the “See” of my technique. When you write or draw out your vision, do it with as much detail as you can imagine. Really describe all of it. Really SEE it. Be specific. KNOW what you want. I wrote out a detailed schedule of how I wanted a typical work day to go, starting from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed. I added in all the things I wanted to do, and as I was writing it out, I closed my eyes and imagined what it looked like and how I felt. There were no negatives…this was my perfect workday.

I’ve found that once you can actually see the future you’d like to manifest, it tends to stay with you. It’s not some vague notion of being successful at work, or losing lots of weight…it’s the ideal image of what you want emblazoned on your brain. It makes it something tangible. Something real. You start to think about that life and really want it. And then, when, through the course of your day, you are faced with choices – decisions that will affect the outcome of that vision – you tend to think back on that idea, and it helps you to make the better choice. This is the “Think” part of the technique.

Since creating that daily schedule, I’ve found that I’m a lot more productive in my day. I’ve got a plan. I’m getting things done. I’m thinking about my goals all the time. That vision is an ever-constant reminder of my end game, and I’m constantly weighing choices and options to see whether they fit with my overall plan. Some people call this “alignment” with your “higher good”. I call it the “Believe” part of my technique because this is when I really start to believe that my goals are possible.

Once I start to believe that I can have this life I envision, then I start finding ways to make it happen. I find that I am constantly checking that alignment against what I’m doing, I start breaking those goals down into smaller steps and then start ticking them off, one by one. I’m not rushing to finish…I’m just working the plan, taking the steps, doing the work. Little by little, I’m making progress. This is the “Do”.

If you look at my technique and you see that “Be” is the last step, you might think it’s the end, but it’s not. Be actually comes into play from the very beginning; from the minute you start to visualize the life you want you start to become that person. And that’s really what manifesting is all about. If you can dream it, you can be it, and at each step of the process, you are actually doing the things that someone who “is” does. BE that person. LIVE that life. If you can imagine that life, if you can see that life, then you can live that life. All that is left is to do the things that make that life a reality. A person who is healthy has a healthy exercise routine, so be that healthy person - get up and exercise. A person who is successful at their career has certain objectives they need to meet, so be that successful person – line up those tasks or quotas and figure out what it will take to meet or exceed it, then just do it. 


It all starts with see. You can think it, and you can believe it, but you have to do it to be.

As Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

Let’s talk some more about visualizing our perfect day or our perfect life. I’d love it if you would share your thoughts here in the comments, or on our MMC Chat Facebook Group.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Heard It on the Podcast - March 23, 2022


Did you miss a link we mentioned on the podcast? Here's a quick post we'll do every Wednesday to share any links or information from the podcast. We'll also keep a running post on the "Links from the Podcast" tab so you can refer back to any previous episode. Here's the links for this week:

S2E13: Manifesting

*Please note, as an Amazon Affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Monday, March 21, 2022

5 Ways to Manifest Your Best Life

Hi there, and welcome back! Since we have been heavily focusing on goals and planning, I thought we should discuss manifesting. I love this topic, as it is something that I have been deeply interested in for many years. In fact, I can truly say that I have manifested something in my life – you may have remembered in the podcast that I mentioned I manifested my husband, a dog, at least two vacations, and a whole slew of other things. This has become the secret tool that I use for achieving my goals. I turn my dreams into reality by manifesting them. 

It all started when I decided that I wanted to check out podcasts. Podcasts had already been around for quite a long while, but I had never explored them. I had always been a music girl, and I have always preferred to listen to music rather than talk radio when driving. I had started listening to NPR some, but then my driving times changed, and I thought I would seek out something else instead. In looking for podcasts to listen to, I came across a couple of bloggers talking about manifesting, and one of them had mentioned making her vision board for the year. I was hooked. It sounded like a crafty project to help me achieve my goals! After scouring the web, YouTube, and various podcasts for anything vision board-related, I came across a few other methods for manifesting. I also stumbled across a few other podcasters that have inspired me, and I want to share what I have learned to date. 

We touched a little bit on manifesting earlier this year when we were discussing vision boards, but today I want you to know that anyone can manifest without ever having to get out the craft supplies. Here are some other ways to manifest - most of them only require pen and paper, or even just your thoughts. You can pick and choose what works for you, and you can change things up, but I think it is important to see all of the options and their benefits. I know that some of this has already been mentioned recently, but the reason that it is all resurfacing is due to the correlation with many of our Goals Girl segments.

Positive affirmations
Positive affirmations are the simplest form of manifesting. I remember back in the 80s and 90s people would wear their walkman or Discman and listen to recordings of positive affirmations. I didn’t understand what it was until I was made aware of the wretched things that I said to myself. Once I was aware of how I treated myself internally, I vowed to change my habitual self-bashing and move to kindness and self-love. Unfortunately, self-love does not occur overnight. It is something that is learned over time. I knew I needed to start with changing my inner dialogue, but I needed assistance with verbiage as it was not natural to speak kindly to myself. That is where positive affirmation recordings come in handy. If you are like me and do not know how to change your behavior, I recommend this method. Submerge yourself in positive phrases, and you will become more familiar with the dialogue so that you can course-correct yourself when you start treating yourself unkindly. I mentioned positive affirmations in one of my recent posts when talking about having a bad luck mindset. These are great samples to get your day started better!

Vision Boards
If you missed my post on vision boards I highly recommend you check it out. Amber, Cindy, and I have different approaches to vision boards and you will find a helpful how-to tutorial in our video on YouTube. 

Spell Work
Any type of ritual that you create with meaning can be used for manifesting purposes. Do you add cream to your coffee? Try stirring your cup clockwise (to bring in positivity) and say today is going to be sweet! Be mindful to do this with gusto and not out of lackluster habit, as spell work should be done with genuine and focused intent. I would love to circle back on this conversation another time!

Grab a pen and paper! I like to use a dedicated journal, but you don’t have to get fancy with it. Sit down and write a letter to yourself. The letter should be written from “future you” to “present time you''. Your letter will outline how great your life is, and how you achieved the dreams that you are currently working on in the present day. Go into great detail explaining how you managed to overcome any obstacles with ease to achieve your dream, secure the promotion, or land on both feet after hardship. But don’t mention the actual struggles– you don’t want to manifest any negativity in your life. I was recently inspired to go back and read some of my earlier scriptings. I started from the beginning and was amazed at some of the things that came to fruition –things that I had not even put into action or given much thought at that time – they were just merely hopes and dreams. I will have to revisit them again, as they gave me warm feelings and hope.

So for visualizing, you can do the above practice, but without the pen and paper. I recommend taking the effort to quiet the room, get comfortable, and close your eyes so that you can imagine your dreams and goals with minimal distraction. You don’t have to be a wordsmith to create visualizations. Imagination and some creativity are all that is needed for them to develop. The trick is to get into the details. Imagine how you feel, emotionally and physically. Be sure to explore all 5 of your senses and ask yourself questions like “what would your typical day be like, what would you do, who would you spend time with?” This process is daydreaming and meditation at the same time. I call it daydreaming for grownups. It’s ok if your mind wanders, just stop and refocus your thoughts until you are satisfied with the outcome. 

For many of us, we feel that there is an aspect of our lives that can be better. We understand that our thoughts turn to actions that impact others around us. The fuel that we inject into the world can be positive or negative energy, and we each decide what kind we send out into the world. Do you want to live in the ways of the past, or in the New Earth? Is there a type of manifesting practice that I have left off? Do you have any tips or tricks you have found successful? I would love for you to share by continuing the conversation in the comments or on our MMC chat on Facebook.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Therein Lies Your Luck

This week, we’ve been talking about the “luck of the Irish” and a host of related ideas. It got me thinking about what luck is and why we feel compelled to seek it. I grew up like most kids of the 60s and 70s with generations of passed-down charms and superstitious ideas that seem silly to most rational human beings. I remember one of my aunts teaching me to touch a screw in the car if you passed over a bridge (to keep it from collapsing), put your hands on the roof of the car when going through an underpass (for the same reason), and to pick up your feet driving over a railroad track (I’m not sure what that one was supposed to do). We avoided stepping on cracks, didn’t walk under ladders, knocked on wood, and turned the other way if we saw a black cat. Sometimes, I still do some of those things, out of habit more than anything, and I always laugh and feel silly when I do it. But I didn’t think I
really believed in superstitions, either, until a 2014 trip to Disney World for a “boot camp” training offered by my host travel agency. 

It all started quite innocuously. One morning, as I was putting on my make-up, I fixed my small travel mirror to the bathroom door so I could get close enough to put on my mascara.  I had been using this same mirror for several years and never had a problem with it until this particular morning, when it started sliding down the door, faster and faster, and although I tried to quickly catch it, it crashed to the floor and broke. Of course, the first thought that went through my head was “7 years of bad luck”, but then I brushed it off because hey, we’re in the 21st century – we don’t believe in bad luck anymore, do we? Of course not. So I cleaned up the mirror and went on about my business. I didn’t think about the fact that it turned unusually cold during our training. Not just cold, but wet and cold – it was rainy, and none of us had packed anything warm to wear. The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful, though, so I didn’t think much about that mirror again until things started to happen. Lots of things. But even then, I really didn’t believe it.

The bad luck reall
y started later that November when my husband started looking into refinancing our house to get a better interest rate. Around that time, I suddenly started getting phone calls and letters about a delinquent Chase credit card account. I’ll detail the whole story in another blog post someday, but suffice it to say, it turned into a terrible legal battle that lasted months and included freezing my bank accounts, costing me more money than the original credit card debt was even worth, and I didn’t even really owe them any money! A lot of prayers and a new devotion to Saint Jude (patron of hopeless cases) helped me win that case, but it was ugly, and the fact that it happened at all was incredibly bizarre. 

The bad luck didn’t stop there. That same spring, my son suddenly announced that he was making a “C” in one of his physics classes, so he had dropped the class and wouldn’t be graduating in May as expected. He planned to take the class again, or some equivalent, in the fall, and graduate in December. The problem was, he wouldn’t be able to live in the dorms in the fall, and all his financial aid was tapped out. Then, as he stayed over the summer to work on the research projects he’d been doing, he found out that the class he needed was only available in the spring. 

While all of these things were going on, my father was at home recovering after finally having his gallbladder removed. He’d had a major gallbladder attack the year before while recovering from a major heart attack, but it was over a year before they would do surgery because the heart attack had left him so weak. Unfortunately, the gallbladder surgery made him even weaker, and he wasn’t doing very well. As his health declined, he wound up in the hospital with more medical problems than he started with, and eventually, they released him to go home under hospice care. The next year was a harrowing ordeal for my family as we watched him slowly decline week after week, month after month. They had been so sure he would pass any day, but it drew out for more than a year. My mother was afraid to leave the house. My sister spent all her days looking after both of them. I spent months traveling 350+ miles week after week to do as much as I could in what time I could be away from my work and other commitments. That was my 2015.

In the spring of 2016, I tore my meniscus while adjusting my stance at a pinball convention. I had gone to Jazzercise earlier in the day, and I was still wearing the same sneakers late that evening when my feet started to hurt. It was such an innocent and slight shift, but I felt the searing pain go through my knee, and it was like nothing I had ever felt before. I knew instantly that something was wrong. After weeks of icing, elevation, and taking it easy it did not get better, I went to see a doctor. After a brace and some pain meds, I was assured that it would heal if I was just patient – but at the time, they didn’t even know how badly I had damaged it.

In the meantime, I went for my annual mammogram in May only to be held up, called back for a follow-up the next day, and then scheduled for a needle biopsy a week later. By September, I had been through two lumpectomies and a diagnosis of estrogen+/HER2- breast cancer. On top of that, my gynecologist, the doctor who always received my mammography reports, had quit that part of the business in favor of focusing on hormone replacement therapy. I had to find a new doctor, so I chose to go with my husband’s PCP. As a new patient for her, she ordered a full round of tests and performed a complete physical in addition to reviewing the cancer diagnosis. Diabetes.

And all the while, I was still traveling back and forth to Lubbock, Texas, my hometown, to help care for my dying father, and my mother, who was rapidly becoming depressed and forgetful. My sister and I started talking about Mom’s memory and made a vow to try and get her to a doctor. Then, while I was leading one of my crafting groups on a cruise, I got word that my father had died. So now I have cancer, a bum knee, diabetes, I’m about to start radiation therapy, and my father passed away, all in the same year. It hadn’t even been two full years since the broken mirror. I was starting to wonder….

Did you know there are reverse “spells” you can do to mitigate the bad luck of a broken mirror? I did not! But even if I had known it, it would have been too late to do anything about it. I made it through radiation treatments without too much fuss, and 2017 started without too much drama. Until April, when my father’s sister passed away…suddenly…from an aneurysm. It was completely out of the blue. Unlike my sister’s faulty heart valve that had been plaguing her for quite some time, but went undiagnosed until that same spring, when they discovered she had damage from rheumatic fever that likely started as a case of untreated strep throat when she was a child – all those cases of tonsillitis when she was a kid. She needed a valve replacement to fix it. Open heart surgery. I had surgery on my knee just a few days later on her 50th birthday. How miserable that must have been for her, to spend that milestone with her ribs cracked open, laid up in a hospital bed, and knowing she would be there for weeks.

My surgery (for the bad knee) was just four days later, and I remember calling my sister to wish her Happy Birthday not long before and laughing that we could commiserate our recoveries. Sadly, my sister did not make a full recovery from her operation. After a series of setbacks, including a failed dialysis machine, a light coma, a systemic infection, and the complete failure of her kidneys, she passed on September 1, leaving her physically challenged daughter alone and unable to care for herself. That was three years after the broken mirror – 2017. I think that’s when I started counting down.

I don’t think 2018 was too bad. My niece moved in with us after four miserable months of staying with my mother, who was sinking deeper and deeper into depression and what was beginning to look like dementia. We tried to talk to Mom about it, but she insisted it was just “old age” (she was 71 at the time). By summer, I was starting to have some osteoarthritis issues with my other knee, and in December I had a surgery similar to the one the year before.

I spent 2019 going back and forth the 350 or so miles to Lubbock to check on Mom. Her memory was declining, and we didn’t think she was safe living in her house out in the country. We wanted her to sell the house and move to town, but she refused…until she got lost going home one night, and wound up in another town in a nearly opposite direction from where she lived. We took her car away and convinced her to move into a Senior Independent Living apartment in town, thinking it would be easier for her remaining family there to check in on her. She didn’t like the idea, but she finally relented. That was nearly 5 years to the day that mirror broke.

We all know what happened in 2020 – that was the year that life as we know it came to a screeching halt. Do I think that my broken mirror caused COVID? No, but I do feel like it might have played a part in how it affected my life. In case you don’t recall, I’m a travel agent, and the leisure travel industry all but evaporated amid cruise cancellations, travel restrictions, and statewide lockdowns. I watched what was initially a very promising and profitable year turn into week after week of cancellations, refunds, and no return on my efforts. My business was decimated. In the meantime, on a January visit to check on my mother, I found her living in terrible conditions in her new apartment. It was obvious she was no longer able to care for herself, and with no one to give her the daily care she needed, I made a quick decision to bring her home with me. So we loaded up my mother and her 12-pound Yorkie, and drove back to Dallas.

In addition to being grossly overweight, Mom’s dog turned out to not be potty-trained either. She completely ruined the carpet in my dining room making my dog and every other human in the house miserable. She barked incessantly, and my mother kept feeding her half her food off the table. My niece was still living with us, taking online college courses when her school shut down because of the pandemic, and my husband’s office went to remote operations. With so many people in the house all day, I could barely think straight enough to do any work – not that there was any work coming in anyway. And then a serious faux pas by my husband’s boss right in the middle of the Black Lives Matter riots and what should have been a new era of racial awareness caused his company to lose more than 40% of their clientele and forced the layoff of half the company. Hubby was fortunate to still have a job, but now it was only part-time with a pay cut. But somehow we managed to survive, and even thrive in some instances. We carried out a beautiful wedding for my daughter, whom you know as Christen, one of the authors on this blog and a cohost on our podcast, and we got Mom into a memory daycare center a few days a week. That was year six of the broken mirror.

The final year of my string of bad luck (or at least I hope it was the final year!) started hopefully enough. At the end of 2020, I had finally gotten my mother’s house on the market, hoping to sell it so we could use the funds to set her up in a good-quality memory care facility. But it was one catastrophe after another. Four different buyers with good offers evaporated due to failed financing, incorrect inspection reports, and broken water pipes in what we dubbed Snowmageddon. Eight months later, we finally had a successful closing, and we had the money to move Mom out just in time to move a friend with terminal cancer in. Then, in November, even though we were all vaccinated, Mark, Ashley, and I got COVID. It wasn’t terrible, but I thought it quite ironic that we got it despite how careful we had been for so long and despite the fact that we’d been vaccinated in the spring.

Last November marked the end of 7 miserable, exhausting years. Since then, I’ve noted no catastrophes, and I feel like that terrible run of bad luck is gone (knock on wood). Our friend with cancer did pass, but he was ready, and it was a peaceful end to months of suffering. But the pall that hung over my family feels lifted, and I feel like I can breathe again. Was it all a coincidence? Is there something to this broken mirror superstition? I don’t know, but it’s got me thinking about all the other customs and idiosyncrasies that we carry out without a thought. Do we really believe it? Or are we just going through the motions? And if we don’t believe it, then why do we keep doing it?

Just the other day, I knocked over the shaker of salt. I did what I always do, and tossed a bit of it over my left shoulder. I’m not taking any chances. Would you?

Are you superstitious? Join me on our Facebook Chat group “MMC Chat” where I’m collecting a list of superstitions. Add yours to the list and let’s continue the conversation. 

5 Ways to Manifest Your Best Life

Hi there, and welcome back! Since we have been heavily focusing on goals and planning, I thought we should discuss manifesting. I love this ...